“Never start a business just to make money. Start a business to make a difference”
Words resonating from Wang Jianlin, the wealthiest person in China! He never started a business with a motive of quick money. The real estate honcho was more interested in longevity. He further says that “Great companies are born, not developed, because each company has its own DNA”.
In a Business Insider report, Wang Jianlin, a former People’s Liberation Army soldier, is now a real estate mogul and the world’s largest cinema chain operator. With a fortune of $40.7 billion, he’s caught in a riches race with Hong Kong business magnate Li-KaShing to become the wealthiest man in Asia.
Wang, born in Sichuan Province in 1954 just after the Communist revolution, spent the first few decades of his life in anything but luxury. In 1970, Wang entered the military, where he remained until 1986 when he took a city government job in the city of Dalian in Liaoning Province. Wang became chairman of Wanda in 1989 at age 35. His fortune more than doubled following successful public offerings of his real estate firm Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties, which has 125 shopping plazas and 68 five-star hotels, and Wanda Cinema Line, one of China’s largest movie theatre chains.
Wang’s recent book, a compilation of public speeches entitled “The Wanda Way,” claims to give an inside look into his managerial philosophy and the values that turned his company into a giant conglomerate with big global ambitions. Unsurprisingly Wang’s tenacity and discipline as well as his compelling motivation to be a global brand leader is comparable to a fellow multipreneur and certified billionaire himself, brand builder and brilliant strategist in the person of the unassuming Dr. Andrew Tan from the Philippines. Here are some nuggets of advice from Wang as detailed by Sophia Yan in a CNN report..
Wang joined the Chinese military as a teenager in 1970. His gruelling training involved epic marches that took the soldiers through “knee-deep stretches of snow.” He recalls, “We were deprived of everything. In the snow, we had to dig our own hole to spend the night. Anyone who faltered could forget about being chosen to move up that year, or earning your Exemplary Fighter award.” This experience built his “teeth-gritting spirit and a desire to fight until the end,” he says.
“The first key is to understand how you can differentiate yourself from others and be innovative,” Wang said. “For instance, everyone knows how to sell coffee, but Starbucks redesigned the coffee-making process, innovated the business model and became a successful chain business.” Wang disputes the idea that only high-tech companies can lead the way forward — “No matter whether you are in a traditional or an emerging industry, as long as you’re capable of innovating the existing business model, you can reap super profits.”
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.”
“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.
Prof. Soriano is an ASEAN Family Business Advisor, Book Author, Executive Director of ASEAN-based Consulting group, Wong + Bernstein Advisory and former Chair of the Marketing Cluster of the ATENEO Graduate School of Business. Grab Prof Soriano’s best selling book “Ensuring Your Family Business Legacy” by calling Marianne at +639255224713 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.