PART TWO, THE STORY AND POSITIVE ATTITUDE OF AMY LU
Store Manager, Amy Lu
TOGETHER WE GROW
When asked to describe her boss, Peter Li, owner of Asian food establishments Ma, Wind and East Izakaya under the Wind Group Inc., Amy Lu does not hesitate in her response. “Peter is the fisherman who takes the first step – who leads the way in throwing out the net to catch the fish. The rest of us at the company are the ones behind him, assisting him in pulling in the net to draw in the maximum amount of fish so that we all can eat. We are helping him build up the operation so that we can all benefit.”
Involved in the company since 2008, Amy started out at the former East restaurant as a part-time worker and full-time student. The daughter of two teachers, her parents wanted her to follow in their footsteps and become an educator. While working towards her Masters of Education degree at Brock University, however, she could not deny that this wasn’t the path she was destined to follow. Yet despite knowing this, she never expected that the friendship she struck up with Peter in her part-time position would lead to the management position she now fulfills, at a company that has witnessed such growth since she became part of its direction. When she recalls the early days with Peter, she reveals: “We worked very well together. This company is a result of his vision, which I believed in from the beginning. It is good to have dreams when you are young,” Lu adds, “and if you work together as a team to achieve them, then they have a better chance of coming true."
Quite spiritual in nature, Amy believes that God leads us down the path we are meant to travel. It is why she left her home, a small island in the Pacific Ocean that lies between mainland China and Japan. She explains that her native Taiwan is a very unique place in that it has absorbed two main cultures: both the Mandarin and Japanese. Clearly her background, accepting of different values, customs and beliefs, has had a positive impact on her ability to bring people of different backgrounds and levels of experience together at the workplace. She is very focused on teaching her team to respect the individual differences and expectations of each customer.
"Back home," Lu explains, "my culture expressed that rules were of paramount importance. Rules, such as charging people for any waste incurred during their meal would not be questioned, because it was a rule that needed to be followed. Here, the culture is very different. People come first. Rules are secondary. If the customer doesn't walk out the door happy, we haven't done our job." Also, now that the company has grown to the extent it has, Lu acknowledges that there is great value in all departments working together as one to ensure that the customer receives this message from all levels of operation. She puts great energy into the training of the restaurant team so that this message remains at the forefront of their understanding.
She refers to her staff as "all my kids – my babies. "Her goal is to help them grow strong in their positions by starting them off as "runners." She explains that this position helps them to get to know the food choices available at the different restaurants so that they will be confident when explaining these choices and making suggestions to the customers when they become part of the wait staff team. "I love to see the growth in their experience and confidence, "she admits. "I feel successful when I see my team grow, and in turn, the company grow in such a healthy way."
Her teacher training has not been left by the wayside. The practices she applies at work are similar to the one she practices at home. "All of my efforts outside of work are put into my family," she shares. "We go together to church, because I feel a sense of peace and comfort there." She sends her kids to Bible study, Chinese classes and dance, because Amy understands that the more you take on, the more confident you become, "because that's how it happened for her. "I learned to become a good leader," she explains, which is something she wants her kids to experience, as well. "I want my children to feel part of their Canadian culture and really love what Canada has
Clearly, Amy practices what she preaches, because she has found herself filling in some of her spare time by studying French. It is a language she started learning in the past, but because she hasn't used it in a while, has started to lose it. Her goal is to become proficient in it once more. One could say the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree when it comes to planting the seeds of success. Her parents now retired and living in Canada with Amy and her family spend some of their free time learning English. That is, when they aren't helping to strengthen the family unit. She credits her mom with making breakfast for the family every morning, which has recently expanded to include Amy's three-month-old daughter. Together, the entire family shares their morning meal before they each go off on their individual paths benefiting from what anyone interested in leading a healthy growth operation knows:
"If you want to see the flower grow, You have to plant the seeds.
The energy you put into something will create growth." - Lu Peishan aka Amy Lu