Who I Am

Transition Period


Since the beginning of 2014, I’ve been working a couple gigs to make ends meet. In the past month, however, I have left those gigs due to poor treatment from employers and low pay. My next step in my career is currently undecided.

I’m one of those people who think quite a bit. I have many interests, so therefore I have many career paths to choose from. This is both exciting and frightening to me.

While all of this is happening in my work life, I have also been slowly packing up my apartment to move soon to my next apartment. I have lived in this apartment for two years now, and it feels right to be moving on from this point.

It’s like all of this timed out perfectly to tell me It is time to move on to the next chapter. New beginnings, new paths.

Sometimes we just stick with the status quo and just watch life pass on by us. Every once in awhile, a swift change kicks us back into gear to take action on new adventures. I feel that we need this to make life enriching.

Now, I am not leaving Denver/Colorado anytime soon. A new home (where the rent is much more affordable) will make a difference, though.

In terms of my career, you may be noticing a few changes around here in the next several months. As I am currently in the midst of packing up and moving in to the new place next weekend, the posting schedule may be off. But I promise you I will resume my #supportlocal posts! There are so many great Denver businesses to highlight.

In the meantime: be well!

feelings memories Who I Am

Getting Held Back in Sports

I have failed a class before.

This happened when I was 7/8? years old; one of my sisters, my younger brother, and I were enrolled into summer swimming classes at our hometown private pool. I could not perform the strokes and exercises well enough; so, while my brother and sister advanced to the next level, I was held back to try the same level again.

Embarrassed, I reluctantly did the class again and still fared only mediocrely compared to my new classmates. I walked away from swimming that summer feeling like I was stupid for not knowing how to swim properly.

This year, I experienced a similar experience: my family and I went up to Beaver Creek for the Easter holiday. Most of us enrolled into ski school to learn a few things about this winter sport (none of us had really skied much, except for the Montana family). I was ambitious and registered for the whole weekend so I could get as much out of the experience as possible. Plus, I live in Colorado: shouldn’t I be required to know how to ski?

My first day of the class, we were only about 30 minutes into the class and I already felt my insecurities and embarrassment arise as I watched myself fall behind my fellow classmates. My knees locked up as I attempted to maintain balance on my skis; the instructor was patient with me at first, guiding me along while we were still in the practice area.

Then, we went up the gondola so we could practice on more realistic turf with kid skiers and other beginners. I saw my niece and nephew getting the hang of skiing in their little class; meanwhile, I was struggling still to keep up with my classmates. Finally, one of the ski supervisors came up to me and told me how my class instructor decided I needed to have special individual instruction due to my slowness holding back the class.

Again, I felt embarrassed and down on myself. How come I cannot get the hang of this like everyone else? After awhile, though, the supervisor changed my mind and made me practice up and down the conveyor belt area, all the while encouraging me, giving me high-fives when I accomplished successful form and technique.

I ended up skipping out on the ski class for the rest of the weekend, opting instead to have my oldest sister guide me in my skiing form on the last day.


I talk about these two instances because I want to point out how I freeze up with insecurity when it comes to sports, classes, etc. Perhaps growing up chubby made me feel that I was not capable of doing well in sports like all the ‘normal-sized’ kids out there. I always placed last in the mile run during Presidential Fitness Tests in elementary school; to this day I refuse to play volleyball because I am reminded of how terrible I was in middle school PE classes, serving the ball off to the left and never over the net.

Do I think something is wrong with me? No. Do I think the school system, our society, causes for kids to feel upset/discouraged/embarrassed too easily when it comes to things they are not great at? I’m not completely sure. In this day and age, we are so quick to blame society on problems in the world; but is it fair for me to use society to blame for my insecure feeling when trying sports out? My ski-school experience was definitely an experience, and I kept reminding myself during the first day that my assumptions of my classmates thinking I’m “slow, fat, out of shape” were probably wrong. We’re adults now, right? We can’t be thinking about “Oh, that person is so slow with this sport”, right?

To this day, I can’t help but wonder if, when I do do well with something athletic, if others are cheering me on genuinely or if they’re just cheering me on in a condescending fashion because they’re thinking, “Ha, this overweight girl *actually* did something right?” Maybe I need to examine my own thoughts before I go and make these assumptions again. How do I shake the feelings from childhood though?

American Culture memories Who I Am

My Lack of Cycling: An Outlier?


Today was Bike to Work Day; needless to say, I did not partake in it because I still have a fear of being out on the road alone like that. I kept thinking today, “If I had a helmet, I’d consider it.” But alas, I do not have one yet.

In recent years, the cyclist culture has taken off: I remember while living in San Francisco, I observed Critical Mass, watching the swarms of cyclists go down Stockton Street by Union Square. Since moving to Denver, I’ve come to know the Denver Cruisers, B-cycle, etc. More and more people are commuting by bikes these days.

I want to ride a bike again; I did a lot of circling around the front yard when I was a kid. I remember the excitement I felt when I transitioned from tricycle to bicycle. I’d show off some moves to my mom and my little brother; once, I leaned over too far and fell over, skinned my knees. Oops.

Perhaps many of you know about my accident in 2010; major head injury and trauma. Since the accident, I have been super cautious about where I’m walking and making eye contact with the drivers when crossing ths street.

When I see cyclists zooming by cars on a red light, or cyclists drinking and messing around with public transit, I become very anxious (and angry). I fear I will see an accident happen before my eyes; I feel angry that the cyclists would be so bold to risk death for a good time, playing chicken with a heavy car or bus.

I know I should not be so fearful for others and for my own venture out with a bike again. But when you almost lose your life once, you want to preserve the second chance you got at life.

And that’s why I’d rather walk or take public transit. Cycling appears too dangerous for my psyche still.

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.

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¬†talks, 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.