Ancient Sage reminds us that our character, attitudes and body languages are key factors in communication besides the words we used our messages.

The purpose of communication is to gain understanding, build relationships and accomplish things together. Western mindset may place accomplishment of tasks before relationships. But Chinese and may be Eastern mindset will place relationships before the tasks.  The key point is relationship building is important and communication is more than just the words exchanged.

Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits for effective people has a habit 5 seek first to understand and than be understood.  I think it is a key principle for communication.  The ancient Chinese has much to say about communication and relationship building too. I will just quote a simple one from Zeng Zi 曾子, a disciple of Confucius and a senior of Mencius.

 【论语泰伯第八】… 君子所贵乎道者三:
    1. 动容貌,斯远暴慢矣;
    2. 正颜色,斯近信矣;
    3. 出辞气,斯远鄙倍矣

The wise gentleman values the following 3 virtuous behaviors:

  1. His demeanor and manners are far from crudeness and snobbishness.
  2. His facial expression is accepting and trustworthy (near to integrity).
  3. His conversational tone is far from vulgar and unreasonableness.
It shows us that we communicate with our total being such as the status of our heart (peace, happy, grateful or anger and bitter), attitudes, body behavior, facial expression and tone of our voices.

There are some people, usually you can hear them over the radio or read them in their social networking posts, when in trying to impress and be different have erred to wrong side of being crude, rough, vulgar and hatred.  The challenge for good communication is to create harmony, agreement, acceptance and call for actions. We can learn a few things from Zeng Zi.

A few takeaway we can learn are:

  1. Character building is a key part of communication.
  2. Our mental conditions and attitudes affect communication too. Keeping our heart at rest and being  hopeful and sincere are important.
  3. Body Language and Voice control are key factors too. Don’t be snobbish, crude, rude, vulgar but be polite, respectful, welcoming and sincere.
Lim Liat (C) 7 March 2013


The building blocks for building a successful enterprise and the principles for leading an organization in uncertain times are essentially the same according to Andy Stanley. We just need to do more for clarity, flexibility and transparency. This reinforces the methodology for building successful enterprises.

I have been listening to Andy Stanley’s Podcast for many years. Recently, he has one titled “Leading in Uncertain Times” which is one of the subject that should interests everyone in times of uncertainty best coined as VUCAD, Volatility, Uncertainty, Complex, Ambiguous and Deception. I have written on this topic in Wisdom for Success in a 21st Century VUCA World and shall be giving such a talk at the ITMA Singapore AGM Dinner on 19 March 2013.

I had previously wrote about Andy’ earlier podcast on “Better before Bigger” on Learning CPM from Andy Stanley the Pastor. I think it would be very useful to combine the two podcast together and present them in a mind-map shown below:

The top yellow branch shows us how to grow a enterprise or a church. The lower blue branch shows us the three principles of how to lead in uncertain times. The interesting part is that the 3 principles of clarity, flexibility and transparency match exactly the 3 building blocks for a  growing an enterprise. The way to build successful organization is reinforced by the principles to run enterprise in uncertain times! We just need to hold on to them more and communicate them more often in the present uncertainty.

Lim Liat (c) 6 March 2013

The Dao of Business may be translated as the Principles of Business. Here is a selected collection of quotes from ZhaiHS that I group under this heading. Please remember that his teachings are the ideals from the Sinology and may not represent the actual practiced values of the present day Chinese businessmen in general. Nevertheless, it gives the foundation,  just like Christian Values were the foundation of Western industrial and modernization success. If Chinese corporations follow such values as the western corporations did, then we expect to see greater success and influence for the Chinese corporations.

The Outline of the Dao of Business – Principles of Business

1. Business is Humanity

2. Righteousness brings Profits – Use Profits to promote Righteousness

3. Marketing and Sales – Satisfying Needs and Wants of People in a Unique Way
This teaching parallel Biblical teaching of Matthew 6:33 Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you!

4 Network of People – People is Power and Wealth
For more related posts see Sinology & Chinese Management
Zhai Hong Sheng have a great wealth of speeches, writing, books and videos and many are available on the internet. Above is just a subset that I collected and organized to show the teaching of Sinology on Business and Management. Hope it is useful to you. Please share your comments.
Lim Liat (C) 20 Feb 2013

There are two very famous modern Sinology and Chinese Management Masters. One from PRC known as Zhai Hong Sheng 翟鸿燊 and one from Taiwan known as Zeng Shi Qiang 曾仕强。 This post is the first in a series from the saying and teaching of Zhai Hong Sheng.  For other posts related to Chinese Management, see Sinology & Chinese Management.

