opinion

The importance of ejaculatory prayers

November 22, 2019

We need to be more familiar with what are known as ejaculatory prayers, otherwise known also as aspirations. They are short prayers that spring rather quite spontaneously from the heart that is going through the different situations in life—happy, sad, tense, tired, excited, bored, etc. They reflect one’s relation with God and are inspired by faith, hope and charity.      To me, ejaculatory prayers are very helpful in quickly and easily putting ourselves in God’s presence, especially when we immerse ourselves deeply in the things of the world as we ought.      They help us relate ourselves and everything that happens to us to God, again as we ought. They help us in keeping a spiritual and supernatural outlook as we go through the different events of the day. In short, they help in keeping us spiritually alive, and not just alive in the body and to the world.      They help us see things better in the sense that we just would not see them with our senses and our human understanding alone, but also and more importantly with our faith, which is what is ideal and proper to us. They somehow put us in an intimate relation with our Father God. With them we will never feel alone nor distant from God.      My personal experience with ejaculatory prayers shows that they are very helpful even in making me calm and rested even in the middle of a tense situation for the mind or for the body. They help in making me breathe more deeply and thus give some relief.      Also, not to forget is that they are very helpful in protecting and defending us from temptations and sin. They make the spiritual combat and ascetical struggle, so unavoidable in life, more manageable.      They also help in preparing us for the more serious forms in our relationship with God as when we have to do our prayers, our sacrifices and our recourse to the sacraments.      We should all do our best to make it a habit to say ejaculatory prayers often during the day. Any short and earnest expression of our faith and piety will do. And also in this regard, the many vocal prayers that are already available can be very useful.      The “Our Father’s,” “Hail Mary’s” and “Glory be’s” are truly helpful.      We do not have to invent more prayers to be used as ejaculatory prayers. We may just even say, “Lord, I love you, I believe in you, I trust you,” or words to that effect. There are also many other prayers addressed to Our Lady, to St. Joseph, to St. Michael, and to other saints that can be used.      The important thing is that they are said with sincerity of heart and rectitude of intention. They definitely do not hamper us in our daily work and concerns. In fact, the contrary is true. They facilitate things a lot.      This business of saying ejaculatory prayers often during the day should be taught to children as early as possible. You cannot imagine what great benefits they will enjoy when they learn to do it as a habit when they grow up and get exposed to all sorts of things.      Let’s encourage everyone to do the same. There may be a little awkwardness in the beginning, but it’s not something that cannot be overcome. Especially when people experience the many benefits of the ejaculatory prayers, they will readily acquire the practice, since these prayers do not require a lot of effort to say them.

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Family unity is at the heart of Christmas

November 22, 2019

Working over the holidays is a fact of life for most entrepreneurs and their active family members. And with that reality comes the stress of business and family vying for your attention. What can you do to find a happy balance at holiday time? As a business leader how do you manage emotions as a result of so many factors.       Emotions cannot be avoided and can aggravate conflict in the family and business. I am also aware just how much of a burden entrepreneurship can take on the active family members. Understandably, December is a time when many family businesses begin closing the annual books - and family members who had all year to dream about hefty dividends often get disappointed when they realized to their dismay the numbers do not add up.  Dividend Sharing can be a Major Source of Conflict      Stress due to expectations of a bigger dividend share and discovering that the value is smaller can easily be a source of tension. Especially when you worked so hard and the sharing is equal among working family members.       In my coaching work all over Asia, I have learned over many years of advising family owned enterprises that there are several effective strategies you can use to take the pressure off and I’m happy to share them below to serve as a guide for every family member wishing that the holiday season can be a wonderful occasion to finally bring peace and unity within the family.  No. 1 Family Unity above Self      For starters, every family member must look at the big picture and be reminded that family unity must be the overarching value over ANYTHING! Those who feel aggrieved must never forget that whatever hurts they are going through must give way to a mindset that espouses stewardship and a vision of a happy, secure future for all family members.  No. 2 Create a Growth Vision to Inspire the Next Gen      The key is if you want your family to understand stewardship and unity, you have to have some open, honest discussions about the future. I am in Singapore now and a couple of families from other countries flew here to meet me precisely to reinforce the importance of family unity and vision. When there is family unity, harmony follows. When there is a powerful vision, growth naturally follows.      On top of a governance compass that we crafted two years ago, we also created a succession process on how to transition the successful business to the next generation set of leaders comprising five adult children. No. 3 There is No Success without Succession      Succession can be a complex event but when there is ample time to prepare, the transition and wealth transfer phase can be a wonderful and joyous event for the family.  To quote Montxu Aboitiz, a 4th generation member President and CEO of listed firm Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV):      “We have passed the baton down seven times since the company’s beginnings in 1889. Sustainability is key in the company and that AEV has always taken very seriously the capability to pass the company down generation to generation.”      The 130 year-old Aboitiz family runs one of the largest and oldest conglomerates in the Philippines. They have a constitution to ensure the sustainability of its wide range of businesses and have strictly followed family governance rules that is why they continue to reap the benefits of a successful business generation after generation.        To be continued...       esoriano@wongadvisory.com

