How Executives Lead from Behind w- Daniel Chu

How Executives Lead from Behind w/ Daniel Chu

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Today on Episode #3 of The Sage Executive Podcast, join our host Fernando Corona and his guest, Daniel Chu of Tricolor Holdings, as they talk about investing in others and being a servant leader. Daniel is the CEO of Tricolor Holdings, utilizing data analytics and technology to provide “underserved borrowers” with access to financing and loans to purchase cars. Through analytical models, they leverage their resources to enable the 20% of the people in America who are unbanked or do not have the credit to qualify for financing on major purchases (like those for cars). Daniel shares his passion for creating a company culture that improves the lives of its customers and its employees at the same time!

Learn how to create a company culture that improves the lives of its customers and employees at the same time! Listen to the podcast now on The Sage Executive Podcast!

Improving the Lives of Clients and Customers

For Daniel, he views his daily life as having an opportunity to help other people grow and achieve their goals. He has the opportunity to get someone to reach higher or to dream a little bigger. Whatever time he invests in the company is a chance for him to share the truths he’s discovered and ultimately help people build relevant and practical skills to reach for their aspirations in life.

Tricolor Holdings allows Daniel to do this because of its ability to keep itself aligned on its vision to improve its employees’ lives the same way it makes customers’ lives better. As the leader, he acts as the catalyst to create an environment where your employees can find the best opportunities for themselves, even if that means having to move on from Tricolor. Daniel believes that as long as this culture of helping is maintained, Tricolor Holdings would continue to create its best results.

“We are going to enhance the quality of our customer’s life. We believe that as a company, our mission with our employees is the same.” – Daniel Chu. Catch the interview on The Sage Executive Podcast!

Servant Leadership

When asked what advice he would give to other leaders, Daniel related to his convictions about leadership, which revolves around the idea of “leading from behind” or “servant leadership.” If you want to lead, you have to place the aspirations, goals, and dreams of the people around you before your own. This same mindset is what he puts on his business as well! Being able to be a catalyst for change within and outside the organization allows you to build connections, form alignment, and create trust. Daniel says that being able to establish this environment for the company is the most rewarding aspect of being a leader. When you start to have a love for the journey of doing things for others, you can transform a daily grind into an experience that keeps you fresh, energized, and fulfilled! And when the joy in working is renewed every time, it leads to more innovation and improvement for everyone!

“My conviction as a leader is that we should lead from behind.’” – Daniel Chu. Catch him on this episode from The Sage Executive Podcast!

About Tricolor Holdings:

Tricolor Holdings is a mission-driven company that utilizes advanced data analytics and technology to advance financial inclusion to a highly underserved market and offer responsible, affordable, credit-building auto loans to individuals with no or limited credit history. It sells and finances high quality, certified used motor vehicles through its premium brands, Tricolor Auto Group in Texas and Ganas Auto Group in California.

Headquartered in Dallas, Tricolor, together with its affiliate, Ganas Auto Group, operate thirty six retail dealerships across fourteen markets in Texas and California, as well as a shared services center in Guadalajara, Mexico. On a combined basis, Tricolor and Ganas have served nearly 60,000 customers and disbursed over $1 billion in affordable auto loans by using its proprietary model to segment risk.

Outline of the Episode:

  • [00:06] What does Daniel Chu do?
  • [02:07] Providing an experience that is deserving of customers’ trust and loyalty.
  • [02:45] Helping other people grow and achieve their goals.
  • [04:41] Finding clients who are not on the radar.
  • [06:06] Servant leadership. Lead from behind!
  • [09:58] Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Put your worries aside!
  • [12:05] A simple celebration with family.


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How Executives Lead from Behind Transcription

Fernando Corona: Hey everyone, welcome back to The Sage Executive Podcast. We got a great guest today. He’s doing some amazing things and I’m excited to bring him on here to the show. Without further ado, please go on with question number one. Can you please tell us who you are and what you do?

Daniel Chu : Sure. So thanks, Fernando. My name is Daniel Chu. And I’m the founder and CEO of Tricolor Holdings. We operate a business that is Texas in California based. And our business utilizes data analytics and technology to advance what we call financial inclusion by providing an underserved borrower with access to financing and access to responsible credit building loans to finance the purchase of an automobile.

