Wedding Speech: Speaking From Our Hearts

 A very good evening to all.

In my profession, I make a lot of speeches to all kinds of audiences, but never yet to an audience of this demographics.  In our social lives together, we have heard many, many wedding speeches, but have never made one ourselves.  And in our very small family unit, I have not done one yet, till today.

So under such circumstances, this is my maiden wedding speech today.  (Honestly, I had to be coached by my dear wife on what to say, how to say and how long it should be).

So let me begin by saying to our loving son, Hil, and our first daughter in law, Dan, that we are overjoyed with their new marital status as lifetime husband and wife.

Your wedding ceremony today was most touching and romantic, like the love story of Romeo and Juliet, tho’ not in Verona, Italy but in this beautiful Yarra Valley in Melbourne.

It shows your good taste, creativity and resourcefulness in making this a most memorable occasion for us.  It was exceptionally well organized and artfully choreographed, fitting of a bestselling love movie.  How I wish I can watch this once again on Netflix.

Now, to this very close group of guests, I won’t want to bore you with stuff that you already know about both of them; simply because you wouldn’t be here today if you hadn’t known them, not just well, but very well.

Everyone here, family members included, were subjected to a very strict selection criterion: “How really close are you to both of them”?   It really showed how much they want to have the closest people in their lives on their wedding day.

So based on this: few were chosen, many were axed.   Among the axed ones are all uncles and aunties, cousins, nephews and parents’ good friends from both the divide.

You will know what I mean if you care to look around you.  You will see only a small handful of grey hair people here.  But if you can’t notice this, it’s because most of us had our hair dyed or set for this occasion.   But you can still see them by their winkles which can’t be taken away.

Notwithstanding this, It is certainly a very refreshing, vibrant and rejuvenating time for us, to be in the company of the young generation here who are 1/2,  or more than 1/2 our age.

This is indeed is a New Age Wedding. The rules are different. Parents are required to play by their rules.  In return, we need not give nor do anything  (except giving this speech).  A good trade off indeed!

In hierarchical terms, there are only 2 bosses here today, namely, Hil and Dan. They are the only C suite guys.  No others.  Everyone else is equal, a kind of autocratic Communist system like in the words of George Orwell in his book ‘Animal Farm’ where he says that in this farm ‘all are equal, except some are more equal than others’.

This New Age wedding is fundamentally different from traditional ones as they are usually more populated by guests from their parents’ side.  (Frankly speaking in many of such weddings, we aren’t sure whether the parents are remarrying, or their children are marrying!).  This is the state of affairs because parents are the ones who foot the bulk of the bills.  So, they (instead of their marrying children) are the bosses mostly.

But for this one, it’s the reverse.  The wedded couple’s guests totally nudge out their parents’ guests!  Why, because they foot all the bills. So they are the bosses, we are the guests, (or subordinates) who obediently follow their instructions.  We just have to say, ‘Aye boss, anything you say!

(Now with jokes aside), we truly admire them for being completely 100% hands on in managing this very important and major project.  This 2-person team make up the frontline and back office people.

They handle everything: from wedding concept, the planning, the financing, the fine execution from guests’ selection, logistics, accommodation, ceremony, getting the kind service of Fr Michael, the priest, the mass service, meals, entertainment, including the walking down the aisle, writing their marriage vows, exchanging of rings to finally becoming husband and wife.   Truly, this says a lot about their attributes and capabilities.

Hats off to them!

There’s a saying that when choosing your lifetime partner, it’s advisable to look at the other partner’s mother for an answer.  (I don’t know why not the father!).

Dan, your love for Hil for what he is, is because of one very important person in his life, Angeline – his mum or your mum-in-law now.  She has given you a complete package.  A complete replica of her in him. 

You have to always be grateful for this, forever.

Her outlook, her values, her discipline, her generous love, overflowing kindness, tender care, great humility, no nonsense ways, high sense of responsibility, a pile of secret food recipes, impeccable tidiness and cleanliness, strong faith in God, are some of the precious pieces of gold in the treasure trove she’s passing over to you.

And it’s for you both thereon, to pass them to your children and the future generation to come.

As you know, Angeline’s words are few. She’s good only in the doing.  So I’m saying all this for her on this occasion as there’s no better place, no better moment than this moment.  Angeline, my dearest wife, mum and mum-in-law deserves this tribute on this very, very special occasion.

Frankly, Hil is not the only beneficiary of her love.  Jeremy too.  And me is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of them all for we have been together, officially for 31 years, (and unofficially for 41 years).

My oversized figure says a lot about the feeding and babysitting I have been getting from her all these years.  Thank you, my dear sweetheart!

