Consistency and Flexibility: My Everyday Life

(Originally published in aspIRe magazine, Issue 20)

joseph bismark gems of wisdom

Just like you, I like spending my days productively, and engaging in activities that not only make me feel better, but actually make me a better person. If you’re wondering how I typically spend an ordinary day, read on. Welcome to my everyday life!

I usually wake up at 05:30 Singapore Time, and after a shower, I meditate for one hour.

Meditation is my prayer. It connects the soul to the spiritual world, the realm of the Supreme Person. It is through this disciplined practice that we get to the point where we constantly think of the Supreme Person and find ourselves perpetually immersed in that frame of consciousness. As soon as I’m done meditating, I do my yoga asanas for 30 minutes and read a book for another 30 minutes or an hour.

After this, I sit back, relax and enjoy my protein drink. You see, protein is not just used by bodybuilders for the production of muscles; it’s also consumed by physically active people to help produce life-enhancing hormones, enzymes, and immune-system components.

Around 08:30 or 09:00, I start working – I read and respond to my emails and WhatsApp messages, check my social media pages, and make a few calls.

At 11:00, I eat my lunch – my first meal of the day. I’m strictly vegetarian so it’s usually brown rice and steamed greens and leafy vegetables.

In the afternoon, I continue my work on various projects. I get on a call with my partner, Vijay Eswaran and/or with the other Directors of the QI Group. I meet with my Executive Assistant for at least an hour to get updates on projects and to sign documents. I also do my banking activities in the afternoon.

There’s always one day in a week, at 16:00, when I either engage in a body-weight workout called Rip 60 with a personal trainer, or do some indoor climbing – rock climbing performed on artificial structures built indoors that tries to mimic the experience of an outdoor climb but in a controlled and safe environment.

I dedicate a few hours on a weekend, usually Saturday, to playing golf. I like golf because it’s an individual sport where the result is down to me alone – it’s me, on my own, against the course. It’s a great reminder for me that I am my greatest competitor.

At 18:30, I have my dinner, my second and last meal for the day. It’s usually something light like a bowl of soup or salad.

After dinner, I spend quality time with my wife and kids, ask them how their day has been and have a conversation with them about various topics that are near and dear to us.

Between 20:00 and 21:00, I sip on a relaxing cup of chamomile or saffron tea.

There are evenings when I get to swim a few laps or do some cycling. When I have more free time available in the day, I login to my account on Lumosity for some brain training exercises – it’s one great programme that keeps my mind and memory sharp.

I usually go to bed around 22:00 or 22:30.

And that’s a typical day at home, but my daily schedule is not written in stone. It gets jumbled up from time to time, especially when I’m entertaining guests or travelling or attending big corporate meetings or events. However, I don’t make any of these an excuse to break my healthy eating habits and my fitness and wellness routine. It’s a must that you stick with the activities that give you sound mind, body, and spirit, no matter what variables are thrown into your days.

There shouldn’t be any conflict between consistency and flexibility; they should complement each other. Apply this principle to how you spend every day and you’ll soon feel the difference of living a full, healthy and well-balanced life. Now, that’s what we call Absolute Living!

READ ALSO: Urgent vs Important: Know The Difference

Stop Hammering Your Thumb

An advice on taking care of your health
(Originally published in aspIRe magazine Issue 17)



A man pounded his thumb with a hammer and went to see a doctor to get it treated. The thumb became purple and swollen, and blood oozed out from the wound. The doctor, without even establishing a rapport with the man, cleaned his thumb, bandaged it, wrote him a prescription and sent him home. A few weeks later, the man came back to see the same doctor for the same reason. The nonchalant doctor gave him the same treatment and did not check why the same thing happened.

Many of us are like the man in this story. We take our health for granted and indulge in activities that take a toll on our well-being. When we get sick, we spend on medicine and therapy and when we get well, we do the very same things that make us sick over and over again – eating unhealthy food, not getting enough sleep, drinking alcohol, smoking and so on. We hammer our body with poison and subject it to continuous abuse.

