The semester has just started, and I am already here to wish you a happy holiday!

Before you head for your Chinese New Year break, I suggest you to give a few moments thinking about some world issues. That includes:

  • the very big impact of China suddenly opening up the borders for travelling on the whole world; countries happily welcoming Chinese tourists, and then setting strict restrictions on entries, without warning, in prevention of another COVID contagion;
  • the continuous war in Ukraine where people had to sadly pass their Christmas and New Year under fear of shelling and yet having the positive attitudes for living and family gathering;
  • the impact of climate change on countries, such as Switzerland, that rely a lot on winter tourism; there is not enough snow in many of these places; so tourists cancelled their hotel bookings etc., and those who went saw only grasslands instead of enjoying skiing; imagine somewhere in Switzerland having a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius on the New Year’s Eve;
  • back in Macau, over 500 people passed away in 20 days, a number that would normally fill up only in one season, all because of the pandemic related illness; imagine the pressure put on members of the medical sector; imagine how one had to work on 12-hour shift nonstop even when he/she was sick; imagine how family members of the deceased had to cope with the huge loss, ironically in a period of Christmas and New Year when there should be a lot of laughter!
  • and many other issues.

Nothing should be taken for granted! Embrace and appreciate what you have!

Happy New Year of the Rabbit!

Happy New Year!!

What a strange way to end 2022! Have you become sheep (tested positive)? Please take good care! This COVID-19 virus is really good at affecting our health. So even though you are young, you should still rest well! If you have been negative all along, keep it up!

Too bad I cannot even say “welcome back” officially, because you have to do your lectures online before the Chinese New Year break! Really hope to see you in person soon! At least we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now that we are much freer to travel!

It came to my attention that particular graduated HCer(s) expressed only in their exit survey that they do not think they have learnt anything from the HC program, because everything they did with HC was what they have already known. A big congratulations to those who think so! My take is that, if one ever feels knowing everything, one does not know oneself enough! First, how can a person think he/she knows it all? Even a Nobel laureate will not think so. Only either those who are still too naïve, or those who are really narcissistic will have such assumption. Second, I wonder why that was expressed only after graduation; it’s not like one cannot graduate without being HCer. If the person wants the HC certificate, and therefore hang on with HC, I assume that is a very strong signal of the value of HC. So, isn’t this quite counterintuitive?

So, my question for you: At HC, we have identified many attributes that a decent global citizen should have. The simplest ones are ELITE. Please ask yourself how many of these attributes do you think you have, or are good at. If you think you have all of them, you certainly are missing at least one – contribution! If you are that good, why don’t you share your skills, attributes, personality, experiences and knowledge with other HCers by joining different activities? If you think you should be asked, that means you lack “initiative” or “motivation”, which should also be attributes of HCers. Being leaders means being able to step up and stand out to volunteer, and to initiate ideas.

To sum up, if you think you have not learnt much from HC, I am more than happy to have a chat with you to learn about what you think you know. Otherwise, please pause for a moment once in a while and look back, look in the mirror, ask yourself why you think you know everything. Outstanding HCers like you should be able to find that there are a lot in life that you do not know! Please be modest! Being confident is good, but being overconfident is not. Being self-aware is good, being self-centered is not!

Happy weekend! Wish you a great and fruitful 2023!!

This would be my last Friday email this semester as you will have your last school day on Wednesday next week. Hope you have had an insightful and fulfilling semester. This time, I hope you can spare some time to think about what’s going on with the world these couple years. You may then find yourself sighing with “Something is wrong”!

In a recently published book called Restarting the Future: How to Fix the Intangible Economy, Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake, the authors, wrote about how the economies of rich countries have gone wrong. It does not matter whether you major in business, economics, or finance, or NOT, the fact that you live in this world, and in particular, in where you are and where you come from, you should think about what has gone wrong. The authors point out five symptoms: stagnation, inequality, dysfunctional competition, fragility and inauthenticity. It is very common for any economy to experience any one of these, but not all five together as where we are now. In fact, worse of, we are having stagflation! And by inequality, the authors meant “inequality of esteem”. Rich retirees felt left behind, while young and smart graduates are heavily indebted. Competition has become so unreasonable that even the rich feel that they have to work harder to keep up. Next, look at how fragile we have become during COVID-19. People were crazily hunting for masks. None of us had ever imagined that going to a neighboring city is next to impossibility. Finally, after all these years, economic development seems to have relied on “fakeness”. More and more people seem to ask to go back to “making things” (perhaps versus Metaverse?).

I hope you would dig out what these terms mean to the world, and try to understand what our economies have become. I am sure you would be able to learn something that could prepare you for your career development in the future.