It’s time for me to end here, wishing Hil and Dan the very best in their lives together.

While this marriage is going to be a very beautiful journey, be mindful of the long and winding road ahead as well.  But certainly nothing can shake your marriage an inch as long as both of you are strengthened by true love for each other, grounded on good life values, display of gratitude for your parents (and the good people in your life), and most of all, having strong faith in God.

Thank you for listening to my maiden wedding speech.   And to all here (and not here), May God bless all of you.

Let’s enjoy the lovely time together!

 

COACH MOVER – HOW TO STAY ON

Excerpts of my Keynote Address at the 12th Coach Convocation, Awards & Network 2017

The topic on Coach Movers’ and ‘Coach Forgetters’ is always close to my heart.  It has a lot to do with the sustainability of coaches in the coaching profession.

I spoke on this at the last convocation, and because of its huge importance, I intend to speak and build on it again on this grand occasion as well.

‘Coach Movers’ is a phase that I coined to describe those coaches who make things happen; they are successful in moving on and on to become even more successful and fulfilled professional coaches; who can live their dreams, can fulfill their passion and can contribute to a happier world!

On the other hand, ‘Coach Forgetters’ are the ones who wait for things to happen; obviously it does not normally happen through such ‘remote control’ ways.  Due to this, they experience disappointment as they have few or no opportunities that are needed to fuel their dreams, passion and life mission for a long time.  Because of this, they soon have to abandon and forget their dreams, passions and mission to stay on as coaches, for which they have spent so much time, money and great effort on.   This is sad for this was the very reason they became coaches in the first place.

It is my sincere hope that all of you here will remain as ‘Coach Movers’ all your lives; with none as ‘Coach Forgetters’ at all. You are built to last!

So today, I like to share a couple of tips (and coaching questions) that might help you to rise to the occasion to remain strong ‘Coach Movers’ always.  They have the caliber to weather through the good and not so good times to remain steadfast as successful and fulfilled coaches for a long time to come.

The first and the most important tip of it all is for you coaches to build and sharpen your ‘marketing mind’ (instead of just developing your ‘product mind’).

By having a marketing mind means becoming ‘ hunters’ who dare and want to go out into the jungles of the unknown marketplace to find their hunt (or opportunities) instead of staying under the shade of the cool and comfortable ‘coconut tree’, waiting for the fruits to fall which might not happen at all.

This staying under the cool shade of the coconut tree means becoming addicted to their comfort zone: for instance, they like to be in front of their laptops, in the privacy of our homes, quiet libraries, big bookshops, the closed doors of training rooms and so on.   Another e.g. would be putting your professional life in the hands of middlemen to market your services to customers while you wait and wait for them to give us the good news soon.

The hard truth is: purely staying on as ‘product experts’ (just building their skills alone) does not often bring them sufficient coaching opportunities to remain as ‘Coach Movers’.

I personally know of quite a few good coaches who solely focused on further improving their product skills and knowledge to gain success alone.   So they spent their life savings to earn more and more qualifications.   They ended up disappointed and disillusioned because the customers did not automatically come to their doorsteps and neither did they know how to get them at all.

A ‘marketing minded’ coach has 4 invaluable attributes:

One of them is a creative and innovative mind. With this, they stand out among the many and reach customers better and faster.

To have this, always ask yourself 2 coaching questions:

a) How can I be positively different from most of my competitors?

b) What will get customers’ attention, faster?  

The 2nd attribute is the human quality of courage, determination and perseverance.  

The road to success is a long and winding road (like the Beatles say) for no matter how good you or your services are, you are bound to face many failures and disappointments along the way.

To stay on strong against this, always ask yourself 2 coaching questions:

a) What is my biggest benefit when I stay courageous and fearless at all times?

b) What will I tell myself to stay this way when the going is tough?

The 3rd one is the quality of people connection.

Always remember the best product means nothing to the customer if he doesn’t like or trust you.   And you have little time to build this; you have to be quick and fast at all times.  But when you know how to do this well, the impossible becomes possible.

Always ask yourself these 2 coaching questions:

a) What can I do to make my customers feel very special?

b) What is the best way to greatly impress them?

Finally, the 4th one is your discipline to deliver excellent service consistently.

Bear in mind, you can only disappoint the customer once, and that’s usually the end of the story.   So always deliver with true passion and maximum commitment. This will automatically empower you to give your all to wow them.

Always ask yourself these 2 coaching questions:

a) Which areas of my service will wow my customers most?

b) What will make my service a most unforgettable experience for them?

Staying on course will surely bring you lots of goodness and also to the people who come into your life.

For when you grow, everyone grows, and the coaching community will grow; ……  and grow we will, to become a vibrant coach community!

