Wellington Chen, Senior Vice President
Chen looks at conquering adversity as a boxking match: The most dangerous opponent is the one who won’t stay down.
What one factor is most important to success?
Now, that’s a loaded question. I would say determination. You know, coming from a culture where water torture is well known, I would say that perseverance and determination are far and above the keys to success. And obviously luck certainly helps a great deal, and circumstances.
What do you look for in an employee?
Integrity. Because the skill sets are such a thing that no one is just born with the skills that are required for this complex society. So, I would say if the person has the material, so to speak, they can learn and they can adapt. The human resource is the most valuable resource that this city has. Any good manager will recognize that human resources are the most valuable asset his company has.
What’s the best way to save money?
Spend within your means.
What’s the best way to spend money?
Spend it on things that give you the highest return.
What’s your greatest pleasure?
Knowing that I gave it all my best. I’m less afraid of failure as I get older, knowing that if anybody was to, say, enter the Olympics saying, “I’m only going to go in if I win the gold,” then there would be very few participants. It’s the process. We should savor and appreciate the process as much as the end result.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I feel glad to be alive. You know, the Japanese tea ceremony teaches us to savor the moment. The accumulation of all the moments is what makes our lifetime of memories.
How do you deal with stress?
I don’t deal with it well, just like everybody else. (Laughs.) We all have to manage stress and it’s not easy.
What one lesson do you hope to pass on to your children?
No one gives you anything on a silver platter. There will be ups and downs and there’ll be a roller coaster ride, and you’ll have to bounce back from different circumstances. You know, the thing a boxer fears the most is the opponent who keeps getting back up. No matter how many times you knock him or her down, if the person keeps coming back at you, that’s the most fearful opponent you can have. And if you can make yourself that opponent, you’ve got it made in life.
How do you bounce back from adversity?
This is why I think the Marine Corps train their people so well. You just pick it up based on what you got. Life is never fair, life is never equal, you can only deal with the hand you were dealt. I’m always amazed at the paralympians. Some of us can’t even swim well with four limbs and they’re out there with one arm, or swimming with an arm and a leg, or with no legs. With no pity. They just say, “This is what I have to do, I have to pick up and I have to keep on going.” That’s a great example. The paralympians are really inspiring to us, that’s why I hope we have the honor of hosting the Olympics in New York City.
What’s your favorite thing about Queens?
The people. The beauty of Queens is that you can talk to someone from Athens, someone from Zimbabwe, somebody from Malta, and be exposed to something you never thought possible before. That element of surprise, that you can open up a conversation with the guy standing next to you and you never know what the next topic will be. That beauty is really a good example for us as we move forward into the 21 st Century. Not since the collapse of the Tower of Babel have we had this opportunity to interact, and communicate, and talk with one another.
Along with his duties as Senior Vice President at the TDC Development Corp., a commercial and residential properties builder in the New York area since 1985, Chen stays busy throughout Queens, too. He’s active in the borough’s Asian American/Asian Research Institute and co-founded Destination Flushing, Inc., a group working to improve the neighborhood. He also serves on CUNY’s Board of Trustees.