We are lucky to have the esteemed lecturer, Professor Zhang Wang-lei PhD (History), a series of articles for us. This is a first in a series written by Prof. Zhang.

Leave The Door Open

When I was a young child growing up in China my father had a saying, to “always leave the door open, for when you close the door opportunities cease to exist”. “Leave the door open or the flies will not fly in” he would say.

In 1949 my father felt best to leave mainland China and take my family to Nationalist China, better know these days as Taiwan.It was a hard and uncertain time for many. A lot of people fell into a losing mindset. My father did not want to take the chance of this uncertainty.

My father’s search for a better life for us led us through a series or towns and cities on the island. It was very hard for us, but especially my father. Not having much skills he took on many jobs, but never discouraged, always leaving the door open. My father was never for the big cities, but eventually we settled in Taipei.

It was in Taipei that my father’s dreams for a better life began to take fruit. The restaurant underneath our tiny apartment required a Schezuan cook, and as my father always helped with the cooking and was good at it he took  a job there. As he built his skills and talents he became well known, actually indispensable. Many restaurant owners vied to hire him so he was in position to ask for as much as he wanted, in reason.

Working hard and leaving the door open was the ticket, he was offered many partnerships and shareholder opportunities, waited for the right one and took on a partnership with a restauranteur with three locations. With my father’s help it grew, then one in Singapore and India as well.

My father was able to to retire as a wealthy man, but beforehand he sent me and my two siblings to university. He made sure that my mother would never have to work hard. He worked hard for us, but most importantly he always left the door open. To be successful it is not so much the formal education on has, the secret and answer is not to give up and most importantly, to leave the door open or the flies will not fly in.

Zhang Wang-lei