About Brad Chan
Brad is a property professional and the CEO of Banna Property Group, a 3rd generation family business with a vision to transform its shopping centres into community hubs. Brad is also founder of HaymarketHQ, an innovation hub which opened in 2016 with a particular focus on helping startups grow into Asian markets. In 2022, he led a group of community organisations to successfully launch Neon Playground, a festival of lights, arts, music and community to reactivate Sydney’s Chinatown.
Brad was a previous board member of the Museum of Chinese in Australia, former President of the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce for five years, sat for several years on the City of Sydney Chinese New Year Advisory Committee and was the first President of the Australian Asian Association of Bennelong. He was recently a Board Director of Northcross Limited for four years, whilst also President of the school P&F for the same duration. He remains involved with a number of other community and local government committees and currently sits on the City of Sydney Business Advisory Panel. He is also a former board member of the DAWN Network a purpose-led business with a vision to build culturally diverse leaders in the future. In 2016, he established the Banna Foundation, the family group’s philanthropy arm which currently supports a range of charities including the UTS Humanitarian Scholarship for the past 4 years.
Brad has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Land Economics), Post-Graduate Diploma in Finance & Investment, a Masters in Real Estate and a Masters of Town Planning. He is also a graduate and member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has been a Justice of the Peace in NSW since 2010.
Lesson 1: Live Your Values 02:53
Lesson 2: Introversion is a superpower. 09:48
Lesson 3: Challenges are opportunities. 17:46
Lesson 4: Learn languages. 22:21
Lesson 5: Just Do It 25:36
Lesson 6: Be Humble 27:20
Lesson 7: Join a gym. 30:52
Lesson 8: Choose Your Response 35:16
Lesson 9: Success is intentional. 39:03
Lesson 10: Become literate…in Money. 44:55
Brad Chan – Success is intentional.
[00:00:08] Jeffery Wang: Hello and welcome to the podcast, 10 Lessons Learned, where we discern wisdom for career, business, and life to an international audience of rising leaders.
[00:00:17] Jeffery Wang: In other words, you’ll find valuable insights that you can’t find in a textbook because it took us years to learn this stuff.
[00:00:23] Jeffery Wang: My name is Jeffrey Wang, the founder of Professional Development Forum and your host today. This podcast is sponsored by the Professional Development Forum, which helps diverse young professionals of any age find fulfillment in the modern workplace.
[00:00:36] Jeffery Wang: Today we’re joined by. Brad Chan. Brad is a CEO, an angel investor, a mentor to startups, a philanthropist, and one of the most well-respected Asian Australian community leaders today.
[00:00:50] Jeffery Wang: Brad is a CEO of Banna Property Group, one of Australia’s most established family companies run by third generation, which operates across retail, entertainment, and commercial property.
[00:01:01] Jeffery Wang: HaymarketHQ, which we’re here today is a thriving startup incubator focused on growth into Asian markets. This was created due to his vision of an innovation hub in the center of Sydney’s Chinatown.
[00:01:15] Jeffery Wang: Brad sat on the board of the Museum of Chinese in Australia and currently sits on the board of North Cross Limited amongst many others,
[00:01:23] Jeffery Wang: Brad established the Banna Foundation in 2016, which is the philanthropic arm of his family business, supporting a range of charities including the UTS Humanitarian Scholarship for the past four years. Brad is also formerly the President of the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce. He’s an advisor to the City of Sydney Chinese New Year Festival and is currently on the City of Sydney’s business advisory panel.
[00:01:48] Jeffery Wang: Last year, Brad launched the Neon Playground, which is a festival of lights, art, music, in order to bring people back into Sydney’s Chinatown after the pandemic.
[00:02:00] Jeffery Wang: Thank you so much for joining us today, Brad.
[00:02:02] Brad Chan: Thanks for having me. I really like that introduction. I think I’ll have to borrow it sometime.
[00:02:08] Jeffery Wang: Well, this just goes on to show just how humble you are, Brad, because you deserve every bit of it.
[00:02:13] Jeffery Wang: One thing I failed to mention in my introduction is that you are also one of my favorite leaders in the Asian Australian community.
[00:02:21] Brad Chan: Ah, that’s a real big honor there, Jeff. Thank you.
[00:02:25] Jeffery Wang: Well, I’ve been after you to come onto this podcast for, gosh, probably over two years now. It’s because I know that you have a lot of wisdom to share. You know, there’s a reason why a quiet leader like yourself is so widely followed and admired by the community, and I feel like, there is a lot of wisdom there that we can unpack.
[00:02:47] Brad Chan: I’ll do my best, Jeff. That’s pretty high expectations there, but yeah, we’ll see how we go.
[00:02:53] Lesson 1: Live your values
[00:02:53] Jeffery Wang: All right, well, let’s just jump straight into it. lesson number one, live your values. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
[00:03:01] Brad Chan: Yeah, and I should probably just preface, these 10 lessons by saying, I’ve actually linked each of these lessons to a particular book that I’ve read.
[00:03:09] Brad Chan: And the reason I’ve done that is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’d love to be able to say that all of my lessons, all of my ideas are original, but unfortunately, everything I’ve learned has come from somewhere. And, and so the second part of this is around, just making sure that your listeners have enough substance.
[00:03:27] Brad Chan: If they want to, delve a little bit more into one of the lessons, there’s a lot of great material out there that they can turn to. So, I’ll probably be providing a summary of my lessons, and so if you want a bit more information, I’ll also provide the context to, I guess the book that I’ve found quite useful to me in my life.
[00:03:43] Brad Chan: So, with the first one, live Your Values. so, this actually comes from a book called “How Will You Measure Your Life” by Clay Christensen. and he wrote this in about 2012. He passed away a couple of years ago, and I think, if I had to give one of my kids a book. this would probably be it. I think this is a really important book.
