Leadership lessons from Confucius: divine intervention

divine intervention

子見南子,子路不說。夫子矢之曰:「予所否者,天厭之!天厭之!」
Confucius went to see Nanzi (the consort of Duke Ling of Wei). Zilu was not happy. Confucius swore: “If I have done wrong, may heaven punish me! May heaven punish me!”

No matter how honorable your intentions are, it’s inevitable that there will come a time when someone views your words or actions in a less than favorable light. This can be particularly hurtful when your motives are questioned by a friend as close as Zilu was to Confucius. No wonder he begs heaven to punish him if he has erred! Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: divine intervention

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a creative ritual

creative ritual

子曰:「君子博學於文,約之以禮,亦可以弗畔矣夫!」
Confucius said: “A leader who expands their learning through culture and keeps their behavior in check through ritual is unlikely to go wrong.” (1)

Creativity doesn’t happen by accident. It requires cultural fuel to spark it. Creativity doesn’t happen by accident either. Even a writer bashing out their novel alone needs a well of cultural inspiration to draw from to build the plot, describe the settings, and mold the characters. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a creative ritual

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a trick question

trick question

宰我問曰:「仁者,雖告之曰,『井有仁焉。』其從之也?」子曰:「何為其然也?君子可逝也,不可陷也;可欺也,不可罔也。」
Zai Yu asked: “If a good person was told that someone lies at the bottom of a well, should they jump in after them?” Confucius said: “Why should they? A leader be enticed down the wrong path but not into a trap; they can be deceived, but not made a fool of.”

There’s no need to put someone on the spot with a trick question. The aim of any conversation or meeting you hold should be to generate a positive discussion – not to show how clever you are. The more you put other people down, the more you will stifle the sharing of different perspectives and ideas. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a trick question

Three lessons from a tour of the China EV ecosystem

self-driving EV bus

On the subject of eureka moments, I would say that I experienced one of my own when I went on a flying visit to automotive component and EV R&D and manufacturing facilities in Ningbo, Nanjing, Huia’an, and Huzhou in April last year.

My experiences on the trip taught me three important lessons. First, it showed me the seriousness with which China is working to build a world-class EV (Electric Vehicle) ecosystem spanning research and development, component manufacturing, vehicle assembly, and on-the-road deployment. This ecosystem covers smaller hinterland cities as well as the major metros and will be a major force for future economic growth as the EV market expands. China is already the largest manufacturer of EV cars and buses in the world, and its domestic market is dwarfs that of other countries such as the US. It’s inevitable that intense competition between its manufacturers will drive innovation and growth at a much greater speed and scale than in other markets. Continue reading Three lessons from a tour of the China EV ecosystem

Leadership lessons from Confucius: say what you mean

say what you mean

子曰:「觚不觚,觚哉!觚哉!」
Confucius said: “A cornered chalice without any corners. How can that be called a cornered chalice? How can that be called a cornered chalice?” (1)

Say what you mean. Mean what you say. If you’re running a political polling company dedicate your efforts on finding out what people are really thinking rather than attempting to dictate what they should think by massaging the results to support a pre-determined narrative. Quite apart from the moral issues at stake, why sacrifice your long-term credibility for short-term fame? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: say what you mean

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the good old days

good old days

子曰:「齊一變,至於魯;魯一變,至於道。」
Confucius said: “With a single reform, the state of Qi could reach the level of the state of Lu; with a single reform, the state of Lu could reach the way.”

There’s no going back to the good old days! They were never that great anyway. They just look better from a distance using the rose-tinted glasses that nostalgia gives you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the good old days

Leadership lessons from Confucius: mountains and water

mountains and water

子曰:「知者樂水,仁者樂山。知者動,仁者靜。知者樂,仁者壽。」
Confucius said: “The wise love water, the good love mountains. The wise are active, the good are tranquil. The wise are joyful, the good enjoy long life.” (1) (2)

Wisdom and goodness are not mutually exclusive: just as mountains and water come together to form a perfect whole, so too is the human experience enhanced by the fusion of conflicting qualities and impulses. The sum is indeed greater than the parts. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: mountains and water

From fleet management systems to 360-degree video mining solutions

fleet management systems

When Silicon Valley startups pitch to potential investors, they like to include a slide or two describing their eureka moment when the founders hit on the brilliant idea that inspired them embark on their journey to change the world.

The story of our entry into the automotive business is a lot more prosaic. It started with the development of fleet management systems for customers in the transportation and logistics industry and evolved organically as we developed successive generations of products to meet their growing compute and connectivity requirements. Continue reading From fleet management systems to 360-degree video mining solutions

Leadership lessons from Confucius: wisdom and goodness

wisdom and goodness

樊遲問知。子曰:「務民之義,敬鬼神而遠之,可謂知矣。」問仁。曰:「仁者先難而後獲,可謂仁矣。
Fan Chi asked about wisdom. Confucius said: “Do what is right for the common people; respect the spirits and gods but keep them at a distance. This is wisdom.” Fan Chi asked about goodness. Confucius said: “A good man is first in line to confront difficulties and last in line to collect rewards. This is goodness.” (1) (2)

Wisdom isn’t an abstract concept. It means figuring out what needs be done and then going ahead and doing it. It requires that you use your knowledge and insight for the benefit of everyone – not just on behalf of a select few of friends and associates. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: wisdom and goodness

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a delicate balancing act

delicate balancing act

子曰:「中人以上,可以語上也;中人以下,不可以語上也。」
Confucius said: “You can discuss advanced topics with people of above-average intelligence; but it’s pointless to discuss them with people of below-average intelligence.”

Teaching a class of thirty students is a delicate balancing act. Pitch a subject too high and you risk leaving most of them behind. Pitch a subject too low and you risk boring a similar number of them out of their minds. It’s next-to-impossible to get your lesson just right. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a delicate balancing act