Jason Wong – Everyone has something to offer.

Jason Wong
Join your host, Jeffery Wang, in this inspiring episode of the 10 Lessons Learned, where we discuss invaluable insights for career, business, and life. In this episode, we welcome Jason Wong, an accredited leadership coach, strategy ninja, and a kindness practitioner. Hailing from one of Sydney's most successful Chinese families, Jason shares his unique journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and finding fulfillment beyond material success. With engaging discussions about recalibrating life's priorities, nurturing meaningful relationships, promoting diversity and inclusion, and constantly learning, we uncover some of Jason's key lessons that have shaped his leadership style and understanding of success. Tune in for this enlightening conversation and walk away with practical nuggets of wisdom that go beyond the textbook.

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About Jason Wong

Jason was born into one of Sydney’s most successful and influential Chinese families and has fond memories of running around Sydney’s Chinatown after school. He was educated at one of Australia’s top selective private schools for boys and with his family’s network of connections, the world was his oyster.

But his life didn’t play out the way that he thought it would and, influenced by a number of key people and events, he embarked on a journey involving lots of deep reflection and making plenty of personal adjustments.

He has held multiple leadership roles throughout his career but believes that his most important and most satisfying role was being a stay-at-home Dad to his three daughters, which included upping his game as partner to his amazing wife.

He works to improve technology leadership in not-for-profit, for-purpose and community-focused organisations and he now runs his own coaching & strategic consultancy practice, Tyger Technology Leadership, developing tech leaders of the future.

He is a former president of his children’s school P&C association and is now the Board Secretary of the NSW P&C Federation, working with influential education stakeholders to improve public schooling in NSW.

He also facilitates local Dads groups and events, to support and engage Dads in their parenting journeys.

A few people leave deep impressions in your life, and you have certainly left one with me. Of the thousands of people I’ve come across during business, some just lives out their values in how they behave and treat others around them.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice 03:51
Lesson 2: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable 14:53
Lesson 3: Don’t aim for a bigger piece of the pie, aim to make the pie bigger. 19:11
Lesson 4: Grow the Fro. 22:21
Lesson 5: The most important gift you can give your loved ones is your time. 25:27
Lesson 6: Strive to win but strive harder to lose gracefully. 29:39
Lesson 7: You never know enough. 33:16
Lesson 8: Everyone has something to offer. 35:47
Lesson 9: Don’t stay silent, call out unfairness and injustices and take action. 38:31
Lesson 10: Put Yourself Last and First. 43:35

Jason Wong – Everyone has something to offer.

[00:00:08] Jeffery Wang: Hello and welcome to the podcast, 10 Lessons Learned, where we uncover wisdom for career, business, and life to an international audience of rising leaders. In other words, you’ll find valuable insights that you can’t find in a textbook because it took us years to learn the stuff.
[00:00:24] Jeffery Wang: My name is Jeffery Wang, the founder of Professional Development Forum and your host for today. podcast is sponsored by the Professional Development Forum, which helps diverse young professionals of any age find fulfillment in the modern workplace.
[00:00:37] Jeffery Wang: Today we’re joined by Jason Wong. When I looked at the LinkedIn profile, Jason Wong is an accredited leadership coach, a technology artisan, strategy ninja, and the kindness practitioner. Jason was born into one of Sydney’s most successful and influential Chinese families and has fond memories of running around Sydney’s Chinatown after school. He was educated at one of Australia’s top selective private school for boys, and with his family’s network of connections, the world was his oyster. But his life didn’t play out the way he thought it would be and influenced by a number of key people and events, he embarked on the journey involving lots of deep reflection and making plenty of personal adjustments. He has held multiple leadership roles throughout his career but believes that the most important and most satisfying role was being a stay-at-home dad to his three daughters, which included upping his game as a partner to his amazing wife. He works to improve technology leadership in not for profit, for purpose, and community focused organizations. He now runs his own coaching and strategic consultancy practice, Tyger Technologies Leadership, developing tech leaders of the future. He’s a former president of his children’s schools, PNC association, and is now the board secretary of the New South Wales PNC Federation, working with influential education stakeholders to improve public schooling in New South Wales. He also facilitates local dad groups and events to support and engage dads in their parenting journeys.
[00:02:09] Jeffery Wang: Mate, very few people leave such deep impressions, in my life and, you’re certainly one of them that I’ve, come across, you know, of the thousands that I’ve come across in, in my business, you’re one of those people that have always occurred to me as someone who just lives out the values, you know, and, how you behave and how you treat others. it just, there’s just an aura about you. So, you know, I was very excited that you finally accepted my invitation to be interviewed for 10 Lessons Learned. Welcome, Jason.
[00:02:37] Jason Wong: Thanks, Jeffery. Yeah, no, it’s always good having a chat with you.
[00:02:41] Jeffery Wang: So, before I jump into your lessons, you shared with me quite a bio about yourself and your personal journey. You know, you’re, you’re talking about. being born into one of the, the richest and, and the most, influential Chinese families, in Sydney’s Chinatown, what was growing up like?
[00:02:59] Jason Wong: growing up, at the time, seemed… Pretty good. I didn’t really know anything else. It was, it was the way I thought that most people grew up. Well, definitely most people that I knew. it probably took me a while to realize after, you know, long after I left school that I was in a little bit of a bubble.
[00:03:18] Jason Wong: But no, definitely at the time, yeah, life was pretty good. I was pretty spoiled as a kid. got my own way most of the time, got lots of, lots of cool gifts, lots of cool toys, went on great holidays, lived in nice houses, drove around in nice cars, ate at, nice restaurants, yeah, and definitely, yeah, definitely thought, life was awesome.
[00:03:41] Jeffery Wang: Well, you know, it’s kind of almost the, the, the stereotypical or the dictionary definition of the crazy rich Asians, but all right. Well, that. that actually brings us very nicely.

[00:03:51] Lesson 1: It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.

[00:03:51] Jeffery Wang: lesson number one. And, it kind of, is surprising, that, you know, being born into such a great childhood, why would your number one lesson be it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice?
[00:04:03] Jason Wong: I guess that made it as number one because it, encapsulates the real pivot in my life from, from, thinking and living this life where we, we were, we had a pretty high standing in society. My, my father’s family, as you mentioned earlier, went to a pretty decent school, to the point where. I guess my, my attitude at the time was not only was it a boy’s private school, my family and myself and possibly some of my peers that I went to school with, we believed it was the best private school or the best school in Australia.
[00:04:43] Jason Wong: so, and that, that. Definitely that feeling growing up, you know, was, yeah, we, we felt like we mattered, that we’re, we’re important. I suppose it was exacerbated by my family, primarily my dad’s side of family, you know, constantly reminding us as children, how awesome we were as family, as a family, um, what yeah, as I’m sure we’ll get into that sort of started to change after I left school, gradually, probably over a period of, oh, I don’t know, 10, 15 years, I guess, it’s probably still happening, where I guess I started becoming a bit more, a bit more humble about where I came from, meeting lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds, and understanding that their story was very different to mine.
[00:05:33] Jason Wong: But just as amazing, just as inspiring, and just as important, you know, quite frankly. So, the line, the line that I put there, it’s, it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice, is actually from a rave song. So, so if anyone I used to go to old school raves. there was a song by Scooter.
[00:05:56] Jason Wong: I think it’s called Move That Ass or Move Your Ass. And, and there’s a line in there where the DJ just yells out, it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. And I can, I can still hear the, you know, the beat in my head. And, and yeah, it’s, I don’t know. I think it probably came at the stage of my life.
[00:06:16] Jason Wong: I was obviously going; I was partying quite a bit, and I was going to lots of raves, and it came. I was at a time in my life where I was really beginning to reflect on that, simple sentence and how it related to how I was, what I was trying to be, what I needed to be.
[00:06:33] Jeffery Wang: Was there a clear turning point when you realized, you know, you used the word humbled, was there an actual event that, happened in your life where, you, you realize that it was more important to, it was more important to be nice?
[00:06:48] Jason Wong: There were definitely, look, I don’t think there was one or even a couple of turning points. It was a series of… series of events or series of incidents that happened over probably that 10-year period. And, and I suppose that it’s really about how my relationships were going. So not definitely my, intimate partner relationships, but even just relationships with friends and family members.
[00:07:13] Jason Wong: And I found that. You know, cause I, cause I think I’m, you know, I, I value relationships with other people, you know, I, I really do want to be, a great, partner, brother, nephew, son, and so on, but I definitely seem to be pissing a lot of people off and, look, I definitely, at first it was, You know, it was obviously all their fault.
[00:07:40] Jason Wong: It wasn’t my fault. I was doing a pretty good job, I thought. But I started to notice consistent themes and consistent patterns. and I don’t think I could just dismiss other people’s opinions anymore. I think, I think it dawned on me eventually that, I went, oh crap, I think it’s me. And, and then, and that, and that probably started a lot of self-reflection, a lot of speaking to other people, a lot of trying to unpack and replay situations and, you know, scenarios that have played out in real life and, you know, trying to work out what had just happened there. It also, it also led to my, you know, and this was completely unintentional, it led to me really listening deeply to what people had to say and really observing very closely what people did, what they didn’t do, how they behaved in certain situations, how they reacted or not reacted, and Yeah, ultimately, I, over a period of years, it dawned on me that I think the way that I had been brought up was not really conducive to, you know, the close relationships that I wanted to have, the close genuine relationships that I wanted to have with people.
[00:08:52] Jason Wong: And then so commenced the journey of trying to work out, well, what, what do I need to do to, to improve that? And a lot of it was just be a decent person, you know, that’s, I mean, I’m not exaggerating to say that I was pretty selfish. It was, everything was pretty much about me. you know, it came from the upbringing, it came from the school, I’m not sure how much of that was in me already, you know, when, when I was born, I’m not really going to get into a nature nurture argument here, but, yeah, I realized that I needed to be a better person and that required accepting some hard truths about what I had been doing.
[00:09:32] Jason Wong: And then trying to work out, you know, how the hell, you know, do I, do I change that? Because, you know, as you know, changing any long-seated behaviour takes a long time. I mean, I think the common saying is, you know, well, the first step is. Recognizing the, the undesirable behaviour in the first place. And that’s spot on, but it’s bloody hard after that.
[00:09:54] Jason Wong: Even just rec, like, I recognized it, but I, I couldn’t, it took me a while to change it and I would argue that I’m still, you know, still working on it. I’m not perfect.
[00:10:03] Jeffery Wang: Now that, and that’s definitely, something I’ve noticed, what’s quite interesting to me is, how did you come to the realization that meaningful relationships, as you mentioned, were more important than the, the wealth and the status in your life, you know, as you were brought up? Like, is, is that something that you just dawned on you one day that, you know, even though you had all, all the sort of trappings of You know, success, you know, that, that importance, that status, that money, that power, all that.
[00:10:30] Jeffery Wang: Is there something that, sort of dawned on you that you’re just not, happy without the relationships around you being fulfilling?
[00:10:37] Jason Wong: I suppose there were a couple of things that were happening concurrently. One was, I think from a very, from a, probably my mid-teens, I reckon I was quite obsessed with, the meaning of life and trying to understand, you know, what. Yeah. What, well, you know, what are we, what are we doing here? What, what is our purpose?
[00:10:53] Jason Wong: what is everyone, what are we all doing? We all seem to be doing slightly different things, but do we, so do we all have different purposes? definitely at one stage, you know, got a little bit obsessed about death in dying and what happens. and you know, there’s, as I’m assuming, you know, a lot of people would have.
[00:11:08] Jason Wong: but then trying to want, you know, I think from that came. Some thoughts about, okay, well, death’s going to happen, can’t do anything about that, but you know what I want, what do I want to do with my 70, 80, 90 years on, on this planet? and I don’t remember explicitly thinking this at the time, but actually before I say that I’ll, I’ll compare and contrast that with what I was seeing was happening.
[00:11:33] Jason Wong: So definitely grew up in, but not, not just my family and my, my education, but everything you were seeing on, on media and, you know, in society, it was all pretty much about making as much bloody money as you can. So that you could buy all this awesome stuff. You could buy the nice cars, the great holidays, the nice houses, you know, all those sorts of things.
[00:11:56] Jason Wong: But I was, I was in an environment where I had all that. And I’d had more than pretty much anyone that I knew, other than maybe a handful of people. And definitely, you know, through my teens, I realized, well, I started to think, well, yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know where this is really cutting it, cutting it for me, you know, because it’s all right, but it’s not, not, there’s, I suppose there was, there was nothing deep inside me that was stirring, that was saying, yeah, this is, this is bloody fantastic.
[00:12:24] Jason Wong: You know, we should, you should keep going along this path. I mean, I was also seeing, the family that I was in was completely dysfunctional. You know, there was, there was, there was. I love, you know, I don’t even know whether there’s any mutual respect that was, that’s, and that’s why when, you know, I know it’s, you know, a bit of a funny throwaway line that when, when, when you watch Crazy Rich Asians, it is like a documentary on my family.
[00:12:51] Jason Wong: And so, yeah, sometimes when, you know, when I do watch things like Crazy Rich Asian or any of the standup comedians, it’s funny, but, you know, it’s also a little bit cringeworthy because I’m like, oh, far out. that was my life. Um, yeah.
[00:13:03] Jason Wong: And so, what, what I was going to get going back to that. So that’s what I was seeing. I was seeing like, hey, well, this is what society is striving for. This is society is striving to have the amount of wealth and influence. I haven’t really spoken about the influence, but my family, influential in Sydney’s Chinatown, I mentioned this to you before, but my grandfather was regarded at one time as the unofficial Lord Mayor of Chinatown.
[00:13:28] Jason Wong: He was integral to a lot of the stuff that, that happened in especially Dixon Street in the 70s and 80s, you know, including the, the mall and so on.
[00:13:38] Jason Wong: so, there was this, yeah, there was definitely always this, this aura of, you know, being really, really important, but really influential. I think it’s not, not a massive surprise that my family had a little. bit of political clout as well. This had a lot to do with the fact that the Labor Party offices were just down the road from Chinatown, and they would come and eat quite regularly in these restaurants.
[00:14:04] Jason Wong: So, my, my family was pretty close with, with definitely members of the, of the Labour Party. a lot on paper was going really well, but you know, go and scratch the surface a little bit and it was, yeah, it was really weird. It was just like, far out, this is not the way people should treat each other.
[00:14:21] Jeffery Wang:
[00:14:21] Jason Wong: yeah, and I think unfortunately I was subconsciously, this was probably seeping into the way that I was treating people, you know, including, you know, former girlfriends.
[00:14:29] Jason Wong: and I had to work out pretty quickly that, you know, this is, this needs to change. Otherwise, I’m going to get old and lonely and miserable. And yeah, that was not something which I was, really, really wanting to, what happened to me?
[00:14:44] Jeffery Wang: I’m sure we’ll get into some of this, in more detail in a lesson down the track. but, you mentioned, you know, that, there’s a moment of realization.

