Leave People Better Than You Found Them — Dinner with Gary Liu, CEO of SCMP

Time Auction
5 min readOct 13, 2017
Dinner with Gary raised 126 volunteer hours

Graduating from Harvard and having worked for Google, AOL, Digg and Spotify, at the mere age of 34, it is pretty much safe to say Gary Liu, is a one-of-a-kind prodigy. Despite all these grand achievements at such young age, Gary has wasted no time resting on his laurels, and has, as of January 2017, became the CEO of SCMP, Hong Kong’s most credible newspaper of record.
Having worked in prominent positions of so many different technology and news companies at this age, Gary’s mind is a gold mine of insight, one which we were able to tap into during our dinner, as he shared not only his story of climbing the ladder of success, but also shed some light on who he is deep inside.

Our talk has been enlightening in every sense and was also successful in raising 126 volunteer hours to charity.

What’s your life motto or guiding philosophy?

“I’m not wise enough to have a life motto, but I do have a definition of impact that I live my life in pursuit of.

My definition of impact is that you want to leave all the people you encounter in life better than when you first found them.

To me, it means — as part of a leader of a company — I want to make sure my employees and my users are better because of my company. In my personal life, I want to make sure that my family and my friends are better because of their relationship with me. I don’t chase after money, fame or power but all I’m looking for is that kind of mentality in life.

Being a Christian has molded who I am and driven me a lot, and part of that is making the world that we live in a better place. At the same time I have seen what the pursuit of money, fame and power does to people. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but if you only care about chasing after them, more often than not you’re going to be left unhappy.”

Is there a habit that has significantly improved your life?

“Before I go to bed, I write down three things to be completed on the next day.

To be able to accomplish three things every day for your career, you’re going to get a lot done. You need a framework to operate. I know that I will have to get these things done, so I carve out time. Once I get them done, I can give myself space. I don’t feel compelled to always be working, and I know there are moments when I can stop. So, here’s what is actually important. Structure allows space for creativity. If you don’t have structure and you just fill it with all sorts of things you need to do, you will never have the time to step back and take the time and be creative. So if i have structure in my day, I will be able to give myself that space.”

If you have to give a lesson unrelated to your current career, what would it be?

“I’m really passionate about whiskey, and I happen to know too much about it. If I were to give a lesson because of my passion and knowledge, it would be about whiskey.”

What is one action you hope everyone can take away from this meeting?

“Think about somebody you want to invest more of your time into and then go ahead and do it.

It could be your parents — you want to spend more time with them? Make that commitment and do it. It could also be someone on your team, someone who reports to you that you believe has potential. Or it could be a good friend who needs a shoulder to lean on and someone to listen to.

The only reason why I have made it this far in my career is because people spent time on me. There are other leaders or people who I worked for who said, ‘I’m going to spend more time with you, Gary’ and they’ve given up a lot of their time and energy just to talk to me, teach me, counsel me and because of that, I’ve been able to advance. So, I think we all can do the same for someone or for a group of people.

Thank you Gary for spending your Monday night with us, which has raised 126 volunteer hours to Red Cross, Community Business, Lifelong Animal Protection, Faith in Love, HandsOn Hong Kong and more!

Special thanks to our venue sponsor W Hong Kong!

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Time Auction is a charity that advocates volunteerism. We encourage volunteering with inspiring experiences, while connecting skilled-volunteers with NGOs.