Education: Degree in electrical engineering, University of Darmstadt, Germany
What is the biggest business challenge you’ve faced?
The challenge is that, how can you work in harmony and understand the needs of other people if you can’t look past the numbers of the company and see the customers and suppliers? All the focus is on your own profitability and growing more and gross, gross, gross. Because of that, you start to forget who is really making it happen. To me, it’s not the product. It’s the people.
What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
Knowing myself, who I am and what my strengths and weaknesses are, and not taking myself too seriously. You need to know your limits.
Tu on managing people: Often, people fail miserably. But sometimes it’s not necessarily because they don’t work hard. It’s that they are not put in the right place, so you expect too much.
It can be a challenge to manage that part. You need to communicate and understand each other and have this harmony.
Tu on trust: You have to have trust. The company is bound to make mistakes, and you will have things going up and down with the market, the economy and technology changing. But if you have a team that you are in sync with, when you make mistakes, you can recover quickly.
Tu on Black Monday: We (Tu and Kingston co-founder David Sun) sold our little start-up company to AST for about $6 million in 1985. After we sold the company and had all that cash, we were very happy. Life was really exciting. The American Dream had come true.
Then, on Oct. 17, 1987, Black Monday, we lost everything. Every penny. That was the end of the world for us. Obviously, our stockbroker had invested in some risky things. I had a newborn baby. My parents had emigrated from Taiwan and stayed with me. The pressure was so hard. We couldn’t even tell how we lost it or why.
It was one of the most difficult day-to-day things we faced. I had to get up in the morning and tell everybody I was going to meet David for a business discussion and pretend everything was fine. But in reality, we only had a couple thousand dollars.