Internet life

Thoughts Upon Unplugging for 24-30 Hours

At home, enjoying the weather last week.
At home, enjoying the weather last week.

After my San Francisco trip earlier this month, I was exhausted: depleted of energy, frustrated with TAOpivot, and annoyed at how little time I had to myself off the computer. I was dragging my feet on meetings, tasks, etc.

So, last Monday evening I decided I would unplug for 24-30 hours. I was also cutting myself off from in-person interactions. All I wanted to do was sit in my apartment with my cat, read, cook, organize my bookshelves, etc.

Just some solitude for myself to rest.

The time unplugged and with no human interaction was just what I needed. I admit, I had not had a true day of unplugging … probably ever. Last December, I was on and off my phone and computer, but not too active. Still, that was not true, 100% unplugging.

It felt great to finally be able to finish some book club selections, rearrange my bookshelves (I notice I have a lot of health, business, and writing books; not enough fiction hmm), just RELAX. Come Wednesday morning, I was reluctant to hop back onto my phone and laptop; I wanted to stay offline for another day or two. But alas, I hopped back on to check emails from clients and connections.

It was only a little difficult for me to not check my phone, but I reminded myself that I was not missing anything. It’s true: I have come across articles lately about how our generation is growing increasingly “afraid” of missing out on social media when out and about. “What am I missing while I am in my meeting? What am I missing while I am on this date?”

I was reprimanded one time by my eldest sister for being on my phone too much. She asked me, “Are you REALLY missing something important by checking your phone every few minutes?” I tried to prove her wrong, but instead I proved her right (this was Thanksgiving 2011). Since this incident, I have been more aware of my habits with my mobile devices; I have made a point to put the phone away during meals with friends/loved ones. Nothing is so important online that I must miss what is happening right in front of me.

Hence, I do want to take my days unplugged more seriously. I want to enjoy my time with my friends and family instead of wallowing away on the Internet. I hope to implement unplugged days about once a week from this point forward.

life society Who I Am

I want to be noticed for my accomplishments, not my ethnicity.


This thought has been on my mind for most of this year and maybe part of last year: have I garnered attention to my accomplishments for the sake of my accomplishments and my own merit, or has some of it been based off of my standing in society as a minority AND as a woman?

I am probably not the first to have this thought; it is something that intrigues and bothers me. Earlier this year, I was thinking about applying for a small business award in the area. However, I have put those plans off until next year since TAOpivot is still pretty new (and only now gaining attention). Still, I was put off by the different categories listed for the awards: Best Small Business, Best Small Business Owned by Minority (Women included), and several other categories. I found myself questioning, “Why would I want to apply for the one that’s blatantly spelled out for me?”

Many times, I believe that groups, organizations, hell, even awards/recognitions can oftentimes wear the thin veil of segregation. Just look at some headlines that have popped up in recent media: “Best Female Leaders of 2013”, “First Hispanic CEO”, “Successful Black Women in Business”, and so forth. It is great and all to highlight these people, but to put that label on them? Can they not just be “best leaders”, “great CEO”, and “successful women in business”? Why do we have to point out what is “special” about their recognition?

In the end, it’s still segregation and borders racism. I know in my case, I want to noticed for my accomplishments and merits ALONE, and NOT because I am an Asian woman. Do not get me wrong: I am proud of my Asian heritage and proud of being a woman of the 21st century. But I do not want to have labels put upon me when I am recognized for my achievements. I just want to be recognized for being a living, breathing human being who has achieved great things.

It’s time we put those labels aside and be proud of who we are for what we do, and not for the color of our skin or our gender.

feelings life rant

Injustices of Life: Crowdfunding Version

Joyful Harvest field trip to a local farm. For some of the kids, it was their first visit ever to a farm. Just some of the many experiences the center brings to Joyful kids.
Joyful Harvest field trip to a local farm. For some of the kids, it was their first visit ever to a farm. Just some of the many experiences the center brings to Joyful kids.

