Why must we stay “different” to each other?

My friend Shay aka Black Girl in Maine just wrote a blog post about killing a child’s spirit by letting him or her know that he or she is “different”. Reading the post and about how her adult son observed this sad moment at her daughter’s school made me hurt inside: how is it that we as a society continue to segregate, to draw these silos up and make our peers feel “different”?

Thought I had a normal childhood, but my classmates reminded me that wasn't the case.
Thought I had a normal childhood, but my classmates reminded me that wasn’t the case.

Reading Shay’s post made me reflect back on my own childhood and remember how my classmates made sure I knew I was different: the taunts on the school bus of “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these!” and kids pulling their eyes back and laughing at me; my younger brother, Adam, being made fun of by his classmates after school and he was so angry he cried (and I tried to defend him but the kids were relentless); the subsequent visit to the principal’s office to get those guys reprimanded but they were let off the hook (yes, why would people believe the Chinese kids anyway?); and so on and so forth. I could go on and on about all the times we were reminded that we were “different” in our school.

Even to this day (and I know I’ve written about this topic earlier this year) I still feel my “other”-ness reflected upon me in Denver (yes, a major city!). It angers me that, over the course of my life, things haven’t changed for kids. Things are not better in many parts of the country; in fact, they may be worse!

Why must we continue to do this to one another? How can we change the conversation to being more about how we’re more similar than different? Yet we continue to only see our skin colors and make judgments, even on children.

UPDATE: Just read this passage in Eddie Huang’s memoir, “Fresh Off the Boat”,¬†and it really resonates with this post and Shay’s post:

To this day, I wake up at times, look in the mirror, and just stare, obsessed with the idea that the person I am in my head is something entirely different than what everyone else sees. That the way I look will prevent me from doing the things I want; that there really are sneetches with stars and I’m not one of them. I touch my face, I feel my skin, I check my color every day, and I swear it all feels right. But then someone says something and that sense of security and identity is gone before I know it.


Fleeting Moments

Cozy fireplace at Beaver Creek.
Cozy fireplace at Beaver Creek.


My parents visited Colorado from March 21st to the 30th; during that time, we ate out at the few good Chinese restaurants, visited my dad’s old friend in Greeley, and spent time with the rest of our family (my siblings, their spouses and kids) in Beaver Creek.

During my parents’ visit, the topic of death came up several times: my dad’s friend’s wife passed away from cancer last year. Now, my dad’s friend lives alone in his house with his daughter visiting weekly since she lives nearby; his son is out of state, though. My dad and his friend sat and chatted for a bit about other friends passing away and how my parents have even ‘joked’ with one another about what would happen if one of them passed away before the other.

Another mention of death was when I asked my brother-in-law about their one surviving dog (used to have two: the older dog was put to sleep a couple years ago), and he told me that Mike had passed away only a couple weeks ago. The last time I saw Mike the lab, he was already wheezing with a strange cough, but he held on for the past year and a half. My brother-in-law said Mike passed away in the middle of the night and they buried him along with their other dog and cats that had passed away beforehand.

Death is an uncomfortable topic, but it is inevitable. How do we know we’ll see our loved ones the next day? During my parents’ visit, I found myself frustrated quite a few times with their lectures and their nagging at me, but then I also felt guilty feeling that way. After all, my parents aren’t getting any younger; their health seems fine for now, but our family medical history isn’t exactly too stellar. I remind myself to cherish every moment with my parents, both good and bad.

Our time on earth is ephemeral so we must be thankful for each moment spent with one another.

My Love For Reading, But…

I love big books and I cannot lie. Image courtesy of renjith krishnan from freedigitalphotos.net
I love big books and I cannot lie. Image courtesy of renjith krishnan from freedigitalphotos.net

I’m a bibliophile: I can’t help but stop and stare at book displays whether they’re at bookstores or libraries; can’t help but pick up many books at said locations and read the blurbs, adding them to my “must-read” list. That list just grows longer and longer. Ever since 2007 when I started tracking books I want to read via lists (first on MS Word, then on Goodreads, now on Amazon wish list…ha), that list just keeps multiplying, never decreasing.

Still, despite all this love for books, I haven’t been the most diligent reader the past several years. I kept track of how many books I read each year up until about 2011/2012; I then stopped keeping track of my books 2012 and 2013. Last year, I decided to pick this habit back up and I logged a measly 16 books read (compared to my average of 25 books per year in 2008-2009).

