Category Archives: Leadership Blog

No regrets, say the Chinese women who chose independence over marriage. The girls who took a lifelong vow of chastity are now in their 80s, the last survivors of a unique custom

Her mother carefully undid Liang Jieyun’s plaits, combed out the strands and pinned them into a bun. When her friends put up their hair, they wore the red clothing of brides. But as Liang left her girlhood behind and stepped across the family threshold, she was embarking on a lifelong commitment to remain single.

At 85, Liang is a rare survivor of a custom stretching back to the early 19th century in parts of southern Guangdong. Women here could vow to remain a “self-combed woman”, or zishunü, leaving their parents’ home to work without marrying. “If I hadn’t become a ‘self-combed woman’, the landlord would have forced me into marriage,” she said.

(Read the rest here)

90-year-old Huang Peirong, who is believed to be the oldest self-combed woman in Guangdong

90-year-old Huang Peirong, who is believed to be the oldest self-combed woman in Guangdong

I loved this piece, it was something I hadn’t heard about before. 

When I came across this article in The Guardian, I couldn’t believe that I had never heard about this tradition before. These are women who gave up the chance (which might not be a good one) of marriage in order to remain single and to work and support their families for their entire lives. While it sounds like a sacrifice, the piece in The Guardian shows that for many, given the era, it was a form of liberation. There are few such women alive still today and if you Google it, you will find some other articles but no Wikipedia page (which shows how unknown this tradition is, if you ask me!).


I had to share this with my fellow WMN organisers. It’s like a historical take on the having it all issue, of course, these women sacrificed having it all, really, in order to have more than they might if they married (because marriages then weren’t formed the way they commonly are now!).


Our ex Hong Kong Chapter President, Christina Pantin was excited by the article and shared this with us:


“What a touching article.


We were fortunate to have had during our childhood and into teenaged years an “amah” called “Lau Cher”, who was not single but was a widow who chose to have her 2 children raised by relatives in Penang while she was our live in housekeeper in KL. She sent money faithfully every month to support her children, and very sadly, they resented their mother for not raising them, and she spent her last days with them not being very loving to her after she left our family.


Lau Cher exemplified the women in the article – denying herself any comforts (she dressed in “black and white” amah uniform), and I remember going with her during her monthly trips downtown to send money to her children, when as a treat she would buy a wonton noodle lunch for herself and me.


How strong women are! It’s very encouraging to remember this!”

If you have any stories to share on topics like these, please get in touch!


Community Business has recently shared a research paper carried out by Standard and Chartered in Hong Kong, about the number of women serving on boards in Hong Kong.

Funnily, I feel as though I have seen a number of strong women in Hong Kong – and I mean in politics. I always thought that Anson Chan was a solid politician and now we see people like Emily Lau and  Carrie Lau holding some awkward positions.

Aren’t Chinese women strong and determined? The aunties in my family are definitely not to be messed with and I always felt that some of the big local families are somewhat led by the matriarch – even (the rise and dip of) Sun Hung Kai includes the mother.

But apparently, Hong Kong scores shockingly low compared with other countries, when it comes to the number of women on boards.

In case you missed it, Community Business’s newsletter about the report went like this:

Yesterday we released our latest research, Standard Chartered Bank Women on Boards: Hang Seng Index 2013.

Whilst the needle is moving in the right direction, progress to increase the number of women on boards in Hong Kong remains very slow. In the last 12 months, the number of women has increased by just three and the number of female directorships by four, resulting in a total of 9.4% of all board directorships being held by women.

Our figures are consistent with statistics recently made available by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEx), which looked at female representation on the boards of all 1,551 companies listed in Hong Kong. The overall figure as at January 31, 2013 is 10.7% compared with 10.3% as at May 31, 2012. 40% of boards listed in Hong Kong are all male.

We congratulate the companies with the highest percentage of women on their boards.  They are leading the way and we hope that more companies will follow.

Read the full report, here.











This is a re-post from LinkedIn, which surprisingly doesn’t employ a proper infographic. But it ends with a good question, so I suggest we all meditate on that for a few minutes.


