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Jason Chan: “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”

Trust you have the right people on the team. All too often, I see managers at other companies hire people only to oversee their every move. If you hired this person to do the job, trust they can and will do the job at hand. If you have to micro-manage them, you’re either looking to […]

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Trust you have the right people on the team. All too often, I see managers at other companies hire people only to oversee their every move. If you hired this person to do the job, trust they can and will do the job at hand. If you have to micro-manage them, you’re either looking to occupy your time or aren’t good at selecting a team.

I’m a very hands-off Team Leader. My team knows I’m here to support them if they ever need me and will provide answers and guidance to the problems they encounter. They also know I hired them because I think they’re good at what they do and am in their corner cheering them on every day to help them succeed.


As a part of my series about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Chan, Rakuten Super Logistics’ VP of Sales and Marketing. In this role, Chan directs the company’s sales/marketing functions to grow RSL’s market share and drive revenue.

Prior to Rakuten Super Logistics, Chan ran CenturyLink’s West Coast marketing and nurtured his entrepreneurial spirit, owning several businesses including car washes, an energy drink company, and a real estate funding group. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Honors College.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve been an entrepreneur since grade school. From tutoring and selling candy to fixing computers and selling parts, I’ve always had a knack for business. Once I graduated UNLV, I went on to have a successful real estate career, became a part-owner of an energy drink and water company while also owning car washes, a bar, flipped houses. I “retired” right before having my first son and got recruited to see if I could apply the successes I’d had in small business to a Fortune 200 Telecom.

While I had a great ride there and loved the work I did, a friend of mine was the VP of Ops at Rakuten Super Logistics and convinced me to join the team. Between the growth of the eCommerce industry as well as the brand strength and infrastructure Rakuten had built, it was clear the company was poised to explode. I joined just over 2 years ago and we’ve been doing double-digit growth annually.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

After a banner year of sales, I took my top sales reps to lunch…on a private jet. We flew into LA, had lunch, and turned around and we’re home in time to tuck our kids into bed. We happened to have an extra seat and I invited one of our new reps to give her a taste of what is possible when we exceed our goals. In one year, from knowing zilch about our industry, she’s now one of my top reps and she attributes that trip to giving her drive and motivation to succeed.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Our company is about to celebrate its 20th Anniversary. My team and I are planning how to celebrate virtually. I can’t give it all away, but I can say there will be cupcakes, swag, and a virtual magic show involved.

We plan to play around with this theme via contests and other promotion to let prospects know we have withstood the test of time and are experts at what we do. Assuring prospects that we aren’t a fly by night operation and a real company will give them peace of mind as they can entrust us to help them grow their businesses.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

That segment of the workforce sees themselves as “workers.” Clock in, clock out, go home, repeat tomorrow. That sounds miserable just thinking about it, so it’s not surprising they’re unhappy. I think it’s relatively high because they simply don’t know better. If it’s been that way year after year and from company to company, people come to just expect that’s what “work” is. They need to be exposed to an alternative and see that greener grass is actually possible.

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

I’d sum it up as untapped potential. An unhappy company can be successful. My argument would be that it could be even more successful if teammates were happy.

In sales, I often talk about how if the client is solely focused on numbers, the # hours for an SLA or % of this or that, they don’t see us as a partner and are already looking for problems before the relationship has begun. This is not to mean numbers aren’t important, but a sole focus on metrics raises an eyebrow from me as it describes a relationship without trust.

In this context, when employees are counting time and the # of X, the workforce is too focused on a small picture of success and lacks the ability to know and achieve what’s truly possible. Their potential is untapped as their focus on accomplishing KPIs to check a box instead of just creating and growing a better company.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

  1. Make work fun.

From silly costumes to themed days to random gifts or recognition, employees thrive on making work not feel like “work.”

Pre-covid and despite having a team spread throughout the nation, I’d insist on quarterly in-person meetings. It was time to get to know each other, align our goals, and have fun. We mixed business talks with tasty food, incredible venues, and fun activities like driving bulldozers, shooting pistols, playing archery tag, and even feeding the homeless.

2. Have a shared goal(s).

When everyone knows what you’re trying to achieve, it’s much easier to know to walk to the same drum as well as judge whether or not activities are helping or hurting the goal(s).

3. Trust you have the right people on the team.

All too often, I see managers at other companies hire people only to oversee their every move. If you hired this person to do the job, trust they can and will do the job at hand. If you have to micro-manage them, you’re either looking to occupy your time or aren’t good at selecting a team.

I’m a very hands-off Team Leader. My team knows I’m here to support them if they ever need me and will provide answers and guidance to the problems they encounter. They also know I hired them because I think they’re good at what they do and am in their corner cheering them on every day to help them succeed.

4. Incentivize employees to do more and better.

If two brains are better than one, imagine the wealth of brainpower at your disposal when you tap into the entire workforce. If employees can show they’re more productive and/or more efficient than what’s considered the baseline, reward them. At one of my past companies, there was a suggestion box for people to share cost-cutting ideas. If they were implements, the employee who submitted the idea got a share of the savings. Those ideas saved the company millions of dollars a year.

5. Continuously improve and innovate.

Nobody wants the same results every year, yet if you do the same thing you’ve always done, it’s reasonable you’ll achieve the same results. Extraordinary results take extraordinary effort.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

Leading by example always works. It always starts with 1 and then another and then another. Shoot for an incremental change instead of changing everything at once. The resistance will be less and the chance of continued success is greater.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

I do whatever it takes to drive success. This starts with communicating shared goals, collectively planning how to achieve the goals and then executing the plan daily towards success after success. On this path, my team knows that I’m willing to rotate between being the coach, player, and cheerleader as needed to ensure we achieve our goals. I’m upbeat, energetic, and give my team my best and they in turn reciprocate with delivering their best.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It sounds cliché, but my mom. I really had the best mom when the job of a mom is to make a child feel like they can do anything. My mom loved me, supported me, and cheered me on which led me to believe I could accomplish anything. Many years later, that confidence is unwavering no matter what curveballs life throws at me. I’m forever grateful for her love and lessons.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I need to thank my mom again for always teaching my sister and me to help out however and wherever we can. Without making a list, I’m proud to have helped raise over 4M dollars for food banks throughout the West Coast as well as personally raising 250K dollars for the United Way of Southern Nevada. I’m far from a professional fundraiser, but I have great friends and made the asks on behalf of these organizations to help accomplish their goals to serve their respective populations.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” — Steve Jobs

If you want normal results, do normal things. When you want crazy results, you have to do crazy things. I’m about as far from normal as one can be. I know I have limited time on this earth and am trying to make the most of it. I swing for homeruns, not singles.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

People shouldn’t go hungry. Skip eating lunch out one day a week and donate that lunch money to your local food bank. Every 1 dollars equals three meals. Donating a typical 15 dollars lunch will provide 45 meals.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

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