Growing up as a little girl in China, what were your dreams and aspirations in life?
I grew up in Hong Kong. My first aspiration was to be a concert pianist. I wanted to be a performing artist. I adore music.
What values did your parents instill in you from an early age?
For me to learn everything I wish to learn. Study hard. Be curious. Be honest.
What qualities do you possess that have informed your success?
The word success is very relative. I think I am today exactly what my parents taught me to be. I value learning. I am always learning. I work very hard. I am also very curious. When I think I want and should to do something then I go ahead and do it. I am also extremely honest.
Who are some of your role models and why?
My parents. My dad was a painter, musician, and artist. I admire him for being a perfectionist and a true gentleman. My love for design, beauty in all its forms, the arts—are all from my father. My mother was a very elegant lady and dressed elegantly but simply. She was also a clever investor in real estate and stock market. I learned a lot about money and investing through her. In the field of Philanthropy, there are so many, many examples of inspirations. I really admire Ted Turner, George Soros and Bill Gates. These are great men with great visions. In the case of Ted Turner, he gave a billion dollars before anyone gave such amount!
What charities (both in the U.S. and globally) are you currently and passionately involved in and why?
I’m involved in AIDS, Children, Women and scholarships for poor children and orphans
Do you consider yourself to be a philanthropist or an altruist? I really desire to help without selfish agenda. That is real philanthropy
Not particularly either, although I think I spend about 20% of my time on charity work. I am not a real philanthropist because I do not spend more than 20%.
I really desire to help without selfish agenda. That is real philanthropy
What is your definition of a socialite and would you consider yourself one?
Socialite is one that only loves parties and does nothing else. I really do not think I am one. I work and am a social activist. The Chinese translation of this word is totally wrong.
What fashion designers do you currently wear and why?
I wear endless number of various designers from all over the world. I do not necessarily buy clothes because it is by a well-known designer. I buy them because the designs are so beautiful. Even though I say that, I find that I do buy a lot of famous designers. For example, I wear Kai and Theatre from Thailand, Han Feng from China, Barney Chang from Hong Kong, Ferre, Valentino, Fendi and a lot of Italian designers that are not necessarily even well known. Karl Lagerfeld, Still Yves St. Laurent, Christian Lacroix from France. Yohji Yamomoto and Issey from Japan.
Who, in your opinion, do you consider to be one of the “young ones” to watch in terms of philanthropy and social consciousness?
If you look at the children of Ted Turner, they are all doing a lot of philanthropic work. Very dedicated.
What attributes should one possess to be a great philanthropist or altruist?
A really desire to help without selfish agenda. That is real philanthropy. It is the love for your fellow men.
What advice would you give to people who aspire to be “good deed doers?
Study others who are doing good work. Learn from them. It is from observing that you know what you too can do. But you should have your own vision as well.
As one of China’s “living legends”, as you have been referred to, where does Yue Sai Kan go from here?
I do not need to go anywhere. I am exactly where I would like to be. I’m happy with my life, my position and my independence. I hope I can continue to do good for my family, friends and the societies in which I live, to the best of my capacity.
Has Yue Sai Kan accomplished all that she can in her life?
I am not looking for accomplishment. I have never looked for such. I am looking to do things that I love, that I know I have special talents for, and I feel are helpful to others; be it charity work or even a book that can help to bring awareness in certain areas.
What is the single thing that you cherish the most in this world?
My good health that allows me to do most things I wish to do.