Huijin Kong: Quitting McKinsey, Identity Metamorphosis & Helping 1 Million People to Uncover Their True Selves - E301

· Creators,Executive,Women

“For me, purpose is very important. Everyone deserves to be helped. Some moments of conscientious crisis are situations when assessing if the leaders are being purposeful. Are they being selfless or self-interested? Sometimes, things can get a little bit political. Most leaders give their best, do things for the right reasons, try to rise to the occasion, and uncover something very powerful within themselves. I could continue every day to do what I do, and I love the privilege of witnessing these light bulb moments. I have a lifetime goal of helping at least a million people to uncover their true selves and channel that toward better decisions and more positive influence.” - Huijin Kong

“The principle I learned from reading a lot of books during my soul-searching era is awareness. It’s the process of metamorphosis. Something in you is dying and then your true self is emerging. Awareness means not being afraid to face it. It makes you mobilize different parts of your brain and your heart to guide you to what to do with it. It’s not practical to repress it.” - Huijin Kong

“I quit McKinsey and knew that the road had come to an end. I was learning some things, but not at the rate that I wanted to, and I was afraid I’d get stuck in the exploration. I quit without having any alternatives. I went through three to four years in my own pursuit of trying to find myself and be a person that I could only vaguely, intuitively feel. People felt sorry for me saying I’ve really lost it. They said I had so much potential, but they didn’t know what's going become of me. Some people thought I was depressed. The whole process of letting go of an old self and birthing the true self is a very tumultuous, emotional one. It's almost like dying and renewing yourself.” - Huijin Kong

In this conversation between Jeremy Au and Huijin Kong, Principal at LinHart Group and co-author of Positive Influence: The First and Last Mile of Leadership, they discussed personal evolution, leadership, and positive influence. The discussion illuminates three primary themes:

1. The Unveiling of Self-Identity: Huijin opens up about her dynamic personality, portraying herself as an energizer bunny, compass, and challenger. From her academic star student beginnings to her time at McKinsey, she candidly shares her evolution and passion for helping others become better leaders and influencers.

2. The Metamorphosis of Identity: Huijin delves into the complexities of identity transformation, sharing her own shift from old identity death to new identity rebirth. She offers poignant advice for those undergoing similar shifts, emphasizing the importance of confronting uncomfortable feelings.

3. Positive Influence and Purposeful Leadership: Huijin discusses her co-authored book 'Positive Influence.' She fervently articulates the need for more positive influences in our society, particularly in leadership roles, despite the prevalence of negative influences.

Throughout the conversation, they also talked about Huijin’s learnings from her soul-searching journey, the significance of self-awareness in personal growth, and balancing productivity and caring for other people’s well-being.

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Jeremy Au: (01:50)

Hey, Huijin, really excited to have you on the show. You're an incredible CEO counselor and you have an incredible journey. So I wanted to share your journey. Could you introduce yourself real quick?

Huijin Kong: (01:59)

Well, maybe I'll use three words I think of, that characterize me in different areas of my life that I think make me unique. One is Energizer Bunny. So, that's my nickname from college. I do have a lot of energy and my soul-searching journey, in fact, helped me uncover even more energy. The second is a compass. I think even back in my MBA days, I've had a strong sense of direction, whether it be for myself or a business challenge, and of course leadership challenges. And third, is a challenger. You know, I cannot just stay with the status quo, the normal. I love to push the boundaries. Love to push myself. I love to push other people even when they might be more comfortable in their comfort zone. But I think in these disruptive times we cannot afford not to challenge ourselves.

Jeremy Au: (02:48)

Amazing. So you said that you had the early nickname of Energizer Bunny back from college. So you had Wharton for your bachelor's.

Huijin Kong: (02:57)

I was.

Jeremy Au: (02:57)

You did an MBA at Harvard. So we share that common affiliation, but the big difference is that I was not a Baker scholar and you were a Baker scholar. For those who don't know, it basically means that you're really smart and hardworking. You do your participation on top of everything, so I can definitely imagine you being Energizer Bunny back then. So how did that nickname come about?

Huijin Kong: (03:17)

You know, I think it came from some of my great friends and colleagues at a little bank at the University of Pennsylvania where I went to school. And it's a student credit union and so I actually worked there. It's a completely student-run bank for most of my four years there and I became the CEO and people maybe thought, wow how does she have the energy to do all her classes fairly well, as well as come to be a teller? I issued loans and did customer service back in the day. We were at the forefront of technology or so we thought, we did email statements, et cetera, and internet banking in 2000. But you know, I was so energized by my colleagues and so energized by being a leader. And that was when I realized that maybe I'm not, I can be more than just a bookworm that did well on exams.

Jeremy Au: (04:09)

I mean, you are a Baker scholar, an MBA, and you had a perfect GPA in undergrad. So it sounds like academics and all this was really important for you back then because it's not an easy thing to do, especially when there are so many opportunities in terms of social life or in terms of exploration. So why was this really important for you?

Huijin Kong: (04:27)

I think it probably came from my childhood experiences of migrating from China to Canada when I was 10 years old. So I went through an experience where I was sitting in class and I didn't understand anything because I didn't know English. So for the first time in my life, I was actually not good in school. And as a child, the only thing I knew how to be good at was to do well while in school. So I think the whole episode of also trying to adjust to this new place, seeing my parents trying to adjust and they had a tough time, especially my dad probably accentuated my drive to that aggression. I got to do really well so that I can sort of get out of this not doing well phase of life and be in charge of my own destiny, be in charge of my own family's destiny. And I think it's a very typical Asian, Chinese thing. The first thing that comes to mind is, Hey, I should really just try to excel in school.

So that was probably in my little simple child's mind. That was the trade I did with myself. Okay, Huijin, if you can do really well in school, then you can be in charge of your own life and you don't have to feel so much of the pain and the uncertainty anymore. Of course, later on, I realized that that wasn't the only way. In fact, academics is a very small part of succeeding as a person and in life. But that, I think we can talk about later in the podcast.

Jeremy Au: (05:51)

What's interesting is that you mentioned the dynamic of working hard to be good at academics. Did you feel good doing really well in school or did you feel like it'll do more?

Huijin Kong: (06:01)

I felt satisfaction that I did well. But you know, I remember still so starkly, somebody, a friend of mine also from the credit union asked me, Huijin, what do you do for fun? And I literally looked at him for fun. What do you mean? He's like, not at the credit union, not at school. What do you do for fun? It's one of these few questions I would say that stumped me because I didn't really do a lot of things for fun. So I think even then, in my great success, in my own mind, I knew there was perhaps something in myself that was missing. There was something alive that was missing and that I was not quite complete.

Jeremy Au: (06:42)

You knew that, and you went to work at McKinsey, right?

Huijin Kong: (06:45)

Yeah, I know.

Jeremy Au: (06:46)

Four years as an engagement manager. So it felt like it didn't kick in yet.

Huijin Kong: (06:49)

Well, actually it did. I can tell you an interlude story. So I joined McKinsey. First I did a summer intern. Had a great time. Therefore, I decided to go back and I thought it was my fast ticket to becoming a CEO, very quickly. But that was my goal at the time because GE and McKinsey were known to be the two CEO factories of America. It's a bit different these days but that was a story back then, and I had a great time. And then two years onward came, the time to move on typically to business school, et cetera. And I had an opportunity to join Goldman's private equity group, which was at that time, a very prestigious opportunity, and I actually accepted it, while I still put in that HBS application.

There was something about school that drew me to it and I actually ended up reneging on Goldman private equity group because it's one of the few mistakes from my life that I consider to be a great lesson. I reneged after I got the acceptance to HBS and when I had held that acceptance letter in my hand, I knew I wanted to go and I knew that I did not want to go to Goldman. And the reason really, I intuitively understood that if I went to Goldman do private equity finance, it would just emphasize the analytical aggressive part of me even more, and I didn't think I need even more development in these really already super developed areas. Whereas HBS represented for me this path of trying to broaden myself to develop the more, now I can say, the relational, the human side of things rather than getting deeper into the numbers.

Jeremy Au: (08:32)

Right. So what was it like to be an engagement manager at McKinsey? I asked because my wife was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey.

Huijin Kong: (08:39)


Jeremy Au: (08:39)

So she knows a little bit about what was it like to do after business school, but I wanted to hear about your experience doing that because you said you felt like there's an analytical side of it. You explored different aspects of that in business school, but McKinsey is also very analytical as well.

Huijin Kong: (08:53)

So it was a great time. I think that I graduated from HBS at the age of 26 and became an engagement manager shortly after. The challenge was exhilarating, both the analytical side, but also I got stretched to manage people for the first time, and I realized I really love that. And that's also one of the main reasons why I do what I do now. It's because I love the opportunity to coach and mentor others and be mentored by others as well. I also realized that as a project manager, you really get to see the upper management ranks, how they interact with each other, and how they oftentimes don't necessarily like each other. They compete, sometimes healthily, sometimes frankly, unhealthily, and they have to make some very difficult decisions. As a strategy consultant though, I felt that you were more of an observer than really a sort of an influencer in these human and power. And and ultimately, I realized I was less interested in the business issues and more interested in the human and the power dynamics.

Jeremy Au: (09:59)

So this is an interesting dynamic because you mentioned a few times now that you know you are always very good at analytics and logic and of course academics and then you showed up both in undergrad and business school. But I also say that for a long time you had this, was it simmering curiosity towards the more personal side of it? But still, on the outside of it, it feels like these are all like the top schools, the top companies. So I'm kind of curious, how did you navigate that? Did you have that conversation personally? Did you have that conversation with friends? How did you start to shape and explore?

Huijin Kong: (10:32)

So I started to explore when I realized that we're beginning to be these voices of doubts in my head, in my heart that maybe you don't necessarily want to make a partner so fast as you wanted to before on this little track that you put yourself on. And for me, that was a really big deal because I never have doubts about anything

That's probably a personality fault of mine, but sometimes it comes in handy, but doubt is a very unusual thing. Same as worry. I also don't worry about things. To me, you know the risks. You find a way to deal with it. You make the decision, you move on. So those doubts were I knew then there was something quite off, but not off as in something was wrong, but something needed to be explored.

I was very lucky. One of the great things about firms like McKinsey and some of the other large financial professional services organizations is that they give you the opportunity to explore and they have private professionals working on every aspect of a company, including organization and leadership. So I started exploring.

I signed up for all the training I could get internally about organizational leadership. That's actually how I met my senior partner now and co-author of our newest book Positive Influence. That was in 2006. And as I experienced these trainings and these senior professionals like Tsun Yan, talking about what they do, how they do it differently, how they tackle the human and the power issues at the same time as the business issues. I was looking for that resonance.

Can I see myself doing that? Am I excited about tackling those issues? Could I be good at it? Those were the central questions I was holding in my mind. And so it took me about two years of this kind of exploration to really come to a conclusion that it was time for a change.

Jeremy Au: (12:24)

Wow. Conclusion for a time to change. What was it like to reach that conclusion? Was it like, I don't know. I feel like this is the movie version. You're out on a ship in the midst of a storm, there's the moment of change, what

Huijin Kong: (12:38)

Well, actually, Jeremy, you're absolutely right. I remember some of these moments really well which is very surprising to me because if you ask me to describe other moments of my life, in fact, I would have been very hard-pressed to do so. It was 2008. I was in China, living in China at the time. I moved back to China as an adult, which is a story in itself. And I was asked to join a project that would be doing a China strategy for a European bank. It's something that would be well within my comfort zone, something I know how to do. Also, frankly, something that the outcome is well known, but I won't focus on that. And at that moment, it was a Sunday. I was sitting in my kitchen and I needed to get back to the staffer. And I just knew that I did not want to say yes, I wanted to say no.

Jeremy Au: (13:26)


Huijin Kong: (13:26)

And then it dawned on me that I did not want to just say no to this project, which is the request, but I actually want to say no to all future such projects. That was the moment I knew that the time had come to be brave, to acknowledge the reality of what was happening inside of myself, the thing that I had loved for five, six years, to that point that the path I set myself on, I invested so much of myself, my identity, my time, my energy. It wasn't the path I wanted to be in anymore, and I needed to let it go. And it felt like a cliff moment. I felt like I had to jump off the cliff and I didn't know whether I was going to fly, don't know if I have wings or if I would metaphorically just fall down on the beach down there. But I knew I had to go.

Jeremy Au: (14:16)

You knew that you had a go and effectively say no right to future engagements like that. But that's very different from saying yes to something else, right? So what did you say yes to?

Huijin Kong: (14:26)

Well, this is where all the two years of exploration did kick in and help me, which is, I remembered that the McKinsey had formed a new practice called the McKinsey Center for Asian Leadership based out of Singapore and I had met some of the senior partners that were leading the practice. And I knew that they were looking for consultants who have no previous experience doing leadership development to join the practice. So I very quickly called the mob and I said, I'm the answer to what you are looking for.

Jeremy Au: (14:56)

I have no experience in initial development.

Huijin Kong: (14:59)

I tell you, I thought they do, right? So I thought they could teach me. But anyways, that's another part of the story. They were very kind to take me in, frankly, so that's one of the lessons I would pass on to some people. If you make a big change, do make sure you have some place to go, at least temporarily. So I went there and I joined that practice, which took me to India and many other places, exciting places, and that's how I got to know Tsun Yan much more deeply.

Jeremy Au: (15:26)

And what's interesting is that eventually, you chose to make this, full-time, right? In terms of leadership development.

Huijin Kong: (15:31)


Jeremy Au: (15:31)

Helping executives with their own personal and professional careers. Could you share a little bit more about how you eventually got to saying yes to that? Because you said earlier that you join the CEO factory because they meet CEOs and there's a big identity target versus becoming someone in the coaching or leadership development industry.

Huijin Kong: (15:52)

Absolutely. Well, the interesting thing is as I was preparing for our chat today, which I got really excited about, I was reminiscing with myself that the whole thing about being a CEO has always been very central to my journey. So the good thing about what I do now for Linhart Group, our firm, we specialize in working with CEOs, founders and owners, but different types. We work with tech company CEOs, owners and founders. We work with Singapore, SME CEOs, founders and owners, in collaboration with National University of Singapore and Enterprise Singapore. So as part of national service, we work with, of course, CEOs of very large companies and also family businesses.

Though I don't get to be a CEO myself these days, even though I'm sort of, think of myself as CEO of myself. I do get to help other CEOs really rise to the different demands that they have that are very difficult to navigate. But back to your question, how did I really say yes? To me it was, I said yes that moment in my kitchen. The question for me was, how was I going to succeed and not fail? So one of my insights about myself is that I have some personality qualities that may not be so good for the business of helping others.

For example, I'm very quick to judge. I can make a line even if I have half a dot when always make fun of me. That's the compass part, right? I'm very energetic but can be a bit overwhelming for others. And I'm very challenging, so it's been a journey, I would say, to figure out how to use these unique qualities myself, but not overuse it.

Jeremy Au: (17:35)


Huijin Kong: (17:35)

To really be in service of others. So I've had to really hone my positive influence skills for myself in how I influence others. That's also why I feel so passionate about how everyone can become a better leader and be and more powerful influencer.

Jeremy Au: (17:52)

What's interesting is that, you've not only started doing it, but you've continued doing this. And I think why someone starts the journey is very different from why they continue the journey. So was there moments when you're like, you had to reinforce a commitment to keep going? Or were there moments where you reflected and said the reasons about why you're continuing to do this journey is very different from why you started?

