Stop Learning and You’re Dead — Dinner with Antony Leung, Group Chairman & CEO of Nan Fung Group

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Antony donating dinner and raising 332 volunteer hours

Sometimes the most meaningful and inspiring conversations happen over casual meals. The Time Auction Blog is a snippet of our meetings with people who have found passion in their life and career, where we get a glimpse into their mentality behind their stories.

Antony Leung is a man who has taken on many shapes: CEO of Nan Fung Group, Financial Secretary of Hong Kong, Chairman of Food Angel. So perhaps it’s no surprise that he also talks in shapes. Ask him how to become more creative and adaptable and he’ll tell you to seek T-shaped knowledge: balancing breadth (perspective) and depth (expertise). Ask him how to search for a job that’s a good fit and he’ll tell you to find your sweet spot between three circles: personality, passion, and strengths & weaknesses.

If it seems like he has all the answers, that’s because he’s also an advocate of lifelong learning — whether that means reading, on-the-job training, or becoming more humble and Christ-like. Over dinner, he inspired everyone present to join him on this path: to ask difficult questions, to get to know oneself, and to read and think ceaselessly.

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Thank you venue sponsor W Hong Kong!

Do you have a motto or philosophy that guides your decisions?

“Well, I don’t really have one, but in the last ten years, I’ve been trying to follow Jesus Christ. I’m sure I won’t be able to be like him, but if I can at least learn from his teachings…

Jesus’ teachings are very specific. In the Chinese religion, you have to avoid the world, you have to exit from your daily practice, which is why Chinese temples are deep in the mountains or forests. For Christianity, there is a standard for every earthly thing you do. You have to respect the elderly, you have to support your father, you have to love and guide your child. Wives should submit to their husbands, but husbands should also love their wives so much that they would die for them. We have to donate 10% of our earnings, but you also donate without letting other people know. Otherwise, you seek your own glory instead of glorifying God.

It’s not just a vague belief; there are very specific practices. I encourage you to read the Bible, not just from the spiritual angle, but for daily life.”

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Is there a habit that has improved your life significantly?

“Reading: reading widely, and not just the books about your subject.

I would recommend that you read some history. There is a great book that’s only around 200 pages, called The Lessons of History. Even though we are in a new age, history is repeating itself. Hopefully we can escalate upward rather than going downward.

Actually, it’s not just reading, but learning. You can now learn from the internet, and you can learn on the job. I have always had more than one job, so I learned twice as much. The half life of almost everything, of every piece of knowledge, is five years. In five years, half of the existing knowledge will be replaced by new knowledge. We have to keep learning and thinking. Ask questions: ‘Is this right?’, ‘Does it have any relevancy?’, ‘Is it applicable?’.

Learn widely and learn throughout your life. Once you stop learning, you’re dead.”

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How can someone impress you?

“A lot of people impress me in different ways. When you’re successful, you tend to not look at other people’s strengths. But God creates everybody individually, so everyone has their own strong points. Hopefully, I can look at people in a more positive light, including people who may have hurt me. I try to think: ‘They must have something good’. When you think that way, the world is a more beautiful place.”

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What is the worst advice you’ve ever heard?

“Good advice can easily become terrible advice if the context is changed.

I can’t say what the worst advice is, but I have attended so many pitch days, where startups present their ideas and try to get money or advice. Sometimes I am on the panel of judges. There was once a banker — the head of a very large bank, but almost everything he said was wrong because he was giving advice as if he were advising a large corporation. When you’re doing startup, the same things don’t apply. So the only thing I can say is that if things are taken out of context, then they can easily become bad advice.”

Thank you Antony for donating dinner, and to everyone who volunteered and took part in raising 332 volunteer hours to i-Future Weekend School, Society for the Deaf, Psycho-Art Therapy Association, Hong Kong Paws Foundation, Feeding Hong Kong and more!

For more opportunities, visit Time Auction to volunteer and meet inspiring mentors.

A few words from the volunteers:

Anne Wong, Private Banker

It’s a remarkable experience to meet Antony, a political and business elite, who shared his life adventures, thoughts, and advice openly. A notable takeaway is that we should have the right strategies and mindset to prepare ourselves to tackle the VUCA world, in both business and personal aspects. Thanks Antony and Time Auction HK.

Roger Fang, City University Student

Thanks Antony for his wishes in the reply email. I will try my best and demonstrate my progress to him one day. I wish him all the best!

Kelvin Chu, 812Laundry

It was my great pleasure meeting Antony in person and hear his valuable advices. His sharing makes me even more determined to continue my path as an entrepreneur, and more importantly, one with the right values and sense of urgency. I would also find time to read the Bible and Lessons of History that he recommends. I would be grateful if I can stay in touch with him and seek his guidances from time to time. Cheers, Kelvin

This article originally appeared on our blog on Medium:

Updated on 8 April, 2021
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