All too often, we hear CEOs of companies boasting what they are planning to turbocharge the growth of the companies they run. But, is rapid growth all that important, or is sustainable growth through decades more admirable?
I enjoy watching CTI TV (“Zhongtian Dianshi” 中天電視), a Taiwan TV channel with many educational and entertaining programs of great production value, and especially, great stories of humanity in action.
There is a program Record Taiwan (“Ji Lu Taiwan” 紀錄臺灣), which showcases many stories of the neighborhood in various parts of Taiwan. Many of the stories exalt humanity at its finest, and the people and their stories are encouraging, inspirational and moving. I have shed many tears, not of sadness, but inspired and touched by the stories of courage, respect, compassion, love, and humanity.
One recent story was about a middle-aged lady who runs a small noodle stall besides a Chinese temple. She has labored for many decades at the stall, and never raised costs to her customers, many of whom are students and sometimes, less well-off people around the neighborhood. She made it a point to give more food to the impoverished and the students, giving them bigger portions, and even small additional dishes without asking, just out of her personal conviction that “no customer should leave her stall hungry.” A typical bowl of Taiwanese braised minced pork rice, a mere NT200 (a mere US$0.67, sixty-seven cents). Her daughter, a first-year university student, foregoes her own vacation, and helps her mum at the stall all the time. I was very touched at this wonderful child who would love her mum more than she loves herself and her own time.
In the same episode, two middle-aged professionals gave up their careers, to join their dad in a small traditional provisions shop. Their dad is getting on years, and they would rather sacrifice their careers to help their dad at the small shop that was handed down from their grandfather, several decades old, selling household kitchen provisions. Many customers would be just as old, if not older, including an old dame of 93 years old who is still spritely. Again, I was touched at the filial piety of the two grown men running the shop.
Both these stories are inspiring especially because of the human values, and also importantly remind us of the slow and steady labors that build and sustain businesses. A sustainable business is not built in a day in a single leap, but is built through decades of hard labor, especially out of love. A flash in a pan may win a bold headline in the media, but so what? It is just a blip on the radar and fades away just as quickly into obscurity.
What is the founding principles of our businesses? Do we intend to build something of value out of our love and passion for what we enjoy doing? Do we see value in laboring rather than quick profits?
PS: Here’s a look at one of their earlier episodes on CTITV’s site: