Lessons on Decisiveness and More from An Wang

An Wang, Lessons

It is necessary to gather facts, and to analyze those facts when considering a course of action, but the world is shaped only by actions, and to take action requires confidence.

I don’t remember fretting about whether or not I would succeed. I would tackle an idea inspired by its immense potential.

To have become obsessed with the patent would in effect carried with it the suggestion that my most worthwhile ideas were in the past, and I did not feel that this was the case at all.

I still believe that the simplest solution to any engineering problem is the best solution. The fewer the components, the fewer the opportunities for something to go wrong.

They continued until they had written a manual for a machine that any secretary could learn to use in about half an hour, but which still had all the features they most wanted in a word processor.

We had entered the office because we could make the lowest paid, least powerful, and most numerous workers–the secretaries and office assistants–more productive.

At no point during this process was I looking far into the future. I was instead looking at what technology might deliver to people three to five years down the road, and what that would require the company to be like in order to continue to grow and prosper. I have never thought that I had the wisdom to look further than five years into the future of the computer industry. Long-term planning at a company should be shaped by corporate philosophy–in our case, a twofold commitment to increasing productivity and making people’s jobs easier.

[..] I have tried to educate my children as to my style of management, which is to lead by example rather than to dictate, and to leave room for individual initiative rather than to spell out every step of how a job is to be accomplished.

My feeling is that you don’t need special training to learn how to run a business. What you do need is the ability to observe, to test your theories in practice, and to learn from your mistakes.

Mistakes are only harmful if you don’t learn from them, or if too much depends on the outcome of a single project.

What we had was a situation where we in high technology benefited from the advantages of Boston without supporting the institutions, and I thought that this was wrong.

When we enter society at birth, we receive an inheritance from the people who lived before us. It is our responsibility to augment that inheritance for those who succeed us.



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