Focus on excellence. Early on, we recognized the need to define our culture very clearly so we could scale intentionally. At first, we debated ideas like bean bags and ping pong tables, until a mentor said to me: “just focus on excellence.” To us this means delivering excellent work, being excellent in what we do and with each other, as well as having high expectations for ourselves. The natural outcome is growth, and growth is the best way to inspire and attract great talent who are hungry for challenges and opportunities. The concept of excellence is a simple yet effective definition of culture.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Peggy Choi. Peggy is the founder and CEO of Lynk, a global knowledge sharing platform that is disrupting the way business decisions are made. Peggy founded Lynk in 2015 with the mission of making knowledge more accessible. Lynk unlocks the knowledge and insights of experts from around the world, helping people and companies make better decisions.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I grew up in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia with a mother from Indonesia and a father from Singapore. My parents were artists and entrepreneurs — their small gallery business allowed me to attend college at the University of Pennsylvania (Computer Science) and The Wharton School (Finance). After school, I worked in banking and investments in the US and UK for Goldman Sachs, Silver Lake Partners, and TPG Capital for a number of years. While I was working in finance, I saw the value of insights from the right advisors, executives or experts to inform crucial decisions. With today’s explosion of information, there is an increasing need in getting access to “know-how” — the application of information in various contexts. However, it can be costly and inefficient, and can sometimes seem impossible, for people and businesses to find the right knowledge. That’s where the idea for Lynk was born.
Why did you found your company?
Traditionally, when we have a question, we look first to the internet. We often have to filter through pages and pages of search results or cannot find the right answer. In many cases, we may also need advice or someone’s opinion to get to the right answer. For example, even though we could self-diagnose a sickness using WebMD, we typically need to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. Finding and accessing the “right person” to answer your questions isn’t easy. Not everyone has a great personal network, and even if you do, you may have to ask for an introduction from a friend, which can be time consuming or inefficient. With direct access to more than 500 million professional profiles globally, Lynk is able to match its users with the right experts who have specialized knowledge in a wide range of topics, industries and trends. Lynk is actively growing its comprehensive global network so that anyone, anywhere can access expertise easily and quickly.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Lynk is changing the way business decisions are made, powering a knowledge sharing economy. With the ability to curate the right experts to answer questions, Lynk’s platform has potential to disrupt many knowledge and human capital-related industries and categories, allowing companies to get the specific, tailored information they need quickly and cost effectively without entering into expensive, long-term contracts.
Access to the right knowledge at the right time allows for faster and better solutions to problems — ranging from helping a company understand traditional distribution of goods in Southeast Asia to helping an impact investor understand the microfinance landscape in Africa. By using a proprietary system to match experts with queries, Lynk makes the highest-quality thinking on any issue available at your fingertips.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
I have been very blessed in my journey. Having come from Hong Kong then living and working in several countries around the world, I have met many mentors and advisors that have given me valuable guidance. I actively seek mentorship and learn from each conversation I have. Most importantly, these conversations have helped me realize that the world is much bigger than what I see through my own lens.
In particular, Scott Roberts, who heads up business development globally at LinkedIn and is a strategic advisor to Lynk, has taught me valuable and applicable insights on managing fast growing teams across multiple countries and scaling a culture of excellence. Having been through it before, Scott’s experience and advice has been very relevant for us. In fact, what Scott has done for Lynk — providing access to insights from his own relevant experience — is exactly what we are trying to do for our customers.
How are you going to shake things up next?
Working with some of the world’s largest enterprises and institutions, we are rapidly expanding our global footprint, growing engagements and revenue multiple folds. By doing so, we have already started to influence how decisions are made and how research is done across the enterprise segment.
Currently, Lynk has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Mumbai, and the United States, and is expanding, with an office opening in Shanghai later this year. With business now growing at 4x year-over-year, we creating a new category — a knowledge sharing economy. Just like Uber extended from Uber Black to UberX to Uber Pool, we at Lynk want to make access to knowledge more widely accessible in the next stage of growth, enabling even small businesses to tap into the highest-quality thinking on nearly any issue they could face.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. I believe this concept applies to anything we do whether it’s professional or personal. Digging deep and identifying “why” you are doing a certain thing gives you clarity and conviction on your purpose. It also gives you direction when your path seems unclear, as it often does in an entrepreneurial environment.
- Make it happen. This is an integral part of Lynk’s culture. It embodies the reality of entrepreneurship to do whatever it takes to make things happen. There is no recipe for success, so we have to be adaptable and figure it out. This principle also guides the way we hire and the type of talent we look to bring onboard at Lynk.
- Focus on excellence. Early on, we recognized the need to define Lynk’s culture very clearly so we could scale intentionally. At first, we debated ideas like bean bags and ping pong tables, until a mentor said to me: “just focus on excellence.” At Lynk, this means delivering excellent work, being excellent in what we do and with each other, as well as having high expectations for ourselves. The natural outcome is growth, and growth is the best way to inspire and attract great talent who are hungry for challenges and opportunities. The concept of excellence is a simple yet effective definition of culture.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.
Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered by EF Schumacher. It’s “small is beautiful” in contrast to the idea in modern economics that bigger is always better. It changed how I think about the world. When I first read it, I was working in finance where bigger is always better: the bigger the returns, the better; the more money, the better. The book helped me realize that I’ve been raised with this school of thought that may not be universally true. Personally, it made me appreciate that there are many different paths and perspectives out there and there’s a lot more I can learn.
Applying it to business, it also helps me see the need to pursue growth sensibly and responsibly — with appropriate technology and an approach that prioritizes the needs of users and stakeholders and considers human and environmental costs, instead of only prioritizing what’s most efficient or profitable in the short term.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Jeff Bezos. With his remarkable business and financial success, he remains thoughtful and intentional about the future of humanity. He is one of few people with virtually unlimited resources and access, which comes with great ethical responsibility. He has the resources to help resolve the world’s most pressing problems, and he has taken on some of those challenges. I am curious to learn how he thinks, how he operates, and how he envisions the future of the world.
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