Jim Carrey – Alrighty Then

November 21, 2014 Leave a comment

Mr. Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters and Guests, have you seen a movie poster with this post lately? [Finger Pointing] What is that movie? Yes, Dumb and Dumber To! The two guys are Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. And I, personally, have been a fan of Jim Carrey for quite a long time.  Today, Nov 20, is the first day this movie is shown in the cinema. It is a perfect time for me to share with you something I feel about Jim Carrey.

Jim Carrey had a profound impact on the way I express myself:
   – Instead of saying alright, I would say “All Righty Then!”
   – When I fell in love with a girl and instead of saying “I love you”, I would say “I like you a lot”.
   – When I join a meeting which is low in energy, I would say this, [let me clear my throat] “Here I come to save the day!”  For this one, I’m imitating Jim Carrey, who imitated Andy Krafman, who imitated the Mighty Mouse.

In fact, Jim Carrey is a very good Impersonator! But his success of being a great impersonator does not come overnight. He admitted that when he was a kid he spent so much time in front of the mirror, making faces. “I practiced making faces in the mirror and it would drive my mother crazy. She used to scare me by saying that I was going to see the devil if I kept looking in the mirror. That fascinated me even more, of course.”  That’s why you can see he has very deep wrinkles early in his career.

That gave me a lot of inspiration. If Jim Carrey, who is so talented, still needs to spend so much time practicing to be recognized, I would need to practice at least half as much to be a good Toastmaster! You may need a mirror, you may need a video recorder, you may need many audiences for you to practice. And the fact is, there is no shortcut. You have to give before you get.

Jim Carrey got many good movies. Can you name a few? [Bruce Almighty, The Mask, The Truman Show] Great Great Great.

I remember in 1994 Jim Carrey had three blockbusters in a row: Ace Ventura – Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and the Mask. At that time, I became a big fan of him, because, I am the kind of kids who like dirty/disgusting jokes. Then in the next movie, I was so proud to ask all my friends, guys and girls, to go watch the next Jim Carrey movie with me. However, the movie was the Cable Guy. [I heard some giggling]. If you have watched this movie, you will find this a huge disappointment. He was basically a retard who tried hard to make friends but got rejected. After watching this movies, I lost many friends. In fact, Jim Carrey had several lesser known movies: The Majesty, Man on the Moon, The Number 23. These movies had bad reception and took a toll in his career.

Moral of the story? No matter how successful and talented you are, you cannot expect to be appreciated every single time.  Even if you are good at something, and you are a star in your team, you just cannot expect people to appreciate every piece of your work. At times, you fail miserably. Trust yourself, believe in yourself, do what you like, live your own life, and enjoy yourself. Don’t judge yourself based on people’s feedback. The ups and downs happen to everyone. This happens to one of the highest paid actors in the world, it’s usual to happen to you and me.

Since we don’t get appreciated all the time, that is also why it is very important that we do things that we love. In Jim Carrey’s own word: you could fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.

Jim Carrey has a very deep impact early in my life. In fact I somehow feel emotionally attached to him. I want to share with you some personal feelings I have towards Jim Carrey. When I see this poster [Finger Pointing], you may think it’s just another movie, but to me, it reminded me 20 years ago.

I watched Dumb and Dumber twenty years ago. He played a silly role that made a teenager laugh. At that time I was in Canada. I remember in the basement with the lights off, I was couching on the sofa, replaying each video segment on a video tape to read the sub-titles, and still laughIng out loud after watching and watching again. I remember watching the movies with my brothers, and repeating the jokes. I remember at that time, I was very, very young.

Seeing him on this poster tells me that time really flies. 20 years is a long time. Do you remember what you were 20 years ago? Do you remember what you wanted to be 20 years ago? Are you doing what you thought you would be doing? Good if you are, if not, what stopped you from pursuing your goals?

