how to own your emotion and lead with vulnerability (with Jason Yee from GrantMe) featured image

How To Own Your Emotion And Lead With Vulnerability (with Jason Yee from GrantMe)

In this episode, Tim is joined by Jason Yee, CEO at GrantMe. Listen as they talk about Jason’s transition from pro hockey to tech and how his ability to be vulnerable has helped him build not only an amazing company but gave him the tools he needed to build self-awareness.

Interview Highlights

  • Jason is the CEO of GrantMe. He co-founded it with his fiancé and co-founder, Madison. [1:50]
  • GrantMe is an education planning platform to create a future full of options for students. They help students get into their top choice school and graduate debt-free by accessing grants, bursaries and scholarships. [2:04]
  • Jason shares a bit of a back story of how he got started at GrantMe. He wanted to become a NHL hockey player when he was younger and was very focused on that journey. Ultimately, that didn’t pan out, but he did end up playing professional hockey and en route played university hockey for UBC. [2:29]
  • To pay for hockey and to pay for school, Jason started businesses. He created an online hockey training company called Train 2.0 and that’s where he started to learn about online content, SaaS software and integrations and other tools. [2:59]
  • When Madison started GrantMe, she wanted Jason to come on board to help with the tech setup. It was a natural evolution as Jason took all the tools from his online hockey training company into GrantMe, and then built the tech and the team out. [3:46]
  • Jason shares a bit of a back story of how Madison started GrantMe. Madison went from being a captain of the women’s soccer team at UBC and winning the national championship, to helping the students at UBC graduate debt-free. That’s how it evolved, from the need of the students and then Madison solving her own problem. [4:45]
  • The internal vision at GrantMe is to develop next generation leaders. [6:48]

We believe that leaders create other leaders. So, leaders don’t create followers. They’re not just shepherding sheep around, but they’re going in and anointing other leaders and creating more leadership.” — Jason Yee

  • One big thing that they do with everyone at GrantMe is calendaring. [9:39]

At GrantMe, building a better world of work is about creating that ‘and’ instead of the ‘but’.” — Jason Yee

  • The idea of calendaring is from Cindy Bokitch, and advisor at GrantMe, and previous COO of SmartSweets. [11:31]
  • Jason thinks that vulnerability is critical in leadership. [14:30]

Vulnerability without competence doesn’t actually work. As a leader, you need to also have competence along with your vulnerability and then it works.” — Jason Yee

  • Vulnerability is an important leadership quality, because it can create massive trust, buy-in, and alignment. [15:56]
  • You can overshare on the vulnerable side and people can start to believe how vulnerable you are and forget about the competence side. [18:10]
  • Jason shares his personal story around anger and ways on how to express anger in a productive way. [18:31]
  • Some of the tools that helped Jason express anger in a productive way are hypnosis and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Language is the interface for your brain, so with NLP, you can represent your emotions and feelings through language. [23:55]
  • One big thing for Jason is being aware of anger. If it was a feeling and if it was a color, where would it be in my body? And then taking a breath and just asking, could I change the color on that? Could I turn the intensity down? [24:28]
  • Is anger a natural trait? Or is it a learned behavior? The answer is that it’s a learned behavior. And so what’s key is your repetition, your focus, and your awareness on that. You just gotta stay consistent and stick to your habits. [28:03]
  • The biggest thing Jason has been learning in leadership recently is, it’s not black or white. It’s not integrity or not entitlement. And it’s not a vulnerability or no vulnerability. It’s about finding the right balance. [37:21]

Vulnerability without competence or too much competence without enough displays of vulnerability doesn’t allow you to have a trusting relationship with someone.” — Jason Yee

Meet Our Guest

Jason is the co-founder and CEO of GrantMe. He runs GrantMe with co-founder and fiance, Madison Guy. He’s passionate about developing next-generation leaders and building the leading education planning platform for a future full of options. 

Jason also runs an online hockey training business called Train 2.0. When he’s not leading those teams, you can find him at the hockey rink, on the tennis court, or on the slopes.

Photo Of Yason Yee

The business you build is your own version of a perfect world. It’s like your opportunity to build your own utopia if you’re the founder.” — Jason Yee

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Read the Transcript:

We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.

Jason Yee

Vulnerability without competence doesn’t allow you to have a trusting relationship with someone. And you know, too much competence without enough displays of vulnerability doesn’t allow you to have a trusting relationship with someone, right? If everything’s perfect, they’re not going to believe you when you say, Hey, you know, you need to make this better, because like I said before, you’re unapproachable. Right? But if you’re always vulnerable, no one’s going to trust you, because how competent is this person? 

Tim Reitsma

Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. We’re on a mission to build a better world of work and to help you build happy and productive workplaces. I’m your host, Tim Reitsma! And today on the show, Jason Yee, CEO of GrantMe, an education planning platform, talks about his leadership journey, transition from pro hockey to tech, and how vulnerability in leadership has helped him overcome anger.

Hey, Jason! Welcome to the People Managing People podcast. It’s so good to have you here. You and I met kind of randomly through LinkedIn a few years ago and kind of developed a friendship throughout the years. And so, yeah it’s a pleasure to have you on the podcast. Finally!

Jason Yee

Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Ever since you mentioned this, I was hoping you’d invite me. But no I was honestly humbled to be you know, invited on the show. So, I’m super excited to chat. 

Tim Reitsma

That’s awesome. And before we get into it, we’re going to have kind of a personal deep conversation, but before we get into it, why don’t you tell our listeners, our audience a little bit about you, about what you’re up to, and your journey. I mean, you’ve gone from pro hockey into leading a tech company. So, walk us through that a little bit. 

Jason Yee

Yeah, it’s a little bit of a, I guess, a different pathway. You know, I’m the CEO of GrantMe I co-founded it with my fiancé and co-founder, Madison. She really founded it and then did a good job at recruiting.

And we’re an education planning platform to create a future full of options for students. So, we help students get into their top-choice school and graduate debt-free by accessing grants, bursaries, and scholarships. And you know, it’s a tech platform so we’ve kind of taken the education consultant model and flipped it on its head and made it, you know, digitally native.

And that’s how we’ve been able to scale and grow. But how I got here was, yeah, a bit of an interesting story. I was hell-bent on becoming an NHL hockey player when I was younger and I you know, was very, very focused on that journey and that was my dream. Ultimately that didn’t pan out, but I did end up playing professional hockey and en route played at university hockey for UBC.

And I was always sort of an impatient hockey player and more of an entrepreneur than I realized. To pay for hockey and to pay for school, I started businesses, but the whole time I was thinking I was a hockey player, not an entrepreneur. And so, you know, naturally, I realized, you know, I, if I’m playing pro hockey or if I’m away all the time, I can’t be coaching on the ice.

I need to do this digitally so I created an online hockey training company. It’s called Train 2.0 and that’s where I started to learn about online content and SaaS software and integrations and tools and that stuff. That’s where I met our developer, who’s still our engineering manager at GrantMe now.

And so, when Madison started GrantMe, it’s a great story. I don’t know if maybe we can get into that, but she wanted me to come on board to help with the tech setup. It just was like a natural evolution to, you know, start to take all the tools I took from my online hockey training company into GrantMe, and then just build the tech and the team out there.

And that’s kind of how I got into tech. 

Tim Reitsma

Wow. And I think it’s a cool story. Maybe I’m a little biased, but I don’t think so. I think it’s that idea of, Hey, I want to be a pro hockey player. And you needed it to fund that, so you started businesses, not realizing you’re an actual entrepreneur along that journey.

And then making that shift into an entrepreneurial play and then and then getting into, to GrantMe. And yeah, it is a pretty cool story on even how Madison started that company. So, why don’t you give us just a little taste of, or just, yeah, touch on that a little bit, because I think it’s a story our listeners need to hear.

Jason Yee

Yeah. It’s such a great story. And of course, you know, I’m biased ’cause Madison’s my, gonna be my life partner. But so she was the captain of the women’s soccer team at UBC and they won a national championship. But what a lot of people don’t know is that in her second year, she was actually considering dropping out of school because this athletic scholarship that she was given was way too little.

And she didn’t quite do her math right in grade 12. And she’s like, Oh, I don’t have enough money to go to school. That’s when she got, you know, gritty and hungry and buckled down and research to how to win grants and bursaries and scholarships. And then she ended up winning over $50,000 in awards.

But she graduated with money in the bank which was really cool. So she took that and then started helping students at UBC. And everyone was just drawn to her and what she could provide, which was, you know, graduating debt-free. And then it just kind of went from there where students were like, Oh, you can help me with scholarships. Great. Could you also help me get into UBC? 

