Special Profile : Lillian Too, 2005
by Soo Yee Yap

Meet Lillian Too: Harvard graduate, corporate CEO, best-selling author...

With a curriculum vitae as impressive as Lillian Too's, it is hardly surprising that you would expect her to walk into Crown Palladium in her power suit, with a Personal Assistant and laptop in tow. But the lecture of the day is certainly not Management 101 nor "Investing Your Millions."

"Today we are going to talk about changing the Feng Shui of your home to a Period of 8 house according to the Flying Star chart for 2005," chirps the enthusiastic speaker as the Power Point slide conjures up a square, numerical diagram that is pretty much similar to a BINGO table. The crowd duck their heads and began to scribble.

Welcome to Lillian Too's Feng Shui Extravaganza 2005.

...TV host, editor-in-chief, Feng Shui consultant, grandmother

Armed with an MBA from the Harvard Business School, Lillian Too started her career at the top rungs of the corporate ladder. She was the first woman to head a publicly listed company in Malaysia and later became the first female in Asia to be the CEO of a bank. In 18 months, she managed to buy out her own chain of department stores in Hong Kong, turn it around and sell it off before earning enough money to retire at the age of 45. That was when she decided to become a full-time mother.

However, the career woman in her wasn't meant to fade into the shadows. She began to write books on the subject of Feng Shui and the same pattern of success followed her over from her corporate past - from Feng Shui practitioner to best-selling author and lecturer, and then Founder of her own chain of World of Feng Shui boutiques. Now, her empire spans 35 outlets worldwide (with boutiques in the US, Spain and Netherlands as well), a Feng Shui show on TV, a bi-monthly Feng Shui magazine, and an e-commerce website.

Who says grandmother stories are silly?

In a world where science and logical thinking dominate the mainstream school of thought, Feng Shui practices are very often dismissed as superstition. Sceptics would certainly scoff at the idea of changing the roof of one's house or installing an aquarium in one's office for good luck. But as VOGUE magazine puts it, "Given her [Lillian's] credentials, people listen."

As an educated woman, and a very well-educated one in fact, Lillian believes that there is always an underlying explanation beneath every superstition. Feng Shui is after all the science of creating a harmonious balance with the elements and energies around us. Ancient descriptions of Feng Shui landscapes are often symbolically represented by metaphors and subjective references to animals and natural elements. Rather than interpreting these allegories, the fundamental theories of this ancient science are passed down as superstition.

"We must not look down on superstition because superstition is passed down from parents to children, but is given no not not we tend to dismiss it as so much hogwash. But when you look at superstition...if your grandmother believes in it so much there must be something in it. After all, our grandmas are not dumb. They're not stupid. Our mothers are not stupid.

But because we are educated and we are living in a world where we must have had some form of education, our minds are trained to think. So let us think and let us do research [on these beliefs and superstitions]... We must always be humble enough to say, even though we know a lot, there's a lot more out there we don't know. So we must keep learning."

What if you are still not convinced about these Feng Shui "theories"?

"Let me tell you something. If you don't believe that when I tell you that this year, for example, the Northwest is no good, why don't you go and chop down a tree in the Northwest this year and see if you don't experience some bad luck. Try-lah," she challenged in her colloquial Malaysian slang. The crowd snickered as she adds another typical phrase, "Right or not?"

Alright, seems like everyone is pretty much convinced. So, show me the money.

"...Feng Shui is not just about money...always remember. Feng Shui is not just about getting rich. You can't use Feng Shui to control people. For example, if you are in love with a guy [but] he's not in love with you... I can't give you Feng Shui to make the guy love you, huh...excuse me! But I can make Feng Shui for you in such a way it creates a condition for you to get married. If you get married to a real jerk, that's your bad luck! That's your karma. So we have to understand that Feng Shui also has its limitations. But if it gives us some competitive edge, why not?"

If Prada and Louis Vuitton can do it, why can't Lillian Too do it?

So if Feng Shui is not just about the money, what does Lillian have to say about commercialising Feng Shui?

"Isn't that what everybody in this whole world is doing? Aren't you looking for a job to make money? Aren't you commercialising everything? If Prada and Louis Vuitton can do it, why can't Lillian Too do it?" The crowd nodded in agreement.

"What's wrong with Lillian Too doing it? At least I'm giving you a real skill. Louis Vuitton is just getting a very pretty girl to wear his stuff. So if they can do it, I can do it too. It's called commercialising and hooray for commercialism! If I didn't do it, if I didn't commercialise it, where do I find the cashflow to fly to you, to come up with all the books, to do the TV show, to go to China to develop the products for you? That's commercialism and that's good! Yah, right or not?" An overwhelming round of applause ensued.

In a nutshell...

Owing much of her corporate successes to Feng Shui, Lillian applies it to every aspect of her life. When engaged in corporate negotiations, she made sure that she faced her lucky direction when bargaining a deal. She coloured her hair in order to benefit from the good ‘earth energy' of brown and blonde highlights. She did some minor redecoration to her house and now, she's a grandma!

For Lillian Too, the good fortune in her life didn't begin with a Harvard MBA. Sometimes we need a little bit of luck and "an additional tool for living."

"Feng Shui is a living skill that enables you to make your life a little bit better...And it doesn't cost that much! You go and earn a degree, it costs you more. This way it's fun. And that's why I believe in it...that's why I'm proud of what I do."

The following article is taken from the "".
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