Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Business Development: 13 Rules of Today's Business World


Doing business today can be very different from the past. I read through the last issue of Business 2.0 Magazine today and write out these 13 rules.

1. Business is a fulfillment mechanism.
Successful businesses are those which can fulfill the needs and wants of customers!

2. Give away something for free.
And do it in a way that it can expand your business.

3. It is OK to make the people around you nervous!
If they are nervous, you must be doing something really new!

4. Businesses that focus strictly on profits will be voted out!
Don't make yourself too greedy!

5. It's OK not to be number 1!
Being number 4, 5 in a big market is still very big!

6. Do something you can be passionate about.
Don't just copy!

7. Don't take it all!
Leave something to others, especially your customers!

8. There must be something being unnoticed!
Then, that is your opportunities!

9. Cost is not the only consideration.
Time, convenience and flexibility matter more.

10. If everyone agrees with you, it's a waste of time.
Everyone is already doing it!

11. There is no problem to be outside the mainstream.
Competition is less over there!

12. Give people a second chance.
They will give their best!

13. Break all rules, including all of the above.
If there are rules, it isn't Today's Business World!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Personal Development: 受惠於艱苦


日本企管大師大前研一曾說過: 日本於戰後受惠於貧窮,促成了經濟起飛;現在受惠於政府各式各樣的補助金,反而不會動了!




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Coaching: What is a Coach?


I remembered someone describing a Coach being a motivational speaker who doesn't speak, but listen.

Great analogy!

I like to add: A Coach is a motivational speaker who doesn't motivate you from the outside, but facilitate discovery of your own motivation (i.e. Inspiration) from within.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Concepts 101 Part 1: You are not the Same Person Twice!


This is my new articles series - Concepts 101.

I live, teach and practice based on many concepts. Like presuppositions, they are not rules, laws or principles. They are not 100% correct. But they guide my decisions and my life.

I like to document all my concepts, making them consciously available to myself. There are more than 100 concepts I am using. So I make it be 101! I will continue to write to complete all the 101 concepts.

My first concept is: You are not the same person twice. Every second passed makes you a second older. You are different from a second ago. As time passes, we change. It can be better or worse, but we are not the same person any more.

You can read the same book 10 times and each time you get something new from it. The content of the book hasn't changed but you changed. It is just like the same book being read by 10 different persons. Just the act of reading the book already make you something different.

Something that is impossible in the past can become possible now or in the future!

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Business Development: Hong Kong is a Great Place to do Business Part 2


In Part 1, we talked about there are 3 major causes why a business failed. These are not the only causes of failures, but they are the most common ones. Here are them:

1. Marketing. Many people hate doing marketing. They have great products but not too many people know about them. Marketing is not just advertising. Anything that attracts your target market to you is marketing.

2. Innovation. While Marketing make you successful at the present moment, Innovation creates success for your future. People wants new products. But Innovation is not just about creating new products. People also wants new ways to get your products. People wants new means to know about your products. People wants new ways to pay. People want new ways to use your products. We also need new strategies, new business models or even a new business to survive and prosper. The world is changing so fast that every parts of our business need to renew continuously!

3. Service. Anything that makes doing business easier with you is Service. Service is not just limited to polite, tactful communication. Service can't create more customers and business. It just makes it easier for your customers to do business with you. You still need Marketing to attract customers to your Innovative products.

We are need a systemic, bigger picture view of these 3 vital elements of doing business. Marketing is not just advertising, Innovation is not just new products, and Service is not just politeness and tact.

All the above 3's are not new stuff. Everybody knows that they are necessary. But how much time and effort have you devoted to them?

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Learning from Life #126 - #130


This is another edition of Learning from Life.

126. The more I resist something, the more I am suffering.

127. Smiling is the best form of communication.

128. Being reasonably polite can enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

129. Being smart and being wise is different.

130. Fears, hiding fears, ignoring fears, avoiding fears can be very exhausting.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Coaching: Business Coaching in Mainland China and Hong Kong


This is an article I wrote as a Feature Article for the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches last year:

Business Coaching in Mainland China and Hong Kong

Over the past two decades, China's economy has enjoyed extremely rapid growth and development. More and more business people around the globe are entering China to take advantage of unprecedented business opportunities, and both local and overseas-invested businesses are booming.

Is the emerging profession of business coaching enjoying the same level of growth here? Having been a business coach in China and Hong Kong for almost ten years, I would like to briefly report on the status of our profession in this part of the world. While this isn't intended to be a comprehensive or in-depth analysis, I would like to share several of my observations in order to provide a general picture of business coaching in China.

