My 20 Life Rules!

Life Rule #1: If you are simple, the world is simple for you!

A simple life can lead to a happy life. People must be self-sufficient and happy, tolerant, and magnanimous. You can’t think about anything complicated. If your soul is overloaded, you will complain and worry about others. It is necessary to delete the memory on a regular basis and discard the unpleasant people and things from the memory. Life is short, and wealth and status are added. Life does not bring death and does not take away. The simple life is happy and being happy is a simple life.

Life Rule #2: There is no rehearsal in life; every day is a live broadcast!

Occasionally I think, if life is really like a video game, you can choose to start again if you play it badly, what will your life be like? It is precise because the passage of time is gone, and every day cannot be recovered, so we must cherish every inch of time, respect our parents, love children, be considerate of lovers, and be kind to friends.

Life Rule #3: Money isn’t everything; but it can affect everything.

When people say money isn’t everything, they’re right. A good life is not just made up of sound financial health. You also need to pay attention to several other domains of health — physical, mental, social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional.

But money is still ridiculously important. Wealth, especially liquid wealth, offers security and peace of mind that affects all other domains of health.

Life Rule #4: If life goes in the wrong direction, stopping is progress!

It is always difficult for people to correct their shortcomings, and it is always difficult for people to find their own mistakes. There are many temptations. There will never be a pie in the sky. Don’t pay the painful price for the momentary happiness. If you find something wrong, you must stop.

Life Rule #5: The two tragedies in life: one is to lose all thoughts, the other is to be complacent!

Modern people seem to be particularly vulnerable. Newspapers report that many celebrities are suffering from depression. These people must go from one extreme to another. It is because of my complacency that I firmly believe that I am perfect and omnipotent. If I suffer a little setback, I will become extremely inferior and even lose the courage to continue living. Find an accurate position for yourself and enjoy the joy of life.

Life Rule #6: Life is the same as love. If you miss love, you miss life!

What is love? It makes people confused and confused. When facing love, be brave, and boldly express your love. If you have flowers, you must pick them. People will always be born, old, sick, and die. If you miss love, you miss the splendor of life.

Life Rule #7: Time wasted is lost forever!

You will never get back the time you have wasted. Time goes by and it will never stop or come back. Every second of your life counts and once you grow old you will only have regrets for the things you didn’t do. Manage your time better to avoid feeling regret when you are at your death bed.

Life Rule #8: Nothing is permanent except change!

Take this however you like. Nothing in life is truly forever. Nor the love, nor the struggles. So you need to appreciate every heartwarming moment, every person that makes your life a little brighter, and every accomplishment you achieve on your own. On the other hand, whenever you’re stuck in a loop of painful hard times, have hope that this will not last forever.

Life Rule #9: What you have is exactly what you need!

If you dig a little deeper and take a look at the law of attraction, you will realize that you attract exactly what you deserve. There are no coincidences. Every single person in your life is there for a reason. Besides, everything you’re going through comes with a valuable lesson. All you need to do is to see those lessons and learn from them.

Life Rule #10: Feeling sorry for yourself is not okay, having a compassion is!

A lot of people often think of the two as the one and the same. However, truth it, they are distinctly different.

Feeling sorry for oneself does nothing but makes a person feel weak, pathethic and helpless. While having self-compassion means to accept oneself the way they are, with all the flaws and imperfections included.

In other words, first one will drag you down while the second one will give you strength to keep going. But essentially, the choice is yours to make so which one do you prefer?

Life Rule #11: Others’ perceptions of you is not your responsibility!

Some people will have a distorted, unfavorable image of you. While others will respect, admire and love you for who you are.

But there is only one person who truly knows you – you. You are the only one who is in control of your actions and words. So make sure they are harmoniously aligned with your core moral values and principles.

So do what you believe is the right thing to do without feeling anxious about whether or not others will approve your choices in life.

Life Rule #12: You are not the sum of your experiences and mistakes!