[00:04:02] Brad Chan: And what, Clay wrote about was, I guess the importance of how you lived your life and how you spent your time. And, he was an economics lecturer, I think Harvard University. And he applied business theories and applied them to how to live your life. And one of those theories was, for example, around resource allocation.
[00:04:25] Brad Chan: It’s a common business term, but the way he applied it to living life was, you know, we all have, a limited resource in our life and the most important of those is time. And so, we need to be really careful about how we invest our time. And he really spoke about not overinvesting in work and underinvesting in life, but rather the opposite and. I think for a lot of us, we get caught into the trap of what we think society tells us we should do and spend a lot of our limited time in areas that, in hindsight, don’t mean or matter so much to us. I think the other thing he really emphasized was, living your values and Jeff, I mean, we just had lunch before this and we spoke about one of the lessons you’ve learned and sort of turning it back to you was, realizing that you spent a lot of time in a particular company.
[00:05:17] Brad Chan: It, I guess, conflicted with your views or didn’t match your values?
[00:05:22] Jeffery Wang: Yeah, it didn’t align with my values.
[00:05:23] Brad Chan:
[00:05:23] Brad Chan: And you wish you realized that sooner. And so, this author here, Clay, he talks about understanding what your values are and upholding them. And he even says that it’s easier to uphold your values, all your principles a hundred percent of the time than it is to do it 98 per 98% of the time.
[00:05:44] Brad Chan: Because sometimes we give in on a particular occasion and then it’s easier to keep giving in and giving him. And so, and he gave the example himself when he was young. He was a Christian and he believed that he needed to keep Sunday as, I guess a day that he really rested and so he even later in life gave up the final of a basketball tournament. decided to sit out and that was a really difficult decision for him. And I think he looks back at that time as a decision to uphold his values. and he’s never had to compromise on it again in the future.
[00:06:20] Brad Chan: And so, a really good lesson for us all. I spend a bit of time sort of coaching people and one of the exercises I do is.
[00:06:28] Brad Chan: we talk about values and try to identify what, what your top three values are. cuz I, you know, I think it’s not a question we get asked very often and
[00:06:37] Jeffery Wang: No.
[00:06:37] Brad Chan: and if you do get asked that question, you know, how well can you answer it?
[00:06:41] Jeffery Wang: Well, that’s a really good point, Brad, because I think I know which, which exercise you’re talking about.
[00:06:46] Jeffery Wang: And I did it a while back, you know, a couple years back and I remember it being a very excruciating exercise of identifying my values. Right. And just relating back to our conversation over lunch, one of the things that I came to realize later on was that I was not clear about what my own values were.
[00:07:03] Jeffery Wang: It was only with a benefit of hindsight in, in life that I realized, and I reflected, and I became aware, and I had clarity over what those values were. So, is there a strategy that you can give or is there some advice you can give to young people who are yet to discover what their innermost values are on discovering what they are?
[00:07:24] Brad Chan: Yeah. I actually do an exercise, and I’ve done this, you know, dozens and dozens of times, but I have a pack of cards and their values cards. And, you know, typically I’ll ask someone at the start, well, what are your top three values? You know, what are those things that you would hold dear to yourself that you would not compromise on, even if it was to your disadvantage?
[00:07:43] Brad Chan: And, you know, some people could sort of answer it. They’d think about it, I might get some, I’m not sures. and then we do the exercise with the cards and I, get them to, through a process of elimination, go through each of the values, put them in three piles. Not important to me, and very important to me.
[00:07:59] Brad Chan: And we focus on the cards in the “very important to me” category. And through a process of further elimination, we get down to top five. And then it’s actually hard to get down from five to three. And those three, typically a allow you to look at a whole bunch of different values and then, narrow it down to what you feel is really important to you.
[00:08:20] Brad Chan: And then I ask, the question, how satisfied are you that you are living each of these values out of 10? How satisfied are you? And that really opens up a discussion around, well, if it’s a six or a seven, you know, why isn’t that score higher? Where am I spending my time? What am I putting in my life instead of living this value so that I’m satisfied. So, it really helps identify maybe some changes that, someone needs in their life as well.
[00:08:44] Jeffery Wang: Indeed. and hence why also excruciatingly hard because it’s when you put these values up side by side that you realize you have to rank them in the order of importance.
[00:08:54] Jeffery Wang: And for everything that you choose, you have to, not choose something else, which I think is probably the hardest part. But I think once you have that clarity, then you’ve got the hierarchy of your values in which then you can act. and that’s what makes it so powerful, isn’t it?
[00:09:10] Brad Chan: Yeah. Yeah, that’s true.
[00:09:12] Brad Chan: I mean, I think it’s quite liberating once it’s clear to you what your values are. And then the next advice I give is, you know, uphold these values and even help them to make decisions in your life. You know, should I accept this job offer? will it align with my values? Will this company give me what I need to live my values. and if for example, family time is one of my key values and it’s a job where I’m going to be working extremely long hours, then you know, maybe that helps answer that question about whether you should take that job and whether you’ll be happy in that job.
[00:09:44] Brad Chan: life’s often a choice. So, you know, I just, I’m just clear on what my choices are.
[00:09:48] Lesson 2: Introversion is a superpower.
[00:09:48] Jeffery Wang: Well, I love that clarity that you have in your life. Thank you for that very, insightful lesson. Lesson number two, introversion is a superpower.
[00:09:58] Jeffery Wang: Now, I love this topic because I remember attending one of your talks in the past where literally we had the record crowd turning out, you know, 200 people packed into a capacity. 100 room. It was very crowded, but it just goes on to show just how important this concept of introversion as a superpower was, particularly to that crowd.
[00:10:18] Brad Chan: Yeah, true. And I think it is a very relatable topic. And, I think for me growing up, you know, something I did struggle with when I look back, I was a quiet guy and, I always felt that I needed to be different. I needed to be louder, I needed to be more assertive, I needed to be more outgoing.
[00:10:39] Brad Chan: And it really took some time to actually appreciate that introversion is a superpower, and I didn’t have to be the opposite. And, you know, the book here is called Quiet by Susan Kane, and she really brought out into the public the, I guess the message that, we do live in a world, or the ideal is an extrovert, whereas we often, underestimate the influence and I guess the benefits of, introverts.
[00:11:09] Brad Chan: And so, for me, here is, and I think a lot of people, Will be able to relate to this and particularly, those of Asian background because I think there’s some cultural aspects to, to this as well. But you know, you don’t have to be anyone that you’re not. And in fact, if you are quiet or introverted, then there’s a lot of benefits to that.
[00:11:29] Brad Chan: And there are a lot of, you know, a lot of amazing creatives and a lot of amazing leaders that, are introverts. And so, let’s not look at the big loud leaders as our inspiration, but, you know, look elsewhere.
[00:11:41] Jeffery Wang: Indeed. So, is there an example in your life where introversion has helped you succeed?
[00:11:47] Brad Chan: Yeah, I mean, I use it now quite effectively. I think with, the coaching that I do, and when I do one-on-one coaching with someone, you know, probably 90% of the time. I’m listening. I’m not talking and I’m able to ask really insightful questions and challenge the other person.
[00:12:05] Brad Chan: Whereas I think if it was the opposite, if I was doing most of the talking, I don’t think the session would be as effective. And so, I think the ability to listen and to think and to reflect and then to challenge back. I think, yeah, it’s something that makes me better at that task than I would’ve, you know, I had different skills.
[00:12:24] Jeffery Wang: So, in the world where we are dominated by extroversion, especially at the leadership level, do you find it difficult to sort of assert yourself as the quiet leader?
[00:12:36] Brad Chan: I don’t, I wouldn’t say I find it difficult. I think the difficulty in the past has been around, trying to be real to yourself.
[00:12:48] Brad Chan: You know, often we’re trying to be people that we’re not often we’re trying to fit into the culture around us. , and I think the challenge therefore is to be confident enough in yourself, to be true , and to be, to show who you truly are rather than to, to just to fit in, and to be a chameleon, so to speak.
[00:13:06] Brad Chan: And I think, the recognition of quiet leaders, ha has grown. You know, I think gone are the days of the old Jack Welch, where it’d be, an overly charismatic and dictating leader. Whereas, you know, you get a lot of examples these days of are quite considered and more reserved leaders.
[00:13:29] Brad Chan: And don’t get me wrong, there are times where you need to. be a little bit uncomfortable where you need to challenge your own introversion, to be more effective. but I think by and large, you don’t have to be someone that you’re not.
[00:13:42] Jeffery Wang: And certainly, there’s a difference between being shy and being introverted.
[00:13:46] Jeffery Wang: I think, the difference being that introversion is about it costs you energy to interact with others. Whereas, you know, being shy is completely different, kettle fish. So how did you come to that, realization that, introversion is not a, a negative, or that you can, you know, you can succeed despite that introversion?
[00:14:06] Brad Chan: Yeah. Yeah. I think just through personal example, I think for one, I mean, in my experience, you know, I’ve been able to achieve a lot by being who I am. and, have, I have worked in some environments in corporates and the like, where, I’d say you probably needed to be more extroverted to succeed.
[00:14:24] Brad Chan: And I’ve made the decision to. Uh, not stay in those environments. Okay. Which, in hindsight were great decisions. but, you know, I think, I’ve also deliberately chosen to, okay. Lead my organization in a particular way and, you know, I’d like to think it hasn’t been detrimental to my career.
[00:14:41] Brad Chan: It’s, but rather, you know, I’ve been able to achieve a, a lot more as a result. And so, yeah, it wasn’t a flash of brilliance one day where I suddenly woke up and thought, well, you know, it’s introversions. Fine. I think it’s just been a process of experience, life experiences, and again, you know, revert, revert back to the book and Susan Cain’s book, quiet, just helps reinforce what something that I’ve probably been gradually thinking and, you know, convincing myself over a number of years.
[00:15:11] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. And I do remember a really good point you made in, the talk you did about introversion, that it’s far easier for an introvert to pretend to be an extrovert for a short time than for an extrovert to pretend to be an introvert, for a long time, you know, in, in order to do the work that an introvert does.
[00:15:27] Jeffery Wang: But I want to extend that idea and challenge you just a little bit more. So, in, in this current climate where we are all about diversity, you know, we have all sorts of quotas out there, gender and cultural and all sorts. You know, should there be a focus on personality styles, like the introversion versus extroversion?
[00:15:43] Jeffery Wang: Should we be having a quota for introverted leadership?
[00:15:47] Brad Chan: look, I don’t think there’s any scientific proof about, you know, what makes an effective organization in terms of personality styles. they’re all beneficial. they’ve all got their pros and cons. I think what makes effective organizations, aren’t necessarily about, introversion, extroversion, but more around, a lot of the soft skills that you also need and how you interact and communicate with people, and you know, how well you think critically and how well you problem solve and all those kinds of things.
[00:16:17] Brad Chan: I think, intro, introversion, extroversion, and, you know, I should probably also say that, you know, intro introversion, extroversion is a spectrum, and you know, they’re two extremes and none of us at either extreme we’re all somewhere along that line. And so, yeah.
[00:16:34] Brad Chan: And so back to your earlier point, you know, I think it is easy, for introverts to be able to flex and adapt along that line at times. and I think that’s what you also need to be able to recognize. There are times where you need to, adapt to a certain situation. there are times where I’m amongst a group of people at dinner and, instead of just talking to the person next to me all night, it will benefit me to also have group discussions and things like that.
