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A message from Colonel (Honorary) Tan Sri Dato' Seri Dato' Paduka Prof Dr Fng Ah Seng, JP.


A Very Happy Chinese New Year! I wish my readers a good celebration ushering in 2024 and the best of luck planning fresh goals for the months ahead.

 

Life is short, so happiness is the #1 goal. But happiness comes with a price, as nothing is free in this world. You don't have to be rich to be happy, but it would be best to have the minimum ability and resources to live the enjoyable life you envision and the freedom to do things your way. 

 

You don't have to please others in exchange for happiness, even though many people seem to have a life mission of dimming happiness in others. So, you need plenty of wisdom and persistence to think happily and generate true happiness from within, as happiness cannot be entirely relied upon from outside sources.

 

There are two things that I would advise our readers on how to be happy:

 

  1. Don't compare yourself with others. Keep your egoistic nature in check to avoid the pitfalls of one-upmanship. As everyone is unique, always only compare your progress against your own merits, integrity and personal goals. Are you doing much better this year than the last? Are you improving yourself to attract more resources to allow you to live your life on your terms? Again, you do not have to be filthy rich, but you do need to secure enough wealth to create the lifestyle that makes you happy.

  2. Do not be calculative. Such people will not have happy lives because they are always suspicious of those around them. Their greedy nature makes them feel unsatisfied in all they do - always wanting to blame others for their failures. Their motto is to do the least work for the highest returns, so they are very picky when accepting tasks given by their superiors, bosses, or customers. Such a miserly attitude will not take them far, for only generous hearts will win the generous sponsors and supporters who will help them succeed in their life goals.

 

Associating success with happiness is being able to furnish your lifestyle adequately. But beyond such simplicity, sustained happiness is more of a state of mind. You can have all the possessions in the world and still be miserable. So be mindful of what experiences will create lasting happiness for you when finalising goals so that happiness can grow as you move forward fearlessly.

 

But wait! There is another part to manifesting happiness. It is about self-transformation. 

 

In my experience, I can only teach people how to be happy and wealthy if they truly want to change. Growth requires change. The process of change can occur in two ways. First, there are proactive people who can transform their lives with intelligence and resourcefulness. Second are those who are transformed through 'forced' change, which is what happened to me when I went through Harvard University's intense four-and-a-half-month course - it was hell. People who gave me moral support had given up hope even before me. But I powered through the course. I had so much knowledge squeezed into my brain, into my subconscious, that by the end of it, I had no choice but to change. I thought nothing or no one could cause a change in me. But in under five months, my mindset had transformed. After analysing over a hundred case studies and examining the different issues, I was forced to change as I absorbed new information. I used to see things from the outside in - assessing solutions from one or two angles. Now, with the enrichment of new knowledge, I see things from the inside out, observing from seven or eight angles.  

 

Before Harvard, I was already unique in my thinking, different from others, but the gap has widened even more after the course. My expanded knowledge and new thought process can cause friction with others, such as friends and employees, who might not like my new approach. It is my problem, as I changed, not the others around me. So, I have to be very careful about sharing my opinions. Although I am now more direct, I am also more compassionate and tolerant and can get along with others better than before. I am more focused on what I can do to help without empathising too much with a person's feelings and situation. And, in managing crises, I am calmer and more in control.

 

This course aims to transform you into a modern global leader – resetting your sight to accommodate a larger perspective. The irony is you eventually realise that with elevated wisdom, it becomes lonely at the top. Happiness might have to take a different form as you learn to love your own company. Loneliness is the #1 factor for high achievers. But the bonus of loneliness is that it allows you space for massive self-improvement. Like an eagle, the higher you soar, the more details and connections you see, and things become clearer. You become more sensitive to what is happening in your environment.

 

So, you can choose to keep climbing the ladder towards that lonesome peak or just ground yourself to live amongst everyday folks, following the herd mentality. Where does your happiness lie? For me, being alone is like experiencing calm waters. Too much emotional baggage stifles success, like rocks tied to an eagle that keeps it from flying.

 

As you learn to be happy on the inside, regardless of your level of achievement, you can still enhance the experience of happiness by bringing happiness to others. Make sure you know how to take care of people unconditionally. I love and care for my family and others, but I completely release the expectations of receiving love and care in return. In this way, I won't be disappointed. Of course, with employees, there is a level of expectation, or no one will work!

 

So, find a way to be happy at all points in your life. The secret is to have enough to sustain the lifestyle of your choice – that is true wealth, and thus, true happiness.

 

I hope my advice can help you on your way towards becoming a truly happy person in 2024 and beyond. Best of luck and success on your journey this year!