This is truly my dream, my hope and prayer for you all.

So let’s all be ‘Coach Movers’. We are built to last!!

 

A Man Of All Seasons 

You won’t miss Richard Hoy in a crowd. This tall, handsome, macho, sociable, confident, healthy looking, white bearded gentleman catches most eyes.  I guess it’s his built, personality, charms and mannerisms that attract attention to him. 

The uniqueness of this gentleman is his all roundedness where his external front matches his inner self well.  Here’s a man with some of the finest qualities.  Probably the one that stands out best is his life philosophy of ‘putting more life into his years’, instead of ‘more years into his life’. 

Because of this I had the great honor of having him as my coach student in order to become a Professional Certified Coach some 8 years ago at the age of 70!

Where many would have already packed up their bags, Richard lives every minute of his life with grace.  He has many other pursuits; learning is one, holidaying is the other, having a good time partying yet another and not forgetting the fact that he is running an insurance agency as well.  All these make him so complete.

Today at 78, Richard is still rearing to go.  Indeed, he’s unstoppable.  If anyone of us wants to look for a role model, you can find one right within our immediate circle!

We hear so many stories about success but few about fulfilment.  Richard certainly has both.

That’s why I regard him as a ‘man of all seasons’. 

 

I MISS YOUR LOVE LETTERS, SWEE CHOO!

I still received ‘love letters’ every year from Swee Choo until last year when she was diagnosed with cancer. Every year, this dear friend and old colleague of mine never missed a year to send lovely love letters, a nice soft and crunchy biscuits that we savor during Chinese New Year. This chain of love letters went on for more than 10 to 15 years, even after I left Reliance where we both lived separate lives –she in retirement and I as a Corporate Coach in my own company.  

When many would have regarded me as irrelevant or of no use to them when I resigned from my position of power, this special lady still remembered me for what I am, and not what I could do for her.

Her tin of ‘love letters’ every year before CNY, were expression of a different kind of love- a special, close relationship, kindness and most of all, her gratitude for being her friend when I was her superior when she was a tour manager then. Somehow, she would get it delivered every year, no matter what even though she was in Melaka when I was in Kuala Lumpur. On one occasion, she even took the trouble to attend my birthday here when she was not in the best state of health.

Last week, Swee Choo left us at the age of 77. She may be gone, but her humility, kindness and gratitude will forever be etched in my heart, not only me, but my family and the hundreds of people and fellow tour managers who had a chance to experience her special friendship.

Like it is said, we all have friends or acquaintances, but very few true friends. Swee Choo is definitely one of the few in my world. Indeed, it is so hard to find genuine friends like her.  We all have our hard way of finding out, knowing who is still around you when you are down or when you are of no use to them.

Only true friends stay with you through thick and thin. They have no expectations on others; only memories that never left them no matter for how long.  No wonder, she was a star when she was with her passengers on her Europe tours. They adored her for her demeanor and most of her, her down-to-earth simplicity, and heart of gold.

May the Lord always protect her in His arms …. and I am looking forward to meeting you, Swee Choo, again when my time comes.  

What Does Attending 3 Funerals In A Row Means To Me?

This April month seems like a strong reminder to me that life is so fragile but more importantly is, how prepared are we for this final moment on this earth.  

Attending 3 funerals, and losing 3 people you know in just  two weeks leaves a strong impact on me. It was a bit too much to bear really. Sadness in losing them is one, fear of this eventuality that will happen to me or my very closed ones is next, and anxiety is the other as in my Christian teaching it says that ‘God will come like a thief in the night, striking at the least unexpected moment’.  So when will it be my turn? 

Well, as much as we strengthen ourselves in all aspects of our well being to deal with death – be it courage, resilience, acceptance and letting go off attachments, facing death in our own home front is a totally different matter. In an eulogy by Anne Tee, (who’s also a coach who lost her youthful husband so suddenly),  she told everyone there at the wake that ‘I often advised my friends to take consolation  if someone dies from  a sudden heart attack as it’s the easiest and best way to die’. But she admitted tearfully that when this same thing happened to her husband, she just couldn’t bear it. She now knows that there is no escape from sorrow when it comes to death. Hearing her account was a most revealing moment of what death can do to us. 

I have been thinking very hard on how to deal with this inevitable fate of death. In a way we are all cornered, there’s no way out. So comes the coaching question, “What is the best of no best thing to do”?  This got me to this conclusion that the most mitigating measures we can do are mainly 2. One is to never take our loved ones for granted and to treat them well like as if we are having them around us for the last time.  Treat them well, be selfless to them. Two is to be always prepared for it both spiritually and emotionally. On the spiritual side, it is to be close to God in our prayers and deeds. Emotionally, it is to live purposefully, doing whatever we enjoy and not forgetting to leave something behind for others, called it, your footstep, or legacy or a just good memory.  

