Ben Feng leading a discussion on Education

I was honored when Bro Billy Lee asked me to write an article on his website to promote Friendship and Friendshipology (F&F). I believe making friends is one of the most important values in life. One of my goals in life is to be able to communicate with anyone from age 2 to 100. I still have a ways to go but I am getting closer by leading student education programs.

I have been running an education program that focuses on leadership, team work, communication and creativity in China since my retirement in 2012. My students range from age 5 to 18. I was a little concerned over whether I can make friends with someone as young as 5 years old. It was challenging at first but over time I was able to communicate and make friends with these 5 year old students. I feel there are four keys points to making friends with these:

1) Stay humble and believe we can be better. I tended to be arrogant when I was young. Over time I realized there is so much I can learn from everyone. I can make a better me if I just listen and learn from others.                                       

2) Listen and know the students. It is important to know the students’ names and background before meeting them. They always react positively if we know their names and understand their background.                                                                

3) Build trust and make a connection. The best way to build trust is to understand the students’ needs and help them.                                          

4) Forgive others when they make a mistake. We all make mistakes because we are human beings. When people make mistakes, focus on the positive and reflect what we can do to move forward.                                                                                                                                                               

I was able to use these four keys to learn something from a nine year old student of mine who told me that she does not have a good relationship with her father. I asked, “why not”? She told me that when he makes mistakes he would always blame others. He never feels it’s his fault. This conversation made me realize the importance of saying sorry when one makes a mistake. It is especially important for parents to admit when they have made a mistake. We are human and we all make mistakes.

I have built long lasting relationships with some of these students. Students graduate from our program and often return as volunteers. After they go to college, they refer other students and volunteers to our program. I have one student, Candice, who graduated from Univ. of Washington. After she got a job with Google, she sent a nice note thanking us for the guidance we gave her over the years. One volunteer was a student from Harvard who came from Burundi, Africa. After Salathiel graduated from Harvard, he decided to go back to his country and start a renewable energy business.  One time he had to come to China and purchase water meters. As Salathiel does not speak Chinese, he asked for my help and I accompanied him to Ningbo to help him negotiate an agreement!

Life has become much more meaningful after I started these educational programs – I have made many young friends; interacting with them keeps me young; I learned how to enjoy the moment; and I am trying to learn something new every day. I plan to do these programs for the rest of my life.

Ben Feng taking questions

” Benjamin Feng was born in Taiwan and moved to United States when he was 12. He lived with his family in Cincinnati Ohio where he graduated from high school. Benjamin received his BS and MS degrees in chemical engineering from MIT.  After graduation he worked for Stone and Webster designing waste treatment systems for power and chemical plants. Then he went to Harvard Business School for his MBA.

After HBS Benjamin worked for Citibank for 13 years.  He had worked in Foreign exchange trading, corporate banking, investment banking, private banking, and problem loan management. It was during this period he developed a comprehensive understanding of the financial industry. He has lived in New York, Taipei, Singapore and Indonesia during this time.

After Citibank Benjamin became managing director of Kwanghua Securities investment Trust which he helped to become the largest mutual fund company in Taiwan. This sets the stage for him to enter the investment business for the next 20 years.

Benjamin then founded the All Asia Partners which is a venture capital firm that invests in Taiwan and Silicon Valley. The initial investments were in late stage investments. All Asia then began to move into intermediate stage investments. Investments were made in the semiconductor, healthcare, and information technology companies.

In 2008 Benjamin joined Paclink Capital as a senior partner moved to Shanghai to manage the investments in China. Paclink has made investments in auto components, health care, education, Information technology, clean tech industries.

In 2012 Benjamin joined Trans-Pac Institute as a senior partner that provides education to high school and international students. His curriculum is project based and focused on life skills. Life skills include leadership, communication, team work, and creativity. Benjamin has done several charity projects in Yunnan and Qinghai. He hopes to devote the rest of his life running these life skills programs. “