Good luck to your examinations, and then a great Christmas and New Year break!

More quotes to share this week. I have previously written emails related to similar thoughts, about which I recap here before each quote. Please give them some thoughts, and hope they can bring you some insights!

1. Changes are always necessary for human advancement, but which we are always reluctant to make. I hope you as HCers will be change-makers!

“We as a society seem unequipped to recognize transformations just as we lack formal processes — other than monetary settlements — for those who have harmed others to make reparations as part of their repentance or transformation. Don’t stop believing that people can change. Most of us have changed with the times — often in increments too slow to recognize until something brings us face-to-face with something we once believed or accepted and now no longer do.” —Rebecca Solnit, author

2. What you chose as your major of study is important, but not always crucial. The very purpose of your university education is to train your logical and critical thinking, and the ability to think outside the box.

“Richard Franke — who for many years served as chief executive of John Nuveen & Co., a Chicago-based fund manager specializing in tax-exempt bonds — was a history major at Yale before earning his MBA degree at Harvard in 1957. He considered his history degree at least as important as his business training. He was more apt to quote Sophocles or Montaigne than any financial guru. He hired people with degrees in philosophy, English, or theology as well as those with financial skills. The humanities, Mr. Franke argued, were the best way to learn communication and critical thinking skills, understand other people, and stay open to adopting new ideas as new information emerged.” —James Hagerty, journalist

3. Teamwork is essential! Be a good teammate!

“With thousands communicating on our behalf daily, no one can whistle a symphony alone. We must operate like an orchestra.” — Purdue University Senior Vice President speaking of the challenge to create community —Ethan Braden, senior executive

4. What can you do as a decent human being?

“There are three things in life you can control — your actions, your efforts, and your attitude.” —Stephanie Linnartz, hospitality executive

As HCers, you are expected to be more sensitive about the world, and about how to make our planet earth better, or how to restore it when it becomes worse.

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27 in short, was opened on Sunday, Nov. 6 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and will last until Nov. 18. As I wrote about COP 26 last year, a major goal was for different countries, particularly the big nations, to promise a time line to reach Net Zero (click on the words for explanation). One year has passed. Unfortunately, because of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, carbon emission has not been improved at all because of shortage of oil and natural gas. For instance, some nations had to go back to coal to generate electricity. Just in April, the United Nations has issued a report on Climate Change and emphasized that “It’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees” (see Report). We are at the verge of no return!!!

This year, one main agenda item is “Governments are expected to evaluate progress on climate pledges centered around cutting emissions, phasing out fossil fuels, ramping up renewable energy use and ensuring that richer countries support poorer nations bearing the brunt of climate change.” (see Washington Post).

How is all this related to you? Do you think you are friendly to the environment? Think about how often you buy items online? How are the items ridiculously heavily packaged? How often do you ask for bags when you buy anything? How often do you walk up and down the stairs when you only go for one or two floors? How long do you shower? Do you know eating more meat that you need is really environmentally unfriendly? I know you only contribute to very little to the world as some of 8 billion human beings on earth. Still, we can make a difference collectively! Think of yourselves so luckily living in such a modern world when you can consume freely, but at the expense of those underdeveloped countries when they did not even have the luxury to have 10% of your consumption. Think of their high mortality, especially for children. No clean water. Drought in some, while serious flood and landslides in others. This list can go on and on.

Please do something! Improve your sense of awareness on climate change!

Did you have an enjoyable week? Or a busy week?

Today’s mail is a sharing of some quotes from some influencers and influential people, with which I also wrote my short interpretation at the beginning of each. Hope you will give them some thoughts. Please feel free to share your opinions with me anytime!

(1) Following my email last week, the length of your writing or speech could be a signal about you:

“Brevity is confidence. Length is fear.” — a paper stuck on the notice board of a startup company.

(2) Do not waste your time on procrastinating:

“There’s never a perfect moment to start. The more we see the beauty in starting small, the more we empower ourselves to get started at all.” — Supriya Mehra, Educator

(3) Can you imagine the Residential College you live in as your second home? This is what our RCs at UM have tried to provide:

“For an artist, home is not just a shelter. It’s a studio, a refuge, a cabinet of secrets, a site of inspiration. It’s where work gets done — work that will someday be released into the world but also — just as crucially — work that will end up in the trash: literally or figuratively. Home is a place to experiment, to make mistakes, to be vulnerable. Home is a place where you never have to defend your creations. There are just as many ways to make art as there is art itself — which is why there’s no prototypical artist’s house” — Hanya Yanagihara, Writer

(4) Do not keep wanting (or in economics term, non-satiated)! Life is not about always having more and more! :

“What do we want this Manchuria — or whatever it is called? There is sufficient land here.” — Leo Tolstoy, writer, the great Russian genius of literature and moral inquiry, on the perspective of concerning launching ambitious wars

(5) When you are down, or feeling lost, see if the following line can help you:

“Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough.” — Thornton Wilder, author

Happy to write to you again! Guess many of you are going to have, or have already had, a lot of midterms and work at this time of the semester. This is why I am sharing this topic. Professors from the MIT Sloan School of Management, among others, have done research on “toxic culture” at work. Workers often find their workplace disrespectful, non-inclusive, unethical, and abusive. Company executives often complain that they do not have enough time to upgrade corporate culture.

