Sung Hyun PARK
CEO of BESTBOOK Publishing Co.
SPIRIT OF WORLD BEST
The following is a real story of a period when a number of countries had to fight one another in order to expand their respective lands.
There was a worthless solider who took care of shoes of a general. At the time, common soldiers were barefooted or wore straw shoes while only generals could afford leather shoes.
One dark and windy winter day, the general had a meeting with his staff officers in the camp. When the general put his shoes on after meeting, he felt warmness from his shoes.
"Who dared to wear my shoes"
The General growled suspecting the solder who took care of them. Then, the solder replied on his kneels.
"Dear general, if you can not believe me, please cut my neck but I held them in my heart to do my best in performing my responsibilities."
The general was deeply moved by his words and began to trust him. Later, the solder became the hero who subjugated the whole country.
The spirit of carrying out its duty to the best is that of Bestbook. Bestbook planned, edited and designed a number of bestsellers for many publishing companies as a publishing focused company.
Now, Bestbook has become a computer book specialized publishing company. Accordingly, it puts its best on every page to grow as the best publishing company. Bestbook will meet readers with confidence that it will be the best computer books publisher.
The sprit of doing the best is not only for the Bestbook but also my personal objective throughout my life.
MY CHALLENGE SPIRIT
(It is rather long but I hope you to read throughly)
I would like to tell you about the reason why I decided to major Business Administration in the university. When I applied for the college of business administration at Ajou University, I had an interview with a professor in the department.
The professor asked me "Why did you choose business administration?" I replied to him "It is because I want to establish my own business after working for a company for about five years."
I also remember that I explained my goal again to the president when I worked at Youngjin Publishing Co. as the planning director in 1990. "Sir, it has been six years since I started to work for this company." Reminding him of my first interview, I continued, "I had numerous job offers from other companies but I never thought about leaving this company for another one." Then, the president of Youngjin encouraged me to establish my own company and I proceeded to realize my long-standing goal without any reservation.
So I started a publication planning company, 'Bestbook' on October 1, 1995. I earned 15% of all book sales as the professional fee for planning and editing computer books that were published by other companies. The business was going very well.
However, I was told that publishing companies that I dealt with would soon stop publishing books affected by economic crisis. The crisis triggered me to change my business from publishing planning to publishing itself, so I was able to publish books under the name of 'Bestbook'.
The biggest difficulty in changing business was in financing the change since I had heard that establishing a publishing company would require about W500,000,000(about $400,000) which was a lot more than publishing planning business within considerably short period of time.
A publishing company needs to prepare extra money to keep publishing new books since the money is collected only after they are sold in bookstores. Everything was prepared for starting publishing company except money: I had manuscripts that were being developed. I assumed that I could afford about ten employees' salaries by collecting unsettled bills from several publishing companies for one year. And, I got a loan of W50,000,000 from Korea Credit Guarantee Fund and another \50,000,000 from relatives. I had a bank deposit of \20,000,000t and decided to reserve the money as an emergency reserve fund. Fortunately, I paid off loans within two years, in the middle of Korean economic crisis when many publication wholesalers were going bankrupt one after another. "Take a chance out of crisis." I was fortunate to avoid soon-to-be bankrupt companies, so the crisis of going bankrupts was decreased.
Upon deciding the first book for 'Making the best homepage in the world', I worked very hard to make it stand out from other books from competitors. However, it was not easy to have brilliant ideas at once. I had to try very hard to get right ideas. Whenever ideas occurred to my mind while eating, watching TV or even in bathroom, I took notes not to miss any of them. Here's what I came up with.
1. Marked price in US $ and Japanese Yen in addition to Korean Won.
2. Put an icon to make up for using light, matt, non-reflection paper to cut the expense for papers.
3. branded 'World Best' series for the title of all books and put the definition of 'World Best' next to the introduction page.
4. Produced all books in high quality to prevent them from failing in the market.
Before publishing the first book, I myself developed and wrote codes of POS program as a programmer. Moreover, I had to win contracts by visiting bookstores throughout the nation. I had never experienced in marketing before, though I was confidence in planning and editing. It was not easy to categorize bookstores to deal with, to find and visit them. I knew I could save the efforts if I hired an experienced personnel but I wanted to personally experience it by myself, reminding one saying that I had heard during university days: "The president of any business should be responsible for generating no less than fifty percents of the business."
I also applied another story in running my business. It is said that a man with experiences in planning or editing starts his own publishing company, he tends to be good at making books but fails in marketing; while a man with experiences in marketing runs a publishing company, he may have a difficulty in producing good books. I had to break the general beliefs by doing business differently. Some bookstores refused to deal my books mentioning, "Please visit again when you publish over five books." However, I never gave up getting contracts from those bookstores. A bookstore insisted on 30% of discount rate instead of 25%, which is widely accepted by retailers. I replied to the person in charge "I will accept your offer if you work here, dreaming to be the president. If not, please help me." Then, he accepted my discount rate, inspired by my strong will.
Starting to work early in the morning, I visited bookstores as many as possible: When I finished to visit large bookstores by 8 p.m., I visited small ones that closed around 10 or 11 p.m. to promote books so they could be arranged in a conspicuous place. I never took a rest during weekends. Some people at bookstores asked me "How come you visit us even on Sunday." I replied, "I would like to work hard to succeed as a newcomer in the market." I worked till late nights and weekends and even visited branch offices of large bookstore chains that had not shown good performance. Whenever I visited bookstores, I taught clerks computer tips by showing useful pages to help them promote computer books. Sales people of book publishers often asked me "What is your secret behind displaying every book you published." Thanks to my sincere efforts, some bookstores made special displaying place for Bestbook. I asked them about any complaints that might have occurred by other publishing companies. They said "It is our decision to reward for your efforts." In fact, I thought about hiring a capable sales person but I could not find one. l realized that they just collected money, not promoted books. Moreover, sales people did not seem to support the company properly: they even asked for parking fees, instead of asking a free parking coupons from the bookstore when they visited to collect money. In six months, therefore, I trained a new employee who just graduated from university. I suggested that he should visit bookstores on Sundays, taking a holiday during a weekday. And, if they asked him why he visited them on Sunday, tell them "I would like to follow the example of my boss." Fortunately, the sales person did his best as I taught. A president of other publishing company praised his excellent achievement by mentioning that his six months' sales career is worth five years of other ordinary sales persons. He has worked for my company for three years, yet he got rapidly promoted to the head of the sales section through chief clerk and now is considered as a candidate for section manager.
Consequently, my company was appointed as best publishing company among new ones and many computer books published by my company ranked high in sales. Without enough money, I had to work hard and will do the same in the future.
Now, I would like to tell you about my challenge spirit from my university days, when I was known as the best programmer, and my career after graduation: I was scouted to a magazine company through Internet, succeeded in its innovation and transferred to a publishing company till I established my own publishing company.
CHALLENGES DURING UNIVERSITY DAYS
I felt something strong while taking a course in the second semester during my sophomore year after discharged from military service in the fall of 1985. In business science class, I had to take a test about the course of extremely complicated calculation called simplex table. I was displeased about the unreasonable test because it was used as a decision-making tool calculated by computer in the U.S.A. I came to the conclusion that I had to learn computer. Soon, I faced the fact, "How can I learn computer: At the time, there was no reference book nor an institute. So I decided to take Computer programming II for an elective course of business administration department when I was Junior but I unfortunately found that course was cancelled two years ago. The reason was students earlier found it hard to take EDPS(Electronic Data Processing System) when the course was first introduced in 1981. Therefore, only fifteen students out of 260 registered for Computer programming II. I met the professor in charge of the subject and asked him to restart the course saying, "Professor, it would be three years in a row if you cancel again, so please teach the subject again." He replied it was the school rule. Then, I told him that I would persuade students to register for the subject, asking him to teach the subject again. The professor accepted my suggestion after all. I brought 16 classmates. The subject was about computer programming with COBOL. I did my best because I longed for learning the subject not just for earning good grades.
Back then, there was no personal computer but terminals of a large computer were on. In order to take a seat in the terminal room where always full of engineering department students, I ran in the room in early morning from dormitory and never left the seat not to lose the seat till it was closed at 9 p.m. Then, I came to realize that I missed other classes, even meals. Returning to dormitory after buying 3 instant noodles, I kept thinking why the errors occurred until I fell a sleep. When I faced any problems while programming, I preferred to ask staffs of computer room rather than teaching assistants. Staffs of computer room, of course, had excellent abilities in Cobol programming better than professors because they operated university system using COBOL. They kindly helped me all the time. If I did not understand completely, they took an example to help me.
However, one day I happened to see something I was not supposed to see. I put 'PAY' for an ID and 'BONGKUB (means salary in Korean)' for a password at the corner of computer room. To my surprise, it worked. The monitor displayed all the details of professors' salaries. On the other hand, I was very disappointed at the incident.
I did not even know the word "hacker." The next semester, as I learned the principle of programming, I was laughing mockingly during the class: Pf. Hong, Manpyo said, "If one is a capable programmer, it might be proved whether he could hack the school system."
