iAsk x China Daily ｜ Gloria Ai speaks with Jing Li
Graduating from Hebei Normal University majoring in Accordion, she embarked on a journey of hosting TV shows. She made her way from Zhangjiakou TV to Beijing TV and CCTV, and was awarded as “The Best Talk Show Host in China”.
In 2008, she founded the second-largest cosmetics e-commerce platform in China, Lefeng.com, which was the first professional beauty online retailer in China in collaboration with beauty professionals and celebrities, franchised by thousands of global brands.
What is even more shocking is that she sold Lefeng.com to VIPShop at USD $112.5 million, and became an investor instead.
People are amazed at her excellent capabilities and determination. She fearlessly let go of the past glory and a stable job at CCTV, and founded Fleet Entertainment from scratch; she obtained funding from Nanpeng Shen and successfully exited Lefeng.com. To date, she is working as a TV host, producer and CEO.
She is Jing Li.
Everyone is a biography
As Jun Tang put it: "My success can be duplicated."
"That is because everything in the world, from the universe to flowers and fruits, follows several simple rules. As long as you master these rules, you can constantly recreate a colorful life, just like the kaleidoscope we played in childhood.
Success is not a coincidence. Every case of success must follow similar rules, just like the so-called "one size fits all". On the contrary, the saying also stands, as each case has a valuable pattern for people to learn.
Everyone has their own value. What is truly rare is the sharp acumen to discover the value.
Gloria Ai: People are more familiar with you as a TV host and media professional. What kind of interview do you think is good?
Jing Li: This is very interesting sometimes. What do people want? People might not want you to educate them or teach them anything, but to communicate with them.
Gloria Ai: Every time I talk to investors and entrepreneurs, I keep asking myself what audiences want to hear? We try to understand their needs as much as we can. What’s your opinion on this?
Jing Li: The most important thing is what I share with everyone. I think it should be insights. For example, when I encounter an issue or a bottleneck, or when I intend to work on something new, how should I put in thoughts? I summed up a methodology, the so-called "Dinosaur-like Methodology", meaning how to stay tough to setbacks and how to survive. Later on, I started wondering: "What is the truth?"
Some people share with you a ton of chicken soup for the soul, and it makes you look up to them, but you have no idea how to take the first step. I hope that everyone treats me as a peer or even junior, so we can strive forward together.
Gloria Ai:From being a TV host to founding Fleet Entertainment, doing business in e-commerce with Lefeng.com, on boarding capital later on, and now becoming an investor, how do you build your knowledge system along the way?
Jing Li: In fact, I gain knowledge from other people. They often ask me where I obtained so much knowledge or how I studied certain fields. I answered: "by stealing". A friend of mine said: "You particularly enjoy constantly asking people questions and absorbing knowledge in areas that you don't understand, but when you gain something from others, you are able to internalize the knowledge with your own thinking." I think this is constant growth for me. For example, I will try to make friends in this field, treat them to coffee, closely observe everything about them, and then continuously learn from them.
Gloria Ai: We have to take the essence and discard the dregs. Everyone is a biography.
Jing Li: Right. When you talk to people from various industries, you will slowly master a method and then learn from them.
As an industry-leading TV host, and "Mulan in business", she didn’t become arrogant. During the conversation with Jing Li, she kept mentioning “learning”, since the word serves as a guidance in her life. After achieving so much to date, she doesn’t talk as if trying to “preach” at all. She never ascertains that everything she says is correct, nor does she look down upon the shiny value in each person.
“Reticular Activating System" benefits no one
In 2006, the first domestic large-scale fashion beauty show "Mei Li Qiao Jia Ren" produced by Fleet Entertainment was launched on Anhui TV. With the popularity of the show, it created incredibly high traffic. Host Jing Li also became the most eye-catching "symbol" of the show, placing her under the public spotlight.
At the peak of popularity, in 2008, as the "best spokesperson" of beauty products at that time, Jing Li founded Lefeng.com, aiming to provide "hundreds of millions of Chinese women with prime choices for a quality life."
As the popularity of the show and herself cooled down in 2014, she decisively sold Lefeng.com that she worked hard for and “exited” the capital market successfully.
Jing Li is a typical "opportunism practitioner", which is by no means a negative comment.
Gloria Ai: Based on your entrepreneurial journey, in the investment sector, the most talked about is that you sold Lefeng.com to VIPShop, which was a very successful capital withdrawal. What advice do you have for new industries, now opportunities or the paid-knowledge sharing sector?
Jing Li: I can't offer much advice, but as I mentioned earlier, I have summed up my own methodology. I think you have the opportunity to decide what kind of person you desire to be, and you also need opportunities and luck.
It’s up to you whether to be an opportunist or not. It is not a derogatory term. For example, let’s say you’re looking for opportunities, and you plan to build a platform, but you have to think about whether you have the ability for it or not, or whether you understand part of the business. Another aspect is whether you would like to be a craftsman, a craftsman of content. I would, because creating content is something that I take pleasure in and am expert at.
If paid-knowledge sharing is a major opportunity, and it is what I enjoy doing, I wouldn’t care about whether I will make money out of this because it’ll likely to enable me to advance in a new way.
Gloria Ai: In the face of transformation, many people who once moved forward from the media sector are bothered with one issue where they need to be a craftsman, work on the platform, finance capital and operate business. You’ve gone through all the complicated decision-making process. How did you deal with it?