For me, 20 years ago, I thought I would be an entrepreneur. I did my computer science degree to get some technical skills. I did my MBA to learn more about businesses. But somehow I got flattered by the stability given by large corporations. Then I decided to work for others instead of working for myself.

This poster, to me, is a wakeup call. I was very lucky to have someone I admire telling me that 20 years have just passed. I am also very lucky to probably have another twenty years to re-think my dream, plan and act on it. Not everyone has the same chance. Time passes by very quickly, I encourage you to set a goal, work hard towards it and don’t let time slip by.

After today, when you see the poster, I hope you see a different Jim Carrey. To me, he told me that there is no shortcut to success. He sacrificed a lot of personal time to be a successful impersonator. If you want to be a successful at anything, you need to prepare to spend a lot of time on it. He also told me that no matter how talented you are, there will be ups and downs. Do what you enjoy and don’t let failures drag you down. Finally, Dumb and Dumber To is a sequel of a movie 20 years ago. 20 years is a long time, yet it flies by quickly. Make sure you review your long term goals on a regular basis, because you may miss it and discover it only when it’s too late.

Finally, I hope you will enjoy the movie.  If the movie is bad, please still be friend with me.  Oh, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night.

Eat Less Meat, Save Yourselves, Save the Planet

October 16, 2014 Leave a comment

The sirloin steak is sizzling on the hot frying pan. My mouth is watering. The steak gets into my mouth.  It is so tender, so flavorful, so perfect.  It melts in my mouth.

People say killing animal is cruel. But I happen to be at the top of the food chain.  If a cow could eat me, I’m sure I won’t be killed gently and painlessly.  I wish meat grows on trees but too bad it doesn’t.

However, eating meat is evil. Not only does eating meat kill you, But eating meat also kills the planet!
 
As the piece of red meat gets through my esophagus into my stomach, I am more likely to die of cancer or heart disease than those who do not eat meat.

Red meats are high in saturated fat, which raises blood cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease and hypertension.

The meat we are eating is not the same as the meat our great great great grandfathers ate hundreds of years ago.  In the old time, animals ran free and ate grass, insects or, in general, they ate organic food.  But now, we eat the meat from this animal that was born and raised in a factory, then pumped full of antibiotics and hormones to make it grow faster.  Then our meat products go through even more processing.  They are smoked then treated with preservatives and various chemicals.

The piece of red meat I just ate also worsen climate change: Meat damages the environment more than any other food we eat, because livestock require much more land, food, water, and energy than plants to raise and transport.

Switching from a standard diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against climate change than switching from a car to a hybrid.  A meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is.  Cows must consume 16 pounds of vegetation in order to be converted into 1 pound of flesh.  

Therefore, if you want to preserve your planet for generations to come, you need to consider eating less meat.

However, if you desire to eat less meat, I’m sorry to tell you are in the wrong part of the world.  I personally tried to adapt a vegan diet for the last two weeks.  I walked into an invisible wall.  I could not find food easily.

It is extremely difficult to switch to a vegan diet overnight without drastically changing your lifestyle.  Here are some advices from experts that can help you to gradually switch to a vegan diet.

I would use the word COW to summarise these advices.

Step 1 – Cow: Stop eating red meat such as cows, goats and sheets, as well as processed meat.  21% of bowel cancers are associated with red meat consumption.  Processed meat like beacon or sausage, is strongly linked to heart diseases and cancer.  

Step 2 – Observe: If you desire to eat less meats, don’t do it alone, observe and find friends and family who will support you and your journey to a vegan diet.  You will discover some people around you are already switching to eat less meat.  Join them to find healthier food.

Step 3 – White Meat: Instead of eating red meat and in case you are craving for meat, eat white meat such as chicken, duck and geese instead.  These poultry animals are more climates friendly. They account for only 10% of total livestock greenhouse-gas emissions while contributing more than three times as much meat globally as cows. Poultry are also more efficient for feed, requiring up to five times less feed to produce the same protein than cow, a sheep or a goat.

