Jerry Lee is a cofounder at Wonsulting and an ex-Senior Strategy & Operations Manager at Google & used to lead Product Strategy at Lucid. After graduating college, Jerry was hired as the youngest analyst in his organization by being promoted multiple times in his first 2 years. After he left Google, he was the youngest person to lead a strategy team at Lucid. Jerry started Wonsulting to help millions around the world land their dream jobs. Through his work, he’s spoken at 250+ events & amassed 400,000+ followers across LinkedIn, TikTok & Instagram and has reached 100M+ jobseekers globally. In addition, his work has been featured on Forbes, Newsweek, Business Insider, Yahoo! News, LinkedIn & elected as the 2020 LinkedIn Top Voice for Tech.
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Table of Contents
Welcome to your ValiantCEO exclusive interview! Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell us about yourself.
Jerry Lee: My name is Jerry Lee and I’m currently the cofounder at Wonsulting. I come from a first generation, low income household where I did not have the support or knowledge for me to navigate the hiring processes at companies. Despite that, I was the first intern at Google from my alma mater, Babson College and later hired as the youngest analyst at Google & later broke multiple promotion records there. It was through those experiences that led me to starting Wonsulting & later going full-time into the project. Fast forward to today, I devote my time & attention to think about how I can help non-traditional jobseekers around the world have a fair chance at their dream jobs.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get to where you are today? Give us some lessons you learned along the way.
Jerry Lee: Growing up, I looked up to my father as my role model. He spent his career in the tire & wheel distribution business. Once my family immigrated to the United States from South Korea, that is when he started his own business. From there, I saw how hard he had to work to not only build his company from the ground up but also provide for our entire family. From there, I knew I wanted to be in business & eventually start my own business.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned watching my Dad build his business is that he felt like he controlled his future – everything was within his control. Therefore he worked endlessly – from 7 AM to 9 PM, everyday to make sure our family had enough to sustain a life in the US. I implemented this learning throughout my career – from struggling to land an internship to landing my first promotion.
Tell us about your business, what does the company do? What is unique about the company?
Jerry Lee: Wonsulting was founded in 2019 with a mission of turning underdogs into winners: helping those who come from non-traditional backgrounds to get them into their dream careers. To do this, Wonsulting offers 1:1 coaching services, online course & The20, a career accelerator program. So far, Wonsulting helped tens of thousands receive offers from top companies including the Google, Deloitte and Goldman Sachs.
The unique value proposition of Wonsulting is that we help those who do not come from traditional background. We pride ourselves in the free resources & content we provide on our website www.wonsulting.com/resources & our social media.
How to become a CEO? Some will focus on qualities, others on degrees, how would you answer that question?
Jerry Lee: The path to being the CEO can be summarized in 1 word: ownership. Running a company, I noticed that I will never know the answers to everything. Therefore I have to think about how I can have processes, people or resources to get those answers. The better you can establish this process – the more CEO you will become.
What are the secrets to becoming a successful CEO? Who inspires you, who are your role models and why? Illustrate your choices.
Jerry Lee: The #1 secret to being a successful CEO is empathy. At the core essence of any great running business, it is happy, engaged & motivated employees. A single CEO cannot spend their time to manage every aspects of the business, therefore a team is required. I’ve learned my experiences first hand when we’ve built our team from 2 co-founders to a team of 25+.
Many CEOs fall into the trap of being all over the place. What are the top activities a CEO should focus on to be the best leader the company needs? Explain.
Jerry Lee: The 2 top activities a CEO should focus on are (1) Proactively identifying new areas of investment and (2) Reactively working with your teams to handle the biggest blockers.
(1) It is incredibly important for a CEO to set the direction of a company and trickle down those priorities into projects for each team member within the company. Without this, it disengages employees because they don’t feel like their work directly impacts the mission of the company.
(2) A CEO must hold themselves and their teams accountable to delivering the biggest priority projects. Therefore by removing the biggest blockers for each team, a CEO can spend their time on the most impactful work for their respective teams.
The Covid-19 Pandemic put the leadership skills of many to the test, what were some of the most difficult challenges that you faced as a CEO/Leader in the past year? Please list and explain in detail.
Jerry Lee: As a leader, I’ve had to adjust my personal & my team’s working styles to adjust to the new norm at the same time. Often, I feel most forget that leaders are also humans too and need time to adjust to varying working conditions. But also teams hold their leaders to high expectations to support them through these changes. I quickly learned that and made sure to meet with my team multiple times a week, host multiple team social bonding events & overcommunicate company-wide news.
What are some of the greatest mistakes you’ve noticed some business leaders made during these unprecedented times? What are the takeaways you gleaned from those mistakes?
Jerry Lee: The greatest mistake I’ve noticed business leaders make is letting their ego get in the way of their judgement. Leaders have to realize they hire and delegate work to their respective teams. By delegating & trusting the teams to know more than them, leaders cannot let their biases dictate their business decisions. It is a delicate balancing act between “trusting your gut” and reaching out to your teams for their guidance and support.
In your opinion, what changes played the most critical role in enabling your business to survive/remain profitable, or maybe even thrive? What lessons did all this teach you?
Jerry Lee: The biggest change for me has been setting up business systems to take over menial tasks that I (or my team) will not have to do. For example, our teams use email automations to continuously check-in with our current clients at scale. We had thought through the option of building out a team to check-in on each client, but figured there were better use of budget & headcount at the stage of the company we’re in today.
What is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Jerry Lee: Scale!
You already shared a lot of insights with our readers and we thank you for your generosity. Normally, leaders are asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is the most useless skill you have learned, at school or during your career?
Jerry Lee: The most useless skill I’ve learned is “aiming for perfection.” School teaches us that success = perfection on each homework, quiz and test. However, I’ve learned that business is all about how you can execute, adapt to changing market conditions, and keep your head high despite the rough times.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jerry Lee for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jerry Lee or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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