Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Free lunch?



Last year, we organised a huge dinner getogether party, at almost RMB300 per head - buffet dinner with wine in a posh club in Hong Qiao. One of my young guests, Alina asked if her friend - a university mate, could come for free. The said girl really loved the theme of the party but had little money. 

I said No. 

Sound harsh? Maybe. 

Hang on, why do you think I said No? 

Well, I said No for a number of reasons. 

First, if the girl said she has no money and yet wish to come, and in turn, asked if she could offer to help in some way, I would welcome her. 

Why so?

Because this way, she is not expecting charity. She is working her right to get a seat at the table. And for that, she has my full respect. I have nothing against people with little money, I have something strongly against full bodied adults asking for free lunch. We all know there is no free lunch, yes?

Secondly, some people do not always value receiving the thing they ask for if they get it for nothing. This is especially true for people who ask for free things from complete strangers. In this case, I am the stranger. 

Lastly, this girl's basic values on money, self accountability and respecting others are different from mine and I even dare say, different from my guests'. 

Let's stop for a moment and think. When was the last time we asked for something without expecting to give something back in turn? Maybe we asked a colleague to help on a project but didn't even offer a sincere thank you in return, let alone offer to treat coffee or a small thoughtful gift. Hmmm...makes you think hard right?

Anyway, back to Alina, after listening to my explanation, she shared these wise words, "I understand now, the most important thing is to help others with their thinking and let them know where to go, what and how to do, instead of doing everything for them". 

That's good summary indeed!

Because I believe when charity is offered wrongly; on a long run, it hurts more than help the person we set out to help in the first place. 


免费的午餐?
去年,我组织了一场大型聚会,与会者每人需付300元场地费,包括自助餐,红酒和雅致的活动场所。消息一出,艾琳娜,我最年轻的客人之一,询问我是否有可能邀请她的一位校友免费参加,因为这位朋友很喜欢比次派对的主题,只是她没有很多钱。
我说不可以。
听起来很无情吗?也许吧。
但是仔细思考一下,为什么我会说不?
出于种种原因,我说了不。
首先,如果这个女孩当初说她没有钱但是很想来,并且愿意为比次派对做些什么以换取入场资格,我会非常欢迎她。
为什么?
因为这样一来,她并没有在等待救助,而是通过劳动来换取这里的一席座位。如果她这样做,我会给她我全部的尊重。我从不歧视穷人,但我极度反感身体健全的乞讨者。天底下没有免费的午餐,这是我们人人都知道的道理,不是吗?
其次,对于轻易得来的东西,人们往往不懂得珍惜,尤其是对那些向陌生人伸手要东西的人,而在这种情况下,我是一个陌生人。
最后,这个女孩的几本金钱观,自我责任感以及尊重他人的意识与我不同,并且我敢打赌,与我所有客人的都不同,而我的派对上并不需要这样的人。
让我们停下来想一想,我们最后一次只求索取而不想回报的时候是何时?或许我们曾请同事帮助自己做项目,却连一句真心的感谢都没给予,更别提请他喝一杯咖啡或给她一份别致的礼物。
有没有想到头痛?
不论如何,让我们再回到艾琳娜。在听完我的解释后,她说了这样的话,"现在我明白了,帮助别人最重要的是帮助他们学会思考,让他们知道可以去哪里,应该做什么和怎样做。而不是替他们承担一切。“
这确实是一个很好的总结。
因为我相信,当慈善用错了方式,从长远来讲,我们是在害那个原本要帮助的人,而非在帮助他。

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Difference between being indifferent and being different.



The difference between indifferent and being different

Helping a friend to raise funds for medical treatment for a boy who has gone deaf due to ear infection, I learnt a valuable lesson in life. 

Those who want to help, help. With enough facts, they usually have no or little questions asked. They just chip in. This included a 10 year old boy in my photography class!

Others - they just keep asking more questions - who is this boy, do you know him, can he find cheaper medical help? They keep pressing. How deep is the mud? What colour is the mud? Why did he step into the mud? (And did they help after we answered the questions - I leave you to guess!)

So- when I received this photo - I just have to laugh.....yes, we may go through the same stuff differently. And so, the questions are normal. However, Be thankful that we are blessed not to be deaf due to a ear infection, and let this difference not be our reason to stay indifferent to others.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Star Newspaper - Accountant helps Bhutanese weavers achieve financial independence




http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/03/09/weaving-a-success-story/

Adapted from Star Newspapers:

PETALING JAYA: Despite being a chartered accountant, Quin SQ Thong has proven that she does more than crunching the numbers.

The Malaysian, who has been based in Hong Kong since 1998, started “Ana by Karma”, a project which helps illiterate weavers in Bhutan improve their lives.

Her story began two years ago when she visited Bhutan for the second time and met Karma Yangchi, a weaver whom she had previously encountered during a 2003 visit.

Quin, a woman of compassion, discovered that the weaver was struggling to make ends meet then.

So, she offered US$200 (RM822) to Karma so that she could buy a sewing machine and produce items like bags and pillow cases for sale.

Karma turned her down. Instead, Quin helped Karma to sell her scarves.

Quin posted photographs of the scarves on Facebook and overnight, over 40 orders came in. In two weeks, 100 were sold. This rose to 1,000 within four months.

“When I put the money in Karma’s hands, she burst into tears,” she recounted, Karma being overwhelmed that this is the money she has earned with her own effort

That encounter sparked a social enterprise that transformed the lives of a community of Bhutanese weavers.

Their success put the entire village to work, giving rise to “Ana by Karma”.

In less than18 months after the first batch of scarves were sold, they earned 34 years worth of income for the women, who previously had none.

“Ana by Karma gave them pride and dignity,” said Quin.

(In the eastern Bhutanese language, Ana means sister.)

Quin’s love for the community did not end there.

For many years, the Kuala Lumpur-born accountant volunteered her time to teach financial literacy to children, culminating to publishing a book with Oxford University Press for children to learn wealth management.

She is doing something similar in Bhutan now, for the women to learn financial literacy.

“Our weavers are mostly illiterate. They usually lack the skills and knowledge to manage money. This include learning foreign currency concepts, something that seemed complex to learn but Quin disclosed that she has a special way to teach even 7 year olds understand forex".

“By teaching them financial literacy, whatever money they earn can be used wisely,” said Quin, who works with a UK consulting firm which offers corporate solutions.

Despite her impressive resume, Quin insisted that she was merely a “simple girl” who hoped to encourage others to help the less privileged.

Monday, 7 March 2016

She is made of gold



When we heard the news from our teacher, we all burst into tears. One of our classmate - also 7 years old, Merlin was badly hurt in a fire. 

Few months later, she came back to school, scarred for life from the tragedy. Her face melted by the fire - and after multiple plastic surgery became so very scarred and raw red, her arms' were also severely affected - scarred by fire and the operations. Inside me, I wondered with an ache what pain my little friend must have gone through and what the future holds for her. Yet each time I saw her in school, she was smiling, she was happy.  

Once she even comforted me when I was feeling low. I thought to myself - what a soul. After we left school we lost touch. Often I would think of Merlin. 

Late last year, we reconnected on Facebook. Merlin is happily married, has a great job and is still upbeat and happy as I remember her to be. She takes selfies, lots of photos when on holiday and smiles her big smile. She said that she is able to keep positive because her friends treated her normally. 

Merlin - thank you for being an inspiration. On this women's day, I am glad to share your wonderful story to all ladies. My friends, When you think your problems will eat you alive, think of 7 year old Merlin - who came out of the fire with brilliance and positivity. She must be made of gold. Because there is a chinese saying, real gold is not afraid of fiery fire. 真金不怕紅爐火

Happy women's day

In her own words "The moral of the story is to teach ppl, we hv to stay positive n it is also important that the friends or ppl to always give moral support."

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Can money buy happiness?


It's the age-old question: Can money buy happiness?

