HENRY KONG the Outlier HIS CHILDHOOD STORIES

Outliers in math: the values that “lie outside” the other values. They are far away from the main group of data, their existence affects the mean of the data, and it is our nature of wanting to remove them when we have a good excuse to. Of course that is not the main focus today, right now.

After reading through the epilogue of the book Outliers named “A Jamaican Story”, I lied the book down and thought. I thought long and hard. How could my family, the Kongs, possibly be an outlier from society? I mean, based on my little knowledge, we are just a loving family of 4( the mother, the father, along with 2 absolutly normal, healthy kids) that lives in a tiny yet beautiful country called Singapore. So far we have not experienced major life changing diseases nor natural disasters. My parents are businessman of some sort, and my grandparents? Lets just say they are living in the earth, somewhere. Their life was nothing too outstanding either. They spent their entire life engineering until the Chinese government decided that they are too old and need to retire. So that means no family member of mine is suitable to be called an outlier, right? Wrong. My dad is currently running a company in China, and I wouldn’t consider that a normal, everyday life.

Just my dad in his working place (In His Work Place).

My dad can be called in either Henry, his english name, or Lei. If someone asks me to introduce my dad, in what manner would i do it? Like this?

Lei was born on June 29th,1967 in Beijing. His last name is Kong. As a kid Lei passed with generally good grades. The term “generally” was used because he loved science and math but hated literature, resulting in a very skewed grade. In 1986 he attended Qing Hua University. He mastered physics and mathematics in Qing Hua University in 1991. After a few years of working in Procter & Gamble, he started his own business called U-sys in 2000, the start of a new century. He had won many awards throughout his first career.

Lei receiving the President's Club Award in Procter and Gamble (Henry Attending Award).

That was a step to step guide on how my dad became successful. Is that true? Yes. How about accuracy? Not so much. Things get complicated. The narrator completely ignored my dad’s low to mediocre class background, his competitive personality, and his perfect birth place. Not to mention the amount of help and luck he took for granted. His success, which lead to our families prosperity, was and is all hugely dependent upon the ever so changing Chinese society. Without these outside and inside factors, he would never be able to stand in the position today. No one would doubt how far he has come: started as a normal Chinese kid, got into an American Company, and now the founder of a Chinese company (U-sys). Today I am going to tell you a story of the role my dad's childhood plays in his success.

In my opinion, there are two kinds of successful people. Usually, if you were lucky enough to be born in a wealthy family with just enough ambition and a gifted talent of some sort, the chances of you being in the top of the world, are high. Otherwise you would need tremendous luck, hardship, ambition, etc,. to move up the hierarchy. Lei is latter. Both of his parents are engineers, which is a stereotype at that time for middle working class so they were receiving minimal wage. Being born in this type of environment means extra exposure of competitiveness at a fairly young age. The public schools had a harsh ranking system based on the score of your test, comparing yourself with the rest since grade 1. There were weekly quizzes, monthly tests and semesterly exams. This is to prepare you for the final exam that runs for 3 days at the end of high school. 3 days! What an ironic thing for the colleges to do, not looking at any of the previous report card. The rank number is what differentiate you from others.The higher your rank is, the more prestige university you would go to.

Imagine yourself in a really chaotic, almost ghetto community. In a population of few hundred, everyone knows everyone. You see a boy with a fancy bike and hairstyle, causing so much trouble and knew his parents were on his cover. Is that my dad? No, his parents did not have any sparing money to raise a materialistic child, and that was never his interest anyways. How about that one kid who always studied in his bedroom, is always a star student, and is loved by every single teacher? Not so much either.

Lei was always a clever kid that aces a lot of his tests, but he was not seen as a “model” to others until later of his life. This is because he wasn’t the most outgoing kid anywhere. Not shy, but a little humble and more into his own business, almost a little bit too cool to talk, you know? That’s why not many teacher would use him as an example student, yet no one dislikes him because he wasn't the one to cause trouble.

His love for astronomy started at a very young age, and as time progressed so did his devotion. This all started when Lei was around 5-6. One day, Mrs. Kong came back to work and brought back a book for junior Kong to read. She was a young engineer with only one kid, but she still didn’t spend too much time with him because she had to work. The book she happened to brought back home was a picture book packed with knowledge of our galaxy. As soon as he opened it he fell in love. He considered himself luckier than others because “not only did [he] found [his] general interest at a very young age, [he] also developed an extremely helpful skill called concentration” (Kong).