And then it was like, Hey, I heard you helped get into UBC, can you also help us get into McMaster or whatever? So that’s how it evolved, was really just from the need of the students and then Madison solving her own problem. So that was a that’s how she got started.

And of course, she’s done really well with it, got all sorts of accolades you know, as a, as an entrepreneur and female founder. But yeah that’s her backstory and I always like, like sharing that one too. 

Tim Reitsma

That’s a great story. Just that, that, like you said, that grit and that need for, Hey, I don’t want to drop out of school, I need to figure this out. And ended up, you know, starting a business, starting a company out of that. 

And so, you are now the CEO of GrantMe and the team is grown over the last couple of years that I’ve known you, but I’m really curious, Jason, what is your definition of leadership? What does it mean to be a leader?

Jason Yee

Well, you it’s funny because our internal vision at GrantMe is to develop next-generation leaders. And part of that is you know, we believe that leaders create other leaders. So, leaders don’t create followers, like they don’t, you know, they’re not just, you know, shepherding sheep around. They’re going in and you know, anointing other leaders and creating more leadership and we see it as like a ripple effect.

So that’s how we think about leadership at a, at GrantMe. So, yeah that’s how we think about it.

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Tim Reitsma

I like that you said it’s leadership isn’t about creating followers. First thing that popped to my mind is social media, right? We just, you know, want more followers and that’s not leadership. Leadership is creating those who can then lead that next generation or lead that next team. And that’s our responsibility as leaders. 

And, you know, I think it ties nicely into this next question. And yeah our listeners would probably, maybe getting tired of me asking this question, but it’s so fascinating to me about the better world of work. 

And so, what does it mean, when you hear that phrase ‘build a better world of work’, what comes to mind?

Jason Yee

I think for us at GrantMe and I heard somewhere, which is like, like the business, it’s kind of like your own version, like the business you build is your own version of like a perfect world. So it’s kind of like your opportunity to build your own utopia, if you’re the, you know, the founder.

And I, that always struck me because, you know, when you’re stressed out about your business, you’re like, Oh, you know, won’t do this or so-and-so is not listening or whatever. It’s like, and you’re the founder, you gotta know where to look other than in the mirror, because like, well, you built it this way.

Like you set the rules up, you hired the people, you set the goals, you set the path, you set the strategy. So, you know that you built it. And so I looked at that as like both you know, a responsibility and an opportunity. And so we think about, you know, how can you build work that really develops each person, like personally? 

How can you have the work you do on a day-to-day basis make you actually a better communicator at home? How about you know, if you really need to perform at work and part of that means getting a great night’s sleep, exercising, eating right, hanging out with your friends, reconnecting with your family, how can you actually get better at those things?

One big thing that we do with everyone at GrantMe is calendaring, like, and we don’t just have them calendar their own day-to-day, work to work, work stuff, but also like, Hey, you need time with your parents? How much time? Once a week? Okay, let’s schedule that in. Let’s make sure that happens, but you need nine hours of sleep.

You need eight hours of sleep, seven, or let’s schedule that in. You need to exercise every day? Let’s schedule that in. So we are, and of course, in today’s kind of environment, you can’t impose exercise on people. Like I can’t like, Hey Tim, you work for me, go do 20 burpees like I could in hockey, like, know. 

So I, you have to hold back on that, but I definitely encourage that and you can definitely set that up and live it and show people that, you know, you can work hard and often, and recharge intentionally, and have exercise, and develop a socially, and be connected with your family. 

It’s the, you can work really hard and lots, ‘and’ instead of you have to work really hard ‘but’, or, you know, I really want to see my family, but I have to work hard. So it’s creating that ‘and’ instead of the ‘but’, so I think that’s how we think about building a better world of work at GrantMe.

And I think that’s pretty tied into mine and Madison’s individual philosophies, as well. 

Tim Reitsma

I love that. Even before we hit the record button it’s, I asked you how things are going and you said, Oh, it’s great. You know, we’re in work-life flow right now. And I love that. It’s not, Hey, we’re in work-life balance or our balances out. It’s just, it’s flowing. I think what you’re describing is that state of work-life flow. 

And I kinda liked that idea of calendaring. I’ve never heard of that before, to be honest, to be putting everything in. 

