July 21, 2024

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Jensen Huang: Nvidia CEO on profound lesson from Japanese gardener

2 min read

Jensen Huang is known in Silicon Valley for his meticulous attention to detail, despite tech giant Nvidia growing to a market cap of more than $3 trillion. But it was a chance encounter with a Japanese gardener that helped the CEO realize he has the time to be a perfectionist, instead of racing to the next project.

Billionaire entrepreneur Huang recounted the story on Friday at Caltech’s 130th commencement ceremony in Pasadena. He told students he used to work in one of Nvidia’s overseas office for one month a year every summer, with his family joining him for the trip.

One of these visits was to Japan, Huang said, where the family spent a weekend in Kyoto and visited the Silver Temple and moss garden.

“The day we visited was a quintessential Kyoto summer day,” Huang recalled. “Suffocatingly hot and humid, sticky—heat is radiating from the ground. Along with the other tourists we wondered through the meticulously groomed moss garden.

“I noticed the lone gardener. Now remember… the moss garden is gigantic… and exquisitely maintained. I noticed the lone gardener squatting, carefully picking at the moss with a bamboo tweezer and putting it in the bamboo basket. The basket looked empty—for a moment there I thought he was picking imaginary moss into a pile of imaginary dead moss.”

Huang—who is worth $116 billion per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index—continued: “I walked up to him and I said: ‘What are you doing?’ He said: ‘I’m picking dead moss. I’m taking care of my garden.’ And I said: ‘But your garden is so big?’ He responded: ‘I have cared for my garden for 25 years, I have plenty of time.’”

Huang’s company, which was founded in 1993, now has more than 26,000 employees, and 61-year-old Huang said the sentiment from this lone gardener is what helped him realize he has the capacity to support them.

The CEO—nicknamed the ‘Taylor Swift of tech’ by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg—explained:…

Eleanor Pringle

2024-06-17 06:26:45

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