Last year I blogged about change and how it’s often the most difficult thing for human beings to go through and late last year I wrote about changing my life and the many things I had changed on the way.
Following ideas with a passion may seem so easy when you start out on your journey, but what do you do when you realise you’re not on the right track, you’ve made some unwise decisions, that you may very well be wrong and the ideas you so passionately embraced are unsustainable. You say you’re wrong of course, or do you? The problem for many is that the second most difficult thing to do, is admitting defeat.
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with a charity I love and supported whilst living in Europe. A charity with a successful concept, great success in Europe and one which they have already rolled out in Hong Kong. The question that the Hong Kong-based arm of the charity had, was why their European success story was not working as successfully in Asia?
After spending an hour walking through business plans, target audience, added value, profitability, etc, we realised a couple of things were different. The charity had not built the network in Asia that they had in Europe and they had become so focused on doing good in the community, that they’d forgotten how to run a profitable business. The charity is now taking some relatively easy steps to ensure a sustainable business model. The first step however was admitting that something was ‘broken’.
What do we do when the passion we had for ideas, people, places or things, wanes? It’s what we do with this knowledge that’s so important. Do we continue arrogantly, holding onto our old ideals, or do we swallow our pride, knowing that ultimately ‘Pride comes before a fall’. Whilst on the surface, it seems that pride doesn’t necessarily hinder success, I maintain that pride is every bit as destructive to anyone’s welfare as the the ancient proverb forewarns.
2012 was a year of many changes. A change of country, career and way of life. I handed in Holland for Hong Kong, Deloitte for Cisco and my husband for a life on my own.
My husband is one of the nicest people I know, Holland is a magnificent country and Deloitte is a fantastic employer, so why so many changes?
Many people may call it the ‘change of life’ or ‘menopause’. I say, ‘A change is a way of strengthening the inner-metal!’ I’ve often coached people and told them that in happiness, one has to start with ones self.’ If you are happy, you can make many more people happy around you. Sometimes change brings with it necessary challenges, feelings of discomfort which pushes one to the edge and all the way over. However, sometimes living in a total state of contentment is just too safe. Am I a horrible person for creating so much havoc? For some, I probably am. And for others, I’m an absolute hero. They say things like, ‘You’re so brave’, ‘Gosh, I wish I were so strong’, ‘I’m so unhappy but I daren’t make the decisions that you have’. Do I feel brave? Of course not! I cry often and wonder what I’ve done. Am I happy? Yes. I can honestly report that I’m happier with the prospects than I’ve been in a very long time. Am I challenged? Every day! And, I love it.
For me, 2013 will be a year of settling down, regaining balance and equilibrium, making even more new friends and very happily seeing old friends in my new home of Hong Kong. I’ll be involved with new charities, as well as the ones I’ve grown to love and support, new clubs and networks, making the people and the company I work for even more successful, and I’ll be as happy as can be, because I believe in me. 2013 I embrace you!
Here’s wishing you and yours an exhilirating new year, with as many changes as you can handle. Happy New Year!
On Monday this week, The China National Day public holiday in Hong Kong, I boarded a smart power cruiser at Pier 9 in Central, motored around Victoria Harbour, enjoyed dinner and drinks with some 30 friends and later “oohed and aahed” at the magnificent fireworks display reflected in the harbour, against the back drop of Hong Kong’s tall glass-clad buildings. While I was enjoying my evening, a horrific scene was playing out on the other side of the harbour. 39 innocent people lost their lives on an evening which was meant for celebration. This is totally unacceptable and I say “What If?”.
What if the marine department was as tightly controlled as the roads department? What if boatsmen had to go through more stringent testing? What if the Hong Kong Harbour had a network of volunteers on call to come quickly to the rescue of boats that go down? As I’m typing these questions I’m unfortunately already playing devil’s advocate. The problem here is that the two crews involved with this accident were on “commercial vessels” and they are strictly controlled by the Marine Department and have to be retested regularly. So how could something so tragic, happen? Also, by using the word “volunteers” it suggests a ‘happy go lucky’ bunch of people against whom the Marine Police and the Marine Department would say that they are the “professionals” and thus know better’. However, the Fire Services Department allow ‘the St Johns Ambulances’ to co-exist with them in the support of caring for the sick and injured, so why can’t we have another supporting service?
When I arrived in Hong Kong 3 months ago, I met Malcolm Brocklebank who has lived in Hong Kong for 31 years. He is a yacht club member and weathered sailor and he’s been asking many of the same questions over the past few years. He has approached numerous organisations for support, with little interest. His plan is solid and all it requires is funding. So what will it take, to amend a few regulations, to implement a more effective testing system and a more extensive marine safety network across Hong Kong waters. I certainly hope not another 39 lives.
So there’s already plan in place which is not only beneficial to boat and pleasure craft owners and the safety of everyone who uses the waterways in Hong Kong! Surely this should be music to the ears of boat and pleasure craft owners and marine insurance companies?