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Polytechnic University update

November 22, 2019

Dear Students, Colleagues and Alumni The PolyU campus has been occupied by activists and has been severely and extensively vandalised over the past few days. The unlawful activities and acts of violence inside the campus and in its vicinity have been escalating, including damage to a number of laboratories on campus with the dangerous chemicals inside being taken away.      All classes have been forced to be suspended and all operations on the campus have been halted. The University is gravely concerned that the spiralling radical illicit activities will cause not only a tremendous safety threat on campus, but also class suspension over an indefinite period of time.      Once again, we plead with all people on campus, including students and staff members, to leave immediately.      We understand that our students are very concerned about the current social issues. However, in striving for one’s goal, one must always act with calmness and rationality.      Using violence or other radical means will not resolve problems, and instead it will cause a breach of the peace in our society, as well as traffic disruption. PolyU is the second home for our students, teachers and alumni, who have put painstaking efforts into building it up with the generous support from the community over the past eight decades.      We are all heart-broken and in deep distress to witness the severe devastation of this home. We believe that most of the alumni, staff and students of the PolyU, as well as their relatives and friends, are deeply saddened to see the campus and the nearby areas completely wrecked, the traffic disrupted, and the University indefinitely closed.      They are concerned about the safety on the campus, and they do not want to see the campus being destroyed further. We sincerely urge our students to stand together with us in cherishing and guarding themselves as well as this campus that we call home.      We appeal again for all to stay calm and rational and say “No” to violence. Do not engage in any violent or unlawful activities. In this moment of utmost risk, stay away from any danger and always be vigilant in protecting yourselves to relieve our, as well as your friends’ and relatives’ worries about you.      We have called on Deans, Department Heads and teachers to persuade our students to leave the campus as soon as possible. We also appeal to the parents and friends of the students to make efforts in doing likewise.      Universities are venues for advancing knowledge and nurturing talents. Universities are not battlegrounds for political disputes and should not be drawn into violent confrontations. PolyU strongly condemns the occupation of the campus by the people who commit acts of violence and demands that they leave immediately.      In this difficult time, we again call on all parties in society to maintain calm and restraint. We also plead with the members of PolyU to stand together. With our concerted efforts, we hope the campus can return to peace and tranquillity soon, and the impasse and turbulence in the society will come to an end.      Best regards,      Dr LAM Tai-Fai, Council Chairman      Professor Jin-Guang TENG, President      Professor Philip C. H. CHAN, Deputy President and Provost      Dr Miranda LOU, Executive Vice President      Mr Andy TONG, Vice President (Campus Development and Facilities)      Ir Professor Alex WAI, Vice President (Research Development)      Ir Professor Ben YOUNG, Vice President (Student Affairs)      Professor S. L. HO, Associate Vice President (Academic Support)      Professor Chetwyn CHAN, Associate Vice President (Learning and Teaching)      Professor Guohua CHEN, Associate Vice President (Research Support)      Professor K. Y. WONG, Associate Vice President (Research Support)      Professor Daniel T. L. SHEK, Associate Vice President (Undergraduate Programme)      Professor WONG Wing-tak, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Textiles      Ir Professor T. C. Edwin CHENG, Dean of the Faculty of Business      Ir Professor Y. L. XU, Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Environment      Ir Professor H. C. MAN, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering      Prof. David SHUM, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences      Professor LI Ping, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities      Professor K. P. LEE, Dean of the School of Design      Professor Kaye CHON, Dean of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management      Professor Esmond MOK, Dean of Students