A lot of these observations are applicable to our daily lives. Tessa West, professor of psychology at the New Your University and author of a recent book called “Jerks at Work: Toxic Coworkers and What to Do About Them”, made the comments that when a person feels overworked and overwhelmed, his or her tolerance for dealing with difficulties tend to drop. As a person could handle only certain level of stresses at any point in time, once he/she is overwhelmed, he/she will have dampened response, and will shut down. The person will lose the physiological resources to engage with people whom he/she thinks is difficult to handle. He/she tends not to evaluate the situations with high enough accuracy, and tend to lose the ability to regulate his/her own behavior.

So, remember, toxic level rises as your stress becomes more intense. When you are too tired, give yourself a nice break, even if short! When you are tired, wasting time by working ineffectively and slowly is not as economical as taking a half an hour break to refresh. You will see unbelievable efficiency and effectiveness once you get back to your work.

Hope this works for you! I once wrote about how human beings could really effectively work for a consecutive 25 minutes only. Please check out that article from our website for more on this issue.

Long time no see to “old” HCers! Welcome again to “new” HCers!

I have been waiting for two months to send this first Friday mail to you, as I hope to reach everyone of you. For newcomers, I have mentioned in a few occasions that I like to keep in touch with you with an email every Friday during school weeks. Please feel free to share your opinions with me on any of the topics anytime.

To kick off the Friday mails this year, I would like to share with you what some senior administrators of big companies and tech companies do when they reach out. Sometimes, this is because you have to write to people who do not know you, or only vaguely know you because you just met at an event with many people. Their focus is always “When reaching out, short and sweet is the key”. For example, the following are what a famous executive recruiter, Darrell Rosenstein, will do:

  1. When sending out initial mails/messages (i.e. the very first mail!) requesting for connection in NO more than three sentences or 150 characters.
  2. Do NOT ask for an appointment or include a calendar link in the first message. Appointments are for second mails onwards.
  3. Make sure you send out “well-informed” email/mail/message if you want a response. No one wants to receive a mail that is sent in bulk to many people, and with stupid messages.

The above applies also to your LinkedIn page. Use terms and words wisely. Please note that these are tips for “reaching out”, not for formal emails for applications or business deals, etc. Hope this can inspire you if you are thinking of setting up your own webpage. Ask yourself how much information should be mentioned. Ask yourself what you should say when you are connected on LinkedIn for the first time.

Welcome back! I bet the start of this new semester is quite special. First, COVID-19 hit Macau back in June and July. We are fine now. Still, we have to go on ZOOM lectures for the first four weeks due to many complicated reasons! Where are you now? On campus? At home? No matter where you are, I am excited that we should be able to see each other soon. Even better is that, I hope, many face-to-face activities and those that we could not do over the past 2.5 years due to the pandemic could be resumed soon.

I am sure you have had some nice summer vacation, even if via staycation. It’s time to gather yourself mentally ready for the new semester. Incidentally, I found this following article quite insightful. It is again from McKinsey. For those who have been with HC for at least one year, you know that I always find articles and reports from McKinsey quite useful. Hope you agree. The following is about how people find technology making them busier, or spending more time at work, than before. In fact, there have been many studies about how technology meant to help us save our time has dragged us to work more. So, in the following report, even though it is for people who have occupation, I think a lot of the ideas still apply to you. Let’s be honest! Is checking your mobile the last thing you do before you go to bed, and the first thing you do after you wake up (and you are still in bed)? As HCers, have you thought you still have time in between lessons and you were always efficient, and therefore procrastinate some work that you should have started? These are similar to what the article mentioned. It is about what a new book covers. But I guess you don’t need the book to understand the point.

Here’s the web link: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-on-books/author-talks-beyond-collaboration-overload?cid=other-eml-shl-mip-mck&hlkid=0c9d3e37c7b749df82eeb696f6252579&hctky=12069925&hdpid=c9afe4a3-b0c2-476f-a5bf-60e71b6c06d0

Hope you enjoy it! Again, on behalf of all members of the College, my warmest “welcome back” to all of you!