So as long as we are still around, consider this living for the day as living on borrowed time that God is still giving us. The least we can do is to stay positive and happy but this won’t be enough if we forget to profusely thank and be grateful to Him for this bonus.  

 

Of ‘Chap Fun’ and ‘Economy Rice’

There’s really a lot of good in a ‘Chap Fun’ dish or commonly called ‘Economy Rice’.  I notice that more and more food outlets are offering this dish to cater to the increasing number of busy people or rather to the increasing number of budget conscious eaters in these challenging times.    

I owe a lot to this dish for it had helped me to survive in my early working years.  I really like it to this day for there is good value for money with its plentiful dishes to choose from including some really delicious ones at reasonable prices!  

While I’m very positive about this dish as a culinary choice, I detest it when people and organisations make the ‘Chap Fun’ way of eating as their way of life.  It is evident in so many ways: clustered workplaces, quick fix solutions, short-cutting processes, thoughtless way of making decisions, and low quality output, to name a few examples. The results is dismal: poor outputs, careless mistakes, and even poor attitude towards work or life.  

Here lies the paradox – while I am fond of ‘Chap Fun’ as a dish, I will try not to apply it in my personal and professional life lest it causes me to subscribe to a low quality life of carelessness, irresponsibility and crudeness.    

My value system propels me to believe that a certain measure of quality is needed from us, human beings, to make a statement or send a message about who we are. Not only will it help us to gain respect from others and increase our personal influence, but it is also a form of good personal self-care that we should bestow on ourselves for a holistic life and well-being.    

Like the saying goes, ‘a clustered desk often reflects a clustered mind’ as well.  

So, when I work with people, I will be watchful of those who try to apply the ‘Chap Fun’ method in their dealings with me.  I really have a low tolerance for such people.  

But when ‘Chap Fun’ comes in a ‘gastronomical’ context, I have an addictive urge to go for it. My body language will reveal how I yearn for it!    

So, this is one of my life’s greatest paradoxes.  

 

A Room At the Bottom of the Stairs

If you have been a fan of Eddie Rabbit and his famous song called ‘A room at the top of the stairs’, you will strike a chord with this blog title, as is the direct opposite of the title of this famous song some 20 years ago.

However, even if you are not a fan of Eddie Rabbit, you would agree with me that the room at the top is better than the one below, isn’t it? The one above connotes enjoying the space and fresh air while the one below is constrained by space and free flow of fresh air, including the sense of being “neglected”.

I know of at least 2 married couples whose other half have been relegated to this lower status of a room beneath the stairs so to speak; yet to the public eye, they are perceived to be happily living together! Indeed, they are seen going out for dinners, even holidaying together.

I can’t fathom the making of this matrimonial decision where one is given the privilege of sleeping in the master room while the other is banished to live like a maid in the maid’s room!  Is this about cruelty, selfishness, disrespect or what?  Whatever is the reason, this utter disregard for human dignity and human rights to a spouse is very difficult for me to understand, much less to forgive.

It really saddens me to come to know of such despicable cases. Frankly, for me to stay positive always is tough no matter how upbeat I am about life and people.  Jolts like this one remind me of the stark reality that our world still has people who are out of their mind, or are simply heartless. Coming to terms with it and putting up a front that I know about it is difficult especially when I know these couples well.  It is very tough indeed.

Being a married person myself, I fully sympathise with the sadness, misery and shame of the person who has to go through life ‘living at the bottom of the stairs’.   Can you imagine when one party breaks the most fundamental matrimonial vow of living together in harmony and equality? Where’s the little love left, where’s the trying our best to stay together for better or for worse?

Such ill-treatment breaks all decent rules of living. To me, it is equal to maiming someone badly and left to die but am still unable to die. So they just hang on, till when, only God knows.

I offer no advice in this blog for this weird phenomenon as I am totally blown off my mind to stay sound on suggesting what’s next.  However, my intention is to bring to light that such hard truth can happen.  So stay mindful and feel for the other party.  I appeal to my readers to never ever think of doing this to another person.  Spread the word around too.  You must always remember that we all have a sacred duty and a conscience to have a heart.  If we can’t do this, then the least we can do is to bear with one another out of pure compassion and respect.

Life is too short for anyone to leash out such cruelty to another human being, worse still if this person is the other half whom they have committed to each other.

Always remember ‘what goes around, comes around’.