How do you take care of your car? You make sure the engine is in top shape, put premium grade engine oil additives in it, and get it tuned up and washed regularly. Now think of your body as your car. Shouldn’t you be taking care of it the same way you’re taking care of your car if not better? The premium oil that you put in your car is like the food that you eat and the exercise that you do. The premium oil diminishes the friction in your car engine, improves its performance and prolongs its life. The food that you eat produces the same results in your body – well-performing organs and a well-functioning brain. Physical exercise gives you strong bones and muscles and increased stamina to get you through the rigours of everyday life.

If you find yourself getting sick often, you should address the problem by zeroing in on its roots. Spend time on quiet introspection. Make an honest self-assessment to find out what’s making you sick. Chances are you’ll find that what gives you a temporary feeling of goodness is what makes you sick. If you’re hanging out with people that influence you to binge drink or smoke, you have the option to either cut ties with them or influence them to commit to a lifestyle change. If your weight has come to a point where it’s giving you problems physically and emotionally, you have the option to either live with it like a walking time bomb or deal with it by losing weight by exercising, cutting down on food portions, and keeping oily, fatty foods and carbonated drinks at bay. If you have relationships that bring you mental and emotional abuse, you either allow them to continue hurting you or choose to say goodbye and live a happy, stress-free life. The decision to live a life of health and wellness really comes from no one but you. Your well-being is not served on a silver platter. You are responsible for your own health. You drive your own life.

Editor of Mike Adams, in his article entitled ‘Good Health is no accident’, wrote “The person believes health is something that happens TO them rather than something that happens THROUGH them. And so, they remain stuck, floundering in a pattern of self-inflicted sickness and disease while hoping that some other organisation, government or health care plan will somehow save them.

“Those who seek answers for their health outside the realm of their own decisions are looking in the wrong place. Health is no accident. Lasting health can only appear as the result of a lifetime of informed, deliberate decisions aligned with nature’s principles of health, not the distorted version of health promoted by our backward system of mainstream medicine.

Health is a mindset. How you value your life is directly correlated to how you take care of your health. So, for your sake, make the choice to stop beating up your body. Stop hammering your thumb!

READ ALSO: The Essence of Meditation

The Story of the ‘One Sack of Rice’

Much is being said in the news lately about the “fiscal cliff” and its potential negative impact on the world economy. Then, there is decreased manufacturing output that may spell the beginning of another recession. A lot of people I’ve spoken to recently have voiced their fears over losing their jobs, or having to scale back. While I understand their worry, my reply to them is there’s really no point in worrying. Good times come and go.

Let me share a story from my childhood that illustrates this really well…

When I was younger and living in an ashram, we had to look for means of livelihood. The best option was farming and selling the harvested crop for money. I remember, vividly, the first year we started farming.

Most of us had no knowledge of farming whatsoever and had to rely on the advice and guidance from our elders. Being first-timers, we started with planting one sack of rice on one hectare of land. We toiled tirelessly to ensure our crop would grow healthily – fertilising, watering our crop, weeding bad growth, and making sure our crop was pest-free. It was back-breaking work but we soldiered on, hoping to get a good harvest. The end result surprised us all. We harvested a record 126 sacks of rice! Of course, we were beyond ourselves with joy, this being our first time.

We had been so excited to farm that we never thought of a plan after harvesting. It never occurred to us that we would need a barn in which to store our rice. Not having built one, we stored the sacks out in the open. We were literally sleeping on the sacks of rice! That’s how much of novices we were.

Rearing to go after our success, we waited for the next harvesting season. Wanting to double our harvest, we put in even more effort this time. With hard work, we had gotten 126 sacks the first time. So, double the effort equals double the gain, right? It doesn’t take a mathematician to come up with that formula. However, that year, the Philippines faced one of its worst typhoons ever. Not only was our growing crop destroyed, the 126 sacks were all washed away since they were not protected in a barn.

We were absolutely devastated and almost gave up. However, as hard as it was, we had to pick ourselves up and continue planting.

You might wonder why I’m telling you this story. The moral is to never give up. After we lost our entire crop, we did not want to plant again. What’s the point, we thought? Do we not think like this at times? The fact is many things in life are beyond our control. We didn’t know what the season will bring but we could control the amount of effort we put in. In fact, that is the only factor we can control.

It’s the same in business – there will be good and bad years but we never know when. The more pertinent question is, should we stop trying? We’re all like farmers – planting seeds of opportunity, weeding out bad growth and continually harvesting. Now the storm may be coming. This might be a bad year economically. However, complaining and worrying isn’t going to get us anywhere. Good and bad times are a part of life, like day and night.