[00:14:53] Lesson 2: Be comfortable being uncomfortable.

[00:14:53] Jeffery Wang: So that probably leads as well to lesson number two, be comfortable being uncomfortable. Now, well, what spurred you on to, to share this lesson?
[00:15:01] Jeffery Wang: Hmm.
[00:15:01] Jason Wong: I suppose, one of the pivotal moments that I mentioned that was, was actually something that my uncle on my, on my mum’s side said to me, and I’ll mention that in a sec. But essentially, growing up, I was, you know, a bit of a high achiever.
[00:15:13] Jason Wong: I was pretty good at everything that I did. I did pretty well academically. I was pretty good on the sporting field, And I think the way that I was parented, definitely added to that whole feeling of I am effin awesome, you know, so, and what that meant was I didn’t allow myself to make mistakes.
[00:15:34] Jason Wong: I was definitely a perfectionist. I was, if you look at my report cards from school, they say that, oh yeah, no, clearly pretty smart kid, but like doesn’t say anything in class. And that was purely because I wouldn’t put my hand up and say anything unless I was 100 percent sure that what I was about to say was correct.
[00:15:53] Jason Wong: And this obviously continued into my mid to late teenage, young adult life that I hated losing. I needed to win. hated getting anything wrong. and I suppose it was, pretty obvious obviously for people that knew me, you know, that I needed to chill out a little bit.
[00:16:09] Jason Wong: But it took, it took an uncle, like I said, on my mum’s side. I think I must have been in my early 20s. And I just had a big argument with one of his staff members, because he also ran restaurants. and he was trying to get me to apologize to that staff member. And I was like, nah, why are you apologizing?
[00:16:30] Jason Wong: And then he explained to me how I, you know, I had been in the wrong and I sort of accepted that. But then I thought, yeah, I’m still not apologizing. then, but he said to me something which was so simple at the time. He just said to me, Jason, you know, it’s okay to be wrong. And, and I think I responded with, yeah, yeah, of course.
[00:16:50] Jason Wong: Yeah, yeah. But it really stuck with me, and I thought about it and I’m thinking, why would he say that to me? And then I thought about it and said, oh, oh, okay. Yeah, I bloody hate being wrong and I, I hate being wrong because there was definitely a part of me that, found it unacceptable. and I did need to give myself a bit of a break every now and then, and it’s something which that little saying, you know, stuck with me.
[00:17:15] Jason Wong: I say it to my kids all the time. it’s part of the way that we parent our kids to let them know that mistakes are fantastic learning opportunities. but I, yeah, it took me a while to realize that, you know, it was, it was not something which anyone had ever said explicitly to me before.
[00:17:31] Jeffery Wang: It’s not something which I’ve worked out myself, obviously. so yeah, that, that’s why that’s in there. I wonder how much of that is cultural because, you know, everything you said about being hating, being wrong, and staying silent in class unless you’re 100 percent sure, I mean, all me too, right? and for me, it might have taken even longer. until I realized that, you know, until you give yourself that permission to be wrong, then you don’t, you give your permission to grow. and, unfortunately, the earlier you learn that the better it is. Yeah. And in fact, you know, kids that, not obsessed about being perfect, tend to grow a hell of a lot quicker you know, they, they give yourself permission to learn and, make mistakes and grow and step outside of comfort zone and boundaries and learn new things.
[00:18:16] Jason Wong: yeah, yeah. And, and that’s why, you know, the lesson, be, be comfortable with being uncomfortable is, you know, very much about, you know, you’re going to find yourself in uncomfortable positions. But that’s okay. Don’t, don’t shy away from there. You know, you could absolutely stuff up and have egg all over your face, but you’re going to learn a lot from that.
[00:18:36] Jason Wong: And I would argue that if you’re not putting yourself in uncomfortable positions, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. You’re just, you’re just cruising, you know, we all need to do that, you know, and I need to remind myself sometimes of that too sometimes that, you know, just because I think something’s just a little bit too hard at face value, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have a crack.
[00:18:55] Jeffery Wang: yeah, a hundred percent agree with what you said there because if you’re not, feeling uncomfortable, then you’re not achieving your potential. You know, if anything, it’s, it’s anything but you know your potential. So, a hundred percent that you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

[00:19:11] Lesson 3: Don’t aim for a bigger piece of the pie, aim to make the pie bigger.

[00:19:11] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number three. I really like. don’t aim for a bigger piece of the pie, aim to make the pie bigger. I mean this kind of speaks to your philosophy in life, isn’t it?
[00:19:20] Jason Wong: Yeah. And I suppose it talks to a, you know, another sort of pivotal change in my life where I changed, I changed industry. so, I had been working for a small IT team in an education organization, a university basically, and you know, looking like I was You know, we’re going to climb the corporate ladder eventually and, you know, make mega bucks.
[00:19:46] Jason Wong: but then it was also around this time where I was trying to think about, well, what, what do I want my next job to be? And this job came up, in a not-for-profit organization, humanitarian aid organization, actually pretty, pretty well known one. And it was a, it was a step back in terms of pay, but it was a step up in terms of role and opportunity.
[00:20:07] Jason Wong: so anyway, so I, bit the bullet. I was definitely had outgrown my previous organization and role, bit the bullet, took that job. And what I realized working in that not-for-profit NGO space was that I was surrounded by people, that had this philosophy, don’t aim for a bigger piece of the pie.
[00:20:23] Jason Wong: Aim to make the pie bigger. So, we would collaborate a lot with peers in likeminded organizations, from a business or corporate sense, you would see these other NGOs or not for profit organizations as competitors because we’re all competing for, donors’ money primarily from, from the fundraising perspective.
[00:20:43] Jason Wong: But I’m not sure whether I read it or heard it, or someone said it to me that. You know, the idea was, oh no, no, we’re not, we’re not really competing against them. We’re not, we’re not competing, you know, for a bigger piece of the pie. Our aim as this third sector is to make the pie bigger, is to encourage people, whether it’s through our NGO or that NGO over there or that little charity over there, is to encourage people to, think about some of the issues that these organizations focus on and dedicate, you know, if not their money, their time to, Basically helping people that are less fortunate as ourselves.
[00:21:21] Jason Wong: So, it sort of started from there, but I mean, as you know, you’ve known me for a while now where I was pretty much only work for organizations that have a purpose. you know, or a charitable cause. and I, I really like working with people that are just trying to make things better for everyone.
[00:21:39] Jason Wong: I think the organization I recently worked with was focused on kindness, focused on kind leadership. And I remember, you know, working with the CEO there and a few other, senior people there. We were trying to define what kind leadership is, because, because definitely in some ways it’s a little bit, you know, wishy washy.
[00:22:01] Jason Wong: what we landed on is, I think what, what I’ve mentioned to you previously in that, kind leadership is essentially making things better for everyone.
[00:22:10] Jason Wong: you know, recognising the positive impact that you can have on all stakeholders and, building a community of followers around you to do this thing collectively.

[00:22:21] Lesson 4: Grow the fro.

[00:22:21] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number four. I love this and I can certainly see it. every time I see you, I think it, it grows and, it never ceases to surprise me and, and I think it’s become a bit of your brand as well, Lesson number four, you said grow the fro. So, why should people grow the fro?
[00:22:43] Jason Wong: you know, people definitely heard this before, but like, be yourself, be authentic, again, harks back to the way that I was brought up, that one of the other things that I was, that was always a big part of my life was always being hyper aware of what other people thought about me.
[00:22:57] Jason Wong: I think when you grow up in an environment where you believe that everyone is just looking up to you and everyone thinks that they want to be you. I think recently in, when I gave my Sydney Fringe talk, I was talking about my dad and I was talking about a story of how, you know, we used to walk through Chinatown, I was a little kid and he was like this celebrity rockstar walking through Chinatown, women wanted him and men wanted to be like him, you know, and so and so I, so I grew up in that environment, where, Everyone, everyone wants to be like me and all that sort of stuff. And so, when that, when it didn’t go that way, it was, yeah, problematic, you know, it was, and so, yeah, and so, and so you’re constantly trying to work out or how to please people, I suppose, or how, how do I get that person along? Why don’t they like me? but it, yeah, it probably took me, took me a gradual realisation to just, to just really embrace who I am and what
[00:23:53] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. Hmm.
[00:23:58] Jason Wong: deep inside the person that I am is still exactly the same, when I started this journey, I’ve, I’ve just, I’ve just done a lot of polishing around the edges and, you know, got rid of a whole heap of crap that was there. and I suppose the best.
[00:24:13] Jason Wong: Representation of that is my hair. So, one year I decided to like grow my hair out. I was thinking what, what happens if I just don’t cut my hair? You
[00:24:21] Jason Wong: it’s not an act of rebellion against your parents or anything like that. It’s just more, you know, your self-expression, is it, or?
[00:24:29] Jason Wong: So, my, my hair was like this probably for about 12, 10, 12 years. So most, most, whenever I go to a high school reunion, especially for those that haven’t been one before and they see me, they go, oh, you know, Wongie, what’s going on with your hair? you know, I love it. You know, all this. yeah, so my, so my hair is, you know, sort of thick and wiry and I, and I was wondering… Yeah, what it would look like, yeah, I’ve got this fro basically.
[00:24:52] Jason Wong: I think I was one of the, definitely one of the few Asians walking around Sydney with a fro, but I do notice there are a few more of, a few more of us out there. I was trying, we keep trying to come up with a name for Asians with Afros that are the best one that I can come up with is, frozens.
[00:25:12] Jason Wong: I feel my other frozen brothers and sisters out there and we give a head nod to each other, you know, when we see each other. and, and sort of getting back to that, authentic me, it was, taps into that, not worrying anymore about what other people think.

[00:25:27] Lesson 5: The most important gift you can give your loved ones is your time.

[00:25:27] Jeffery Wang: Mate, well that moves us to lesson number five. The most important gift you can give your loved ones is your time. Yeah, this reminds me of that talk you did at the Fringe Festival.
[00:25:38] Jason Wong: it’s a reflection on how I was brought up and, how I was parented and how I’m parenting now. like I’ve said, you know, I had everything, you know, I had it, I had all the trappings, had all the trappings. I was getting not just more pocket money than most other kids.
[00:25:52] Jason Wong: I was getting 10 times more pocket money than most other kids, at the time it was fine, it was good. I didn’t think anything of it. it’s. Only when I’ve got to be the older and reflected back on my relationship with my parents, my dad in particular, and then obviously the relationship that I want to have with my kids and all that stuff that I got, all that wealth and, you know, and great gifts and great holidays and so on.
[00:26:18] Jason Wong: Yeah, I definitely appreciate them. But all I wanted was a dad. I never, I never did anything with my dad. My dad never came to anything that I did at school. I said I was, pretty high achiever at school. So, there were lots of things he would come to. He didn’t come to a rugby game.
[00:26:33] Jason Wong: Didn’t come to an athletics carnival. Didn’t come to a play. didn’t teach me how to fish or throw a footy or, anything like that. you could definitely argue that I’ve massively overcorrected, you know, because I pretty much go to everything of my kids things now.
[00:26:47] Jason Wong: You know, I’ve chosen a career where I’ve got extreme flexibility, so it’s very rare for me to miss anything to do with my kids. you know, I’m really pleased with the relationship that I have with my kids, and I’m really pleased with. you know, the balance we have in, me being quite involved in their lives, but also, definitely taking a step back and letting them just live their lives.
[00:27:09] Jason Wong: and that’s only from spending a lot of time with them and understanding how all three of them tick and what they need and what they don’t need.
[00:27:15] Jeffery Wang: Well, what strikes me about that particular, talk that you gave about, what it means to be a man is exactly that, right? You know, the society tells you that man should be a provider and should be sort of strong and, you know, be, be out there and success is defined by what you can produce. I felt what you said about what it means to, and sort of redefining what’s, what it means to be a man, that was really revolutionary in terms of the idea, right.
[00:27:42] Jeffery Wang: And you certainly lived it.
[00:27:45] Jason Wong: thanks, mate, you know, and that’s definitely, I mean, a lot of the stuff which I spoke about in that talk was stuff that I tried that I realized worked and which I continued doing, and so just picking up what you said a second about being provider,
[00:27:58] Jason Wong: As men, we’re expected to be the provider, but the provider has always been in the context of providing the money and the shelter and the housing and the trappings of a good life. Let’s pivot that a little bit and let’s still be providers. But let’s be the providers of love, and insight, and knowledge, and fun, and laughter, and support, emotional support.
[00:28:27] Jason Wong: I think there’s definitely still a role for men as providers, but we just need to pivot. Our definition of what providing means. So, it’s not, it’s not just about bringing the cash in.
[00:28:36] Jason Wong: this lesson for me is, again, sounds a bit cliche, but, yeah, the most valuable thing you can give your loved ones is your time.
[00:28:42] Jason Wong: Time is the only finite resource that we all have, and look, I, I’ve definitely spoken to a few older dads. Kids either grown up and left the house or not far off it. And they’ve sort of said to me, they’ve said to me, we’ve had these conversations, they said to me, mate, I wish I’d realized what you realized earlier, because I feel like I’ve missed out a lot on my kids, upbringing, you know, they’ve got, Okay, relationships with their kids, some better than others, some a little bit dysfunctional, but some of them sort of, well, yeah, I probably spent too much time focusing on my career and making, you know, megabucks and not actually being there for my family.
[00:29:17] Jeffery Wang: Well, you can’t get it back, right? Like you said, it’s a finite resource time. You can’t get it back when it’s gone. I suppose that that’s why we’re having this conversation. You know, we hope to share wisdom like this, and again, might be, might sound a bit unconventional, but yet, these are the sort of things that I find probably most valuable to our listeners.
[00:29:36] Jeffery Wang: So that I think is very, very insightful.

[00:29:39] Lesson 6: Strive to win but strive harder to lose gracefully.

[00:29:39] Jason Wong: So, lesson number six, strive to win, but strive harder to lose gracefully. Now I’m assuming you’re talking about sports.
[00:29:47] Jason Wong: sort of, it’s definitely inspired by sport. Look, it’s, I’m reminded of it every weekend when I watch my kids play sport. There is way too much focus on winning, for the sake of winning, and not enough focus on just trying to do the best that you can, again, it does come from comments like, my childhood, I told you, I won most things. I won everything. I hated losing. When I lost, I was pretty unpleasant to be around, because of, you know, what, the standards that I set myself and because it was, not something that, that happened very often. But, I remember, you know, the whole lose gracefully comment there is not, I’m pretty sure that when I was younger, not only did I really take pleasure in winning.
[00:30:31] Jason Wong: I think I took pleasure in other people losing as well, you know, and so, and so, um, I, I, so I’ve, I’ve got, like, I’ll talk specifically about my 10-year-old who’s, you know, pretty decent on the athletics field. and. What I say to her regularly, you know, you know, after a race or before a race or, I say, look, yeah, try, always try to win, win, try to win, but it’s okay if you don’t win.
[00:30:58] Jason Wong: And if, you know, be happy for the person or the people that beat you, have, have a bit of respect for them, see if you can learn from them. But ultimately, you know, just try and do your best and, and try to do your best for that day. It’s not necessarily, you get a PB every time you run out there, and afterwards we can have a bit of a chat.
[00:31:16] Jason Wong: And even if you come last, that’s fine. We can have a chat afterwards and find out, well, why’d you come last? What’s happening? You’re tired? Is something on your mind? You got a sore foot?
[00:31:25] Jason Wong: I guess because, you know, that, that focus on winning that I had so much for so much of my life was ending up in so much disaster, from a, my emotional resilience perspective and just relationships that I’ve, that I’ve had.
[00:31:39] Jason Wong: It was in some ways it’s related to that, you know, it’s okay to be wrong, you know, thing. It’s like, it’s okay to lose. okay not to win. and what I had to learn was how to lose gracefully. I had to overcome that sore loser thing.
[00:31:53] Jason Wong: Well, now if I lose, I’ll usually come up with five reasons, all of which are my fault. And then, and, you know, I usually reconcile that and break out, well, you know, why did that happen? Did I actually, you know, maybe I did my best.
[00:32:07] Jason Wong: Oh, okay. Coming third was actually bloody, I couldn’t have done any better than that. I was pretty happy with that rather than being devastated that, I didn’t win.
[00:32:15] Jeffery Wang: Yeah, I 100 percent agree with that. And I’ve certainly, been a parent at these sporting events on the sidelines. And often I find myself getting lost in that competitiveness and, all that. And I realized that. We’re probably teaching the kids the wrong things when we focus way too much on winning. but you know, in terms of losing gracefully and, I like that word grace, graceful, in, understanding what that means, and sometimes, you know, the other kids were just simply better, the other kids were more talented.
[00:32:44] Jason Wong: Yeah.
[00:32:44] Jeffery Wang: They probably worked harder. They trained better, they executed better on the day and, they were ready for it. you know, and, and sometimes it’s important to teach your kids to be inspired by their competitors, you know, this is how good you could be. You know, watch these guys, you know, this is what you’d be aiming for. What they did really well, that’s what you should strive to become. You know, I like the fact that you focus on effort. it’s all, it’s all about controlling what’s within your control. So yeah, great lesson.
[00:33:14] Jeffery Wang: Thanks for sharing that.

[00:33:16] Lesson 7: You never know enough.

[00:33:16] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number seven. and I’m, I’m sure I’ve heard this one before, but you said, you never know enough. It sounds like another, that’s another way of saying never stop learning.
[00:33:26] Jason Wong: I mean, it’s, look, it had to be in there because. You know, I was a bit of a know it all, I suppose. I was definitely, the sort of person that believed that what I didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. You know, I sort of had that sort of attitude but I, I suppose one way of demonstrating how embedded this is in our lives now.
[00:33:47] Jason Wong: So, after school, not every day, but most days, I’ll ask my kids four questions.
[00:33:54] Jason Wong: what did you learn today? What did you do that was fun? What did you do that was hard? And what did you do that was kind? So, in relating to this point, so I want them to try and experience those four things every day. Want them to constantly look for, you know, you’re at school.
[00:34:16] Jason Wong: They’re obviously to learn, but what you’re learning at school may not necessarily be stuff that a teacher’s told you or if you read from a digital textbook. You know, you might’ve learned something else about yourself, for example. so, I’ve sort of encouraged this in our kids. And my wife and I have to answer these questions as well.
[00:34:33] Jason Wong: So, so we’re not going, obviously, going to school. And so, we’ve also got to say, what did we learn today? And sometimes it might have been, you know, a white paper that I was reading that I could regurgitate, but other times it’s, you know, learning a little bit more about, someone that I knew that I didn’t know before, or learning something about some situation.
[00:34:55] Jason Wong: It’s, yeah, like, I mean, it’s, I probably don’t need to talk much about this because, you know, lots of people keep saying, you know, you’ve got to learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, but, it’s something which is important enough to remind my kids every day that, every day we get to learn something new and interesting. don’t forget that.
[00:35:13] Jeffery Wang: That’s actually quite interesting because that wasn’t where I thought the lesson was about, you know, and like you said, sort of, you know, never stop learning is important, but it sounds like this was more around, having the right attitude towards, life, in terms of humility. In terms of not knowing, realizing you don’t know everything and so that you can approach life with the same kind of curiosity and, the, the ability to grow from that. So that’s definitely not exactly what I thought it was about. So, yeah, I learned something new, and I will be using those four questions for my kids as well.
[00:35:46] Jeffery Wang: So, thanks for sharing that.

[00:35:47] Lesson 8: Everyone has something to offer.

[00:35:47] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number 8, everyone has something to offer.
[00:35:49] Jason Wong: so, look, this is primarily about, me learning how to respect diverse opinions, listen to people that I wouldn’t ordinarily think that, would be worth listening to. Again, comes from that little bubble that I grew up in and believe that, you know, only certain people worth listening to, my dad’s words, still ring in my ear of, how he would basically assess people based on their utility, and he would, you know, I definitely got the message growing up that some people were listening to and some were not, whereas I’ve moved towards believing that. everyone is worth listening to.
[00:36:27] Jason Wong: Everyone has got something to offer. you know, I suppose ultimately, it’s what diversity and inclusion is all about. And it’s something which, you know, I didn’t think too much about until I sort of started working a little bit more and started to understand why diversity is important.
[00:36:43] Jason Wong: all these things are related. It goes back to that whole, be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yes, go into a room with someone who doesn’t speak English very well and has got a completely different worldview from you. You’re going to feel bloody uncomfortable. I can guarantee you’ll walk out of there learning a lot, you know, if, you know, about the situation you’re talking about, but about yourself, about them.
[00:37:04] Jason Wong: and yeah, and obviously try to set up mechanisms where you’re explicit about including these people in conversations.
[00:37:11] Jeffery Wang: This is actually a very interesting perspective on diversity and inclusion, right? So typically, when we talk about diversity and inclusion, it’s always about gender or race or sexual orientation. But what’s really interesting about your story is that you have a, I suppose you’re part of an in group of a dominant culture, and that is a, an affluent, influential family, and a very strong set of, values that, you live in this this world where, you’ve got a set of rules that you follow very strongly and, you somehow, you’re able to sort of Uh, see the bubble or recognize the bubble you live in and, and, acknowledge the diversity outside of that bubble.
[00:37:57] Jeffery Wang: I find that very, very fascinating, because typically, you think of yourself as the outsider, if you’re not part of the dominant culture, and, and yet you’re able to see that and, see the value in all these other people.
[00:38:10] Jeffery Wang: So, I guess, it probably stems from the fact that it’s that awareness that being part of that family has brought you, you know, that you’ve excluded those people that you feel didn’t have any value. And yet later on appreciating that it did bring something to the table. It’s just that you have to be open to it. but yeah, that’s very insightful. Thank you.