While your experiences and mistakes definitely play a certain role in molding you into who you are, most often than not, it is you who has a say in it whether or not they will define your personhood.

You can always change yourself for the better, even if you faced many hardships and made lots of mistakes throughout your life. Remember that as long as you do your best, you can find the power within you to rise above them and mold yourself into the shape you designed for yourself.

Life Rule #13: Life never gives you vacations!

We should always keep this in mind that there is no vacation from life. We usually spend our days all tighten up and think that someday we’ll relax and unwind ourself, but the truth is, the day is never going to come.

Life Rule #14: Life is short, don’t take it too seriously!

We should learn to keep up with play and work simultaneously. This will help to never burn out and keep us from being too stressed to enjoy the day.

Life Rule #15: Be patient in everything you do!

Never rush. A person can solve his problems better by sitting back and waiting rather than being panicky and hurrying. Nothing is too urgent; patience pays, simply put.

Life Rule #16: You only control your response!

Most of what we see in the world is outside of your control. There is very little that we can control. I can’t control what politicians say or do, but I can control how I respond. I can choose to be outraged or I can channel my concern in a more meaningful manner. Your quality of life will be much better once you adopt this philosophy.

Life Rule #17: Happiness is a journey, not a destination!

 I used to think that I’d end up happy one day as a result of my actions. It was only after doing multiple road trips that I realised I enjoyed the journey more than the destination. The same applies to happiness, it’s the journey that makes you happy. If you develop hobbies and endeavours that you enjoy, you’ll find yourself happier than you would arriving at one fixed point.

Life Rule #18: Most people don’t know you exist!

This is a humbling thought. Unless you’re super famous, the majority of people alive today and those in the future don’t you exist or existed. It puts our egos into perspective when you think of this. Check yourself before you get high and mighty and remind yourself of this.

Life Rule #19: There’s no one definition of success!

For some success, some people is a big house, a fancy car and a beautiful wife. For others, it’s a lifetime of work on an issue that is close to their heart. We may hold up the likes of Bill Gates and Elon Musk as successes, and they are. But, there are many unheralded people who have been just as successful in their own right. The accumulation of wealth and material goods is not the only definition of success.

Life Rule #20: You are unique in your Thoughts, show it in your Actions!

We are unique beings in our thinking, but somehow we chose to act in similarity like sheep. As you think, so should you act. Embrace your uniqueness and act so, and don’t follow the set normality.

Is Australia a “third-world” country?

First, my Dad was in ICU (non-COVID related) in March. Then, we (Melbourne) went into lockdown in April. Then, I was made redundant in June. Then Melbourne went into a longer lockdown in June. Then, my mom got COVID. Then, Melbourne sort-of came out of lockdown. Then, I made a perilous trip to India in December as Dad was on death’s door. Then, I came back into quarantine in Melbourne in January. Then, we faced more lockdowns in Melbourne. Then, I relocated to Sydney in March thinking I was going to taste freedom on a more regular basis. And now, I am part of a significant lockdown in New South Wales. In between all of this, I have been patiently and politely observing various turn of events locally and globally. Do I have a licence to write this piece? Maybe, maybe not…however, this opinion piece (which is my own) is one I need to put out into the ether and test the reaction! Do you agree? Do you disagree? Either way, it’s OK…so here goes.

My first experience

I first came to Australia (as a 16-year-old) in 2000 to play a tennis tournament in Darwin. Coming from the US, I didn’t see much of a ‘physical’ difference in terms of the environment, nature, infrastructure etc. Having been brought up in India and Nigeria, and living in the US, I believed I could clearly distinguish between a ‘First World’ and a ‘Third World’ country. I felt my birthplace and place of upbringing were ‘Third World’ countries without a doubt and that the US, and now Australia, epitomised my definition of a ‘First World’ country.

In 2006, I moved to Australia (not permanently at the time; more of a nomadic journey) and did fall in love with the country – stunning nature, lovely and relaxed people, solid infrastructure and reasonably inclusive culture (although this is heavily debatable).

Over the years though, I have been observing significant economic, social, and socioeconomic interactions and tensions across the country, at a Federal, State and Local Level. Working in the social responsibility space, topics like climate change, human rights, reconciliation are near and dear to my heart, and I started seeing some metaphoric, semiotic and visible cracks in the system, and potentially in my definition of what constitutes a ‘First World’ and ‘Third World’ country.

In March 2020, when COVID-19 started to test the very fabric of this (and the global) society, I blurted out, to my then boss (over the phone), that Australia would become a ‘Third World’ country by the end of 2020! He was shocked and asked me to explain my rationale.

To do so, let me first unpack the definition of these different worlds.

Definition

The term was coined by French demographer and social scientist Alfred Sauvy in an essay published in 1952 called “Three Worlds, One Planet.” And while I’ve oversimplified things a bit, in short order, many of the countries still reeling from the European colonial experience in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East were asked to assert their place within the new economic binary. That the “short list” was most of the world, or that the term ultimately devolved into an insult, seems unsurprising in retrospect. 

The original definition of the term “Third World” country was not intended to be a now disparaging designation of economic underdevelopment. To be a Third World country was to be on a short list of nations who were being asked to take a side amid the geopolitical chaos of the 1950’s Cold War. Are you democratic like the U.S. and its capitalist allies? Are you communist, like Russia, Cuba and other satellite nations? Or are you undeclared and up for grabs?

I would say that the criteria to be a first world country includes:

  • Rule of Law
  • Capitalist Economy
  • High Standard of Living

The criteria for a third world country includes:

  • High poverty and mortality rates
  • Economic instability
  • Lack of basic human necessities

During the cold war, the three worlds were Team America, Team Russia, and Team Everybody Else. Everybody else was mostly poor, so that’s our concept of the third world. It’s not relevant anymore. There is a new world order.

Some of those ‘not-great’ countries became like South Korea, and some stayed relatively poor, like my home Nigeria/India, but invested in public health. Meanwhile, every ‘developed’ country besides the all-powerful America invested in public health because obviously, why would you live like this. Right?

They say health is wealth, and now we are finding that out, IN AUSTRALIA.

Wasn’t Australia a “First World” country?

Based on the above criteria for what constitutes a “First World” country, Australia is supposedly ticking all the boxes. High standard of living – check. Established infrastructure – check. Sovereign state recognised by other nations – check. Orderly transfer of all goods and services required to maintain life – check. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Index (a statistical measure that gauges a country’s level of human development), Australia is ranked #8!

My notion of “Third World”

In the new third world, wealth is health. Because health depends on wealth, it is unevenly distributed. In these countries, many people cannot afford to go to the doctor and they get sick or die needlessly. This is treated as their problem, until during an epidemic it becomes everyone’s problem.

A public health system is only as strong as its weakest link, and these countries have a lot of weak links. A virus rips through these populations like a lion through a herd of sickly gazelle.

So what happened to Australia?

COVID arrived, and the “Health Dictatorship” was born!

This brings us to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Like any predator, it seeks out the weak, and it is especially dangerous to weak healthcare systems. These are countries which cannot flatten the epidemic curve, and which get flattened. Coronavirus is especially dangerous to the third world.

I know what it’s like living in a poor country where stuff doesn’t work. Where systems don’t make sense and seem actively stupid or cruel. But many Australians are unfamiliar with that feeling. It was always happening to someone else. This will be hard, but I guess we will learn. It’s not a lesson worth learning. It’s just tragic.

At first, Australia was blessed by its geography. As the world’s most sparsely populated major economy (only Namibia and Mongolia have fewer people per square kilometre), it’s been remarkably easy to segment into discrete quarantine zones.

