7 Leadership Lessons From An Unexpected CEO

November 25, 2019

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Some people grow up dreaming of becoming a CEO, but my journey to the corner office was quite different.

In 1974, my wife Nien-Ling Wayman founded a technology company in California. By 1987, she’d realized the need for electronic document repositories with instant search capabilities and launched Laserfiche—the first DOS-based document imaging system in the world. Back then, the world of enterprise software wasn’t my forte. I had been working as a researcher for the U.S. State Department and then as an analyst in municipal government development. While I did eventually take a position as vice president of sales and marketing at Laserfiche, Nien-Ling was at the helm and determined to grow the company. I enjoyed this role and knew that the technology was truly revolutionary. Nien-Ling, however, remained the driving force behind Laserfiche’s growth for two decades, and I was—and remain—incredibly proud of her legacy. Then, in early 2013, Nien-Ling was diagnosed with cancer. While she fought incredibly hard, she and I knew we had to begin transitioning day-to-day management of the company. Despite all efforts, Nien-Ling passed away in late 2014. To this day, it is an indescribable loss. She was my partner in life, an inspiration, and an exceptional person.

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