Are you single? Enjoy it while it lasts!

When someone approaches age 30 and is still not married you know the pressure is on. You hear it all the time: at weddings you get asked repeatedly, “When is it your turn?” During family gatherings, your relatives will inevitably ask you the embarrassing question: “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” Parents will indirectly hint, “We want grandchildren.” 

People want to be loved
Some people try to avoid singleness like the plague. Some people feel incomplete because they don’t have a “significant other.” Some people lower their standards so that they can be with someone. Many people fear loneliness. I was quite shocked to hear that women who are not married by age 27 in China are known as “leftover women”, a negative term implying they may never marry. Age 27!

Singleness may feel awkward
I recently went to a wedding banquet by myself and I know how awkward it can be, when everyone else is paired. Still, I didn’t let that bother me and I still had a fantastic time meeting new people. When I was in Toronto, many girls were interested in me because of my musical talents and solid career, but by choice I did not start any serious relationship with a girl because I knew I was going to leave Toronto. 

Relationship is not a race
Relationship is not a race. Some people mature earlier than others and have stable marriages in their early 20’s. Good for them. Others mature a bit later and can enjoy a more stable career before getting hitched. 

Singleness is a time to cherish and enjoy…while it lasts
Singleness is a time to explore and get to know yourself. It is the best time to pursue higher education, advance your career, travel, and live abroad. I’m not saying you can’t do these things when you’re married, it just gets more difficult with more work and family responsibilities. 

For me, I am going to fully enjoy my remaining single time and make the most out of my opportunities before I settle down and get married. Singleness is not a time to avoid, but rather to be lived out fully its short time period and its possibilities. Cherish this period…while it lasts. Most of us will get married one day. 

Advice to the ladies
Ladies, please don’t give up. Even though you are approaching age 30 or beyond, it is important to dress up and look pretty to attract a potential mate. Even though men may know a woman’s inner beauty is much more important than her physical appearance, our male brains are wired to naturally be attracted to physical attractiveness first. 

Advice for the guys (myself included)
Stop procrastinating and stop waiting for a sign from heaven. God will not drop your future mate on your lap. Get out of your comfort zone and go to social events. Tell your friends and family you are looking. For the majority of people in relationships, their significant others are introduced by friends and family. 

Preparing for marriage
I’m currently re-reading “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married” by Gary Chapman. On page 10 he writes: 

“The divorce rate continues to hover around 50%. People do not get married planning to divorce. Divorce is the result of a lack of preparation for marriage and the failure to learn the skills of working together as teammates in an intimate relationship. What is ironic is that we recognize the need for education in all other pursuits of life and fail to recognize that need when it comes to marriage. Most people spend far more time in preparation for their vocation than they do in preparation for marriage. Therefore, it should not be surprising that they are more successful in their vocational pursuits than they are in reaching the goal of marital happiness.”

Personally, I have been reading books and studying the topic of relationships and marriage since 2010. Sure, some of the material I won’t be able to apply until I get married, but it is good to be informed. Prevention is always better and less painful than finding a cure. 

Until I find my soul mate, I will keep preparing myself for the day I meet her. I wish those of you seeking your soul mate all the best.


Celebrating accomplishments of my peers

(I originally wrote this post on June 24, 2014 on my Facebook wall. I’m reposting it here on WordPress July 21, 2014 for those who do not have Facebook.)

Today’s post is to celebrate the accomplishments of two of Schulich’s most outstanding MBA students: Pooya Faez and Mashkur Reza, who have significantly contributed back to the Schulich School of Business.

On June 20, 2014 before the Graduation Ceremony, Pooya and Mash (along with me) were awarded Convocation Awards (out of over 400 MBA graduates) for commitment to student life through extracurricular activities and academic achievement, and the Dean of the Schulich School of Business himself, along with GBC president Peter Giampuzzi, presented them with their awards at a special Dean’s Breakfast in the presence of Schulich Faculty and Staff at the prestigious Executive Dining Hall. Every Schulich student has been impacted by their leadership and contributions to the school. I also want to congratulate the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Convocation prize winners who received awards that day.

Below are some of Pooya and Mash’s contributions to the school.

Pooya Faez – winner of Convocation Award
I first met Pooya at the Schulich Academic & Career Planning (ACP) orientation in late August 2013, where he gave a welcome speech to incoming MBA students as the President of the Graduate Business Council (GBC) – the official student government of all Masters level students at the Schulich School of Business. My initial impression of Pooya was he was a wise man who spoke with great wisdom and finesse. Pooya is very considerate of other people, and gets along well with everybody. He is very adept at seeing the big picture, a true visionary, and knows how to motivate people to take action and succeed. Pooya is a great leader and model MBA student.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Pooya serving as Council Members on the GBC. We also worked together as judges for undergraduate BBA/iBBA case competition teams. We coached and trained the Schulich BBA/iBBA team, and the Schulich team we coached went on to win #1 in Canada in a prestigious major business case competition (JDCC competition). The most amazing thing about Pooya is that he is married and has his own family and yet is able to contribute so much to the school. His time management skills are impeccable and definitely worth admiring. As President of the GBC, he communicated student concerns to student services and the school, constantly making the lives of Schulich students better. Pooya was also actively involved in multiple clubs, was a member of successful case competitions, and an integral member of the Schulich MBA Games 2014 team.

Pooya is definitely one of the students who have given back a lot to the school. He much deserves the Convocation Award he has won.

Mashkur Reza – winner of Convocation Award
I first met Mash at Schulympics – a weekend getaway for 200 MBA students in September 2013 – and my first impressions were Mash was a friendly, easy-going guy who loved to help people. I had forgotten to bring a pillow case, and Mash was so kind to bring extras for people who forgot and lent me one. It was an act of kindness I’ll never forget.
Mash once went to a supermarket and paid the grocery bill for a complete random stranger out of kindness. Mash truly follows up his words with actions. He walks his talk.

Mash is Schulich’s beat-boxing champion. He entertained an auditorium full of MBA students at Culture Crawl in October 2013, a true sign of excellent showmanship and in my opinion he should have his own act in Las Vegas. I would pay to see it! I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to team up with Mash at the 4th Annual Schulich French Toast Fundraiser on Nov 26, 2013 where I played piano and he was beat-boxing. It was so much fun!

Mash is truly a great leader, and is very humble about it. Being an Accelerated MBA student himself, he (along with me and Pedram Kaya) fought for the rights of Accelerated MBA students, such as having a dedicated Accelerated student representative on the GBC Council, and suggested events held to help Accelerated students familiarize themselves with the school and fellow students. He communicated students’ suggestions to the school administration to make Schulich even better.

Accomplished not only in extracurricular activities, Mash also excelled academically: graduating with Distinction as a member of the Dean’s Honour List. Mash also has a wonderful sense of humor, and has the ability to make people feel at ease around him. The most amazing thing is, Mash accomplished all this as an Accelerated MBA student and completed his MBA in 8 months.

Congratulations Pooya, Mash, Thomas Charnock, Amber Lam, and Andrew Hoover!!
If I were to list out all of Pooya and Mash’s accomplishments, this post would be extremely long. I just want to congratulate and thank Mash and Pooya for their hard work and commitment to student life at Schulich. It has been my honour to work with them, and they have taught me so much about how to be a great leader.

I also want to congratulate Thomas Charnock, Amber Lam, and Andrew Hoover for winning Gold, Silver, and Bronze prizes for the highest marks earned as MBA students at Schulich.

Well done all, and best wishes for the future!!

Tips & Advice: Making the most out of your MBA program

(I originally wrote this post on my Facebook wall on June 20, 2014. I’m reposting it here on WordPress July 21, 2014 for those who don’t have Facebook.)

Today, I officially become Calvin K. Lee, MBA.

Schulich is surely Canada’s global school, with lots of wonderful opportunities. But being able to “unlock” and benefit from those opportunities is a challenge to many people. Today, let me share some of my success strategies. Many of my peers and professors tell me I have amazing networking skills. I was not born with amazing networking skills; I developed them. Let me share with you all today some of the ways to benefit the most out of your MBA program (this is especially useful for students going into their 2nd year MBA, and people thinking about doing a MBA at Schulich). For people who just graduated with your MBA, you can adapt the strategies to your workplace. 

