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How Ontology founder Jun Li improves his staff daily

September
11, 2020

5 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

Entrepreneur Jun Li reads three books a day. How does he do that?

"If you've read enough books, you already have a structure of knowledge in your head," said Li, founder of blockchain company Ontology. "They understand different parts of philosophy, management and business. So when I read a new book, I can tie all of that knowledge together and understand the highlights from the book faster and faster."

This is true even of sophisticated philosophy books, said Li. "If you have a very clear structure in the story and which idea comes from which school of thought, you can find out what a particular book is talking about and what the differences are faster."

Lately, Li has read a lot about society and knowledge – books on how to organize teams, how incentives affect different types of cooperation and collaboration, and how people are organized, including books on politics and more.

"Ecosystem mechanisms, incentive mechanisms and organizational mechanisms are very helpful in building the blockchain ecosystem," he said.

Related: How Reading Books Helps Your Brain To Recharge

The key role of exercise

In addition to reading, Li finds time to swim and run in his spare time. "I run almost every day," he said. "In the morning I run on my treadmill. I swim too."

Many people ask Li why he doesn't run outside. He's doing it to save time, he said. "While running, I have an iPad or an article in front of me so I don't miss anything in the organization or in the news."

Exercise and self-improvement are both keys to being a leader, Li said.

If he stays fit, he can think more clearly and better manage his 150-strong team that builds many facets of the blockchain infrastructure and applications.

"It's not just about building the infrastructure," he said. "You need a real application and you need to build a growing, community-driven ecosystem. You also need to help organizations transform a service into a decentralized service."

Ontology also establishes a decentralized exchange of identity and data at the infrastructure level.

Related: How Consistent Exercise Makes You More Productive

A focus on delegation

Blockchain platforms involve many things that require a large team. Li's leadership style focuses on delegating to others and trusting his team to get things done. If necessary, he supports his team and gives them instructions.

"I make some suggestions, such as new product ideas."

Sharing knowledge with the entire team is an integral part of the building process at Ontology. "Everyone, whether they're on the product team, technology team, or business development team, has access to the same information so they can make their own decisions and use their own approach," said Li.

The ontology practices a scrum management strategy style that includes iterative and incremental development practices. "We're building applications step by step," he said. "We do not set ourselves a long-term goal. Our strategy is very short-term, with a vision of two weeks at a time, step by step."

The company offers training once or twice a year. "But usually we discuss the product and the business every week – these meetings are a kind of training session. Everyone will share information, ideas, and approach to various problems." It challenges the team and helps them learn from each other.

Give the employees space

Li focuses on building a healthy culture. "We're giving people more space to do things their own way and make creative judgments," he said. "Once the direction is agreed, you will be very well managed to reach milestones and get good results in the implementation or execution phase."

While there is a time to open the mind and experiment, the balance between freedom and direction is also important. "People still need support to make sure they are doing the right job to get good results."

Li personally focuses primarily on products and applications to ensure the company builds real world applications that add value to users. He also focuses on strategy and the right direction, not just for the ontology but for the entire blockchain industry.

Right now, Ontology's infrastructure-level strategy is pretty clear and focuses on building a blockchain infrastructure. "But at the application level, you have a lot more directions to explore. So you need to learn more and have access to more information."

Related Topics: How Small Business Owners Can Build A Strong Corporate Culture

Find the killer app

According to Li, a major challenge for the blockchain industry is figuring out which direction it will go and which application will turn out to be the killer app. "We need to do more trial runs and be clear which direction has the greatest potential to become a large-scale application."

Along the way, blockchain companies can implement different management styles to achieve different goals. Staying focused and achieving your goals sometimes depends on a healthy lifestyle, Li says.

"Ultimately, leadership is important to running an organization that is built on decentralized innovation," he said. "Managers and their employees need to improve by maintaining healthy lifestyles, learning from books and reading, and maximizing their time, such as by consuming information during a fitness routine. These lifestyle philosophies can influence vision and perspective while running Organization."

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