1. The Success Formula

 “成功之道 = 思考力 × 行动力 × 表达力”

Success = Thinking Ability x Execution Ability x Communication Ability

1. The Importance of Communication.
2. The multiplication sign. If any of the factor is 0, then success = 0.
3. So, any great plan without execution is 0 even if the plan is great.
Even if the plan and execution are great, lacking communication will bring the result to zero or worse. People may think that your great plan and execution are against them rather than for their good.
4. We may allow the above factor to take on negative value so that the result could be negative rather than positive such as in the case of bad communication cited in point 3.

2. Wealth is more than Money …. Living is Great Wealth. Joy is wealth too.


Actually, living itself is great wealth.
From self happiness to being happy together with others.
Letting oneself to be happy is a virtue.
Making others happy is the work of virtue.

Hence, be thankful daily when we wake up every morning…. We are alive.

The Bible has a verse for this. Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Then, figure out how to increase the joy by making others happy too.

There is a very simple way to make people happy … give them a smile, saying thank you, say sorry etc. It is valuable but cost nothing. Rather, smiling makes you happy too.

(Note: The sayings of the masters are my translation from their original saying in Chinese language and some errors may be committed due to my misunderstanding or the inaccurate translation. Appreciate you feedback to correct the errors if there be any).

For more related posts, see Sinology & Chinese Management

The Singapore Population White Paper calls for growth in population to overcome the aging of population. Is it a loser strategy? Consider when will the growth stop? It will stop when the limited land (though we can expand into sea and expand upward and downward but still limited) is unable to support the large population from long term exponential growth. A better policy will be to ask how can we have economic, happiness and environment protection at zero or near zero population growth rate?

Zero Population Growth Possible?

Some friend emailed me the following http://www.theglobalist.com/printStoryId.aspx?StoryId=8321

While it is an alternative view to this growth based white paper, it unfortunately does not, despite the interesting name of Ponzi, give any good reasoning or evidences to support the possibility of sustainable well-beings at zero population growth. The goals are good but the how-to is not there.

With the world being a connected complex system, it is no longer possible to believe the reasoning linear model arguments. We need to build complex adaptive system model simulation to understand the effects of our linear policy decisions.

Adding to get Growth is Simple – The problem is that it leads to a dead end.
The Singapore Population White Paper can be found here. The key recommendation is to increase the population to compensate for the aging population with the forecast of about 6.5-6.9 millions by 2030. If we just follow the recommendation and extent it further, when can the growth end? By 2050, we will have 9-10 million? By 2070, we will have 11-13 million? By 2100, 40-50 Million? My estimates are probably wrong, because the little area that we have may not be able to support such large population. By my point is hopefully clear, it will progress to destruction due to over-population. When kind of strategy is that if it only leads to eventual death? So I call it the loser strategy.

Change the Question and Change the Strategies.
It is better we question the common wisdom of adding for growth and change the question.
How can we have economic, social and environment well-being with zero or near zero population growth?

Innovation is about Doing More with Less
It takes innovative thinking to find out the different strategies for economic & social well-being at zero population growth.

1st Step Did Someone Else has the answer?
The first step of any problem solving is to look for someone who have solved similar problems. So I tried to look for city-state nations like Singapore and see if they have near zero population growth and still have high per capital GDP. A few nations come to mind, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Here are what I found ( http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=sn&v=67).

Someone asked about the population age distribution. Here are the links to Netherlands and Belgium and we can see that the aging population percentage are higher compared to Singapore even in 2010.
The Age Distribution for Netherlands http://www.nationmaster.com/country/nl-netherlands/Age-_distribution
For Belgium http://www.nationmaster.com/country/be-belgium/Age-_distribution

Here is their age distribution for 2010 compared to Singapore:

Compared with Singapore 2012, they have a much higher aging distribution even in 2010. They are doing find in 2010 with such aging, can we not do the same if not better?
But, they are different from Singapore, can we extrapolate?

There are difference of course. But at least we can find out what they are and whether they are applicable to us. Could we find out why they can first before we conclude we cannot.

It is proposed that perhaps the government can form a zero-growth think-tank to come out with strategies to achieve economic, social and environment well-being. Or may be the opposition party can look at this question too.

