Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, founder of Microsoft Research Asia, Google China and a new venture named Innovation Works, gave an interview to SINA about his latest book, thoughts on Weibo and life mottos.
(S=SINA L= Kai-Fu Lee)
Always follow your heart
The original of Kai-Fu Lee’s autobiography, in Chinese, has been a best seller in China since its publication in 2009. The English version, “Making a World of Difference”, to be published in 2011 on amazon.com with its electronic version, is something more than translation of the Chinese version.
S: How did the idea of an English version of your autobiography came into being?
L: Many overseas Chinese have told me that they hope their children will read my book, or that their children want to read it, but they cannot read Chinese well enough. I just want my books to reach as many people as possible and hope they will get something enjoyable or helpful to their growth from reading them.
S: Is there any difference between the English version and the Chinese version of your book?
L: The translator, a wonderful expert, has skipped some of the content in the Chinese version and rewritten a few parts to better cater for North American readers. The English version targets the foreigners, the overseas Chinese in particular. For example, she omitted those detailed introduction to American geography and history, and in the chapter about the lawsuit with Microsoft, the English version has included more details which she thinks will arouse the interest of the readers in the West. Besides, I wrote an English foreword for the book.
S: What advice would you give to the youths, especially those who have just started their careers?
L: Learning, always keep learning! Never think that you’ve already learned enough. What you have learned in college is only 5 percent of the entire knowledge you will need in your life. The rest 95 percent needs to be acquired through working.
S: In the English version, are there any words you want to share with readers most?
L: “Have the courage to change what’s changeable, have the magnanimity to accept what’s not, and have the wisdom to tell the difference”. And “Follow your heart.”
Weibo, the wisdom of crowds
S: How much time do you spend on Weibo every day?
L: On average I spend about an hour and half every day. It’s mostly fragmental, like while I’m in the car.
S: What does Weibo mean to you?
L: Well, on the one hand, I can share my thoughts and opinions, and on the other hand, I hope to positively influence a bunch of people.
S: Can you use three words to describe Weibo?
L: First of all, Weibo is the wisdom of crowds. Unlike BBS where everyone speaks anonymously, on Weibo your identities are verified, so you have to be responsible for every word you say, and be responsible for your followers. Secondly, Weibo is a SoLoMo media. You can visit the site at any time, from any place. Finally, Weibo can help improve social transparency. It is carrying more and more social responsibilities.
S: Do you think new media, such as Weibo, will replace traditional media in the future?
L: Not exactly. I think for most reporters of newspapers, they are experiencing a really hard time. But those who write in-depth stories would not be replaced. Where 140 characters cannot cover, those media which can produce in-depth commentaries or full coverage of different opinions will still be valued. As for promptness, Weibo is no doubt the first choice. Now I neither watch TV nor read any newspapers, and scarcely use any of the search engines. Weibo is the most convenient way for me to acquire the latest news. This is a great change for me, and I believe it is the case with many other people.
Innovation vs. pressure
As a natural-born pioneer, Lee has explored uncharted territories and developed new fields in the high-tech world. He established Innovation Works in 2009.
Since September 2009, Lee has been guiding young people with creative business ideas to work towards their dreams.
S: How do you understand the word “innovation” as in Innovation Works?
L: Actually, the business model of Innovation Works itself is the biggest innovation. There had never been such a thing in China or abroad before. We bring investors and incubators together and let them make direct communication.
S: How do you ease pressure?
L: By not feeling afraid of any pressure. Because I have experienced so many pressures and challenges in the past few years, now I can face all these with a peaceful mind. Two things you should never do: one is regretting about the past, and another is worrying about the future. Regrets do not help to solve the problems. Instead of worrying about the future, you can spend the time making more preparations, turning pressure into motivations.
S: Is there a moment you think you should “change yourself for the world" rather than "make a world of difference"?
L: Of course, the world will not change for me. I cannot change others. Therefore, a person has to have an open mind and always be ready to learn, just as Steve Jobs said, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
On Amazon: Making a World of Difference