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Lunchtime forum: Liu’s road to creating ETAO

Nasdaq | YouTube

On Sept. 12, Baruch College hosted alumni Wilson Liu — the founder, CEO and chairman of ETAO International — to discuss his mentality when breaking barriers to create the global healthcare company ETAO.

Liu is a two-time Baruch graduate, completing an M.S. in Computer Information Systems in 1997 and an M.S. in Accounting in 2003. Prior to founding ETAO, Liu had more than 20 years of Wall Street experience in investment and finance management, co-founding Beijing CSII in 1999, a leading fintech company in China with over 400 large, medium and small banks as customers.

According to Liu, his accomplishments were owed to maintaining a strong mentality that stemmed from his education at Baruch. He emphasized how Baruch provided him with the best education and most diverse community compared to his colleagues that attended Ivy Leagues and other prestigious institutions. His business partners and connections from Harvard, Princeton and Yale regularly turn to him for advice.

Baruch allowed him to start at the “middle.”

“You must have a bigger mouth because someday you will become a bigger fish in a small pond,” Liu said.

He taught this way of thinking to his daughter, which led her to place second in an unspecified 50-state championship.

Liu said his time in leadership as all “3 C’s” helped him learn this: as a CEO at Jiangsu Sanhuan Industry, a CFO at Apollo Solar Energy and again CEO at ETAO.

To be a good CEO, Liu shared six layers one must build upon, the first layer being data.

“Everybody is categorized by some sort of data,” he quipped.

This flows from the second, information, retained in the third: knowledge. “But knowledge is bad,” Liu said. “You must have a quick mind; that means you must read philosophy. So after you put that knowledge into the real world, you can experience,” which was the fourth. This will then create the fifth, wisdom, to be great like the sixth “layer,” which was… ETAO.

Upon graduating from Baruch, he quit his first high-paying job at Morgan Stanley right after raising enough to create ETAO — 25 years later, Liu achieved financial freedom through ETAO’s 2017 IPO.

Liu had to learn how “to push it” because “your grind depends on your skill.”

His culture and values were greatly informed by Chinese history and the Han Dynasty. He looked up to the three saints and, as a 1968 Monkey zodiac descent,  admonished that “the capacity of the greater good can come from your heart, so be good to your father, your mother and your neighbor.”

Liu is a self-proclaimed “CIA”: 34% Chinese, 33% international and another 33% American.

He said he realized that we all come from different thinking patterns: future, innovation, relationships, skills and time.

The pattern starts at Baruch, where Liu encouraged students to think about their future; 10 years from now, what kind of innovative thinking will lead you to the relationships you want to have? Liu said he often uses Guanxi, meaning one should understand relationships to foster personal growth.

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