Let’s not wait for another disaster to kick up a stink in what should be ‘Xianggang’. Let’s listen to reason and allow and support the implementation of relatively low cost activities that will definitely have a high impact in the years to come!
For more information about Malcolm’s plan to make Hong Kong waters safer, please contact him via his linked-in page.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged boat accident, boat disaster, Boat disaster in Hong Kong Harbour, boat safety, Malcolm Brocklebank, marine safety, pleasure craft safety, scmp, south china morning post, victoria harbour, xianggang
I’ve been in Hong Kong for just over two months and I’ve already weathered quite a few storms. T3′s become T8′s and if you’re unlucky, they become T10′s like Typhoon Vicente, which hit us last month and with a force unknown since 1999. Last night, I lived through the latest typhoon. Whilst I realise that I’m known for stirring things up a bit, I don’t know whether to be flattered or not; the latest typhoon is named after me, Kai-tak (Helen). When a T8 is hoisted, the city can easily ‘close down’. There may be no public transport, schools close, the public is advised to stay indoors or at home and businesses remain firmly shut. When you’re sitting in the comfort of your own home, oblivious to the elements however, it all just seems like ‘a storm in a teacup’.
CSR and doing good is something I’m passionate about and let me assure you, that there’s a lot more good out there than you’d ever imagine. Whether it’s the work of individuals, small organisations or large multinationals, people are joining forces to make waves and improve life experiences. I’ve now been working at Cisco in Hong Kong for about 6 weeks and I’m starting to settle in. Yesterday, I had an inspiring conversation with our head of corporate affairs in Greater China, TC Hsi. TC shared what Cisco is doing around CSR and quite honestly I’m blown away. Besides all the Cisco volunteers doing great work in the community and the focus and determination of the corporate teams, I was pleasantly surprised to hear how Cisco is using its own technology to help disaster victims weather the storm.
When a major emergency such as an earthquake or hurricane strikes, response organizations require immediate communications support to save lives, establish relief operations and provide ongoing assistance in affected communities. Cisco’s Tactical Operations (TacOps) team can quickly deploy IP-based communications to support emergencies. This team comprises expert networking, radio communications, and systems engineers along with logistics and operations coordinators. Members of the team and the employee-volunteer Disaster Incident Response Team (DIRT) are trained in the U.S. National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) and they participate in large-scale exercises to validate technology solutions and train alongside other responders.
Our world is changing. Our climate is changing and many more natural disasters are forecast in the coming years than we’ve ever had before. This is a fact and no ‘storm in a teacup’. So, whilst I’m currently safe and well and settling in to a new home and a new job, it’s comforting to know that my new employer can help when it’s really necessary. Cisco, you make me proud!
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Tagged A storm in a teacup, Cisco, Cisco Disaster Incident Response Team, CSR, DIRT, Disaster relief, Kai-tak, T10, T3, T8, typhoon, Typhoon Vicente
Brands that we know and admire, light the skies and the tops of buildings around the world. When designers roll out the latest trends, whether we live in Sydney, Hong Kong or San Francisco, we’re all wearing the same great new looks within months of one another. Restaurant chains offer internationally acclaimed dining concepts and large multinationals and financial institutions offer international services. So, it’s safe to say that the world is becoming flatter every day and we’ve come to expect the same quality and breadth of services, food and experiences no matter where we are in the world.
Many years ago someone told me that I should never assume, as it makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. Common sense really! However, you’d be surprised how many times we assume things every single day. I was reminded of this fact just the other week when I transferred money from my European bank account to my Hong Kong bank account. I hadn’t yet activated internet banking, so I went to the ATM daily to see if the funds had been transferred. Everyday, I became more and more frustrated since my bank balance hadn’t increased a penny. I assumed that the money would automatically be deposited into my savings account. Never assume. On calling customer services, I heard that the money had, in fact, been deposited, quite quickly, into a suspense account. The bank wanted to leave it up to me when to transfer the money to my savings account, based on the best rate of exchange. Logical really, but not so, when you’re expecting something else to happen.
Hong Kong is a bustling city and those brand names could fool us into thinking that the world is identical, no matter where we are in the world. Luxury brands line the streets of Hong Kong and extreme wealth and consumer optimism, gloss over many of this beautiful city’s problems which are left undiscussed and well-disguised. A week ago, I met Liz Chamberlain, director of the Samaritans. Samaritans is an organisation providing emotional support to people who are suicidal, or in general distress. As a European, one may assume that if you have a problem, that you discuss it with family or friends in the spirit of ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Not every culture is the same, so never assume. Many Chinese will not discuss issues with family or friends and they are then left to their own devices. Liz and her team are doing a sterling job to ensure that people in need are helped and in doing so reducing the numbers of suicides in Hong Kong. The Samaritans is always looking for great people who will give up some of their time to volunteer. Or you can donate to this worthy cause.
My move to Hong Kong has once again reinforced the fact that I have a lot to learn. Ask more questions and never assume!
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged assume, Assumptions, bank, banking, distress, donate, Liz Chamberlain, Samaritans, suicide, the Samaritans, the world is flat, volunteer