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Although CEO and founder of tech company TINYPulse David Niu is considered a successful serial entrepreneur, things weren’t always smooth sailing for him.

On paper everything seemed to be going smashingly with Niu’s first startup, BuddyTV. He was even able to secure $10 million in VC funding for the company. But Niu quickly realized that he was burning out; he simply wasn’t passionate about his work anymore. Around this time he also got married and had a baby girl in quick succession.

Niu told his team he was going to step down. He decided to sell everything he owned and take a trip around the world with stops in numerous cities.

He had two goals:

  • Have great quality time with his wife and daughter Interview as many successful entrepreneurs as possible who were not in the tech space about leadership and workplace cultures
  • The results of his journey around the world included great memories with his family and a world-class education from successful entrepreneurs.

Here are the top four lessons he learned as the result of his unlikely journey:


Although we certainly want to bring talented people on our teams, it is even more important that we find people who share our values. If values aren’t aligned, the relationship we have with someone is almost guaranteed to be a rough one, and will likely end quickly.

It can be quite costly to have someone on the team who does not share the team values. Such a person can be like poison for the other team members, costing us productivity. Eventually, we will likely have to replace the person and incur the cost of rehiring.

Niu learned a great tool for ensuring values alignment of new hires from a CEO in Seoul, Korea. This CEO uses very precise interview questions to ensure that a new hire shares the same values as his team.

His team asks every candidate to explain situations where they lived the team’s core values. If a candidate is unable or unwilling to answer each question satisfactorily, she or he is not offered a position, regardless of how talented she or he is.


This article was published by Fast Company.   To read the entire article, please click here.