Note: Not paid to write about Joyful Harvest. This is a situation dear to me, even though I do not live in Maine. To see a friend in pain, to hear about how the children will lose a safe haven if Joyful Harvest closed down….doesn’t this also bring pain to your heart?

Crowdfunding: it seems to have opened doors for so many. Projects getting funded left and right….dreams coming true.

But, should ALL dreams get funded? Even the ones that don’t contribute to society?

I’ll admit: back in August, I ran my own crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. I wanted to raise money for TAOpivot so I could pay for an intern and ease some of my financial burdens with running the company. I chose the flexible funding option; most of the money I raised was through my loved ones. I did not reach my funding goal, though.

In hindsight, I see that I did not have a strong enough campaign or message to compel strangers to contribute. However, as I watched which campaigns got featured on the front page, I also grew bitter. How come campaigns for making zombie figurines were getting overfunded and mine, a worthy social pursuit, was not?

My friend Shay, aka Black Girl in Maine, recently put up a campaign on Indiegogo to help her nonprofit organization, Joyful Harvest Center, to stay afloat. Joyful Harvest is a safe haven for children from low-income families in the Biddeford area of Maine. I hurt seeing how few people contributed to the fund; I hurt even more seeing how the center could potentially close its doors by the end of June due to lack of funding.

And again, I am reminded of why, many times, crowdfunding is a way to fund everyone’s dreams, but some dreams seem “more important” to the public than others.┬áPeople would rather see more useless objects in our society than to fund organizations that are trying to improve society/our economy.

And then, these same people wonder why they’re unemployed, or why there is still a high-unemployment rate in the U.S.

Is this how human nature shows its true colors through this new way of funding? Have we, as a society, grown numb to trying to help each other out for worthwhile necessities in life? Have we suddenly decided that funding a statue of a not-so-famous celebrity on a dinosaur’s body is so much more important than helping a nonprofit organization for at-risk youth?

Sure, life is unfair, but if we’re a society built on making the next generation of leaders, why are we turning the other way when it comes to what Joyful Harvest Center is trying to achieve? What other socially-minded ventures are trying to achieve?

(Want to make a financial donation to Joyful Harvest Center?)


Business Musings inspiration life

What Society Dictates For Your Life

Hey, I can paint, too! ;)
Hey, I can paint, too! ­čśë

A vague title as I sit here and try to figure out what’s the best way to talk about this topic. Do you get what I mean? Do you feel like the society our ancestors (ok, maybe not MY ancestors, but…you know…) have built in the U.S. is stifling to some degree? Especially in this changing world.

About two years ago, I had this exact suffocating feeling when I first started my B-school program. I walked into my classes and felt that, as groupthink, many of my classmates wanted to be nothing more than hardcore businesspeople. I struggled during that time, trying to figure out “Am I only just a hardcore businessperson myself? But what about my creativity? Can I be both a writer and a businessperson?”

Even though nobody was outright telling me I couldn’t be both (and more), I felt strongly that society wants us to be in silos: you’re either a creative person or you’re not. You’re either in finance or you’re in painting; NOT BOTH.

Fast forward to the present, and I still see this prevalent in how the media portrays current events/etc. Have you heard about our former President George W. Bush and his paintings? There seems to be a lot of shock and awe over his newfound talent and pastime. As I read over the article linked above, seems that the media (and the general public) assumes that “He was our President. He can’t also be a painter.”

It’s this kind of mindset that keeps us in shackles throughout our lives. I was fairly upset trying to compromise my life during business school…until finally I decided, enough is enough. I CAN be a writer AND a businessperson. I CAN knit and also do business strategies. I CAN be more than what society would want to box me into!

From that point forward, I felt liberated. Sure, sometimes I still get the reactions of “Wait, what do you do? You do that AND this?” and I end up getting self-conscious for a moment as I get this innocent yet pointed question from others. But, in the end, I know that I must take those shackles off from my mind, my life. I don’t have to be just one profession.