Now, Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and guests, I know, meat is still tasty. But imagine every one of us are eating less meat, and are eating meat less frequently. We kill fewer animals to fill up our stomach. We kill fewer animals to satisfy our pleasure. We all have lower chance of dying because of heart disease or cancer.  We live longer and healthier. Of the limited resources here on earth, more is grown not to feed livestock but to feed human.  Our next generations will have a better planet because of our selections today. All of these because of your help to move towards eating less meat.

A positive mind finds a way it can be done. A negative mind looks for all the ways it can’t be done.

September 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Someone once said, “There are no truths; there are only perceptions of truth.” Whether or not you accept this statement, whatever you believe to be true will become your reality. Your subconscious mind will believe anything you tell it — if you repeat the words often and with conviction. When you are faced with a daunting task that you’ve never attempted before, focus on the potential for success, not on the possibilities for failure. Break the job down into smaller elements and tackle each one separately. The only difference between success and failure in any job is your attitude toward it.

Something from Nothing, Phoebe Gilman – A Book Review

September 18, 2014 Leave a comment

When I go to the kids library, it’s not so easy to find a good book, too many words, ugly pictures, sometimes the stories don’t make sense. But once a while, it’s like digging a treasure, you could find some surprises. Over the last three I have indulged myself kids books, this one beats them all. If you would get a storybook for your kids or grand kids, I would recommend this book. The name of the story is Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman.

It has a simple story line: The setting is a Jewish small town.  If you flip through the book, you would see colorful pictures, clothes, decorations in fine details.

The story starts when a baby boy named Joseph was born. He was given a wonderful blue blanket by his grandfather. The blanket was cozy and could always calm him down. Since then, he grew up with the blanket. When the blanket got old, and his mom wanted to throw it out, Joseph would say “Grandpa would fix it”.  It’s because his grandpa was a tailor. Then his grandpa used a pair of scissors to turn the blanket into a wonderful jacket.
When the jacket got old, Joseph’s mom wanted to throw it out, but his grandpa turned it into a wonderful vest. When the vest got old, his grandpa turned it into a wonderful tie. When the tie got old, his grandpa turned it into a wonderful handkerchief. When the handkerchief got old, his grandpa turned it into a button.

But one day, Joseph lost the button. Joseph looked upon his grandpa to fix it again, but of course, even his grandpa could not make something from nothing. Finally the boy took out a piece of paper and wrote down his memories with the blanket and created a story.  Joseph realizes that it is not the blanket/tie/button that matters, that were the memories that come along with each stage of it.

Moral of the story:  Recycling is good and kids love recycling. Nowadays we think kids are spoiled, they get new toys, new clothes and new lanturns. But indeed, that are the parents fault to have spoiled their kids. We usually resort to buying new stuffs for replacement, because it’s the easiest way. This story reminded us that kids would love to keep their favorite things with them, which gives them a sense of safety. As my son changed school this year, we knew everything was going to be strange to him, new classroom, new teachers, new classmates, new uniform. Then we took out his old school bag, replaced the school logo with my sons favourite pattern on it. My son loved it. We as parents should make the best use of our creativity to re-use what seems to be old.  It does pay off.

A second look at the story will let us pay attention to the details of the pictures. These cross sections of the house encourages us to understand more about Joseph. Joseph’s mom got pregnant. Her tummy got larger and larger as you turn the pages until a baby girl was born. Joseph’s father was a shoemaker. When Joseph’s mom was about to give birth, he made a pair of baby shoes as a gift. Joseph got three friends who grew up with him.  And they are always curious to know how grandpa can fix things. Joseph’s baby sister also got a blanket, just like him. And her blanket was always accompanying her. So as you study the pictures closer, you found a more complete and vivid story about Joseph’s childhood, without any words so encouraging your kid to explore by themselves.

