I recently listened to a speech given by Chong-Moon Lee at Stanford in ’06, the 80 year old founder of Diamond Multimedia and immigrant from South Korea. I had never heard of Chong-Moon Lee before, but was struck by the durability of his advice on leadership and entrepreneurship. You can read more about his life, struggles and ultimate success in this interview.
Below is advice from Chong-Moon Lee on being a strong leader
1. You should be bright, optimistic, and cheerful (in your disposition). When it comes to business, you should be a tough fighter with a hungry appetite for success, never yielding in front of any difficulties or any challenges. You also need to have a highly strategic approach to every issue. If you do not have a strong conviction, you better stay away from running your own business because as an entrepreneur, there’s no comfort zone, safety net, security, nor any guarantee.
2. Regardless of the level of your education, you should honestly admit when you are lacking certain skills and try to improve yourself to the extent demanded by business. You should consider having a seasoned mentor or outside consultant for specific topics.
3. Business can only be evaluated by the profit it generates in the competitive marketplace in the same way that athletic games are evaluated by the scores. You need to constantly pursue technological innovation with your product as well as improve the quality of the service. Position yourself always ahead of your competition, which is easy to say but many companies are failing to do so.
4. Businesses are there to compete. In order to survive a competition, you need to create and recreate the strategy and the tactics constantly. That means that you should always be strategically prepared. You can strike back at the competitor’s offense with the superior product or service and by having a much better game plan. It should not be guessing game.
5. You’ll realize that there are various gaps that need to be solved between strategic thinking and the daily realities. That is why the essence of entrepreneurship is problem solving. Problem solving comes down to problem analysis, pinpointing solutions and taking action. It is like a preventive medicine where you treat the problems before they become visible.
It is also very important to detect the optimum way of problem solving in the shortest possible time frame. The truth is, however, where there is no problem there is no profit. The only way to make profit is to productively solve the biggest problems better and then faster than your competition.
6. An entrepreneur should have the obligation to produce the best performance every month, every quarter and every year as measured by financial statement. That is why you have to keep changing your strategies. Also, you should have good relationship with investors, customers, employees, and other stakeholders. It is also advisable to build up a good human network by actively participating in the industry and the community activities and the events.