1. Participate in as many extracurricular activities as you can
It is difficult to participate in extracurricular activities if you work during the day. If financially possible, do your MBA full time, and make the most out of your MBA experience by joining MBA clubs, workshops, networking events, career development seminars, case competitions, etc. There is something for every student’s interests. After getting your first job or two, nobody really cares about your GPA anymore. However, your experiences you’ve accumulated no one can take away and will escalate your career rapidly!

Before I came to Schulich, many of my friends who already have finished their MBA told me in the MBA program it’s the network and friendships that really matters, the courses and grades are relatively not as important. I came into Schulich with the goal of meeting as many people as I can. That includes Schulich staff, faculty, and students. I attended Schulympics (a weekend getaway for MBA students) and I met everybody there (Thanks Jeff Hwee for the recommendation!).

2. Try new things that gets you out of your comfort zone (and do it often!!)
I did so many things that scared me. I was afraid of failure. For example, when I volunteered to be the Finance Case Manager for MBA Games 2014 and to author/create the finance case, I was intimidated at first. I have never written a finance case before. Fortunately, I found that if I ask people for help, they are very happy to provide me with advice and resources. I had a great team surrounding me and supporting me throughout the process.

Many times, I find that my imagination creates worst-case scenarios that never happen. I often doubted my own abilities. Many people are held back from doing great things because of fear, but they could actually do it if they try. I’ve learned to gradually trust in my own skills and past experience to create new skills and expand my comfort zone. This is what true living is all about. My finance case turned out to be a great success, and many participants came to me after the case competition to thank me for writing the case and saying I did a great job.

Even CEO’s and great leaders have fears. The difference between great leaders and ordinary people is great leaders have learned to cope with fear and keep forging forward despite of fear and put on a confident attitude even if they feel fear inside. Fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”. 

3. Know how to promote your previous achievements (and do it often!!)
Achieving things are great, but they are limited in usefulness if you can’t communicate them effectively to people you meet outside your usual circle. Achievements are only truly useful if you can communicate them to people who don’t know you and these people are important people who can help you reach your goals. I’ve learned to be very good at communicating my past successes to people I meet, and tailor each response to the specific person and situation.

For example, in order to teach in the Schulich Master of Accounting program and BBA program, I had to effectively communicate and be convincing about my previous experiences working for the CA School of Business to the Accounting Program Director. In order to persuade Schulich to recommend me to Peking University for the Double MBA Degree program, I had to tell them about my previous experiences as Chair of the Young CA Forum at the CA Institute and my various involvements with Schulich as a GBC Council Member and Schulich Ambassador. In order to get scholarships and bursaries, I’ve written numerous letters highlighting various past achievements. And I’ve been pretty successful.

Some people are afraid to tell others about their accomplishments because it may seem showy to them, but in Canada it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Learn to communicate effectively. Practice it often. The more you practice, the better you get.

I have so many tips I can share, stay tuned for more later!

Good-bye Toronto, hello Vancouver and Beijing! (Repost from June 6, 2014)

(I originally wrote this post on my Facebook wall on June 6, 2014. I’m reposting it here on WordPress July 21, 2014.)

I have booked my flight to leave Toronto for Vancouver on July 1, 2014. My stay in Vancouver will be temporary, for a month or so, before I exchange to Peking University (aka Beijing University 北京大学) in Beijing for a year for my Schulich-Peking University Double MBA degree program. I will be the first student to do this new program between Schulich and Peking University. Peking University is China’s #1 ranked university overall and #1 ranked MBA program in China according to The Financial Times.

I am so glad I came to Toronto for the past year. The experience has met and exceeded my expectations!

Teaching in the Schulich Master of Accounting program
It has been interesting for me to be both a student and part-time faculty at Schulich for the past 6 months. Yesterday was my last time teaching my Master of Accounting class at the Schulich School of Business at York University. I told my 32 students that I’ll miss teaching this class and they gave me a clapping applause as I wished them well in their journey to become professional accountants. 

