Note 8 – February 21, 2020

Last time, I touched on preparing personal statements. This time, I would like to offer you some etiquette lesson – The Proper Hand-shaking. You might think everyone knows how to shake hands. But guess what? You have only 10 minutes to impress a person whom you met for the first time, be him/her your future teacher, supervisor, client, customer, partner, or boss! And all this would start by firstly shaking hands! I will cover it with “Dos” and “Don’ts”


  • Signal that you would shake hand before actually doing so by, for example, saying “Hi, XXX (the counterparty’s name, if you know)!” or “Hi, I am XXX (your name, if you don’t know the counterparty’s name)!”
  • This can also be done at the end of the event. You might want to signal with “We’re headed out, XXX. Thanks for the wonderful party! We had a great time!”
  • Maintain a proper distance so that you two are neither too intimidatingly close nor too uncomfortably far. Probably a little stretching out your hand in the most natural position will do.
  • If you are sitting, stand up before shaking hand. When you are standing, make sure you maintain a proper posture. Stand straight with confidence. Don’t lean too much forward nor backward (the former shows lack of confidence, while the latter shows arrogance). Lean slightly forward and keep your eye contact to show that you are interested in shaking hand. Smile, to show you are not aggressive.
  • If the person’s right hand is injured, offer your left hand instead.
  • When you are holding the person’s hand, shake gently while also squeezing a little (very gently; you don’t want to tell people you practice martial arts!). This shows your affirmation and confidence.
  • You can say, “Nice to meet you!” or “It’s pleasure to meet you.” while shaking hand.
  • Shake a couple times, and then let go. Don’t pump for more than three.
  • Resist the urge to wipe your hand after shaking someone else’s. They might notice and get offended.
  • Keep people’s customs in mind. People from some countries do NOT shake hands.


  • Don’t start with your hand sweating or wet (such as just after going to the washroom). Apologize for wet hand, and dry it before you shake hands. Do not use wet hands as excuse! (well, unless necessary)
  • Don’t just have your hand positioned there, and wait to let the other person touch your hand, as if you don’t move. This shows very explicitly that you do not want to be acquainted.
  • Don’t leave your fingers straight and let the counterparty shake them. You are like showing your lack of enthusiasm if you do not shake his/her hand with a grip.
  • Don’t shake hand with your palm horizontally on top of the other person’s hand (like Donald Trump) because you are signally the counterparty that you like to dominate, i.e. there is an unfair game here, or at least you want to have one. On the other hand, if you start off with your hand open, expecting the counterparty to put his/her palm on top of yours, you are gesturing that you are open to suggestions and you are friendly. Of course, this way is not really all that necessary unless you are already very well established and you do not want to let others think that you are too authoritative. I mention this to you just so you will understand the reason when someone does this to you.
  • Do not keep shaking and not wanting to let go. Be sensitive to the counterparty when they want to stop. Likewise, try to withdraw your hand when the counterparty holds your hand for unnecessarily long interval (like after shaking for three or four times). This is not impolite.
  • Avoid swinging their hands around in a large back-and-forth movement.

Hope you will find this helpful. And if you have not practiced shaking hands like what I mentioned above, please do remember these Dos and Don’ts! I am quite sure it will help you start your conversation with anyone much easier!

Note 7 – February 14, 2020

To start off with this New Year of the Rat, I would like to offer you something useful for applying both for master programs and jobs, as long as you have to submit a personal statement. Even if you do not need to submit one, you should still remember and digest these tips for your interviews. Without explaining further, please enjoy the attachment.

I understand this mail comes too late for those who are already in your fourth year, and would like to pursue a master degree; but I think it would be helpful for all other HCers. I would appreciate if you would let me know whether you think these “Tips on Personal Statements” would be useful for you. Even better is if you could share with me whether you find my Friday mails helpful, and what else you would be interested in knowing.

Note 6 – February 7, 2020

It is a very strange, inconvenient, and scary start of the Year of the Rat! I understand it is very boring to be at home all the time! Me too! But please remember that this is the only way to reduce risk of getting or transmitting the new Coronavirus. On the positive side, think of how much closer you and your family are. Think of how little you have appreciated in the past what you have already possessed – your family, your room and/or space, and your home. Think about how you can focus on your study, have hours of borderless thoughts. This is the time when you can “think outside the box”. Remember how you used to complain you are too busy for this assignment or preparation of that test? No more excuse now! So, be a better HCers! Explore the world with the abundant online resources that you have never had time for.