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Marrying Money: The In-Law Dilemma

November 4, 2019

I was once asked in a TV interview anchored by Michelle Ong of ANC (ABSCBN) what my thoughts were in recommending in-laws to work in the family business and my quick response was straightforward, “If family owning businesses can afford professionals, there is absolutely no need to hire in-laws!”      In my years of doing consulting work for my firm, Wong + Bernstein Family Advisory, one significant variable in family enterprises is the effect that in-laws have on family owning businesses. They can either be a positive contributor or can be a huge burden to the family and the business. And I have encountered dozens of family businesses threatened and impaired by the actions of in-laws.      Business owners must realize that they will never know who their children will choose as partners.  Not even the most controlling family business owner can determine his children’s final choices. So no matter how you look at in-laws, they will always play a huge role in the way your children will manage the business and the family especially when you are no longer around.      But while you are still at the helm, owners must recognize that unity, governance, wealth transition and legacy building efforts should always be in place before proceeding with your plan in bringing in-laws to the business.      In Asia, hiring in-laws is correlated to culture and necessity. For start-up businesses where resources are limited, in-laws are usually relied upon to help in the business and fill the void. Their engagement is significant as they not only play a pivotal role in the growth of the business but they end up becoming a natural extension of the founder’s trust. In a latter’s circle of trusted people in the organization, in-laws are classified as part of the “cheap labor” pool of relatives and friends.      However, problems generally surface when the business transitions from a mom and pop venture to a bigger and complex organization. Despite the transition, the owners often disregard the importance of establishing rules and policies related to in-law entry.      For Dr. Steven Berglas, management consultant, faculty of Harvard Medical School and author of “The Success Syndrome”, he asserted that “hiring in-laws into the family business can be a “kiss of death”. The reason?  They become too familiar to the point that they believe the business is their own.   They then proceed to prove their value to the company by changing the way it’s run.”      To help the family weigh in on the pros and cons of hiring in laws, I am enumerating issues and concerns that every owner must consider as he or she navigates the perilous journey of balancing family and business with in-laws:      1.    Should the in law be subjected to the same treatment as family members or should they be treated differently?      2.    How do you compensate In-laws working in the family business?      3.    Will they have the same benefits as any ordinary non family professional? Or have perks similar to that of the children?      4.    Will they be made to sign an employment contract and be subjected to the same performance metrics?      5.    What are the consequences for an underperforming in-law? Can he or she be suspended or terminated?      I have warned dozens of owners about the potential risk that exists when they carelessly and hastily employ in-laws minus entry rules and policies. It is not only unfair to the in law but a selfish act committed by the business owner which if left unmanaged can cause serious implications.      esoriano@wongadvisory.com

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'Where he's coming from'

November 4, 2019

A popular consideration that many people nowadays make when they try to understand someone who has a different view from theirs is to try to figure out “where that person is coming from.” I hear that expression very often these days. It’s a laudable gesture that is meant to keep a meaningful dialog with others.      Of course, the expression, “where he’s coming from,” is a reminder of the basic principle that a person sees, understands and reacts to things according to the way he is. An old Latin adage already expresses this phenomenon. “Operare sequitur esse.” Action follows being. One behaves the way he is.      If that person is male or female, rich or poor, a socialite or a farm worker, a liberal or a conservative, a racist or a feminist, etc., these conditions are somehow reflected in his views and his over-all actuations. In other words, we all have our biases and preferences. Some can be valid and legitimate. But others may not. It is the latter that we have to be most careful about.      To see where one is coming from is, of course, a very logical consideration to make. But then again, we do not work by logic alone, since we can also be very logical in our error.      Logic does not go the distance. We need to go metaphysical, considering things way beyond the many conditionings that describe person. We have to go to the original and the ultimate objective truth about ourselves and about where we come from before the conditionings add their trappings on it.      And this original and ultimate truth about where we come from is that we all come from God. All creatures, of course, come from God, but in our case, we come from him in a very intimate way since we are created in his image and likeness, meant to share the very life of God.      We just did not come from our parents. We are not merely biological creatures. We are not simply products of our social and historico-cultural environment. We also are spiritual creatures who are very intimately linked to our Creator God. We are not merely the image and likeness of our parents. We, first of all, are the image and likeness of God.      While it’s true and correct to consider the personal, social, cultural background, etc. of a person to know where he is coming from when he expresses his views, we should not neglect the most basic consideration of the truth that we all come from God.      We are supposed to be God’s image and likeness, reflecting in ourselves as much as possible God’s goodness, love, mercy, wisdom, etc. In our dealings with others, in our discussions and exchanges, we should not forget that we all are children of God, we all are brothers and sisters, meant to love one another as Christ has loved us. (cfr. Jn 13,34)      As a consequence, we have to learn how to see the image and likeness of God in everyone, no matter how unlovable a person is to us. And also, we have to remind ourselves, that in spite of our personal idiosyncracies and peculiarities, we are also the image and likeness of God who are meant to see, understand and react to things the way God sees, understands and reacts to them.      For this, we have to look closely at the teaching and example of Christ who is the fullness of the revelation of God. He is “the way, the truth and the life” for us. We are patterned after him and we have to follow him to be what we ought to be.      And Christ makes himself alive in us through his word and the sacraments. Thus we cannot overemphasize the need to study the gospel, the catechism, etc., and to have recourse to the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, to figure out where everyone is coming from.

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Are you really committed to succession?

October 7, 2019

Prof. Josep Tàpies of IESE Business School in Spain is absolutely right when he remarked, “No one assumes that the son of a great violinist will also be a virtuoso on that instrument”.      So when do we consider a succession successful? First, it is when the company’s founder hands over the business seamlessly to the children, along with their spouses without any fanfare nor disturbances in any of the three critical pillars: Family, business and ownership systems.      Second, it includes the transfer of power to the most qualified and deserving next generation leader, who will navigate the enterprise together with his or her siblings. The transition to a chosen successor is a critical decision made unanimously by all the siblings, the BOD and the senior executive team.      The third element in the succession journey is that every strategic move is guided by a family agreement or a charter where governance issues are raised to the family council for approval using pre-agreed barometers. It is also essential for every member of the family council to be involved in a consensual decision-making process under a culture of transparency and respect.      In my family governance work at W+B Advisory, it can take up to 10 to 12 sessions or close to a year to create a family agreement. Why that long? There is no short cut to creating a real and authentic governance process. Just to initiate a transition from an informal set of rules to documenting formal agreements can be daunting for family members who are not used to corporate best practices.      During sessions, family members are made aware of their inherent responsibilities. They are guided on every item covering a slew of code of conduct policies where they simulate a formal meeting and collectively negotiate an acceptable governance solution to predictable problems that will likely happen in the future.      The fourth element is the creation of a Family Business Training Institute meant to inculcate good parenting programs, values formation training, business skills enhancement, shareholders education, a rigid successor program, Board level governance and institutionalizing a culture of stewardship to all family members.      And finally the last element in the succession journey is the creation of a Single Family office (SFO) that seeks to manage and preserve the family’s wealth. An SFO is a private company that manages investments and trusts for a single family.      Other services include family governance, financial and investment education, philanthropy, estate planning and tax mitigating services. For ultra-high net worth (UHNW) families ably assisted by my firm, we assist family businesses in pursuing diversification strategies using private equity and liquidity investments.      Tàpies concludes, “All companies are subject to risks committed by governments and managers, but family companies, because of their very nature, can more easily succumb to a series of mistakes. The succession process is a key issue that the family company must confront. It is a long process that requires planning and collaboration with outside advisors. A well-prepared succession requires the intensive training of one or several different successors. It also requires you to establish conditions that will regulate relationships between shareholders, managers and corporate personnel in the future.”      In closing, succession is a new beginning, a process, an ever evolving phenomenon. Most of all, it is a journey. Hence, adequate preparation is key and this includes:      ·         An agreement or willingness of the successors to go on the trip      ·         A common destination with shared values      ·         Milestones for monitoring progress      ·         Fuel to sustain the journey      ·         Fundamental skills for dealing with road obstacles

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