Jason Yee

Yeah. I have to, I have to not take credit for either of those terms that comes from Cindy Bokitch who’s with us as an advisor. And she was the COO of SmartSweets, which is another female-led startup, in town here. And so that’s part of her language is work-life flow and calendaring. So those things are both from her and we’ve learned that Madison and I, and the whole company from her.

Tim Reitsma

That’s awesome. I want to just kind of take a little left turn down that because I’m curious how the team has responded to that. You know, as you and Madison leading this company, along with Cindy saying, Hey, put everything in your calendar. Does that, how did people respond to that? 

Jason Yee

Well, I think the first thing is that we haven’t successfully got everyone in the company to do it. The company is now about 80 people. So, it’s not as easy as it once was to walk over to someone and just tap them on the shoulder and say, Hey, let’s look at your calendar together. But I think oddly, and it might be because of the like the type of people we’ve hired, they are all like, yeah, help me rearrange my calendar, now. I want to know how to fit it all in. 

And they’re very open to it. And I think that’s unique. Again you know, you and your listeners now know my background, which is, I don’t actually have much work experience beyond professional hockey. So, I don’t know how it is in other environments.

But what I can tell you is like, our group is usually like that. Hey, like would love for you to redo my calendar and tell me how I can fit it all in. So that’s usually the response we get. 

Tim Reitsma

Well, I think, it ties nicely into the, even the theme of this podcast, which we’re talking about vulnerability and leadership.

So, you know, I couldn’t imagine if you walked up to somebody and said, Hey, let’s look at your calendar, but you can’t look at mine. Yeah, you need to lead from that space of, Okay, I’ve got everything in my calendar and you know, the good, the bad, maybe some of the private stuff, maybe not so, so, you know, you don’t want to show all of it, but leading from that place of example and potentially from vulnerability and I think it’s important, as leaders. You know, we need to be able to show our cards as well, instead of just asking for people to show there’s.

Jason Yee

Yeah, totally. Well, and that’s exactly it. We have I mean, I tell everyone. I say You can see my calendar any time. And so it forces me on a weekly basis too, to make sure my calendar is tickety-boo. And yeah, like I, I advertise it and I advertise it on purpose, knowing that I’m going to therefore have to hold myself accountable to making sure that it is perfect.

So it forces me to be better. And you know, I think the one thing that, I think vulnerability is critical in, in, in leadership and I remember there was a book or something, there’s a study, which was like, you know, vulnerability without competence doesn’t actually work. You need to have, as a leader, you need to also have competence along with your vulnerability and then it works.

Like, so they have to go hand in hand versus just, I think we’ve probably all seen those painful social media posts where someone’s just being really vulnerable without any display of competence. And it’s just like, I wouldn’t necessarily follow that, right? I wouldn’t be interested, I’m engaged, but I think that’s always the caveat to vulnerability as well.

And that was just my take on that. 

Tim Reitsma

Well, I think it’s an interesting take and it’s an important take to, to share because yeah, we can be vulnerable, share our life stories, share everything, and for what? What’s the reason and what’s that point and pushing that. 

So, when you hear vulnerability, what, so what does that mean? I know you’ve defined it as vulnerability without, you know, you need to be competent as well, but you know, why is this such an important leadership quality?

Jason Yee

I think it can create just massive trust and buy-in and alignment like people know that there’s not one standard for them and it a different standard for you.

It’s like, No, I have these weaknesses that I myself am addressing and you know, we’re, I’m working on it too like we’re all in the same boat. We’re all working together on our journey of self-development. And so I think it’s just being honest about what we are working on and authentic, about that.

And I don’t think, and, you know, there’s all sorts of different ways of approaching it but just for me, I don’t think it’s possible for me to lead without being honest about where I need to improve as well. And I know not everyone thinks that way, but that’s just, that’s how I approach it.

I know, you know, Madison and our team at GrantMe is very similar word, just like that our team is ruthlessly honest about themselves. And it’s cool to see from a leadership perspective. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah. I heard a leader, a leadership coach once say that you know, we just need to be even keel, even energy, all day, every day as leaders.

And to me that means being able to show our vulnerabilities or say, Hey, this is what I’m weak at or what I’m good at. It doesn’t necessarily fit well in that so it’s always kind of bugged me. And I’m not sure why, but I think yours, you know, you and Madison and the team, I think we’re a lot alike in that where, you know, let’s not just talk about our strengths, but also our weaknesses, where we need to improve, gather that feedback.