Lim Liat (c) 30 Jan 2013

See also What Singapore can learn from Europe by Tommy Koh

Smart people has a way of thinking that make them smart. Normal people like us can learn to be smart too by knowing the method and putting the efforts. If we put in the efforts early, it become easier for us to be smart and in the long term to be very smart or even like a genius, especially when we know how to extend our mind with the right software and computer, oops, smart-phone. The secret to a supermind is shared here.

A friend shared on Facebook the following statement written her son. It is a very wise and powerful motto for life. Here it is:

Virtue is demonstrating honesty and integrity in my life by doing what is right.   

What can we learn from it?

Confucius has such a saying:

Analects 7:8 子曰:「不愤不启,不悱不发。 举一隅不以三隅反,则不复也。」
Lack of trying result in lack of understanding. Lack of organized thought result in lack of clarity of speech. Pointing out one corner and not able to think about the other three, then there is no revision.

Smart student revise their lessons early. They spend time to see the patterns of the concepts taught, get them organized, internalized them and enable them to apply them wisely. New knowledge can also be easily captured and added to the framework. Students that are not willing to spend time to revise and reflect, reorganize, and know more, as recommended by Confucius, will not benefit much from the lesson. Such students that refuse or don’t spend time to really think by organizing their newly acquired knowledge and just try to take easy way out of memorizing will eventually end up in studying very hard and long hours and yet may still fail in examinations.

The Way to Revise Well:

The way to revise well is to build a mind-map of the concepts taught. The mind-map below show the four steps:

Step 1 is the statement itself. Recall the facts taught.
Step 2 is to analyze, or break down the statements into its components. Try to find patterns, similarities or differences, the flow of thoughts, the grouping, the cause-effect and other kind of relationships among the concepts.
Step 3 is Grouping. Try to group concepts together and discover the parent-child (super-set subset) relationships. 
Step 4 is Extension of Framework.

Which the framework from Step 3, now it just to ask ourselves questions by extending from the various concept branches.

New concepts learned later can be easily added to this framework. As more and more concepts are added, there may be need to breakup or recombine some of the existing branches. There is true learning.
When we need to apply, the mind-map provides us the easy starting point to look-up and get the additional details needed. 
Hope this is useful.
One more thing for the Corporate Leaders and Managers….
Mission, vision and values are important things for any organization to create the right cultures for their business. Values like, honesty, integrity, compassion, creativity etc etc are usually listed and explained. But the best form of explaining values is to express them in observable behaviors so that they can be spotted and copied. Furthermore, values must be institutionalized into policies, rules, standard operating produces, design of office space, show rooms, demonstrated in products and services, internalized in staff and be executed by hiring and firing based on the values. The gap between what is stated on website and brochures and the actual implementation is the common problem of many not too successful organizations. Recall the statement …. virtue is demonstrated by doing …..
Lim Liat (C) 23 Jan 2013
Related Post: For more on mind mapping, follow the series Brain Storming with Mind Mapping – Illustrated with Future of Singapore.

Facts are facts. But the are temporaries. Your interpretation of the facts and your subsequent actions determine whether those facts will or will not change.

Most of us will be familiar with this famous story used to illustrate optimistic and pessimistic persons:

A business development executive from a shoes company visited a place to assess the market. He discovered the following fact:

  • People living there walk around bare footed. They don’t know about such a thing called shoes.


  • Optimistic: It is a great market for shoes.
  • Pessimistic: There is no hope for shoes – they do’t wear them at all.

Question: Which is the right interpretation?

Answer: It all depends and both could be right.

The Pessimistic guy acted on his interpretation and did not enter the market and thereby fulfilling his ‘prediction’ of ‘there is no market for shoes there’.

The Optimistic guy work out a promotion program to show the people the values of shoes —- protection, effectiveness, productivity and beauty etc. He persuaded the leaders there to try out the shoes FOC with other activities to make the leaders look good among his people; more and more people test it and give good reports; a few year later, going bare-foot become a strange thing for the young people there.

What is the moral of the story?
1. watch our interpretation of facts.
2. facts are temporary, your aspiration and hard work can change them.
3. think above the line and take responsibility for what you are and can become; blaming others change nothing.
e.g. Apple in phone business.

One more thing, the story has not ended yet.
The Pessimistic person went to another place where people do wear shoes. He work with his engineers to personalize the shoes to suite the contour of their feet and create a great and profitable business too. Remember point 2 above.

You can choose to be 

  • in the incremental innovation business or 
  • in the disruptive innovation business. 

Pick one where your strengths can help you i.e. it is easy for you and extremely hard for others… then you can be the leader…

All the very best to your adventure in life.

Lim Liat (C) 11 Jan 2013

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