Huijin Kong: (18:12)

So for me doing the purpose is very important. So I've always wanted to do this not only for CEOs, but also for younger folks who have the potential to be CEOs. But even if they don't become CEOs, that's okay, right? Everyone deserves to be helped. So moments of, I would say, conscientious crisis, probably have been with situations where I felt the leader or the leaders, are they being purposeful? Are they being selfless enough versus being, frankly, oftentimes can be self-interested and things can get a little bit political. But for every two of those, there are 10, 12, 20 leaders who give it their best to do things for the right reasons, and try many times to rise to the occasion and uncover something very powerful within themselves.

But a recent moment I would say is when I turned 40 and I said to myself, Huijin, how serious are you about this? I could just continue every day to do what I do, and I love that because I have the privilege of witnessing these light bulb moments, these moments when the light turns on people and it's just beautiful. So I set a goal. I have a lifetime goal of helping at least a million people through my direct efforts. So indirect, indirect, and indirect, that doesn't count as much because otherwise it'll be very easy to reach a million. That to help them uncover their whole and true self and channel that towards better decisions and more positive influence.

Jeremy Au: (19:41)

And I think part of that journey you've done has been to do writing. So you've already written one book in Chinese and now you're writing another book called Positive Influence. So could you share a little bit more about that writing modality and interest?

Huijin Kong: (19:54)

It came through, as all things sort of prompted by different type of life eras and different people. The first book was really very personal. It's all about how, especially my soul searching journey, I did it with two of my HBS friends. I was in Greater China at the time, and that's why we wrote it in Chinese, to help younger Chinese, women especially, find their purpose, find their confidence to be true to themselves. At the same time, as navigating society and family expectations, our new book, Positive Influence: The First and Last Mile of Leadership is really actually 12 years in the making. It takes Tsun Yan and my and our colleagues experience from teaching 300 MBA students every year in helping them uncover more of their self-leadership, influence skills and the courage and capacity to make better judgment. And then combining that with our experiences, counseling CEOs, founders and owners, we hope to give this gift to the world. However, everyone can and should aim for more ambitious positive outcomes and enhance our skills to achieve such thing, and in the process, uncover more of our best selves and our whole being.

Jeremy Au: (21:08)

What's wrong with negative influence? It feels like the world is very much kind of positive on that, which is about, being very street smart, I think that would be one way to talk about it. Being very thoughtful about your power and what other people are trying to convince you to do and power plays and politics. So what's wrong with that?

Huijin Kong: (21:28)

So I'm going to reference a professor of mine, Allen Grossman in HBS. I don't know if he was still there during your times he taught a class that has something to do with society or leadership. And once, asked him this question and he said well, we didn't. There are black cats and there are white cats, so you have to choose whether you want to be a black cat or white cat. And I was like, that's a bit different from the Deng Xiaoping cat story. So you know, one of the beefs I have with my very exemplary business school education, two of them is that in the classroom, they kind of tell you what good leadership should be, but they don't tell you there's a lot not so good leaders and not good, such good leadership.

And a lot of these other forms of influence that are very powerful. People using their own power unilaterally manipulation, propaganda fanning anger and hatred among people, or just even things like social media, getting you to go back and again. So it's because there's so much of that, we feel so strongly we need to get the message of positive influence out there. The world doesn't suffer from having too little things. There are countries and people who have too little, but if you look at Singapore or United States, or even some parts of China, Japan, we've accumulated so much and use so much of what the world has given us. And we've given the world and other people back too little because we haven't cared enough about positive influence.

So in the book we talk about three types of outcomes that we believe every human being, and especially leaders in positions of significant authority and power has a responsibility to aim for.