And I think that’s important. I know when we were connected recently, you’d shared something that you were working on or needed to work on, and that was anger. And I’m sure, I mean, you’re quite vulnerable with me in that, but I’m sure it took a lot of vulnerability to share that with your team and that you needed to work on this.

So, what’s the story around, around anger? 

Jason Yee

Yeah. Well, and I guess that’s kind of why I mentioned that about vulnerability plus competence because I think you can, you can overshare on the vulnerable side. And if you, and if, and people can start to believe how vulnerable you are and forget about the competence side.

And I think that at certain times I was overly vulnerable and overly sharing with the company about the struggle. So I’m like more than happy to share on that. And so, you know, the backstory is that you as a hockey player you know, anger and violence is accepted, right?

It’s encouraged. So if you get punched, like if you’re not punching back, there’s actually a problem. And so, you know, it’s kinda trained over 25, 30 years of what I spent most of my time doing to immediately react in anger and violence to violence. And then kind of heading into a workplace and the other, you know, role model for that too is coaches which when you’re at a high level you know, coaches come in and it’s always a big thing.

Oh, they threw the shopping cart. They punched the wall, they kicked the garbage can, that whole, those displays of anger, which are kind of part of the lore, the narrative of hockey. Right? But as you learn, that’s not appropriate for the workplace. And so I think that was like a challenging thing for me because I was wired emotionally, to react to failures much like a coach would.

And I didn’t yet have a way to like express that appropriately. And that was hard for me because at first, what it did was, it just prevented me from giving any feedback at all. Because I was so mad about a mistake or you know, something that was not up to the standard that I had, that I didn’t, I couldn’t express it without getting angry, so I just didn’t express it.

So I just like would keep it inside. So that was really hard. And then, you know, I would lose my temper the odd time, ’cause it’s bottled up. So what I actually had to do to work on that it boiled over in one, one instance, and Madison said, Hey, like you should go and talk to someone and get the support you need to deal with this, ’cause like, this is actually an issue. It’s not just a thing, and so I did. 

So I worked with a therapist on that and we did all sorts of really great things like I think a big part was being aware of my physiology. So like when I’m getting mad, what are like the signs of that?

And then, you know, how do you, what are the things you can do just day-to-day to have your energy really good so that you don’t get angry? So I know that like if I don’t do breathing or mindfulness in the morning if I don’t sleep well if I’m not well fed if I haven’t exercise, I have a tendency to I’m more likely to boil over and have some sort of angry outbursts.

And then, you know, I think too, you just kind of seeing that anger. I think it’s the saying, you know, that anger is like the vessel that harms, you know, both people, right? It’s like, it harms the person holding onto the anger and the person who receives it. So just seeing that the negative impact of anger boiling over again, and again, and getting that feedback loop and realizing like, Hey, this is something you really got to get under control. 

Because in hockey you could actually get angry and actually get a positive result, right? In the workplace, that doesn’t really happen. So I think learning, learning all those things, getting that help learning to be able to express feedback and express anger in a productive way, were all things that I really had to do to improve. 

And yeah, that’s the backstory on that. And I think that’s been a really big challenge transitioning from professional hockey into the work, workplace. Probably my biggest challenge today. 

Tim Reitsma

Wow. Well, thanks for sharing that story. I can imagine, yeah, spending so many years in, in that environment where, you know, losing your temper, getting angry on the ice yeah. It’s celebrated, you get angry, get after the puck, get after somebody and then transition to the workplace where yeah, you can’t, you know, kick somebody’s desk you know, throw something across the room.

I’ve seen that. I’ve been it. I’ve, yeah, I’ve seen those environments. I’ve been in those environments. And it’s not a good place to be. And so, yeah, and you said something that interests me is like translating that anger in a productive way, into something that is more productive. How do you do that?

I know I’m, I lead a team. I’m a father of a couple of small kids. I know what my triggers are. Sometimes it does not, my anger does not come out in a productive way, so, so teach me. What are your tools here?

Jason Yee

So, you know, I think the tool and the, you know, they might be a little woo woo for people, but I’m totally open to like going out there.

But like hypnosis and NLP — Neuro-Linguistic Programming I’ve been to tools that have been very helpful. So for those that are familiar with the idea of neuro-linguistic programming, it’s like, you know, you’re able to use like language is the interface for your brain. And you can represent your emotions and feelings through language.

