An Evening with Yue-Sai Kan 靳羽西

This past week, we got to meet the venerable Yue-Sai Kan 靳羽西. She graciously hosted us at her spacious home in Shanghai. Our professor, Peter Carnevale was able to arrange for an informal talk with her to talk about her experiences.

Yue-Sai, born in Guilin, was raised in Hong Kong. After attaining a degree in music in Hawaii, she moved to New York to begin her career in television, just around the time when the cable television industry was taking off. Yue-Sai created, produced, and starred in several popular television series, bilingually for both the US and China markets. She won an Emmy award with her ABC documentary China Walls and Bridges in 1989. With over 30 years of broadcasting experience, she is widely considered the most famous woman in China and the Chinese Oprah.

In the early ’90′s Yue-Sai dove into her next venture, cosmetics. On the suggestion from the Chinese government, Yue-Sai started a cosmetics company, since she felt that there wasn’t anything in the market catered for the Chinese woman. The company, of the same moniker – Yue-Sai, was sold to L’Oreal in 2004. Yue-Sai remains with the company as the Honorary Chairwoman for the company.

Just from her different experiences, styles, and philosophy, she could have taught our class. We were fortunate enough, to gain her insight into her business acumen, her views on life, and her mantra on happiness. I was particularly intrigued about her thoughts on happiness. I remembered how she maintained her positive outlook through different periods in her life. Its amazing how she has a excellent grasp on marketing herself through blogs, TV, books, and film.

The 4 Questions Yue-Sai Kan’s asks before making a decision
1. Have I Got The Talent To Do It?
2. Have I Got Enough Passion To Do It?
3. Does It Do Good To Other People?
4. Does It Do Good Especially To Chinese?
*For most of the people, the first 3 questions are enough, but for Yue-Sai, the last question is especially important

She also noted that once you attain a certain level of success, it is time to appreciate culture and help the fellow man. With her travels, you can see how she has appreciated culture, arts, and music. And in her work, she has been now more known as a philanthropist for underprivileged schools, disabled, and children.

Her sensibilities of different cultures allows her to relate with people from various backgrounds, such as our class. The famous Mototown music producer, Quincy Jones, considers Yue-Sai as a sister. Chen Luyu 陈鲁豫, the host of A Date of Luyu鲁豫有约, thinks of Yue-Sai as an inspiration – through a personal note she shared. And since 2006, she has been involved with the Shanghai International Film Festival, where she has been able to leverage her ties to the entertainment industry. As famous and accomplished as she may be, Yue-Sai was quite approachable and friendly.

靳羽西 with USC GEMBA VII from The Thirsty Pig on Vimeo.

Recent Interviews
November 12, 2010 ABC News


Note: Currently, I am enrolled in USC’s Global Executive MBA program in Shanghai. I’m part of the USC GEMBA VII class. For more information check out this link. And a special thanks to PR & Marketing Director and Special Assistant Uma Chu, Professor Peter Carnevale, and USC GEMBA Director John Van Fleet for setting up this event.

The University of Southern California Global Executive MBA