Real Empowerment is Spiritual Empowerment

(Originally published in aspIRe magazine issue 24)

Empowerment is spiritual
I have always believed that we should empower everyone and treat everyone equally, no matter what race, sex, age or religion. I am not a feminist and I am also not a sexist, but I do believe in the natural order of things, and I believe that there is an order in this world where everyone has a specific function to fulfill to ensure balance. And this balance was created to ensure our society doesn’t break down in chaos.

What is very important to understand is that the natural order of things doesn’t make one person better than the other, and it doesn’t mean that one person is more empowered than the other. In fact, everyone is important in the universal circle, and everyone is empowered and valuable in their function.

And yet, somehow society has always given more importance to people with big bank accounts, houses and other worldly possessions. Our cultural up-bringing tells us that the rich are the most empowered, and typically these people have always been men. So society has always given more importance and more power to the wealthy, male population of our civilisation. They have always been seen or treated as the most empowered and most powerful.

However, empowerment is not expressed by possessions or money, it is not expressed by your position in society or your job title. We are all individuals and we are all born different, but we must understand that we are equal in spirit. Whether we are black, white, woman or man: we are equally the same essence. If we are equal in spirit and in our essence, then we are equal in our place in this world and equal in terms of empowerment.

Empowerment means to understand who you are in terms of your very nature. Real equality and empowerment is found in spirituality, not in the material world. Real empowerment is spiritual empowerment.

So remember: no one can empower you. Only you can empower yourself. Embrace your individuality, embrace your essence, but also embrace others for who they are, no matter if man, woman, black or white. Ultimately, we are all one. One in essence and in spirit.

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

The Mark of a Leader

What makes a good leader? Are leaders born or made?

I get asked these questions often.

My reply is, “Everyone has the potential to be a leader.”

There are many opportunities to lead. It’s all about taking responsibility.

These opportunities are not only found at work, but also at home. As a spouse, we lead our significant other. As parents, we lead our children. If you’re a stay-at-home mother, your children look to you for guidance. You would also be responsible for leading your domestic helper.

The question really to ponder is, “Are you taking on the responsibility to lead?”

To be a good leader, there are two things you need to know and understand.

1.      Know your end destination

The first rule of leadership is to know where you’re heading, and ensure that is the right path. The right path would be the path of goodness, morality, kindness and compassion. A good leader would not lead people to danger.

2.     Walk the talk

Secondly, good leaders practise what they preach. For example, we would advise our children not to pick up smoking because we know it’s harmful. For them to take us seriously, we shouldn’t be smokers ourselves.

True leaders don’t contradict themselves. People choose to follow a leader if they trust and believe in that person’s mission.

A modern example of a common leader is Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. He has always espoused the importance of hard work and passion in achieving success. Gates is one of the richest men in the world but has donated a significant amount of his wealth to charitable causes. Who can forget his pledge to donate all of his fortune to charity? His passion in contributing positively to the world led him to start the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the world’s largest private foundation.

“If you want to become a leader that people admire and respect, you must become a person of significance. People don’t follow you because you take from them; they follow you because you give to them,” he says.

His passion in giving back to society compels people to respect his leadership.

Let’s ask ourselves if we are that kind of leader. Would we want to follow our own leadership? If the honest answer is no, let’s change that. If we do not have faith in ourselves as leaders, others would find it hard to have faith in us.

Leadership is about doing what needs to be done. Responsibility comes when you truly care about something. That sense of ownership and responsibility is the mark of a true leader.

Yours sincerely,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director
QI Group



It’s often said that self-esteem is the key to happiness and success. In fact, so much has been said about the importance of building self-worth. However, how does one do that?

Why do people have low self-esteem? It stems from a lack of self-awareness – not knowing who they really are. 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

Fitness Matters

In today’s ever demanding world of global business domination, most CEOs and managers spend a lot of their time flying and travelling. They end up eating unhealthy, processed and oily foods that are commercially-prepared and microwave-heated many times over. Eventually, bellies are turning into balloons and heading down south as the weight of extra fat succumbs to nature’s force of gravity.

Last year I travelled three million air miles on business flights alone and was bound to consume the most fattening in-flight food. I always fool myself into thinking that I will work out at the hotel gyms to burn the added calories but fail to do so each time.

Today, I have gained an additional 30 pounds and the proof of it is something I need to hide under a loose shirt. Every morning as I look into the mirror I see a fatter version of myself, and it does not make me feel good. From then on, I made a decision to do something about it and start fighting the battle towards a better and healthier body.

I know it is a difficult journey but surely, it is worth the effort because a healthy body means a healthy mind, and a healthy mind leads to more productivity. This means I will have the energy needed to be able to deliver what is expected of me at the workplace, and yet have enough stamina to enjoy time and life away from work.

Businessmen and corporate people need to stay fit to cope up with the stress and demands of their job. It is no wonder that physical fitness programmes, gyms and yoga centres, have become the latest corporate lifestyle craze of this era.

Assess yourself … how fit are you? You may be just one of the many caught in the wheel of procrastination who put off health and fitness for tomorrow … or next week… or the week after. Stop making so many excuses and stop giving yourself reasons and hurdles to overcome before starting your health fitness programme.


