It was 1998. The so-called ‘dot-com bubble’ that had enveloped the world was deflating at a rapid rate. The Asian economy was falling in a manner not so different from the global economic climate of today. But we started a company anyway. And if I knew then about all the ups and downs that were to follow, I am not so sure I would have signed up for the ride.
Eleven years later, I know that I am glad that I did. But I have to tell you, in these years, I’ve never before experienced such successes, such challenges, such hardships, and such happiness. It has been the proverbial and clichéd rollercoaster. As I said, had I known what the future was to hold back in 1998, I don’t think I would have embarked on such a ride.
I guess that when you dive into something and are so passionate about it, it is a true blessing that God doesn’t show us what lies ahead. A farmer could not experience a harvest if he did not first go through the preparation of land and the hardship of the sow, the labour and toil, all without being guaranteed a successful crop. He must have faith that the seeds he plants will grow, that the rain will come at the right time, and so many other unpredictable considerations. Then, and only then, may he reap the harvest and enjoy the fruits of his labour. The best thing we can do is to propose and let God dispose. And that is exactly what we did when sowing the seeds of this company.
Back then, I really wasn’t sure we were going to make it. There were many detractors who shared the same thought. They said we wouldn’t last a week. So when we did survive the first week, we celebrated. We celebrated our second-week anniversary as well. Now our detractors said we wouldn’t last three months. So, we celebrated again on our three-month anniversary. Then it became a year. And then three years, and then we celebrated our fifth year and we were still growing. Last year, our tenth anniversary celebrations traversed the globe and to see the impact this company and our mission of RYTHM has had on the people of the world – from Asia to the Middle East to Africa and beyond – made me again thankful that the future is a mystery until it becomes a past to reflect and build upon.
We held our official 11th anniversary celebrations in Hong Kong on the 8th September 2009, but it is the whole month of September that for me is a month of reflection and introspection. It is not time to boast what we’ve achieved, but to contemplate from where we’ve come and to where we shall go.
Consider this. How do people think? A beggar thinks from meal to meal. An employee thinks from month to month with the arrival of their monthly salary. A boss may think from year to year. But a King would think for a decade. And an Emperor thinks for a century. When you see how different people think, you’ll see how they got there. And you’ll see where they’re going. The question today is, ‘do we want to think the way we think today?’ No matter what position you hold within this company, take ownership of it. It is your ‘rice bowl’. Fight for it. Protect it. Fill it up. Take ownership of what you do without the title or the extra salary. It is once you take ownership, and what you achieve through this, that the title and the rest of the perks will follow. The farmer cannot demand the harvest before he ploughs the land. Are you going to think from day to day? Or are you going to think long-term?
This whole month is a time for reflection on our lives, our career, our company. QI is our mother company and it is feeding all of us. Everyone in QI is a part of combined excellence. Every anniversary is a time for us to be grateful. This Gem is my heartfelt appreciation to the founders of the company, the directors, the chiefs, the managing directors, the hundreds of fantastic staff we have, and our extended family of IRs who are out there building on our behalf. This is a chance to thank everyone for thinking long-term and for strapping into this rollercoaster with us. Thank you for toiling and working to bring the company to harvest. Thank you for taking ownership of your rice bowl. It is the people doing all this throughout every rank of the company that makes me stronger, and makes the company stronger. Happy 11th Anniversary to every person, past and present, of the QI family.
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd