A Brief History of How I Started Teaching of Sun Tzu's Strategy

I started studying Sun Tzu when I was an aimless college dropout working in sales. After I began to apply its lessons to selling, I began getting promoted at an average of every eight months with larger and larger companies until I started my one software company.

I started teaching Sun Tzu to the salespeople in my software company. I had been using  using these principles to advance my own sales and marketing career and wanted them to understand how I saw competition. I wrote my first adaptation of Sun Tzu, The Art of Sales, for my salespeople.

We became successful as a software company, becoming one of the Inc. 500 fastest-growing companies, selling order-processing systems to large corporations in the 80’s and 90’s. My salespeople started talking to our customers about Sun Tzu, giving them copies of The Art of Sales. The  media like PCWeek started writing articles about me. I began to get invited to speak on Sun Tzu’s strategy at first by our customers and then by various business groups and conferences, which I did to promoted our software company.  

After I sold my software company in 1997 and large companies continued to invite me to speak all over the world. Since I had the time and incentive,  I began studying Sun Tzu more intently. Very dissatisfied with the dozen different  English translations I have, which all contradicted each other and even themselves, I began working with people at the University of Taiwan, studying the original ancient Chinese (I have always studied language as a hobby).   

Large companies, like Kraft, asked (meaning paid) me to adapt Sun Tzu’s principles to other business areas such as management and marketing.  I did these adaptation based upon my increasing understanding of the original Chinese and after several years of study, I did my own translation that showed all the original Chinese, so we started selling more and more titles in the corporate market.

Bookstores started buying my books, so we started packaging them for retails sales. I published my own translation of Sun Tzu, showing all the original Chinese, so I could explain the difference between the mathematical nature of Sun Tzu's work versus English translation. This lead to a series of books explaining Sun Tzu's original concepts in more detail, which won a number of book awards.

In my presentations on strategy, I began moving away from the original organization of The Art of War in presenting Sun Tzu's concepts. His approach was too mathematical for most modern audiences. It was also  too much aimed at people who had a certain type of understanding of the nature of competition that we lack today. In response, I began simplifying Sun Tzu's lessons and reorganizing his material to make it easier to understand and especially use.

Since some people were resistant to learning strategy because of its connection to war, and since the term "war" wasn't even in Sun Tzu's original title (Bing-fa is closer in meaning to "martial arts") I began describing what I was teaching the "science of strategy."  This lead to more books and more book awards.

Since I give only a limited number of presentations (no more than one a month and often less than that), I began offering versions of my training course on-line. Then others began asking if they could use my training and presentation material. Some worked within organizations I had trainer, but others wanted to offer my training to a other organizations. In response, I created the Science of Strategy Institute.

Today, my mission remains spreading the science of strategy by getting more and more people involved in taking our training and becoming trainers.