Finally, don’t put the book aside yet.  The most amazing thing about this book is at the bottom of every page. If you look close enough, you will see some mice moving around. When Joseph’s grandpa was fixing the blanket, the pieces of the blanket felt to the floor, and slipped through the gaps. The mice collected the pieces and started building a home. They made clothes, they made curtains, they made bed covers, they used the pieces of blue clothes to decorate their home. The mice also had babies.  They had picnic, they played games, they did housework.  It appears to be a very happy family. At the end of the story, if you remember, Joseph lost the button and became very sad.  In fact, the mice got it, and made the button into a chair. And then there is a picture at the back cover of the book telling us how the family of mice was enjoying the chair.

All in all, if you have kids or grand kids, I highly recommend you getting a copy of this book. It has a simple story and a good lesson. Its pictures are also rich in details that encourage you to explore further. The mice at the bottom also gave you surprises. Multiple story lines allow you and your kid to keep exploring and discovering something new every time you read. The book’s name is Something from Nothing, Phoebe Gilman.

The Reunion

August 21, 2014 Leave a comment

In the hotel ball room,  I’m wearing my favourite suit, appeared confident and successful. On the buffet table lies all the mouthwatering food: sashimi, fresh oysters. It was the 10 year reunion of my university graduation class.   In this occasion, we all want to show we have big changes after starting our career.

I cannot wait to meet up with my classmates.  Immediately, I recognised some faces. A man spoke so loudly that I don’t think it’s appropriate in such a fine ballroom atmosphere.  That was Sean, who I could recall, graduated with first class honour in business school.

I joined the crowd then Sean continued his speech. This firm I am working with is an awesome company.  It produces Tabasco and sells it to more than 165 countries and is packaged in 22 languages. Everyday, we produce 720 thousand bottles of Tabasco sauce. Over the last couple years, we came up with some aggressive strategies, and conducted field studies, we concluded that it’s the best to keep the hole of the bottle the same size, maybe even a little bit smaller.

Even a small hole than this? Every time when my eyes feel itch and I took off my glasses and reach out for eye drops, I would imagine reaching out a Tabasco bottle by mistake and drop some of this spicy sauce into my eyes! Ouch!

As Sean continued boasting about his highly successful career, I sneaked out in order to get more sashimi.

Standing right next to the sushi bar was David. He looked more humble, with the jacket but without a tie. David also graduated in the business school.  We shoke hands and we talked about our jobs.  He has been working with a not-for-profit organization. Over the last couple years he went to several African villages. This is what he did.  He helped to give out micro loans: that is, loans that are smaller in amount.

In one case, he lent money to a group of very poor women and they had enough money to buy sewing machines to start a business.  They produced some fine clothes and sold to other villages. By doing that, the women were helping themselves to get out of poverty.

At that moment, I saw Morgan Freeman playing the role of god, dressed in white suit, shining so bright that I could hardly open my eyes. He is like a saint who is saving the world.

Fellow toastmasters and guests, this made me so ashamed. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than HKD20 a day. 22 thousand children die each day due to poverty. WHAT ON EARTH HAVE I DONE TO HELP THEM?

1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water. 870 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. WHAT ON EARTH HAVE I DONE TO HELP THEM?

A quarter of all humans, or 1.6 billion people, live without electricity. WHAT ON EARTH HAVE I DONE TO HELP THEM?

We all have seen these footages of very skinny and dying kids, yet we feel that we are living in a different world. When we go to Christmas buffet, we have unlimited supply of food. Our babies here never lack of food, instead we are worried that they don’t have enough DHA and Omega 3.

Why are there so many people who desperately need help, yet so many of us spend a majority of time making our life just marginally better, such as researching on the size of the Tobasco bottle hole?

Just to be fair, many of us have done our share to make the world better. I do it by making donations. I buy flag stickers every weekend. Even If I don’t, my company will donote money for me once a while. Reality told us that I need a full time job, I have a family to feed. I would be stupid to fly to Africa and start managing their businesses. In fact I probably make more money by adjusting the font size on my PowerPoint presentation.

