Welcoming Remarks at the 2013 FTA Fall Dinner at Shanghai
Welcome to the Tenth Annual FTA "A Fall Evening
in Shanghai with Very Special Friends".
We gather in New York City spring and
fall, and annually at New Delhi, Singapore,
Shenzhen, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Bangkok,
Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City
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 2013
FTA Hospitality Awards for Excellence and the
scholarships in the names of those whom we
recognize; 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
the 2,000,000 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
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 floods in
Northern India and around the world.
On a recent Clinton Global Initiative
panel carried on the BBC & CNN International,
Deepak Chopra said 50% of the Earth’s population
is living on USD$2.00 a day; and 20% is living
on USD$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.
while the few luxuriate on the finest of
culinary delights at Five-Star and other such
comfortable hotels & resorts, the many go
wanting; and some go wanting to starvation.
Is this the envisioned world of
Voltaire’s Candide "….the Best of all possible
I think not.
We as a
Human Race can and must
believe in leading by example, so now I draw no
salary; and 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; we help others monthly; and yet others
at year’s end, depending on what remains upon
And via our FTA dinners we now give five
annual $2,500.00 scholarships in the names of
those we honor in equal partnership with the
schools benefitting, resulting in most cases in
$5,000.00 scholarships, as most schools match
our donations; and a total of $1,000.00 or more
per FTA dinner to charity from a portion of each
dinner’s proceeds; with a total of $1,500.00
being donated at New Delhi, Mumbai and New York
City Spring & Fall.
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.
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 students of limited
means and charity for those less fortunate
through UNICEF and Habitat for Humanity
International, 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.
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
Saving A Cambodian
Family-Everyone Can Save Someone or Some Family
some of you know, I rescued a poor Cambodian
mother and her children from the street last 7
After returning to the U.S. for the
Christmas and New Year holidays, I returned to
my base at Bangkok and flew to Phnom Penh,
Cambodia, where we met once again.
I brought them to the Sofitel, where I
was staying until I could find them a safe,
clean place to live and enroll the children in a
nearby public elementary school.
And after much searching for an apartment
I thought our cash flow could support, we found
the ideal place and a good public school.
Then it was shopping for household
necessities A to Z; and to the regional, outdoor
market for school uniforms, shoes, notebooks,
pencils, erasers and the like.
with great thanks to financial contributions
from industry friends as well as many special
favors by Charles-Henri
Chevet, Area General Manager, Sofitel Cambodia
and his Team and with about $50,000.00 to
date of FTA direct charity from our dinner
revenues; and with the invaluable help of so
many wonderful Souls, the family is now in a
safe, clean apartment in Phnom Penh; the
children are at last in a wonderful, nearby
public school; and they look amazing in their
seven year old has had four of his baby teeth
removed, which had become infected with his left
cheek swollen like a balloon and he was in
Everyone has now had medical examinations
by an MD, including blood tests, which revealed
that none of them were protected from Hepatitis;
so they are now all inoculated and the baby even
received the two doses of a vaccine not
administered after birth.
And thankfully, at our FTA
Saigon dinner in February, we found our "Operation
O’Brien with Treasury Wine Estates, who
completely funded the 13 year old girl’s facial
surgery to remove 5 hideous, red tumors that
were growing in size, the result of untreated
Tuberculosis at age 3; and though the surgical
scar will take some time to heal, she can at
long last smile without feeling self-conscious.
And at our Singapore in March, Andrew handed me
the cash funds to cover the family’s Cambodian
Passport applications; and as a result, they all
have comprehensive identity documentation with
the ability to travel.
In addition, the mother, Toeng Ly had
no means of transportation for herself and her
three young Children; and so, likewise,
thankfully, we most found our "Honda
Motorcycle Angel" in
Henry Phua, Managing
Director, visMarketing; and then Henry
followed-up by sending food money.
Henry, would you
kindly stand and be recognized.
Thankfully, there continue to be other
Angels, such as our "Weekly
Food & Schooling Angels", such as
Dominic Brennan, General
Manager, Crowne Plaza Shanghai Noah Square.
And "Home Angels" helping to create their
home down payment and mortgage payments fund,
such as Antoine Bruneel,
General Manager, LifeStyle Magazine.
please stand and be recognized.
And though he has asked to remain
anonymous, there is yet
an Angel among us this evening, whom I
have not mentioned, who has both contributed to
the family’s weekly food & schooling as well as
their home fund. Thank
And so now you know how we
have spent some of the revenues we have
collected from our many valued dinner sponsors
across Asia Pacific and at NYC; and of the many
compassionate Souls, like Charles-Henri, Andrew,
Henry, Dominic, Antoine and others who have
helped us and continue to help us succeed with
our most recent direct humanitarian effort in
while until recently we have shouldered this
humanitarian effort from our dinner revenues
month in and month out, as there is only so much
to go around, there continues to be a continuing
need for more Angels to directly help Toeng Ly
and the children with both weekly food &
schooling support as well as contributions to
their home fund, so they may at last have a
basic, safe place to call their own.
If anyone would like to help, just let me
know and I will be happy to let you know how to
do so, directly to Toeng Ly at Phnom Penh.
Truly, Service is the Highest Calling.
Thank you very much.