Jul 12, 2012|
As a kid, I remember poverty. I remember that my father worked very hard. I don’t know what age I was—maybe below seven—and I remember sharing a bedroom with my mother, my father and my sister. That’s my first memory.
After that I went to school at DBS [Diocesan Boys’ School] and fell in love with music. I’d play the drums on my desk. My friend said, “Let’s start a band.” And which teenager doesn’t want to be a band hero so he can draw attraction? Since I couldn’t play guitar, I became a singer.
I loved my dad and I didn’t want to ask him [for money]. So I started singing, making money. It made me feel proud to be capable. We sang at parties or balls. I even made us play professionally for two months at a disco.
We were offered a recording contract. But I was in a rock group at the time, and [the company] wanted us to sing music that they would choose, which was bubblegum. And we didn’t want to do it—we felt that we needed to be true to ourselves. All my friends are [now] doing very well. They went on to be very successful, like [Cantopop star] Samuel Hui.
I just play for my own entertainment [now]. I love my music, I sing for friends, I entertain for charity a lot. I never charge. I don’t think I’m that bad—hopefully.
The minute I came back [from college], I went right to work [for my dad]. He had a huge company and a huge staff and he didn’t really need me, but I worked very hard seven days a week for seven to eight years. I was a real workaholic.
My hero is my dad. My dad is the greatest human being I’ve ever met. He gives to priests, he gives to thieves. He’s given most of his money away, and he helps anybody. Sometimes I worry about him. He once gave a large amount of money to somebody and I said, “Dad, that guy was a crook. Come on!” And he said, “Yeah, I know. But if I don’t give him the money, who would?”
The world is a mess—can you trust your bank? Your government? Aside from Hong Kong, which is really pretty good, the major economies of Europe and America are in chaos. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. There’s something wrong, and what’s wrong is the moral fiber.
I think we need to bring back good values. I’m not saying everyone should go to church 24 hours a day—I’m just saying that we need to bring back balance to the universe.
I believe in helping people, and respect, and love. The One is my search for goodness—to find the Mother Teresa of tomorrow. Can you imagine how good I’d feel if I can find a Mother Teresa and take your money and my money and give it to her? We’re looking for that individual who personifies good and who does the maximum good for the maximum [number of] people. We’re looking for those kinds of people who spend every day of their lives, from morning till night, giving themselves to make a better world.
When I first said I wanted to do this award and set the standard of service above self, everyone said, “You can’t find a person like that.” But we had a lot of applications from almost 10 countries. Every one of the five finalists has been phenomenal. Every one of them has actually lived up to that standard. Now, my challenge is to make year two [of the award] better.
When you lose a lot of money, the challenge is always making it back or paying it off. It really worries you. In the 1970s or 80s, I gave a lot of credit to one customer—millions of dollars—and he went bust. That was really difficult for me.
I know my family’s always there for me, but I believe you should always try and solve your problems on your own. It would be the easiest thing to go to my father and ask to borrow the money, but that’s just not my style. I don’t ever want to be a liability to anybody. And I don’t want my family to be a liability to anybody else.
Everybody hits major problems. First, you have to accept the loss. Second, either make the best out of the situation or move on. If you sink into that hole, you’ll never get out of it. Life is an evolving process—you just keep on going. And I’ve had people cheat me and make a lot of money off of me, but taking a loss and making the most out of it can be really exciting.
I’d like to get my kids involved [in the business]—I’ve got three girls. Two daughters have worked with me—Sheeva, for a year and a half, and the other daughter [Davina] for eight months. And now my eldest daughter [Divia] is going to work here. My girls are probably tougher than boys!
No matter what I leave my kids, they have to learn how to make money, and my duty is to make sure that they can make money. If I have them here with me, we can work together and we can grow together.
It’s hard for me to wind down, and I don’t want to wind down. My energy level is as high as it’s ever been, in a long time. I’m looking forward to making more money and doing more good. I respect my uncle Hari who, even though he’s 90, is still working.