Benjamin Franklin and Ru Thoughts told me how to be a wonderful individual  

When I was a teenager, I read a digest from one magazine with Benjamin Franklin’s thirteen virtues [1]. These virtues consisted of temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. With high expectation of being reorganized as a good individual by people around me, I adopted those virtues as my important guide for living. Also around that period of time, I remembered that I joined a discussion with high school classmates about the criteria of a successful person. We reached a common understanding which was based on Chinese traditional virtual and translated into “self-esteem, self-confidence, self-improvement”[2]. Furthermore, among most of the traditional virtual influenced by Ru Thoughts, the virtual by Kong Zi about sincere and respect to others [3] was the one I recalled regularly. It took a long time for me to develop my core value, which, as you can see, was cultivated from the combination of Western virtual and Chinese traditional sprit. The value I adopted in the earlier stage of my life became the basis of the value of my life and it evolved as I grown up.   


Working environment polished my value

As I entered into complicated business world, I consciously use my virtues to guide my behavior. It is not easy because most of the companies I have worked for had no clear corporate value. Besides, in the highly competitive environment, people tend to evaluate you from your fortune rather than your personal value. After I graduated from my university, I worked for a start-up company and my supervisor showed me how to make financial report of the start-up company. I realized that what he did was to cheat on the company performance in order to avoid the income taxes. I was confused and struggled for quite a long time. A year after I left the company, the start-up company was closed. I felt sad and thought a lot about the reason of its failure and I believe that the unethical business behavior must be one of the reasons. It deserved to be shut down, because “a lie can not be hidden for long”[4]. This instance led me think deeply on how to build a great company and it gave me a real example of the importance of keeping high standard on business integrity and personal ethic.


I was fortunate that after leaving the start-up company I joined a Sweden based consultant company. The boss of this company was a Swedish and amazingly he spoke frequent Chinese. In managing the small consultant company, he asked us to show high personal value in professionalism. He made the working environment to be honest, mutual respect, hardworking, self-criticized, and happy one. I felt comfortable in working there and I thought the reason of my happiness was because of the harmony between the company value and my personal value.


With the high expectation of learning more from big corporations, I joined Siemens China. I did not see an obvious requirement of high ethic there.[5] However, I put together my lesson from the previous experience and tried hard to be integrity, honesty, self-improvement, and mutual respect in my job. What I learned there was self-criticism. I worked very hard and I thought my work was almost perfect because of my pursuing of perfect, so that I always assumed positive feedback from the colleague when I really asked feedback from them. I remembered once I presented the draft version of corporate brochure to a senior manager for comments. When he scheduled a meeting with me and pointed out what he thought were not good enough about the brochure, I felt really upset. My face must have told him how I felt on his comments. He stopped and told me that he did not aim to depreciate my work; on the contrary, he did value my job and hoped his openness could make the result better. This was an unforgettable lesson to me. I realized that diligent was not enough to the result. I must be always self-criticize on my performance. Since then I asked myself to be open especially to negative comments because I know they can make my work better.


Good things have the same attributes

When I joined Microsoft, I was very happy because my personal value resonated exactly the corporate values-- integrity, honesty, openness, personal excellence, constructive self-criticism, continual self-improvement, and mutual respect[6].


KPMG survey shows that rigorous corporate ethic code does have positive impact, and increased the awareness of ethical issues in employee[7]. Microsoft’s management aggressively adhered to the corporate ethic code with the case of fairing employee with unethical behavior in bidding for business and the program of corporate citizenship program, such as building up Cyber School in remote area in China and helping laid-off workers to refresh their knowledge skills. Such obvious implication made the strategic decision effective and efficient[8]. I was happy to working in such environment because I had no hesitation and confusion about any decision I made.


The more I involved in the corporate image program of Microsoft, the deep I realized the reason why the employee are passionate for their work in this great company. Because a company’s high value will inspire the personal value to a higher scale. Microsoft’s Realize Potential Campaign which started since 2004 [9] not only put forward a new level of personal value to each employee but also set up social responsibility to each employee. When a person feels the high social responsibility, this person will realize different meaning of the job. The synergy of company success, personal value, and social recognition[10] become power to motivate every employee to mark a higher standard of contribution to the daily work and work hard and smart. 


In Microsoft, I encouraged myself to pursue excellence in realizing my full potential each time when I achieved success in my project. My performance was highly recognized by the corporation with several awards. I kept challenge myself and moved out from comfortable zoon. That is one of the reasons which brought me to Boston College. I have every reason to choose Carroll Graduate School of Boston College, a business school which will influence my life deeply, when I noticed that it recognized similar value of Microsoft’s. I know I could contribute more in this learning environment and I can learn more too. I would like to put Tolstoy’s words this way – All success entities have the same attributes of core values, every failed entity is failed in its own way[11].  


I am my core values, my core values are me [12]

My values which fostered when I was very young and strengthen in working environment become part of my identity. I will bring it to my learning in BC, to my future working environment, and to the education of my children. I have no doubt of my potential. And I will have no regret when I am old and when I ask myself what I have accomplished in the world. Because I am sure that my core value will lead me to always challenge myself and always contribute to my work and my responsibility. Besides, I believe my value will also inspire people working with me to perform in the highest standard in a happy mood.



[1] Benjamin Franklin (1706—1790), Around 1730, while in his late 20s, Benjamin Franklin listed thirteen virtues that he felt were an important guide for living:

l  TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

l  SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

l  ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

l  RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 

l  FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. 

l  INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. 

l  SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. 

l  JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. 

l  MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. 

l  CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes, or habitation. 

l  TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. 

l  CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation. 

l  HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates. 



[2] Muo Zi, a famous reprehensive of Ru Thoughts influenced later generation with his saying “People with no strong esteem, can not be success”

[3] Kong Zi, a famous representative of Ru Thoughts wrote in his works Lun Yu “ Do as you would be done by”

[4] How and Why We Lie at the Office, S. Shellenberger, Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2005

[5] Siemens China VALUE

- to open up new opportunities. We generate profitable growth to ensure sustainable success. We leverage our balanced business portfolio, our business excellence and synergies across all segments and regions. This makes us a premium investment for our shareholders.


Our Values As a company, and as individuals, we value integrity, honesty, openness, personal excellence, constructive self-criticism, continual self-improvement, and mutual respect. We are committed to our customers and partners and have a passion for technology. We take on big challenges, and pride ourselves on seeing them through. We hold ourselves accountable to our customers, shareholders, partners, and employees by honoring our commitments, providing results, and striving for the highest quality.

[7] I am Joe’s Conscience, N. Alster, CFO, March 2006.

[8] Make Your Value Mean Something, P. Lencioni, Harvard Business Review, 2002


Campaign includes themes such as A dream of sea. Kids learning, exploring, and protected. A new company, new jobs, new potential…

[10] Keeping your people pumped, J. & S. Welch, Business Week, March 27, 2006

[11] The opening sentence of Anna Karenina, by Lev Tolstoy (1828-1910)

[12] “ Your are your core values, your core values are you” Core Value Presentation by Ralph Folz, CEO Molecular on Sept 18, 2006