Everyday life

Stay calm and be happy

Last night I went to a restaurant which stopped happy hour and the usual credit card discount on public holiday and public holiday eve. We left. My friend said she was sick and tired of Hong Kong being so greedy and decided to become more aggressive to combat greedy people.

I take a totally different approach.
When faced with negative people/event, if I counteract with more negativity, it would only make matters worse. (-1)+(-1)=-2.
I’d rather disassociate myself and not be affected by it. Stay calm and be happy. (-1)+0=-1.
Developing this formula further, I should actually do more good to balance it out so the world is not worsened by bad people/business. (-1)+(+1)=0

It’s a privilege to be able to choose to be happy or not happy, greedy or not greedy.
For those who choose to be unhappy, they deserve to be unhappy.
For those who choose to be greedy, they will never have enough, they don’t deserve to be happy. 

世界那麼大,我最多只是一粒微塵。如果還要做壞塵粒污染地球,枉為人!

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Tell me three achievements

“Tell me three achievements.”
This is a question I was asked at a job interview many years ago.
I am thinking today, if I were asked the same question, I would give a very different answer now.
It doesn’t necessarily mean I have achieved more since then, but my definition of achievement has changed throughout the years.
I am quite glad about this. I don’t give the same answer because I have moved on in life.

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Lifesavers

Lunch at an Italian restaurant today, hubby picked out a little dark green ball from his salad. Just as I was about to say “It’s a caper, eat it”, the ball lengthened to 15mm, then curled and flexed, started to move on the plate. It’s a living slug! I raised my hand to call over a waitress.

Hubby was very serious and said, “First thing, don’t kill it.”

The couple sitting next to us was amazed to see the slug. Instead of being scared like most people, the man offered to take the slug out to a garden on his way home. So a slug carefully wrapped inside a napkin was given to him.

Two western guys, two lifesavers.

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揀科

DSE剛開考,中六學生正在戰鬥中。取得DSE成績後,就要make a final choice on大學主修科目。這個選擇,隨時影響未來多年的事業發展路向,可能是十幾歲人最重要的一個決擇。

揀科和揀職業,是個興趣和能力的fine balance。有興趣但没有能力,一是未必入到所選的學科,二是入得到都讀不好,讀得到亦做不好。相反,有能力但冇興趣,讀得到,做得到,但不會做得長。

人人的talent不一樣,我會建議不要太過勉強去over stretch。應該找一個環境,令自己的專長不單只meet minimum requirement,更可exceed expectation。

用選美做個列子。假設我有八分姿色,我去一般公司工作,已是全公司最靚的美女,大把男同事爭着獻恩勤,為工作帶來不少便利。但如果我去選美,所有參選佳麗最少都有九分姿色,我的八分姿色馬上被比下去,我的樣貌由advantage變成disadvantage。

當然,參加選美不一定個個都想赢,有人覺得有嘢學,有人覺得好好玩,有人唔試過唔甘心,有人夢想有奇蹟。讀書和做事一樣,如果同學們不怕失敗,不怕因長期鬥爭但得不到成果而可能令自己失去自信,大可以試試aim higher。

最近在中學聽了個介紹廣告行業的講座。講者講到advertising好好玩,個個性格比較活潑的同學都突然話想加入廣告界。自問我都有幾分creativity,曾經考慮過做創意行業。我可以用盡我的creativity做一個平平庸庸的creative director,或者做一個creative好出人意表的legal director。我可以講,後者的路,容易行得多。

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Words for Mentees (5): Lifelong achievement

I take a review of my old friends from St Mary’s and HKU. Almost all the most aggressive high achievers are now stay home moms taking care of kids. The so-called most successful people holding influential positions in the working world were not the most outstanding students in schools. I always wonder, why is that?

One thing I notice is that the very bright students at school are good at what they do and focus on what they do well. When they studied, they gave 100% and got good results. When they worked, they worked hard and got promoted quickly. When they have family, they spent time and effort to nurture their kids. What they want to achieve in life might change greatly as time goes by, but they always put in an effort to do their best.

At every stage of life, one has to set short term and long term goals. My motto is to make the best out of what you have at that moment while aiming to achieve the goals; and don’t forget to enjoy the path leading to the goals.

No matter what you want to do, pursue it, put in an honest effort and have no regrets.

It’s hard to expect Form 5 students to have a clear defined long term goal in life. I recommend reading “Man’s Searching for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. It may give some insight.

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Words for Mentees (4): Choosing partner and starting a family

Yin and Yang. Life has to be balanced. Don’t spend all your efforts chasing career achievements and leaving no time for personal enjoyment. Most people find it more fulfilling to share their lives with a partner and family. Some of my single friends, even though they advanced highly at work can’t help but feel lonely and discontent if they are not settled in a relationship. Somehow the society still has a stigma for middle aged unmarried working women; success is no longer measured by how many points you get at DSE, but how happy you are with your family.

Take your time to start dating and finding the right partner. Very often many people meet their other halves at school. St. Mary’s doesn’t provide the chance of meeting boy friends at school, so keep your eyes out at universities! Find someone who has a sense of humour to laugh with you, who can cheer you up when you feel down, who can see the best in you and bring the best out of you, who share your dream and grow with you. Once you find Mr. Right, plan to start a family. There is a time and place for everything. Prioritise well and don’t wait till you are 50 years to bear a baby from your frozen eggs!

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Words for Mentees (3): Choosing career and being a lawyer

Most people spend more time working than sleeping. If it’s bad to spend 8 hours to sleep in an uncomfortable bed, it’s even worse to spend more than 8 hours doing something you hate. You can only last long and excel in a career that you actually enjoy and are good at.

The legal profession is generally divided into two streams: barrister and solicitor.

Barristers are advocates at court and specialise in litigation. To become a barrister, after studying PCLL, you have to complete one year of pupilage at a chamber. Pupils do not receive salary and are only allowed limited practice after six months of pupilage. Once you complete the pupilage, you have to pay your own rent for an office space in a  chamber. Barristers are self-employed and it can be financially burdensome. To alleviate this, the Bar Association has funds to assist prospective barristers; and more sizeable chambers may offer rental discount to new joiners. Alternatively, you can join the Department of Justice as a legal trainee (barrister) who gets a monthly salary.

To become a solicitor, you have to be a trainee for two years at a law firm or the Department of Justice. The type of work and remuneration package depends very much on the law firm you join. International law firms specialising in corporate and banking law tend to recruit the best graduates and offer the highest salary. In comparison, the more common general practice law firms provide legal service such as conveyancing, divorce and litigation. The starting salary of international law firms can be 4-8 times more than general practice law firms.

The legal profession can be a long term one. As you practise longer, you specialise in certain areas and find your interest and niche. For example, there are barristers who specialise in criminal cases or judicial review, solicitors who do merger and acquisitions in China. It is not uncommon to move from barrister to solicitor and vice versa too.

For career prospect, barristers can become senior counsel. Within a law firm, the top of the ladder is to become a partner. Many experienced lawyers may become in-house counsel in banks and companies that tend to offer more work-life balance.

What it takes to be a good lawyer? There are many perceived traits of a typical lawyer – smart, quick thinker, organised, eloquent, and argumentative. I think different
types of lawyer require very different personality and skill set. However, above all, the most important is to be hardworking to succeed.

I recommend reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”. It may help students to look farther and deeper into long term career development.

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Words for Mentees (2): Choosing subject and studying law

If you study law, you don’t have to be a lawyer; but if you don’t study law, you can’t be a lawyer. This is a good enough reason to study law, isn’t it?

This very same logic applies to other professions. If you are unsure about your future career, it’s practical to study something that can lead to a profession. It simply opens another avenue in case you decide to join that profession later.

The admission requirement for the faculty of law is consistently one of the highest in universities. Keen competition means you have to obtain good DSE results to secure a place. And once you get into law school, you will soon realise that your classmates are bright student leaders from a variety of secondary schools. The competition goes on throughout the university years, so be prepared to work harder than students of other faculties.

The study of law provides training for logical and critical thinking. Many people have the false impression that law students have to have a good memory and recite a lot of text. It is only true to the extent that certain law principles and case names have to be memorized, but more important is the skill to apply the legal knowledge to solve problems, and eloquently express your viewpoints in concise and organized arguments. Analytical power is an asset that can be transferred to any career.

Common law is based on case law; so studying law invariably requires reading a lot of cases and following and analysing judges’ reasoning. As law reports are mainly written in English, it demands a very high level of proficiency in the English language.

Apart from the core subjects such as contract, tort, criminal, property, administrative law etc., the faculty of law offers a broad choice of electives to suit individual interests and future career plans. Studying law can be as exciting or as boring as you make it. I speak for myself that I thoroughly enjoyed my legal training at law school and found the xperience useful not only in preparing for a professional career, but also in strengthening my problem solving skill in daily life.

After you obtain a bachelor of laws, in four years for LLB or five years in double degree programmes, then you can decide whether you want to be a lawyer. A further study of one more year in PCLL (Postgraduate certificate in laws) will lead you to the starting point of a legal career.

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Words for Mentees (1): While at school

The secondary school I went to runs a mentorship programme. Past students from all walks of life mentor current Form 5 students. I have been a mentor for a few years. Owing to my background, I was mostly matched with students who are interested in joining the legal profession. As such, I find myself repeating the same thing every year to different mentees. I have decided to write a series of blogs about what I want to share with them.

For Form 5 students, the immediate goal ought to be getting good DSE results. Not everyone wants to further study, but it’s always good to keep the options open. To get good grades means that you can choose the university and curriculum you want to pursue.

Students are busy with exams, school based assessments and after school tutorials. However, it is important to balance academic work with extracurricular activities. There are many activities that are only available in secondary school. My school has a tradition of drama and each year there is a drama production. Drama, be it on stage as cast or behind the scene as production team, is a great way to practise English, learn to take responsibilities and more importantly, learn to be a team player. These soft skills are essential for future success.

Uniform groups and societies offer opportunities to meet friends outside of your own class. Serving positions in these groups enhance your leadership skill, taking advantage of invaluable teacher guidance which will not be available once you finish secondary school.

Make lasting friendship from school. Very often the best friends come from young school days. Keep in touch with your friends and don’t underestimate the value of alumni. When your schoolmates join different professions, it can form a useful and powerful social network support network.

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Keep得好

有人話你keep得好好,你會開心嗎?

佢意思係知道你年紀大但個樣冇實際年齡咁老,即係話始終都覺得你大年紀。通常我只會話那些上了年紀的明星,例如米雪和苗橋偉,keep得好。能夠延緩衰老,才叫做keep。

對住D大把青春未過保質期的少女,唔洗keep都自然靚,唔會讚佢”keep得好”。

如果真係成功留住青春,佢應該讚我靚ah ma!被人話keep得好,被提醒我年紀唔細了。我不但不覺得開心,反而更懷疑何解他猜到我的外貎和實際年齡不乎,難道我的年齡秘密已被揭穿?

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