Jing Li:People hear about how Zhenyu Luo and Deng Fan worked as media professionals while building their platforms, how Kai Wang received capital investment and financed, etc. But if you think harder, can you name more than 10 persons like them?
We often experience the"Reticular Activating System" . Forexample, when you’re pregnant, you feel like a lot of people are pregnant at the same time. When you witness the success of a bunch of professionals, you would assume that’s how media people should transform. This bias doesn’t benefit anyone, because it doesn’t apply to the majority. Just like countless of unknown actors working in Hengdian, not everyone makes a fortune.
You don't have to be like Zhenyu Luo, Deng Fan, or Kai Wang, because they achieved their success with favorable timing, advantageous platform and outstanding capabilities. I feel that we must figure out what we’re best at and work our way up.
If you’re going to quote me, I’ll be very clear with one statement. If I restart my E-commerce this year, my friends would tease me badly. Will Jing Li succeed in e-commerce again? When I worked on Lefeng.com and made it the second largest in China, we only had a small team and expanded from there. I attribute my success to the perfect timing and favorable platform, plus the peak popularity of the show “Mei Li Qiao Jia Ren”, with the help of previous network. If I start the same business this year, it’d be impossible to succeed again.
Thus, I think people should think carefully how many people are doing it, why you want to become one of them, whether you’re capable, or why bother giving yourself a hard time. I think it’s unnecessary. Just do your best.
I compete with my friends on learning every day
As Confucius put it, learn without satiety. In fact, most people’s whole life is a process of constantly learning new things, which facilitates social progress with each passing day. The reverse also stands: the ever-changing society motivates people to constantly learning; those who are contented with familiar fields and stop learning will fall behind times.
On May 15th, 2016, the paid voice Q&A platform - "Fenda" was launched. Subsequently, Zhenyu Luo, Founder of Luogic Talkshow, made every effort to build the app iGet; Ximalaya FM launched the content consumption celebration named “123 Knowledge Carnival”; Zhihu released Zhihu Live, etc. On March 7, 2017, Douban launched the first paid product - "Douban Time"; later on, Tencent CEO Huateng Ma claimed that they were speeding up putting paid subions online on WeChat public accounts.
Nowadays, as concentration and quality content become increasingly scarce, the online “paid knowledge sharing” platform is under the spotlight, ready to rise up to opportunities with the knowledge reserve.
The rise of “paid knowledge sharing” exactly demonstrates the importance of learning knowledge.
For instance, since the establishment of MBA education by the first batch of nine universities in China in 1991, the number of Chinese MBA higher education institutions has increased to more than 230. Such minor aspect demonstrates that more and more people choose to pursue further education, or continue to learn.
It is said that: "You need to hide all the hard work to make your achievements today seem effortless." However, no one in the world is so luckily born with extraordinary talents that they don’t need to learn to equip knowledge and capabilities for all undertakings. Each achievement, big or small, is a result of planting the seed of learning.
Gloria Ai: Self-recognition is invaluable. When you acknowledge yourself and understand the trend, you are able to secure a spot in the sector. But I noticed that you transformed your identity sharply recently. For example, on the stage today, you claimed that you’re not a media person, but an investor instead. Why do you think you are an investor?
Jing Li: Just like every business I’ve been engaged in, I served as a leader while learning at the same time. Maybe I’m still at a primary stage in terms of building a knowledge system, but I enjoy the process. From my perspective, if I live and want to be happy, I don’t yearn for a well-off life; instead, I care for challenges, even if I might fall into the sea after climbing over a mountain. I enjoy adventures and the feeling of hanging by a thread. It’s like a gambler’s spirit. As I grow older, I can’t gamble arbitrarily anymore, but I still need to keep learning.
For example, I have three close female friends, Ying Na, Wenli Jiang and Dandan Song. Their success is truly driven by self-motivation. Wenli has already become proficient in oil painting, and now she’s onto studies of Chinese civilization. Dandan is dedicated to learning to play the piano. She has become great at it by learning from scratch. We’re competing on our learning progress every day. Ying Na is devoted to practicing Pilates and English communication.
Let’s switch back to the paid-knowledge sharing sector. The key lies in people’s desire to learn. Learning is anti-humanity, but we need to make everyone feel the opposite. I used to refuse learning because I hated exams, thinking that why I should keep studying now that I’ve already graduated. Now I believe that the paid-knowledge sharing should truly awaken people’s subconscious yearning to “become a better person”. If people feel like learning is anti-human, that would be exhausting.
Some people repel taking risks and are more willing to stay in the comfort zone and feel safe. In this way, while avoiding all the "boredom" and risks, they also ruin all their opportunities, because luck won’t favor those who avoid taking a step forward or wasting their time.
But learning is indeed tedious. Few people can actually take pleasure in learning, especially when it comes to unfamiliar new areas.
As Jing Li said, what is important is how to "stimulate the desire to learn." There would be no passion for learning just “for the sake of it”, which would merely be a “mental pressure” and could even incur negative effects. What if it’s for a brighter future?
Seize the opportunity. The belief of "I want to be better" can be the driving force to take risks, to learn and embrace the luck for the “future”.
Finally, I’d like to share with a sentence by Gloria Ai: the more you learn, the luckier you will be.