[00:17:01] Brad Chan: And, you know, with practice it, it becomes easier.
[00:17:04] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. So, thanks for that insight. So, it’s not so much around whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, but it’s probably more around whether you are able to operate effectively and authentically as yourself. And so don’t place that limit on yourself because you’re not an extrovert or because you’re not a stereotypical leader.
[00:17:22] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. and, you know, and that know that your introversion could be your strength and that you should leverage it accordingly.
[00:17:28] Brad Chan: yeah. True. and I think a good, maybe a different way to think of it is, you know, sorry, when I was growing up, it was probably a self-limiting belief. and, you know, I think you could really flip the switch there and see it as a real advantage if you understand what the advantages of being introverted are.
[00:17:45] Jeffery Wang: A hundred percent.
[00:17:46] Lesson 3: Challenges are Opportunities.
[00:17:46] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number three, challenges are opportunities.
[00:17:50] Brad Chan: So, I base this off a quite a well-known book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. And Carol talks about the differences between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. And, you know, there’re probably things we were taught growing up, but probably wasn’t made so clear to us.
[00:18:06] Brad Chan: You achieve the most growth when you were challenged and, you know, you can go through life having a fixed mindset and complaining about. the things that happen to you or you can view it differently and see those challenges as opportunities and then opportunities to grow from them, to learn from them, to excel from them.
[00:18:26] Brad Chan: I sort of draw this circle and this inner ring and an outer ring. and the inner ring is what I, what we call the comfort zone. And the outer ring is the learning zone. And, you know, the comfort zone is where we spend most of our time.
[00:18:38] Brad Chan: It’s, it’s where we feel most comfortable. but the learning zone, this outer ring is, I guess where the magic happens. It’s, it’s where it may be a bit uncomfortable, and may challenge us, but it’s where we can achieve the most from it. And so, it’s a good reminder for me and. the people I speak to that, you know, we want to be spending time in the learning zone because if we don’t, we’re not going to see, the great things that can happen to us.
[00:19:06] Jeffery Wang: this is a bit of a personal one for me because, you know, many of us grew up with, an Asian upbringing, which oftentimes, sometimes, implicitly, we are taught that sort of you is what you’re born into and whatever you are born with is what you’ve got. And you know that this is your lot in life, right?
[00:19:22] Jeffery Wang: So how do you break out of that mindset when you’ve been conditioned to believe that’s all it is? You know? And then I, and again, I’ll refer to a conversation we had around, lunchtime where, you know, we speak. children, and their sporting, capabilities. You know, sometimes you get told, you know, because of your, stature or athletic ability, that’s all you ever amount to, and you know, often aren’t aware of the differences you could make by the amount of work you could put into the process.
[00:19:49] Brad Chan: Yeah. Yeah. This is a deep question, Jeff. I probably wasn’t expecting to get this deep. but you know, in terms of upbringing and I think maybe what you continue to talk about is self-limiting beliefs. You know, we are told that we can’t do certain things and so how do you break out of those chains that maybe your parents have put on you?
[00:20:08] Brad Chan: And, and I’ve sat down with many people in this same situation that, are adults, but you know, in a sense they still see themselves as children under their parents’ eyes and even in their own eyes. And, and they struggle to have the confidence and the courage to, to break those chains. look, it’s not a, it’s not an easy answer.
[00:20:32] Brad Chan: I mean, you know, the short answer for me is you’re not a child anymore. You know, you’re an adult and you need to live your own life, not the life that your parents think that you should or want you to live. And so, there’s a lot that goes into how to gain the confidence, to achieve this.
[00:20:52] Jeffery Wang: but I’d say, you know, it, look, it certainly helps to address it. It helps to even sit down, you know, look for a mentor or a coach and to help you work through what, you know, what kind of thinking that you have and that you need to be challenged on. And so do you believe in jumping into the deep end, you know, throw yourself into the most uncomfortable situation you can find, you know, throw yourself in the deep end and see if you float.
[00:21:17] Brad Chan: yeah. yes and no. It depends on what it is. you know, When I talked about the comfort zone, that ring, and then the learning zone, I forgot to talk about the very outer ring called the danger zone. Okay. And that’s when we are pushed too far. And sometimes when we are pushed too far, we fail.
[00:21:32] Brad Chan: Okay. and so, I think it’s understanding, you know, what is the right amount to be pushed. And, because, you know, we don’t want to be discouraged at the same time or we’ll push too far and., you know, we, we learn very hard lessons and, but at the same time, you know, sometimes with hard lessons, there’s benefits that come from that as well.
[00:21:50] Brad Chan: So, I generally take the approach that you build that, that inner ring, so the comfort zone, can grow. And so, as you in that learning zone, and you get used to it and it’s like, say driving a car when you first drive a car, gee, it’s tough. It’s difficult, you’re sweating. But with experience and with practice, that becomes something in your comfort zone.
[00:22:11] Brad Chan: Okay? And so, yeah. Rather than just throwing the deep end, I think there’s also steps that you can take to reach that, that more difficult goal. So that’s So you get Yeah. The smarter way to do it, I think.
[00:22:21] Lesson 4: Learn Languages
[00:22:21] Jeffery Wang (2): Indeed. So that’s a way of, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Right. Moving on lesson number four, learn languages.
[00:22:28] Brad Chan: Yeah. So, not talking about French Italian or Spanish. probably a slightly different tact here. I mean, a lot of the stuff I’ve talked about here might be related to, you know, how to succeed in business. when I talk about learn languages, I’m actually referring to the book, the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
[00:22:46] Brad Chan: And this was probably a book I was exposed to in my sort of late teenage years and early twenties. And, the author, spent a lot of time counselling couples, and realized that. a common misunderstanding between couples was they spoke different languages and spoke different love languages, and so he came up with five love languages.
[00:23:08] Brad Chan: and you’re nodding your head here, Jeff, because I think it sounds like you’ve been exposed to this concept or this book as well.
[00:23:15] Jeffery Wang: Oh yeah.
[00:23:16] Brad Chan: and so, some of those love languages are from memory are things like physical touch. So, you know, your partner likes to be touched. words of affirmation, so you know, words of encouragement and compliments.
[00:23:28] Brad Chan: help me out here, Jeff. What else?
[00:23:30] Jeffery Wang: Oh, there’s gifts.
[00:23:31] Brad Chan: Ah, yes. Gifts. Yeah. So, giving gifts.
[00:23:33] Jeffery Wang: Yeah, spending time together.
[00:23:35] Brad Chan: Quality time. that’s correct. And we’re missing one more.
[00:23:38] Jeffery Wang: Oh, you’re really testing me now.
[00:23:40] Brad Chan: Acts of service.
[00:23:41] Jeffery Wang: That’s it.
[00:23:42] Brad Chan: Okay. So doing things for the other person and so often the way we show love to our partner is by, showing what our personal love language is as opposed to what our partner’s love language is. And so, your relationship will be a lot smoother and happier if you understand your partner’s love language. And so instead of thinking of yourself, think of the other person.
[00:24:04] Brad Chan: And, yeah, so you know, relatively simple concepts once you understand it, but it makes a lot of difference.
[00:24:11] Jeffery Wang: So, has this ever helped you in your life, in your relationships? yeah. So, I’ve been, happily married for. I should know, how many years. that’s usually a sign of a good marriage. you don’t even,
[00:24:23] Brad Chan: yes.
[00:24:24] Brad Chan: quiet, quite a while. And, you know, probably, you know, at some point I realized that my wife’s love language was acts of service and the way, she wanted me to, so whereas mine is gifts, and I used to, like, I used to buy her gifts on our wedding anniversary, her birthday, Christmas, any occasion.
[00:24:44] Brad Chan: And I used to think, you know, oh, I’m a great husband you know, what woman doesn’t like gifts and lots of gifts and thoughtful gifts. And, I soon realized, you know, she, like, she, she’d be happy receiving them, but they didn’t thrill her as much as I hoped they would, and it’s because her love language is act, access service.
[00:25:01] Brad Chan: So, she would probably prefer if I did more things around the house or just different things. and so, yeah, I think that was an interesting lesson for me. and, you know, I’m glad I know it rather than, you know, keep going through, the rest of my life, spending lots of money on things that.
[00:25:18] Brad Chan: Weren’t so important to her.
[00:25:19] Jeffery Wang: I should just pause for a minute there. For our listeners, this may be the single greatest piece of wisdom ever shared on this podcast.
[00:25:27] Brad Chan: Yes, there you go. That’s, if.
[00:25:29] Jeffery Wang: there’s one thing that we could, share with the world to make the world a little bit better, I think that might be it.
[00:25:34] Brad Chan: Yeah. Well, could save your marriage.
[00:25:36] Lesson 5: Just do it.
[00:25:36] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number five. I love this one. and, you know, for more than reasons than one, but just do it As Nike says.
[00:25:43] Brad Chan: Just do it. Just do it is the Nike slogan. And, as you would’ve guessed, the book I’m referring to is Shoe Dog with by Phil Knight, a great book to read.
[00:25:51] Brad Chan: got, you know, got it for my son to read, who at the time was probably 11 or 12. I think there’s a junior version of as well. But it is an easy read and there’s probably nothing, in the book that’s ground-breaking. But the message I got from it was just around, Giving things a go.
[00:26:08] Brad Chan: And so often I talk to people that have great ideas and are just waiting for the right opportunity, and that opportunity comes and goes. And, you know, I think for me, just understanding that progress is better than perfection. That if you are, waiting for the right opportunity or whatever it is, you’re not going to get anything done.
[00:26:32] Brad Chan: And so, success in business or success in life, it’s not a linear thing. there’re bumps in the road, there’s ups and downs, and if you read the book, by Phil Knight, who. He was the founder of Nike. he experienced many setbacks, but he just kept going and one of the largest companies in the world as a result.
[00:26:53] Brad Chan: And so, yeah, again, it’s a reminder that you’re never going to have the perfect time. but at the end of the day, as Nike says, just do it.
[00:27:04] Jeffery Wang: And that just reminds me of that old adage, you missed a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.
[00:27:10] Brad Chan: Yeah. Was that a Wayne Christie or a Michael Jordan both said something similar.
[00:27:15] Jeffery Wang: I’m sure there’s a basketball, background to the, to all that, but it’s just burned in the back of my memory.
[00:27:20] Lesson 6: Be Humble
[00:27:20] Jeffery Wang: So, lesson number six, be humble. Now I know you live this one.
[00:27:26] Brad Chan: yeah. So, I think one of the probably most important books I’ve read about business is, from an author called Jim Collins called Good to Great.
[00:27:33] Brad Chan: Good to Great. It’s a classic. And what, Jim did over many years was look at something like 1400 companies in the US and, work out, which were Enduringly great companies. So not companies that were just great over a period of time, but over decades. And out of the 11 that he narrowed it down to, he looked at the qualities that made these companies so successful and the number of attributes within these companies.
[00:28:02] Brad Chan: But the one that stood out to me was around leadership. And he spoke about the difference between different levels of leadership, but what he, called level four leadership and then level five leadership. And each of these 11. Great companies had level five leaders on them. And there was a one particular feature in, in each of these leaders, that stood out and that was around humility, leaders, that weren’t ego-driven, that didn’t rely just on themselves.
[00:28:34] Brad Chan: And but had the foresight and I’d say the intelligence to question themselves and, to recognize that they weren’t always going to be the smartest people in the room. And you know, Jim also spoke about the concept of, you know, when something goes well, look out the window. So don’t look at yourself.