And so if you use the right language you can represent it and then you can use more language to transform it. So, a big thing for me is being aware of anger. If it was a feeling and if it was a color, where would it be in my body? And then taking a breath and just asking, like, could I change the color on that?

Could I turn the intensity down? Like literally, like, as if you’re like turning the temperature down in your car and you ask yourself that, and then you visualize it. All the while you just take a deep breath and then it’s like, okay, where can I direct this energy in the most useful and productive way?

So that’s usually like, like a variation of the technique that I use. The other is, and this is, you know, what I worked on with my therapist was like catching it, like catching, it was like the anger meter or something. So like zero to 10, what’s your anger meter?

And I got 10 and just being able to catch it in that moment, like, ah, yeah, the anger meters at a 10. Probably shouldn’t talk to someone right now or deliver feedback to someone right now. Go for a walk, go take a breath, go do something different. And it was like at times it was awkward because you know like you get angry and you’re like, you’re doing these things to like, get yourself down and people are like, what are you doing? 

But like ultimately the better, like, ideally that doesn’t happen. Ideally, you don’t get angry, but the alternative to not doing that is that you know, you do have an angry outbursts and you, you blow up on someone.

So, you know, I think that for people that are in leadership positions and under high pressure, I think handling that is like, is a really tough skill. And one that, you know, depending on your background is worth it to master.

Tim Reitsma

It’s not easy. I can imagine it’s not easy, but it’s a, it’s such a valuable skill. It’s taking that moment to pause and it’s okay to take a pause. And I’m, I’ve learned that throughout my career is, you know, it’s, I can feel my shoulders rise. I can feel my face getting flushed and going, it’s probably best I just take a minute before I respond, and take in that moment. 

And so was there a moment at work that, you know, did you get up in front of the company and say, Hey, I’m working on this or if you see this in me or, was it just a subtle change in your leadership journey?

Jason Yee

I think like, you know like I said, I think I was pretty open and honest about it and told lots of people about it.

And yeah, I think and as you know, it’s just something that, yeah, there wasn’t like some sort of like intervention, like where, like went to a restaurant, sat me down and said, Hey, like you gotta change. It wasn’t like that. It was just like if it came up in conversation it was like, Hey, this is what I’m working on.

And you know, and usually it would be when, you know, we, like we talked about earlier, if someone else’s like working on something in a similar vein, maybe not in anger, but maybe anxiety or depression or anything like that. It’s like, Hey, yeah, like, just so you know, like I went to go get that support too, just for a different thing.

So I would share that. And then, yeah, it’s just a matter of continuing to work on it, because I think the biggest thing that I learned out of that was you know, it comes back to the fixed versus growth mindset. Like, do people think, oh yeah, like, is anger a like a natural trait? Something that you just have that’s like encoded in your DNA or is it like a learned behavior?

And, you know, the answer is that it’s a learn behavior. And so what’s key is like your repetition and your focus and your awareness on that. So you just got to stay consistent and stick to your habits. So sticking to sleeping really well being well fed, being hydrated, doing your breathing all those things that make you great at what you do anyway like they make you a high performer anyway also help with that side of it. 

Tim Reitsma

And how did your team respond? You know, when you were talking to different team members about, Hey, I’m working on my anger. Did the team look at you and go, Ah, okay. Or was it, That’s awesome, how can I support you?

Jason Yee

I think like, sometimes, I mean, you never like fully know because, you know, when you’re the CEO, you’re not probably always going to get the most honest answers. I don’t going to be like, Oh yeah, that’s like good for you. But they might, you know, behind your back be like, What a goof what, like, I don’t understand that. So you never really know.

But I think our team’s pretty good and pretty respectful about that. And but I think the other side of that is I think their team and a lot of our advisors say that Madison and I are like too hard on ourselves like too critical. And so I think when they were maybe hearing me say that they might be like, oh, like it’s not actually that bad.

So, but again, is that truth. Maybe they really did think it was bad and it needs, needed that, needed to be addressed. Or maybe they thought I’d actually wasn’t as bad as I thought. But like my general sense from the team was they were like, oh, that’s really cool. And, you know, thanks, thanks for sharing. 

But they also know, like in the greater context of me that I’m always working on stuff. So, whether or not it’s, you know, just one particular area at any given time I’ve got 18 other self-development projects. So, it’s kind of like one of many, and I think they’re probably used to that. 

Tim Reitsma

I think there’s a power in that vulnerability. And I know again, not just purely being vulnerable without that competence, but Hey, this is something that I’ve recognized in myself and this is what I’m working on. It breaks down barriers. It breaks down that that fear of sharing what’s going on in your life or what’s you know, contributing maybe to some stress in your life or. 

I mean, you can just fill in the blank, but the power of that vulnerability and taking that first step, whether it’s just individual conversations or at a company all hands, whatever that looks like in whoever’s organization that, you know, wherever you’re listening from, but it’s gotta start somewhere.

Right? We can’t just say, Hey, we’re an organization that thrives in vulnerability and your answer to the question, how are you is always, Oh, I’m good. 

Jason Yee

Yeah. Yeah, totally. I think, and I think that’s probably, you know, we know that especially as the team has gotten bigger, that, cause it’s a little surreal to me, that CEO was when we had four people at at GrantMe, like CEO was kind of like a bit like silly of a title, ’cause you’re just four people. 

But when you’re 80 people CEO kind of makes sense. So, now you have people that are joining and they’re like, it was shocking to me when, for the first time someone was like, oh, like a little intimidated by this, by the CEO.

Like, I don’t want to like like I can’t believe the CEO would say that or do this or whatever. And I was like, wait, what are you, like I’m just Jason. I’m just like the guy that you can, like talk to, just send me a Slack message blah, blah, blah. So, it was a little bizarre at first to, to get that to have that that I guess intimidation factor without me trying to be intimidating at all.

So I think that you know, if all the team ever sees from you is competence, and you crushing it and having a perfect calendar and exercising all the time which I do. You know, my calendar is perfect, of course, like I already mentioned, but then you’re just not approachable at that point anymore.

It’s like, oh, I have this problem but can I go to the CEO, because we’re going to miss, his calendar is perfect. They’re not talking to them about my problems. So it’s a great way to say no. Hey, look, like we can have a conversation and we can talk about what you need to work on openly because here’s openly what I need to work on as well, right? 

So, I think that is key as is bringing that relate-ability to be able to then, like I said, at the beginning, like established trust to then work on something together. 

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, it’s a kind of reminds me of the story that we do something here at People Managing People. Sure, I’ve shared this on many podcasts, but we do an energy check-in at at our weekly and midweek meetings.

So what it is we go around the room or virtual room and say, well, my energy level out of 10 and a word to describe how I’m feeling. And months ago, I said, you know, my energy was five and I’m just feeling stretched and it was. I wasn’t sleeping well, I had a lot on my plate. But I got a message on Slack a couple of hours later from one of our part-time people saying, Hey, Tim I really hope your energy has gone from a five to a seven. 

They sent me a little joke, a little, ’cause I love dad jokes, which made me laugh. And then they said something which I’ll never forget, which was, how can I help support you? And this is from somebody who’s part-time and then not really involved with the company who is saying, what can I do? How can I support you? 

And just that, that moment of vulnerability I found kind of shifted the energy in our team where we are honest with each other for a not-honored game. Let’s be honest with each other, like don’t fake it. It’s not fake. I don’t agree with fake it till you make it. I just don’t like it.

I’m sure in the hockey world you can’t really fake it if, I couldn’t be a hockey player ’cause I, you know, can’t skate very well. I really can’t fake that, but but just that moment of vulnerability, being able to lead from that example will have a lasting effect on our organizations. Whether it’s admitting, Hey, I’m dealing with anger stuff.

So if you catch me, hold me accountable to something. Or, Hey, I, I’m rocking it this week, you know, be vulnerable in that too. You got to share, you can’t just share like the doom and gloom. Just share your, Hey, look at my calendar. Yeah, I crushed it this week. ’cause you want people to come to you and say, Jason, how? I’m struggling here.

And it’s creating that sense of trust. And so, you know, somebody who’s listening to this and going, okay, I, maybe I’ve been too vulnerable and not displaying enough competence or only competence and not being vulnerable. You what is one thing you can share? Like where does somebody start?

Jason Yee

Well, I think I think the first thing would be to like, kind of look on that scale, right? If like, if you go to back theory, like last 12 Facebook posts and they’ve all been about how, you know, like how rough life is, then you’re probably too far on that vulnerability side. If you’re like only displaying, if your last 12 Facebook posts or I’m just using Facebook as an example.

You know, if they’re all just like, here’s my new yacht, here’s my new Ferrari, here’s my six-pack out. And it’s just like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And you’re just like on one side of that, it’s like, okay, like just take an inventory and think about it. Like, should I you know, keep doing this or could adding an element of vulnerability make me more approachable and relatable.

And then if you’re all the way on the vulnerability side, then consider like, Hey, what I, and this is kind of like the hardcore part of me coming out. It’s like, what do I need to get better at? Like, what do I need to improve and display my competence in? Maybe I need to tone it on the vulnerability posts for a bit.

And or talking about vulnerability. So, yeah I think it’s an important, you know, it’s not black or white. It’s not integrity or not entitlement, and it’s not a vulnerability or no vulnerability. It’s, what’s that right balance? And I think that’s like, I had a really great talk the other day with someone, which is like, it’s not one or the other, it’s not binary.

It’s like it’s not, if you think of like a two-dimensional box of just, you know, a matrix of like, yes, no, like vulnerability, competence, it’s not just one or the other. It’s, it’s three-dimensional, right? It’s like, how do you display the right mix for the situation? And that’s been the biggest thing I’ve been learning in leadership recently is it’s not one or the other. It’s, what’s the right mix of that for the situation?

Tim Reitsma

I love that. I see this already in my mind, and I’m going back and critiquing myself. Is it just purely being vulnerable for the sake of vulnerability or is it just that display of competence as well? And it is a mix. 

And even on our leadership journeys, we need to take that into account, you know, try to be level energy. I’m a 9 out of 10, you know, five days a week, Monday through Friday. It’s knowing when to be vulnerable, what to share when to share, but also, that self-discovery and self-development path.

And, but surrounding yourself by people who can hold you accountable to it, like you’d said, Madison, your life partner, your future life partner, your fiancé said, Hey, this is something you need to work on. Well, you know, it’s you know, my life partner does not work at People Managing People, so who can call me out? 

And who, who can say Tim, this is something you need to work on. I think that’s so, so important is defining those allies sharing that vulnerability, but creating that sense of trust. It’s so, so foundational to our organizations. 

Jason Yee

Yeah, I think that’s it. I think it was like, like trust is, I mentioned that a few times, right? Is like the vulnerability and actually, you could probably make the point that you know, vulnerability without competence doesn’t allow you to have a trusting relationship with someone. And you know, too much competence without enough displays of vulnerability doesn’t allow you to have a trusting relationship with someone, right?

Because they’re not going to, if everything’s perfect, they’re not going to believe you when you say, Hey, you know, you need to make this better. Because like I said before, you’re unapproachable. Right? But if you’re always vulnerable, no one’s going to trust you because, how competent is this person? 

So I think so much of working together and being able to achieve results together is about that trust so that you and them can really work together really productively.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, I love that. I love that that, know, we can, you always come back to trust as that foundation. And you know, you’re too far on the scale of competence. Yeah, like you said, nobody’s gonna believe you. If you’re too far on the scale on vulnerability, it’s like, ah, I don’t know if I trust this person either.

So it’s that, it’s finding that you know, it’s not dead set. It’s sort of bullet, a bullet hole in the middle here and I hit a bullseye here. It’s finding where on that scale is that, that trust. And for everybody, it’s different and there’s no like magic formula, but it’s being able to figure out that level of vulnerability, that level of display of competence.

And there you have it, you know, you’re, you’ll create trust within your organizations, within your teams and people will follow you, will open up to you. Well, reach out to Jason, I need help with my calendar. So, if GrantMe folks are listening to this, Jason wants to see your calendar. I’m really curious about it too, but yeah.

That’s just my own curiosity picking up, but, 

Jason, I really appreciate you coming on the podcast. You’re you have a lot of wisdom to share and I don’t think this is going to be our last recording. At least I hope it’s not our last recording because I know there’s a lot of topics that you’re interested in and I think you said 18 dimensions that you’re working on right now for self-development.

So, I think that’s 18 episodes we can record in the future, but thanks. Thanks for coming on, I really appreciate it. 

Jason Yee

Yeah. Well, some of the topics you won’t want to cover like I’m currently trying to get better at go-karting, but it’s nonstop, but yeah, I’m definitely happy to chat about the ones that are definitely relevant to your audiences. 

It’s a pleasure chatting and thanks so much for having me on.

Tim Reitsma

Yeah, thanks again!

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So, thanks again and I hope you all have an amazing day. Cheers!