Lessons from China’s richest man (part 2)

“Never start a business just to make money. Start a business to make a difference.” – Lifted from successstory.com

THIS quote, extracted from an online magazine, successtory.com, best applies to the Chinese business tycoon Wang Jianlin.

Known as “the wealthiest person in China”, he never started business with a motive of quick money during that point of time. The real estate honcho was more interested in longevity.

It further stated that Wang Jianlin says, “Great companies are born, not developed, because each company has its own DNA,” and that is absolutely true in his case.

Owner of Dalian Wanda Group, which is one of the largest and best real estate developers, Jianlin purchased AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion in 2013. His secret is rather straight to the point – it is pretty easy to achieve results with simple tricks than with complicated ones.

Let me continue what I wrote last week about Wang’s success formula:

  1. Stay close to the Chinese leadership.

Wanda only cooperates with one Chinese state-owned enterprise for its construction operations, and Wang has sought to align his business priorities with what the ruling Communist Party has decreed. For example, he’s increasingly interested in investing overseas — especially after the State Council in 2014 released specifications urging private Chinese companies to go global, he says.

Still, it’s a difficult road to navigate. “Government-business relations are very complicated in China,” Wang says. “It’s even more difficult than completing a Ph.D. course at Harvard.”

  1. Minimum target: Be No. 1.

“There’s nothing wrong with being No. 1 worldwide,” according to Wang. But part of the fabric of success means instilling company-wide ambitions and goals with all employees to build a distinctive company culture, he says.

To help with that, he has an internal website and monthly company magazine that he describes as “the core media for spreading Wanda’s corporate culture.”

A collection of touching success stories about employees are published annually to boost company morale. Wang also recommends one book each year for all employees to read. Outstanding employees get a bonus paid vacation and an invite to a splashy annual conference to rub elbows with Wanda company executives.

  1. Don’t read books on corporate philosophy.

“One of the most defining characteristics of my success is that I’ve never had full trust in books. You cannot simply copy models that have been proved by successful entrepreneurs. What worked for Wanda may not work for another firm — circumstances and industries change,” he warns.

At a Harvard lecture, Wang was asked about his next business goal. He said, “I’m still on my way to get where I want to be. I mean it. The way I defined success for myself is to lead Wanda to become a world-renowned company or being in the top 10. That’s my dream.

“Now, Wanda might have gained some awareness globally, but it’s still far from being a real international brand. I hope that, in the future, when people are talking about Wanda, it could be like they are talking about Microsoft, Apple, or Wal-Mart nowadays.

“To build a top brand as a leading Chinese enterprise, it’s my dream. Speaking of when I could achieve it, maybe in four years at the fastest pace, or seven to eight years at a slower pace. I will retire by then.”

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