Michael Shen of Skill Success On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During…

Posted on

Michael Shen of Skill Success On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times

The pandemic may have brought unprecedented challenges, but it also presented us with a unique chance to shine. I firmly believe that it is during times of adversity that true leaders emerge, and I was determined to seize this opportunity with unwavering dedication and unwavering commitment to the success of Skill Success.

As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Shen.

Michael Shen is an EdTech entrepreneur and the CEO/Founder behind Skill Success. Established in 2015 in Orange County, California, Skill Success emerged as a remarkable endeavor spearheaded by Michael Shen. His unwavering vision has been to level the educational landscape by providing affordable and easily accessible learning opportunities for everyone.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I had difficulty finding education resources to learn about digital marketing during my college years. The marketing courses I took focused on theories and fundamental concepts, but they lacked practical application. I had to resort to online courses to learn the skills I needed. This experience made me realize the need for easily accessible, on-demand courses for learning any subject.

I founded Skill Success to address this need. I started by hiring experts to create online courses, and eventually merged everything into a single eLearning platform. Our mission is to make education accessible to everyone, regardless of their location or background. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn and grow, and we are committed to providing the resources they need to do so.

Today, Skill Success offers a wide range of online courses in a variety of subjects. Our courses are designed to be engaging and informative, and they are taught by experienced instructors. We are committed to providing our students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their careers and in life.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I believe one of my early mistakes was attempting to handle everything on my own. At the time, I had limited knowledge about operating cameras and video equipment, but I was learning on the fly. We would often film the majority of our initial courses in my condominium or utilize common areas. I taught myself how to edit both audio and video content.

It’s quite amusing to reflect on those early courses when comparing them to the exceptional quality of content we now offer on our platform. The valuable lesson I learned is this: it’s crucial to hire experts right from the start and swiftly build your team. Doing so not only saves a significant amount of time but also yields far superior results.

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?

I had the opportunity to work under David, an accomplished portfolio entrepreneur. Observing his remarkable success at a young age taught me invaluable lessons. Working across his diverse range of companies exposed me to a wealth of knowledge. Frequently, tasks were delegated with minimal guidance, which honed my ability to think on my feet and find solutions along the way. I contributed to ventures spanning soccer leagues, restaurants, real estate entitlements, art schools, and various other enterprises.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your organization started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

When I first embarked on the journey of founding Skill Success, my primary vision was to empower and support individuals who, much like myself, desired to pursue education and personal growth without limitations imposed by their location or background. Recognizing the transformative power of education, I aimed to create a platform that would provide convenient and accessible learning opportunities for all.

Skill Success stands as a testament to my unwavering commitment to foster a world where knowledge knows no boundaries. Our overarching mission is to break down barriers and open doors of opportunity, ensuring that anyone, regardless of their circumstances, can readily access quality education.

At Skill Success, we firmly believe that education should not be a privilege limited to a fortunate few. We are committed to making learning accessible to individuals from all walks of life, irrespective of their geographical location, socioeconomic background, or prior educational experiences. Through our platform, anyone with an internet connection can embark on a journey of self-improvement, acquiring valuable skills and knowledge that can empower them both personally and professionally.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

During the challenging period of the Covid-19 pandemic, when numerous individuals were losing their jobs due to widespread lockdowns, I made it my sole mission to support and uplift my team. Amidst these trying times, I resolved to ensure that Skill Success continued to thrive, as I was determined not to let my team suffer the loss of their livelihoods and the ability to provide for their families. The global economy took a severe hit due to the lockdown measures imposed worldwide, making it all the more crucial for me to be there for my team when they needed me the most.

Remaining resolute and unwavering in our dedication, we persevered and experienced remarkable growth. With most people confined to their homes and a strong desire to acquire new skills, our business thrived because of the prevalent use of the internet.

This journey has imparted upon me invaluable lessons that I hold dear. First and foremost, I have learned that honesty and transparency are paramount when guiding a team through challenging circumstances. By openly acknowledging the obstacles we faced, we fostered a sense of trust and unity among our members. Secondly, I discovered the significance of being readily available to offer unwavering support to my team. By being a dependable figure, I not only boosted morale but also instilled a sense of security and reassurance. Lastly, I recognized the importance of having a well-defined plan and effectively communicating it to my team. A clear roadmap allowed us to navigate the uncertain terrain together, ensuring that everyone remained focused and aligned.

