“We know the recipe to success both academically and in the real world….It is essential to put children on the right path to success early especially when learning comes undeterred from the heart.”
My family and I immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong more than thirty years ago in search of a better life. I was rejected by most primary schools as the only English words I could write was my name. As a newcomer to a completely new environment, I was ridiculed and had difficulty fitting in. My father, who had a similar experience when he moved from the village to Hong Kong at an early age, reminded me that as long as I believed in myself, embrace setbacks and differences, and continue to learn and improve, I can succeed anywhere. There was no turning back. The only option was to adapt quickly. It was sink or swim. At the same time, because our future remained uncertain, not knowing where we would end up settling, my parents wanted to prepare me to survive in any environment while retaining my Chinese roots.
As I was the first generation to be born outside of a farming village and attend university, my parents taught me from an early age that I should treasure every opportunity to learn and improve myself across all aspects of life. They taught me that if I didn’t learn anything new or improve for just one day, then I am missing out on one of the best joys of life. More importantly, they taught me how to apply the Chinese idiom “Failure is the mother of success.”
Because of this philosophy, my parents never checked my report cards or worried about my academics. It was fascinating to learn that the more I know, the more there is to learn. That is when I realize continuous learning and improvement is a self-fulfillment that lasts a lifetime. Thankfully, that philosophy gave me the natural drive and pleasure to want to be with people who are also eager to improve and compete at their best.
While growing up in the US, I learned Mandarin from scratch by using the language to play games and participate in group activities. While many in Singapore dread learning Mandarin, I found it to be natural, effective and fun even in an all-English speaking environment. Having built a solid foundation in Chinese and synthesizing the best of the US and China, I was able to work globally with that experience. As part of my global investment career, not only did I have to quickly adapt to life in lower tier cities of China on my own, but I also enjoyed living across four continents to empathize with and appreciate how people of different countries, cultures, and perspectives view the world around them and thrive in their endeavors. Our children must have the flexibility to compete in a dynamic global setting while appreciating others’ values.