Ladies and Gentleman, although that is the reality I encourage you do to a little bit more, be a little more proactive. Instead of being asked to donate money, volunteer to fund raise. Instead of participating in a charity, ask to join the leadership team. Instead of visiting an elderly home, be a regular volunteer there to help organizing events. The point is, don’t only get involved, but be committed to something.

The fact is, there are people who deserve to be helped, don’t usually ask for help.  They would actually refuse help. For many times I saw an old man getting onto a bus packed with people, yet refusing a seat we gave him. He would say he is getting off in the next station, but the next station is on the other side of the cross harbour tunnel! We need to really reach out to help them before being asked.

My reunion with my university classmates has changed the view of my daily life. I have been rethinking what I have spent 8 hours a day doing. I am productive, but am I helping the world to become a better place. David, who is working with the Not for profit organisation, reminded me that there are people who are suffering, and he could actually use the same business skills to alleviate poverty, to stop people from dying of hunger, making a difference in the world.

It is important that we re-union our world with their world.  We have already won a lottery to live in this part of the world.  we should step up and go an extra mile. On making the world a better place, don’t only get involved, be more committed, help people before they ask for help. It would just mean so much more than doing research on the size of the hole on the Tobasco sauce bottle.

Luck, Demystified

April 17, 2014 Leave a comment

A month ago my team’s office moved from one floor to another floor. I was given an additional washroom key, which I hanged along with my staff badge. Since then I just randomly picked a key everytime going to the washroom. For eight times in a row I got the correct key. That was quite a phenomeno.  If I have the same luck in my work, wouldn’t this make my career more successful, more easily?

How do I make myself luckier? Here is the business school definition:

LUCK = OPPORTUNITIES + PREPARATION

If you don’t know this definition, you may think our table topic champions are just lucky.  However, our champions are always among those few people.  They cannot just be the lucky few every single time.  If you make use of this formula, they were “lucky” because they value every opportunties to speak, participate in every contests, speak in other clubs, start conversations with girls, doesn’t matter if they are hot or not.  They have also prepared by memorizing some of the good stories, have a bank of punch lines, keep abreast of current events to broaden their general knowledge. Their luck on the stage materialized after all these behind-the-scene hardwork.

Wait a minute, HARD WORK!  If I’m a lazy guy, how can I increase my luck? 

The key is to be superstitious.

The three companies I worked with in Asia are crazily superstitious.  We did go an extra mile to improve our luck.  We had firework and bai sun ceremony at the start of the year. We chose the right numbers, avoiding 4 and embracing anything with the number 8 including phone extensions.  We also put red banners on the cubicals to keep reminding us to have good luck and become wealthy.

Superstition is not here with no merit.  All of these superstitious activities fill ourselves with positive thoughts. In the western society, to your surprise, people do almost exactly the same thing, and this is well documented in this well-known classic literature by Naponean Hill, “Think and Grow Rich”.

Note that what’s sexy about this is that this book is called Think and Grow Rich, not “work hard and feel mentally rich”.  He really meant being wealthy by having tons of money.

One of the key ideas of the book is called Auto Suggestion.  Auto Suggestion is to write down your wish, repeating your wish mentally, and verbally with emotion. What you need to do is to meditate, and visualize your wish being fulfilled. If you desire money and attractive women, visualize physical money flying onto your face from all directions, visualize attractive women kissing all over you. Write down your wish, and say it out loud with emotion, repeatedly, after you wake up, before you sleep, when you are sleeping, before, during and after your meals.

Naponean Hill said your wish will come true, because you have take control of your subcontious mind Your subcontious mind will make you more sentitive to opportunities, and build up more courage and help you more persistently work towards your goal.  Indeed, you end up seeing more opportunities and have more persistence with preparations, which is exactly the business school definition of LUCK we talked about earlier.