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Our heartiest congratulations to Tan Sri Fng Ah Seng for being awarded the military rank of Honorary Colonel on the 1st of June, 2023, by the King of Malaysia.


With Tan Sri’s lifelong passion and ambition to be of service to the safety and serenity of Malaysia, this was a momentous and inspiring occasion for us all - showing that perseverance can indeed reap success. As Tan Sri always says, ‘Never give up!’


In the celebrations, he gave his utmost thanks to all those that supported him and helped make it happen. It was breaking new ground, both, personally and collectively, for us at Epic Valley and Tan Sri’s charity foundation.


Family Matters

An employee once complimented Tan Sri at an office gathering - remarking that his family were doing such a great job at work. Tan Sri duly replied that his ‘family’ also included the entire team. It was a collective effort. This struck a comforting cord with the crowd - reminding us that the concept of family can be a powerful binding agent between people.


The question is, does the notion of ‘family’ play a crucial part in our social construct in keeping us all in a cohesive, harmonious and productive state - not just by the default of blood ties and ancestry, but between colleagues in the workplace, and in all public associations? Is it beneficial to see each other as family members?


Eastern culture, for the most part, is family-oriented, where family ties are the backbone of an individual’s life. Close-knit traditions passed down by each generation have attempted to keep the importance of family customs and connections alive in an ever-modernising world. Respect is expected for the elders and parents, who are seen as wise guides, mentors and guardians for the younger generation. Such individuals with a deeply instilled family culture can tend to colour their relationships at work with customers, colleagues and bosses - influencing their attitude, motivation, comradeship, and confrontations. Although being sensitive to another’s needs is valuable, however, there is a certain level of conservative demeanour and a tenuous dependency on relationships that can become a detriment to keeping a business working efficiently and professionally. In the Eastern tradition, relationships take priority.


Western values have generally favoured more personal independence and emancipation from filial piety. It is more concerned with individualistic success, where the values of self-expression, resourcefulness and personal evolution are celebrated. When individuals leave the family nest, often, family values are relegated to the backseat, just like a phase in one’s life. New relationships are formed in the workplace and social settings, which then take centre stage. In short, family culture is swapped for corporate culture. Individuals that possess an independent, go-getter nature have an advantage in companies with a Westernised business model - leaning more towards an impersonal profit-driven mindset, an adherence to corporate protocols and advancement through meritocracy. However, a lack of emphasis on building empathetic human relations amongst co-workers can lead to too much egocentric behaviour that can dismantle a company’s growth and success. In the Western tradition, ambition is the driving force.


Of course, these are just generalised descriptions of two ends of the cultural spectrum. We understand that the world is highly integrated nowadays with an eclectic mix of cultural values. For the most part, working with others is a mental-emotional playing field. Being less reliant on the emotional dynamics with others can streamline a person’s focus to get the job done. And, an expressive, liberal nature is suited for group discussions, brainstorming, and problem-solving – where opposing opinions and criticisms are deliberated and not taken personally. Yet, individuals that care more about keeping the peace and conserving relations are more acutely aware of another’s feelings and reactions and are able to soften their approach during disagreements which helps to calm heated debates.


Epic Valley’s Optimal Blend

As a large chunk of the corporate world is rife with office politics, work-related stress and high employee turnover, it is always a pleasant surprise when businesses are able to create a happy, dedicated workforce where the concept of ‘family’ is introduced in a modern corporate setting. Anecdotally, with Tan Sri’s Chinese heritage, he has naturally instilled a dose of Eastern family values in his business life and has reaped significant benefits. Moving onto its 25th year, Epic Valley has created a tight-knit team with many long-term employees. As office culture greatly depends on the top management of a company, with Tan Sri at the helm, he has injected a sense of belonging, a moral code and trust in his team. He has built his successful business based on a unique integration of a personable, caring approach, military-minded motivation and professional business ethics. This blend of East and West can be found in Tan Sri’s various seminars, publications, GIMLAP methodology and upcoming book, ‘Lead and Grow Rich’.


What Family Values Are Beneficial to a Business?

If we look closely, family values are actually universal human values. They are based on a kind heart, a positive mindset, a proactive attitude and teamwork. While individual expression is valued, there is also a drive to come together as one to achieve common goals.


Employees, and people in general…

…want to be acknowledged, valued, trusted and appreciated.

…work better together when passionately aligned to a common cause or mission.

…thrive on a work culture that is supportive, respectful, empathetic and upholds integrity.

…need to have a clear purpose and understanding of their roles, yet space to evolve and move up the ladder.

…build better connections by spending time getting to know each other.

…are happier in a supportive environment, where empathy and compassion are shown for another’s failings or mistakes.

…feel safer and mentally healthier when they can express themselves without criticism.


