Crimcheck CEO Tom Shieh on the Importance of Being the Chief 'Empowerment' Officer
Great leadership is about creating more leaders, says the veteran entrepreneur.
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Tom Shieh, CEO of Crimcheck, a background check and employment screening company. It was condensed by The Oracles.
What was a defining moment early in your life?
Tom Shieh: I grew up in an immigrant family from humble beginnings. My father worked the overnight shift as a janitor because he didn’t speak English, which limited his opportunities. When he wasn’t able to earn enough, he returned to Taiwan to support the family, so he wasn’t around for most of my childhood. This taught me the value of hard work, taking care of family, and persistence through challenging times at a young age.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Tom Shieh: I see the world through numbers and have advanced mathematical acumen that’s stereotypical of my Asian background. I can quickly calculate percentages, revenue, and margins. I break down problems into numbers by evaluating the effort required to solve them, ranking priorities, assessing probabilities, and making decisions based on that numerical profile.
What are the core values that guide your business, and why did you pick them?
Tom Shieh: We have three simple values: Do the right thing, do your best, and show people you care. These guiding principles turn complicated thinking into simple, practical actions. They’re easy to remember and encapsulate the fundamentals of business — because business is about relationships.
One of my early mentors ingrained in me the habit of continually asking myself: “How big would your business be if everyone who ever tried your product or service remained a customer?” If you provide value, make a diligent effort, and genuinely care for your clients, it’s incredible how exponentially you can grow.
What book changed your mindset or life?
Tom Shieh: The Bible. But before you dismiss this as a religious answer, consider that it’s studied by people from all walks of life — from historians to poets, scholars, and business leaders. In fact, it’s the best-selling book of all time.
The Bible outlines the principles of a successful life and practical steps to live meaningfully. It inspires hope and captures stories about overcoming obstacles. It teaches me about purpose and integrity, has shaped my trajectory as an entrepreneur, and has refined my mindset about sales, customer service, and servant leadership.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Tom Shieh: As a father of three young kids, I’ve learned the importance of being present, which my children teach me daily. We tend to think about family when we’re at work and about work when we’re at home with family. I would remind my younger self to enjoy the moment fully. Experience the process, appreciate the people on the journey, and celebrate every opportunity.
How do you define great leadership?
Tom Shieh: I believe my role as CEO is to be the Chief “Empowerment” Officer. I’ve learned that assembling outstanding team members and empowering them to use their unique skills is one of our company’s greatest leverage points.
Leadership isn’t about having many followers; it’s about creating more leaders. To grow, we must continually train, equip, and promote our team players to leadership positions. The more that leaders can surround themselves with collective wisdom, the higher our chances are of making wise, educated decisions.
How do you identify a good business partner?
Tom Shieh: The billionaire investor Warren Buffett looks for three things when he hires people: intelligence, initiative or energy, and integrity. He says, “If they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.”
After experiencing hurtful business relationships, I committed to make integrity the deciding factor in my future relationships. I don’t care how good a deal is or how attractive the returns appear. If I cannot trust the person or organization, we don’t do business.
I ask myself: Does this person do what they say? Does their private life match their public life? Can they be trusted with little things? How do they treat someone who cannot provide any value to them? Do their guiding principles waver when they’re inconvenient?
How do you prevent burnout?
Tom Shieh: I don’t believe that you can burn out if you’re following your passion. Yes, you can get tired or stretched, but when you’re burned out, it’s often a sign of misalignment.
It took me 20 years of entrepreneurship to realize my unique gifts and acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses. When I was younger, I valiantly wanted to do everything and worked hard to turn my weaknesses into strengths. Although this isn’t necessarily bad, I’ve realized the flow that comes from operating in my zone of genius and aligning with others whose skills and experience complement mine.
What are you working on right now?
Tom Shieh: One of the goals of our Vivid Vision, based on the Cameron Herold book, is to be named one of the best places to work. It’s not about having a plaque on the wall to boast about, but fostering a world-class environment where each team member is challenged, valued, and enthusiastic, with a viable path to achieving their dreams and aspirations.
Month by month, year by year, we continue to implement initiatives that help us gauge the health of our culture. We welcome feedback and make incremental enhancements to make our organization an amazing place to work.
What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?
Tom Shieh: I want to be known as a child of God, a loving husband, an amazing father, and a friend to all.
The words and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee alone. What worked for them may not work for everyone. Any claims in this article have not been independently verified.
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