[00:28:58] Brad Chan: but when something goes wrong, look in the mirror and. I think that’s really stuck with me that, you know, there are times where things don’t go well in the business and it’s easy for me to blame others, but, you know, often I just try to look at myself and what role did I play and what did I learn from it?
[00:29:15] Brad Chan: and vice versa, you know, amongst the many successes we’ve had. You know, I, I mean, it’s nice to say that it was all because of me, but in reality, I have a really great team that I work with, and I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I do without. So, yeah, I think that’s really important as your listeners progress through their careers, that it’s easy to be ego driven and to think that, you know, all the success is because of you.
[00:29:41] Brad Chan: But I think a good way to look at it is to be humble about it and, yeah. Continue to question yourself and that will make you a better leader.
[00:29:49] Jeffery Wang: Indeed. And I think, if I remember, if I recall correctly, good to Great is about companies that are successful beyond the tenure of the leader themselves.
[00:30:00] Jeffery Wang: Yes. So, they’re companies that went on to greater Heights after the leader have left the organization. And that’s because the leader themselves have engendered a culture of that humility and be able to inspire greater leaders to come after them. Yeah. To continue that legacy. So, so indeed that’s, it’s about leadership that’s greater than yourself.
[00:30:19] Brad Chan: It is. And you know, this, I mean just briefly, a couple other concepts in that book around, you know, building great cultures is, getting the right people on the bus, for example. And so, you are getting the right people on the bus that we, if we come down to values and we come down to, Things other than your technical experience.
[00:30:39] Brad Chan: Then, you know, once you get them on the bus and the right fit, then you work out what seats, they’re in. And so that’s, yeah, I think that was also another lesson learned from me in terms of building, yeah, our property business.
[00:30:52] Lesson 7: Join a gym.
[00:30:52] Jeffery Wang: Thanks for that. Lesson number seven, Join a gym. I’m a member of the gym, so, I guess I’m already done then. Yeah. What do you mean by joining a gym?
[00:31:00] Brad Chan: Well, it sounds like you’ve ticked the box there, Jeff. I mean, I’m a member of a gym as well, but it’s not the kind of gym that, that I’m referring to.
[00:31:08] Brad Chan: this is a book called Strengths Finders by, Tom Rath. And it’s a book I use quite often if I’m coaching someone. it’s, a book I give to the person. And if it’s someone new in our company, it’s part of our onboarding process. And the book Strength Finders, great book.
[00:31:25] Brad Chan: It, it talks about 34 strengths and, as you go through the exercise or as an online survey that you do from the book, it helps you identify what your top five strengths are.
[00:31:36] Brad Chan: And the reason why it’s important to understand what your strengths are is because, it’s important to ensure that you are utilizing these strengths in what you are doing each and every day. You know, for of often we are, you know, if you think about going to school and getting your report from school, A typical Asian parent, they’ll skim over your, they’ll skim over their As and look for where there’s Bs or Cs, right? And that’s where they expect you to spend a lot of your time from there on, you know, and strength finders looks at things a bit differently. It says, you know, don’t spend all your time on your weaknesses, but invest in your strengths because, there’s this multiplier effect.
[00:32:20] Brad Chan: And you can achieve a lot more by maximizing your strengths and, you know, you can achieve mastery from your strengths, not from your weaknesses. And so, I think a really good lesson, for businesses, for employers is understand your employees’ strengths and make sure that they are utilizing those strengths.
[00:32:42] Brad Chan: And now I think if they do, you know, the evidence shows that they’re more motivated in their jobs, they’re happier, there’s less turnover of staff, and there are studies around, you know, companies with, greater profit as a result of investing in their team members’ strengths.
[00:32:57] Jeffery Wang: Yeah, indeed. And it speaks volumes in the fact that you, invest that time to discover the strength of your new starters.
[00:33:06] Jeffery Wang: Because a, as a lot of people starting their companies, they’re often being sent to training, you know, which are supposed to address, you know, their lack of knowledge or another shortfall. But very seldom they get made to feel, I. You know, I suppose valued and important by the CEO of a company sitting down with them and discovering exactly what they’ve brought to the table.
[00:33:25] Jeffery Wang: and I think in essence what you’re saying here is that you can then bring more of yourself, you know, more of what you bring to the table into your work. You can, you know, essentially give, I, I suppose the more authentic self, to, to the organization and be valued for it. And I think in some respects, of course, that makes perfect sense because the more you can bring to of yourself to work, the more comfortable you’re in that environment, the more likely you’re going to be able to achieve the kind of results.
[00:33:51] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. it’s almost, it’s almost a bit of a no-brainer. I’m surprised not many more companies do this as a routine.
[00:33:56] Brad Chan: Yeah. Yeah. And I think it comes down to, you know, everyone is unique and there is so much we can gain from, people’s uniqueness again, so often. people spend their time and energy trying to fit in as opposed to showing what they’re, who they are and what they’re capable of.
[00:34:17] Brad Chan: And so, coming back to the onboarding process for us, you know, I do a few sessions with every new employee and a lot of that’s built around self-awareness and trying to help them understand themselves better. And so, we do this values exercise with the cards. We do strength finders.
[00:34:34] Brad Chan: We do a few different exercises just to help them unpack and uncover things about themselves that may not have had the opportunity to realize before. And that helps bring out their authentic selves as well. And, you know, I think I’m a believer in, the strength of diversity in our team and, you know, we’re much stronger from diverse views and diverse personalities and things like that, as opposed to everyone being the same.
[00:35:01] Jeffery Wang: Indeed, and how much more would you appreciate it? Would you feel appreciated if your employer help you discover strength that you’re not even aware that you have? Right? So that’s, that’s clearly a very worthwhile exercise.
[00:35:16] Lesson 8: Choose your response.