Recalling my lucky washroom keys, my subconscious mind was driven by my bladder so I knew I had to open the door as quickly as possible.  My subcontious mind memorized the right gesture to hold my badge a certain way in order to use the right key.  Sounds insane, but makes perfect sense.  Anyway, get more luck by finding more opportunities and preparing more, or by Auto Suggestion/being Superstitious to take control of your own mind.  I am sure either way will improve your luck.

My Obituary

January 16, 2014 Leave a comment

I went to a wedding a couple weeks ago, and bumped into a high school friend who I have not seen in 10 years. We talked about everything, from our teachers and classmates. Then, we talked about one of the cutest Taiwanese girls, and I got to know that she has passed away several years ago, due to failure of her immune system

That was disturbing. I remember when I was about 15 years old, I was not good in English. She was about the same, but very outgoing, already mingling with the native speaking group. She was known to every single guy in our grade.

I once talked to her, I could feel my face getting red, and my whole body was sweating, and I could not stop doing weird gestures
After we graduated, she went to UCLA in the states, since then, I never heard about her.

Knowing that she has passed away, I googled about her, but found nothing, absolutely nothing. This gave me one striking message: Is anyone going to write anything about me if I am no longer living tomorrow? In other words, is anyone going to write an obituary for me?

Obituaries don’t necessary make you sad. They don’t always highlight achievements, because, sooner or later, none of those matters.

I read a dozen obituaries, and found one common pattern of a good obituary, as follows:

This person believes that ___________ so he did something.

Beliefs, what are your beliefs? Beliefs are the only thing that’s left behind after we are gone. Have you made them obvious enough such that people around you know about them?

Frankly, I have a very difficult time coming up with my beliefs. In fact, that is exactly my problem. If I am not clear about my very own believes, how do I expect people around me to know about them, and remember them after I’m gone. So I’m going to share my believes with people around me, here, right now.

I got three beliefs:

I do belief that saying good morning cheerfully to people can save lives.

During one of the my depressed days, when someone said good morning to me, that did feel like my life is still worth living. You don’t lose much but you gave hope. You only need to say good morning half a second earlier than the other person. Next time, be the first person saying good morning when you bump into someone in an elevator, or in the coffee room.

I do believe in ET and UFO, but don’t believe in god or ghosts: God and ghosts were created to scare people, to align people thoughts. They just don’t make sense, do they wear clothes, what brands are their clothes, if we are to burn them a paper mobile phone, do we also need to burn more for their friends so they can call each other. On the other hand, it’s such a huge universe, if such a small planet, our Mother Earth, can have living creatures, it would be a very bold statement to say that there is not another planet with living creatures in the universe. Because of this, I’m not afraid of walking in the dark in the city, but I’m afraid of walking alone in the forest. According to movies, UFOs always land into the forests.

I also believe that almost all the worries are unnecessary. Everything will be alright. It turns out I’m almost always correct, maybe I was just too lucky. From getting into college, finding my jobs, getting married, having kids, getting my son into school, everything just magically turned out alright. This is probably because I am a believer that the world around us is created by our own mind. If you think the city is dying, then the city “around you” is dying. In contrast, if you think it’s a wonderful world, then congratulations, you live in a wonderful world.

To wrap, after I heard about the tragic news of my high school classmate, that comes a strong message that anyone, including you and me, will be forgotten one day. What left behind are only the our beliefs.

I believe that saying good morning cheerfully can save lives, so I am always say good morning half a second faster than the other person.

I believe in ET/UFOs, but I don’t believe in god and ghosts. So I spend time reading science magazine, but I don’t waste time on fortune telling magazines.

I believe that almost all worries are no necessary, so I don’t spend much time thinking about “what-ifs”, but always look boldly into the future.

What are your beliefs? You don’t have to tell me, but you’d better share them with your friends early in case they will be the one writing an obituary for you.

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