What happens is not in our hands but one thing we can’t do is sit around and speculate. Just as farmers don’t stop planting, businessmen shouldn’t stop investing in an idea just because they’ve lost once.

Happy New Year!

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

The Importance of Innovation

Innovate or die. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase. It’s advice I agree wholeheartedly with. Why is it so important though?

The market now is constantly evolving. Not only do businesses need to survive and thrive with advanced technology, they need to ensure they are always ahead of the pack.

An example of a good innovator is Steve Jobs. He did not invent the computer or the mobile phone but he definitely revolutionised technology. It’s almost like being a chef. You mix and match raw ingredients and invent a brand new dish. That’s my mantra in business. I don’t think it’s necessary to create something new, but rather reinvent something that is unique and fresh.

When we founded QNET, there were similar companies around. However we took on the very powerful concept of Network Marketing and adapted it. QNET’s offering initially was just a few simple products. We increased and refined our product range every year, adding one or two products each time. Every six years, we conduct a thorough market analysis and trend forecast to ensure QNET remains ahead of the curve. Before we take one product off the market, we produce new and innovative products as new offerings. In terms of marketing, our team is proactively seeking ways to engage with our customers.

An example of that is V-Con. Would you believe that our first V-Con had only 98 participants? Compare that with V-Indonesia this year which attracted 10,000 of our distributors. Throughout the years, V-Con has gone through many changes. It has grown to become an all-encompassing entertainment extravaganza with an adjoining product exhibition area and musical performances. In 2010, we decided to leverage on social media and technology, and bring the V-Con action to all our customers who couldn’t attend. Anyone from the furthest ends of the world can keep abreast with the goings-on at V-Con as long as they have access to the Internet through the QNET blog and social media sites. I see this development as part of innovating.

No one knows what the future holds but we keep looking for things that would excite our customers. Most times, it’s based on a gut feel. There are no experts in business, in this day and age. There are products that did not do as well as expected. On the other end of the spectrum, there have also been products that I didn’t like, that ended up being really successful. Hence, I’ve learned the key is to have an open mind. It’s all about trial and error.

Isn’t that the way most things in life are?

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group


“Let the dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”

This phrase is one that I heard often during my childhood.

Criticism is part and parcel of life. There will always be dogs barking at us but we shouldn’t let them affect us. Like the caravan, we should move on, instead of trying to stop them. Continue reading

Societal Equality… What Does It Really Mean?

In society, everyone has a role to play. We all have a prescribed duty. Are some duties more important than others? Certainly. But in terms of function, every role is equally important to contribute to the sustained survival of society. We need the street sweepers and we need the heads of Government. We need the school teachers and we need the students. The individual importance of each is not the same, but the importance placed on each function when considered as part of a whole society is indeed equal to the well-being of society.

The concept of ‘equality’ has been misconstrued over the years. For example, women’s liberation activists will petition that women and men are equal. This is correct in terms of function, but not in terms of ability and purpose – because ‘equal’ does not mean ‘the same’. Men cannot give birth. Women are much more poorly equipped, physically and biologically, for heavy manual labour, than men. Yet, we need the functions of both men and women. There is a reason that men and women are built differently, both physically and mentally.

Similarly, the concept of equality in society has been misunderstood and distorted.

Consider the physical body. We have legs for walking, a stomach for eating, arms for administrative work and to protect the body, and we have a head to do our thinking. All this bodily division acts according to its function and, when each part works as per its function, you have a body that is efficient and effective.

On a whole, if you look at society, the different divisions or inclinations of people in general can be akin to the body. In society, the legs are the labourer class. They are the ones doing the street work and our construction. That’s their function in society. The stomach of society is the mercantile class who engage themselves in business. They ‘feed’ society. The labourers would not have work without them. In society, the hands are the administrators. They do the admin work, police work, government duties, and general management of society. They set and enforce taxes, laws, and guidelines for daily life. Finally, the head of society are the thinkers, the philosophers, the priests, the monks, the scientists, the philanthropists, etc. The head protects the morality, ethics, and religiosity of society. They influence the administration class to enforce guidelines that would make this world a better place. We need all four ‘classes’ to have a fully functional society, but certainly there is an inherent hierarchical system.