As so often in Australia’s history, that geographical good fortune has come to breed callousness and complacency. Once a bastion of Covid success, now two of Australia’s largest cities are under tight restrictions amid poorly handled vaccine program and the growing Delta outbreak. The lack of urgency, the missteps and the complacency have taken their toll. As I write this, Sydney is at 2,123 active COVID cases, more than double where China was on January 23rd, but (supposedly) with the public health system and political will to flatten the curve. This is a “lion meets limping gazelle” moment and it may not be pretty.

More than 30,000 citizens have been stranded overseas and say they want to return. Technically, that’s been possible: The country had enough places in hotel quarantine to accommodate 6,370 arrivals a week. In practice, though, anyone unable to part with a five-figure sum to pay for flights and accommodation for each returning traveller is stuck.

While India’s outbreak was at its worst in early May, the government banned all travel from the country, with the threat of jail for those who attempted to evade the rules. No such measures were extended for equally virulent epidemics in the U.S. and U.K. As Sydney’s outbreak started to spread, the first move from all sides of politics was to raise the drawbridge: Quarantine places, already insufficient, have now been cut in half.

Currently, just 10% of adults have been fully vaccinated and an outbreak of the Delta variant is slowly spreading. Australia’s death toll is less than 1,000 and its case total is just over 30,000 – fewer infections than the US, UK, India, Brazil, France and Italy have each reported in a day. But a much less impressive number is the percentage of its population that is fully vaccinated – putting the country last on the list of 38 OECD countries.

My recent experience

Since March 2020, I have experienced six lockdowns including the big ones in Melbourne and Sydney! In December 2020, I travelled to India to rescue my dying father and COVID-stricken mother and managed to get back into the country in January; a harrowing journey that it was featured in the media! I, like thousands of other citizens, lived on the edge in Melbourne, to see when the next lockdown would occur after ONE COVID case…I am now thinking about Sydney and how we became similar to another country (per capita) in COVID cases and fear…should India lock out Australians? Haha, just kidding (kind of)…

What’s next for me? I don’t know but when I recently heard a friend in the UK travelled to and from Nepal for a 3 week holiday, as did another friend from Bali who went to and from Europe, with no quarantine requirement, it made me wonder, “Where am I and why am I still here?”

Drumroll, please!

So, what’s my verdict?

We are living in a newly redefined “third world”. With hardly any disease- or vaccine-acquired immunity, Australia is months behind other rich countries in its ability to handle a fresh outbreak. The problem is what will happen with the next crisis, and the one after that.

The failures that led to Australia’s current situation — a belief that its good fortune is born of merit rather than luck, an inability to plan for contingencies, a breezy confidence that something will turn up to save the day — don’t just apply to its handling of Covid-19.

Public health is the new world order, and Australians are now living in the third world. In this sense, Australia is, unfortunately, a third world country. In terms of vulnerability to an epidemic, we are much closer to Sub-Saharan Africa than Norway.

Yes, Australia is a great country, and it does many things well. But it has vast blind spots.

In conclusion we seem to equate third-world countries with developing countries. I believe an acceptable definition of a developing country is: One that has yet to successfully implement one or more novel features widely across its population which are available to other countries. Now we have access to both those things, as well as to pretty much any other tangible resource.

My point is, under the current times, we are behind in several ways compared to other groups of society. Why should third-world countries be so negatively coined just because they simply haven’t adopted our ways of life yet?

That point is approaching with every progressive policy other countries take the lead in, and will approach even faster if the third world countries that typically come to mind decide to introduce features like the ones I suggested, so unless you want to be reduced from the engine of innovation to the caboose, there will be a time where you have to accept progressive policies. And if you don’t, you’re going to need to accept the idea that third-world isn’t the derogatory term it’s subconsciously believed to be.

ESG – What does it mean?

First published on Pro Bono News

What does it mean?

