Welcoming Remarks at the 2012 Fall Dinner at Hong
Welcome to the Twelfth Annual FTA “A Fall
Evening in Hong Kong with Very Special Friends”.
We gather in New York City spring and
fall, and annually at Singapore, Kuala Lumpur,
Beijing, Bangkok, Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong
and now as well at Shenzhen, Saigon and New
Delhi to recognize hospitality excellence; in
the names of those whom we honor, provide
scholarships at schools of higher hospitality
education; and to make charitable contributions.
industry is only as strong as the wisdom,
vision, compassion and actions of its leaders;
leaders who define excellence for the benefit of
all those who look to them to know the way to
realize their dreams and ambitions and not be
In the end we are judged not by whom we
include, but by whom we exclude.
Great leaders inspire and teach all those
who seek to be included, because serving the
least of us is truly the highest calling and the
only measure of service from the heart.
evening we come together to announce the 2012
FTA Hospitality Awards for Excellence and to
donate to charity.
This is truly a very special evening for
us all and I thank you for joining us, because
as I say at every FTA dinner, YOU are the
the deeper meaning of why we come together is
really at the very heart of why the hospitality
industry is so special to those of us who have
come to consider it our calling.
Hospitality is about SERVICE and in particular,
Service is truly the Highest Calling.
It is not what we do for ourselves, but
what we do for others that are the measure of
our worth to humanity: And simply because it is
the right thing to do: Not for personal
truth is that we are free to dwell at any given
moment in as beautiful a place as our hearts are
open to loving others and our willingness to
serve them without regard to our advantage.
is a series of micro steps from the time we
arrive to the time we depart and the quality of
our life is but a reflection of the quality of
our contribution to the peace and happiness of
others: It is not about pleasing ourselves or
collecting “things”: It is about serving others
and after one’s basic, personal needs are met,
allowing what remains of what comes our way to
pass through our fingers for the benefit of
those less fortunate.
While I have nothing against luxury
goods, when it is your time to pass from this
life, do you want to be remembered for your
collection of Rolex watches or your charity for
those less fortunate?
I am confident if Mother Teresa or
Mahatma Gandhi was given a Rolex, they would
have honored the gift for 24 hours and then
offered it to someone they thought would cherish
So, why should we be any different?
I ask you to consider making charity your
way of life, rather than an annual after thought
for a tax advantage.
everyone to please remember those less
fortunate, especially the estimated 500,000
refugees at the United Nations camps in Kenya,
which is running out of water and food; not to
mention the now 50,000 refugees in camps in
South Sudan, some of whom are without water; and
soon 700,000 refugees from Syria.
And the poverty and suffering in
Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, the
Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and everywhere
else; as well as the massacres taking place in
Africa and the Middle East.
A recent report by UNICEF and The World
Health Organization says that annually at least
7.5 million children under the age of five die
from preventable diseases. The suffering of so
many continues, as does their need for your
compassion, including the recent natural
disasters in Japan and great floods around the
world, including many parts of the Mainland.
On A Clinton Global Initiative panel last
week Deepak Chopra said 50% of the Earth’s
population is living on $2.00 a day; and 20% is
living on $1.00 a day.
So, I ask you to consider your
comfortable lives, and accordingly, open your
hearts, just a little bit more to those less
fortunate and in need.
born into an upper-middle class, American family
with both upper class society standing as well
as lots of money.
My family had a very prosperous food
I was sent to the finest schools; we
belonged to the “old money WASP country club”,
which quietly discriminated against everyone who
was not exactly like us, because of their race,
religion, education, income and neighborhood.
We had a live-in combination maid & cook,
plus a cleaning lady who came on Thursdays to
help with the heavy cleaning.
We vacationed at fashionable resorts in
Florida; my parents went on luxury cruises
around the Caribbean and from the west coast to
I was sent to ballroom dancing classes; I
attended all the area society cotillions both
charity and debutant; I was sent off to prep
school in Connecticut beginning with the 8th
I was taught that all of these advantages
and all of my energies should be spent towards
retaining and carrying-on the family name and
standing; and to selfishly hoard as much money
and possessions as possible to grow the family
It was all about hoarding wealth, power
and our social standing at the expense of all
Charity was to appear generous and to
seem to have a social conscience; not to mention
the tax benefits for our annual charitable
The ego of the family and my own ego were
to be constantly massaged.
today, I do the reverse.
I do not draw a salary from my consulting
business: I have converted my business into a
We give away to those less fortunate all
our monthly and annual company profits, leaving
no reserves except just enough to keep our
business checking account open at the bank.
We help some families and students weekly
with funds for food, necessities, housing and
tuition; we help others monthly; and yet others
at year’s end, depending on what remains upon
And via our FTA dinners we now give six
(and beginning in 2013, seven) USD$5,000.00
scholarships annually in the names of those whom
we honor; and a total of USD$1,000.00 per FTA
dinner to charity from each dinner’s proceeds.
longer worry about my social standing: I am
simply a Soul temporarily residing in a body
vehicle; and just like everyone else, doing my
best to get by.
I only replace clothing if it can no
longer be sewn or repaired, for appearances mean
very little to me now.
I would rather be judged by the openness
of my heart to all others; by my compassion for
those less fortunate than myself; and for my
deeds, rather than my words.
not be with you in years to come, for my time is
nearing its closure in this life in this
I already sense the call of what is to
come and I welcome it, for coming and going is
what we all must accept, if we are to remain
grounded: The only question is “when we pass”;
not “if we pass”.
the Buddhists have a beautiful saying, “One
never knows which comes first, the next morning
or the next life”.
I pray that as a result of our coming
together this evening for higher purposes,
namely recognizing human excellence, providing
much-needed scholarships for worthy students of
limited means and charity for those less
fortunate through the United Nations agencies,
UNICEF and UN-HABITAT, that we will all be
reminded that people are more important than
things and that we all wake-up in the morning in
THIS life; but rededicated to devoting our lives
to serving others, simply because it is the
right thing to do; and not for others to praise
us or to cater to our ego.
For Service with an Open Heart and Right
Intention is the foundation of our hospitality
industry: So, from this moment forward, let
“Service Unto Others” be your mantra, until it
is your time to wake-up in the NEXT life.
Thank you very much.