Breakfast With Billionaires – Mr. Philip Ng

5 Lessons From a Billionaire Boss – CEO of Far East Organization.

5 Lessons From A Billionaire Boss, CEO of Property Developer Far East Organization

This week, I had the rare opportunity to attend a business breakfast with Billionaire and CEO of property developer Far East Organization, Mr. Philip Ng. According to Forbes, Philip and his brother, Robert, top Singapore’s rich list with a combined wealth of $11.5 Billion (as of Jan 2015).

Clearly we were barely awake, but happy to be there!

He talked about his Christian faith and how it has impacted the way he conducts his business. Though I am not Christian, it was still a real privilege to listen and learn and it was like having a business mentor advising us on what to do and what not to do.



Other than his sharing, Philip also answered some questions from the floor and these are the 5 lessons I learned:

#1: Be Smart & Shrewd For What Is Right

Philip shared about The Parable of The Shrewd Manager, which can be a very confusing parable. (Google it and you will be even more confused!)

In summary, there was a dishonest manager who was looking at losing his job. He then went to his boss’ debtors and discounted what they owed his boss, so that even after he lost his job he would still be welcomed by other people around him i.e. he would still be able to find a job and/or favour with these other people. His boss commended him, this dishonest manager, because he had acted shrewdly and used his creativity and wits to survive. (Yes, I know. Confusing, right?)

In the Bible, Jesus points out that what the shrewd manager did was clearly wrong, even though the boss of this shrewd manager commended him.

In essence, the point of the parable was that we must be clear about what is right and what is wrong, even though the world may not be. Do what is right and apply your creativity in the light to really live.

#2: Integrity Is Important

Secondly, with regard to the master commending the dishonest manager for doing something dishonest and illegal, the learning point here was just because something is “the done thing to do” in business, it does not necessarily make it right.

Integrity is important and your anchor will determine your value system.

#3 If You Want To Be At The Top, You Have To Do More Than What Everyone Else Is Willing To Do

Philip mentioned that he used to work a 6-day week plus Sunday for half a day (7am to 1pm) for site visits. While he admitted that he did work his employees very hard, it was also obvious he worked extremely hard as well.

When I was a lawyer, we represented Far East Organization in some financing deals. I do remember their in-house counsel mentioning they had to work a lot, probably even more than some lawyers in private practice.

To Philip, it was important to work all day on Saturday because there would be no meetings and no phone calls to take, so it would be the best time to review what they had and what they needed to do.

I so understand this point but in relation to working late at night or early in the morning, whether it is the weekend or not. There are no kids to bother me and I have time to think, review and strategise.

#4 Management 101: Empathy

However, when Philip became Christian, he realised that he needed to be more empathetic towards his employees in regards to their need to have time with their families. He also felt he could have done better in considering the human aspect in management.

So now he has made changes to that effect, for example, he no longer has anymore Sunday site visits because he feels it’s the right thing to do.

#5 Don’t Be In A Hurry To Succeed

This really struck a chord in me and it was like someone was using a loud hailer to drive this home in me.

Philip mentioned that many of us are in too much of a hurry to succeed and we pursue very single-mindedly the material things, pushing aside the things that really matter. He would have also liked to spend more quality time with his 6 children.

If someone as successful as Philip can say that we should be mindful of the things that really matter and not be too in a hurry to succeed, then perhaps we should listen.


All in all, a very good morning!

My Afternoon With Annie Leibovitz (Part I)

“We Are Really Incredible” – Annie Leibovitz

I received an invite to the opening day of Annie Leibovitz’s Women: New Portraits exhibition in Singapore. So eggciting!

Opening day meant Annie would be there to open and introduce the exhibition and talk about her photographs. There was also a delicious lunch spread by Hyatt Hotel (cloth napkins and all). To reinforce the message of women in leadership, there was also a dialogue session with a panel of 4 women leaders from various sectors: the public service, the corporate world and of course the colourful entrepreneurial world. But more on this dialogue session in Part II.

I don’t know why but I’m always amazed when super successful people are humble and unassuming. As she spoke, she sounded even a tad shy about showing off her work, calling it “a little boring“. She’s the kinda person who seemed like she’d be happy to have a casual drink with, well, just anyone.

I’d for sure count her as a supermamapreneur – she’s got this amazing career and 3 girls. From the 15 minutes that we got to spend with her, this video carries the most important message: We Are Really Incredible.

To have that kind of mindset and to give your own children that kind of environment and mindset from a young age benefits everyone beyond measure.

It’s not “we will be”, nor is it “we were”. It is “we are”.

Please excuse the angle of the video. I was so mesmerised by her photos flashing on the giant screens that I forgot to save a good seat for myself.

Transcript: (this isn’t a full transcript because of the sound quality of the video. Can’t hear everything but I’ve put in subtitles where I can, and where it matters).

“.. the other women, as it continues, is really the list of bios. If you get a chance to read these bios, they are really … and to really see how incredible these women…actually, how incredible WE are. We are really incredible. You all deserve your own set of bios. These women are just mirrors of you. “

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to take a photo with her, though maybe it’s not such a bad thing – I don’t know how this world renowned photographer feels about selfies. And because she’s the photographer would it be rude to take the photo myself instead of asking her?  (Mmhmm, you wouldn’t want to be in my head)

Anyway here are other photos for your viewing pleasure. I’m not one to be taken in easily by art on walls or photographs, but with her collection, I just couldn’t stop looking and looking.

I like how this huge sign is set against this background.
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
Obligatory pose with the backdrop, of course.
Sponsored by UBS
More information
Famous faces: Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Meryl Streep
Incredible women from Adele, to Aung San Suu Kyi, to Shonda Rimes and Sheryl Sandberg.


Tanjong Pagar Railway Station was the perfect choice for this exhibit.

Wouldn’t you be mesmerised?
This photo makes me want to lie down and stare into space.


The lovely Meryl Streep
If anyone wants to know who I am, this is me in a nutshell.
The Incomparable Annie Leibovitz telling us about her photographs.

Exhibition dates: 28 April to 22 May 2016

Exhibition opening hours:

Mondays – Thursdays, 10am – 6pm
(Last admission 5pm)

Fridays, 10am – 8pm
(Last admission 7pm)

Saturdays – Sundays, 10am – 6pm
(Last admission 5pm)

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
Main Hall
30 Keppel Road
Singapore, 089059

Cost: Free entry

For more information, please click here.