As one semester went by, I was known to be the best in Cobol programming in the university. Then, I was offered a part time job for programming by an alumnus from the department who was working for Susan Heavy industry Co., Ltd. At the company, I saw personal computer, IBM-XT that has 10mega byte hard disk. I dealt with 5 and 1/4 inch floppy disk, though I took a glance of 8 inch floppy disk. I did not even know how to put it in. I tried to insert it to the side. I got a pat from the back hearing that someone said, "wake up." "Yes, sir." I moved it to the right place. I nearly pulled through a crisis.
That incident happened on Dec. 15, 1986. The company requested me to design a program for inventory management program by Jan. 5, 1987. I did not know MS-DOS. Even worse, the usage of Cobol varied by the kind of computers. I, however, was accustomed to use only one kind of computer at the school. I had only 15 days to finish my mission.
They asked me to apply menu driven method for screen control: As menu are displayed on the computer screen, if no. 1 is pressed, input is conducted and if no. 2 is pressed, output is conducted. I never experienced screen control program at the school except printing any result by a printer adding data to the end of a program.
The alumnus mentioned, "I do not care if you have to work both day and night, but keep the deadline." He also added as he unloaded a computer and a printer at the dormitory of the company, "If you made a mistake for the project, you would stain my honor."
All of sudden, I was plunged into despair. However, I could feel the spirit of challenge was coming to myself. Firstly, I locked the door of the dormitory and turned on the computer, IBM-PC/XT appreciating MS-DOS. I used to use three kinds of large computers whose operating systems (O/S) were different one another. I remembered only one O/S was useful. At the first night, I only studied about DOS: DIR, CLS, COPY, RENAME and so on. I had all meals at the dormitory and received another meal in the evening so I could eat it at night staying up till dawn. He also left a database software and English manual, which one of his friend who went to France for studying computer presented to him. He suggested me to accomplish the mission by applying it, then if I fail, do it with COBOL. Since I was sure about programming with COBOL, I tried every menu following instruction in the book. I was almost shocked while I was going through the book: I was shocked by the fact it was much more effective (only one coding replaced a dozen lines of codes) and regretted that I learned Cobol so far. I absorbed in the database program. Two days later, I became confident of success.
I was able to design a program by applying top down method and made menu driven method as a basic. I started to design inventory management program by using the business theory of first in, first out. I worked night and day, forgot to wash my face. In the dormitory room, there laid a set of blanket on the floor. I had never laid my body in the blanket till I finished but I slept on my stomach on the desk. I sometimes had marks of keyboard on my face. On Dec. 29, I had a miracle: I succeed in developing the program requested in two weeks. It gave me much more confidence that I could design any programs. On Jan. 3, 1987, I cleared bugs on a colleague's computer while she put data and I demonstrated the program to the president of the company, Mr. Park, Ju Tak saying "It is very simple, pressing enter button is all I have to do to run the program on Jan. 5. I was awarded three hundred thousand won and offered another mission.
The president asked me to design personnel management program under the condition of providing me board and lodging in the dormitory of the company. I commuted to the school by the shuttle bus of the company in the first semester of fourth year and I could use computer as much as I wanted. Upon completion of personnel management program, I started to develop payment management program, studying tax law. I could not believe that I succeeded in the program as well, watching the cover of bill envelopes printed by computer.
As time passed by, a professor introduced me to Cowell sysnet Co., Ltd to take a part time job at the news that I was very good at computer programs. At Cowell sysnet, there was OA and FA department. I entered OA department. Since the language that I used were different from others, I was assigned to my own project: National universities facility management program ordered by Ministry of Culture and Education, a cost estimation management program for construction company package. I noticed that all employees using Cobol is 10 times lower in productivity than myself. Sometimes, I had to give false report that I have not finished projects to keep pace with them.
From summer vacation to the second semester of fourth year, I attended the company. Due to frequent absence, I got F for financial management II. At last, I could not graduate with insufficient credit: My total credit was 139. I attended the graduation ceremony not to disappoint my parents wearing one of my friend¡¯s graduation costumes, but unfortunately everything was revealed to my parents. I could not go home for three days. Not having graduated from university, I did not regret nor blame the professor who gave me F since the fact did not affect my life.
FIRST EXPERIENCE IN COMPUTER COMMUNICATION
I found modem at the corner of the office in fall, 1987. Not a company provided the service of computer communication at the time. Though Dacom computer had a H-mail function, it only had a bulletin board and an e-mail function. I tried to connect to Dacom with 300bps modem, it was too slow so the speed of reading letters of email was faster than it was displayed on the screen. In those days, not only was it very difficult to do PC communication, but also the price of modem was over one million won. Only computer professionals were able to use computer communication.
Then, a computer communication professionals group was organized for the first time and I was responsible for general affairs. I became famous as a database professional who was number one in the field of database. I was asked to write my own story to be published. I started to write, I think I have a talent for writing.
Later, Cowell sysnet asked me to work for the company with excellent condition and offered a bonus for every project and I accepted their proposal. My monthly salary was four hundred thousand won. I put all my salary in my wallet to spend them all within that month except fifty thousand won for buying books. I thought I would invest all the money to myself considering I would not able to buy a house in ten years. I bought a car, pony II. Through the meeting, Empal for computer professional, I could develop my computer ability by just getting along with them. I wanted to get together with them as often as possible. I got some people upset in the company for buying a car as a new employee.
Then, I was asked to give lectures to employees of Dacom that was famous information Communication Company. I felt helpless since I had anthropophobia. On the other hand, I thought it would be the first and last chance to me who did not graduate from university. I became anxious while preparing for the lecture. Finally, the day came. I entered the lecture room shivering. I saw 25 students from other companies for the training who all looked much older than me. One officer of Dacom introduced me and I murmured about myself worrying about whether I could really finish the lecture. But I started the class anyway. "There are three principles in computer programming and..." I myself was astonished by the fact I was giving a lecture to the best. Iy was not difficult at all to convey what I had.
I gave lectures for six hours a day for a week and received twenty thousand won per hour, in total six hundred thousand won. They also guaranteed to raise it to twenty five thousand one an hour. I had to quit Cowell sysnet to continue my own work, writing and lecturing. However, it was not easy to stop working there because the company could not find database programmer. I had to train new one before leaving and it took six months to transfer my duties to him but I am still thankful to the company.
I became self-employed in February 1989 as I wrote, gave lectures and computer programmer throughout the nation. I met many talented people including computer programmers. I visited database professional to compete the ability. There was one who admitted he lost. His name was Kim, Kyung Tae who already passed away. Mr. Kim had an excellent ability and I learned much from him.
INNOVATION FOR MAEIL BUSINESS NEWSPAPER
I was a freelancer of Maeil Business Newspaper in 1989 for writing articles for Maekyung PC Journal. One day, an executive director asked me to take a role of the chief editor since others have no computer ability. In addition, I was asked to train employees with computer education as the company decided to have CTS(Computer Typesetting System). I was permitted to give a lecture at another company for a week a month by giving up the money for writing articles for Maekyung, and not writing for another company¡¯s magazine. My salary was lower than before, I was satisfied with my duties as a deputy manager and chief editor.
I started to work at Maekyung from October 1989. The relationship with reporters had changed from a writer and reporters to chief editor and reporters. It was unprecedented, to became a chief editor without any experience as a reporter. As I expected, reporters were not willing to listen to me. However, I myself understood their attitude.
I needed to change it. I told them that I wanted to treat them with drinks. The day I was supposed to meet them I prepared a knife. After drinking, I called four reporters suggesting them to go to a motel because it was too late. We entered a motel in Sinsa-dong and I started to speech to them. "I admit that I was posted at the company with a special offer not through regular course, but it was not from bribery or clique but from my capacity."
"Therefore, you should follow me." "I will start the committee of innovation propulsion for Maekyung PC journal from now on." "It is true our magazine is ranked low in the field.¡± "I am not certain that I can make it number one but I will improve the level to the upper class at least." "Put company notice into the magazine from the November issue." "Then, you make the November and December issues by yourselves as you have done." "I will join you from January issue." "If I fail in fulfilling what I promised here, I will disembowel myself with this knife in front of you." "Will you follow me or not?" Then, all accepted my proposal and we started to change everything with the magazine. We worked night and day all together.
At the time, one of member of Empal got married in November. Suddenly, I would like to get married. Looking around the company, I found a beautiful woman and I proposed her to marry me.
Upon successful completion of magazine innovation and establishment of effective training environment by making a lecture room, I was back to freelancing, decided to get married the woman.
MAKING YOUNGJIN.COM AS THE BEST PUBLISHING COMPANY
One month later I left Maekyung, I got a job offer from Youngjin publishing Co., Ltd(changed its name into Youngjin.com). That time, I had a role of planning director responsible for directing all the events in the company. In those days, the company was not that big: Total volumes published were sixties but it increased to six hundred books when I decided to leave six years later. Youngjin.com published a great number of books, beating other competition and was improved very rapidly, now preparing an IPO in KOSDAQ like NASDAQ in America. I established my own company with my severance payment, twenty million won and now it has grown to two billion won for annual sales. It ranks fifth in the top among computer book publishing companies. I will try to make it first in this field.
I have put much effort in many kinds of works. I also realize that just effort does no good, nor studying business administration does. I would like to mention that I owed my success to an excellent president. I was indebted to the president of Youngjin.com for everything. I kept practicing what I learned from my boss in running business. Therefore, I visited him on teacher's day every year with flowers though he is a rival to my company. I say to him, "Thank you for having helped me in developing myself to who I am now."