Throughout Change by Design, I tried to show that the designer’s skills can be applied to a wide range of problems—and also that these skills are accessible to a far greater range of people than may be commonly supposed. These two threads come together when we apply them to one of the most challenging problems of them all: designing a life. There is a big difference, though, between planning a life, drifting through life, and designing a life.

We all know of people who go through life with every step preplanned. They knew which university they would attend, which internship would lead to a successful career, and at what age they will retire. Unfortunately, this never works out as planned. And anyway, if you know the winner before the start, where’s the fun in the game?

Like any good design team, we can have a sense of purpose without deluding ourselves that we can predict every outcome in advance, for this is the space of creativity. We can blur the distinction between the final product and the creative process that got us there. We can learn how to take joy in the things we create. We can work within the constraints of our own natures—and still be agile, build capabilities, iterate. We can conduct experiments, make discoveries, change our perspectives.

Think of today as a prototype. What would you change?

Original article here.


This re-post from LinkedIn approaches the topic of stress and what it does to our bodies. Links at the bottom will take you to related posts on the subject.


I don’t want to open the vast discussion of stress that now exists, except to make two limited points. 1. Stress isn’t good for you. 2. The vast majority of people do not deal with their stress effectively. Coming to grips with these two things is important for anyone who wants to create a conscious lifestyle. To be aware is to be open, alert, ready to meet unknown challenges, and capable of fresh responses. When you are under stress, these qualities are compromised. Raise the stress high enough and they are reversed. The mind closes down as an act of self-defense. In that state it is very difficult to be alert and open.

But stress is bad for you in far more basic ways. The hormones that are released in the body’s stress response, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are meant to be temporary. Their effect is to galvanize the fight-or-flight response, which is triggered in a primitive area of the brain, because fight-or-flight is an inheritance from our pre-human past. In the stress response, a privileged pathway is opened for dealing with emergencies, while at the same time the brain’s higher responses are temporarily suppressed.

Read the rest here.

Your digital presence tells the story of who you are – and what you are worth… so what should you be saying?

In a world overflowing with the noise of Facebook updates, tweets, blog posts, Pinterest pins and YouTube video responses, it’s difficult to connect with the people who matter most to your business and your career.


Mastering Story, Community and Influence explains the art of social media storytelling, showing you how to turn your offline expertise into the sort of online thought-leadership that cuts through the noise and attracts larger, more important communities.


Whether you’re new to social media or racing to keep up with every new platform, social media storyteller extraordinaire, Jay Oatway, reveals the underlying mechanics and best practices behind becoming a serious online influencer.


Mastering Story, Community and Influence will help you become an authoritative presence online and build both the reputation and community you need for your future success in the Social Media Era.





Introduction to Mastering Story, Community & Influence: How To Use Social Media to Become a Socialeader


There was a time not so long ago when a CEO would dictate his correspondence to his secretary. The notion that he type it himself would have been laughed at. Today, the modern  CEO is on his Blackberry all day. Tomorrow,business leaders will be the masters of their own social media empires.


This shift has already begun. Increasingly, business needs people who treat social media as a professional thought-leadership tool, both for their own careers and for the benefit of the company they work for. We want to do business with those who make social media feel less like mass marketing and more like customer service. We seek out those whose influence has grown through caring for their community.


The future needs Socialeaders. A Socialeader is someone who treats social media as a professional thought-leadership tool, both for their own careers and for the benefit of the company they work for. It’s someone who makes marketing feel more like customer service. It’s someone whose influence has grown through caring for their community. A Socialeader acts as a role model in the workplace, demonstrating how to use social media tools professionally.


Why should you care about your digital presence, or how much online influence you have, or whether you know how to build social capital among relevant social media communities? Simply, you will be socially and economically disadvantaged if you don’t.


An alternative economy is fast being built on top of social media. And those who ignore it, do so at their peril. Our digital presence tells a story of who we are.


At some point, you will be Googled, possibly by a prospective client, or by a new employer, or an investor. Over any matter of great importance, we will seek out more information on the person we are dealing with. We are being judged by what is found. But many of us have yet to try to close the gap between our offline reputations and our lack of online reputations.


Social media is clearly not a fad that will go away. We need to stop treating it like a child’s toy and start using it like a tool of power.


Even if you haven’t yet begun to take charge of your digital presence, there is already information about you online. You might not have placed it there, but anyone can find it. Why  leave it to chance what people find out about you? Why not take the steps towards working with social media to curate an impressive living breathing biography of your expertise and reputation? When that prospective client, or new employer, or potential investor does a search  for you, and one for your competition, who will look most promising? Shouldn’t it be you?


You can’t escape the fact that social media are reshaping the competitive landscape. Business competition studies are showing that those using social media are gaining advantage. Your boss is going to want this too. At some point, you are going to be expected to know how to use social media for business, just as you are expected to know how to use email or the telephone.


Resistance to this will not benefit you. Already you are missing out on deals, discounts and other free stuff reserved only for those with significant online influence. What is online influence? Think of it as having what it takes to get into an exclusive club. All of our social media activities are being monitored to judge their relative impact within online communities. If you can’t demonstrate that you have the influence it takes, then you can expect to wait a long time in the queue outside. Is that where you want to be? No, didn’t think so.


Socialeaders go straight to the VIP room. But you only get as good as you give. We need to begin to invest a significant amount of effort to mastering the new frontier. It’s more about investing in the people than it is about the technology. It’s not called social media for nothing. It has been said about this new technology that “The last mile is human.”


Socialeaders are part of that solution; you are the human that completes the transition to the new way the world operates. You can’t afford to be the last person to figure this out. The younger people in your company need leadership. They may be digital natives, but what they need is a digital role model to show them how to use social media as more than a toy.


Granted, it’s not easy keeping up with all the rapid developments in social media. I use the term social media purposely throughout this book as a generic stand-in for the hot services of the day, like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram. I’m well aware that social networks come and go.


But I’m also aware that no matter how much the social media landscape evolves, the underlying principles at work only become stronger and stronger. That’s what this book will explain so that, no matter what comes next, you understand the bigger picture of what needs to be done to be successful.


Social Currency, Social Capital and Social Credit in a Nutshell

There are three terms I use throughout this book to help explain what is happening in social media and to use it to get to become a Socialeader. They are: social currency, social capital and social credit.


Essentially, story is the currency of social media. Through the exchange of social currency you build up relationships. The value of these relationships is your social capital. Social capital works much like at a bank: it’s hard to withdraw more than the value you have already deposited. You can’t ask more from a relationship than you give to it, not if you want to maintain that relationship. Also like a bank, the longer you invest in relationships, even if the social currency is of only modest value, the more social capital you will have.


The bottom line: to get more out of social media, you’ve got to put more in.

Social credit, on the other hand, is often offered even when you don’t ask for it. It is born out of your online reputation (or, more likely, from a perception that you are someone important). It is when you are given the VIP treatment because your online presence is considered influential by someone who wishes to get on your good side. Social credit is a double-edged sword and must be handled carefully.







Jay Oatway is a tech-journalist who has become a regional leader in social media reach and influence. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Mastering Story, Community and Influence: How to Use Social Media to Become a Socialeader . And with more than 100,000 followers worldwide, along with close ties to social media’s most influential thought-leaders, Jay has been dubbed “Hong Kong’s answer to Twitter royalty” by Marketing magazine and ranked #22 on the Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers.


Jay now provides executive social media training on how to tell stories that captivate, how to grow communities that matters, and how to cultivate online influence that can deliver results. He is also co-founder of HKSocial, Hong Kong’s first Society of Social Business Best Practices.


Working as both a tech-journalist and digital strategist in Hong Kong since 1997, Jay has become the leading independent social media authority, speaking extensively to businesses and the media about harnessing the power of the new digital tools.




















Is there really a war for talent or are we overlooking the talent right in front of our noses? Research indicates that leadership is skewed towards the masculine—and I would add western—perspective, as many leadership models emanate from the West and multinational corporations use competencies and leadership frameworks from their headquarters. But the power base has shifted east, so where does that leave leadership frameworks?

Read more…