ESQ: Everyone who works with you knows how intense you are in the professional environment. What about work-life balance?
Ernest Cu: I don’t really make a distinction between my work and my life. My life is my work and my work is my life. And I truly love the work that I do. I truly love pleasing my customers.
It’s hard to get your employees and your customers to love your company if you don’t love your work. This is why we compensate our employees really well, and we give them great workplaces to work in. This love for the company is something that turns into happiness, which in turn creates happiness in customers. And happy customers create happy shareholders. We call it the ‘circle of happiness.’ It’s a cycle that begins again and again—we call it ‘spinning the circle of happiness.’
ESQ: You’re one of the few CEOs we know whose personal principles cascade all the way down through their entire organization—and you seem to have put a lot of thought and hard work into accomplishing that.
EC: Culture enables execution. Without a strong culture, it’s very difficult to get things done. Our culture allows us to execute positive changes we always aim to make. This is especially important in an environment with constant change, and environment with a lot of movement and dynamism and heavy competition. Our customers’ habits are always changing, too.
ESQ: You’re always moving and dynamic as well—in fact, you’re one of the most travelled persons we know. Does fatigue ever set in?
EC: I still love traveling. I still do enjoy it. The restaurants, the cuisine, the wine. I’m a bit of a foodie. When my colleagues and I travel for work, we don’t try to hit too many things at one time. We like to kind of get a feel for the place—we don’t “line up” all the work. We enjoy the place, we enjoy the cuisine. That’s what we line up—the restaurants!
As for personal travel, my family and I do at least two big trips a year, including a two-week holiday at our home in Tuscany. It’s a place that the kids love—even if they’re in their twenties and thirties now.
Culture enables execution. Without a strong culture, it’s very difficult to get things done.