[00:38:31] Lesson 9: Don’t stay silent, call out unfairness and injustice.

[00:38:31] Jeffery Wang: lesson number nine. I agree, but this is very difficult to do, lesson number nine, you say, don’t stay silent, call out unfairness and injustice and take action. that’s easy if you’re someone in, in an affluent family and have a whole lot of power. how does an average person do that?
[00:38:48] Jason Wong: no, it’s interesting that you say that because, oh, definitely the more a lot of the affluent people that I used to hang out with and still hang out with now, but I remember even when I was a teenage kid, a lot of the extremely wealthy families that I used to hang around, weren’t really aware of the unfairness and the injustices that were happening around the world, let alone doing anything about them.
[00:39:09] Jason Wong: Because. There was no unfairness or injustice in their lives.
[00:39:13] Jason Wong: I remember sitting at home at a friend’s place and we were watching some news item on the Iraq war. And there was a story on people flying over, I think from Australia, who were horrified by, what was happening, but they were flying over there to be human shields.
[00:39:30] Jason Wong: and I remember my friend’s mum, she just made this comment, we were watching this article on the news, and she said, oh, what are those people, what are those people doing, as if they’re going to make a difference.
[00:39:41] Jason Wong: And, and I don’t, I don’t know why that stuck with me. There was something on that day where I just thought, far out, like you could make a difference, you know, you, you’ve got access to resources, you know, and people and money that could probably make a bloody difference. You know, these people that are flying over there are like on minimum wage.
[00:40:01] Jason Wong: Little things like that, I think it was also when I started working for those, you know, NGOs and not for profits, one of them was filled with activists, and I could see how little steps, little, little, little bits of, effort from lots of people could make a difference.
[00:40:20] Jason Wong: I definitely had the mentality that if I don’t think I’m actually going to have any significant impact here, I don’t think I’m going to bother. But, you know, I’ve sort of learned that I suppose you spend most of your life, meeting lots of different people, just planting seeds everywhere.
[00:40:34] Jason Wong: You know, who knows what impact the conversation that you had with someone on the train will have, you know, and, and if you can start a small movement and get a small gathering on, a cause that you believe in. Well, we should do it.
[00:40:47] Jason Wong: If you believe in something passionately enough, do something, even if it’s small. There are so many stories out there of people that have started with just some small gesture towards something they believe passionately in. And then, you know, lo and behold, they’ve set up something which is, quite impactful now.
[00:41:03] Jason Wong: I suppose the final point I’d make about that is that being a man talk, I mentioned that one of the predominant, The characteristics of traditional male archetype is to be assertive and, I mentioned at the beginning of that talk that assertive usually meant, you know, loud and dominant and aggressive and being the boss.
[00:41:22] Jason Wong: And like I did with all those other attributes of the male, traditional male archetype, I flipped that and said, yeah, let’s still be assertive. But let’s be assertive by calling out injustices, let’s be assertive by, you know, calling out unfairness, calling out your mates when they’re being, you know, probably a bit too sexist than they should be.
[00:41:38] Jason Wong: I mean, I’ve had conversations with my teenage daughter now about the way that, people talk to each other, all the sexism and the horrifying things that are happening. But I’ve sort of said to her, like, you know, I said those things. I acted like that. I’m horrified by it now.
[00:41:55] Jason Wong: but you know, I’ve, I’ve learned and I, I think, perhaps it was for me as well. There would have been a few friends and family members that actually cared for me. They gave me a bit of a tap on the shoulder and said, yeah, you probably shouldn’t be saying that or doing that.
[00:42:08] Jason Wong: Yeah, and I think it goes back to your point about being authentic as well, what the saying is that it’s, the standards that you walk past is the standards you condone. And, and if you don’t, do anything about it, even though it’s something small, even, even a small thing, could potentially end up being a big difference.
[00:42:25] Jeffery Wang: So yeah, I’d certainly take that point. And, I agree with that, that we should, even if it’s something very small, that we shouldn’t be a bystander.
[00:42:33] Jason Wong: yeah, yeah.
[00:42:34] Jeffery Wang: Yep. Agree with that.
[00:42:36] Jeffery Wang: So, lesson number 10. and, but before I jump into lesson number 10, I’m going to throw you a curve ball. if you listen to any of our podcasts before you know that we’ll, we’ll ask you. What have you unlearned? You know, and by that, what I meant is that something that you held to be gospel truth when you’re starting out, you know, maybe in your twenties, and then, later on, you found out that just wasn’t the case.
[00:42:58] Jason Wong: Well, you can argue that almost everything that I’ve said today was, you know, it was all about me unlearning stuff, but,
[00:43:04] Jeffery Wang: That’s true, isn’t it? Yes.
[00:43:06] Jason Wong: And I think it’s from one of the first comments I made to you, you know, from, from private school boy and crazy rich Asian to just trying to be a top bloke, you know, that’s essentially my life story, so what, but, if you, probably actually, it does sort of tie into the last point. so, so, spoiler alert, that probably the biggest thing that I had to unlearn was that it’s just not about me.
[00:43:32] Jason Wong: I had a very,
[00:43:33] Jeffery Wang: perfect segue.

[00:43:35] Lesson 10: Put yourself last and first.

[00:43:35] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number 10, put yourself last and first. So, what you’re saying is not about you. So, what do you mean by put yourself last and first?
[00:43:45] Jason Wong: yeah, so, so, it’s, so, yeah, so, so, my last point is, you know, a bit of a, a bit of a riddle. put yourself last and first. so, the put yourself last bit is very much about recognising that it’s not all about you. And recognizing that, to try and try and have a more giving nature, you know, not, not just look for opportunities where you might benefit.
[00:44:10] Jason Wong: first thing that has popped up in my mind was a few years back, I was a volunteer youth mentor, for, you know, youth organization. And they asked me to speak at one of their presentation days and I remember, I don’t really remember anything that I said in this speech other than what I’m about to tell you now.
[00:44:30] Jason Wong: I think one of the questions they wanted me to answer was like, why, why do you do this? Why do you volunteer your time to be a youth mentor? And yeah, there are lots of reasons why, you know, I’m helping people, makes me feel good. but ultimately what it came down to was.
[00:44:45] Jason Wong: I’m doing this because I can. And that was it. It wasn’t, I was, I was trying to, trying to remove the motivation for that act from any self-serving purpose. And I was also trying to remove the motivation from, you know, I suppose just the, just what, what’s in it for me, moving away from that what’s in it for me attitude to what’s in it for everyone.
[00:45:10] Jason Wong: Now what’s in it for all the other people are going to be. impacted and I was sort of, you know, learn to let other people, get recognition for stuff that they’ve done. Look, I think one of my, another one of my little mantras for any teams that I’ve led and, you know, and I’ll mention this sometimes to people that I’m coaching is that, a good leader will, Like, deflect credit, not completely deflect credit, but take credit collectively as a team rather than, you know, hogging all the credit for him or herself or themselves.
[00:45:42] Jason Wong: but they will also, you know, take responsibility for something that goes wrong, even if it, even if it’s pretty clear that it was one particular person that completely stuffed something up. I suppose it was basically a call, it was a call for just being really empathetic, you know, just making sure you’re constantly thinking about how this is impacting other people as well.
[00:46:02] Jason Wong: Don’t just think about how this is making you feel. And, you know, whether it’s like something could make you feel, elated and completely filled with joy. But if you take another five seconds to think about the impact for the 10 other people that are going to actually be devastated, you might, you might want to, you know, dampen your joy a bit if it means that other people aren’t going to be devastated.
[00:46:23] Jason Wong: so, it’s about empathy. It’s about being a bit more humble. So, so that’s the put yourself last. Okay. Put yourself last and first. So don’t forget about you. I mean, there’s so much, there’s so much in anything you, you want to read about, you know, the business world, leadership, parenting, effective relationships where.
[00:46:48] Jason Wong: You’ve got to take time out for yourself. You’ve got to take self-care. I think ultimately, it’s really hard for you to be effective in anything if you haven’t sorted your own shit out first. whatever it is, whether it’s a job, whether it’s a, you know, a volunteer role, whether it’s your marriage, whether it’s parenting, you know, it’s really, really hard to be effective.
[00:47:10] Jason Wong: not just because your mind is not Optimized. Definitely, you might as not think straight. You’re not making logical decisions as well. If you’ve got a whole lot of other stuff that’s going on and, and you’re not, you’re not dedicating as much time to, to focus on it. but it’s also, I think you mentioned earlier, it’s like the role modelling that, you know, it’s really hard to role model, whether it’s your, the employees that work for you, your peer managers, your kids.
[00:47:36] Jason Wong: If you’re saying something and you’re demonstrating the complete opposite behaviour. so that’s what I meant by put yourself first. So, so one of the, I’m going back to that kind leadership organization that, that I was working for. One of the things that we did was we defined leadership, kind leadership in these pillars of kindness.
[00:47:59] Jason Wong: So, mentioned earlier that kind leadership was about making everything better for everyone, but we sort of tried to define everyone. So, it was like, you know, kindness to people. So, like kindness to your people was like part of it. Kindness to community. So that’s like a different sort of group of people and external stakeholders.
[00:48:17] Jason Wong: There was kindness to, the environment as well. Kindness to customers. And the, the one that we, that was it initially. And it took us a while to work out that, oh far out, we left out the most important pillar, kindness to self. And, and that, and that’s something which, you know, definitely when I was working for that organization, but even, you know, it pervades through a lot of stuff that I’m, that I’m doing now, my leadership coaching, you know, about thinking about you, you know, I, I have this little thing called leadership in multiple directions where I talk about, you know, how do you lead?
[00:48:55] Jason Wong: Cause when we think about leadership, we often talk about leading down, how it’s sort of a boss, sort of, and, and that’s absolutely, you know, massive part of leadership. But I also talk about leadership up, I talk about leadership across, I talk about leadership out, and also talk about leadership in, and leadership in is very much that.
[00:49:13] Jason Wong: That self-work piece, liking yourself, you know, and understanding why you like yourself. and if you don’t like yourself, try and, you know, spend some time with yourself to understand why. Or, you know, ask other, ask people that you trust. I mean, there’s a whole lot of work that, that can be done on yourself, that will, you know, improve everything.
[00:49:35] Jeffery Wang: Now, and that’s what I thought first, but now, now that you explained it that way, it makes perfect sense here. You are ultimately you’ve got to be in the position to, I mean, you, you want to Do good for others, but ultimately, you know, if you’re altruistic, at a detriment to yourself, it’s just not going to be sustainable.
[00:49:52] Jeffery Wang: So, it’s, it’s understanding, that balance in, in focusing on yourself and getting yourself ready,
[00:49:58] Jason Wong: Yeah, yeah.
[00:50:00] jeffery-wang_1_11-28-2023_200026: yeah, that’s, that’s a really important life lesson. And I think it goes on to, to your point about that sustainable leadership. if you want to be kind, a lot of it. It starts with being kind to yourself. So, thank you so much for sharing your lessons, Jason. That was a lot of fun. I’ve certainly enjoyed it and learned a bit myself, as always, you never cease to, surprise me in terms of, you know, the, the kind of insights you provide in life. You know, clearly, you’re a very deep thinker and, and you, you know, a lot of things happened in your life that makes you the person that you are. thank you, for your time today.
[00:50:33] Jason Wong: No, thanks. Thanks, Yeah, no, was, was good. It’s good to, you know, further reflect on, further reflect on your own reflections, you know. So that sounds very Inception or very Meta.
[00:50:47] jeffery-wang_1_11-28-2023_200026: All right. 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. We’re joined today by our special guest, Jason Wong. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by the Professional Development Forum. don’t forget to leave us a review or comment. You can even email us at podcast at 10lessonslearned. com. That’s podcast at number 10lessonslearned. 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.
[00:51:23] jeffery-wang_1_11-28-2023_200026: Thanks for tuning in and stay safe, everyone.
[00:51:26]

 

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

Jason Wong

Jason Wong – Everyone has something to offer.

