Notes on Intercultural Communication

Stan Shih 施振榮

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施振榮 (Shī Zhènróng or Chen Jung) / Dr. PhD. h.c. mult. Stan Shih

Stan Shih (Traditional Chinese: 施振榮, Hanyu Pinyin: Shī Zhènróng or Chen Jung, born December 8 ( or 18 ?), 1944 in Lukang Township, Changhua County, Taiwan. Former President and founder of the Acer Group.

Married to Carolyn Yeh (Yeh Chi Hua) on September 28, 1971, with whom he has 3 children.

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Stan Shih 2008

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Genealogy (Ancestors)

Father: Shih Chi Shen (owned “The Shi Family Beautiful Jade Incense Shop”) + 13.02.1948

Grandfather father`s side: Shih Yi Chou, + 1953

Mother: Chen Shiu Lien (nickname Ah Shiu) 1923 – 02.09.2001

Grandfather mother`s side: Chen Mu Sung

Grandmother mother`s side Chen Yu Chou

Grand- Grandfather mother`s side: Liao Yen (opened the “Temple of Heavenly Virtue”)

Grand- Grandmother mother`s side: Chen Fen

Wife: Carolyn Yeh (Yeh Chi Hua)

Father in Law: Yeh Hsin (*1944?)

Mother in Law: Wang Ai Mei

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Biography of Stan Shih – Made In Taiwan by Robert H. Chen (abstract)

Childhood in Lukang until the 1944 – 1960

Photo from  an interview with Stan Shih from 2002 by Ow Ying-Chuan / ReadersDigest in the web or here. (Ann. of the editor: this photo must have benn taken around 1950. It looks professional, so the little family must have paid money for this picture. How comes, they made a photo with this quite unhappy facial expression?  Was it taken 1948, after Chi Shen`s (his father`s)  death? What was the purpose of this photography? Can anyone help? )

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When I was a child, I was an introvert and did not like to be in the spotlight. And my views were often different from others; neither did I like to follow the norm.

Shih in “Me Too is not my Style”

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(…) Starting before dawn, Shiu Lien (Ah Shiu) would knit sweaters on the knitting machine. When the markets opened, she would sell duck eggs and patriotic raffles (ann. of the editor: betel nuts). When the grade school closed for the day, she would sell pens and paper to the homeward-bound students. In the evening, she would hurry to deliver duck eggs to the restaurants, and on the way, she would peedle lottery tickets and incense sticks. (…)

(…) ” Helping my mother do business when I was young greatly influenced my thoughts about business enterprise in the later years.” (…)

(…) Selling duck eggs and stationary goods in the same store provided an opportunity for comparison.The profit marge in selling duck eggs was very thin indeed: At the same time, one Jin (or catty, 600 grams or 1,33 pounds) of duck eggs sold for three dollars (7,5 U.S. cents). One could make 30 cents profit (,75 cents), a small profit margin of only ten percent. Further, duck eggs easily spoiled. If one did not sell it on time, they would become rotten, resulting a total loss. Stationary, on the other hand, had a very high profit margin, ten dollars of sale would usually result in at least four dollars profit, a margin of forty percent. Further, stationary was not perishable. One could leave them there for a year, two years, and they still could be sold. Clearly, it seems, it is better to sell stationary goods than duck eggs. “Actually”, as Stan liked to point out, “selling duck eggs makes a lot more money than selling stationary”. (…)

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The Wiki about Lukang

“During the Qing Dynasty, the depth of Lugang’s harbour and its proximity to Fujian province on mainland China made Lugang an important trading port. During Lugang’s heyday from 1785 to 1845, Lugang’s population reached 200,000. Lugang was Taiwan’s second largest city after current Tainan and was larger than Bangka (now a district of Taipei), then the island’s third-largest city.

The subsequent silting of the harbour and the city’s refusal to allow railroads to pass through the city led to losses in trade in commerce, which, in turn led to Lugang’s decline. This same decline, however, averted the modernization processes that demolished historical buildings in Tainan and Taipei, leaving Lugang preserved as it was in its heyday. There are still many old temples in Lugang, such as Longshan Temple and Matzu Temple. The city boasts over 200 temples dedicated to a wide variety of folk deities.”

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Youth in Chang Hua (Middle Taiwan)1960 – 1967

Shih in “Me Too is not my Style”:

While in high school, my academic performance was not outstanding and could only be rated above average. However, during my junior year, I surprisingly won first place in a school wide mathematics/science contest. In fact, I did not pay special efforts to the science subjects; I worked hard on the liberal arts subjects but I did not get good grades in return. This incident gave me great confidence and laid the foundation for my future development in engineering.

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(Last row, second person on the right) Photo from  an interview from 2002 by Ow Ying-Chuan / ReadersDigest in the web or here.

