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Newsletter: 2020 January

Year 2020

MMXX: A new year, a new decade...

We are entering a new decade, the third in this Millenium. The following events will ink history for the year and for the decade: Brexit (the new UK and a new EU?), Olympics in Tokyo (without Russia?), US presidential election (the fate of Trumpism?), NASA’s Artemis 1 mission (the next step on moon and a space leap beyond?)…

When I was a little girl, my mother used to share this Chinese proverb with me: 一寸光阴一寸金,寸金难买寸光阴, literally translated as “an inch of time equates to an inch of gold, but an inch of gold will not buy you the inch of time.” How true this is when one looks back – “Time indeed is the most precious of all things we have,” (at least before the successful invention of a functioning Time machine.)

With this wisdom from our forebears, as we kick start the new year and a new decade, let’s live life to its fullest. Let’s treasure every second and every minute we have, starting with the celebration of the Gregorian New Year on the 1st, and the Lunar New Year on the 25th (by the way, the new Chinese zodiac is the metal rat).

Happy New Year and Happy New Decade to you!

Wishing you good health, prosperous wealth, and much happiness!

新年快乐! 万事如意!

A Journey A Month…
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.

Put the phone away at the dinner table, suggested Pope Francis during his 2019’s last Sunday sermon.

“I ask myself if you, in your family, know how to communicate, or are you like those kids at meal tables where everyone is chatting on their mobile phone …” said the Pope.

The above may sound like a nontrivial comment from a grumpy grandfather, or some village elder shielded from our modern technology-driven world. But the Pope is clearly not anybody, he is the spiritual leader of 1.3 billion people of this world, he must have chosen his messages carefully for his sermons. So, what did he want to convey, and why?

We now live in a world that has seen the surge of smartphones and mobile devices. Today, out of 7.8 billion people on earth, 3.3 billion own smartphones, and 5.15 billion own mobile devices with 9.32 billion registered mobile connections. Now, ask yourselves these two questions: (1) how many mobile devices do you own? (2) how many hours per day do you spend on using these devices?

Mobile devices are products of technology advancement, the precursors to robots before robots become as accessible to ordinary folks like you and I.

Learning to manage our technology creations and co-exist with them is important. Our ability to do that will decide how we humans will evolve when we face the challenge of a world filled with robots and driven by AI. This can be as soon as the next decades, the 2030s, 2050s…

The message from Pope Francis is indeed wisdom based on the fundamental reason that we humans are social beings. We make connections with one another for a larger and richer life experience than oneself.


When the Pope said, people should put away their cellphones while eating meals together and talk, he meant to suggest we should take time to communicate and connect with those around us. If we were to understand that time is a finite asset in our lives and therefore extremely precious, then we should not “waste” these moments of connection with those we care to gather with.

Incidentally, on the same day, as we read about the “put away the phones at dinner tables” news, BBC featured a clip of a meeting between two famous people. Two strangers, generations apart, living in different countries, introduced to each other via a Skype meeting: When Greta Thunberg met Sir David Attenborough.

I am sure, just like Thunberg and Attenborough, many of us have benefited from technology to keep in contact with our families and friends. Technology is not “bad,” it is just a two-edged sword. While it can be a bridge to bring people together, it can also be a wall stopping all communication(e.g., gluing our attention to our smartphones and mobile devices at dinner tables.)

Colleagues and friends know I always put aside my cellphone during my meetings with people, and notice I do not have it with me 24/7. Acquaintances often find it difficult to believe I am not yet on Whatsapp. Some may think I am out of sync with technology. Only if they knew for over 20 years, I have been leveraging technology to manage virtual teams and projects on a global scale, and I’ve started my career in the high-tech industry. Perhaps, one day, people may understand, it is, in fact, a conscious decision and a matter of choice. To some of us, we feel it is important to have control of technology, and we take steps not to have it intrude into our personal “time and space.”

crossroads of technology and humanity

While leveraging technology to make our lives better, we mustn’t get too carried away to the extent that we lose our desire and ability to “connect” as humans. At the crossroads of technology and humanity in the next decade, let’s be cautious about the risk of being prisoners of our own inventions. After all, we are the master of technology.

To begin the new year, start by deciding how you want to spend your “precious” time with your dear ones at your dinner tables! That seemingly simple message from Pope Francis may make a huge difference in our lives…

We, at TransCultural Group (TCG), are determined to play our parts in making the world a better place, and we have teamed up with the Cultural Intelligence Centre, U.S.A to bring their well-researched and designed CQ assessment tools to our clients in the Asia Pacific.

We are passionate about building bridges and breaking down walls. Please join us in this journey,

Beyond Boundaries - Crossing Cultures

TCG togetherness

Keng Keng Tan
Founder & CEO
TransCultural Group