I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Wong, Co-Founder and CEO of LifeSite. Chris is well known in the enterprise software industry as a strategist, serial entrepreneur and charismatic leader. LifeSite happens to be Chris’ eighth tech company, having started three others from a business plan — with a proven track record of exiting all seven.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Thank you so much for having me. Of all the companies I’ve built and exited, LifeSite represents the biggest opportunity and has the brightest future.
The best way to think about LifeSite is that each of us has a personal story where we either need to locate a critical document or manage and share important information with a loved one. In my case, I have aging parents in their 80s and four children — that’s a lot of vital information that exist and needs to be managed in the Wong family universe.
Nothing motivated me more than the time during one Sunday family dinner with my parents and my brother, to see my mom in tears when she brought up the fact that they have documents related to how they want to manage their health situation, insurance information or even sensitive end-of-life issues, and she did not care to listen or be educated. I know for a fact that my family is not the only one who has gone through this. It’s rough and hard to face.
Prior to LifeSite, my mother would proceed to go into the refrigerator, which she considered the safest place to store documents in their house, and produce a shoe box full of notes, pictures and documents.
While no one can predict the future, we can all agree that there are ways to be more prepared for whatever life has in store for us. Nothing is more crucial in times of crisis than to have information ready, organized and accessible when we need to act.
So much information is accumulated throughout our lives, and record keeping becomes more important and more time consuming. Staying up to date on finances, insurance, legal documents, healthcare and other important needs for us and our family, is overwhelming — but it shouldn’t be. If you have experienced this or know someone who has, then you understand why we started LifeSite.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Because of what we do, we have a constant flow of heart-warming, reflective stories that come from our users. One in particular I remember is where one of our users had mentioned that his father was “very organized;” he had all of his “LifeSite” information organized and secure. In this case, what he meant by “secure” was to store his information in a bank safe deposit box. Everyone in his family knew about this. Unfortunately, when he passed, no one knew where that safe deposit box was. It wasn’t until three months later having visited all banks in a 25-mile radius, did the family eventually figure out where everything was stored. But for every family like this who was at least organized, we have another family who can’t find information at all, or finds it in a family basement (in boxes), sometimes years later.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The best proxy for us to know we are on the right track is industry recognition and user feedback. Not only was my last story and others like it validating for us, but the fact that we have won a number of awards such as being named a “Consumers’ Choice” in fintech at an AARP Innovation event and selected a winner of the first Amazon Alexa Skills Challenge, where we were selected and judged against thousands of other start-ups. Ultimately though, recognition as the market leader, creating a sustainable business with tens of thousands of users (on our way to millions) is the true meaning of “standing out”.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Generally speaking, we are working with a number of national and international companies to help families by offering LifeSite to their members. We look forward to announcing a number of significant integrations with various partners in the coming months.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your blind spots. Do what you know and do what you do best. Know what you don’t know, and don’t be a know it all.
That was a mouthful J
It’s important to work with people and a team you can trust — who are going to have each other’s back. I don’t think I’m a person who has great or highly original ideas, but by really listening and understanding what everyone has to say, I connect the dots. My #1 job is to synthesize all the inputs into a strategy and focus people on executing. Always surround yourself with the best people, no one can do it alone.
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?
My success can certainly be attributed to the company that I keep. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with, and learn from, some of the best. Dave Duffield from PeopleSoft is one individual who comes to mind. Everything written about Dave and what has been shared amongst those who have worked with him or for him is all true. He really had a focus on customers and believed that customers would be best served by the best people; and the best people were attracted to the best work culture and best team. PeopleSoft certainly walked the walk because of Dave. This is probably why Dave’s nickname was DAD (his middle initial is “A”).
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
LifeSite’s mission is to inspire and empower individuals and families across the globe by connecting their heads to their hearts — for their own peace of mind today, and for their family and loved ones tomorrow. We created LifeSite to facilitate everyday personal information sharing among trusted family members and advisors, as well as provide peace of mind for our own families.
Can you share how technology is changing the experience of going to the doctor?
Telemedicine is only part of the story. Family members can now help loved ones far more than providing transportation, moral support and sitting in the waiting room.
“Secure and immediate access to vital information” is definitely one of the ways technology is changing the experience of going to the doctor. I should know. I’m not just a founder and CEO, I am a LifeSite user, as well. I was able to retrieve needed medical information instantly from my phone while in the ER when my dad was having a heart attack last year — forever thankful to have it at my fingertips, securely accessible in his LifeSite Vault.
I can help my aging parents enter vital health information and know they or my siblings can retrieve it easily in an emergency, at home or wherever they are, from their phone or tablet.
Caregiving is a team sport. We can use technology to securely manage key information — including health insurance policy numbers and prescriptions. You no longer need to remember to bring ‘the folder’ to the doctor’s office.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
I often quote Yoda from Star Wars “Do or do not, there is no try.” Some people are paralyzed by their fear of failure; they over analyze, and often under deliver. Especially with technology, execute with conviction, and evaluate and iterate as needed based on the feedback you receive. You can learn a lot by listening to your customers and partners — but you can’t move the needle, if you don’t make a move!
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 whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
I’m an ex-college basketball and tennis player. A fan of all sports, but particularly team sports. As an ex-point guard and “floor general” so many of my leadership/life lessons have been gleaned from my sports strategy and leadership experiences. Steph Curry is my guy. He’s a leader, a sports guy (per above) and above all — a humble person and hard worker. Someone that millions of people, no matter what you do or what your background is, can admire and emulate.