Still not convinced? Think of a bee colony. There are workers, drones, and a Queen.  Individually, the Queen is obviously the most ‘important’. But if each worker bee and drone bee did not fulfil their function, the whole colony would fail and die, including the Queen.

We need each function in society, just like we need each body part. But one thing that is often forgotten is that a person becomes a member of each ‘class’, not because of birth, but because of qualification. This is where the caste system in India began to be severely misunderstood. Just because a person is born into a family of labourers, does not preclude that person from raising themselves through education, determination, and generally qualifying themselves to complete the function of a ‘higher class’. A person’s prescribed duty depends on a person’s values, upbringing, and set of inclinations.

According to our inclinations, we all have different work. The point is that whatever our calling is, we should fulfil it to the very best of our ability. If your job is to serve at a restaurant, then give the best service you possibly can. If your job is to run a company, then be the most professional, ethical, hard-working director that you can possibly be.

If today you are a mommy, then be the best mommy. Don’t complain about staying home; what type of society would we have if every single child was raised by a maid, rather than his/her parents? If you are a boss, don’t complain about having to go to work every day. Set a good example; this is your prescribed duty and it is you who aspired to be in this position.

One last thing to remember, is that in life, we all have multiple roles to play. A CEO is not just a CEO, but also a husband, a father, a friend, a son. When you go home, take off your CEO hat… Don’t start setting KPIs for your four-year-old child.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Character Building is Integral in the Journey of Life

During the recent V-Convention last month in Malaysia, I had the privilege to address an audience of over 6,000 people. One of the topics I spoke on was ‘character building’, which I have also occasionally touched upon in my previous Gems of Wisdom posts.

What is ‘character’? Character is the most fundamental definition of any person. It is what differentiates us as humans. It is our very essence. It is what guides us in our journey from being a ‘nobody’ to a ‘somebody’.

How then does one build character? Character building begins with our thoughts. Thoughts translate into words. Acting on our words forms habits. And over time, habits shape character.

Character development is a continuous process and is so important in our lives. Be it the business of life or the business of work, the reality is, our journey is all about relationships and teamwork. Remember, you are the leader of the team you build. And if you seek to build a team that lasts, as is the goal of every leader, it is important to have a rock solid foundation of good character.

True, every person is unique. We are all born under different circumstances; go through different life experiences, all of which contribute to shaping our character. While some take on leadership roles effortlessly, there are many who feel they lack in the qualities of a good leader. This is where character building helps.

Generally, every human being is unconsciously attracted to people with good qualities. Virtue, compassion, goodness… these are just some of the qualities people seek in others.

Remember, whether we want it or not, our character comes across clearly and transparently to anyone tuning into us, consciously or otherwise. So avoid falling into the trap of pretentious behaviour just to impress someone or achieve short term gains. To be really successful, be honest to yourself, and to your team.

To be a successful leader, build that character in yourself that you would like to see in your leader. Ask yourself, “Would I actually like to follow a leader like myself?”, “Am I not a leader?”, and “Should I not have the qualities that make one?”

Your character determines your destination. If you don’t like where you are headed today, create your path towards your desired destiny. Character is what will help shape that path.

It is no secret. There are many ways to build your character. One way is to conquer your fears. It is one of the biggest tumbling blocks in developing character. Be confident!

Talking about a good thing also leads to it. Constantly associate with people who carry good qualities or are successful. Learn, adopt and absorb their positivity.

Refrain from doing what is not good for you. Control your senses. Weak morals point to a weak character. If you allow yourself to be swayed by simple things, how can you expect to be trusted? Practise strict discipline. If a person is not hard on himself, the world will be hard on him; if he is hard on himself, the world will be easy on him.

Last but not the least, in your journey from being a ‘nobody’ to a ‘somebody’, find someone who will be a contrarian to you; someone who will challenge you just when you think you have found the easy way to success. By doing so, you will find yourself sharpening your skills, wanting to learn, focussing on building yourself and making the necessary changes to be better. This is the fastest way to build your character.