Now it is March of 2015, and so far I have logged zero books read. I find that as technology has evolved, that has taken my time away from just sitting and leisurely reading a book. In my early 20s, it used to take me only a few days to read and finish a book; nowadays, it takes me perhaps a month, if not longer. I go through spurts of reading binges, flying through books if the subject matter is highly interesting and then plodding along in books that, although may be interesting, are not as easy to fly through.

Well, right now I am in the midst of one book, so hopefully by the end of March I will have read at least one book for the year. That’s a start, I suppose.

Are You a Sensitive Salesperson?

Reach those sales goals, but do it with honesty and sensitivity. Image courtesy of renjith krishnan from freedigitalphotos.net
Reach those sales goals, but do it with honesty and sensitivity. Image courtesy of renjith krishnan from freedigitalphotos.net

Over the past week, I’ve been working hard on getting the word out about my new client’s event in San Francisco. I’ve reached out to several connections I still have in San Francisco, telling them about the event with an email that’s 80% form, 20% customized.

I received a couple pieces of feedback about my email, and both of them were, well, honest but also leaning towards negative. I took the feedback to heart and today, went about emailing everyone with apologies for my spam-like message. Most everyone replied telling me that I was fine, that my message wasn’t annoying/spammy, and that I was just doing my job.

I probably didn’t have to even apologize, but it hung heavy on my conscience: I never want people to think that I’m a blood-sucking salesperson. Ok, not to offend any truly great salespeople, but I cannot be emotionless or separate my personal feelings from business objectives when it comes to sales: I value honesty a lot and really, I am just a sensitive person in general. Yes, I may be a bit of a people-pleaser, but I do care about others a lot…maybe to a fault.

In reply to one of the emails above, I said that perhaps it’s a fault of mine to be a sensitive salesperson…but then I thought about it and realized that it can be considered a strength for me instead. If others know me as a sensitive, honest salesperson for my business and for my clients, they will know that I am more driven with genuine emotion than just winning the next sale.

I’m not saying that focusing on solely winning a sale is a bad thing; I’m just saying that it helps to have a bit of emotion when it comes to selling. So tell me, do you consider yourself a sensitive salesperson?

Business Cards & Mailing Lists

Just because someone gives you a business card does not mean they want to be on your mailing list. Image courtesy of savit keawtavee from freedigitalphotos.net
Just because someone gives you a business card does not mean they want to be on your mailing list. Image courtesy of savit keawtavee from freedigitalphotos.net

There have been instances in the past week where I received an email newsletter and wondered, “How in the–when did I even sign up for this?” Just yesterday, a Twitter friend also complained about¬†this:

Why is it I am receiving newsletters I never signed up for? …And how in the world did this get perceived as an effective marketing ploy?!

I thought back to how I ended up on the mailing list and realized something that peeved me: I exchanged business cards with these people at networking events before, and they went ahead and added me to their mailing list without my consent.

Exactly when did this become acceptable? When did it become acceptable to assume that exchanging business cards equals a YES to joining your mailing list? This is just poor practice and unethical, if not outright illegal.

From the many networking events/conferences I have attended over the past several years, I can see how some of these connections, these businesses, collect & build their mailing list:

  1. Giveaways/freebies – Enter to win a new iPad: drop your card here! Seems harmless and easy enough for people interested in winning the iPad/what-have-you, right? Still, I think it’d be best if these businesses would put a disclaimer below, saying that even if you don’t win, you’ll be added to their mailing list. Most businesses don’t do this though, which highly irks me. It’s better to make a separate mailing list of people interested in winning your prize and ONLY contacting them regarding the contest results; after that, ask for permission to add others to your main mailing list and then delete the contest mailing list.
  2. Good ol’ networking – I enjoy networking in the sense of connecting with others over like-minded ideas. However, when I give someone my business card, I expect/desire one-on-one follow-up, NOT getting added to a mailing list right away. If you want to add your new connections to your mailing list, flat-out ASK the connections for consent. Recently, I asked my fellow leads group colleagues if it was ok for me to add them to my Hashtag Hustler mailing list: I only received a few responses, but that’s better than adding everyone without asking.

I’m sure there are other ways businesses can collect email addresses in-person, but these two are the most common ways I have observed. As you can see, it all boils down to ASKING FIRST. You know how the saying goes about assumptions: never ever assume that because you’ve connected with someone that they’re interested in being a part of your mailing list. People are increasingly guarded about their email inbox, so don’t become part of the problem: you may be moved to spam and blacklisted as a contact, which will do you no good.