By Josie Wong
Part 1: Business consulting work
While my business partner, John, and I were working on the business consulting project, there were always two questions that came into my mind, “is it really wise to change their practice and how can we help them in a right way”. The fish stall of Luz has been operating since 1986, which has a long history and Luz is very experienced in this industry. When we were thinking how we could improve her business, we felt a bit frustrated as her business was already doing a good job in her own way. We were also not quite certain about the effectiveness in implementing our methods, which may possibly harm her existing business.
However, we still tried our best to bring the best results to Luz and her stall. We want to differentiate Luz’s stall from her competitors in this fish market as everyone is selling similar products. Thus, we proposed Luz to put a sign with her name on top of her stall so that people can better distinguish hers from others. It came to my surprise that Luz rejected our suggestion at first as she thought that it was unfair and there was no one else doing that in the fish market. We tried to persuade her but it is still very hard to change her mindset and way of operating her own business due to her past experience and mindset.
Her mindset makes me think of the common Hong Kong people mindset that money is always the most important. In Hong Kong society, most people just value money and always use cost and benefit to measure everything. Yet, although people are poor here, what they treasure is more than just money and they also value other things, such as integrity, fairness and happiness. This may perhaps be the biggest difference between business in Hong Kong and that in Jagna and explain why Luz rejected our suggestion at the first place.
Are we actually helping? It seems that the results are not as prominent as what I expected. However, this makes me realize it is perhaps not a short-term process but a long term and continuous project. I understand that we may not be able to change their practice at once and improve it immediately but at least we tried to help and lay a good foundation so that others can help in the future. Changing the mindset of people is never an easy task and is a step-by-step process. Three weeks is definitely not enough to make a lot of changes and can only allow us to understand a small part of her business and operations. But I still believe that this small bit can make some difference in her business.
Part 2: Life in Tubod Mar
“We are poor but are full of enjoyment, love and happiness”, a remarkable saying said by my neighbor, Reymark, when we were chatting at a night. Life is as simple as this. Before coming to Philippines, I was always troubled by the hectic and unwelcoming society of Hong Kong, especially after my exchange. I always think that being happy is a difficult task as people become harder to be satisfied when they get older and experience more. This journey actually reminds me how simple and easy happiness can be. The people here also taught me how to enjoy life and really be chill.
Under this standardized society, most people are striving to be a certain kind of person created by the social norms. While society keeps asking us to be a certain type of person, we should sometimes stop for a while and rethink the meaning of life and what kind of people we want to be. We may not be a person that has the highest salary but we can be the happiest person in the world. Don’t let society shape who you are but be who you want to become.
Let your smile change the world but don’t let the world change your smile.