The country is composed of four parts: Mainland China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), the Macau SAR, and Taiwan. My study is focused on several major cities in Mainland China (e.g., Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shen Zhen) and Hong Kong.

Organizational Management Style

This year, I completed a small survey of 183 business executives in the area. The results indicate that 79% of these executives view their organizations as maintaining a directing style of management. Only 21% consider their companies to have adopted a more open and collaborative style, utilizing some degree of coaching in their daily operations.

According to these executives, the most common reasons for their companies' using a directing style are listed below, in descending order of frequency:

1. Managers lack time. They are too busy for a collaborative management style;
2. Managers lack coaching skills. They do not know how to coach their colleagues;
3. In small or family businesses, owners are accustomed to a top-down management approach;
4. Managers do not trust their staffs. They don't think their employees can work independently, without clear instructions; and
5. Managers fear losing control.

These responses are quite typical for managers in a developing economy. With more and more overseas investment and injection of management know-how into China, the situation may change in the years ahead.

Government Intervention

The Chinese and Hong Kong governments' intervention in our profession is minimal and neutral. They neither encourage nor discourage business coaching. However, there are some organizations in Mainland China that are using the term 'coaching' to describe what some view as 'New Age' style human potential development activities. These activities mirror Large Group Awareness Training, based on encounter groups which emerged with the popularization of humanistic psychology in North America in the '60s. Communist governments are very sensitive to these kinds of groups, since the psychological manipulation involved is perceived as potentially threatening. Anything that smacks of 'New Age' may be considered suspect by a Communist regime.

In my opinion, if you plan to expand your coaching practice into Mainland China, you must clearly distinguish yourself from any such human potential development organizations. Hong Kong SAR, however, is more open, and you are free to practice your coaching function however you see fit, as long as you don't run afoul of the law.

Coach Training in China

There is some 'coach training' in Mainland China, most of which is conducted by local consulting firms. However, an examination of the contents of these training programs reveals that they are not actually comprehensive coach training programs. Rather, they teach NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and address leadership, personal development and team-building issues. While coaching can enhance leadership skills, personal development and team building, coaching is not just about leadership skills, personal development and team building!

This reflects a misunderstanding of coaching by business people in Mainland China. Business coaching is about helping others to expand their awareness, both of themselves and their businesses, rather than about motivation, persuasion and leadership techniques. As a more developed city, there are quite a few coach training programs available in Hong Kong. Most of them provide training in personal life coaching, and some are ICF accredited. The WABC's RCC Program is still the market leader in the field of business coaching, with about 300 graduates since its launch in 2002.

Impact of Chinese Culture on Coaching

Can North American coaching methodologies be applied equally well in China?

This is a difficult question, and I have studied it for years. I completed my coach training in the US. After practicing here in Hong Kong for the past ten years, I find my answer to the above question is 'yes,' but with some modified understanding of the coaching process.

Nearly every single book about coaching you can find in the bookstores will tell you to coach using curiosity and intuition. How about coaching someone who has very little curiosity or intuition? This is typical of Chinese people. In our country (and many other Asian countries), parents taught us not to be curious. Curiosity is equivalent to danger and is deemed impolite. We have also been educated not to speak if we are uncertain. We keep our intuition to ourselves. So, are curiosity and intuition really critical in coaching?

Let's examine how curiosity and intuition contribute to coaching. As a coach, curiosity sparks your interest in every facet of the client's issue so that you can inquire into every possible aspect, at every possible angle. This helps the client to explore more broadly and deeply. Intuition tells you which parts of a client's dialogue contain potential misunderstandings, saving both your and your client's time.

However, neither curiosity nor intuition works very well for the Chinese, even though the coach is willing and able to provide both. Why? Because the Chinese don't talk much! Perhaps unlike North Americans, the majority of the Chinese population is extremely reserved, particularly in the context of a business environment. They think thoroughly before they speak, and then they speak cautiously. They are reluctant to answer questions they consider irrelevant, and the more curious the coach is, the more questions the client might consider irrelevant.

Intuition is based on the coach's experience, through which the client's answers are filtered. Lacking the rich information provided by the client's answers to numerous 'curious' questions, there isn't much to find through intuition.

My solution is very simple—I have stopped using intuition and curiosity to coach. A coach's major task is to clarify clients' misunderstandings so that clients can discover more by themselves. What people think will be reflected in what they say. If there is some misunderstanding in a person's thinking, there will be signs of that misunderstanding in their conversation. Coaches can use curiosity to search for and intuition to locate those misunderstandings.

We can also be trained to recognize these signs—the openings in the coaching dialogue. Openings lead to potential misunderstandings and thus potential new awarenesses for the client.

