The Yogini from Manila

Meeting Joseph Bismark, the man behind The Gem Collection book

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I love quotations, food for thought, nuggets of wisdom, and whatever else you may call those phrases and stories that make you sit up, reflect, ponder and internalize. Many, many times, these have influenced little and big changes in my life. Maybe without these, I would still have continued on a very stressful life path.

When I come across books or sayings that talk of the meaning of life, they pull me back from a stressful or very difficult situation or act as assurances that beyond the valley of darkness is a wide plain filled with colorful flowers and sunshine.

So, when the launch of The Gem Collection was announced, I did not hesitate to respond to say that I was attending. Little did I realize that that first step actually took me beyond just attending a book launch. I actually got to meet the man behind the book.

Kassy, who was in charge of the launch, was very accommodating and sent me advance materials on the book as well as a write-up on Joseph Bismark, the man behind The Gem Collection book (for my post on the book itself, click HERE). In an article published about him, I discovered that he spent years as a child in an ashram in the Philippines, practiced yoga, was a vegetarian, became a martial-arts teacher, and eventually moved into the corporate world, rising to be Group Managing Director of the QI Group of Companies even without the expected corporate education and training. For a man who spent most of his childhood away from the materialism of the big city, leading an almost ascetic life, facing challenges in different forms, and still making it as a top executive of not just one company but a group of companies with a global presence was, to my mind, short of amazing. I knew I had to try and meet the man.

Taking a deep breath, I emailed Kassy indicating my desire to interview Mr. Bismark. Then I held my breath. Wonder of wonders, Kassy not only replied to me. She sent my request to the PR man of Bismark and before I knew it, not only was I allowed to interview him. But it was to be an exclusive interview at his hotel suite.

Fast forward to the day of the interview.

There were just 2 of us allowed to do exclusive interviews, I found out. I was a bit shy to meet Mr. Bismark but he immediately put me at ease with his wide smile and was very open throughout the interview.

Something unique I noted about Joseph Bismark, his partner Vijay Eswaran and the QI Group, is that they’ve actually built a work culture among their thousands of employees, that is directly connected to their life philosophies. Not many conglomerates as big as the QI Group are able to integrate their life principles with the work culture. Many times, the office environment is very different from the actual lives of their employees. And many times, the employees see it as just that — a job.

But during the book launch, as I got to talk with some of Mr. Bismark’s officers while waiting for the program to begin, I saw how they all seemed to actually live out the life principles Bismark espouses in his Gems of Wisdom blog posts. I also found out that true to their work culture, the QI Group embraces their employees as “family” (a term they use a lot). The QI Group also does not sponsor any event whose goals are not aligned with theirs. For example, they do not provide sponsorship for events that do not adhere to the vegetarian life. Here’s a large conglomerate that walks its talk, with everyone down the line following because each one sees his leaders living out a simple, spiritual life that puts people ahead of profits and espouses values such as truth, simplicity, social responsibility, and more.

Know more about Joseph Bismark himself, his beginnings and his current work, as he answers some questions I posed:

On how he got into the ashram:

On his spiritual master and how he got his Sanskrit name:

On how he got into business with the QI Group of Companies:

On how The Gem Collection was conceived:

How does he balance his time with family?

The QI Group, of which Bismark is currently Group Managing Director, has diversified into different areas besides direct selling which is still around 30% of their business.  They’re into lifestyle and wellness, telecommunications, investments and project management, training and conference management, logistics as well as luxury and collectibles. These responsibilities fall squarely on the shoulders of Joseph Bismark and his partner but when you read his ‘Gems of Wisdom’ as compiled into a book, The Gem Collection, you will see what sets this group of companies apart from the normal businesses that focus primarily on profits, shareholder value, and other key performance indicators you find in the corporate world. Here, in their group, you will see them put great importance on life balance, family, honesty, giving, loving and more.

I’d recommend the book The Gem Collection as one of your readings if you want to know more about the real meaning of life and how it should be lived. Pick up a copy at the nearest National Book Store or Bestsellers.

Me with Mr. Joseph Bismark

 

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3 Comments

  1. am interested to connect to Joseph Bismarck, met him long time ago in Manila , and we talked about his german roots….very interesting. And how he got connected when he was a young boy, going to the mountains, and his experiences with the Agtas….

  2. Thank you, Jane! 🙂 Lovely meeting you! See you, soon? 🙂

    Namaste.

    @Kas – Hope to run into you again soon!

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