Much of the time, our energy and focus is on work and career, which primarily is about the chase for the almighty dollar. Generally, people want more for basic needs, including a roof over their heads, food, clothing and maybe a car.

And we all want more of the fun things money can buy, including vacations, entertainment and the latest high-tech toys

It can be a valuable exercise to take a step back from the daily grind to examine what money means to you and how you spend it. "I think deep down, the brain equates money not so much with happiness as with security and survival. These are nonnegotiable values, primal motivators," says Kenneth Reid, founder of DayTradingPsychology.com.

"Research shows that the greatest psychological stress occurs when one is unable to act in one's own best interest," Reid says. "But when we are able act in accordance with those primal imperatives, we feel a sense of deep satisfaction. Such acts can be as simple as clipping a coupon and saving 25 cents."

Ultimately, the goal of money managementis to provide discipline and a process for doing the things we must do that may not feel good at the time but are crucial to our future success, says Joshua Wilson, chief investment officer at WorthePoint Financial in Fort Worth, Texas. "Money shouldn't be viewed as a score card, but as a ticket to different degrees of freedom. Some people require more to get to the degree of freedom that they need."

Money can have paradoxical effects, Reid says. "We've all heard stories about how sudden wealth, such as lottery winnings, can be disruptive, even devastating, to a person or a family. A phrase comes to mind from complexity theory: 'more is different.' It means that scale brings unique challenges. Too much, too soon can be as bad as too little, too late."

Behavioral economists have identified some ways money could increase levels of happiness.

Neil Krishnaswamy, a certified financial planner for Exencial Wealth Advisors in Plano, Texas, recommends the book "Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending" by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton. "This book provided me with great insights, particularly in how we think about our discretionary spending," he says. "Once our essential, or nondiscretionary, expenses are met, how should we think about spending our discretionary dollars in ways that lead to real, lasting fulfillment? If we're more conscious of how our spending is connected to our values and learn from some of the recent scientific research, we might just be able to use money in a way that really does buy happiness."

Science shows that there are several ways we can spend money more effectively to increase life satisfaction.

Read the original article on U.S. News & World Report.  on Twitter.

我们 (Wo Men) help Women


Sitting beautiful in their resplendent colourful Kameez (blouse for Pakistani fashion), my audience literally made me shiver in my shalwar (pants for Pakistani wear). I was expecting wannabe women entrepreneurs, recent graduates looking to start up something and young entrepreneurs. Instead, before me is a roomful of successful Pakistani business women, multi billion enterprises in fashion, culinary, arts, etc and also the first woman to qualify as chartered accountant and first female to lead a Big 4 accounting practice. All VIPS in business. 

And so why am I shaking in my pants? because I was about to talk about the journey of Ana by Karma, a budding social enterprise that warmed hearts and inspired others to contribute their talent - not their money. Ana by Karma is sooooo small compared to their vast achievements. It should be them on the stage sharing. Not me. Shiver shiver. 

However - as I shared our stories, these distinguished ladies smile their knowing smile - yes, they have been there too. Yes. They followed their hearts. And yes, their ideas were copied by others. And oh yes, too many people came to them with too many suggestions how to run their business better. 

That afternoon, we laughed, we commiserated and we cried when I told them I cried when I saw how confident, self assured Karma and the weavers became when we empower them. When we give them hope. When we acknowledge their capabilities. 

I must have taken them back to the early days of their business start up, when things are uncertain, support from others are weak, recognition is sparse. And we all agreed. Taking action is the key to make dreams come true. 

When time came up, we hugged our good byes and promised to keep in touch to help each other. They touched my cheek and said. Keep going forward.

That afternoon. I am the one who received empowerment. Thank you LadiesFund, and OUP. Thank you  






www anabykarma.com

Hope@anabykarma.com











Friday, 4 March 2016

He needs a book...


Cha Cha and The Forest of Wisdom is inspired by a 8 year old boy from Korangi Pakistan- he said to me in 2013, "Miss I want a sweet but need a book." I wonder what book I can give to him to help him build a bright future. The next day, the CEO of a prominent bank in Pakistan came up with the answer. He asked me to write a book on what I taught the children the day before - Wealth Management. He said, This way millions and millions of children can benefit.