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(…) During his High School days in Chang Hua in central Taiwan, (…) Stan had never left Chang Hua. He was a typical country boy, who was shy, introvertedand thoroughly lacking social graces. On the few occasians he had to speak to a girl, his face would turn beet red.   (…)

(…) In high school one day, a group of students were caught gambling in the classroom. Luckily Chen Jung was only watching at that time (although he was fully prepared to join in the fun) and was not named when the school counsellors used the transgressing students in a campaign to eradicate gambling among students. The transgressors were rounded up and taken to the school disciplinarian who assessed a severe demerit for each student and informed the parents. (Once afoul  of the law or other authorities, the offender and his family are stigmatized for life.) (…)

(Ann. of the editor: Stan Shih must have finished high school around 1962. It is not clear how he spent his time during the years 1963 – 1967. He probably prepared to pass the exams for entering a “good” university. Depending on the marks, the students could choose what university they wanted to go to.)

1967 (…) The first time Stan took the examination, he made it into Chen Kung University`s mathematics department. (…)

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Student Years at the National Chiao Tung University (Chiao-Ta) 1968 – 1970

“In 1968, Stan passed the examination for Chiao-Ta`s Electronic Engineering Research Institute. (…) His plan at that time was to pursue an academic career. (…) Stan made arrangements for deferred registration at the Chiao-Ta and then began his military service. Wit his background in electronics, he easily passed the examination to become a training officer and was assigned to the Phoenix Mountain Army Officer`s School in Southern Taiwan as an assistant instructor in physics. After the obligatory thirteen months of service, Stan returned to Chiao-Ta to begin graduate studies.”

1969, “In his second year at the institute, Stan attended a conference on “Modern Engineering” where he was exposed to many new ideas about industrial management.”  This must have widened his view to see all aspects of an electronic product like branding, production, marketing, service or sales.

At college, most of the ambitious student went to the US in order to return with the best possible qualification for becoming chairmen or presidents of major local (public or privately owned) enterprises. But Stan Shih was obviously more interested in practical business rather than research and development.

In those years Stan Shih changed his character. With his clear visions he suddenly had an approach to other people. From an “nerd” he emerged to a successful organiser.

Like many Chinese, Stan Shih liked to play ping-pong. At Chiao-Ta he became the captain of the official school team: “As captain, he had administrative duties which he enthusiastically performed, including a (2 month!) student competition. (…) Stan was also captain of the volleyball team, and president of the camera, chess and bridge clubs. (…) The shy introverted bumkin he become an engaging and forceful student leader.” Chen cites Stan Shih: ”In organising the ping-pong competition, I became to know and I became friends with all the other students. I learned how to organise and serve. It was a great help to me in later days in business.”

This change in Stan Shih`s character must have happened with a very short period: ” In the summer of his first year at Chiao Ta (1970), Stan invited all college and university students from Lukang for a dance party at the house his mother built for him. The house became a center for chess, bridge and dancing lessons and so on, a sort of Lukang student union building.”

This surely caused some concern to his mother, “who would often ride her bicycle from her store to check on what was going on with her now seemingly hyperactive son.”

Stan was a very promising young student, so his professors (as well as his mother) urged him to go to the USA. But getting in contact with modern industrial management ” made him begin to believe that a career could be successfully developed in industry as well as in academia. “ In 1970 Stan must have had developed clear visions about his career: to bridge the gap between engineering and management. In 1971, at Unitron, Stan brought his visions to life: “Maybe because it was because I was thinking about the final product while I was in the research and development stage. (…) I also tried to form an image of how the final product would look and what it’s markets would be. (…) I would package my circuit and take it to a local acrylic sign maker and have him making a casting for it. I was then able to present a finished product to my boss for his appraisal, and he could access it with an eye on how it would sell. I would also include a product cost analysis in my report, so I could also offer my opinion on weather my product was commercially feasible or not.”

In Chinese society the individual is more embedded into the surrounding than in western societies. It was an act of rebellion especially towards his hard working mother not to go for further studies abroad.

Chen indicates another motive in his book, which may also have played a role. “But thoughts of leaving his mother alone were a powerful dissuasive factor.”

Chiao Tung University Chinese: http://www.nctu.edu.tw/

Chiao Tung University English: http://www.nctu.edu.tw/english/

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Yeh Chi Hua / Carolyn Yeh

1968 Carolyn was introduced to Stan Shih by a classmate. “ One day, during Stan`s junior year , his classmate was writing a letter to his girlfriend at the Fu-Jen University (Carolyn`s classmate) and Stan, noticing what he was doing, suggested a note at the end of the letter asking for help in finding a girlfriend for him.”

Carolyn tells: “In my sophomore year, my best friend and classmate told me one day that she wanted to introduce a boy to me. But she said: This boy does not know anything; in fact, he is less sophisticated than the least sophisticated boy in our school. (Ann. of the editor: today we would use the word “nerd”.) I thought to myself, if he is so out of it, why is she introducing him to me? Whereupon, as if reading my thoughts, she said, >But he is smart! And he is very well-behaved and dependable.< I thought to myself, well, why not? There is nothing to lose. I`ll have a look on him”

Stan Shih tells. “I was so taken by her that I began to write to her every day. (…) In the beginning I must say, she wasn`t very enthusiastic.” Stan kept on writing letters and waited for a reply. “Sometimes her classmate would try to shame her into writing, and if that didn`t work, sit her down and force her to write return letters to Stan.” Also Carolyn`s mother seemed to work towards this relationship “sometimes inviting Stan in for dinner”, while he was in Taipei jobbing in summer vacation.

1969, only one year later, Carolyn and Stan opened their engagement plans to their families. Carolyn recalls: “ Our family family was relatively well-off; Stan`s family had only his mother. My father was concerned that Stan was marrying me for the money and that my future Mother-in-Law would make life difficult for me. (…) Fortunately, Carolyn`s mother was for the marriage and pushed things through. Still, Yeh Hsin sent an emissary to Lukang to check up on the Shih family`s situation, and upon receiving a satisfactory report, finally agreed to the engagement. In accord with a certain “secret engagement” custom of the time, the engagement was not celebrated with an announcement and reception. Only the parents were present at a small ceremony where rings were exchanged.“

After 13 months of military service, and “about four months after graduating from the Research Institute, Stan and Carolyn were married on Teacher`s Day, September 28, 1971 (…).”

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Unitron 1971 – 1972

Unitron was established 1969 by the “father of Taiwanese semiconductor industry” Prof. Shih Ming and the young engineer Andrew Chiu. Chen describes Unitron as “Taiwan`s first semiconductor company (and first high-tech enterprise).” The main investor was the family Lin, so the eldest son Mr. Lin Pei Yuan became president of Unitron. “When Stan started at Unitron, he was assigned to the R&D division together with his fellow Ciao-Ta graduate Lin Chia Ho (Fred Lin)” (without any bounds to the investor).

Chen: “Stan developed Taiwan`s first desktop calculator at Unitron and it came to market on April 26, 1971 (1972?) (…) Although the desktop calculator was not a commercial success, in Taiwan`s technological history, it must be considered as a milestone as one of the first truly technically commercial products, produced entirely by a Taiwan company. (…) He was doing such a great job that Unitron`s principal investor, the Lin family, began thinking about closing Unitron down and having Stan start up a new company, named Qualitron, to concentrate on manufacturing calculators.(…) He had been at Unitron for exactly 14 months.”

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Qualitron 1972 -1976

Stan Shih recalls in his book “Me too is not my Style” : “I had been at Unitron for about a year and three months when Vincent Lin, the third son of the Lin family, invested in another company called Qualitron and invited me to join the start up company. Qualitron was positioned as a professional manufacturer specializing in calculator manufacturing, with its own brand name and OEM business. With its own brand name, technology and stable profit, it was one of the most popular companies at that time. (…) As president of the company, Vincent Lin was responsible for marketing andindustrial design; while as the vice president, I was responsible for R&D, manufacturing, business development and purchasing. (…) During the second half of 1976, as Qualitron’s financial problem became irremediable, George Huang, Fred Lin, and I, who were in the R&D department, had to leave the company. Together, we hastily founded Multitech with the initial target being the new microprocessor market. ”

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Stan Shih goes on (tells the story of his career)

stan shih 2012 02

(retreived 14.09.2013 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a72EvYNJovQ)

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To be continued…

“Made in Taiwan – The Story of Acer Computers” by Robert H. Chen, Linking Publishing Co., Taiwan, 1996 ISBN 957-8496-24-9 if not marked differently.

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Stan Shih about Stan Shih

(…) He also said that at the APEC conference, someone mentioned he had a strange accent. In fact it was an accent of Lu-kang (…).

Changhua County Government, 06.11.2007, in the web or here.

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Ethics

Sharing is one form of happiness. When you obtain interesting information, you naturally share it with others. This kind of thinking has brought me certain advantages. It’s a little like religion – like believing that Jesus gives you eternal life. I for one believe that helping others is the best way to help yourself. Although the connection is indirect, it’s sustainable. That’s my winning strategy,

By Yu-chi Su, from CommonWealth Magazine Published: July 03, 2008 – Get the whole interview in the web or here.

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About his Family

(…) My mother taught me how to treat my wife and children well. My mother-in-law taught my wife how to be a good daughter to my mother and a good mother to my family. Whenever my wife visited her own mother, my mother-in-law would ask her to go back home at around nine o’clock at night to stay with my mother. They were considerate. And this was of great help to my marriage. (…)

(My wife) is of great help indeed. First, she took care of my mother and my children so that I could concentrate on my business without looking behind. Second, she also took up a great deal of responsibilities in the development of my company. She was also a part of the management team. I felt secure concerning the items given to her responsibility. Third, sometimes, when encountering width difficulties, she would go forth to play the role of the “bad guys” and allowed me the comfort of being the “nice guys”. Many difficult problems were solved through such means.

Well, I don’t consider myself to be romantic. I don’t have sweet words for her. But I give her security and comfort through my actions. (…) In fact, up to now, I had never bought flowers to my wife.

I allow my children to grow and develop naturally without any pressure. However, in the past, I did have some expectations for myself to achieve in order to help win respect for my mother.

Interview from 2002 by Ow Ying-Chuan / ReadersDigest in the web or here.

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Devotions

When globalizing, you always have limited resources of talent and capital. The best way to globalize is therefore to localize, to integrate the local resources of talent and capital and integrate it with the parent company. We think in terms of “global brand, local touch,” and try to for a group that leverages the size of the parent company but still draws on the experience of the local partners.   You must have a common vision and a goal, but implementation must be based upon the local leaders’ management style.

In the past, control is controlled by who owns 51% of the company.  It makes much more sense to control a company by managing the common interest of the people inside of it. This kind of approach, however, takes longer to establish because you have to establish a consensus, which requires a lot of communication and mutual trust.  And then we can share the common vision and common goal and reach strategies that serve the mutual benefit.

Leadership is the process of achieving a dream together, especially when that dream seems impossible to achieve.  Leaders have to be open minded, and have to accept the ideas of others, even when they might lead to mistakes.  The best training for leadership is to learn from your mistakes. This means that leaders never argue and they never try to shift blame onto others.  When something goes wrong a leader always asks “what’s wrong with me,” not “what’s wrong with them.”

We have a saying in Taiwan: “it’s better to be the head of a chicken rather than the tail of a cow.” What this means is that most entrepreneurs would prefer to run their own small businesses than work for a big company. The key to recruiting such entrepreneurs is a management philosophy that respects independence,coupled with employee ownership of the company. In a truly effective company, every employee should be a shareholder in a big way.

Abstract from an interview by Geoffrey James on July 2009 at www.blogs.bnet.com Get the whole interview in the web or here.

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It’s important to at least break through many of the conventional approaches. I’m not sure my way is better. I will say it’s a new alternative, at least. I think my personal contribution over the last 25 years has really been to give a lot of young entrepreneurs a lot of hope: Acer can, they can. Stan can, they can.

Read the full interview with the SanFranciscoChronicle by Carrie Kirby 2002 in the web or get it here.

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Success and Fate

(…) “Having to take up the challenge when the going gets tough seems to be decreed by fate. It’s not that fate has it in for me in particular, but rather that everybody’s turn comes sooner or later. It’s important to recognize this, otherwise you’ll always blame everyone but yourself. You have to save for a rainy day and be prepared for future challenges, but unforeseeable things will always happen, and when they do you just have to face them.” Shih jests that he will naturally shoulder whatever responsibility comes his way, but he will also let others share responsibility because “it makes me feel better when everyone’s in the same boat.” (…)

Read the full interview from November 2004 by Teng Sue-feng in the web or here.

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Writings

• “Global Branding Building Strategies” – 2005, published by Commonwealth Publishing Group (in Chinese), by CITIC Publishing House (in simplified Chinese).

• “Millennium Transformation” – 2004, published by Commonwealth Publishing Group (in Chinese), by CITIC Publishing House (in simplified Chinese), by Acer Foundation (in English)

• “Growing Global” – 2000, published by Commonwealth Publishing Group (in Chinese), by John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd (in English).

• “Fresh The Perspective” – 1998, published by Linking Publishing House (in Chinese).

• “Me-Too Is Not My Style”: 1996, published by Commonwealth Publishing Group (in traditional Chinese), by CITIC Publishing House (in simplified Chinese), by Acer Foundation (in English), (in Japanese, and re-entitled Re-Engineering Acer) Download the full text in the web or here.

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Projects

id SoftCapital

Stan Shih offers “expertise in asset and fund management, and consulting services” with  iD SoftCapital

See a pdf about Stan Shih`s visions in the web or here.

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iD TechVentures Inc.

“iD TechVentures Inc., formerly known as Acer Technology Ventures, is a leading early stage tech venture investor in Greater China.”

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StanShares

His website (Chinese version only) http://www.stanshares.com.tw (and the English Google version).

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Written by NoToes

19/06/2010 at 08:25

Posted in All Articles, China, Intercultural Economy

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