Has Contemporary Etiquette been Overlooked?

Has Contemporary Etiquette been Overlooked?

Having been known as the polished TV personality at Dolce Vita on Pearl Television and a well dressed bowtie emcee at multiple international corporate events, Desmond So has long been an active advocate for etiquette in a city like Hong Kong. With one of a kind background excelling in J.D. and M.B.A. in the States, he has come up with the idea to start “Not Just The Right Fork” when he was working in private banking in Hong Kong and noticing the margin for improvements for lots of people on formalized etiquette and communications skills training. After the growing realization that there is a need to split the business models post launching his first venture, an executive decision has been made that “Not just the Right Fork” would focus entirely on children while a new company “East-West Institute of Applied Etiquette” would cater to adults, executives and professionals in Hong Kong, Macau and China. One of the worst experiences of etiquette that Desmond has encountered previously was with two children that he was coaching and during those few hours spending time with them, he realized their behaviors were a result of parental neglect more than being ill-mannered. By talking with them and offering a sympathetic ear, Desmond got them to open up and was able to make some changes in their behaviors after just 2 hours.

1Desmond believes that a key component of etiquette is respect. He never faults people for not knowing the small nitty-gritty principles but one should always respect others and practice basic human decency. When someone is rude not because he or she doesn’t know a technical rule but because he or she chooses to treat others with ill will or contempt, Desmond then finds it deplorable and unacceptable.

Desmond points out that when meeting somebody, people tend to notice a person’s physical attributes first, which include height, posture, features, facial expressions, hair, makeup, attire and accessories but close on the heels of physical attributes are body language, voice, and conversation and he thinks that it behooves people to get all of these things right when greeting others. These are the public figures who have caught his attention whom he finds them to have high sense of etiquette: Government à Ms. Carrie Lam (Chief Secretary); Private Sector à Mr. Daryl Ng (Sino Group); Media à Mr. Robin Hu (SCMP); and Entertainment à Mr. Anderson Junior 安德尊 (Actor/Presenter).

Etiquette can be very broad and refer to generally prescribed conduct relating to social behaviors or it can refer to narrow guidelines specific to an occasion or activity (e.g., dining etiquette). From Desmond’s observations, one area that finance and fintech professionals in Hong Kong can improve on imminently is business attire. Perhaps because a lack of education in this area along with external factors like the influence of K-pop; his human resource friends have been informing him that business dress code is heading down a slippery slope and needs to be reined in despite the fact that etiquette has become more relaxed over time. Some of the egregious behaviors in workplace or in common social functions that Desmond has noticed are bad table manners (burping; being rude to waitstaff; picking teeth at table; etc.) and poor business etiquette (weak handshakes; failure to use people’s titles; getting too friendly too quickly; inappropriate attire; etc.)

Etiquette is constantly changing.  A generation ago, people wrote hand-written letters to each other. Some millennials nowadays have never written a formal hand-written letter. More recently, most people who were used to writing emails for business would not have anticipated yet another disruptive shift to mobile apps such as WeChat and WhatsApp, which takes informality to a whole different level. When asked about how Desmond and his company can shape the future of etiquette, he said “our vision remains to create a more polite, caring, and civil society and to change the way the rest of the world perceives individuals and businesses from Hong Kong, Macau, and China. Every person should practice the same set of etiquette and treat people with respect and decency.  There is no class of persons who should be doing things ‘differently’ by virtue of their vocation or industry.”

The majority of people that East-West Institute of Applied Etiquette teaches are business executives or young adults entering a formal business environment.  Erring on the side of conservatism would be well advised and appropriate. Desmond also added, “do not confuse being polite with being socially or professionally inapt. Just because someone is well-mannered, well-spoken, does not raise his voice, and says ‘thank you’ a lot does not undermine his ability to convey ideas effectively, act confidently, and achieve what he wants.  A well-mannered person is not a pushover.”


i-Lume – Hong Kong Company wins Wearable Technology Innovation World Cup

i-Lume – Hong Kong Company wins Wearable Technology Innovation World Cup


26th January 2016, Munich

In an award ceremony in Germany, i-Lume was announced as winner of the prestigious Wearable Technology Innovation World Cup in the Safety & Security category.  i-Lume beat stiff competition from more than 500 international companies, innovators and startups who entered and shines a spotlight as i-Lume as a world leading wearable technology product.


i-Lume is a wearable LED lighting technology developed specifically for integration in garments and any type of fabric product.  i-Lume provides a safety feature for a sportswear, outerwear, industrial clothing, children’s wear and is already used by many global apparel brands to provide high visibility functionality for their garments.  i-Lume is now poised to make millions of garments more visible!

The Innovation World Cup, held annually, is the worldwide leading innovation competition in the fast paced wearable technologies sector.  i-Lume, based in Hong Kong, was the only Asian company to not only reach the finals (best 26 companies) but also go on to become a winner of the competition.

Isaac Man, i-Lume General Manager, says “We are delighted to be selected among so many high calibre entries in the wearable technology field.  It’s great to have an international jury as excited by this technology as we are.  The jury stated that they selected i-Lume for its for its beautifully engineered simplicity, its effective function and that it allows any garment to be turned into an item of Wearable Technology.

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