My dad remembered his family environment a not loving one. They were genuinely on the poorer side of the spectrum, and that led to many endless conflicts. “The living conditions were poor, they (his parents) were not in a good relationship. I knew that when I grow up, this is not what I want, that I am going to live a better life than my parents”(Kong Nov, 25). When Lei was very little he told himself that he would do whatever he can do not end up in the same financial state as his parents, especially when he knew it was not their parents fault, since the rest of China was suffering. Henry knew that going to a good university was the only way out. In some way, the harsh environments actually benefited him by motivating him to make a change in his life. He picked up a lot of good habits along the way, including doing everything without others reminder, and studying for things that weren't needed to be tested.

Finally the day came. The day after the final exam. It was like the judgement day for Lei, since his future is dependent on the very score of the final exam. It was somewhat comparable to the A level testing today, if not harsher. He applied to 2 universities, the first being the very best university at that time called Tsing Hua, and another being a more mediocre alternative. As he got to school that day, the long-waited results came into his hands in a small envelope containing his final exam score and the overall accepted score for the 2 schools. He opened it with somewhat shaky hands to find out he was about to embark on an adventure to the dream come true.

Little had he known how much fun he would have later in his life (Henry Giving Presentation).

On the August of 1986 Lei stepped onto the schoolground of Tsinghua University, which abbreviated as THU. His first dream was fulfilled. In here, his 5 years of college life awaits. If he was a normal if somewhat quiet kid back in elementary and secondary, well, not anymore. There was SOMETHING in him that separated in with the other kids, and it was music. Most of his other peers joined student council or community service. For him it was a school sponsored band. It was a band of 4, a small but sufficient group of people that performed own their own about 4, 5 times a year and would accompany a majority of the school’s other art clubs such as choir and drama. It was a big deal in the school. People known him for it. He sometimes known himself for it. Lei was the keyboard player.Aside from his normal courses, he would spend a lot of his time practicing with the band. In fact, the entire team was so committed they would take away sleeping time for rehearsal.

There were many benefits of being in a band, some obvious and some not. Lei was beyond excited when he stated that “he was one of the few with the prestige to share have only 1 roommate”(Kong Nov. 25). This was usually the luxurious treatment for a senior. He was receiving this special treatment since his freshmen year. Because he constantly had to practice with the band, there were no curfews for him. This means my dad was being forced for greater independence than the rest of his peers. If not handled well, he could have easily went off track because there were no teacher to tell him what to do. But he didn't. The good studying and time managing habits he picked up earlier kicked in, and he was able to get everything done while having an amazing, eye catching resume.

The biggest twist in his life is probably Procter and Gamble, an American Company. They first settled in China during the early 1990s. After building a factory in the China mainland, they decided to visit the top schools in China for campus recruiting. Nonetheless Tsinghua was on the very top of the list. This is a very new and daunting opportunity for anyone. Prior to that people had no knowledge what so ever about American Companies. Henry was curious about it, but at the same time he was already thinking about getting a PhD in the states. After a hard time of going back and forth the 2 options, he decided that being a part of P&G was what he wanted. Why go to the land of opportunity when there is an opportunity right in front of you? Therefore, he gave P&G a try.

As Henry was telling me the very interview he had with P&G that made him one of the first Chinese members, he could not help but smile. he claimed that it was one of his best experiences in his life, but not because he was being particularly cunning on that day, but because he gets to show others what he was doing his entire life. He gets to show his differences and his strengths to the world, and these differences and strengths didn't happen over night. It was years of persistence that did the job. He remembered being asked 8 questions, each targeting a different required skill, such as leadership, initiative and follow through, communication skill, innovation skill, team corporation, proprietary setting up, and data analysis. You are required to give detailed examples for each catagory. "Others would talk about there life in student council, but your dad is the dope dude that had amazing stories of how he stayed up late for a better performance, how he paid his own tuition fee by selling electronic keyboards in a mall, and his own method of how to get everything done in time. They were completely in shock" (Kong, Nov. 25). Maybe he exaggerated on the interviewers reactions, but they were definitely happy to find someone like my dad with such a diverse story. Yes, Procter and Gamble decided to recruit him. From this point on Henry's life rocket-shipped. He won the Chairman club award twice and the President Club's award three times, gaining so much philosophies and experiences in consulting business before flying off to start his own business. But he has not forgotten how he got here.

Henry and I inside the Grand Canyon (In The States).

Without his childhood experiences, my dad probably would not have gotten into P&G and started his own business. He probably wouldn't have met my mom, who also worked in P&G. And worst of all, he wouldn't be my dad.

Started off as a poor Chinese kid and now he is in a state where he is able to take his daughter anywhere around the world. What he experienced in P&G and U-SYS would not be possible without considering how the ranking system, his parents and the university shaped him. Being born in the right time with the right opportunity and thousands of hours of into practicing good habits, he lived his childhood/young adult life to its maximum potential.

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