Tom Shen, Founder and Chairman/CEO of Malauzai Software, Inc., shared his vision of success during a stirring CEO keynote presentation at the AFT Spring Summit at California’s Ojai Valley Inn.
Shen described how he was able to parlay his programming skills into a company called Software Dynamics in 1982. He said SDI took advantage of IBM PCs coming to the forefront. “We were blessed with the opportunity to serve 1,200 hundred banks and credit unions all over the world. It was a great time.
The dynamic entrepreneur also discussed his roles with several fintech companies including Intuit Financial Services (formerly Digital Insight Corporation) and the founding of his current company in 2010. Today Malauzai serves some 350 bank and credit union clients.
Along the way Shen learned some valuable lessons about fintech and life that he passed along to the AFT gathering, such as the importance of striving for precision and exercising grace more frequently.
Shen suggested the lack of precision causes mistakes and miscalculations. “In our ever-chaotic society, in our noisy world, it feels to me like there is less precision, more ambiguity in all that we do, whether it is in the language used or whether in the execution. I believe that the lack of precision causes misunderstandings that we have.”
Shen explained the importance of weaving exactness into the fabric of communication and how the level of precision in communications and execution punctuates integrity.
Whether people succeed or fail, personally or in business, Shen advised finding a role for grace, which he described as a bit of an outdated term that is difficult to define but generally involves acts or instances of kindness and courtesy. “When you see it, you know,” Shen said.
Grace also provides the grease that smooths out the rough side of disappointment. “When I looked at my mentors and heroes around this room, your experience in corporate building, I would suspect in that success you have suffered many disappointments,” Shen said. He added that disappointment could come from people, partners, events and failed agreements.
Shen conveyed it is the ability to handle disappointment with grace and to lose with dignity that often determines the trajectory of the next project or the next opportunity. “I have a term; some days grace is not enough. You need grace upon grace, layers of grace.”
Shen explained he subscribes to a school of leadership, called servant leadership, where leaders are servants first. The three key priorities of servant leadership center on developing people, building a trusted team, and achieving results together.
There are also three key principals of servant leadership encompassing serving first, persuasion and power. Then there are also three key practices: listening, delegating and connecting. “I love surrounding myself with people that are servants first,” Shen articulated.