Students thanked me for my enthusiasm and dedication to help them learn. In students’ own words in their feedback:

“You (Calvin) are very enthusiastic and have great energy.”
“You (Calvin) spend a lot of time for students to have the feeling that you are here to help them.”
“You (Calvin) are friendly, open to questions, and use a variety of sources to teach.”
“I like how you (Calvin) are sharing your experience with us.”
“I like that you’re approachable, friendly, and supportive of everyone in the class.”
“I like your sense of humor.”

I really enjoyed teaching my class!

Calvin’s MBA Graduation (as a member of Dean’s Honour List) and Convocation Award
My convocation will be Friday, June 20, 2014 at 10:30am. To my Toronto friends, I would be honored if you join me for photographs at 2pm and final good-byes at the reception after the ceremony. 

I am graduating as a member of the Dean’s Honour Roll for excellent academic performance. Recently, Schulich told me I also won a convocation award and scholarship for outstanding commitment to student life through extracurricular activities and academic achievement and have been invited to an award breakfast with the Dean where I will be presented with my award. Thank you to my friends who nominated me (you know who you are!)

Good-bye Toronto
Toronto, you are a great city to live in and I will always cherish my great memories here. Life is so exciting and full of wonderful opportunities!! 🙂

Ways to beat stress and fatigue (Part 1)

(I originally wrote this article on my Facebook wall on March 18, 2014. I’m reposting it here on WordPress July 21, 2014)

As the school term is nearing the end and exams looming, and a bunch of group projects and assignments are coming due, I can see the stress and fatigue on a lot of students’ faces. 

While most people will say the stress and fatigue is due to exams, group projects and assignments — which is probably the most socially acceptable thing to say — in this post I want to suggest other causes and factors that may be contributors. Lately I’ve been very interested in nutrition and health and have done lots of research. Here are some of my preliminary findings. Of course, this post is oversimplified and there are many other factors that lead to stress and fatigue. Feel free to use this post as a discussion and post comments to help each other out during exam time! This is more of an awareness post so people can be aware of needed possible changes for the better in their lifestyle 

Reason #1: Lack of nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin D, and iron. 

Having recently been to a health seminar at Schulich, the expert suggested fatigue may be caused by a lack of magnesium. This caused me to do research in other essential nutrients deficiency such as vitamin D deficiency and iron deficiency. It actually made me look at the food labels more carefully. Any or all of these deficiencies may cause stress and fatigue. 

One problem I’ve noticed is, when students get busy, they stop making home-cooked meals and eat out more. While eating out is convenient, it uses a lot of refined processed foods that strip the food of most of its nutrients. 

Reason #2: Refined foods

This past year living alone on campus I’ve had to make many grocery shopping choices and I’ve changed many items on my grocery list as I did more research on food nutrients. 

For example, I learned the difference between whole grain, whole wheat, and white breads. I was buying white bread at the beginning of term thinking it’s healthy, but after learning it’s not very nutritious, I’ve switched to whole grains. Same with white rice which I’ve switched to brown rice. Sure, they don’t taste as good, but after learning how white bread/rice causes rapid rise in blood sugar and then rapid decrease and its inability to keep me full compared to their brown bread/rice cousins, I decided to go back to the more natural, nutritious forms of these foods. 

People in the 21st Century are more stressed and rushed than our ancestors. While technology is a big factor and the speed in the world we live in is faster than ever, I believe our food choices plays a big part in our overall energy levels and stress. Without proper nutrient, the body can’t function at its peak. 

I have lots more to say about food nutrients, but I’ll save that for a future post so this post doesn’t get too long 

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will discuss factors such as:
1. The importance of exercise in releasing stress and increasing energy levels, effects of serotonin and endorphins
2. Unplugging from technology may help reduce stress
3. Canada’s Food Guide to essential nutrients recommendations
4. Stretches to alleviate back pain and shoulder tension
5. No time to cook? Freezing vegetables to preserve nutrients and prolong shelf life of healthy foods through the blanching vegetables technique