Fernando Corona: Yeah, and just so just so that’s super clear. There are individuals out there where there’s not enough information the way that loans are normally done. And what you’re saying is you’re leveraging other points of reference, so that you can qualify them for a loan that really only your company’s capable of getting

Daniel Chu: Absolutely so. So we have developed an analytical model that allows us to underwrite a customer who does not necessarily exist in the credit bureau about one out of five people in America are completely unbanked. And about 40 million do not have sufficient credit to qualify them for financing on a major purchase like a vehicle. What we’ve been able to do using technology using advanced analytics and now artificial intelligence is built on a model that allows us to actually score this customer who is previously unscorable. And so today, we’re the only lender to issue an investment grade bond with loans that have been originated to borrowers that don’t have a credit score.

Fernando Corona: And just off that, what do you what are your What are your clients say about that? Like when you’re What have you heard from the people that you’re helping? What do you what have you heard them say about what Tricolor is doing?

Daniel Chu: So we believe we’ve been successful in building a brand that’s compelling that resonates in a very positive way with that consumer and that most importantly, earns their trust. For many, many years our tagline the tagline of our business has been called balance the country galore. And that’s that, that really comes from our heart, we really want to provide an experience that that earns and is deserving of that customers trust and loyalty.

Fernando Corona: Perfect, perfect, then that leads on to the to the next question here. So can you tell me what is the best part about being a leader?

Daniel Chu: Sure. So you know, virtually every day. In my role, I have an opportunity to help other people grow, I have the opportunity to, to build alignment, to help people I work with achieve their goals. And that’s really the challenge that I love. It’s figuring out how to get someone to reach higher or to dream a little bigger. I also feel like that time that I can invest is an opportunity to share a lot of the truths I’ve discovered and ultimately help them build skills that are relevant and practical to, to allow them to pursue their own aspirations.

Fernando Corona: Yeah, absolutely. And even though if sometimes though some of those maybe it’s the path isn’t only with Tricolor, you’re very supportive and getting them to, branch out other places.

Daniel Chu: Sure. So, you know, the one thing that has made our company successful is alignment around a vision, that we’re going to improve the life of our customer, we are going to enhance the quality of our customers life. We believe that as a company, our mission with our employees is the same. And so, so my role is to be the catalyst or the facilitator to create an environment or where our employees can grow, where they can find the best opportunities for themselves. Hopefully at Tricolor but potentially somewhere else. And so, you know, it’s been our belief that if we can do that, that we’re going to build the energy and the culture that that ultimately creates the most successful outcome for our business. Absolutely. Great.

Fernando Corona: Question number three, I hear from other execs that sometimes acquiring clients, the whole client acquisition, there’s a ton of different strategies out there. You know, what are what are your thoughts around that? What has worked for you what hasn’t worked?

Daniel Chu: So it’s a great question particularly relevant to us, because, you know, we’re targeting a consumer that really is not on the radar. He doesn’t exist in the credit bureau. He doesn’t exist in most databases of consumers, because in many cases, or in most cases, he doesn’t have a social security number. And so it is challenging what we love about that challenge for our companies. We think that that’s where the opportunity is. And so, you know, we’ve invested a significant number of resources into building a digital strategy awaiting engage with our customer, digitally, that’s superior to anybody in our industry. And so beginning with that digital strategy, and then building an experience that for our customer from the time we engage with them, all the way through their experience of, for us purchasing a car and financing a car, and going through the experience as a bar, we want to put the customer at the center of that experience, and we want to build an overall feeling and trust with that consumer that is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced.

Fernando Corona: Yeah. And so with the consumer side, I mean with how you’re dealing with consumers segwaying into this next question here. What type of advice would you give to other execs, whether that’s either how they, you know, are with their leadership or with how they are with their with their own consumers?

Daniel Chu: Sure. So You know, as I think about that question, I think it is important to, to build some context around my response. Because we’re in such unprecedented times. Yeah, go for it. You know, for me, the past eight weeks, has been an opportunity to really, very intensely, think about questions like what’s really important. And, and it’s been, it’s been stimulating in terms of thinking through what really is going to define me personally in terms of my own foundational values and the values that I really embrace. And so, you know, as that relates to the advice that I would try to pass along, I think it brings me back to your earlier question on why I value being a leader. My conviction as a leader is that we should lead from behind and what I mean by that is what a lot of people would call servant leadership. Hmm. A great quote, if you want to lead, you must place yourself behind people. And what that really means to me is that you’re going to place the aspirations, the goals, the dreams, of the people you surround yourself with, ahead of your own, you’re going to put those at the top. And, and, and into the extent you’re successful in doing that the opportunity or the outcomes can be amazing. You know, as it applies to running a business, we put that mission, that of our company that desire to improve our customers life, we put that at the top, we put our customer and in his goals and aspirations as our focus our priority. So for us, it’s building a Responsible Lending platform. And by putting that out front, we create within our own company within our team. This incredible dynamic where we’re embracing that process, that journey and executing on that mission. And what we’ve learned is that going back to that servant leadership idea if you surround yourself with people who are self starters, for me, if I surround myself with people who are smarter than me, then and I and I am a catalyst to helping those people grow, we can create a dynamic that’s really powerful, we can create a dynamic that drives incredible success for our business. And in doing that, you build great connection, you build alignment, and probably most importantly, build trust. So, you know, at the end of the day, that’s the most rewarding aspect to me of being a leader and something I would want to share with other executives. It’s it for our team, it creates what I would call a love for the journey and we have this expression in our in our journeys. You know, it’s all about a love for the journey and when you have a love for the person process are a love for the journey that can really transform what is otherwise kind of a daily grind into an experience this energizing, it’s fresh, it’s fulfilling, it’s engaging, and ultimately, it’s positive for everybody that you serve. So, you know, that’s the mindset that we try to build. We think it’s, we think it leads to our company success. We believe that it allows us to be innovative, we believe allows us to do some of the things that ultimately we’ve been able to accomplish.

Fernando Corona: Yeah. So what about the leaders that may? It may not have clicked yet? Right, the idea of servant leadership because I have heard of it as well. But that means that there might be some leaders out there that are not following that type of principle just yet. Where I guess my question is, what do you think is preventing them from understanding servant leadership and how do they start to make that transition? I guess? And if you can explain practically what that might look like.

Daniel Chu: I mean, I think I think that’s touching on a much deeper, probably substantial conversation, but I would answer it like this, I would say that, that I would encourage people to, to think about a statement that actually we talked about a lot within our company. And it’s everything you want is on the other side of fear. And what unlocks what unlocks an individual’s ability to actually be a servant leader, is to really put that ego aside. In order to put that ego aside, you have to put your fears aside, once you put your fears aside, it really can be transformative because it allows you to actually see a much bigger picture. And you know, there’s nothing that’s reinforced that idea more for me than, you know, the pandemic that we’ve experienced. And now, you know, the civil unrest, it’s, it’s going back to what’s really important. And, and whether it’s dealing with issues in your own business or looking at really the challenges that face us as a society. It’s really setting aside those fears, those fears that drive maybe a racist view, or those fears that in your own business or impediment to really empowering the people around you, everything you want on the other side of fear, and I think really all the answers we want lie in that very insightful statement.

Fernando Corona: Yeah, I’ll accept it. All right, last question. And this is a little fun one after a win, and you can classify when however you’d like. How do you like to celebrate with your team or with your family or with yourself? Well, what do you what are some things you do?

Daniel Chu: Wow, I wish I had some more well answer for that. I would say, you know, for me, there’s just no better celebration than just being with my wife and my kids. We have two French Bulldogs. And so, you know, going back to the people that you share, you know, the most the the value the most precious time with, I guess is for me the, you know, the best way to celebrate.

Fernando Corona: Absolutely. I agree with that. Okay. And Daniel, if anybody wants to learn more about tricolour, they want to learn more about you, what’s the best way for them to reach out and connect?

Daniel Chu: I’m probably most active on LinkedIn. Our Corporation, our corporate website is And there’s a lot of information there, about our company and, and, and how we really approach our mission of ultimately enhancing you know, the life of our customer. And so, you know, I appreciate the opportunity to share that and, and appreciate the opportunity to to, to talk a little bit about you know, what we’ve been been able to accomplish?

Fernando Corona: Yeah, no, it was it was a pleasure having you on. All right. Thanks, everybody for hopping in today in The Sage Executive Podcast. And we’ll see you guys in the next episode.

Daniel Chu: Great. Thank you.

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Written by Arjun Krishna Lal

Arjun Krishna Lal is the Director of Content Performance at Flying V Group. A seasoned storyteller and wordsmith, Arjun has a background in writing and journalism that he leverages to create impactful content for US small businesses and agencies. Arjun skillfully blends narrative excellence with a deep understanding of technology, driving traffic and conversions through strategic content.

July 14, 2020



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