Big Money

Play the Role of Coach

Chu carries the titles of chair and CEO, but that doesn't mean he's constantly out of the office wining and dining big clients and on the road hitting up VCs. In fact, Chu's public relations principal made it a point to mention how ever-present Chu is around the building. But even if you do walk the halls regularly, when you employ more than 700 people, as ViewSonic does, you're probably kidding yourself if you think you'll know the entire crew.

In the company's early days, Chu wanted ViewSonic to retain the feeling of a close-knit family; he wanted to be able to rattle off the names of anyone who passed him in the halls. But he admits the era of seeing everyone face-to-face and personally interacting with each employee has passed. "When a company has hundreds of people, it becomes difficult. So the way I do things has dramatically changed," says Chu. "Where two years ago I was working on every detail, today I make sure we're setting good goals for the company and that I set a very clear definition of that for every executive. The key is to delegate, so the management does a better job than me, and hope that my spirit--to be a success--is communicated through [the entire] management level."

After years of having to wear every hat in his business, from product manager to purchasing manager, Chu is now content playing the role of coach and empowering his employees to do things themselves. "When I create something and its directions are clear, I have no problem giving routine jobs to someone else," he says. "I'd rather position myself to create and discover new things."

Apart from implementing his technological vision, Chu also wants the folks in the higher ranks of ViewSonic to maintain the comfortable environment he's created. "The company we want is down-to-earth," he explains. "We don't want a fancy way of doing things. When things get complicated, the company tends to do more internal work and listens to the customer less."

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This article was originally published in the May 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Big Money.

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