It’s been a sad day and a time for reflection: Daniel Ng, who had the huge balls to go from being an aeronautical engineer for NASA to buying the McDonald’s franchise for Hong Kong and China, passed away this week.

(Source: HKPO)

I wish Daniel would “do a Mark Twain” and pop up to say that rumors of his death have been greatly exaggerated, but, no, he’s no longer with us.

When in advertising, Daniel was my favorite client- hugely supportive of the creative process and product and who allowed mistakes to happen so we could break away from creating lazy, hazy, wallpaper work.

(Source: Wallpapers Wide)

It made us try harder no matter how big or small the budgets were as it was all about the idea and not the execution.

It’s where music today has done the exact reverse by making the execution the idea.

Even when it came to music, Daniel would throw out wild ideas for even simple jingles- make it classical, make it sound goofy, let’s get Michael Jackson to sing it…

Sometimes, all this was to test us and see who were the Yes people. Most times, it was because he was such an eccentric with a 178 IQ level that him owning the McDonald’s franchise- and bought for a pittance- was a marriage made in Spike Jones madness.

Here was a man who refused to listen to the naysayers who warned him that the Chinese only liked rice and the huge failure of Burger King and KFC.

Daniel laughed all that off- and it was a weird laugh- and went into a wild explanation that Burger King’s failure had to do with their use of onions and how onions affected the breath of people and made Chinese people fart whereas selling McDonald’s was all about pricing and location.

(Source: Whack The Hippo)

The first two McDonald’s he opened in Hong Kong, one in Paterson Street in Causeway Bay and the other along the beach front in Repulse Bay, proved him dead-on correct.

They were hugely successful and proved that the Chinese did not only like rice. He made the naysayers eat their words.

(Source: SCMP)

Daniel went onto open more and more McDonald’s throughout Hong Kong- the most successful McDonald’s in the world which gave him enormous fun when dealing with the Corporate boys from Oakbrook who had no idea how to rein in this eccentric Chinaman who played with them with his weirdness,  marketing brilliance and laughing hysterically at his own jokes. That high-pitched laugh drove many crazy.

(Source: Gawker Assets)

All the time, from Day One and the opening of that first store, I went along on Mr Toad’s Wild Ride and learnt much.

(Source: Mark Wister Man)

Daniel went on to open the first Ronald McDonald House in Asia, open the first McDonald’s in China, taught himself to be the conductor of a classical orchestra and, after his retirement, worked with me on a project to teach English through popular music- we were way ahead of our time- and traveled the world as a philanthropist, musical conductor and pilot.

He was a man full of great joy and someone who inspired many and confused those who expected someone and met someone else.

Daniel Ng was a very special man who didn’t suffer fools gladly- but had a disarming way of making them look stupid and could spot a scam at a hundred paces.

He lived in his own world, let few in, trusted and respected few, wore the same old clothes, was uncomfortable with his success and was always thinking of new ways of doing everything- including how to live his life- always by his own rules- and with that familiar high-pitched laugh punctuating his conversations.

Guess, he decided that he had done as much as he could in this world and needed to see what’s in store for him in the next.

Happy Trails, Daniel and Thanks for the support, friendship, inspiration and memories.