Business Musings Entrepreneurial Journey learning

7 Lessons from #IncLeadership Forum, June 10-12, 2013

Dr. Brene Brown's autograph inside her book, "Daring Greatly".
Dr. Brene Brown’s autograph inside her book, “Daring Greatly”.

Last week, I had the privilege of attending Inc. Leadership Forum in Carlsbad (San Diego area), California. It was 3 days of learning and connecting, and I cannot thank Inc. Magazine enough for sponsoring my pass. There were many great speakers including Brene Brown, Lewis Schiff, and Chester Elton.

Below are my takeaways from the forum:

  • Lesson 1: Company culture is top priority. Felt like Day 2 (June 11) was so full of talk about company culture; it was definitely a big theme of the conference. If company culture is not tailored to you, the leader’s, style, then everyone makes their own micro-cultures. Make sure all leaders are onboard for compromising an effective company culture.
  • Lesson 2: Make hiring process effective from the very beginning. Vanessa Merit Nornberg rocked the stage during her session; some attendees felt she was “too scary”, but I really liked how straightforward she is about her hiring process. She takes no crap, and I feel more employers should take that route. Have a system in place to screen out candidates fairly; screening questions (your own, not auto-screeners) can help determine if the candidate is the right fit or not.
  • Lesson 3: Make company values & mission statement short and memorable. Chester Elton (among other speakers) talked about how these two components of a company’s credo should be easy to remember. Know your company values and mission well, but have it be short enough so that employees (both current and future) will be able to remember them.
  • Lesson 4: Know your priorities. Don’t get lost in the mess of your day-to-day work; remember your priorities and let those preferences fall into place throughout the day. Be true to yourself and your company.
  • Lesson 5: Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. Dr. Brene Brown was amazing, and really touched everyone with her talk: yes, it is time for us all to stop thinking vulnerability is a weakness. However, also be picky as to who you share your stories of shame/vulnerability to; people have to earn the right to know your stories.
  • Lesson 6: Reset throughout your days & weeks. Bonnie St. John–so inspirational for everyone! She reminded us of how entrepreneurs just go nonstop…when in reality, even pro athletes take time to recover. We entrepreneurs need to make time to recover as well, mentally and physically. Stretch more, meditate more; just take some time to relax.
  • Lesson 7: Recognize your employees for their great work. Employees (and everyone else for that matter) cannot read your mind; communicate your specific needs/tasks for your employees to execute successfully. When they do a great job, make sure to recognize them for their hard work; no general thank-yous. Make things personable. Thanks to Chester Elton for his royally entertaining yet insightful talks!

This summary does not do the whole Inc. Leadership Forum any justice, but it’ll do.

Admittedly, this information is not new to the world or to myself. Still, it was great to listen to so many inspirational leaders and connect with other likeminded individuals. I made some really great connections and genuine friendships. Finally, I know people from Austin, TX!

I was telling my colleague about how going to a conference is like going to an academic class: we can all read/skim as many articles/books online as we can about a subject matter, but listening to speakers in-person really cements the lessons learned.

Then, it is time to apply what we’ve learned. I need more time to process all the information gained, but soon I will be ready to apply the knowledge.

Chinese Culture learning life love

Relationships, Residual Trauma

Flowers in my hair, hoping to attract that perfect mate…(taken at the Swedish Midsummer’s Celebration, late June 2012)

This thought had been circling around my mind all day yesterday: how parents protect children so much….but in the end, they cannot protect us from heartache [in relationships].

I will go ahead and be transparent: I never had a boyfriend until the age of 25 (just two years ago). And that was a roller coaster trauma of a relationship: alcoholism, secrets, manipulation … I’ve torn the chains away from that relationship, yet residual pain still seeps through.

And all this time I think about how, well, if only my parents could have protected me from ever letting that happen. Yet, they couldn’t. I can seek comfort in them over things, but they cannot fix everything for me. After all, how old am I now? I can’t just go crying to my parents like a four-year-old with a booboo. I need to suck it up and learn from my mistakes, no matter how big or small.

Sometimes I wish that I could have an arranged marriage. Then I wouldn’t need to deal with this constant searching, seeking, “you’re not good enough”, etc. etc. I find myself these days trying to protect my feelings by telling others how I am all about “no attachments” for the time being. I find that I often fall too fast too quickly…only to be hurt. I care too much and then I … end up hurting myself.

Of course, by telling myself “You cannot get attached,” I still do. And it hurts; every time I fall for someone new, I see them walk away with another woman. Someone better than I am? I can’t say, but my mind twists the situation that way. I always hear the same, comforting words of “You’ll find someone better.” And I hype myself up with this thought, but it only lasts for a little bit. Then I’m back to feeling like I won’t find a nice guy. It’s a vicious cycle for me.

learning life list

The Space Between Chapters.

Obviously, this week has been a strange one. I didn’t get a chance to post any updates because of all that’s going on: the final stages of cleaning, packing, and saying good-byes.