First is absolutely productivity. So this is the stuff business people understand. Profits, profits, let's improve productivity, get more done with less. Let's cost cut, et cetera. The second is actually the satisfaction of people. I think the pandemic proved, and the post pandemic great resignation proved when people are not happy with their lives, even if they're very productive, because of many forces that you put in around them, you know what? They're still not going to stay with you and they're still not going to have the wellbeing that they deserve and need to be good workers and good husbands and wives. Why are we having all these mental health crisis across the world? And third is growth. So growth is of course about the business growth. It's also about individual's growth. I think in the context of AI and ChatGPT, if we, as human beings are not growing, we will literally be irrelevant and be replaced by ChatGPT. The stuff that I'm hearing people are doing out there, like talking robots with ChatGPT infused in them? That scares me. It scares me because millions, if billions of people today could be replaced by their work, could be replaced by a robot, while you could pay them a basic universal wage, which is what a lot of governments are thinking. You can't pay people self-respect and pride in who they are and what they do.

Jeremy Au: (24:29)

Ah, you can't pay people self-respect. So how do you think leaders can do that?

Huijin Kong: (24:35)

So I think it starts with really caring about all three of the outcomes. I think that really requires us to want to care because the everyday life of an executive, of a founder, of investor like yourself is so busy. We could spend 120% of our psychic energies on generating productivity alone. That could consume us. I was like that in my earlier era of my life. Some might argue I'm still like that. I'm not as much of a people person as others but I've learned that if you care about the two other outcomes, then you'll start to think about how do I need to do the job differently? How do I need to work with my people differently to also get those outcomes as well? So it's forcing ourselves to operate from a place of and not let ourselves hook that. If we get the productivity stuff, that's good enough because we're all really smart, resourceful human beings regardless of how much education we've had. But if so, but those resourcefulness, smartness can only kick in, and of course, the techniques and et cetera, which you can read about in the book, can only kick in if you start to really care.

Jeremy Au: (25:52)

And could you share about a time that you personally have been brave?

Huijin Kong: (25:55)

That leap was brave. I think for me, I quit McKinsey shortly after, without a job. And because I knew again that the road had come to an end, I was learning some things, but not at the rate that I wanted to, and I was afraid I would get stuck in this exploration.

So I quit without having any have any alternatives and but life and God have taken care of me very greatly. But those years I went through ,probably three to four years, I felt like I was out in the wilderness. And the wilderness for me is about being alone really in my own pursuit of trying to find myself, trying to be this person that I could only vaguely, intuitively feel.

And having people look at me strangely, their eyes clearly said, I feel sorry for you, Huijin. You've really lost it. You had so much potential, but now, we don't know what's going to become of you. Some people thought I was depressed. One or two people even had the guts to tell me I was depressed and maybe I should go see a counselor. And probably they were right. The whole process of letting go of an old self and birthing the true self is a very tumultuous, emotional one. It's almost like dying and then renewing yourself, which is why I've dedicated part of our work to creating a community and programs to help people soul search so that people who are willing to be brave can go through it a little bit easier than I had it.

Jeremy Au: (27:22)

Yeah. I love what you said about dying with your old identity and birthing a new one. I think it reminds me of how I think a lot of grief and negative emotions is now being medicalized into depression. Something to be treated with medicine rather than with self-reflection and rebirth.

Huijin Kong: (27:42)

Spot on. Spot on.

Jeremy Au: (27:43)

Not easy. Is there any advice that you would give to people who are struggling with that identity? Death and rebirth? Is there a way to make it faster, accelerate it, make it more productive and efficient? Or I'm just saying like, how would you recommend someone who's going through that process?

Huijin Kong: (28:00)

I'll give you the quick principle and now I'll talk about my experience. So the principle which I learned from reading a lot of books during my soul searching era, about anything related to soul searching, developing myself, et cetera. Awareness. So what I mean here is that if you are in the process of this set of metamorphosis, if something in you is becoming, is dying and then your true self is emerging, or something is emerging, awareness means not being afraid to face it. Because with awareness, you can then mobilize different parts of your brain and your heart to guide you to what to do with it. So while my story is very dramatic, because I'm a very zero to one, let's go left, right, kind of person, I've seen a lot of the folks who've gone through a life two program, a lot of mentees take a lot more of a gradual evolutionary approach, but I think what really helps them face things with a positivity rather than a lot of negativity, is their courage to face that there are these tensions in these forces in themselves. Because often, people can repress it and say, oh, that's not really very practical.

