The Foodtrepreneur Navigating COVID-19 — Meet with Simon Wong, Chairperson and CEO of LH Group (叙福樓集團)
Sometimes the most meaningful and inspiring conversations happen over casual meals. The Time Auction Blog is a snippet of our meetings with people who have found passion in their lives and career.
Staying connected despite COVID-19, at Time Auction Hong Kong, we’ve once again taken advantage of Zoom to talk with Simon Wong, Chairperson and CEO of LH Group (叙福樓集團), learning how he overcomes personal and organisational hurdles.
Meet Simon Wong!
Simon is an entrepreneur active in innovating the Food & Beverage industry with a strong engineering background. As the Chairperson and CEO of LH Group (叙福樓集團) and Kabushikigaisha Limited, he leads the management of over 10 famous restaurant brands such as Gyu-Kaku (牛角), On-Yasai (温野菜), Mou Mou Club (牛涮鍋) and more.
With his many accolades and responsibilities, he frequently engages in promoting environmental-friendly and socially responsible policies. Simon curated a 6-course wedding banquet menu to reduce food waste, pioneered in offering “No Shark Fin” sustainable seafood wedding banquet menu with WWF HK and initiated the “Suspended Meal” scheme in Hong Kong after participating in “Rich Mate Poor Mate III” (窮富翁大作戰) in 2013 and gaining insights on poverty.
Throughout his in-depth and insightful sharing, Simon gave a humorous and honest take on his mentality on facing adversity, criticism and success.
The Hotpot Hurdle
“The common characteristic of successful people I’ve seen — perseverance. Failure is just what happens when you give up at your worst moments.”
When asked about what the life lesson that took him the longest to learn, Simon answered: “Don’t give up.” COVID-19 might have been the most challenging situation throughout his entrepreneurial journey, he recalled the “hotpot cluster”, an incident where coronavirus was transmitted when 19 family members were enjoying the beloved communal dish. 11 members were confirmed to be infected and became the largest family cluster case by far. This caused customers to avoid hotpot restaurants in fear of catching the virus.
As he runs a successful hotpot chain, this meant a devastating plunge in customers and a highly uncertain future for his businesses. Having considered closing down the chain, Simon persevered and analyzed relevant information. Upon inspection, the “hotpot cluster” occurred at a party room — a venue for large gatherings, and had poor ventilation measures compared to hotpot restaurants. With confidence in his restaurant and hygienic measures, Simon persisted in operating the business.
He concluded the lesson he learned was to never give up and use an analytical mindset to overcome hurdles.
“We fall to pick ourselves up.”
Through the session, we were able to understand how Simon grew his analytical ability. As an avid reader, Simon read a multitude of books such as Newton’s Principia. These books often inspired him and enabled him to learn from views very different from his. As such, he recommended books that would be eye-opening to us.
“An easy read. 21 people wrote a letter to their children and I’m one of them! But I’m sure others wrote better ones.”
“This is a life-changing read. It made me realise the world is filled with taboos, but if we gave the time to read and explore the reasons behind it, we just might realise it’s a whole different story.”
Through suggesting diverse books, he recommended us to explore complex ideas, understand taboos, and learn something new.
Continuing the discussion, Simon shared what inspired his mentality in facing adversity. Quoting incidents from “Rich Mate Poor Mate III”, he expressed how it was a transformative experience to live without financial and technological aid we take for granted, inspiring him to appreciate what he has. Thus, when asked about what superpower he wanted, he simply answered.
“I can’t think of any superpower that I would like to have. I am alive and I think that’s miraculous enough.”
He reminded us not to overlook how fantastic being alive is, and as such we don’t need a superpower, instead appreciate and have a deeper understanding of our own ability to live a fuller life.
Dealing with criticism
On an ending note, he noted that a lot of us were interested in learning how to deal with criticism. He explained there’s always someone who will disagree with you, and it’s important to do what you think is right.
“Will you still offer your seat to an elderly if they didn’t thank you?”
As we all said yes, Simon continues to explain, “ You will do what is right without recognition, so why care too much about what others think? Just do what you believe is correct.”
If you follow Simon’s Facebook, you’ll see how he often expresses his own opinion and interacts with others. As a public figure, he describes he tries to seek the value of criticism. Whilst dealing with hateful comments, Simon explains that if he sees constructive information on his restaurant operations, he’ll extract what needs to improve and move on, instead of being emotionally affected by the negative comments.
Concluding the sharing with thought-provoking discussions, we have surely gained insight on Simon’s journey and how we also can navigate adversity, criticism and persevere for success.
Thank you, Simon, for raising 142 volunteer hours and all the volunteers who dedicated their time for Hong Kong Guide Dog Association, Shek Kip Mei Lutheran Centre and more!
For our upcoming experiences, visit Time Auction Hong Kong to volunteer and meet inspiring mentors!
This article originally appeared on our blog on Medium: https://timeauction.medium.com/the-foodtrepreneur-surviving-covid-19-meet-with-simon-wong-chairperson-and-ceo-of-lh-group-52a918c4b30f