The concept of risks often goes hand in hand with that of opportunities. In risks, we can find opportunities; and opportunities also carry a certain level of risks.
I have often been amazed by the risk taking culture here in Asia. A very simple example that I can draw from Hong Kong is the enthusiasm in horse-racing. As one of the largest racing organizations in the world, the total turnover (the amount of money spent on horse-racing activities) is around $75 billion annually. Leaving aside the idea of gambling, which can generate a very controversial discussion, the real reason behind people’s motivation to participate in horse-racing activities twice a week is that they see opportunities in risks. If you bet $20 on one out of the 14 horses in a race and holding everything equal, the probability of losing is 13/14, whereas the probability of winning is 1/14. Statistically speaking, the likelihood of losing is much greater than the likelihood of winning, and it makes sense that a risk adverse person would rather not spend that $20. However, the mentality of a risk taker functions differently. If you spend $20, the worst is that you lose $20; but if you win, the return is much greater than $20. And this is exactly where the difference lies. It is the CULTURE of seeing opportunities in risks, of placing greater emphasis on opportunities than risks, and of believing that certain opportunities are worth the risks. Again, I’m not preaching the idea of gambling at all, as it is completely irrelevant here. Further, I personally find it highly admirable that the Hong Kong Jockey Club (one of the largest racing organizations in the world) runs under a not-for-profit business model, whereby its surplus goes to charity.
This exact same idea ties into our daily life. Occasionally, we may be so afraid of stepping out of our comfort zone because doing so comes with a certain level of risks, and we forget that the opportunities are perhaps far greater than the risks. What makes some people more risk adverse and some other less so? Is this mentality itself “contagious”, meaning, is it more likely that you would be a risk taker if you were surrounded by risk takers? How does a person who comes from a risk-taking culture like Hong Kong fit into societies that are more risk adverse? How do people evaluate risks and opportunities? What drives people to avoid risks and as a result also avoid opportunities? How does a risk-taking culture spill over to various facets in life? These are some of the questions that will be explored at TGS.
Of course, after visiting the race track, how can one not stop at the famous restaurant in Sha Tin that has THE BEST pigeons in the entire world? If you have never had pigeons before, the risk is that you might shiver when you see the pigeon head that comes with the body, but the opportunity is that you will have an amazing meal. Pair it up with a traditional bottled coca cola, you will come to appreciate the food culture in Hong Kong.