These invaluable lessons transcend the specific context of the Covid-19 pandemic and hold true for any leader faced with adversity or uncertainty. By upholding honesty, accessibility, and effective planning, leaders can guide their teams towards success, even in the most challenging of times.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

No, the thought of giving up never crossed my mind. Instead, I perceived the pandemic as an opportunity for our company, recognizing that the majority of individuals were compelled to stay at home, and the widespread use of the internet propelled the growth of e-learning platforms like Skill Success.

My motivation stems from the unwavering support of my family and, undoubtedly, my incredible team. Their belief in me and our shared vision drove me to push forward, refusing to let them down or allow Skill Success to falter.

Since the inception of Skill Success, my determination has remained steadfast. The pandemic only further heightened my resolve, as I understood the unique potential it presented for my business. I refused to let this opportunity slip away, leveraging the circumstances to propel the growth and success of Skill Success.

In this challenging time, I embraced a mindset of resilience and adaptability, seeking innovative solutions to navigate the uncertainties. I maintained a positive outlook and capitalizing on the increased demand for online learning, we were able to make significant strides in expanding our reach and impact.

Through it all, I remained committed to delivering exceptional value to our customers, adapting our offerings to meet their evolving needs. The trust and loyalty of our clients fueled my drive to constantly innovate and improve, ensuring that Skill Success remained at the forefront of the e-learning industry.

The pandemic may have brought unprecedented challenges, but it also presented us with a unique chance to shine. I firmly believe that it is during times of adversity that true leaders emerge, and I was determined to seize this opportunity with unwavering dedication and unwavering commitment to the success of Skill Success.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

One leadership book that holds a special place for me is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni. I highly recommended this book to our entire leadership team, and it proved to be a transformative experience. It facilitated open discussions that enabled us to address underlying issues within our team that might have gone unnoticed. By implementing the concepts presented in the book, we witnessed a remarkable improvement in our team’s effectiveness and alignment.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

In challenging times, the role of a leader is crucial. It’s an opportunity for true leadership qualities to shine. As leaders, our main responsibility is to embody these qualities and guide our team with unwavering resolve. We need to stay focused and maintain a clear sense of direction, even when faced with tough circumstances. Instead of getting intimidated, we must rise above and actively look for positive aspects amidst the challenges.

Leading by example is extremely important. Our actions and behavior should inspire our team, giving them confidence and strength. By showing unwavering determination, we demonstrate that there’s always a way forward, even in tough times.

Another vital aspect of effective leadership in challenging times is staying focused. By keeping our goals in mind and maintaining clarity of purpose, we provide stability and direction to our team. This unwavering focus acts as a guiding light, helping them navigate through difficulties and persevere.

While it’s important to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation, we should also encourage our team to maintain a positive outlook. By cultivating optimism and actively seeking the brighter side of things, we foster resilience and a can-do attitude among team members. Recognizing the opportunities and possibilities within challenges inspires our team to overcome obstacles and find new paths to success.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

When things feel uncertain, it can be tough to keep motivation and engagement levels up. But as leaders, we can make a real difference by being there for our team in several key ways.

  1. First, being a role model. Leaders need to show team members confidence and optimism. By radiating positivity, leaders can create an atmosphere that uplifts everyone and boosts morale.
  2. Transparency is another vital aspect. It’s important to be open with the team about the challenges that the organization is facing. By doing so, leaders can reduce uncertainty and anxiety. Leaders should remind the team members of their accomplishments and the value they bring to the organization. This helps to boost their morale and confidence, keeping them motivated.
  3. Supporting the growth and development of our team members is crucial. When we help them improve their skills, they feel more confident and motivated. And when they achieve a goal, it’s important to celebrate their success. Recognizing their accomplishments not only boosts morale but also fosters a sense of achievement and motivation.
  4. Creating a positive work environment is also essential. It’s all about making people feel valued, respected, and supported. When our team members feel good about their work environment, they’re more likely to be motivated and engaged. So, let’s strive to foster a positive atmosphere where everyone feels appreciated and encouraged.
  5. Remember, as leaders, we have the power to make a positive impact on our team’s morale and motivation. By being role models, providing support, fostering growth, and cultivating a positive work environment, we can help our team members stay motivated and engaged even in uncertain times.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

When conveying difficult news to your team and customers, it is vital to meticulously consider the information and approach its delivery with caution. Strive for directness and honesty, avoiding any inclination to sugarcoat or evade the news. Instead, prioritize clarity and conciseness, ensuring that you swiftly convey the essential points.

Exhibiting empathy is crucial, as it enables you to grasp the potential impact on your audience. Also, be well-prepared to address questions and preemptively anticipate the queries that may arise. While doing so, maintain a positive outlook and emphasize future prospects, emphasizing actionable steps that can be taken to progress forward.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

Leaders can still make plans in an upredictable future by employing a range of effective strategies. Scenario planning enables the development of multiple potential scenarios, facilitating anticipation of various outcomes. Agile and adaptive planning emphasize flexibility and iterative processes, enabling adjustments to plans as circumstances evolve. Continuous learning and feedback enable leaders to gather valuable insights, facilitating informed decision-making.

Building resilience equips organizations to withstand unforeseen events and maintain stability. Anchoring decision-making around core values and goals provides a strong foundation. Collaboration and partnerships leverage collective intelligence and resources, fostering innovation. Monitoring and early warning systems enable timely adjustments, ensuring proactive responses. These strategies have consistently proven invaluable throughout my eight years of business experience, enabling me to successfully navigate uncertainty and achieve desired outcomes.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

For me, the number one policy that can help guide a company during turbulent times is “integrity”.

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It is the foundation of trust, and it is essential for building and maintaining strong relationships. In business, integrity is essential for attracting and retaining customers, employees, and investors.

Especially in periods of turbulence, the significance of acting with integrity becomes even more pronounced. Individuals are particularly inclined to seek out companies they can rely on during such times. Demonstrating integrity signifies the company’s unwavering commitment to doing what is right, even in the face of adversity. Such principled conduct can profoundly impact the company’s ability to navigate and withstand challenging circumstances.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

Failing to act swiftly. It’s crucial to recognize changes promptly and adapt accordingly. Many businesses fall into the trap of sticking to the status quo until it’s too late. Instead, being proactive and responsive is essential for long-term success.

Neglecting to prepare for uncertainties. During prosperous times, it’s easy to overlook the possibility of adverse conditions. Building up a strong financial foundation with ample reserves serves as a safety net for ensuring the longevity of a business. It’s wise to be well capitalized and prepared for unforeseen challenges.

Avoiding tough decisions. This includes making difficult choices such as scaling back non-essential services, reducing overhead costs, or cutting advertising expenditures. During challenging periods, it’s vital to generate sufficient cash flow to navigate through uncertainties and find viable solutions. Embracing the courage to make tough decisions can be the key to overcoming obstacles.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

Develop a well-defined plan and ensure effective communication with the team. It’s crucial to have a clear roadmap and convey it to everyone involved. Transparency and clarity in the plan foster alignment and understanding among team members.

Establish explicit objectives that directly contribute to achieving the overarching north star metric. Clearly defining and communicating these objectives provide a sense of direction and purpose for the team. Each objective should serve as a tangible step towards the ultimate goal.

Maintain a vigilant eye on key performance indicators (KPIs) and elevate the level of accountability within the team. Regularly monitor and track progress against the established KPIs, holding team members responsible for their individual and collective contributions. Accountability cultivates a results-oriented mindset and drives performance improvement.

Inspire and encourage the team by fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. Emphasize the notion that everyone is in this together, working towards a common objective.

Foster transparency within the team by openly sharing both successes and setbacks. Celebrate achievements to acknowledge progress and boost morale. Equally important, openly discussing challenges and failures helps the team learn and grow together.

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

“Keep it simple.” It’s tempting to overcomplicate matters by overthinking or overanalyzing, but simplicity brings clarity and ensures execution. But by focusing on simplicity, tasks become more manageable, and progress can be made more efficiently.

How can our readers further follow your work?

They can visit our website www.skillsuccess.com and/or follow our social media channels

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/skillsuccess/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/skillsuccess/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/skillsuccess/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/skillsuccess/

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Michael Shen of Skill Success On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.