Jason Kwan Discusses Cognitive Skills that Every Entrepreneur Needs to Achieve Success

 (photo credit: JASON KWAN)
(photo credit: JASON KWAN)

Entrepreneurs are often focused on building financial skills, people skills, and physical skills specific to the business or industry to which they belong. 

However all too often, we neglect the importance of building cognitive skills that are useful for personal growth and business development. These cognitive skills include creative thinking, formulation, problem-solving, decision making, and taking the initiative. 
For Jason Kwan, Chairman and President of the Pearl West Group, these cognitive skills have been integral in his personal success and that of his company. 

Cognitive thinking helps us understand what influences our decisions

Cognitive thinking involves using mental processes to gain knowledge and comprehension. It can help us to understand the factors that influence our decision-making. 

Kwan believes that it’s important for everyone to understand how their thoughts are influenced by the outside world. This can clarify why we make misjudgments, as well as arm us with the tools to improve our thinking and decision-making. 
According to Kwan, “If we know what influences us, we might avoid falling into traps and understand why others act as they do. And if we learn and understand what works and doesn’t work and find some reasoning framework, we will make better judgments. There are mental models and cognitive biases that everyone needs to be aware of to think more rationally and make better decisions.”

Cognitive thinking helps us avoid confirmation bias

In the Mergers and Acquisitions business, Kwan highlights that it is important to avoid misjudgments that stem from confirmation bias. “There’s a cognitive bias called confirmation bias, where we tend to seek out evidence that confirms our beliefs and thesis versus searching for disconfirming evidence.” He posits that humans can easily fall into the trap of wanting to hear perspectives similar to their own despite the benefits of hearing deferring views. 

Jason Kwan’s company uses a critical strategy when making decisions on a brand to acquire to avoid confirmation bias. “When we’re looking at companies to buy in our acquisition process, once we have all the necessary information, we’ll form an internal debate where a group plays devil’s advocate against the acquisition. The other group argues for the acquisition. We find this process very helpful because it helps us make a better decision by considering both sides. We found that this provides the most useful insights in our analysis. Once we’ve had this internal debate, all of us feel more confident in the decision.”
While most of us can easily identify a range of different causes that have led us to our past failures and downfalls, we tend to neglect walking ourselves through hypothetical future events to avoid preventing a future fiasco.

Identifying your personality type can improve your cognitive skills

Personality tests are used in many Human Resource departments’ hiring processes to identify the right fit for a job. However, entrepreneurs can benefit from these tests to improve their understanding of themselves and the team that they work with. This in-depth analysis can improve your problem-solving skills and creative thinking.

According to Kwan, “a helpful tool we use for this is personality tests. We get everyone in our team to do the Myers Briggs test to understand each other better. Some of us are more strategic, big picture thinkers, and some of us are more detail-oriented. We try to fit the right personality for each role.”
The benefits of personality tests for entrepreneurs and their wider teams are undeniable. By using these tools, entrepreneurs can develop their cognitive skills and increase their company's overall output and productivity. 

Humans are curious by nature and born to explore

When we observe the true nature of a young child, we witness their inquisitiveness and constant desire to touch, smell, taste, and listen to everything around them. 

Humans are born to explore and are curious to our core, a trait that is ingrained in each one of us. “We were born to explore, learn and discover things, but this desire fades with age if we don’t nurture it,” Kwan explains. 
Curiosity is also an important aspect of the hiring process at the Pearl West Group. “One of the most prominent traits that we look for is curiosity when it comes to hiring because it’s a prerequisite to learning and ultimately to success. Suppose we’re looking for a web designer. In that case, we want that person to be passionate and curious about the art of web design, likewise for supply chain, operations, marketing, selling on Amazon, managing people, and everything else.”
By integrating those traits that come naturally to us humans, it can bring our journey of entrepreneurship a vast range of benefits that brings more ease and flow into our daily processes. One could agree that entrepreneurship should be a journey that is enjoyable in order to create a sustainable way of living and working.