[00:35:16] Jeffery Wang (2):
[00:35:16] Jeffery Wang (2): Lesson number eight, choose your Response. And I like that word, choose.
[00:35:21] Jeffery Wang (2): yeah, because it firmly puts yourself in charge.
[00:35:24] Brad Chan: It does. And yeah, at the end of the day, there are things, there are many things we can’t control. but one thing that is within our control is our response. this came from a book, a very well-known book, written just after the second World War, by Victor Frankl, and it’s called Man’s Search for Meaning.
[00:35:42] Brad Chan: And Victor Frankl basically spent a number of years in a Nazi concentration camp and, in all the despair and suffering. and difficult times. in that concentration camp, he writes that, you know, they could take everything away from him. but one thing they couldn’t take away was how he responded.
[00:36:04] Brad Chan: And within that ability to choose, that gave him freedom. so, you know, I think whether we’re, we are driving on the street and someone sort of suddenly pulls in front of you and you want to give him the finger or whatever, you know, if I put it in context of Victor Frankel’s experience in the concentration camp, that nothing could be worse than the situation he was in.
[00:36:30] Brad Chan: But he found a way to decide to choose how he responded in those most difficult times. And so, you know, we. We have the ability of choice, and so we can respond to difficult times, to things that happen to us in a negative way. or in a positive way. At the end of the day, it’s choice.
[00:36:51] Brad Chan: Yeah. So, you can choose a response,
[00:36:53] Jeffery Wang: but the lesson isn’t necessarily, the choice or freedom per se, but just the awareness that you’ve still got that choice, your awareness that you’ve still got that agency despite the circumstances. So really this whole thing is about not being a victim of circumstance, but rather to, to acknowledge that no matter how bad things get, that you still have a choice, that you still are in control, ultimately of your own destiny.
[00:37:19] Jeffery Wang: True. Yeah. I think that’s a good way to put it. it’s understanding that. Yeah. That’s something that’s available to us. But I feel like people choose to be victims more often than not, than choosing to acknowledge their agency. you know, how does this relate to what we are seeing kind of today in a, as a general phenomenon of, you know, the, this celebration of victimhood?
[00:37:43] Brad Chan: Yeah. Yeah. It’s an interesting, I guess, trend we’re seeing in society.
[00:37:50] Brad Chan: and you know, again, earlier at lunch we were talking about our own kids and their upbringings and how they’re given a lot more opportunities than we had when we were growing up. And what does that do to them? how does it impact their resilience even? And resilience is a big thing.
[00:38:04] Brad Chan: You know, it’s when we went through Covid, you know, how well prepared were we for things like that. and again, you know, if I talk about Covid, you know, it was a difficult time and, you know, we as a result is, you know, a lot of mental health. discussions have come up from it, which I think is a great thing.
[00:38:21] Brad Chan: but it’s a reminder that, you know, through our lives we’re going to be faced with similar things to that difficult times and how well prepared are we, to face those. so, I think it’s, yeah, it’s a reminder to all of us that,
[00:38:37] Jeffery Wang: we have that choice.
[00:38:38] Brad Chan: We have that choice, but, you know,
[00:38:40] Brad Chan: if we don’t practice that choice, it’s going to be difficult.
[00:38:42] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. Indeed. And I think we discussed that as we raise our children, we need to raise them with adversity. and, but also at the same time, teach them how to acknowledge that they’ve always got that choice in the face of adversity.
[00:38:55] Jeffery Wang: So definitely, choose your response is a key lesson that we need to pass down.
[00:39:00] Brad Chan: yeah. And we have to let them fail and earn all that kind of stuff.
[00:39:03] Jeffery Wang: and get up.
[00:39:03] Lesson 9: Success is intentional.
[00:39:03] Brad Chan: Exactly. Yeah. So, lesson number nine, success is intentional. success is intentional. you could probably relate it to having a choice as well.
[00:39:13] Brad Chan: but there’s a great book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and the book’s probably famous, because what it writes about is a 10,000-hour rule that, So Gladwell looked at outliers in society, the ones that have achieved amazing things. so not your sort of normal, average people.
[00:39:30] Brad Chan: And what he found was a combination of things, but success was also a result of hard work. And that 10,000-hour rule, is probably something I hear quoted, quite a lot, even in sport where, you know, if you want to be, reach the upper echelons of your sport, then you need to put in the hard work and, that’s a lot of hours, 10,000 hours. so. You know, again, often people can say, you know, I wasn’t born physically fast enough, or strong enough, or I didn’t have, my parents weren’t Olympians, and therefore I’m at a disadvantage. But success is intentional. And, you know, Malcolm Gladwell does identify there are other things such as luck.
[00:40:13] Brad Chan: involved in achieving success. there are other things like, even your race and it sort of does this, there’s a part about why Asians are so good at maths and sort of, growing up, I guess with the, you know, growing of rice and crops and having the, the work ethic needed.
[00:40:32] Brad Chan: and you see it these days. it does, it is evident amongst Asian kids. yeah. So again, a good book to read even talks about, timing. So, they, I think they studied, some elite hockey teams in ice hockey teams in Canada and found that 80% of the teams were, people born in the first three months of the year.
[00:40:53] Brad Chan: And I think what they, recognized from that was, I guess because of physical, Advantages, yeah. And developments. They were the ones picked for the representative teams. And so, they were just given that op those opportunities and the advantages over years and the cumulative effects of that have enabled them to, I guess, have a higher chance of success than others.
[00:41:15] Jeffery Wang: because they have a higher, confidence than their peers born in later months.
[00:41:19] Jeffery Wang: But I think the same was also true for, people born in regional small towns. Because they’re used to being the top dog. Yep. and in that, Confidence carries them through even when they move into the big leagues in the big city. So that’s a very profound, in insight, I think.
