Y.C. Wang’s Legacy: Fairness, Responsibility, Learning, Leadership

It was nearly one year ago this week that we received the sad news that my father, Yung-Ching Wang, known to most as Y.C. Wang, had passed away at his home in the United States.

While I will honor my father both in private and in public this week, this past year has given me time to reflect on our many conversations and on the many lessons he taught me as his eldest son. These lessons are now part of his legacy but thankfully they are also a big part of my own life and value system. It is in this spirit that I write this remembrance.

My father and I spent countless hours over the years discussing a variety of topics, including business, politics, science, human nature, and what it means to be a good person. He knew much about all of these matters and more and had very strong opinions.

Sorting through my many memories this past year has focused me on four core life lessons in particular that my father taught me when I was young and reminded me of throughout my life. As always for my father it was about priorities, using time wisely and constantly moving forward. Those who were lucky to know my father personally can tell you that he never sat still and that he met life’s challenges and opportunities by moving out, ahead of the crowd, so that he could see further than anyone.

These four lessons, hammered into me by my father are fairness, responsibility, learning and leadership. So today I am lucky to have these lessons still in my heart and mind. I often think about what drove and motivated my father and I how I can honor him with my life and work.

My father started life humbly and never forgot that. He taught me, therefore, that an ethical life requires fairness to all, regardless of their circumstances in life.

My father also taught me that those who are most fortunate in society have a moral responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. And he taught me that Chinese tradition bestows additional responsibilities on the shoulders of the first-born son. As difficult as they may seem at times, these responsibilities, he told me, should never be seen as a burden, but as a blessing.

He also taught me about the importance of education. Though his formal education stopped at a relatively early age, which was not uncommon in the 1930s, my father never stopped learning. He always remained curious. He was always in search of a problem’s solution, or a better way. He encouraged me to travel the world to pursue my education and he encouraged me to pursue my academic career, since it would enable me to spread learning to others.

Finally, my father taught me about leadership. The greatest military generals in the world are famous for going into battle at the front of the formation, not directing activities from behind the lines. They don’t order their troops forward; their battle cry is “follow me.” That’s the kind of leadership my father always showed – leadership by example.

My father made things happen. He had objectives; he knew how he intended to get there; he understood the obstacles that stood in his way. Forget the textbooks in this instance: Knowing what you want to accomplish and getting the job done with minimum cost and maximum efficiency was the core philosophy of my father.

But finally I must say that I miss my father. It has been a year since his passing and his absence has left a void, in so many ways. And now I know that the only way for me to fill this void is to follow the road map for life that he set out for me decades ago; stick to your core values and life lessons and all will be fine. I think about this every day of my life but today I get the chance to thank my father for sharing these lessons with me.

Thank you.