Ep 14: Leading from the Front Lines with Tien Wong, Chairman & CEO, Opus8
“You have to lead by example 24-7” – Tien Wong What does it say about you if, as a child, you fantasize about an airline being named after you? Or as an adult your proudest accomplishments are the successes of leaders you’ve helped cultivate? For Tien Wong, it says that entrepreneurship and integrity are in his blood and how he defines himself as a leader. In this candid, enlightening interview Tien shares his immigrant family story and what he has learned as a leader and entrepreneur, both through successes and missteps along the way. What you’ll learn: How being the son of Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs shaped Tien’s path What Tien dreamed of being when he grew up (hint: we almost ended up with TWA - Tien Wong Airlines!) How he learned (the hard way) to grow and scale a business Why it's essential to hire good, even if expensive, people from the beginning What he learned from the common "trap" of promoting technically gifted professionals to leadership roles Excellent advice about importance of process, even for listeners who may not be process people (like me) Difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation or "pull" vs. "push” type of leadership Strategies for successful hiring decisions (including the right combination of brain, heart and intuition) How to know when to train or coach an employee to succeed and when it's time to let them go Importance of a robust employee orientation and coaching structure How to make employees feel cared for - and want to stay in touch - even if you must let them go Why of all his incredible accomplishments Tien is most proud of helping emerging leaders blossom And so much more! Links & Resources Predictive Index – assessment tool Tien recommends for determining the cultural alignment of employees. NFTE – wonderful non-profit that brings entrepreneurial training to high school students, especially those from low-income communities (Tien and I met through our involvement with NFTE) Glen Ogilvie's episode – Referenced in our hiring and firing conversation with Tien CONNECTpreneur Forum - Tien's community for entrepreneurs based in the D.C. area About Tien Wong S. Tien Wong is Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Opus8, Inc., a Chevy Chase, Maryland-based private investment firm specializing in middle market buyouts, private equity and venture capital investment. The firm seeks to acquire North American call center, CRM (customer relationship management), and outsourced marketing services and technology companies. Opus8 also makes venture capital investments in emerging outsourcing companies in China with a special focus on tech and services companies in the following sectors: ITO (IT outsourcing), CRM, BPO (business process outsourcing), and outsourced marketing and information management. In 1991, Tien co-founded and served as CEO of CyberRep, Inc. until its acquisition in 2003 by Affiliated Computer Services (NYSE: ACS). At the time of its acquisition, CyberRep was one of the largest privately held CRM outsourcing companies in the world, operating 6 customer interaction centers throughout the USA with over 2,300 employees and $80 million in revenue. Today, the CyberRep/ACS business unit is one of the largest call center operations in the world, with over $850 million in revenue. In addition to garnering such prestigious awards as Customer Inter@ction Solutions magazine's MVP Quality Award and Customer Interface magazine's ACCE (Award for Call Center Excellence), CyberRep was ranked in INC. magazine's 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000's "Inc. 500" as the 51st, 53rd, 72nd and 408th fastest growing private company in the USA, respectively. CyberRep was profitable for eleven consecutive years and was backed by Allied Capital Corporation, a $5 billion investment company (NYSE: ALD). Tien is a recognized international expert in CRM, direct marketing, and BPO. He has presented at dozens of industry events around the world, and has written numerous articles on the CRM and BPO spaces. He has also provided industry commentary on the ABC, Fox, NBC, CNBC, Maryland Public Television, and China's CCTV networks. Prior to co-founding CyberRep, he worked for ten years in commercial real estate finance and investments. Tien was the recipient of the 2001 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Greater Washington. An "Entrepreneur in Residence" at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, he frequently guest lectures on entrepreneurship, leadership and finance at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and the University of Virginia. Tien serves on the Boards of Directors of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (bsomusic.org), Technology Council of Maryland (techcouncilmd.com), HarVest Bancorp (harvestbankmd.com), Association for Corporate Growth - National Capital (acg.org), the Potomac Officer's Club (potomacofficersclub.com), and Monte Jade Science and Technology Association (mj-dc.org). He serves on the Investment Advisory Board of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology GAP Fund (cit.org). He is former Treasurer and National Board Member of the American Teleservices Association (ataconnect.org). Tien is Chairman of the Executive Leadership Committee for the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship's Greater Washington region. He is CEO of The Tien and Beverly Wong Foundation, which supports youth, education, and social services charities. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College where he majored in Government.