[00:41:35] Lesson Unlearned: Self-limiting beliefs
[00:41:35] Jeffery Wang: Now, before I get into lesson number 10, I’m going to throw you a little curve ball as we do at 10 lessons.
[00:41:40] Jeffery Wang: so, what have you unlearned? And what I mean by that is something that you’ve held to be ironclad truth, when you started your career, 20 years ago. and now that you’ve learned that it’s just not true otherwise. So, what would you have told your younger self that, you know, you probably should change your mind about?
[00:41:56] Brad Chan: Oh, well, probably lots of things. I mean, I would say that the nine lessons that I’ve spoken about are probably things at earlier in my career that maybe I didn’t recognize, if I had to choose one, I actually did a I. Talk at a graduation at UTS a few years ago, and it was about self-limiting beliefs.
[00:42:18] Brad Chan: And I think that’s something that applies to a lot of us. we think things or we’re told things that hold us back from being, well, from being able to live, live to our potential. And, I would say for me, one of the best things that I’ve learned or unlearn is around the mindset. And, you know, I think we all have elements of having a fixed mindset in certain areas.
[00:42:43] Brad Chan: And I, I think probably the light switched for me, when I was at university and I think I was around 20 and something happened to me when I, when I. Look back, it probably sounds a bit silly, but, I used to play a lot of touch football and representative touch football, and I, I made the team for UTS my university to play at the Australian University games.
[00:43:07] Brad Chan: So, every year, all the universities around Australia come together and compete in different sports. And I had this goal to make the Australian University team, and, after all the matches, you know, I, and I’d worked my butt off in preparation for it. And when I didn’t make the team, it was probably the first time in my life where I’d really tried hard to achieve something, and I didn’t achieve it.
[00:43:31] Brad Chan: And so, I, I could have, I dropped my head and whilst it was disappointing and there were tears at the time, I have to admit I could have dropped my head and just given up. or I could have gone the opposite way. And I think from that time I made a decision to myself that I would set myself goals and I would try to be the best that I could be.
[00:43:52] Brad Chan: And, you know, since that time, I guess I did a lot of things I wouldn’t have done if I didn’t experience that. And that’s from just setting a lot of goals in a lot of things that I did to, you know, traveling around the world, backpacking on my own to, even things like bungee jumping and skydiving that maybe I probably would’ve passed that, to, you know, recognizing that okay, I wasn’t a natural speaker and so I ended up doing Toastmaster and I did a year of drama classes and things Yeah.
[00:44:25] Brad Chan: in my twenties, which again, a lot of people wouldn’t do. And so, I think recognizing that, sorry, moving from that fixed mindset to a more of a growth mindset and recognizing that I could improve myself, whatever it was, has really helped me in my life.
[00:44:39] Jeffery Wang: So, in essence, the failure was a liberating experience for you to realize that you could be a lot.
[00:44:47] Jeffery Wang: A lot more, and you’re not defined by, you know, something that was already pre-existing, but by, you know, what you can control. So that’s a great lesson to unlearn.
[00:44:55] Lesson 10: Become literate in money.
[00:44:55] Jeffery Wang: So, alright, lesson number 10. Become literate in money.
[00:45:00] Brad Chan: Yeah. So, yeah, this one I would say this is a book I would also want to give to my kids because, and I see even amongst my staff, you know, they’re, you know, they’re married, they have kids, but one thing that they’ve probably missed out on was, understanding money and how to manage money and what to do with it.
[00:45:23] Brad Chan: And it’s such, so, I mean, all people think about is, you know, I’m going to save some money and then I’m going to get a mortgage to buy a house and those kinds of things. But I think it’s important at a young age to really understand the importance of money and investing and, I think the sooner you recognize that, the better you off you’re going to be.
[00:45:46] Brad Chan: And I think, you know, growing wealth, it’s a bit like a tree. The, it, it starts off with a seed and it just grows over time, and you need to keep watering that tree. but the sooner you do it, the earlier you do it, then the bigger that tree is going to be. And I think it’s just a fundamental thing.
[00:46:03] Brad Chan: I find a lot of. Younger people miss out on. and so, this is a book called The Richest Mountain by Babylon, by George S Clason. And it’s a short read and, it’s an easy read cause it’s sort of written in sort of these parables, but it just teaches you some fundamentals around, about, around money.
[00:46:23] Brad Chan: and, yeah, again, something that everyone, all of us need. And, you know, I look at myself, when I, after university in my first full-time job, I did two things. one was, I guess. sponsor a child. And I’ve been doing that since, since then. But the other thing was start investing in the stock market.
[00:46:39] Brad Chan: And I’ve learned a lot through that process, but I think also, you know, it’s helped, generate. funds for me? or, wealth, for me that, you know, I wouldn’t have if, yeah. I didn’t even consider it, so
[00:46:51] Jeffery Wang: Yeah, indeed. So, it’s not, it is not necessarily about making or accumulating great wealth, but it’s having that financial freedom.
[00:46:58] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. So, you can I suppose, spend time on the things which are important, to your values.
[00:47:04] Brad Chan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That gives. I guess freedom and flexibility to them. Yeah. Spend time in, in other areas that, that you feel are more important to you.
[00:47:13] Jeffery Wang: And that’s great wisdom indeed. Thank you so much for that, Brad.
[00:47:16] Jeffery Wang: And we’ll finish on that note. You’ve been listening to 10 Lessons Learned, the podcast that makes the world a little wiser, lesson by lesson.
[00:47:23] Jeffery Wang: We’re joined today by our special guest, Brad Chan. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by the Professional Development Forum.
[00:47:30] Jeffery Wang: Don’t forget to leave us review or comment. You can even email us at podcast 10 lessons learn.com. That’s podcast number one zero lessons learned.com. Go ahead and hit that subscribe button so that you don’t miss an episode of the only podcast that make the world a little wiser lesson by lesson. Thanks for tuning in. Stay safe everyone.