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Getting to the Heart of Pillow Tok: Part 1/3

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

We've launched our new deck on love and relationships, Pillow Tok. I chat with Nick and Shihui, the husband and wife creators, on their motivations and explore how the deck can help singles and couples have fun and meaningful conversations. They’re unusually shy and rarely get their pictures taken. Nick almost wanted them to do this interview with paper bags over their heads! In the spirit of baring all, they reveal cherished photos, insights and memories. (Read Part 2/3)


pillow tok

Charlene (C): Hi guys! 👋 Congrats on launching Pillow Tok! Both of you are rather private and kept out of the spotlight until now. Could you introduce yourselves and what inspired you to create pillow tok?

Nick (N): Thanks Charlene. I'm Nick Pang, the nick in starknicked ("stark naked") and the creator of smol tok. I made Smol Tok as an alternative to Cards Against Humanity to help people have fun and meaningful conversations. Pillow Tok is the latest edition! A deck on love and relationships was in my mind when Smol Tok first came out in 2015. It was KIV-ed since I wasn't attached then - didn’t feel right working on Pillow Tok when I had so little experience with relationships. Pillow Tok took on genuine meaning after I met Shihui. I’m glad I waited! The deck would be really different if I worked on it as a single man. I imagine it would sound academic, less real or relevant to people.

C: I didn’t know that! But yes, I can see the value in working from personal experience.

N: Here’s another thing very few people know, I played Smol Tok with Shihui on our first date and she married me one year later, haha.

Shihui (S): He's still so surprised by that! Hi, I'm Shihui and Nick is my husband. My work centres around creating meaningful conversations that lead to personal growth, organisational change, or social innovation. Pillow Tok exists because Nick and I write down the questions we fight about! Ok, that's only partly true. We met in our mid-30s, so there was some urgency, haha. To decide if we would be compatible as lifelong partners, we intentionally explored major life issues, and Pillow Tok was borne from all those discussions :)

C: It’s great that you guys were so intentional! For many of us, it’s easier to go with the flow without asking the crucial questions. Did you have key experiences that helped you realise you were right for each other, which turned into Pillow Tok questions?

S: There's a card based on my interactions with Nick called "ROFL". Nick comes across as someone who’s thoughtful, serious and even scholarly, in the way he thinks, speaks and behaves. As we dated, I discovered Nick has incredible comedic timing, and a super wicked sense of humour! He does these impersonations and commentaries that are so unexpected! I laugh a lot around him! He’s happy laughing at himself and I’m learning from him to not take life and myself so seriously - our days can be so much more fun, irreverent and light-hearted :)

C: Woah! That’s a side of Nick rarely seen! It shows how comfortable he was around you. What were questions that required deeper reflection together?

S: One question that came up quickly was this "Moonshot: What do you think your partner's aspirations are? How can you support him/her in achieving them?" Both of us made unusual decisions about our careers, in the Singaporean context. We discovered that we valued experimentation over stability. Both of us wanted to continue doing work that's in service to our communities, focused on nurturing people, but may not provide a clear career trajectory. Talking about the possible impact on ourselves, each other, and our families, gave us deeper mutual understanding. Nick knows that I fully support his efforts to grow Smol Tok, and I wouldn't want him to sacrifice his aspirations by prioritising a fixed income from a salaried role.

N: For me, a question that emerged was “Echo Location” A friend of ours flagged this issue out for us, or for me at least, as it underlies our relationship dynamic.

Shihui's a high-flyer by Singapore standards. She went to the top schools, got good grades, received scholarships, and worked in some really impressive positions. By worldly comparisons, I come from the other side of the fence. I've been in neighbourhood schools all my life. It was a miracle I got good enough grades to study communications in poly. I headed overseas to study because I couldn't find something I wanted to learn in a local uni. I worked throughout my uni days to pay my way through school and support myself. Up to this point, I constantly wonder about my contribution to society...

C: What do you feel about making these comparisons?

N: Certainly, less sure of myself. My subconscious/unconscious mindset is that Shihui is 'above me' because she's more educated and experienced. She doesn't share that view, and most of the time the thought doesn't cross my mind. But I’d be lying if I said that this question is no longer an issue for me.

C: I imagine those weren’t easy conversations to have. Nick’s point in particular raises a topic that I think many of us would find ‘taboo’ to talk about, especially in Singapore.


That was part 1 in our 3-part series on Nick and Shihui’s journey in creating Pillow Tok! Any thoughts or burning questions for Nick or Shihui? Type it in the chat bubble on the bottom right corner of this screen.

Sign up with our Pillow Tok secret supper mailing list and receive monthly invitations to get a taste of Pillow Tok over dinner and drinks. Our first two secret suppers are slated for 23 November and 14 December 2018, and will be facilitated by Nick and Shihui.

Order a deck here.

First photo by Jeremy Ho


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