ESG refers to the environmental, social, and governance practices of an investment that may have a material impact on the performance of that investment. The integration of ESG factors is used to enhance traditional financial analysis by identifying potential risks and opportunities beyond technical valuations. While there is an overlay of social consciousness, the main objective of ESG valuation remains financial performance. Companies operating in almost every sector are now coming under pressure to report on their ESG credentials and policies. ESG is sometimes used synonymously with such terms as corporate social responsibility; responsible investing; and sustainable investing.

It was derived from the ‘Triple Bottom Line’, also known as ‘People, Planet and Profits’, a concept introduced in the 1990s. It argued that businesses should focus on each of the three ‘P’s and not just on ‘Profits’, since they were equally important for any commercial enterprise to be sustainable. This concept evolved into the focus of ESG, which today is the bedrock of Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI).

Buzzword to Mainstream

ESG was seen as a buzzword in 2019; the term is on track to become mainstream in 2021. Whether it’s the devastating effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Greta Thunberg’s crusade for climate change action or the new wave of green energy initiatives, environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are hot topics.

The term ‘ESG’ has been brewing for a while, and is hitting the mainstream now, driven by united demand from employees, investors and customers. All three groups seem to have shifted from a passive to an active stance and are forcing companies to step up against climate change and social injustice. As the pressure becomes explicit, companies are responding with a shift in operating principles, proving again the power of the conscious consumer in today’s market.

The “E”

The impact of business practices on the environment has been in the headlines for years, particularly in relation to climate change and pollution. There appears to be more focus on the environment within ESG because it is a generally larger area than social themes such as education and housing. When you think of the environment, it covers utilities, energy and industrials. It’s a bigger universe from which to come up with a viable investment strategy and also reflects the fact there’s been a lot of focus on environmental issues.

The “S”

This category covers community and employee relations, including human rights abuses and discrimination, community impact and involvement, employee treatment, and occupational health and safety.

Another metric to determine if a company is a good steward of the ‘S’ is to look for an engaged and happy workplace. Is the company a sought-after employer? What kinds of policies and programs are in place to attract and retain workers? Companies that score well on these questions have a competitive advantage over others. Studies show that contented workers tend to be more productive and efficient, which helps a company’s bottom line.

The “G”

When analysing environmental, social, and governance factors, the “G” element is often forgotten amid considerations over climate risk, societal implications and other “E” and “S” risks and opportunities. However, understanding governance risks and opportunities in decision-making is critical, as poor corporate governance practices have stood at the core of some of the biggest corporate scandals. Volkswagen’s emissions tests scandal, Facebook’s misuse of data and other recent incidents have caused significant financial damage to these companies. In the face of companies’ missteps and expanding awareness of global diversity and income inequality, corporate governance is a core component of ESG.

Why does ESG matter?

Across the investment space from major quoted companies to private equity and other forms of private capital, investors are demanding that the companies they invest in have regard to ESG and report on how they do so.

Proxy voting services are now recommending votes against approval of the accounts of listed companies that do not include a sustainability or similar report in their annual report and accounts. And in his CEO letter of January 2020, Larry Fink of BlackRock stated that they will not be investing in companies that do not show progress in meeting climate-related risks.

Currently it is the “E” in climate change that seems to have the most focus. The UK government is hosting the COP26 UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow this November and its Green Finance Strategy includes a requirement for all listed companies to disclose in line with the recommendations of the Task Force for Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) by 2022.

Conclusion

ESG and in particular, ESG investing can no longer be categorised as the future of investing. It is a reality today, just as issues such as climate change, cybersecurity, data protection, workplace diversity and inclusion, and better stakeholder alignment are now widely accepted as vital for better corporate citizenship and social outcomes.

While we agree that practices such as greenwashing are deplorable, the fact is that committed ESG asset managers—acting for investors who entrust us to manage their capital—will play an essential role in tackling the key environmental, social and governance challenges we face today. ESG should matter to you as it is something that investors now and, in the future, will demand. They will also expect that you “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk”.