Name: Howard Ting
Job title: CMO
Location: San Jose, California
1. Where were you born and raised?
I was born in a “tier 2” city in China named Ningbo with a population of only 7 million people. My family settled in San Francisco when I was 6 years old and I spent my childhood and early adult years in the SF Bay Area.
2. What was your first job?
My first job was busing tables at my parent’s fast food Chinese restaurant when I was probably 8 or 9 years old but my first real job, for which I received a pay cheque, was delivering newspapers when I was 12 years old. My first job out of school was as an investment banking analyst supporting mergers and acquisitions.
3. What was the first product you got really excited about?
Probably my Commodore 64 and subsequently my Nintendo Entertainment System. My fingertips have still not fully regenerated from intense battles of Mike Tyson’s Punchout with my brother.
4. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My parents have been the biggest influence. They instilled in me at a very young age two very important values that have fuelled my success – work as hard (or harder) than everyone else around me and constantly strive to get better no matter how much I’ve accomplished. They sound so simple and cliché but when it’s burned into your soul at a young age, these values become second nature and I don’t even have to try to motivate myself.
5. What has been your greatest achievement?
Helping people I’ve hired and worked with become better marketers and entrepreneurs.
6. What has been your biggest mistake?
I have been blessed with good fortune and made the most of every opportunity presented to me so I don’t have many regrets. If pressed, I would say my biggest mistakes are hiring decisions that didn’t work out and wish I could have put those people into different roles.
7. What is your greatest strength?
Resiliency. I can take a lot of punches and keep getting up. It may take an hour, a day or a week, but I will usually bounce back from anything. It’s another valuable life lesson I learned from my parents who had to overcome quite a lot to establish the lifestyle they earned.
8. What is your biggest weakness?
I can take things a bit too hard, particularly when it involves my team. I probably ride the emotional highs and lows more often than I would like, but I am always deeply invested in everything I do and don’t know any other way.
9. What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
I don’t know if it’s neglect, but I think the most satisfying thing about the CMO role is influencing the overall company strategy. I often tell people I’m a business guy who just happens to do marketing. Having a strong voice in the inner circle that is shaping the company direction is a must for any CMO.
10. Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
My mantra is “GSD” which stands for ‘get sh*t done’. The phrase that makes me squirm is “that’s not my job.”
11. What makes you stressed?
I tend to worry a lot about everything, from little details to big strategic things across all aspects of my life. I was just born that way. I try to conceal it as best I can but my mind is always racing. I believe this constant intellectual grinding is part of what has made me successful and I don’t feel any stress from it. What I do get stressed about is team dynamics. When there is more than the usual friction within my team, or across functional teams, is when I get stressed.
12. What do you do to relax?
Watching sports, walking my dog and daydreaming with my wife about our future.
13. What is your favourite song?
Music is my lifeline and I have too many favourite songs to name just one but I’ll go with an oldie that always makes me laugh and smile, Young MC – Bust a Move.
14. Which book taught you most?
Again, so difficult to just pick one. I’ll go with The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
15. Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I am a bit of a sports junkie and love the Miami Dolphins, New York Mets and Golden State Warriors. I am also a Cal alum and religiously follow Cal football and basketball.
16. Which country would you like to work in?
In order of preference: China, Japan, France
17. Which company do you think has the best marketing?
18. What do you love most about your job?
The ability to use my left brain and right brain every day. I am very analytical and data-driven, partly due to my finance background, but I also have an innate need to create and be expressive in interesting and memorable ways. I also love the storytelling that comes with my role.
19. What is your favourite book?
The book that I could simply not put down after I started was Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich.
20. What keeps you awake at night?
I keep my mind and body pretty active throughout each day so I’m always tired when I get to bed and sleep pretty well. If there is one thing I tend to think about each night it is what I could do better the next day.
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Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond