Education is a core component of professional success. Dr. Leslie Shen knows the importance of honing your skills, regardless of your specialty. With an immense dedication to learning, he holds degrees in both finance and law. He received his Ph.D. from Oxford and his JD from Harvard. His highly-focused specialization makes him an invaluable asset to the business world. While he is currently working on international mergers and acquisitions, he has spent nearly twenty years providing financial, legal, and compliance advice to the companies he has worked with.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I wanted a career that felt both necessary and fulfilling. Learning has always been an important factor in my life. As I went through school, I discovered the universal language, which is finance. Having an understanding of how the financial markets work and influence the global economy makes you a very marketable resource. I believed learning law would only enhance my skills and help put me in a more specialized field.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is very full. I work in multiple time zones, so I don’t always have the normal 9 to 5 workday. I make it productive by listing what I need to take care of for the day and working on getting it done. I will have scheduled meetings, sometimes in person, sometimes by phone with international businesses. I will delegate what I can when it is needed. Recognizing that one person can’t do everything is important when you are in a managing position. I am productive because I have a great team working with me.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I maintain an approachable attitude and am willing to listen to any ideas that are presented to me. If I think it is something that is feasible and more efficient, we will explore it more through discussion and planning. If we need to bring in more people or need to find a different resource, we will work on doing that. The idea is to always be willing to learn new things. You have to be willing to listen in order to grow.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I have always been excited about the advancement in technologies. I love that we learn newer and better ways to get things done. It makes communication between companies and countries so much easier. At the same time, I feel like we are also becoming more appreciative of the human factor brought in business. While having great technologies and software can help with productivity, it has always and will always be the human connection that really sits at the heart of business.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It seems simple, but making that list in the morning is what I think keeps my days productive. It helps me to prioritize effectively. I will look back at the list throughout the day, as I am marking things off, and will adjust it as needed. It’s just a very easy and effective way to keep everything on track, especially when you have a lot going on at once.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would like to tell myself to never stop reaching for the goals I set for myself. When we are young, we tend to make decisions based on short-term situations. I had times when I was unsure of what direction I wanted to take. I’d like to tell myself that this focus on reaching my goals will pay off. It takes dedication and the willingness to work hard, but it is so worth it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I feel like a lot of people see the financial and legal world as a hindrance to business transactions. Depending on the specific field, you may have a lot of red tape to cut through. These rules and regulations are in place to protect the businesses on both sides of a transaction, but they can be tedious. Knowing how to navigate these worlds makes things run smoother.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Set time aside, every day, to read. It doesn’t matter what you read. The more you take in and the greater variety that you choose to read will help you become a more diverse person. I read for at least thirty minutes every day. Whether it be the newspaper, a novel, or something related to my work, I am still learning. I am growing. That is important to me.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The fundamentals of every skill set is very important. Always go back and practice the fundamentals of your specific skill set. For example, I will go back and read the basics in each of my fields of study. Each time you go back through it, you will have a new understanding and realization of the material. This will increase your skills in ways a lot of people may not understand until they try it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I used to try to satisfy everyone’s needs. That resulted in having so much on my plate, I couldn’t keep up as I should have been. You can’t be successful that way. I overcame this by learning how to say no when I am already full. This makes me more efficient and allows me to keep to the timelines I set for myself. I’ve had better outcomes by recognizing this and making that change.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would have to say an app to help individuals understand investments. I think a lot of young individuals are unsure of how to possibly invest their money, so I think an app could provide them with the knowledge and resources to get started.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My professional subscriptions are about $100. The information I get in return is worth well above what I spent.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My calendar is one of the most important resources I use. It helps me map my day and stay on track.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Economist is a magazine for the financial world. I would recommend it, even for those not in the industry. It can provide an understanding you may not otherwise have of our global economy.
What is your favorite quote?
“Know the enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat”
- Education is key
- Be open and approachable
- Go back to the basics when you need to
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.