Okay, it can never work. I don't have enough money yet to do X or Y. Actually often, these are really excuses rather than real reasons because they've never done the math. Actually, when you ask them, have you done the math, how much you can afford or not? They say, well, I haven't done the math. So I think efficiency in this case is all about confrontation.

Jeremy Au: (29:34)


Huijin Kong: (29:35)

Yes, confronting these uncomfortable feelings and tensions within yourself. Sometimes it means confronting uncomfortable feelings and tensions with other people because if we ourself change, it also changes the relationship with others. Sometimes I find that others are very supportive. I've had cases where a husband or wife are both thinking about entrepreneurs and one person would say, well, you do it first. I think you've been really waiting for much longer than I have. I'll support you by holding down that job so that we can make it work as a family. But other couples don't necessarily have that kind of arrangement and people are afraid to say to their loved ones, I feel this inner voice and it's telling me to do something that will be very disruptive. That can be a very hard conversation to have. I think especially in Asia where families and society have historically been a little bit more conservative. But I find, however, even in Asia, values are changing. I think I've heard one executive say, you know what, parents these days actually tell their kids to quit their jobs if they don't like it, rather than hang in there until they find the next one.

So who knows? I just encourage people not to be bound by convention and past norms and just have the real conversations with themselves. Have the real conversations with their loved ones because who knows? Your loved ones may be far more open to this than you might think, and you don't have to suffer alone.

Jeremy Au: (31:04)

On that note thank you so much. I would love to.

Huijin Kong: (31:06)

Thank you. I really enjoyed it.

Jeremy Au: (31:08)

I'd like to summarize the three big themes from this conversation. The first of course is thank you so much for sharing about your own personal identity and journey. I think you encapsulated it well with the opening statement about being an energizer bunny, compass and challenger in your early years and up to today. And I think it was interesting to hear about your own professional and academic and personal evolution from undergraduate to business school, to McKinsey, and so on, so forth.

The second of course is thank you so much for sharing a little bit about your own identity shift. So we talked about the death of the old identity, and you talked about the birth of a new one, and you talked about it in the context of obviously, from a theoretical side from terms of confrontation in terms of being upfront conversation, but also in terms of your own personal story about what you had to do and how you had to say no and how you went about saying yes.

Lastly thank you so much for sharing about positive influence and are telling about why you sat down to co-author this book and talk about positive influence because if you, their society needs it In spite of the negative influences out there, in spite of the reality that's out there. And as your professor said, you're pick to be either a white cat or black cat, which is, I've never heard of that before, today's the first time.

Huijin Kong: (32:18)

I think you said it much more elegantly, but I don't know why the black cat, white cat imagery is stuck with me. It is very stark. So, we all have these choices or maybe I could end on a note of a speech from Theodore Roosevelt. I think it was in the early 1900s. That inspired me. The title of the speech is called "The Citizen in the Arena", and the point is essentially you got to choose whether you're going to be the gladiator fighting in the arena for something that matters and know that you will be bloodied and even die because it is a fight to the death. Or you can choose to be the people in the stands criticizing, judging the gladiators. And because that's from the comfort of their seats. So, of course I'm not an operator. I'm not a CEO. I'm not an owner. So I really admire folks who are even more of a gladiator than myself. I consider it my privilege to help them have more positive influence. But I have, in my own way, chosen to be a gladiator and despite being bloodied and and at the risk always as well.

Jeremy Au: (33:29)

On that note, thank you so much for coming to the show.

Huijin Kong: (33:31)

Thank you. Thank you, Jeremy, for having me. I think this is such a lovely podcast and I love all the other stories you've had on it, so thank you very much for having me.