Advice is always timely, no matter who gives it
An old Chinese saying goes: "It is better to walk 10,000 miles than to read 10,000 books." In today's well-connected world, students need not always travel to be inspired.
Talks or face-to-face sessions featuring successful business figures have been regular events at local business schools, offered particularly to MBA and EMBA students and alumni. How much you can take away differs from person to person.
But at the very least, they provide another chance for network-building, which is of prime value in the business field.
Sometimes such sessions bring about pleasant surprises, such as the appearance of Cantonese pop idol Nicholas Tse Ting-fung at the inaugural talk of the Asian Leadership Series held at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in April.
In his early 30s, the talented actor with a huge following on mainland China is also CEO of a post-production company that services Asian TV commercials and films. Since its establishment in 2003, it has become a leader in the field, having captured about 50 per cent of the market in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Its cross-border business grew further this year with the opening of a Beijing office, expanding the reach of its digital data-processing, colour-grading and offline-editing services.
About 350 students and staff listened to his talk on the development of his creative enterprise, management philosophy and growth process as a leader. To be accomplished in any field, you have to truly love what you do, he told his audience.
Such simple advice surely rings true, though it may not be a theme of marketing or management texts. Neither would MBA case studies necessarily focus on the importance of the entrepreneurs' psychological state - how driven they are by what they do.
The profit motive alone may not necessarily be enough to sustain your devotion to steering a business through difficult times.
Tse is exceptionally young compared with other business leaders who have graced CEO talks or forums at other universities.
It could be said that he has gone through a lot less than someone like Lui Che-woo, chairman of K Wah Group, who featured at one session held by Chinese University of Hong Kong, or Frederick Ma Si-hang, the former secretary for commerce and economic development, who was a guest speaker at City University.
But people at different stages of their career have different needs. Timely advice always helps, no matter who offers it.
At any rate, judging from the turnout, hearing from trailblazers about their successes - or failures - has become another added value of MBA and EMBA education.