Naturally, this leaves me in a strange space in time. Where I’m just ready to move on but I want to also appreciate the normalcy of the time being. It becomes quite frustrating.

But I do have to say, my time back in Virginia has been very life-changing for me. To see my hometown, my little-girl world, from a grown-up POV.

Instead of sitting around & feeling annoyed about being back home, I took control of what I’d do with my time. Over the past four months I have learned a lot of new skills:

  1. tai chi – I completed one style of tai chi with my father. Learning tai chi with my dad has allowed for us to bond and realize our similar character traits. Also, it’s just good for my dad to know that at least one of his children has learned martial arts from him.
  2. pottery – Who knew it would become one of my passions? I signed up for the class thinking “Oh, just something to keep me busy.” But, it really helped me take control of my focus. And, it taught me to love imperfections…because nobody/nothing is perfect.
  3. first aid – Took a one-day certification class; learned a lot in that short period of time. Good skills to have since now I am more prepared in emergencies.
  4. sewing – I just learned this two weeks ago. Worked on a blanket project for my mom and learned how to work different types of sewing machines. Hope to further my knowledge in sewing when I get to Denver!
  5. belly dancing – I took a class in NYC for belly dancing. Of course I felt self-conscious staring at my reflection in the mirror, but then I realized that it was ok to fall or lose my balance during the moves. We all were students so we all were learning!

In addition to the above, I also got myself going with two 5K races in the area. Granted, I wish I could have run both races a lot better, but just finishing the races gave me great sense of accomplishment. I will improve my racing form with my next two 5K races.

So, without being too dramatic: it is time to close this space between chapters and start a new chapter. This was a good respite between life in San Francisco and life in Denver. I am definitely grateful for all that has happened so far this year.

Now, I will be blogging from Denver starting August 9. That means: no blog posts until then. But I’m sure you all will be okay with an update.

I’ll be tweeting some oldies but goodies in the meantime (old, fun blog posts).

learning marketing memories

Daily Post Day 72: My Favorite Classes in School

Some of my favorite classes in high school and undergraduate years were my foreign language classes. I always excelled in Spanish and Japanese; rarely did I feel like I struggled with the classes, except maybe for the grammar. I always pulled through the classes with near-perfect grades. Heck, if it weren’t for my great grade in Japanese when I studied abroad in 2006, I wouldn’t have received the transfer credits from overseas!

In undergraduate studies, I also enjoyed going to all my marketing classes. I felt excited to attend each class and work on new group projects. However, I was also annoyed when I ended up having to pull most of the weight on projects because my classmates were not motivated enough. There are plenty of instances I can think of from those final two years of group projects: in one group project, we made a skit out of some Barbie dolls for our consumer behavior project. There were several disagreements/arguments in the groups, mainly over how we all perceived who was the leader or who seemed to not do enough, etc.

Despite my tendency to be an introvert, I did really well with group presentations. I surprised all of my group mates when I was the first to present for one project. I was always shaky and nervous in the practice run-throughs…but on the day of the presentation, I shined through.

“It was like Helene was a completely different person!” I remember my classmate telling the professor.

#amwriting #foodie learning

Daily Post Day 57: One-Day Writing Workshops

A temporary tattoo from my niece.


I went to a One-Day Intensive Workshop today with the Gotham Writers’ Workshop here in New York. I took up this opportunity since I knew I was going to still be in town for a few more days.

I had many different workshops to choose from, but I decided on Food Writing. I admit, my poor food blog (Cinnamon Juice) has gone the wayside for awhile now. I loved the instructor, Fran, a lot and I enjoyed listening to all of my fellow classmates talk about their experiences with food writing and also hear them read their writing exercises out loud.

I walked away from the class feeling a little better about my blog. I know I need a focus on it, but I cannot think of a niche I want to feel. It is an ongoing battle for me. This blog (official one) serves as a dumping ground for general thoughts. That is fine. But every time I get a new idea for a new blog, I find myself caught up in fear as I realize I do not have enough material (nor do I feel like making much effort) to blog on a regular basis.


This is the first time for me to actually stay consistent with blogging even on this blog. Well, ok, I am partially lying. When I was using Livejournal last decade (wow, I sound old…), I used to write entries everyday…sometimes even more than once per day. Then again, back then I focused more on my personal life and its little details. Also, that blog ended up becoming “friends only” – locked.

Now, this blog may have skewed towards a more personal slant this year, but I know my boundaries a lot better than when I was younger. I know not to mention certain aspects and I know what I want to share and what I don’t want to share. It is that easy.

But of course, back to niche blogging. As soon as I think of a niche I freeze in my tracks and realize I do not have enough material. And when I think of a topic that has been done before, I have self-doubt that nobody would be interested in hearing my viewpoint because it has “already been done before.”

Well, I am glad I took the class at Gotham and I hope to hone my craft in food writing a bit more. I will announce my food blog plans in upcoming posts, once I get some ideas generated.