Note 5 – January 17, 2020

(The following are some excerpt learnt from Prof. Lin Jian-Hua, former president of the Peking University, Beijing.)

The main functions of universities used to be Inheritance (傳承), Dissemination (傳播), and Creation (創造) of knowledge. This has now become only ONE broad function of universities.

In the new era of university education, “Knowledge” is only a basic need that you must get from the university. What distinguishes you from others is determined on how much of the following you have acquired beyond others in

Knowledge (知識), Common Sense (常識), Experience (見識), Courage (膽識)

To build up these senses (識), you should be more sensitive to your surroundings, think outside the box, engage more in the community, and go beyond your comfort zone, just like what I mentioned last time.

In your days to come, always pause for a while and ask yourself “How much have I acquired these days?”

Note 4 – January 10, 2020

Welcome back to school in the New Year of 2020!

Hope you are satisfied with your exam results! If not, don’t be upset! Remember, you won’t feel the fullest of sense of happiness and achievement if you have not been sad or upset! Review what you have not done enough, and improve yourself in the coming year(s). Also remember, there are always people around you to help! Be optimistic and meet your new challenges!

To warm up for this fruitful year, I would like to share with you what Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry’s wife), quoted one of her mentors, Mrs. Maria Pollia, in an interview that “life is about putting others’ needs above your own fears”. This belief is particularly useful to overcome your own fear in case of emergency or critical periods.

More when you are fully geared for the semester!

Note 3 – December 13, 2019

Some of you might have already finished all your exams, while others might still have a couple to go. I am sure you are nervous and excited at the same time. To alleviate some pressure and stress from you, I have decided not to share any “tips of wisdom” this time. Instead, although a little early, I wish you all Merry Christmas!!!!

I am sure you will have a very fruitful year ahead! Your year can become even more fruitful by participating and lending your hands more in HC activities and events!!!

Good luck to your exams, too! You might occasionally have hiccups, such as exam results not as good as you would wished. But that is OK! Life is full of ups and downs. Being good students, you would have learnt how to handle hurdles. Being outstanding HCers, I have confidence that even if you have not encountered higher levels of difficulties before, you will be able to figure out how to overcome them. Remember, they are challenges of life, not problems! Also remember, you are not alone! We, your friends, peers, and family, are all around. If you think we can’t help, you are looking down on us! Try us! Try to share with us! My door is always open!

Note 2 – December 6, 2019

(The following are inspired by Prof. Jerome YEN, Head of Centre for Innovation and Enterpreneurship, at our HC Leadership Lecture Series on 20 November, 2019.)

A generally good student could deliver a high cumulative GPA.

An outstanding leader will be sensitive to his/her surroundings, think outside the box, engage more in the community, and go beyond his/her comfort zone.

To equip yourself for your future leadership, you will have to think/do the following:


Spend some time, even if 5 minutes, every day to day-dream. When you day-dream, you tend to think towards what you like, what you want, and what you hope for. Dream of the “impossible”! And, who knows, one day you will find a big dream coming true!

What is your Dream?

Ask yourself what would you want to do if you are allowed to do anything? This is a source of innovation, an origin of experience, whether of success or failure! Gather the courage and pursue for it! Don’t be afraid of tripping or falling! It is whether, and how, you can stand up from falling down that makes you stronger!

Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

People have a tendency to avoid changes, and to feel very comfortable within their familiar zone. This is where innovation will never happen! A leader is someone who has the courage to step into uncertainty!

Be Engaged, Be Empathetic

The world is not about YOU! You are just one of the billions of people! Try to be sensitive to the world, to the needy, to your peers, to everyone around you! Lend your hands whenever possible!

Note 1 – November 29, 2019

To enhance our sense of belonging to this HC family, and to have a chance to share some wisdom on leadership that are worth noting, I have initiated this new way of communication – to send you a short mail every Friday to hopefully help wrap up your busy week and enlighten the beginning of the next.

As a first note, I would like to share with you, once again, our new HC slogan: “Be E.L.I.T.E., Be Part of the Honours College” I hope you could put the few attributes of leadership in practice:

Be Empathetic,





Be Part of the Honours College