When I first opened T&T Supermarket in 1993, I didn’t have any management skills or any supermarket know-how. I opened it to help my husband, who wanted to build President Plaza, an Asian shopping mall in Richmond, and needed a supermarket as a tenant. In the beginning, it was a disaster. I opened two supermarkets one month apart, so I had 200 employees, two stores and I didn’t have any experience. I really screwed up in the first six months. The company lost two-thirds of its capital, and I was worried that it might go bankrupt. I couldn’t sleep, and I went to tell my father in tears that I couldn’t handle the challenge and I wanted to quit.
But my father encouraged me and said, “Every new business is tough at first. What you have to do is surround yourself with people who are better and smarter than you, and then treat them well. Then they’ll share their knowledge with you and follow you.”
I hired some very professional managers to come in and help me, and I was able to turn around T&T in one year. So even today, when I encounter a problem, often the first thing that comes to my mind is, Who can help me? Can I talk to them and get their advice? I think human power is the most effective and valuable kind of power. If you can manage people, you can manage a big business.