Humans, regardless of the setting, need to feel safe, trusted and valued. These can be found in traditional family homes that lead with a loving, compassionate heart, but, also instil a healthy level of discipline, self-responsibility and integrity. We require a balance of understanding and expectation to be successful in this world.


Do Your Best, but Look Beyond Yourself

Tan Sri recently spoke to an audience where he explained that it is not so much the profit, but the purpose that makes a business thrive and achieve long-term success. He laid out the purpose of his company, where three levels of service are put into action:


1. His most immediate concern is his workforce. It is essential to support their well-being, provide stable employment, offer relevant advice and show employees appreciation for their hard work in building a successful business together.

2. The second level of focus is the citizens of Malaysia. Establishing his charity foundation has allowed Tan Sri to offer crucial donations, engage in worthy charitable causes, offer educational scholarships, share his business knowledge, and take part in uplifting the quality of life for the less fortunate and for the greater good of humanity.

3. Seeing the country thrive is of utmost importance to Tan Sri. With his military experience and patriotic love for Malaysia, he is engaged with the armed forces, police and other influential bodies to support them in keeping citizens safe and secure, and to build a prosperous, united and harmonious country.


Tan Sri’s triple-tiered mission of service that forms the heart of his company is indeed a rare find, where the concept of family unity is embodied and presented at all levels - of work, community and country. Such an all-inclusive approach and strong ethics attract customers and compatriots. When the company sees their staff and clients as family, they want to give them their best, and this authenticity is generally reciprocated. Yes, there must be a healthy balance of structure, procedures and formalities that has to be in place to keep the business machinery working smoothly - but having a heart-based approach will ultimately bring success and longevity. It is about looking out for each other while doing our best as individuals - because WE ARE FAMILY.



The Editor


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Tan Sri Fng adventure trips accompanied by the Malaysian flag
My heart is proudly with Malaysia on every adventure!

A Special Merdeka Message from Major (Honorary) Tan Sri Dato' Seri Dato' Paduka Prof Dr Fng Ah Seng, JP.


On the 31st of August 1957, Malaysia’s citizens rejoiced in their country’s independence and the word ‘Merdeka’ became firmly entrenched in our hearts. The benefits of our sovereign country’s emancipation have trickled down to every citizen – allowing us to showcase unique expression, diversity, artistry and ingenuity within the colourful fabric of Malaysian culture and commerce.


How far have we evolved after all these years? It’s heart-warming to see patriotic flags displayed all around Malaysia. But do we really appreciate the many opportunities available to us up till now? It is, therefore, a perfect time to contemplate our individual and collective contributions as citizens of Malaysia.


As this nation belongs to every citizen, regardless of race, religion, gender and background, it is our duty to create a life we can all be proud of as Malaysians. The greatest challenge is how to stand strong and harmonious together. We all need to feel part of this Malaysian family – to be valued, respected, and cherished. I encourage Malaysians from all walks of life to set aside all their differences. Do away with ideas of racism and other discriminatory judgments, and instead, treat everyone like their beloved family members. Let’s gauge others based on individual merits and let our deeds be the measure.


Last month, we celebrated Epic Valley’s 24th anniversary. This company has been my personal testament to how we can flourish as a united entity as we accomplish the company’s mission and goals. I duly reminded my entire team that we are all family, regardless of whether we are related or not. We all work in earnest, appreciate each other, and lend a hand when needed. And we also generously give our time and resources to society through the philanthropic efforts of my charitable foundation, Yayasan Muhibah Tan Sri Fng Ah Seng. It is always important to help the disadvantaged, as every citizen can contribute in unique ways if given a chance to shine.


Long-term prosperity and harmony for Malaysia are reliant upon us being united, building trustworthy relationships, contributing to society, mutually supporting each other, and doing the right things that make us feel proud as a nation. Solidarity ensures our country’s safety and peace which depends on us embracing the common values of kinship, tolerance and goodwill – the community spirit we call ‘Muhibbah’.


As we strive to be upstanding citizens, it is crucial that leaders and politicians share the true spirit of ‘One Malaysia’ - and implement policies that promote unity, trust and equity. It is incumbent that the upper echelons of governance uphold the highest standards of integrity, care and respect for all its citizens - strictly adhering to the Muhibbah principle. We are all equally bound by the same time-honoured values and moral codes. And by embracing them, we can dissolve division, fear and ignorance.


Let’s upkeep the natural beauty of Malaysia and secure our worldwide reputation of being warm-hearted, generous, peace-loving and sincere people. We must also remember to support our bright, young talents to make a favourable impact locally and globally - for they are the future representatives of Malaysia.


Let’s journey onwards as a united Malaysian family.



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