Please take a moment to ponder… Character building is not a one-off attempt. It is a continuous process in the cycle of life. Once we have traveled the path from being a ‘nobody’ to a ‘somebody’, we have to start all over again. We have to step back into the shoes of other ‘nobodies’ in our team and lead them through the same journey. And that is the true test of character.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

The Wisdom of the Search

Through all of my Gems of Wisdom, I try to impart to you some thoughts, advice, tips and reflections that I have learned from higher authorities and thorough self-realisation. Is this ‘wisdom’? I do not present myself to be wise, but what I try to do every day of my life is to find a little bit of wisdom within myself, in everything and everyone. Something that challenges me and motivates me to constantly seek out my purpose in life. I share this search with you through Gems of Wisdom to try to also challenge and motivate others to do the same within themselves. For what is life if not a journey on a search for purpose and fulfilment?

I don’t think many of us really know who we are and why we are here. And it seems the more we know, the more we realise what we do not know. This is a humbling experience, and we should internalise this experience into ourselves to further push us along on our journey. We are all constantly searching for that place where we belong, a place of real refuge, a place where real peace is found. We’re here for a purpose and we should embrace the search for that purpose. That to me is where true wisdom is born, knowing how insignificant we are in the grand scale of the universe.

We should not stop until we discover our purpose. What’s more, once we find that purpose, we should accept it and continue to search for ways to fulfil it. Everyone is born to be a leader, for example, but not everyone accepts that born instinct. Not everyone seeks to fulfil their purpose. Some shun away. In some ways, we are being selfish by not standing up and confidently taking hold of our purpose. Once we stop being selfish, true fulfilment comes into our lives and we not only begin to live out our place in life, but we begin to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Please take a moment to ponder… if we are faced with a wide, gushing river, how do you cross it? Do you try to swim against the current on your own? You know that your purpose is to cross the river, but how? You must seek to fulfil this purpose. By joining together with others, and holding hands to form a human chain across the current of the river, you, and many others, will be able to cross. And then you may all continue on your journey of life.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group

The Importance of Milestones

When I think of milestones, I do not think of material wealth or things that I have gained. I think of milestones as points in our lives when we have reached personal achievements within ourselves or for the benefit of others. To me, success is relative. It is relevant to the person, and for me, success is certainly not material or about status or about money.

Some people say I am successful, but I do not feel successful and I am not successful in many areas. I might meet someone who can speak ten languages and I think to myself how successful they are. I can only speak two languages and I truly respect those who have learnt to speak many. The day I can speak ten languages will certainly be a milestone for me!

When we do reach these milestones, we must acknowledge them. We must reflect on them and ponder how we are going to continue to better ourselves and others. In a recent speech by US President Barack Obama, he said: “You will be judged on what you have built; not what you have destroyed.” When I heard this, I had to write it down because it is so true. If we reach a milestone, and have had to destroy others – whether it be the possession of others or the hopes of others – it cannot be considered a milestone. But if we have helped, raised or built others on our way, then our achievement can truly be considered a milestone.

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Ltd

Celebrate Christ this Christmas

I would like to greet all of you by saying “Merry Christmas!”. You may realise that I am not wishing you a Merry Xmas’. Today is Christmas Day, and not Xmas Day. Let us not cross out the name of Christ in this wonderful season.

Let us continue to remember Christ’s very short but meaningful life on Earth.

Jesus Christ was the greatest networker of all time.

He was the true fisher of men. He appeared more than 2000 years ago and yet, His influence prevails today and is felt throughout the world. Even the atheist uses the calendar that is based around the incarnation of Christ.

He taught us to “mind the things that are above and not the things on Earth”. He taught us that “we are not flesh and blood, but rather the spirit inside the body”.

Christmas is not only a season of peace and joy. Christmas is also a season when we can ask forgiveness for our trespasses, and learn to forgive others who have trespassed against us.
Christmas has become so commercialised, that somewhere along the way we have forgotten the person whom we are celebrating: Christ

So, on Christmas Day (not Xmas Day), let us not forget Christ. Christ is the reason for the season. It is not our birthday today. It is Christ’s birthday. Let this day not be the focus for our own self-enjoyment. Let this day be homage to Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us celebrate this day in its true spirit of giving. The most valuable gift you can every give a person is love, compassion and the truth. Material gifts will just perish and in the great scheme of things, will not really make a person happy.

Please take a moment to ponder… Let us not lose the true meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Joyous Holiday to all!


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Ltd