Laughing Your Way To The Top.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ The Transit Cafe
Friday, 1st May 2009
A funny thing happened to Yeoh Siew Hoon on Tuesday: I popped into a CEO breakfast meeting at the Singapore Institute of Management on a very thundery Tuesday morning and thought the storm had moved indoors.

In the lounge were a group of grown men and women banging away on drums. In the beginning, the rhythm was a bit erratic and jarring so I had some coffee to calm the nerves. Then, as the caffeine went down, the drum beats became more synchronised, more rhythmic.

Soon I wanted to dance – perhaps it was the caffeine – but I held myself back because I didn't want to upset the magic circle. Instead, I tapped my feet while my fingers crackled on the Blackberry. Music to write emails to …

On hindsight I should have danced, because the morning breakfast was, as I found out later, all about having a sense of fun and humour in the workplace.

I had been invited by Scott Friedman (pictured left), a motivational humourist, to come listen to his talk. Scott, whose website is Scott Friedman CSP, goes around spreading the message about using humour as a tool, an attitude and a way of looking at life.

It's not a new message but I reckon it's one worth remembering and repeating especially in these gloomy times that could drive some people to slit their wrists. On top of the financial troubles now comes the swine flu – could it get any worse?

To Scott's thinking, every stress can become a gift if approached with humour. "Life can make you bitter or life can make you feel better," he says.

He then quotes Victor Frankl who, in his book "Man's Search for Meaning", said everything can be taken away from us except the last of the human freedom, our attitude.

I then thought of Kiji (pictured right), the flying wheelchair traveller, whom I met last week at the International Conference on Accessible Tourism (ICAT). No one has more attitude than this man who wants to make Greenland his 100th destination.

If you go to his website, Travel For All – a Fllying Wheelchair from Japan, his introduction reads, "99 countries in the world traveled by wheelchair. I hope that everyone can go anywhere they want."

Kiji's gift, as I wrote last week, is making the extraordinary sound ordinary. Most of us try so hard to make the ordinary sound extraordinary – we trot out clichés, hoping they come across as wisdom, we embellish our travel stories, hoping to appear as heroes – yet Kiji who's done the most amazing things as a traveler plays down everything.

He is direct. Life has taught him not to waste time. He is self-effacing; he knows humility makes more friends. He laughs at himself. Even in the most stressful of situations, when he had to be dragged by bullock cart along a muddy trail or sitting for two days in a sardine-packed bus in Magdagascar or sitting on a camel for hours and hours when he had to desperately go to the toilet, he made everything sound fun.

That same week, I sat in a workshop run by George Booth (pictured left) of Integrated Tourism Services, Australia, who was talking about how to tap the silver market. I have known George for more than 20 years, he is as youthful as when I first met him. Approaching 70, he's got the energy of a 20-year-old. One delegate at the workshop called him a "supercharger".

Says George, "I was born in a recession, we are in a recession, we are going to come out of this. I want to think positive because that's how I beat the fear."

And then on Tuesday night, I interviewed Peter Knipp, the one-man juggernaut behind the World Gourmet Summit. As weary as he is, the former executive chef of the Raffles Hotel, who's doing his 13th WGS, was on top of the world.

He was determined to prove his critics wrong – that he and his team could pull off a high-end lifestyle event in these gloomy times. "When everyone is crying foul because their budgets have been cut, we were determined to make it an even stronger event. Let's deal with the financial crisis like adults, not like babies. You just have to adapt to the climate."

And so his efforts have paid off. 39 events over 14 days, 92% sold out, 40% over budget. "Never say die," he said. "You know what they say, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. This is the time to stand out from the crowd, the time for heroes and heroes will come from entrepreneurs and innovators."

Left: Peter Knipp, courtesy of Peter Knipp Holdings Pte Ltd

His concern: That bean counters have taken over the hospitality industry. "A lot of hotels are now being run by financial officers, With all due respect, this is important and it is true a lot of food & beverage people and chefs are not financially-astute, but they should be given the benefit of the doubt because they are what drives the quality of your product and service and that is what drives your bottomline.

"Good or bad times, if you have a good product, you will have business."

And he added, "Cutting is the easiest thing you can do. Being bold is the hardest."

So here's to humour, attitude and heroes.

Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com

Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.
Global Brand Awareness & Marketing Tools at 4Hoteliers.com ...[Click for More]
 Latest News  (Click title to read article)

 Latest Articles  (Click title to read)

 Most Read Articles  (Click title to read)

~ Important Notice ~
Articles appearing on 4Hoteliers contain copyright material. They are meant for your personal use and may not be reproduced or redistributed. While 4Hoteliers makes every effort to ensure accuracy, we can not be held responsible for the content nor the views expressed, which may not necessarily be those of either the original author or 4Hoteliers or its agents.
© Copyright 4Hoteliers 2001-2024 ~ unless stated otherwise, all rights reserved.
You can read more about 4Hoteliers and our company here
Use of this web site is subject to our
terms & conditions of service and privacy policy