Join your host, Jeffery Wang, in this inspiring episode of the 10 Lessons Learned, where we discuss invaluable insights for career, business, and life. In this episode, we welcome Jason Wong, an accredited leadership coach, strategy ninja, and a kindness practitioner. Hailing from one of Sydney's most successful Chinese families, Jason shares his unique journey of self-discovery, personal growth, and finding fulfillment beyond material success. With engaging discussions about recalibrating life's priorities, nurturing meaningful relationships, promoting diversity and inclusion, and constantly learning, we uncover some of Jason's key lessons that have shaped his leadership style and understanding of success. Tune in for this enlightening conversation and walk away with practical nuggets of wisdom that go beyond the textbook.

About Jason Wong

Jason was born into one of Sydney’s most successful and influential Chinese families and has fond memories of running around Sydney’s Chinatown after school. He was educated at one of Australia’s top selective private schools for boys and with his family’s network of connections, the world was his oyster.

But his life didn’t play out the way that he thought it would and, influenced by a number of key people and events, he embarked on a journey involving lots of deep reflection and making plenty of personal adjustments.

He has held multiple leadership roles throughout his career but believes that his most important and most satisfying role was being a stay-at-home Dad to his three daughters, which included upping his game as partner to his amazing wife.

He works to improve technology leadership in not-for-profit, for-purpose and community-focused organisations and he now runs his own coaching & strategic consultancy practice, Tyger Technology Leadership, developing tech leaders of the future.

He is a former president of his children’s school P&C association and is now the Board Secretary of the NSW P&C Federation, working with influential education stakeholders to improve public schooling in NSW.

He also facilitates local Dads groups and events, to support and engage Dads in their parenting journeys.

A few people leave deep impressions in your life, and you have certainly left one with me. Of the thousands of people I’ve come across during business, some just lives out their values in how they behave and treat others around them.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice 03:51
Lesson 2: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable 14:53
Lesson 3: Don’t aim for a bigger piece of the pie, aim to make the pie bigger. 19:11
Lesson 4: Grow the Fro. 22:21
Lesson 5: The most important gift you can give your loved ones is your time. 25:27
Lesson 6: Strive to win but strive harder to lose gracefully. 29:39
Lesson 7: You never know enough. 33:16
Lesson 8: Everyone has something to offer. 35:47
Lesson 9: Don’t stay silent, call out unfairness and injustices and take action. 38:31
Lesson 10: Put Yourself Last and First. 43:35

Jason Wong – Everyone has something to offer.

[00:00:08] Jeffery Wang: Hello and welcome to the podcast, 10 Lessons Learned, where we uncover wisdom for career, business, and life to an international audience of rising leaders. In other words, you’ll find valuable insights that you can’t find in a textbook because it took us years to learn the stuff.
[00:00:24] Jeffery Wang: My name is Jeffery Wang, the founder of Professional Development Forum and your host for today. podcast is sponsored by the Professional Development Forum, which helps diverse young professionals of any age find fulfillment in the modern workplace.
[00:00:37] Jeffery Wang: Today we’re joined by Jason Wong. When I looked at the LinkedIn profile, Jason Wong is an accredited leadership coach, a technology artisan, strategy ninja, and the kindness practitioner. Jason was born into one of Sydney’s most successful and influential Chinese families and has fond memories of running around Sydney’s Chinatown after school. He was educated at one of Australia’s top selective private school for boys, and with his family’s network of connections, the world was his oyster. But his life didn’t play out the way he thought it would be and influenced by a number of key people and events, he embarked on the journey involving lots of deep reflection and making plenty of personal adjustments. He has held multiple leadership roles throughout his career but believes that the most important and most satisfying role was being a stay-at-home dad to his three daughters, which included upping his game as a partner to his amazing wife. He works to improve technology leadership in not for profit, for purpose, and community focused organizations. He now runs his own coaching and strategic consultancy practice, Tyger Technologies Leadership, developing tech leaders of the future. He’s a former president of his children’s schools, PNC association, and is now the board secretary of the New South Wales PNC Federation, working with influential education stakeholders to improve public schooling in New South Wales. He also facilitates local dad groups and events to support and engage dads in their parenting journeys.
[00:02:09] Jeffery Wang: Mate, very few people leave such deep impressions, in my life and, you’re certainly one of them that I’ve, come across, you know, of the thousands that I’ve come across in, in my business, you’re one of those people that have always occurred to me as someone who just lives out the values, you know, and, how you behave and how you treat others. it just, there’s just an aura about you. So, you know, I was very excited that you finally accepted my invitation to be interviewed for 10 Lessons Learned. Welcome, Jason.
[00:02:37] Jason Wong: Thanks, Jeffery. Yeah, no, it’s always good having a chat with you.
[00:02:41] Jeffery Wang: So, before I jump into your lessons, you shared with me quite a bio about yourself and your personal journey. You know, you’re, you’re talking about. being born into one of the, the richest and, and the most, influential Chinese families, in Sydney’s Chinatown, what was growing up like?
[00:02:59] Jason Wong: growing up, at the time, seemed… Pretty good. I didn’t really know anything else. It was, it was the way I thought that most people grew up. Well, definitely most people that I knew. it probably took me a while to realize after, you know, long after I left school that I was in a little bit of a bubble.
[00:03:18] Jason Wong: But no, definitely at the time, yeah, life was pretty good. I was pretty spoiled as a kid. got my own way most of the time, got lots of, lots of cool gifts, lots of cool toys, went on great holidays, lived in nice houses, drove around in nice cars, ate at, nice restaurants, yeah, and definitely, yeah, definitely thought, life was awesome.
[00:03:41] Jeffery Wang: Well, you know, it’s kind of almost the, the, the stereotypical or the dictionary definition of the crazy rich Asians, but all right. Well, that. that actually brings us very nicely.

[00:03:51] Lesson 1: It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.

[00:03:51] Jeffery Wang: lesson number one. And, it kind of, is surprising, that, you know, being born into such a great childhood, why would your number one lesson be it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice?
[00:04:03] Jason Wong: I guess that made it as number one because it, encapsulates the real pivot in my life from, from, thinking and living this life where we, we were, we had a pretty high standing in society. My, my father’s family, as you mentioned earlier, went to a pretty decent school, to the point where. I guess my, my attitude at the time was not only was it a boy’s private school, my family and myself and possibly some of my peers that I went to school with, we believed it was the best private school or the best school in Australia.
[00:04:43] Jason Wong: so, and that, that. Definitely that feeling growing up, you know, was, yeah, we, we felt like we mattered, that we’re, we’re important. I suppose it was exacerbated by my family, primarily my dad’s side of family, you know, constantly reminding us as children, how awesome we were as family, as a family, um, what yeah, as I’m sure we’ll get into that sort of started to change after I left school, gradually, probably over a period of, oh, I don’t know, 10, 15 years, I guess, it’s probably still happening, where I guess I started becoming a bit more, a bit more humble about where I came from, meeting lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds, and understanding that their story was very different to mine.
[00:05:33] Jason Wong: But just as amazing, just as inspiring, and just as important, you know, quite frankly. So, the line, the line that I put there, it’s, it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice, is actually from a rave song. So, so if anyone I used to go to old school raves. there was a song by Scooter.
[00:05:56] Jason Wong: I think it’s called Move That Ass or Move Your Ass. And, and there’s a line in there where the DJ just yells out, it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. And I can, I can still hear the, you know, the beat in my head. And, and yeah, it’s, I don’t know. I think it probably came at the stage of my life.
[00:06:16] Jason Wong: I was obviously going; I was partying quite a bit, and I was going to lots of raves, and it came. I was at a time in my life where I was really beginning to reflect on that, simple sentence and how it related to how I was, what I was trying to be, what I needed to be.
[00:06:33] Jeffery Wang: Was there a clear turning point when you realized, you know, you used the word humbled, was there an actual event that, happened in your life where, you, you realize that it was more important to, it was more important to be nice?
[00:06:48] Jason Wong: There were definitely, look, I don’t think there was one or even a couple of turning points. It was a series of… series of events or series of incidents that happened over probably that 10-year period. And, and I suppose that it’s really about how my relationships were going. So not definitely my, intimate partner relationships, but even just relationships with friends and family members.
[00:07:13] Jason Wong: And I found that. You know, cause I, cause I think I’m, you know, I, I value relationships with other people, you know, I, I really do want to be, a great, partner, brother, nephew, son, and so on, but I definitely seem to be pissing a lot of people off and, look, I definitely, at first it was, You know, it was obviously all their fault.
[00:07:40] Jason Wong: It wasn’t my fault. I was doing a pretty good job, I thought. But I started to notice consistent themes and consistent patterns. and I don’t think I could just dismiss other people’s opinions anymore. I think, I think it dawned on me eventually that, I went, oh crap, I think it’s me. And, and then, and that, and that probably started a lot of self-reflection, a lot of speaking to other people, a lot of trying to unpack and replay situations and, you know, scenarios that have played out in real life and, you know, trying to work out what had just happened there. It also, it also led to my, you know, and this was completely unintentional, it led to me really listening deeply to what people had to say and really observing very closely what people did, what they didn’t do, how they behaved in certain situations, how they reacted or not reacted, and Yeah, ultimately, I, over a period of years, it dawned on me that I think the way that I had been brought up was not really conducive to, you know, the close relationships that I wanted to have, the close genuine relationships that I wanted to have with people.
[00:08:52] Jason Wong: And then so commenced the journey of trying to work out, well, what, what do I need to do to, to improve that? And a lot of it was just be a decent person, you know, that’s, I mean, I’m not exaggerating to say that I was pretty selfish. It was, everything was pretty much about me. you know, it came from the upbringing, it came from the school, I’m not sure how much of that was in me already, you know, when, when I was born, I’m not really going to get into a nature nurture argument here, but, yeah, I realized that I needed to be a better person and that required accepting some hard truths about what I had been doing.
[00:09:32] Jason Wong: And then trying to work out, you know, how the hell, you know, do I, do I change that? Because, you know, as you know, changing any long-seated behaviour takes a long time. I mean, I think the common saying is, you know, well, the first step is. Recognizing the, the undesirable behaviour in the first place. And that’s spot on, but it’s bloody hard after that.
[00:09:54] Jason Wong: Even just rec, like, I recognized it, but I, I couldn’t, it took me a while to change it and I would argue that I’m still, you know, still working on it. I’m not perfect.
[00:10:03] Jeffery Wang: Now that, and that’s definitely, something I’ve noticed, what’s quite interesting to me is, how did you come to the realization that meaningful relationships, as you mentioned, were more important than the, the wealth and the status in your life, you know, as you were brought up? Like, is, is that something that you just dawned on you one day that, you know, even though you had all, all the sort of trappings of You know, success, you know, that, that importance, that status, that money, that power, all that.
[00:10:30] Jeffery Wang: Is there something that, sort of dawned on you that you’re just not, happy without the relationships around you being fulfilling?
[00:10:37] Jason Wong: I suppose there were a couple of things that were happening concurrently. One was, I think from a very, from a, probably my mid-teens, I reckon I was quite obsessed with, the meaning of life and trying to understand, you know, what. Yeah. What, well, you know, what are we, what are we doing here? What, what is our purpose?
[00:10:53] Jason Wong: what is everyone, what are we all doing? We all seem to be doing slightly different things, but do we, so do we all have different purposes? definitely at one stage, you know, got a little bit obsessed about death in dying and what happens. and you know, there’s, as I’m assuming, you know, a lot of people would have.
[00:11:08] Jason Wong: but then trying to want, you know, I think from that came. Some thoughts about, okay, well, death’s going to happen, can’t do anything about that, but you know what I want, what do I want to do with my 70, 80, 90 years on, on this planet? and I don’t remember explicitly thinking this at the time, but actually before I say that I’ll, I’ll compare and contrast that with what I was seeing was happening.
[00:11:33] Jason Wong: So definitely grew up in, but not, not just my family and my, my education, but everything you were seeing on, on media and, you know, in society, it was all pretty much about making as much bloody money as you can. So that you could buy all this awesome stuff. You could buy the nice cars, the great holidays, the nice houses, you know, all those sorts of things.
[00:11:56] Jason Wong: But I was, I was in an environment where I had all that. And I’d had more than pretty much anyone that I knew, other than maybe a handful of people. And definitely, you know, through my teens, I realized, well, I started to think, well, yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know where this is really cutting it, cutting it for me, you know, because it’s all right, but it’s not, not, there’s, I suppose there was, there was nothing deep inside me that was stirring, that was saying, yeah, this is, this is bloody fantastic.
[00:12:24] Jason Wong: You know, we should, you should keep going along this path. I mean, I was also seeing, the family that I was in was completely dysfunctional. You know, there was, there was, there was. I love, you know, I don’t even know whether there’s any mutual respect that was, that’s, and that’s why when, you know, I know it’s, you know, a bit of a funny throwaway line that when, when, when you watch Crazy Rich Asians, it is like a documentary on my family.
[00:12:51] Jason Wong: And so, yeah, sometimes when, you know, when I do watch things like Crazy Rich Asian or any of the standup comedians, it’s funny, but, you know, it’s also a little bit cringeworthy because I’m like, oh, far out. that was my life. Um, yeah.
[00:13:03] Jason Wong: And so, what, what I was going to get going back to that. So that’s what I was seeing. I was seeing like, hey, well, this is what society is striving for. This is society is striving to have the amount of wealth and influence. I haven’t really spoken about the influence, but my family, influential in Sydney’s Chinatown, I mentioned this to you before, but my grandfather was regarded at one time as the unofficial Lord Mayor of Chinatown.
[00:13:28] Jason Wong: He was integral to a lot of the stuff that, that happened in especially Dixon Street in the 70s and 80s, you know, including the, the mall and so on.
[00:13:38] Jason Wong: so, there was this, yeah, there was definitely always this, this aura of, you know, being really, really important, but really influential. I think it’s not, not a massive surprise that my family had a little. bit of political clout as well. This had a lot to do with the fact that the Labor Party offices were just down the road from Chinatown, and they would come and eat quite regularly in these restaurants.
[00:14:04] Jason Wong: So, my, my family was pretty close with, with definitely members of the, of the Labour Party. a lot on paper was going really well, but you know, go and scratch the surface a little bit and it was, yeah, it was really weird. It was just like, far out, this is not the way people should treat each other.
[00:14:21] Jeffery Wang:
[00:14:21] Jason Wong: yeah, and I think unfortunately I was subconsciously, this was probably seeping into the way that I was treating people, you know, including, you know, former girlfriends.
[00:14:29] Jason Wong: and I had to work out pretty quickly that, you know, this is, this needs to change. Otherwise, I’m going to get old and lonely and miserable. And yeah, that was not something which I was, really, really wanting to, what happened to me?
[00:14:44] Jeffery Wang: I’m sure we’ll get into some of this, in more detail in a lesson down the track. but, you mentioned, you know, that, there’s a moment of realization.

[00:14:53] Lesson 2: Be comfortable being uncomfortable.

[00:14:53] Jeffery Wang: So that probably leads as well to lesson number two, be comfortable being uncomfortable. Now, well, what spurred you on to, to share this lesson?
[00:15:01] Jeffery Wang: Hmm.
[00:15:01] Jason Wong: I suppose, one of the pivotal moments that I mentioned that was, was actually something that my uncle on my, on my mum’s side said to me, and I’ll mention that in a sec. But essentially, growing up, I was, you know, a bit of a high achiever.
[00:15:13] Jason Wong: I was pretty good at everything that I did. I did pretty well academically. I was pretty good on the sporting field, And I think the way that I was parented, definitely added to that whole feeling of I am effin awesome, you know, so, and what that meant was I didn’t allow myself to make mistakes.
[00:15:34] Jason Wong: I was definitely a perfectionist. I was, if you look at my report cards from school, they say that, oh yeah, no, clearly pretty smart kid, but like doesn’t say anything in class. And that was purely because I wouldn’t put my hand up and say anything unless I was 100 percent sure that what I was about to say was correct.
[00:15:53] Jason Wong: And this obviously continued into my mid to late teenage, young adult life that I hated losing. I needed to win. hated getting anything wrong. and I suppose it was, pretty obvious obviously for people that knew me, you know, that I needed to chill out a little bit.
[00:16:09] Jason Wong: But it took, it took an uncle, like I said, on my mum’s side. I think I must have been in my early 20s. And I just had a big argument with one of his staff members, because he also ran restaurants. and he was trying to get me to apologize to that staff member. And I was like, nah, why are you apologizing?
[00:16:30] Jason Wong: And then he explained to me how I, you know, I had been in the wrong and I sort of accepted that. But then I thought, yeah, I’m still not apologizing. then, but he said to me something which was so simple at the time. He just said to me, Jason, you know, it’s okay to be wrong. And, and I think I responded with, yeah, yeah, of course.
[00:16:50] Jason Wong: Yeah, yeah. But it really stuck with me, and I thought about it and I’m thinking, why would he say that to me? And then I thought about it and said, oh, oh, okay. Yeah, I bloody hate being wrong and I, I hate being wrong because there was definitely a part of me that, found it unacceptable. and I did need to give myself a bit of a break every now and then, and it’s something which that little saying, you know, stuck with me.
[00:17:15] Jason Wong: I say it to my kids all the time. it’s part of the way that we parent our kids to let them know that mistakes are fantastic learning opportunities. but I, yeah, it took me a while to realize that, you know, it was, it was not something which anyone had ever said explicitly to me before.
[00:17:31] Jeffery Wang: It’s not something which I’ve worked out myself, obviously. so yeah, that, that’s why that’s in there. I wonder how much of that is cultural because, you know, everything you said about being hating, being wrong, and staying silent in class unless you’re 100 percent sure, I mean, all me too, right? and for me, it might have taken even longer. until I realized that, you know, until you give yourself that permission to be wrong, then you don’t, you give your permission to grow. and, unfortunately, the earlier you learn that the better it is. Yeah. And in fact, you know, kids that, not obsessed about being perfect, tend to grow a hell of a lot quicker you know, they, they give yourself permission to learn and, make mistakes and grow and step outside of comfort zone and boundaries and learn new things.
[00:18:16] Jason Wong: yeah, yeah. And, and that’s why, you know, the lesson, be, be comfortable with being uncomfortable is, you know, very much about, you know, you’re going to find yourself in uncomfortable positions. But that’s okay. Don’t, don’t shy away from there. You know, you could absolutely stuff up and have egg all over your face, but you’re going to learn a lot from that.
[00:18:36] Jason Wong: And I would argue that if you’re not putting yourself in uncomfortable positions, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. You’re just, you’re just cruising, you know, we all need to do that, you know, and I need to remind myself sometimes of that too sometimes that, you know, just because I think something’s just a little bit too hard at face value, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have a crack.
[00:18:55] Jeffery Wang: yeah, a hundred percent agree with what you said there because if you’re not, feeling uncomfortable, then you’re not achieving your potential. You know, if anything, it’s, it’s anything but you know your potential. So, a hundred percent that you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

[00:19:11] Lesson 3: Don’t aim for a bigger piece of the pie, aim to make the pie bigger.

[00:19:11] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number three. I really like. don’t aim for a bigger piece of the pie, aim to make the pie bigger. I mean this kind of speaks to your philosophy in life, isn’t it?
[00:19:20] Jason Wong: Yeah. And I suppose it talks to a, you know, another sort of pivotal change in my life where I changed, I changed industry. so, I had been working for a small IT team in an education organization, a university basically, and you know, looking like I was You know, we’re going to climb the corporate ladder eventually and, you know, make mega bucks.
[00:19:46] Jason Wong: but then it was also around this time where I was trying to think about, well, what, what do I want my next job to be? And this job came up, in a not-for-profit organization, humanitarian aid organization, actually pretty, pretty well known one. And it was a, it was a step back in terms of pay, but it was a step up in terms of role and opportunity.
[00:20:07] Jason Wong: so anyway, so I, bit the bullet. I was definitely had outgrown my previous organization and role, bit the bullet, took that job. And what I realized working in that not-for-profit NGO space was that I was surrounded by people, that had this philosophy, don’t aim for a bigger piece of the pie.
[00:20:23] Jason Wong: Aim to make the pie bigger. So, we would collaborate a lot with peers in likeminded organizations, from a business or corporate sense, you would see these other NGOs or not for profit organizations as competitors because we’re all competing for, donors’ money primarily from, from the fundraising perspective.
[00:20:43] Jason Wong: But I’m not sure whether I read it or heard it, or someone said it to me that. You know, the idea was, oh no, no, we’re not, we’re not really competing against them. We’re not, we’re not competing, you know, for a bigger piece of the pie. Our aim as this third sector is to make the pie bigger, is to encourage people, whether it’s through our NGO or that NGO over there or that little charity over there, is to encourage people to, think about some of the issues that these organizations focus on and dedicate, you know, if not their money, their time to, Basically helping people that are less fortunate as ourselves.
[00:21:21] Jason Wong: So, it sort of started from there, but I mean, as you know, you’ve known me for a while now where I was pretty much only work for organizations that have a purpose. you know, or a charitable cause. and I, I really like working with people that are just trying to make things better for everyone.
[00:21:39] Jason Wong: I think the organization I recently worked with was focused on kindness, focused on kind leadership. And I remember, you know, working with the CEO there and a few other, senior people there. We were trying to define what kind leadership is, because, because definitely in some ways it’s a little bit, you know, wishy washy.
[00:22:01] Jason Wong: what we landed on is, I think what, what I’ve mentioned to you previously in that, kind leadership is essentially making things better for everyone.
[00:22:10] Jason Wong: you know, recognising the positive impact that you can have on all stakeholders and, building a community of followers around you to do this thing collectively.

[00:22:21] Lesson 4: Grow the fro.

[00:22:21] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number four. I love this and I can certainly see it. every time I see you, I think it, it grows and, it never ceases to surprise me and, and I think it’s become a bit of your brand as well, Lesson number four, you said grow the fro. So, why should people grow the fro?
[00:22:43] Jason Wong: you know, people definitely heard this before, but like, be yourself, be authentic, again, harks back to the way that I was brought up, that one of the other things that I was, that was always a big part of my life was always being hyper aware of what other people thought about me.
[00:22:57] Jason Wong: I think when you grow up in an environment where you believe that everyone is just looking up to you and everyone thinks that they want to be you. I think recently in, when I gave my Sydney Fringe talk, I was talking about my dad and I was talking about a story of how, you know, we used to walk through Chinatown, I was a little kid and he was like this celebrity rockstar walking through Chinatown, women wanted him and men wanted to be like him, you know, and so and so I, so I grew up in that environment, where, Everyone, everyone wants to be like me and all that sort of stuff. And so, when that, when it didn’t go that way, it was, yeah, problematic, you know, it was, and so, yeah, and so, and so you’re constantly trying to work out or how to please people, I suppose, or how, how do I get that person along? Why don’t they like me? but it, yeah, it probably took me, took me a gradual realisation to just, to just really embrace who I am and what
[00:23:53] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. Hmm.
[00:23:58] Jason Wong: deep inside the person that I am is still exactly the same, when I started this journey, I’ve, I’ve just, I’ve just done a lot of polishing around the edges and, you know, got rid of a whole heap of crap that was there. and I suppose the best.
[00:24:13] Jason Wong: Representation of that is my hair. So, one year I decided to like grow my hair out. I was thinking what, what happens if I just don’t cut my hair? You
[00:24:21] Jason Wong: it’s not an act of rebellion against your parents or anything like that. It’s just more, you know, your self-expression, is it, or?
[00:24:29] Jason Wong: So, my, my hair was like this probably for about 12, 10, 12 years. So most, most, whenever I go to a high school reunion, especially for those that haven’t been one before and they see me, they go, oh, you know, Wongie, what’s going on with your hair? you know, I love it. You know, all this. yeah, so my, so my hair is, you know, sort of thick and wiry and I, and I was wondering… Yeah, what it would look like, yeah, I’ve got this fro basically.
[00:24:52] Jason Wong: I think I was one of the, definitely one of the few Asians walking around Sydney with a fro, but I do notice there are a few more of, a few more of us out there. I was trying, we keep trying to come up with a name for Asians with Afros that are the best one that I can come up with is, frozens.
[00:25:12] Jason Wong: I feel my other frozen brothers and sisters out there and we give a head nod to each other, you know, when we see each other. and, and sort of getting back to that, authentic me, it was, taps into that, not worrying anymore about what other people think.

[00:25:27] Lesson 5: The most important gift you can give your loved ones is your time.

[00:25:27] Jeffery Wang: Mate, well that moves us to lesson number five. The most important gift you can give your loved ones is your time. Yeah, this reminds me of that talk you did at the Fringe Festival.
[00:25:38] Jason Wong: it’s a reflection on how I was brought up and, how I was parented and how I’m parenting now. like I’ve said, you know, I had everything, you know, I had it, I had all the trappings, had all the trappings. I was getting not just more pocket money than most other kids.
[00:25:52] Jason Wong: I was getting 10 times more pocket money than most other kids, at the time it was fine, it was good. I didn’t think anything of it. it’s. Only when I’ve got to be the older and reflected back on my relationship with my parents, my dad in particular, and then obviously the relationship that I want to have with my kids and all that stuff that I got, all that wealth and, you know, and great gifts and great holidays and so on.
[00:26:18] Jason Wong: Yeah, I definitely appreciate them. But all I wanted was a dad. I never, I never did anything with my dad. My dad never came to anything that I did at school. I said I was, pretty high achiever at school. So, there were lots of things he would come to. He didn’t come to a rugby game.
[00:26:33] Jason Wong: Didn’t come to an athletics carnival. Didn’t come to a play. didn’t teach me how to fish or throw a footy or, anything like that. you could definitely argue that I’ve massively overcorrected, you know, because I pretty much go to everything of my kids things now.
[00:26:47] Jason Wong: You know, I’ve chosen a career where I’ve got extreme flexibility, so it’s very rare for me to miss anything to do with my kids. you know, I’m really pleased with the relationship that I have with my kids, and I’m really pleased with. you know, the balance we have in, me being quite involved in their lives, but also, definitely taking a step back and letting them just live their lives.
[00:27:09] Jason Wong: and that’s only from spending a lot of time with them and understanding how all three of them tick and what they need and what they don’t need.
[00:27:15] Jeffery Wang: Well, what strikes me about that particular, talk that you gave about, what it means to be a man is exactly that, right? You know, the society tells you that man should be a provider and should be sort of strong and, you know, be, be out there and success is defined by what you can produce. I felt what you said about what it means to, and sort of redefining what’s, what it means to be a man, that was really revolutionary in terms of the idea, right.
[00:27:42] Jeffery Wang: And you certainly lived it.
[00:27:45] Jason Wong: thanks, mate, you know, and that’s definitely, I mean, a lot of the stuff which I spoke about in that talk was stuff that I tried that I realized worked and which I continued doing, and so just picking up what you said a second about being provider,
[00:27:58] Jason Wong: As men, we’re expected to be the provider, but the provider has always been in the context of providing the money and the shelter and the housing and the trappings of a good life. Let’s pivot that a little bit and let’s still be providers. But let’s be the providers of love, and insight, and knowledge, and fun, and laughter, and support, emotional support.
[00:28:27] Jason Wong: I think there’s definitely still a role for men as providers, but we just need to pivot. Our definition of what providing means. So, it’s not, it’s not just about bringing the cash in.
[00:28:36] Jason Wong: this lesson for me is, again, sounds a bit cliche, but, yeah, the most valuable thing you can give your loved ones is your time.
[00:28:42] Jason Wong: Time is the only finite resource that we all have, and look, I, I’ve definitely spoken to a few older dads. Kids either grown up and left the house or not far off it. And they’ve sort of said to me, they’ve said to me, we’ve had these conversations, they said to me, mate, I wish I’d realized what you realized earlier, because I feel like I’ve missed out a lot on my kids, upbringing, you know, they’ve got, Okay, relationships with their kids, some better than others, some a little bit dysfunctional, but some of them sort of, well, yeah, I probably spent too much time focusing on my career and making, you know, megabucks and not actually being there for my family.
[00:29:17] Jeffery Wang: Well, you can’t get it back, right? Like you said, it’s a finite resource time. You can’t get it back when it’s gone. I suppose that that’s why we’re having this conversation. You know, we hope to share wisdom like this, and again, might be, might sound a bit unconventional, but yet, these are the sort of things that I find probably most valuable to our listeners.
[00:29:36] Jeffery Wang: So that I think is very, very insightful.

[00:29:39] Lesson 6: Strive to win but strive harder to lose gracefully.

[00:29:39] Jason Wong: So, lesson number six, strive to win, but strive harder to lose gracefully. Now I’m assuming you’re talking about sports.
[00:29:47] Jason Wong: sort of, it’s definitely inspired by sport. Look, it’s, I’m reminded of it every weekend when I watch my kids play sport. There is way too much focus on winning, for the sake of winning, and not enough focus on just trying to do the best that you can, again, it does come from comments like, my childhood, I told you, I won most things. I won everything. I hated losing. When I lost, I was pretty unpleasant to be around, because of, you know, what, the standards that I set myself and because it was, not something that, that happened very often. But, I remember, you know, the whole lose gracefully comment there is not, I’m pretty sure that when I was younger, not only did I really take pleasure in winning.
[00:30:31] Jason Wong: I think I took pleasure in other people losing as well, you know, and so, and so, um, I, I, so I’ve, I’ve got, like, I’ll talk specifically about my 10-year-old who’s, you know, pretty decent on the athletics field. and. What I say to her regularly, you know, you know, after a race or before a race or, I say, look, yeah, try, always try to win, win, try to win, but it’s okay if you don’t win.
[00:30:58] Jason Wong: And if, you know, be happy for the person or the people that beat you, have, have a bit of respect for them, see if you can learn from them. But ultimately, you know, just try and do your best and, and try to do your best for that day. It’s not necessarily, you get a PB every time you run out there, and afterwards we can have a bit of a chat.
[00:31:16] Jason Wong: And even if you come last, that’s fine. We can have a chat afterwards and find out, well, why’d you come last? What’s happening? You’re tired? Is something on your mind? You got a sore foot?
[00:31:25] Jason Wong: I guess because, you know, that, that focus on winning that I had so much for so much of my life was ending up in so much disaster, from a, my emotional resilience perspective and just relationships that I’ve, that I’ve had.
[00:31:39] Jason Wong: It was in some ways it’s related to that, you know, it’s okay to be wrong, you know, thing. It’s like, it’s okay to lose. okay not to win. and what I had to learn was how to lose gracefully. I had to overcome that sore loser thing.
[00:31:53] Jason Wong: Well, now if I lose, I’ll usually come up with five reasons, all of which are my fault. And then, and, you know, I usually reconcile that and break out, well, you know, why did that happen? Did I actually, you know, maybe I did my best.
[00:32:07] Jason Wong: Oh, okay. Coming third was actually bloody, I couldn’t have done any better than that. I was pretty happy with that rather than being devastated that, I didn’t win.
[00:32:15] Jeffery Wang: Yeah, I 100 percent agree with that. And I’ve certainly, been a parent at these sporting events on the sidelines. And often I find myself getting lost in that competitiveness and, all that. And I realized that. We’re probably teaching the kids the wrong things when we focus way too much on winning. but you know, in terms of losing gracefully and, I like that word grace, graceful, in, understanding what that means, and sometimes, you know, the other kids were just simply better, the other kids were more talented.
[00:32:44] Jason Wong: Yeah.
[00:32:44] Jeffery Wang: They probably worked harder. They trained better, they executed better on the day and, they were ready for it. you know, and, and sometimes it’s important to teach your kids to be inspired by their competitors, you know, this is how good you could be. You know, watch these guys, you know, this is what you’d be aiming for. What they did really well, that’s what you should strive to become. You know, I like the fact that you focus on effort. it’s all, it’s all about controlling what’s within your control. So yeah, great lesson.
[00:33:14] Jeffery Wang: Thanks for sharing that.

[00:33:16] Lesson 7: You never know enough.

[00:33:16] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number seven. and I’m, I’m sure I’ve heard this one before, but you said, you never know enough. It sounds like another, that’s another way of saying never stop learning.
[00:33:26] Jason Wong: I mean, it’s, look, it had to be in there because. You know, I was a bit of a know it all, I suppose. I was definitely, the sort of person that believed that what I didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. You know, I sort of had that sort of attitude but I, I suppose one way of demonstrating how embedded this is in our lives now.
[00:33:47] Jason Wong: So, after school, not every day, but most days, I’ll ask my kids four questions.
[00:33:54] Jason Wong: what did you learn today? What did you do that was fun? What did you do that was hard? And what did you do that was kind? So, in relating to this point, so I want them to try and experience those four things every day. Want them to constantly look for, you know, you’re at school.
[00:34:16] Jason Wong: They’re obviously to learn, but what you’re learning at school may not necessarily be stuff that a teacher’s told you or if you read from a digital textbook. You know, you might’ve learned something else about yourself, for example. so, I’ve sort of encouraged this in our kids. And my wife and I have to answer these questions as well.
[00:34:33] Jason Wong: So, so we’re not going, obviously, going to school. And so, we’ve also got to say, what did we learn today? And sometimes it might have been, you know, a white paper that I was reading that I could regurgitate, but other times it’s, you know, learning a little bit more about, someone that I knew that I didn’t know before, or learning something about some situation.
[00:34:55] Jason Wong: It’s, yeah, like, I mean, it’s, I probably don’t need to talk much about this because, you know, lots of people keep saying, you know, you’ve got to learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, but, it’s something which is important enough to remind my kids every day that, every day we get to learn something new and interesting. don’t forget that.
[00:35:13] Jeffery Wang: That’s actually quite interesting because that wasn’t where I thought the lesson was about, you know, and like you said, sort of, you know, never stop learning is important, but it sounds like this was more around, having the right attitude towards, life, in terms of humility. In terms of not knowing, realizing you don’t know everything and so that you can approach life with the same kind of curiosity and, the, the ability to grow from that. So that’s definitely not exactly what I thought it was about. So, yeah, I learned something new, and I will be using those four questions for my kids as well.
[00:35:46] Jeffery Wang: So, thanks for sharing that.

[00:35:47] Lesson 8: Everyone has something to offer.

[00:35:47] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number 8, everyone has something to offer.
[00:35:49] Jason Wong: so, look, this is primarily about, me learning how to respect diverse opinions, listen to people that I wouldn’t ordinarily think that, would be worth listening to. Again, comes from that little bubble that I grew up in and believe that, you know, only certain people worth listening to, my dad’s words, still ring in my ear of, how he would basically assess people based on their utility, and he would, you know, I definitely got the message growing up that some people were listening to and some were not, whereas I’ve moved towards believing that. everyone is worth listening to.
[00:36:27] Jason Wong: Everyone has got something to offer. you know, I suppose ultimately, it’s what diversity and inclusion is all about. And it’s something which, you know, I didn’t think too much about until I sort of started working a little bit more and started to understand why diversity is important.
[00:36:43] Jason Wong: all these things are related. It goes back to that whole, be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yes, go into a room with someone who doesn’t speak English very well and has got a completely different worldview from you. You’re going to feel bloody uncomfortable. I can guarantee you’ll walk out of there learning a lot, you know, if, you know, about the situation you’re talking about, but about yourself, about them.
[00:37:04] Jason Wong: and yeah, and obviously try to set up mechanisms where you’re explicit about including these people in conversations.
[00:37:11] Jeffery Wang: This is actually a very interesting perspective on diversity and inclusion, right? So typically, when we talk about diversity and inclusion, it’s always about gender or race or sexual orientation. But what’s really interesting about your story is that you have a, I suppose you’re part of an in group of a dominant culture, and that is a, an affluent, influential family, and a very strong set of, values that, you live in this this world where, you’ve got a set of rules that you follow very strongly and, you somehow, you’re able to sort of Uh, see the bubble or recognize the bubble you live in and, and, acknowledge the diversity outside of that bubble.
[00:37:57] Jeffery Wang: I find that very, very fascinating, because typically, you think of yourself as the outsider, if you’re not part of the dominant culture, and, and yet you’re able to see that and, see the value in all these other people.
[00:38:10] Jeffery Wang: So, I guess, it probably stems from the fact that it’s that awareness that being part of that family has brought you, you know, that you’ve excluded those people that you feel didn’t have any value. And yet later on appreciating that it did bring something to the table. It’s just that you have to be open to it. but yeah, that’s very insightful. Thank you.

[00:38:31] Lesson 9: Don’t stay silent, call out unfairness and injustice.

[00:38:31] Jeffery Wang: lesson number nine. I agree, but this is very difficult to do, lesson number nine, you say, don’t stay silent, call out unfairness and injustice and take action. that’s easy if you’re someone in, in an affluent family and have a whole lot of power. how does an average person do that?
[00:38:48] Jason Wong: no, it’s interesting that you say that because, oh, definitely the more a lot of the affluent people that I used to hang out with and still hang out with now, but I remember even when I was a teenage kid, a lot of the extremely wealthy families that I used to hang around, weren’t really aware of the unfairness and the injustices that were happening around the world, let alone doing anything about them.
[00:39:09] Jason Wong: Because. There was no unfairness or injustice in their lives.
[00:39:13] Jason Wong: I remember sitting at home at a friend’s place and we were watching some news item on the Iraq war. And there was a story on people flying over, I think from Australia, who were horrified by, what was happening, but they were flying over there to be human shields.
[00:39:30] Jason Wong: and I remember my friend’s mum, she just made this comment, we were watching this article on the news, and she said, oh, what are those people, what are those people doing, as if they’re going to make a difference.
[00:39:41] Jason Wong: And, and I don’t, I don’t know why that stuck with me. There was something on that day where I just thought, far out, like you could make a difference, you know, you, you’ve got access to resources, you know, and people and money that could probably make a bloody difference. You know, these people that are flying over there are like on minimum wage.
[00:40:01] Jason Wong: Little things like that, I think it was also when I started working for those, you know, NGOs and not for profits, one of them was filled with activists, and I could see how little steps, little, little, little bits of, effort from lots of people could make a difference.
[00:40:20] Jason Wong: I definitely had the mentality that if I don’t think I’m actually going to have any significant impact here, I don’t think I’m going to bother. But, you know, I’ve sort of learned that I suppose you spend most of your life, meeting lots of different people, just planting seeds everywhere.
[00:40:34] Jason Wong: You know, who knows what impact the conversation that you had with someone on the train will have, you know, and, and if you can start a small movement and get a small gathering on, a cause that you believe in. Well, we should do it.
[00:40:47] Jason Wong: If you believe in something passionately enough, do something, even if it’s small. There are so many stories out there of people that have started with just some small gesture towards something they believe passionately in. And then, you know, lo and behold, they’ve set up something which is, quite impactful now.
[00:41:03] Jason Wong: I suppose the final point I’d make about that is that being a man talk, I mentioned that one of the predominant, The characteristics of traditional male archetype is to be assertive and, I mentioned at the beginning of that talk that assertive usually meant, you know, loud and dominant and aggressive and being the boss.
[00:41:22] Jason Wong: And like I did with all those other attributes of the male, traditional male archetype, I flipped that and said, yeah, let’s still be assertive. But let’s be assertive by calling out injustices, let’s be assertive by, you know, calling out unfairness, calling out your mates when they’re being, you know, probably a bit too sexist than they should be.
[00:41:38] Jason Wong: I mean, I’ve had conversations with my teenage daughter now about the way that, people talk to each other, all the sexism and the horrifying things that are happening. But I’ve sort of said to her, like, you know, I said those things. I acted like that. I’m horrified by it now.
[00:41:55] Jason Wong: but you know, I’ve, I’ve learned and I, I think, perhaps it was for me as well. There would have been a few friends and family members that actually cared for me. They gave me a bit of a tap on the shoulder and said, yeah, you probably shouldn’t be saying that or doing that.
[00:42:08] Jason Wong: Yeah, and I think it goes back to your point about being authentic as well, what the saying is that it’s, the standards that you walk past is the standards you condone. And, and if you don’t, do anything about it, even though it’s something small, even, even a small thing, could potentially end up being a big difference.
[00:42:25] Jeffery Wang: So yeah, I’d certainly take that point. And, I agree with that, that we should, even if it’s something very small, that we shouldn’t be a bystander.
[00:42:33] Jason Wong: yeah, yeah.
[00:42:34] Jeffery Wang: Yep. Agree with that.
[00:42:36] Jeffery Wang: So, lesson number 10. and, but before I jump into lesson number 10, I’m going to throw you a curve ball. if you listen to any of our podcasts before you know that we’ll, we’ll ask you. What have you unlearned? You know, and by that, what I meant is that something that you held to be gospel truth when you’re starting out, you know, maybe in your twenties, and then, later on, you found out that just wasn’t the case.
[00:42:58] Jason Wong: Well, you can argue that almost everything that I’ve said today was, you know, it was all about me unlearning stuff, but,
[00:43:04] Jeffery Wang: That’s true, isn’t it? Yes.
[00:43:06] Jason Wong: And I think it’s from one of the first comments I made to you, you know, from, from private school boy and crazy rich Asian to just trying to be a top bloke, you know, that’s essentially my life story, so what, but, if you, probably actually, it does sort of tie into the last point. so, so, spoiler alert, that probably the biggest thing that I had to unlearn was that it’s just not about me.
[00:43:32] Jason Wong: I had a very,
[00:43:33] Jeffery Wang: perfect segue.

[00:43:35] Lesson 10: Put yourself last and first.

[00:43:35] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number 10, put yourself last and first. So, what you’re saying is not about you. So, what do you mean by put yourself last and first?
[00:43:45] Jason Wong: yeah, so, so, it’s, so, yeah, so, so, my last point is, you know, a bit of a, a bit of a riddle. put yourself last and first. so, the put yourself last bit is very much about recognising that it’s not all about you. And recognizing that, to try and try and have a more giving nature, you know, not, not just look for opportunities where you might benefit.
[00:44:10] Jason Wong: first thing that has popped up in my mind was a few years back, I was a volunteer youth mentor, for, you know, youth organization. And they asked me to speak at one of their presentation days and I remember, I don’t really remember anything that I said in this speech other than what I’m about to tell you now.
[00:44:30] Jason Wong: I think one of the questions they wanted me to answer was like, why, why do you do this? Why do you volunteer your time to be a youth mentor? And yeah, there are lots of reasons why, you know, I’m helping people, makes me feel good. but ultimately what it came down to was.
[00:44:45] Jason Wong: I’m doing this because I can. And that was it. It wasn’t, I was, I was trying to, trying to remove the motivation for that act from any self-serving purpose. And I was also trying to remove the motivation from, you know, I suppose just the, just what, what’s in it for me, moving away from that what’s in it for me attitude to what’s in it for everyone.
[00:45:10] Jason Wong: Now what’s in it for all the other people are going to be. impacted and I was sort of, you know, learn to let other people, get recognition for stuff that they’ve done. Look, I think one of my, another one of my little mantras for any teams that I’ve led and, you know, and I’ll mention this sometimes to people that I’m coaching is that, a good leader will, Like, deflect credit, not completely deflect credit, but take credit collectively as a team rather than, you know, hogging all the credit for him or herself or themselves.
[00:45:42] Jason Wong: but they will also, you know, take responsibility for something that goes wrong, even if it, even if it’s pretty clear that it was one particular person that completely stuffed something up. I suppose it was basically a call, it was a call for just being really empathetic, you know, just making sure you’re constantly thinking about how this is impacting other people as well.
[00:46:02] Jason Wong: Don’t just think about how this is making you feel. And, you know, whether it’s like something could make you feel, elated and completely filled with joy. But if you take another five seconds to think about the impact for the 10 other people that are going to actually be devastated, you might, you might want to, you know, dampen your joy a bit if it means that other people aren’t going to be devastated.
[00:46:23] Jason Wong: so, it’s about empathy. It’s about being a bit more humble. So, so that’s the put yourself last. Okay. Put yourself last and first. So don’t forget about you. I mean, there’s so much, there’s so much in anything you, you want to read about, you know, the business world, leadership, parenting, effective relationships where.
[00:46:48] Jason Wong: You’ve got to take time out for yourself. You’ve got to take self-care. I think ultimately, it’s really hard for you to be effective in anything if you haven’t sorted your own shit out first. whatever it is, whether it’s a job, whether it’s a, you know, a volunteer role, whether it’s your marriage, whether it’s parenting, you know, it’s really, really hard to be effective.
[00:47:10] Jason Wong: not just because your mind is not Optimized. Definitely, you might as not think straight. You’re not making logical decisions as well. If you’ve got a whole lot of other stuff that’s going on and, and you’re not, you’re not dedicating as much time to, to focus on it. but it’s also, I think you mentioned earlier, it’s like the role modelling that, you know, it’s really hard to role model, whether it’s your, the employees that work for you, your peer managers, your kids.
[00:47:36] Jason Wong: If you’re saying something and you’re demonstrating the complete opposite behaviour. so that’s what I meant by put yourself first. So, so one of the, I’m going back to that kind leadership organization that, that I was working for. One of the things that we did was we defined leadership, kind leadership in these pillars of kindness.
[00:47:59] Jason Wong: So, mentioned earlier that kind leadership was about making everything better for everyone, but we sort of tried to define everyone. So, it was like, you know, kindness to people. So, like kindness to your people was like part of it. Kindness to community. So that’s like a different sort of group of people and external stakeholders.
[00:48:17] Jason Wong: There was kindness to, the environment as well. Kindness to customers. And the, the one that we, that was it initially. And it took us a while to work out that, oh far out, we left out the most important pillar, kindness to self. And, and that, and that’s something which, you know, definitely when I was working for that organization, but even, you know, it pervades through a lot of stuff that I’m, that I’m doing now, my leadership coaching, you know, about thinking about you, you know, I, I have this little thing called leadership in multiple directions where I talk about, you know, how do you lead?
[00:48:55] Jason Wong: Cause when we think about leadership, we often talk about leading down, how it’s sort of a boss, sort of, and, and that’s absolutely, you know, massive part of leadership. But I also talk about leadership up, I talk about leadership across, I talk about leadership out, and also talk about leadership in, and leadership in is very much that.
[00:49:13] Jason Wong: That self-work piece, liking yourself, you know, and understanding why you like yourself. and if you don’t like yourself, try and, you know, spend some time with yourself to understand why. Or, you know, ask other, ask people that you trust. I mean, there’s a whole lot of work that, that can be done on yourself, that will, you know, improve everything.
[00:49:35] Jeffery Wang: Now, and that’s what I thought first, but now, now that you explained it that way, it makes perfect sense here. You are ultimately you’ve got to be in the position to, I mean, you, you want to Do good for others, but ultimately, you know, if you’re altruistic, at a detriment to yourself, it’s just not going to be sustainable.
[00:49:52] Jeffery Wang: So, it’s, it’s understanding, that balance in, in focusing on yourself and getting yourself ready,
[00:49:58] Jason Wong: Yeah, yeah.
[00:50:00] jeffery-wang_1_11-28-2023_200026: yeah, that’s, that’s a really important life lesson. And I think it goes on to, to your point about that sustainable leadership. if you want to be kind, a lot of it. It starts with being kind to yourself. So, thank you so much for sharing your lessons, Jason. That was a lot of fun. I’ve certainly enjoyed it and learned a bit myself, as always, you never cease to, surprise me in terms of, you know, the, the kind of insights you provide in life. You know, clearly, you’re a very deep thinker and, and you, you know, a lot of things happened in your life that makes you the person that you are. thank you, for your time today.
[00:50:33] Jason Wong: No, thanks. Thanks, Yeah, no, was, was good. It’s good to, you know, further reflect on, further reflect on your own reflections, you know. So that sounds very Inception or very Meta.
[00:50:47] jeffery-wang_1_11-28-2023_200026: All right. 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. We’re joined today by our special guest, Jason Wong. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by the Professional Development Forum. don’t forget to leave us a review or comment. You can even email us at podcast at 10lessonslearned. com. That’s podcast at number 10lessonslearned. 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.
[00:51:23] jeffery-wang_1_11-28-2023_200026: Thanks for tuning in and stay safe, everyone.
[00:51:26]

 

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

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