And you don’t either. You, too, can break free and know that, whether you write poetry and play rugby, or you draw caricatures and do PR…you can be whoever you want to be. You don’t have to be in a box. We weren’t meant to live this way anyway.

Business Musings life Who I Am

5 Questions to Help You Discover Your Personal Brand

My father, my hero.
My father, my hero.

In the past month, I have been asked by others about how I came about with my personal brand. Maybe you, too, are wondering how I did so; I wish I could give you a short answer, but honestly, I cannot. However, as I talked through my long answer with others over the course of the month, I realized there were a few things that helped me along in my journey. So here are those defining moments, presented to you in questions:

  1. What are you passionate about? – Think about what you can never give up in your life, even if you had to retire. For me, I cannot dream of giving up art, or the need to create with my hands–whether for work, play, etc., I always need art to keep me going along. There were times in the past decade where I suppressed my need to create with my hands, and those were times when I felt distressed and lost. Only in the past 2-3 years have I eased back into the world of art and creating with my hands — and that has helped me gain confidence and freedom in my thoughts.
  2. When you were a child, what did you you want to be when you grew up? – We were all asked this question when we were children. I remember I told adults that I wanted to grow up to be an artist…and then that changed into a writer…and then that changed into a musician (I was a trumpet player in high school). Still, at the root of all these aspirations is the fact that I knew I wanted to do art of some form. What did you want to grow up to be? Does it still resonate with you in the present? Even though my profession is not clearly based in creative arts, I say my career has roots in the arts and gives me leverage in a world of analytics with creative thinking.
  3. What are you afraid of? – If you have watched my Ignite Denver┬átalks, you may be surprised to have me tell you that I was once very, very afraid of public speaking and presentations. I remember in high school and undergrad, when I would stand in front of my classmates with index cards, shaky hands, and eyes down, hoping for the dreaded talk to be over with right away. Yes, I used to fear presentations. I was not confident with how I presented myself. What changed? I faced my fears in the past few years by volunteering for events like Ignite. I read loads of articles about how to present better and watched how my grad school classmates presented. And, with time and practice, I have improved. These days, I am even asking for people to book me for speaking engagements. All because I was once deathly afraid of public speaking…and then I faced that fear.
  4. When have you experienced a pivot in your life? What happened? – You may or may not have experienced something big, life-changing. How do you know when to change course? If you have been following my blog for some time, you may know about how I almost died on my 25th birthday. Morbid to say, but in hindsight, that incident needed to happen in my life. I know that, leading up to that ill-fated moment, I was very unhappy with how my life was in San Francisco. I wanted to do more with my life, but I did not know where to turn. Then, that car hit me. And, that forced me to change course in life — to decide I had to really fight for what I yearned for (my own business). Since that accident, there had been a couple other ‘pivots’ in my life to where change just erupted–and now, I see why those moments had to come into my life. Perhaps your pivot moments are not as huge and dramatic as mine were; but still, what moments in your life do you feel define who you are?
  5. Who is your all-time hero? – Who have you always looked up to? Some people say rock stars, athletes, public figures, etc. Somebody in those realms. My hero is my father and not just because he’s my father: he is an inspiration to many. He escaped mainland China during the 1970s because he wanted a better life for the next generation. He came to the U.S. with little to no English skills and worked many jobs before he founded his restaurant in Virginia. He and my mother worked often-24 hour days during the infancy of the restaurant, just to make sure we children had enough to live on and have a good life. My parents have taught me a lot of values in my life, and only after I got out of my angsty, know-it-all phase from the teen years, have I been able to fully appreciate how my father and mother have molded me into who I am today.

I am of course in no way “finished” with my branding. I don’t feel like anyone ever will be; your personal brand can change over the course of your life. Just be prepared to polish your brand here and there.

And, understandably, these questions are deep. You can’t just answer them in five minutes and then, voila!, figure out your personal brand. It takes time, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post; it has taken me close to ten years to really carve away at myself, to really know who I am, what I am capable of, and what I can share with the world. Maybe for you, with these questions, you will be able to discover your true, personal brand sooner than later.