“If you can make a positive influence here, you can make a positive influence, everywhere” I hope to inspire goodness to the next generation, because these are the people that will be left taking care of the world our children and grandchildren will be living in.
I had the pleasure to interview Gary Sze Kong, J.D. Gary is a successful Chinese American self-made real estate mogul and philanthropist. Born in Fujian, China, Gary Kong attended school in Hong Kong until the age of sixteen before migrating to the Unites States. He went on to attend New York University Stern School of Business and to graduate with a Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws, and ultimately a Juris Doctor from the Law School of Southwest International University. In 2013, Gary became the first Chinese immigrant to open and own his own vineyard in the United States, The 1 Wine. In 2016, he launched Classic New York beer. Gary Kong serves as investor, Executive producer and co-founder of the Classic New York Gala.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? And why you decided to start The Classic New York Gala?
Being active in my own community for the last few decades has always given me self-fulfillment. However, I decided to create Classic New York Gala to help expand my impact, and to broaden my reach with limited resources. I felt that partnering with organizations such as “Global Unity Foundation” that have similar missions as my own, was a great way to help make the vision a reality.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Since I came to this country of opportunity, I started out bussing tables in my twenties. I went from bussing, to sous chef, to chef, at a Michelin Star restaurant here in Manhattan. From there; I have gained many titles… but entrepreneur, serial real estate investor, and venture capitalist have been most resilient. I am a firm believer that a person should be in a field that that makes them happy. My current venture has derived from passion. I created “The 1 Wine” and “Classic New York Beer” though the pleasure of the art of fermenting wine and crafting beer.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
There is quite a lot of importing, exporting and freighting, and other similar logistics in this business. A mistake when shipping containers out of a country can cost you hundreds of thousands! One of my first shipment had a misprints in the label and almost a whole container was sealed and loaded. Good thing we caught that before that happened! As an entrepreneur, mistakes happen! What’s most important is that you learn from them.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Wine and Beer is a naturally competitive business especially in the US. In the past decade microbrewery and wineries have come a long way to take a foothold in the market share. I do not know of any other start up wine and beer companies that have tapped a market outside of the U.S. We are contracted to ship containers of our Wine and Beer overseas to distributers outside the U.S. We are also not afraid of experimenting with brewing new beers with various natural flavors such as Spicy Ginger Beer!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Without giving too much details away, we are currently in the research and developments stages of certain purified water which contains natural ingredients that will be able to enhance our daily lifestyle while keeping some of our most active organs in our body rejuvenated and youthful! Stay tuned for this new development!
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive? What advice would you give to other CEOs about the best way to manage a large team?
I am a firm believer that a true leader builds new leaders. A company team is more cohesive when you trust them to work together. It is more important now than ever to create new leaders for the world of tomorrow.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Jack Ma has once said “When you are 50–60 years old, work for the young people. Because young people can do better than you. So rely on them, invest in them and make sure they’re good”. My partner, co-founder and friend Henry Cheng, a fellow entrepreneur and investor help start and build this this company from inception. I believe that as an entrepreneur, it is important to lift the younger generation. I also believe that the combination of Wisdom and Ideas are often complimentary to success!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
When I came here in the twenties I did not speak much English. I bussed tables at night and slept in the park before class when I attended NYU. Sometimes, when you see someone on the street or in the park, you do not know there life. I contribute freely without expectation whether it affects a person or person(s).
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why.
1.) Organization is key.
2.) A great CEO starts from within and positivity is contagious to your employees.
3.) Leaders lead by example.
4.) Be able to recognize peoples strengths and weaknesses. This will be important when forming management.
5.) Hard work still exist and is vital to achieve success.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I have made it my mission in collaboration with Global Unity Foundation and City Summit to be a positive influence to society on a global scale starting with one of the largest cities in the world. “If you can make a positive influence here, you can make a positive influence, everywhere” I hope to inspire goodness to the next generation, because these are the people that will be left taking care of the world our children and grandchildren will be living in.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Without patients, nothing great can be achieved”. Some of my utmost accomplishments in real estate investments were done on both patience and timing. These things go hand in hand in any business you operate.
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 with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
1.) Xi Jinping is a phenomenal chairman removing corruption in China.
2.) Donald Trump because he delivers on his word and has improved our overall economy.
3.) Jack Ma has one of the most inspiring rags to riches story.
4.) Elon Musk, another inspiring CEO that never gave up on his dream no matter how difficult times could be.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Gary Kong on Facebook
@The1Wine on Instagram
Originally published at medium.com