Joining me on today’s show is Dr. Jerry Fu. Jerry is the founder and owner of Adapting Leaders. Specializing in helping Asian American professionals who want to get better at their leadership. Specifically, with helping them with conflict resolution, Jerry, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Hi Steve. Thanks for having me.
Steve Rush: I’m delighted to have you on the show. You bring an enormous amount of experience and an enormous amount of leadership perspective that we are really looking forward to get into. But before we do that, we always like to give our audience an opportunity to get to know you a bit better. Tell us a little bit about Jerry?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah, I love traveling. I remember when I did a school rotation in Dublin, Ireland, and I that’s what gave me the travel bug to see more of the world. And I love salsa dancing that has been a hobby. I never would’ve expected for myself but has become one that has just consumed my life in such a great way. And I love trying new food. And so, Houston is the most affordable multicultural city anyone could ask for. So, it’s fun to try any kind of new restaurant you could think about trying.
Steve Rush: Awesome. And tell us a bit about the man behind the business. How did you kick off your professional career and where did it lead you?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah, yeah, so I have this healthcare lineage in my family. My grandpa practiced in Taiwan as a doctor for over 50 years. Several of my uncles are involved as physicians and I even grew up with two cousins. Both of whom went to Harvard and then went to med school. So, the bar was set pretty high.
Steve Rush: Yeah. Right.
Dr. Jerry Fu: I didn’t have the bug for myself. It was just more of a cultural default to say, hey, you want to be a doctor too, right, Jerry? And I said, well, yeah, sure, okay. I don’t really have any other interest. Nothing had really, you know, struck me early on in life to say, okay, this is definitely one I want to do the rest of my life. In contrast, I have a best friend from high school who wanted to be a pediatrician from a young age. He was great with kids, loved being around them, loved serving them. And, you know, he has a growing clinical practice where he is now. And, you know, that’s wonderful to see, but for me, I grew up in a home where my mom protected me from a lot of stress and anxiety because, you know, she’s my mom, she loves me. She doesn’t want me worrying about things that I have no control over. But the challenge with that is that when I moved away for college, right. I began to face challenges I didn’t have the discipline to challenge to face and actually work through. And I say this, because eventually that got me a C in organic chemistry. I had never experienced failure to that level before. In my mind, like my med school dreams were over, right.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: I was just like, nope, don’t know how this is going to work. So let me just remove the possibility of the shame that could happen if I were wait listed or rejected from med school. So, while I still want to do healthcare, what else could I consider doing? And so, I said, well, pharmacy seems pretty good. So let me apply to pharmacy school and convince pharmacy school that I would make a good pharmacist. My grades, just decent enough to give him a chance. And so went to pharmacy school, finished pharmacy school, but that was where my life took another challenge in conflict because by now I’m in my mid-twenties and my mom decided that she needed to step in to make sure my life was on track with what she felt was successful.
This involved two main things. Number one, working for the chain pharmacy, she thought would be the safest career choice. And number two, marrying a girl that she had set up for me that she pulled from her network of Asian parents. I had moved back home. let her convince me that moving back home and working for this chain pharmacy, I wasn’t excited about working for, was somehow the best option. I realized that was almost like a strategy tactic, because she convinced me to move home, not only could she be a louder voice in my life then she could really push me to marry this girl.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: And even though my mom had never worked a day in her life in pharmacy, you know, moms know best, so here we go, right. And so, I had this very fixed mindset about leader, about conflict and about just life journeys in general, right. Where I felt like, you know, it was key in my twenties to make sure I worked for the best company or marry the best girl or anything else like that, because if I started off poorly, right, somehow that would just kind of lock me into other things. And so, when I felt like I was locked into working for this company and marrying this girl, you know, I was just really not happy with where my life was, you know? And went through just this. You could say self-pity phase. I was living a home; I was making good money. I was using the money. I would’ve spent on rent to travel and take some fun trips.
And that was a nice side benefit. But I wasn’t happy. One stretch, I was happy while I was living at home, working for this chain pharmacy was when I worked for a store that had a really flexible scheduling, all of a sudden, I was able to travel a lot more, do a lot of my own more of my own thing. And I knew how rare that was. So, I was scared to leave it. And so, when it went away anyway, after I had to reshuffle my schedule and do other things, I ended up at another store, which was much busier and I was unhappy again, because I had lost that autonomy over my schedule and it took a really, really ugly customer service incident 11 years ago in January that just said, okay, I can’t stay here any longer. I have to find another job.
And so, the problem with that is that, you know, I wasn’t working on my career at all. I was just content to work for this chain pharmacy, as long as I was doing better than 70% of my workflow and my staff on other pharmacists, you know, my boss was happy with my effort. And so, I didn’t work on my career. So, when I wanted to get into teaching pharmacy students, I didn’t have much of a resume to stand on for a conventional university job. But one of my friends who works for a pharmacy consulting company here in Houston told me, hey, I got promoted. My previous teaching position is available. Would you like to apply for it? I said, oh absolutely. So, I get the interviews, I convince them I was worth taking a chance on. All of a sudden, I am taking this part-time teaching job over a full-time job with benefits, which of course my mom did not respond too well. And so, I knew though I wanted to do this and head in this direction. So, I’m moving to Houston from Tennessee where I was living at the time. And you know, I had local friends to help me get settled in Houston fairly quickly. So that was nice. But I realized quickly I was in over my head after the initial honeymoon phase was over. There were some big assignments that my boss had trusted me to handle which is mainly writing new test questions. And for whatever reason, either I got writer’s block or mismanaged my time, but ultimately, I didn’t want to admit that I was in over my head because I didn’t manage my time or anything like that. And so I was still in this mindset that somehow if I told my boss, you know, a good enough reason as to why I didn’t get the job done, somehow, she would understand.
And unfortunately, the day before the first exam where I was supposed to have new test questions, she saw the exam and needed to come in early and just rehash everything because she’s like, this is well below, you know, the standard that I had expected from you, and I realized quickly, right? Like your boss, isn’t paying you to tell you stories as to why I think get the job done. Your boss wants to get the job done, but that was not a lesson I could embrace until much later. But anyway, I say this to say, this set a bad precedent for me. And she struggled to trust me after that. And so eventually after enough rope, 11 months later I got fired and that was just a tough wake up call I couldn’t appreciate at the time.
And you know, me still dealing with the failure and the shame and the embarrassment of wasting this opportunity at a company that a lot of my friends covered it, you know, respected. And I just thought, oh my gosh, what am I going to do? And so that’s where the rollercoaster for my career took a really bad turn where I ended up at an independent pharmacy job. House of cards, four of my paychecks bounced crooked doctored And after the first check bounce, actually my boss, owned up to him. was like, hey, something happened, sorry about that. We’ll we for it. But here’s the problem, Steve, is that I didn’t have a local bank account.
Steve Rush: Right.
Dr. Jerry Fu: I never bothered setting one up. And so, I was mailing my checks home and when checks two, three and four bounce, right. And my boss eventually I said, hey, we’ve having some more problems. And I checked with my mom, I said, did I have some mail? Oh yeah, these checks were overturned but I was just too afraid to tell you, and it’s just like, no, like this is not how you handle bad news, right.
Steve Rush: Exactly, yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: If a patient has cancer, you don’t tell him, well, I can’t afford to tell him he has cancer because that would be terrible. It’s like, no, he needs to know so he knows how to treat it, right. So anyway, in my own conflict diversion still, right. I felt like was bad at conflict. I was never going to good at it. So anytime someone confronted me or was upset with me, I just needed to take the path of least resistance. And so, what do you do when the boss is clearly ripping you off, right. And so, after nine months of back and forth and trying to chase down as much of the shorted money as I could before finally quitting. My friends got me on with a different, more legitimate company, but money was really tight. And so, they said, hey, we can’t pay more than eight hours a week. And I said, uh-oh, so what do you suggest I do? And they said, well, you can cover at our Austin location, which is about two and a half hours away. And you can get more hours that way.
And I said, okay. And so, I’m driving out to Austin with no idea what my life is going to look like. And people would tell me, hey, Jerry, you could end up in worst cities. And I said, yeah, technically, but it just didn’t feel like home at this point, right? And so, this summer, this is 2012. Now this was the summer that some friends of mine who run a pharmacy leadership, nonprofit contacted me and said, hey, one of our facilitators had to back out for a national meeting. Would you be interested in stepping in? And these were friends I’d made over a couple years. I said, oh, I love them so much. And so, I said, absolutely, I want to step in and help out. And so, teaching leadership kind of unlock some possibilities in my head because before I said, wow, leadership is hard.
The few times I’ve tried it. I wasn’t really that great at it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be good at it. And so now I was asking myself, well, what if I could be a good leader? What would that look like? What kind of work would that involve? How I care myself? And so that fall, I had the opportunity to either stay in Austin part-time, which was a great work team, or take on a full-time management position in Houston that had opened up. And I said, okay. I can’t be scared. I can’t stay safe. I have to take on this challenge. I’m ready to come back to Houston. So yeah, let me take on this challenge.
Steve Rush: It’s a great story. And what I’m noticing as you’re describing it though, Jerry, right. Is this whole journey of mindset that shifts for you on this exploration, what happened next?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Oh, I got written up again. I had technicians who are not pulling their weight and causing a lot of problems and in my conflict diversion, right. So, leadership I was able to, but then the specific area of conflict resolution I was still struggling with. And so, you know, again, trying to be gracious, but the management said, hey, their behavior is a problem and your unwillingness to discipline them or even fire them is also a problem. So, your kind of in the doghouse again we’re going to put you on a performance improvement plan and things. And of course, you know, all my friends around me are saying, you got to own up, if you just want pity, that’s not going to help you with the situation.
So, you got to own up to what you got to do and what you have to work on. So, I managed to get out of the doghouse right around the time the company had their funding pulled. Basically, the owners at that point felt like the pharmacy model was no longer viable, so they just decided to pull out. I was still looking to quit and move on, but that didn’t change things. It just made a little more urgent. And so, I managed to land on my feet only because I have leadership experience on my resume now. They tell me, hey, we’re interviewing you because you have leadership experience on your resumes. So, I tell people, leadership save my career in that I got more job options.
That next job unfortunately didn’t last very long. The revenue model was not sustainable for smaller pharmacies that actually offer a higher quality of life. Incidentally, along the way, I had to fire a technician who had gotten pregnant after I’d hired her. And that was tough because when the clinic that I was working with, wasn’t happy with her. And then they told my boss and my boss said, hey, look, you got to handle it. And I knew that if I did not fire her, that I would lose my job too. And so that was the main impetus for saying, okay, I got to fall in this grenade, right. So anyway, the next couple of years I managed to land on with another company that I liked a lot, you know, they had good benefits, good hours. And I was hoping that would be the last company I ever had to work for.
And again, you realize, these smaller pharmacies that offer high quality of life don’t last long in the pharmacy landscape. And so, when that company went under four years ago, I told myself, well, you know, I’m tired of dealing with insurance companies. I’m tired of trying to chase doctors for scripts, but I love teaching these leadership workshops, which I’ve done consistently since 2012. What would a career in leadership coaching and facilitating look like, you know, what kind of work would that involve? And so, I proceed to ask some friends who are in this space, and I’m still scared of failing rejection. So, I don’t actually start anything, not for real. And I tell people, Steve, that it took a pandemic for me to kind of wake up and say, hey, well, you know, how much longer am I going to wait? Right. You know? And last October file the LLC, got the website up, opened the bank account and you still got to hustle, right?
Steve Rush: Of course, yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: The world doesn’t owe you success just because you decide to put some skin in the game.
Steve Rush: You spot on Jerry, but actually there is no substitute for hard work. And what I do know about you is you are incredibly hard working and focused, right?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Exactly.
Steve Rush: The first time we met was like 2:00 AM in Houston.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah.
Steve Rush: That’s the kind of guy you are, you’re prepared to go above and beyond in order for us to have that conversation because it was important to you.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yes.
Steve Rush: And what I do know about you is that while you still might bump into some of that fixed mindset stuff, the growth mindset is massively dominating your future. And I suspect that’s what help you get to where you get to now, right?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Absolutely. It has to, and the fact that you would need to keep growing is really the opportunity there, because I think there some myth that somehow if you have enough of growth mindsets mindset, that somehow you could just stop and say, okay, now I can hit cruise control. And as David Allen says in his book, Getting Things Done with personal development, he says, the better you get the better you’d better get. And so, it’s like, wait, it doesn’t end. It’s like, oh, it doesn’t get easier. It’s like, well, in a way it does, but only so you can handle bigger challenges, right?
Steve Rush: Right. It’s the start of something for you. Having a growth mindset just gives you the permissions to explore, to find things, to learn more. But then you still have to do something with what you learn, what you find, what you’ve explored, otherwise you bump into that fixed mindset holding you back. So, what was the point that you thought, right. I’m definitely onto something here now. And specifically with the Asian American community that you work with a lot. When was that kind of defining moment that you thought, yeah, I’ve definitely got something here?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah. Great question. I saw something when I landed my, technically, my first paying client. I met my first client through the church that he used to go too. He’s a Chinese guy, similar background, his parents came over from a different country and he was recognizing that, hey, a stable nine to five job only goes so far and maybe I need to take on some leadership challenges. So, he actually left Houston to take on a job in a different city that he felt like that would give him a higher quality of life. And not just give him a boring nine to five or a toxic work culture. And he realized quickly he needed to improve. And so, when I was first trying to test out my coaching, I said, hey, try me out six months for free, just because I need to get better at this.
And this way you have some level of help. And so, after six months I said, okay, I’m ready to start charging, are you on board with this? And he’s like, yeah, are you willing to give me a discount if I commit to a year of coaching? And I said, oh absolutely. That’s when I knew I was onto something and then same thing with my second client. She was dealing with her own challenges at work. And so, when I helped her navigate a really difficult conversation with her very temperamental, passive, aggressive boss, after he blew a batter, trying to restore things. I knew that this is a problem that a lot of Asians don’t want to admit that they struggle, right. I know how private and prideful I was about my own challenges to deal with things and have this image that I have to maintain that, no, no, no. Like I’m tough enough. I should be able to do it on my own, right. And then you realize, how’s that working for you? right. Just to be too proud to ask for help when you need help, right.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Still trying to figure out how exactly to help other more Asians realize, hey, it’s okay to say you don’t have it all together. Like it’s okay to say, hey, like you’re dealing with some challenges, you’re struggling to find your own solution for them. And yeah. Happy to get a solution that’s more within your preferred budget if that’s what it comes down to. So yeah. I know I’m onto something there because I think a lot of Asians are dealing with that. Whether it’s temperamental bosses or parental expectations about how their life should go or even just within themselves to say, hey, what I grew up hearing isn’t jiving right now.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: What do I need to do differently? So that I’m actually charting a course for myself in my own life that I know I would be more satisfied with.
Steve Rush: Yeah. And there’s no question, of course, that having that experience of being born in a Asian community and living with some of the things that people like, you know, white, Caucasian guys at me just will not get is absolutely going to be a massive strength to those conversations that I just couldn’t empathize with the greatest respect as a great coach, I could do my absolute damnest to explore and develop and understand with deep empathy and respect but I still wouldn’t be able to get it like you would, right.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Fair enough. I mean, on one hand, I think the joke or not joke, but the interesting thing in coaching is either you want someone with completely fresh eyes that has no frame of reference. I think there’s some merit there and at the same time, you know, what better person to help you navigate a path when they have the same skin, right. And they have the same eyes and perspective that you have because they’ve dealt with the same racial taunt or, you know, familial stress and prideful culture that we’ve held onto for so long.
Steve Rush: And I definitely think there’s something about having a fresh set of eyes in perspective but as part of an intimate coaching relationship, there’ll be things that naturally spark off for you that would never even enter my subconscious, right?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah, yeah. I’m just a little further down the path. I skin my knee a couple times and as much as you could learn from skinning your own knee the same, why don’t I spare you some of that, right.
Steve Rush: Exactly right. Yeah. And in talking of skinning your own knee, what it seems to me, Jerry, is that those experiences you shared earlier around not facing into some of the conflict, not facing into some of the challenges that you had are really core elements of the learning that you’ve now applied in the work that you do now, right?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Oh, absolutely, yeah. I mean the biggest catalyst for me, recognizing I need to get better was admitting that the cost of not dealing with the situation is worse than messing up and failing at, you know, engaging the situation.
Steve Rush: Right.
Dr. Jerry Fu: And then also to recognize, hey, you know what, even if I fail, it’s better than not doing anything. And then also, you know, the paradox is okay, let me just not settle for, well, at least I tried. It’s like, okay, let me really study this and improve this so that I give myself the best chance of success every single time I engage.
Steve Rush: So, from your perspective, are there some common traits that cause conflict in the first place?
Dr. Jerry Fu: I think the first thing is just mismanaged expectations, right? That’s usually the easiest conflict to realize, right. This is just, hey, I was expecting you to show up on time. You showed up 30 minutes late. Okay. We have a conflict done, right. That’s the first simple conflict. The second conflict I’ll see is, you know, expectations for myself and my own path versus expectations that others have for me, right. That’s another one. Cultural expectations, right. When just in like social circle, right. When I remember in high school, like a classmate came over and he didn’t take his shoes off because he just didn’t know, but I was too afraid to tell him, hey, you need to take your shoes off before coming in and now I have to deal with the conflict, right. He’s not even aware of this unless he told him.
Steve Rush: Right.
Dr. Jerry Fu: And then, there’s healthy conflict, right? The current version of you versus the future version of you or business conflict, right. What makes us money now may not make us money in five years from now or even within healthy business cultures, right. Morale and results usually are on opposite sides. And then, you know, innovation and systems usually don’t pair up well, right. Because innovation says, hey, we got to look for new stuff and systems say, well, you know, this is how we’re built to handle money now. Those are the most frequent conflicts that I see.
Steve Rush: You mentioned very briefly there around conflict can be positive. Most conflict happens in that part of the limbic system that we try to deal with that whole fight flight freeze in the peace situation. And that’s typically get an emotional response. So how can conflict be positive in that sense?
Dr. Jerry Fu: I mean, conflict tells you that something has to change, right. I’ll give a specific example from my work, leadership lab in a way. So, my lead technician will call her, Denise. For the longest time she would just show up late, chronically late. And one of my other technicians who is consistently punctual is very upset at this, but Emily, this punctual technician, right. Emily doesn’t handle conflict well. And because she’s a harmonizer, she wants to get along with people. She doesn’t like it when people dislike her for things. And so, she’s just quietly frustrated with Denise tardiness and one day on our group text, right. Emily says, oh, basically Denise was late again. And so, Emily is just texting all these really passive, aggressive texts on our thread. And it’s like, okay, this is a problem, right. Because when it starts to spill over into these kinds of messages, it’s like, okay, now we have a conflict, right. And so, the conflict really revealed a lot of good things that we needed to work on, right. That was the good of conflict because Denise realizes, okay, my tardiness is affecting my team’s ability to focus and get things done. And, Emily is recognizing, oh, like holding this in is not healthy, right. She’s not going to change until I say something to her. At least I don’t have a chance of seeing how she’ll respond unless I say something to her. Even though this is an unhealthy conflict, because it reveals a lack of empathy for the other person and just an unaware of the consequences of my own selfishness in this case for either woman. This was the catalyst for both of them to realize it’s like, okay, Denise, like, if you don’t want her to start passively, aggressively communicating with you, you need to step up your game, show up on time. And Emily, you know, if you’re upset, go ahead and say, like we don’t want you holding that in.
Steve Rush: What are the kind of main reasons that people don’t just air it when it’s fresh for them, you know, first time out an incident occurs. What is that kind of fundamental reason we just don’t let it out so early?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Well, I mean, I know for me, it’s this fear of antagonizing other person. Like I’m just going to throw them on defensive if I confront them about something that I think is problematic. Part of it is just the way people have dealt with conflict with me, when they just, send this really polite email heading like, hey, right. And then you open the email and then they just blast you with everything you did real wrong, right. And so, yeah, number one is just the desire to be liked. I think if I bring this thing up, they won’t like me anymore.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: And then even worse is that you bring it up in a way that shows, you’re scared to bring this up with them, which is, you know, almost just as insulting as just not wanting to talk about it with them, right.
Steve Rush: I can say that actually.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah.
Steve Rush: And it’s ironic. I never really thought of it in that way that you can physically see the non-verbal communication happening way before, can’t you? Somebody been stewing on this situation or the event and now they’re going to have a conversation, but they’re dreading it. You can see it all over their face often, can’t you?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Oh yeah. You die thousand deaths before you ever get stabbed, right.
Steve Rush: And one of the things that comes back to your earlier observations was all of this is mindset. The fear of I’m not going to do that is a mindset, isn’t it? The assumptions that we make about how people respond to us is a mindset. And actually, often when you get it out there, it’s nothing like it.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah.
Steve Rush: Yeah. Excellent. So, talk us through a little bit about the work you’ve been doing recently. So, I know you have your downloadable version of the framework that you’ve got. I think we really need just to spin through how that might help our leaders listening to this.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Oh, of course. Yeah. So, in trying to expand the help that I can offer potential clients or anyone really, who’s curious about my business. Have this great guide that details a framework on how to handle hard conversations, because basically I took some, you know, material from references and books that, you know, friends introduced to me. And then I kind of put my own spin on it, my own spices in the common recipe if you want to use one analogy. So yeah, the five steps for handling hard conversations, according to me. Number one, you have to imagine what a successful conversation would sound like.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Too often, right. I know what I do in conflict to say, well, I don’t know how this is going to go, but I’m just going to go in there. And I guess, you know, even if it goes poorly, well, you don’t have to settle for that, right. Maybe the conversation can go easy, right. You could just say, hey, can you stop leaving your dirty dishes in the sink? And they say, oh yeah, sorry about that. Maybe it could be that easy, right. But you don’t know. And kind of like, to my point about being a good leader, you give yourself permission to succeed at something, right. Hey, maybe I could actually be good at this.
Number two is to find 10 seconds of courage to set things in motion, whether it’s sending that email or sending that text or picking up the phone, right. People think, oh, I need to be more courageous. I need to feel like Superman or Wonder Women. And it’s like, if you wait until you feel like you have enough courage, like you’ll never do it or even worse, you wait three months, six months. And you know, now all this damage is continuing to go. Like this fire is still, you know, eating up all this property. And it’s like, well, I’m not ready to deal with that yet. But it’s still causing problems, right. So, you need to stretch yourself for 10 seconds to kind of set things in motion and lock the gate behind you, so you can’t back out, right. And that’s kind of helped you force yourself forward.
Number three is to script your critical moves, right. So don’t just think about what you need to include, go ahead, and write it down, right. Because if things are rattling around in your head, you’re not going to remember everything in the moment. So go ahead and write things down you know, organize into a logical flow and make sure this way you can address things impartially. Number four though, is to rehearse those critical moves, right. Rehearse in front of a mirror, record yourself on your phone, get your friends to role play with you, make sure that you train in the dojo before fighting on the street, right.
Steve Rush: Right.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Make sure you practice that courage and then step five, do it. You’ve done the homework, you set things in motion, you’ve practiced. And the cost of backing out now is too high. So just follow through and learn from it. Make sure you say, hey, how could I do that better? But those are the five steps
Steve Rush: Also of course, by just mapping out those steps and stages, as you’ve just described, will help unlock that growth mindset that we need to be effective in that moment.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah.
Steve Rush: So, we’re going to flip the coin and turn the tables a little bit now Jerry. We’re going to dive your leadership experience of which you’ve had, not only the ability of leading teams, but have had the opportunity to coach great leaders too. So, I want you to dive in, if you can, and just try and get to our top three leadership hacks from you, what would they be?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, great, great question. So top three leadership hacks. Number one. Kind of like what we were referred to earlier saying, hey, what’s the cost of not doing anything, right. So, to do that, just to say, hey, 10 seconds of courage, you don’t have to wait until you’re ready. Just start doing things, right. Try something, learn, adjust, and then repeat the cycle, right. And yeah, what’s the smallest amount of change I could do right now that I would feel okay with doing, right. Just shrink something down into a manageable step, much like Atomic Habits said, or David Allen said, you know, what’s the next action? So yeah, the first leadership hack, what’s the minimum viable action you can do, right. number two, leadership hacks. I mean, learning is big. And so, for me, I download audiobooks through an app called Libby. Let’s you rent audiobooks and eBooks for free through whatever library you have access to and then listen to them a on 1.2, five speed and learning right is the second leadership hack and then finding ways to make learning fun. And to be opportunistic with that, right. Because I haven’t had as much time to read physical books as I used to, but the next best thing is to listen to books while in the car or I have other moments of dead time. So that would be the second leadership hack I would say. And then third leadership hack. Ask meaningful questions. Because questions are what helped me shine the flashlight on important things, I want other people to address, and it feels much less pushy when you’re trying to motivate someone to think a little differently. And if you help people realize things for themselves, then it’s a lot easier than me just telling them what I think they should do.
Steve Rush: A part of every great coach of course.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah, absolutely.
Steve Rush: So, the next part of the show, we call it Hack to Attack. So, this is where something hasn’t worked out well. Maybe it’s been pretty catastrophic, but the event itself is now cause some learning and that learning serves you well, what would be your Hack to Attack?
Dr. Jerry Fu: I’ll give a situation from my current job. When I first started, I brought on a technician from my previous company who was one of a lead technician, but it turns out was just because you have the title mean people respected her. And when I brought her on, we realized too late that she wasn’t a good fit for the company basically. She was willing to undercut her teammates anytime she made a mistake because she was too afraid of looking incompetent and she didn’t want to lose her job. And so even though she wasn’t lead technician now, she was still acting like she was and just causing a lot of problems that she just didn’t want to admit to. And so, you know, my attempts to write her up and discipline her didn’t go well.
And this went on for like a year and a half before we finally said, okay, we can’t do this anymore. Like, and so yeah, I mean, those failings, that was probably like, I don’t want to admit how much we set our company back because I was just too afraid to engage. Because she knew how to deflect. She knew how to bite back and then we just realized, hey, you know, even if this is true, like we’re still in charge. And if we’re not happy with her performance, it’s still up to us to push her out the door.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: And so, this set a tough precedent because we didn’t entirely build up a bulletproof case, even though we had more enough evidence, we just didn’t line it up properly. And so, when she filed for unemployment. The workforce commission ruled in her favor because we didn’t line up all our ducks in a row. And so, I say this because was a good lesson because when it happened again with another employee, we just realized, okay, it doesn’t matter how much this employee refute our story. It’s still up to us to write her up. And so sure enough, after we, you know, hit the last straw with her, you know, we made sure that we had a strong case. And so, when she tried to file for unemployment, she was denied. And to say this, not out of like satisfaction, I’m just happy that we protected the company from people that were draining its resources.
Steve Rush: And the lesson learned, of course, otherwise you’d repeated the same mistakes.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Oh, absolutely. That was more satisfying, even though it was exhausting both times.
Steve Rush: I can imagine. It’s never an easy thing to do, but it’s a byproduct of managing performance and people, right.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah.
Steve Rush: So, the last bit of the show today is we get a chance to give you a of time travel. You get to bump into Jerry at 21 and give them some advice. So, what would your words or wisdom be to Jerry at 21?
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah, I would tell him three things. I think number one, it’s okay for people to disagree with you. If you like something and they start to badmouth that you don’t have to be the hero and prove them wrong. Like, if you like, what you like and you know, why you like it, it’s okay if other people don’t like it. So just be more secure in that regard. Number two would be, it’s okay to say no, you know, don’t people please. Like if you are honestly not excited about doing something, don’t do it and it’s a lesson to remind myself today, actually just say, hey, it’s okay to say no to things. And then number three, I would say explore more. I’ll tell you this, Steve, this was a funny moment. I basically got funneled into a German language learning program when I was in middle school. And so, because I’d already learned German in middle school, I just continued it through high school. I remember after going through a tough lesson, getting a bad grade on a test, I just said, oh my gosh, you know, when am I ever going to use this? Steve, I’ve met so many great German people like everywhere I’ve traveled.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: And the number of cute German girls I’ll meet. And even if I have no shot of dating them, I could just see God just like, you know, talking to me and looking at me, going, I tried, like to expand your perspective and it took a while for me to really appreciate. Oh wow, global perspective is amazing.
Steve Rush: Yeah.
Dr. Jerry Fu: And there’s a big, great world out there to explore and learn from and really embrace. I would tell myself, hey, as much as you like video games, you know, maybe there’s something better out there for you.
Steve Rush: And in the big diverse global world we have, we are so lucky that we have 94 countries that listen to our show and therefore we want to make sure we can connect you with those and that audience too, Jerry. So, when we are finished today, where’s the best place we can send them.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Yeah. You can connect with me on LinkedIn but the best place to go to connect and where all the free goodies are, is my website, which is http://www.adaptingleaders.com. In addition to the free guide that you can download, you can schedule a complimentary 30-minute call. You can also check out the blog where I summarize useful and interesting leadership books and offer other life hacks that maybe useful to you
Steve Rush: And let the leadership hacking continue, and we’ll make sure that we connect our audience with you. And all of those links, Jerry will be in our show notes.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Great. Thanks so much, Steve.
Steve Rush: It’s been awesome talking. I’m absolutely convinced that the whole approach to conflict resolution is something that we are going to look back in 10 years and you are going to be one of those global experts because you bring a really neat and simple perspective on something that is really quite uncomfortable and challenging. So, I just wanted to say thank you for being on our podcast. Thanks, Being part of our community Jerry.
Dr. Jerry Fu: Ah, thanks, Steve. I’m so happy I stayed up till 2:00 AM to finally meet with you because I could have just said, you know what? Nope. I’m not willing to do that. And to have this meaningful conversation with you and to know that we’re giving so much benefit and useful information to your audiences is humbling and exciting.
Steve Rush: Thank you, Jerry. Appreciate it.
Dr. Jerry Fu: All right.