Too Legit To Quit
High Priestes of Feng Shui bares all
And Old Wife's Tale of Prosperity

The Malay Mail,
Monday 17th January 2005

She may look like an auntie hell-bent on marrying off as many people as she can, but Lillian Too's exploits in marketing Feng Shui making it a multi-million ringgit industry are nothing short of pure business genius.

If people are wondering how successful Too is, or in other words, how much money she has made over the years from the Feng Shui business, just consider this example: Too holds beginner Feng Shui classes four times every year, and advanced class once a year.

She charges around RM7,000 per person for the Feng Shui beginner course, which runs for a week. Now, for the past seven years, Too claims to have trained about 10,000.

Do the math yourself. And that is NOT counting the money that she's making from the shops, magazines, cafes, and of course the 48 books she has written about Feng Shui, which has sold millions of copies worldwide.

Her latest branching out exercise is her own TV show on Astro. Not bad for a retired banker who originally wanted (and is still trying) to write and publish romance novels, eh?

When Buzz caught up with her recently, she was wearing green silk jacket, with a jade necklace, a jade bracelet and a jade ring on her right hand.

Her left hand was adorned with so called Dzi stones, a regular decoration for Buddhist statues in some part of the world.

With her hair dyed blonde, the yellow-and-green combination of her entire outfit looked quite Brazilian.

"Green is auspicious for me this year," said Too.

Even her photos on her website, have been updated so that she could be seen wearing green almost everywhere.

Well, Lillian Too rolling in the 'greens' is not a new sight or even a new though. In fact, there are some critism from certain quarter that Too is too commercial for the tradition-bound Feng Shui World.

Some critics believe that she is merely exploiting the art of Feng Shui for monetary rewards, and is taking work away from the traditional masters.

"Well, if I were to teach people Feng Shui, and claim myself a practitioner, but I'm broke, living in a hut and my children are holding lousy jobs without any relationship, what would that say about my Feng Shui and how I handle it? There has to be accountability in Feng Shui," said Too.

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

She does have a point there. If a Feng Shui master can't fix his or her own sorry life through the craft itself, then why should anyone listen to him or her?

Her World of Feng Shui shop in Midvalley, for instant came about when her readers asked her where they could get items mentioned in her books.

Sensing a need, Too opened a shop, which is now an extremely visible presence to believers and non-believers of Feng Shui alike in one of South East Asia's longest shopping complexes.

"I don't force people to buy from my shop. They can buy the items from anywhere at all." Said Too.

The price she said is reasonable. Citing the Dzi beads that she is wearing as an example, the current price for the things in Taiwan and other parts of the world can fetch as high as USD1000 (some RM3800). Her shop sells it at USD150 (less than RM600).

The secret, according to her Feng Shui World Magazine, is actually the discovery of the so-called 'new real Dzi beads', of which Too remain obscure about.

But since patterns of the original Dzi beads do not exist anymore for modern users (unless you want to scavenge from Buddha statues in Tibet), it could be the next best thing.

And as for accusations that she is depriving traditional Feng Shui masters of their work, Too said that several of the Feng Shui masters have thanked her for giving a boost to their business.

After helping to make Feng Shui as popular as it is today, one person could not possibly handle all the jobs that are coming her way. So the market has become big enough for the other masters as well.

"If I were to take all the offers and invitations by all the companies and all the people who have requested Feng Shui consultation, it would take up more than 24 hours a day, everyday," said Too.

"And I don't consider myself a Feng Shui master. I'm a Feng Shui writer," said Too, modestly.

No matter how much she is making and what she is selling nowadays, her first sale in the world of Feng Shui however, remains the most important ones.

In 1992-1993, she tried to have her book published in the UK by giant publisher Harper Collins. They would not take her manuscript, even after a lot of coercion with Too going back and forth to UK in an effort to sell her book.

Too eventually published her Feng Shui book here in Malaysia, became a best seller and only then did the international publishers decide to take her book. It eventually became an international best seller and Too never looked back.

Perhaps the prospect of doing business in the huge market of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are one of the main draws for people, especially westerners, to learn about this ancient craft.

Too didn't learn Feng Shui from any traditional master, that archaic Master Jedi-Padawan relationship. Rather, she gathered knowledge of the craft through wholly different methods.

"I took the best way of learning Feng Shui, which is to use it," said Too. "I was the head of a bank in Hong Kong, where there was a lot of Feng Shui.

"Most Feng Shui masters would just tell you to do this and that but won't tell you why. I didn't want to do anything until they explain to me the reason for doing so. Most of it is common sense."

She also depended on modern research concerning Feng Shui, particularly the study by a Professor Needham, who then headed the Chinese Studies department at Cambridge University.

Too herself holds a Masters in Business School, and it shows in almost all of her dealings.

Talk to her, and she would seem like woman obsessed with superstition, and getting people married and have babies but you can see the glint of a practical businesswoman in her eyes every time.

In the mean time, lets do the math again; Multiply RM7,000 by 10,000, and you know why you should start rearranging your furniture.

Or maybe you could get yourself and your family a couple of goldfish.
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