"Write a book?" It is as incredulous as asking me to build a rocket.

Then like magic, the best of chartered accountants from Pakistan literally dropped into my email box and a few months later after many whats app, emails and some skype, Malik Mirza and I started to design and build "the rocket" to launch children into the Wealth Management space. 

Last week 26-28 Feb 2016, at the Children's Literacy Festival in Karachi organised by Oxford University Press our publisher and ITA, we launched THE book, the very book to place in the hands of the boy who inspired it all, and many many more children around the world. It is the most wonderful feeling ever.

Want to join Malik and me on this incredible journey? We have prepared teaching aids, PPTs and fun activities. Our photobook to share with you the joy of the children over the weekend. And our joy. #clfkhi2016

"When you follow your heart and do what is right, the whole universe would conspire to make it fantastic"












Saturday, 6 February 2016

Huahin Street photography



Night owl


Eat me now




Colour me healthy



Rows of devotion



Hotel from yonder years



Wow. Sharp teeth

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Happiness by Harvard University


Be Happy New Year 2016 Formula🙏
哈佛大学推荐20个快乐的习惯
Harvard University Recommended 20 happy habit

1. Be grateful. 
要学会感恩。

Slow down, look around you, and pay attention to the little details in your life – the delicate purple flower on the sidewalk, the beautiful sunset, the hot shower that washes away your long day, and the smile in your partner’s eyes…
让自己变慢脚步,看看你的四周,关注生活中的细微之处:人行道上淡紫色的花,美丽的日落,洗去你一天疲惫的淋浴,伴侣眼中的笑容。


When you have a grateful heart that is appreciative of life’s beautify, wonder and blessings, you’re automatically filled with happiness.
当你的感恩之心能够欣赏生活的美,思考和祝福,你自然就充满了幸福感。

2. Choose your friends wisely.
明智的选择自己的朋友。

According to Harvard, the most important external factors affecting individual happiness are human relationships. So if you want to be happy, choose to be around people who are optimistic, who appreciate you as you are, and who can make your life richer, bigger, more fun, and more meaningful.
根据哈佛,影响个人幸福最重要的外部因素是人际关系。所以如果你想变得开心的话,要选择和乐观的朋友在一起,他们能欣赏你真实的自己,让你的生活变得更丰富,快乐,有意义。




3. Cultivate compassion.
培养同情心。

When we try to step into other people’s shoes and understand a situation from another’s perspective, we’re more likely to handle the situation with compassion, objectivity and effectiveness. There will be less conflicts and more happiness.
当我们代替别人,站在另一个角度看问题,我们更能用同情心,客观和有效的处理问题。生活中就会少一些冲突,多一点快乐。



4. Keep learning.
不断学习。

Learning keeps us young and dreams keep us alive. When we engage our brains and put them toward productive uses, we’re less likely to dwell on unhappy thoughts and much more likely to feel happy and fulfilled.
学习让我们保持年轻,梦想让我们充满活力。我们运用大脑,进行运作的时候,我们就不大会想不开心心的事情,我们会变得更开心和满足。



5. Become a problem solver.
学会解决问题。

Happy people are problem solvers. When they encounter a challenge in life, they don’t beat themselves up and fall into a depressive state. Instead, they face up to the challenge and channel their energies toward finding creative a solution. By becoming a problem solver, you’ll build up your self-confidence and your ability to accomplish whatever it is you set your mind to – and whatever challenges life throws your way.
开心的人是会解决问题的人。在生活中遇到挑战的时候,他们不会自虐,然后变得很消沉。他们会直面挑战,调动全身力量寻找解决办法。通过变成一个解决问题的人,你会建立自己的自信心和下决心要的事情和直面挑战的能力。