Pre-requisites to starting your own personal fitness programme:

1. DECIDE exactly what you want to achieve (define your objective or target weight, etc.);
2. Make sure you actually have a BURNING DESIRE for the objective;
3. Set and document the EXACT GOALS of what you want to achieve;
4. VISUALISE and ‘feel’ what you want to achieve as if you have already achieved it!;
5. BELIEVE that you CAN actually achieve it;
6. Take positive action today…NOW. Start achieving (do not procrastinate). Use the ‘DO IT NOW!’ attitude.

In order to be successful at anything, all excuses need to go out the window . . . there are no excuses that will justify your failure. There is no such thing as “Not enough time”.

These are the things nobody ever wants to talk about, but it is important to get the right mindset first before dealing with the ‘minor details’ about physical fitness. These details are actually easy to tackle once you have set your goals and made the commitment.

So, make sure to take a second look at the six points above that you absolutely need to be clear about first. I want you to really give some serious thought to each one. Take a moment to ponder . . .

Again, once you are straight about proper mindset, you can get started on the ‘details’! Go get a trainer, enrol in a yoga class or fitness programme, or get a friend or buddy to work out with.

. . . DO IT NOW!

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Principles of Decision Making

We cannot avoid making decisions. Right or wrong, decisions are made every minute of the day. They are unavoidable. And if we try to avoid making decisions, someone else will make them for us.

Do you really want to put your life and decisions about your life in the hands of someone else?

It is best to make our own decisions. Making decisions is a way of moving forward in life. Not making decisions is to stagnate and die.

We are faced with challenging decisions about our lives every day; from the simplest to the most complex tasks.

Let me share with you some points and principles on decision-making to make the task easier and more rewarding.

  1. Do not make decisions when you are feeling angry or emotional.
    If you make decisions during these times, you are likely to end up regretting the decision you make. Decisions made under the influence of these emotions are always subjective and destructive and will do neither you nor anyone else any good. All good decisions are made when a person is sober and clear-headed, as this is the state of mind in which we can think most objectively.
  2. Do not make a decision until you have heard all sides of the story.
    Do not assume you know everything needed to make a particular decision. Talk to people who are experienced about the subject. Not only will they present you with new options, but their insights could completely change the way you think about your decision. You must always be willing to hear an opposing view. Be as detached and objective as possible from the task and the decision-making process.
  3. Consider all your possible options.
    I have yet to meet a decision maker, good or bad, who had checked out all available options. You can invariably come up with options never considered, or hear options you would never have thought of yourself.
  4. Do not make decisions when you are under pressure.
    Remember the oldest technique in the book of selling; sales people will use pressure to try to make you decide in haste:

    “It’s the last best deal in town… you cannot let this go! You will lose this deal, you have to decide NOW!”

    Do not fall for this old trick… if the deal is not there when you are ready, then it is not the deal for you. There will be plenty more deals waiting for you when you are ready to make a decision.

  5. Do a reality check before making a decision.
    Make a list of things that can go wrong and the things that probably will go wrong. Keep the number of things that must go right for the decision to succeed to a minimum. At the end of the day, there are no wrong or right decisions per se, but we do need to be prepared to correct some decisions to make them better. Expect the worst and work for the best. If you did not make the best decision the first time around, this is great if you can learn from it! But do not stop there. Be sure to continue to manage your decisions and your decision making processes.

Good decision making comes from disciplined thinking. If you follow some of these basic principles before making decisions, the results of your decisions are most likely to work. If you think haphazardly when you make a decision, then little of what you plan will eventually work out.

Good decision making is habit forming. Each time you make the right decision, you gain more self-confidence to keep making good decisions.

Please take a moment to ponder… Follow some of these basic principles before making your next important decision(s); these principles are most crucial to remember and apply.

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

Spend Your Time and Energy Wisely

Welcome to my Gems of Wisdom blog, where I aim to bring back a little bit of reflection time into our busy lives. The Gems of Wisdom is about taking the time to ponder and readdress what is truly important; about taking the time to realise who we are and what we are doing with our lives amidst all of our hustling and bustling around.

We live in a world of digital time. We need to rush just to get through our hectic days. We celebrate and can’t wait for the week to end, thanking God it’s Friday (TGIF!). We quickly react rather than reflect.

We skim across the surface and pretend that we can listen while simultaneously answering our text messages.

We have brief moments (at dozens of destinations), but we rarely remain in one place long enough to get to know people. We race through our lives without pausing to consider who we really want to be or where we really want to go.

We are wired up with cell phones and the latest gadgets but yet we are melting down. Most of us are trying to do our best, but our best is never enough. There is always a strong demand that exceeds our capacity.

We try to survive on too little sleep thinking that this is the way of life; sleep seemingly gets in the way. We wolf down fast food and fuel up with coffee and many of us cool ourselves down with alcohol and sleeping pills afterwards.

Faced with so many challenges and demands at work, we become short-tempered and easily distracted. We return home from long hours of work feeling exhausted and we often experience our family not as a source of joy, but as another demand in an already over-burdened life.

Is this the life we want?

Please take a moment to ponder…

“Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”
– ‘The Power of Full Engagement’, Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz

Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skilful management of our energy.

Spend your energy wisely!

Wishing you all the best always.


Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd