WorldJournal.com recently interviewed Dr. James S.C. Chao, founder of the international shipping company, Foremost Group. Dr. Chao shared his insights on building family and business. Here are some excerpts:
Dr. Chao, it would be fair to say that you are a rare American-Chinese shipping giant, with abundant political and commercial connections, six educated daughters and 50 years of success in the business world. What would you say is your business philosophy?
The short answer—trust. People must be able to believe in you. We are not a big company and we are not focused on being biggest in the world. We want to serve others. We minimize our borrowing, focus on shipbuilding and on people, especially our employees, most of whom have been with us for at least a decade.
Have you thought about entering government?
People have told me that I should, but I have no desire for it. The market is very challenging right now, and shipping rates for our vessels are very low. This is my focus, not politics. I have had good relationships with governments and politicians, beginning in 1972 when the Cultural Revolution began and continuing to this day, but I do not feel a desire to become directly involved myself.
Did you encourage your children to go out on their own and how did you support them?
We never forced them to do anything. We only provided encouragement. Chinese and Americans think differently, so we had to be very involved in helping our children navigate through the cultural differences. Unfortunately, my wife has passed away. She was very influential in all aspects of their growth and development, even such basic things as eating sufficiently and properly. Most importantly, we recognized and respected their differences. We have six daughters. Their interests were different and we allowed each one to develop according to her own way.
Dr. Chao concluded by sharing his thoughts on how Chinese-Americans can succeed in American society and their future plans for the Chao Family Foundations.