6. Do what you love.
做你想做的事情。

Since we spend over one-third of our adult life working, loving what we do has a huge impact on our overall happiness. If this is not possible at the moment, then try to find enjoyment and meaning in your current work, or cultivate a hobby that involves doing something you love.
既然我们成人生活的三分之一时间都在工作,那么做我们想做的事对我们的整体辛福感就有很大的影响。如果现在不能做你想做的事情,那就试着在你现在的工作中寻找快乐和意义,或者培养一个你喜爱的兴趣。



7. Live in the present.
活在当下。

When you feel depressed, you’re living in the past. When you feel worried or anxious, you’re living in the future. But when you feel content, happy and peaceful, you’re living in the present.
你感到沮丧,是因为你活在过去。你会感到担忧和焦虑,是因为你活在未来。但是当你感到满足,开心和平和时,你才是活在当下。



8. Laugh often.
要经常笑。

Laughter is the most powerful anecdote to anger or depression. Research has shown that the simple act of curving the corners of your mouth can increase your feeling of happiness. So don’t take life too seriously. Try to find humor and laughter in life’s everyday struggles.
笑是对抗生气或沮丧最有力的的东西。研究表明简单的嘴巴上扬也可以增加你的幸福感。不要把生活看的太严肃。要学会在每日的奋斗中寻找幽默感和笑声。

9. Practice forgiveness.
学会原谅。

Resentment and anger are forms of self-punishment. When you forgive, you’re actually practicing kindness to yourself. And most importantly, learn to forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s through our mistakes that we learn and grow to become a bigger and better person.
憎恨和生气是对自我的惩罚。当你释怀的时候,事实上你是在对自己施以善意。最重要的是,学会原谅自己。每个人都犯错。只有通过我们的错误,我们才慢慢学会如何成为一个更强大,更好的人。




10. Say thanks often. 
要经常说谢谢。

Always be appreciative of the blessings in your life. And it’s equally important to express your appreciation to those who’ve made your life better in some way, big or small.
对生活中的祝福要学会欣赏。向那些让你生活变好的人,无论或大或小,表达出你的欣赏之情也同样重要。

11. Create deeper connections.
学会深交。

Our happiness multiplies when we connect and bond with another human being on a deeper level. And being fully present and listening are two of the most important skills to strengthening that bond and bringing happiness to ourselves, and to others.
我们的幸福感会在和另一个人的深交中不断猛增。专注聆听是加强这种关系纽带和把幸福感带给自己和别人的两个最重要的方面。


12. Keep your agreement.
守承诺。

Our self-esteem is built on the agreements we’ve made with ourselves. And high self-esteem has a direct correlation to happiness. So keep your agreements with others and with yourself.
我们的自尊是建立在我们对自己守承诺的情况下。高度的自尊和幸福感有直接关联。所以要对自己和别人遵守承诺。



13. Meditate.
冥想。

According to Harvard, people who take 8 sessions of mindfulness meditation training are, on average, 20% happier than a control group. Such training can lead to structural brain changes including increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
根据哈佛,平均上,上过8次冥想训练的人要比控制狂多开心20%。这样的训练可以导致大脑结构变化,包括海马体黑色物质的密度,其对学习和记忆很重要,在结构上和自我意识,同情心和反省。

14. Focus on what you’re doing.
关注你在做的事情。

When you put your mind, heart and soul into what you’re doing, you’re creating a happiness state – called the “flow.” When you’re living in the flow, you’re less likely to care about what others may think of you, and less bothered by things that are not that important. The result? More happiness, of course!
当你全身心投入一件事的时候,你就会处于一个开心的状态。当我们处于这种状态,你就不大会关心别人对你怎么看,不大会被不大重要的事情干扰。结果呢?更幸福,当然啦!


