Business of Happiness

Holiday in cruise, a surefire dream vacation but running a mammoth business of happiness is not easy undertaking. Star Cruise’s biggest cruise liner Star Virgo plied us some 2000 nautical miles in 3 star luxury across 2 countries to & fro. This vessel was built 10 years ago, 13 stories high with all happiness amenities is the highlight. Staffs serving in the cruise span across Asia Pacific and South Asia, possibly to cater to mix culture audience. Captain and Masters seems to be from Nordic region, super tall and well built. 3N 4D extravaganza was itself a day counting gimmick as I reckon. You board on late afternoon and disembark on the afternoon and those 2 days are counted as full days.  Since nights can’t be squared off outright, duration sounds quite exotic as the dream voyage, hence beware of the holiday lexical gaffes on duration. This was my 1st sea voyage and was exhilarated at the sea views especially when receding & entering the Singapore waters. Being a transshipment hub, lots cargo vessels are enroute to Singapore across Straits of Malacca, perhaps busiest water lane next to Suez canal.

Some observations: All announcements are made in English followed by Mandarin perhaps to cater to mainland visitors. The assumption here is rest of the world do understand defacto lingua franca, English.  Essentially the crowd was 70% from India owing to school holiday season there and rest mixed from asiapac region with some from mainland china.  The burgeoning markets are these vast nations is no brainer and every strategy of business needs to take into account emerging market’s middle class as their spending power rises significantly to that of the developed nations.

Splurging on alcoholic beverage is a norm among the emerging country visitors – a socio status and icebreaker symbolism to get business and pleasure done over the incessant after chat as pints of ale are guzzled. Vodka, Beer, Champagne, Whisky, Rum, Gin, Wine, Ale, Spirits and multitude of cocktails galore and humbly prized.

Shore excursions are quickies to while away your time rather than being docked and spending the not so attractive merriment within the ship. Nude shows are not very seductive and crowd pullers either.

After spending 3 grand’s, I started asking myself what’s this all about? – a dream vacation on cruise. It all boils down what is your view: spirits flow continuously, shows galore, food is copious (delicious or not is a different matter altogether) and available in varieties, a buffet with 30 items to choose – irresistible and infinite yet you can stomach only a finite quantity – in the end, an ultimate entertainment on floating platform devoid of menacing cell phone or internet distractions. Sort of entertainment overload in a few days to suffocate you in exuberant merriment. Which is what a normal person requires after months/years of toil and the ship’s entertainment crew says it’s their business to make you happy in this once in a lifetime voyage…because you dare not to make it again, be it cost or other reasons.

If I don the philosopher’s hat, it’s all incessant subjugation of senses in false state of enjoyment continuously one after another by making your thoughts temporarily quiescent from dabbling. In the end you keep asking what’s next as you constantly fill the void and yearning for even more. The business of happiness will flourish as the market expands and players can fill it. 

Apparently I had my dearest friend with his family too and asked him what was it for him. A heavenly adobe to “busyrelax” but interrupted by power cuts and swings – a overt reference to snipes that he has to face from his partner before the family for no reason of his – a genetic predisposition combined with post withdrawal ocd and inherent “anything go wrong blame others syndrome”. I understand it’s not easy for him but he’s experienced and came unscathed, yet to go on with his business as usual and he gave his sage advice on how he overcame life’s vicissitudes and messy fractures:

From whatever, aye, whatever, man gets free,
From what, aye, from that, no more of pain hath he!

Whatever thing, a man has renounced, by that thing; he cannot suffer pain.

Mid joys he yields not heart to joys’ control.
Mid sorrows, sorrow cannot touch his soul.
He does not suffer sorrow, in sorrow who does not look for pleasure in pleasure

Business of happiness continues in the cruise as the ship docked and was getting ready for its next destination routine with the staff and crew preparing for entertaining the next set of paid seekers of happiness. It’ll continue for time immemorial, perhaps millenniums….only your thought can kill this vicious cycle of thoughts and bring about semblance of being in reality yet thoughtful.


Business Exposed

Business Exposed, the naked truth about what goes on in the world of business by Freek Vermeulen…a delicious read, a candy dish of witty reflections about the current state of management in a candid and disarming personal tone.

Some excerpts:

The monkey story: 5 monkeys were locked in a cage, after which a banana was hung from the ceiling with, fortunately for the monkeys, a ladder placed right underneath it. Of course, immediately , one of the monkeys raced towards the ladder to climb and grab the banana. However, as soon as he started to climb, the sadist (euphemistically called scientist) sprayed the monkey with ice-cold water. In addition, however, he sprayed the other four monkeys….

2nd monkey, 3rd monkey and 4th monkey encountered same treatment upon climbing. They got their lesson: they were not going to climb the ladder again, banana or no banana. One of the monkeys was replaced and this new guy raced towards the ladder thinking, why don’t these idiots go get it!? and start climbing the ladder. Then, however, it got interesting, the other 4 monkeys, familiar with cold water treatment, would run towards the new guy – and beat him up. The new guy unaware of the cold-water history, would get the message, no climbing up the ladder in this cage – banana or no banana.

When the beast outside replaced the monkey inside the cage, the events would repeat themselves. There was a notable thing, the newly replaced guy who never under-went the cold water treatment will with same vigor and enthusiasm , join in the beating of the new guy in the block. Similarly all monkeys were replaced and all of them never underwent the cold water treatment. When the last guy introduced in the block tried to climb, all the other started beating him. Then this monkey asked, why are you beating me, then they retorted, “Don’t know, but that’s the way we do things around here”.

If you want to make it big, you’d better understand how things work, in the kingdom you’re trying to rule

Coaching in Asia

List of executive coaches in this region that I found in the book titled as this blog post:

email website
Denise Wright is an Executive Coach and Change Facilitator
Anna Leong is an HR partner with IBM, coaches senior executives and managers
Keith E. Webb, is a leader in coaching training for non-profit organizations working cross cultures
Sam W. S. Chia is the Director / GM of HRnet Performance Consulting Pte Ltd
Sattar Bawany is the MD for DBM Singapore and Head of Transition Coaching Practice for DBM Asia Pacific
Jean-Francois Cousin became an executive coach in 2006 and has coached variety of executives
Michael Fox is marketing executive with multi-national communications company Telstra
Dennis Heath works with senior managers in the corporate and public sector, helping them become influential and effective leaders
Lilian Ing is skilled executive and organizational coach, facilitator and trainer
Tony Latimer is an executive coach accredited by International Coach Federation as Master Certified Coach (MCC)
Elisabeth Legrain-Fremaux is ICF certified Professional executive coach and MD of Banksia Coaching International, she specializes in leadership development in multicultural organizations
Radhakrishnan B. Menon is a post graduate from Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Jacki Nicholas is a certified executive coach and leadership facilitator with over 20 years experience
Katherine Twaddell is a certified executive coach and leadership development specialist