There can be many openings the coach can identify and help the client to explore. For example, when the client tells you that none of his people want to work hard, there might be a potential generalization in the client's mind. Or, when the client says that she cannot do something, there is a possibility that she has adopted a limiting belief.

Listen for the openings. When you hear one, simply ask your clients to tell you more about that. This can cast some light on their potential blind spots. Sometimes we put too much attention on questioning. Coaching is more about listening. People new to coaching want to learn how or what to ask their clients. It is where to ask that matters even more.


In China, whatever is popular in the world can become trendy very quickly, but it can cool down really fast. Coaching is one of these trendy things in China right now.

Coaching is still very new to Mainland China and Hong Kong. It has been here for just a few years. Although people talk about coaching in the business sector in China, there is not much coaching actually happening here. Part of the reason is a misunderstanding of what real business coaching is, and part is a lack of managers' awareness of the real benefits of coaching to their businesses.

For our fellow coaches, China is a huge potential market. However, it is still operating in a stage of confusion. Once more people appreciate the importance of true business coaching, a prosperous future lies in store for our emerging profession.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Winter Issue, 2006).

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My Point of View: 香港的軟件、硬件



雖然政府 (中央及香港) 不時談到香港地位無法取代,這或許只是安慰說話而矣,如我們掉以輕心,屆時真的被人取代,可能又有其他如『中國好、香港好』,又或『大家本為一家無分彼此』等等安慰出現。

有些人認為,國內城市只在快速發展硬件 (如基建等),軟件 (如人才素質) 發展需時,就是香港停滯不前,未來要追及我們,還需十多年的光景,大家無用擔心,相信這種說法也有其好處,大家真的不用膽戰心驚,及時行樂,反正現在不是說經濟好轉,管他什麼追不追上!

但如你細心留意,你可能已經發覺,香港真的沒有停滯不前,而是倒退了,以前『只具硬件,沒有軟件』只在國內發現,現在香港也可以找到了,試舉一例,今天我在乘搭東鐵,發現了原來我們也有靜音車廂 (沒搭東鐵太久了!),這種在境外相當普遍的安排,能讓乘客安靜地乘車,我們也有了,我們進步了!特地走進靜音車廂,原想享受一刻寧靜,但發現遊戲機聲、電話鈴聲、談電話聲、從耳筒中傳出,但仍清晰可聞的音樂聲此起彼落,這不是『只具硬件,沒有軟件』是什麼?

再者,已倡導多時的車廂中不可飲食的守則,也淪為『只具硬件,沒有軟件』,就在『禁止飲食』標語下,一名年輕人正在大快朵頤,與他的麥當奴漢堡飽、薯條及大汽水努力戰鬥,原以為只有年輕人不懂規則,那邊廂一名阿叔又在享受其維他檸檬茶,另一位『師奶』則在大啖其卡樂 B 蝦條,這應是軟件的問題罷!


你可能認為這只是片面,我們不是開拓了景點 (如狄士尼、昂平 360 等),但卻忽略了忠誠服務;我們不是辦了很多家大學,但卻忽略了下一代;我們不是建立了數碼港、科學園,但卻忽略了創新



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My Point of View: 人前人後待人好


什麼樣的人算得上是真好人? 能人前人後待人好的應該是了。

什麼樣的人算得上是假好人? 人前待人好,人後待人差的應該是了。

什麼樣的人算得上是真小人? 人前待人差,人後待人也差的應該是了。

什麼樣的人算得上是假小人? 人前待人差,人後卻待人好的應該是了。



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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Business Development: MBA? MFA might be Another Great Choice!


Are you planning to study your MBA (Master in Business Administration) program? Think again!

In 1993, 61% of McKinsey's consultants had MBA degrees. Today, it is down to less than 43%! MBA is out, MFA is in!

MFA? Master in Fine Arts.

Corporate recruiters have begun visiting the top arts graduate schools, such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Michigan's Cranbrook Academy of Art in search of talent. More and more arts graduates are occupying key corporate positions in the US. General Motors says they are in the art business. The MFA is the new MBA!


MBA Programs are great. But they focus more on the logical side of linear sequential thinking. The today's ever-changing business environment is calling for a more systemic, simultaneous mind. MFA fills in the gap!

Explore, Exceed & Excel

Friday, June 01, 2007

Personal Development: Don't Assume!!!


I was in San Francisco the past few days. I have never been there before.

San Francisco is in California and California is famous for her sunshine. So I did not do my research and was then shocked by her freezing cold weather.

I wore all the clothes I had and I was still nearly frozen to death! It was so cold that the hotel needed to turn on its heating system.

Assume nothing or we are going to suffer!

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