65 and Still Learning

Another year has whizzed past me; I turned 65 years old about 3 weeks ago.

While getting older every year is mandatory and a known fact of life, every one of these birthday anniversaries of mine carry its own uniqueness, even significance and a learning lesson as well.

When I was young, my birthday was a non-event as my parents were too poor to celebrate for me and all the other 6 children.  I used to feel somewhat sad but not deprived (when I compared my birthday event with my classmates and friends) as there was this inner voice that told me ‘to be patient and strong’ because some day I would get all the celebrations I want.  This is true for now I could have whatever kind of birthday celebrations I want, and for my loved ones as well.  I learned one great lesson in life – be patient.

Celebrating birthdays came about only when I was in UK in the 70s when my foster mum and ex-boss, the late Sister Thomas Chan would personally cooked for me a few dishes on all my 3 birthdays in a row when I was working under her.  Here I learned the lessons of kindness, gratitude and love from someone who didn’t have to but wanted to.

Since then my birthdays were always celebrated in different context and measures as well; some were big affairs, and some were small ones.  They carried different meanings, leaving behind sweet memories and different lessons as well.

I remember there was one time when I woke up in Melbourne on my birthday and had the whole bunch of ex-employees in KL singing the birthday song for me in Facebook. This not only touched me but I learned the lesson that we should always try to do good things to earn trust and respect from people.

My recent 65th birthday also unfolded a new lesson of life for me. In a way I was glad that this one was totally celebrated with some special like-minded old friends of mine, and the family was not in this equation at all!

It was an event out of default rather than planned for.  My whole family was in Melbourne at that time to support my younger son, Jeremy, who has made a very big stride in his life for getting enrolled in college there!  We are so glad for him.  A big birthday present for me in many ways!

So, on the other side of the planet, I became  a ‘temporary bachelor’ during this stretch of time that included my birthday. I had a choice: to celebrate it all alone because no one was around, or I could reverse the circumstances by having a party with some close social friends. Which I did.  It became very meaningful and eventful as well.

The first part of this special day was celebrated with some very nice ex-working colleagues in a traditional birthday lunch in a very fine Thai restaurant.  It was one of the best Thai lunch I ever had.  I felt so touched again to have this lunch with them for so many years without fail, as a boss and also now not as a boss. I learned this lesson that one should keep and treasure good friendship with special friends.

The second part was a ‘wild bachelor party’ with some special like-minded temporary bachelors who were without their spouses.  It was a convergence of some good and different friends coming together whom I knew and became close at different phases of my life.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in our natural ways without any pretense.  This one taught me the lesson that I need to invest in getting closer in friendship and relationship with good friends to spice up our aging life (or else suffer in loneliness); more so when I am getting older!

We all have our learning moments as we pass through the different stages of our lives.  We may grow older, but never to lose out in enjoying and learning from life especially in very special moments.

In my case, my birthdays are also my ‘classroom’ for learning about myself, my life and the special people who celebrates it with me!

 

What I See In Donald Trump

I knew that Donald Trump was going to be the next US President when I heard him speak for the first time in his campaigns.  Actually except for our Malaysian politics and elections, I have had scant interest in any other country’s elections  but somehow this towering guy caught all my attention and I gradually grew to admire him more and more as a person with presidential material or rather a person who will be the most powerful person in the world.

What is it that I see in this man that many don’t see? Why do I see him in awe while others see him in disgust, and fear? With an ‘appreciative eye’, here’s what I like to share with you.

I see in this man, a big compelling vision for his people and the world as well. His ‘Make America Great Again’ is really mind blowing for it says so much, means so much to the ordinary people of America and the world.  It is a slogan that’s so alive and real rather than a cold rhetoric statement. This sharply contrasts with his opponent’s ‘Stronger Together’ which meant so little. His vision means a better and a safer world for not just Americans but mankind. Indeed, ‘Greatness’ is definitely more compelling than ‘Stronger’.

I see in this man, very strong connecting and communication skills, whose demeanour and choices of words resonate well with the hearts and minds of ordinary folks rather than suit the upper and educated class. His speeches are so down to earth, simple and practical that the masses can relate to, unlike his opponent’s.  Like it’s said “not everything motivates but we got to know what motivates who”. Donald Trump certainly knows this better than many, including his opponent.

Probably what really separates this great man from the others is his high appreciative intelligence. He was really an underdog in all sense. The media was not with him, the ruling government was not with him, and even many of his own people were not with him. Even with this serious downside, he rose to the occasion because he went for the people who meant most to his victory- the ordinary folks once again. He made sure he fully leveraged on them for his eventual victory.

I truly admire this man, he taught me a lot, and I believe he is the New Hope to our world!