15. Be optimistic. 
要乐观。

For happy people, the glass is always half-full. If your tendency is to imagine the very worst-case scenario every time you face a challenge, then train yourself to reverse that tendency. Ask yourself what good can come out of the situation or what you can learn from it. Optimism surely fuels success and happiness.
对于开心的人来说,玻璃都一直是半满的。每当你面对一个挑战时,如果你倾向于想象最坏的想法,那就自我转换这种情况。告诉你自己一个状况中的好处或者你从中学到的东西。乐观肯定能驱动成功和幸福感。


16. Love unconditionally.
无条件的爱。

No one is perfect. Accept yourself for all of your imperfections. And do so for others. Loving someone unconditionally does not mean that you need to spend all your time with them or help them figure out their problems. Unconditional love means accepting people as they are, and allowing them to find their own ways, at their own pace.
没人是完美的。接受你自己所有的不完美。也要这样对待别人。无条件的爱一个人并不意味着你要花所有的时间和他们在一起,或者帮助他们解决问题。无条件的爱意味着接受真实的他们,以他们自己的步伐,让他们自己摸索。



17. Don’t give up.
不要放弃。

Unfinished projects and repeated defeats inevitably dampen one’s self-esteem. If you’ve made up your mind to do something, see it through. Don’t give up until you succeed. Remember, failure is temporary but defeat is permanent. And defeat only occurs when you give up.
没有完成的方案和不断的失败不可避免的会削弱你的自尊。如果你决定做某事,做完它。在成功之前都不要放弃。要记住,失败是暂时的,打败的永存的。只有当你放弃的时候,你才会被打败。

18. Do your best and then let go.
做最好的自己,然后放手。

Everyone has limitations, and things don’t always turn out to be what we’d like them to be – despite our efforts. So always give your best, and then let go. Let events run their course. When you’ve done your best, you’ll have no regrets.
每个人都有局限性。而且有时候尽管我们很努力做一件事情,但是总会事与愿违。所以做最好的自己,然后放手。当你尽了全力,你就没有遗憾了。



19. Take care of yourself. 
好好照顾自己。

A healthy body is the key to happiness. If you have poor health, it’s very difficult to be happy no matter how hard you try. So make sure you eat well, exercise and find time to rest. Take good care of your body, your mind and your spirit.
一个健康的身体是幸福的关键。如果你身体不好,你无论如何努力,都很难快乐。确信自己吃得好,做锻炼,找点时间休息。好好照顾你的身体,大脑和精神。


20. Give back. 
学会给予。

Doing good is one of the surest ways to feel good. According to Harvard, when people do good, their brains becomes active in the very same reward center that is stimulated when they experience other rewards. So it’s not a surprise that people who care more about others are happier than those who care less about others.
做好事是最能确保你心情好的方法之一。根据哈佛,人们做好事,他们的大脑变得活跃,就好像当你经历别的奖励时,大脑所受的刺激。所以,那些关心别人的人要比不大关心别人的人更开心。


Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Karma of Things



With 2015 fast closing its curtain upon us, I reflected on the year. Well, in fact - on the last one and half years.

I still clearly remember sitting across Karma Yangchi at the restaurant, persuading her to accept my gift. (I failed). And so, I changed track and asked her instead, to weave something and I help her sell. (Hoo..I succeeded).

And then so many things happened. All I know is scarfs followed me home to Hong Kong, followed me to my trip to Shanghai, Malaysia, Singapore as I distributed them around. Just as I thought - phew - I have done my job and about to wipe my brow -  suddenly, more scarfs were ordered. And more. And then more. And still more!!! Even my husband started to ask "Do your friends eat scarf?" (as he saw the boxes of scarfs arrive - one after another, from summer to winter and back to summer)

But you know whats really nice? It is not only scarfs that arrived. The best kind of people turned up to. Be it old friends, friend of friends, new friends, complete strangers - suddenly they appear in my life and say "Lets talk. I want to help".


My reflection? This must be what it feels like to have good Karma come along. Because she brings the best people to you when she appears.


(PS Why I spell Scarves as Scarfs. Simple. When I spelt it Scarves, some people don't know what it is. I am not kidding!!!!!! So I spelt it Scarfs ...an old fashion way to spell. Why not, we are doing things the old fashion way here. Slowly, nicely, lovingly, carefully)


Photo : Karma and me in Thimphu in November 2015 - by Allan Yeung.