I just read The Profile by Polina Marinova Pompliano (see above photo) and "Words and Character" do not carry enough weight these days. By the way, I highly recommend subscribing to The Profile, if you haven't yet. I was a fan when she did the Term Sheet at Fortune Magazine - and continue to be a fan. Today's Profile Dossier is on Hugh Jackman. I love this actor... and after reading about him today, I love him even more.
At the end of the article, there is a list of "techniques to try".... and one of them really hit a chord with me. Big deep one that's been on my mind a lot recently.
Keep your word even if it doesn’t benefit you: The most important lesson that Jackman’s father taught him was that promises are sacred. His dad taught him to always stay true to his word — even if it turns out there’s a better option or something will benefit him more. “If you get an invitation to go across the road to your mate’s place for dinner, and then an hour later, you get an invitation from the queen of England to go to Buckingham Palace, you stick by your first one,” Jackman says. “You always keep your word.” This, Jackman believes, is the only way you become a trustworthy human.
From about 2007 to about 2015, I had a really good friend. We met through salsa dancing and I remember just being so moved by the fresh energy and zest for life she used to carry. She's off the charts amazing as a dancer too - I'd often sit on the side watching her. She had a way of dancing that was so detailed and natural - it was like watching an exotic car move effortlessly in a sea of Toyotas and Hondas. Beautiful. I tend to just fall in love with the people I bring into my life - and perhaps I put them on a pedestal too. Wonderful treasures of laughter, hugs, memories, and more.
We went to each other's weddings. Our friends became her friends, and vice versa.
Then it started (again). I'm not sure if it's me. It's happened several times now where since I'm the only thing common, I can't help but think it's me. Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe I'm just not that interesting. Maybe no one really wants to be friends with me in the first place. Am I even worth anyone's time? It's a downward spiral of sadness, and self-pity.
We'd be making plans to visit San Francisco, and of course, I'd send a note to my usual favorite friends to see while there. I'm usually an introvert and seek more of those intimate conversations with family/friends. Only if time is truly limited, I'll throw everyone into one big dinner or drinks...
She was on this list of friends I truly enjoyed seeing. The first time it happened, we were supposed to meet for a drink at happy hour. Then about an hour before, she was tired so wanted to push it to later. It became a dinner plan. Then around dinner, it became dessert. Then around dessert time, it became after dinner drinks... then late night drinks... then the next day.
My husband also thought it was weird. We brushed it off the first few times as oh well, the timing must have been difficult... oh bummer, they must be really busy... ...
Words and Character. Shouldn't they mean something?
Then on subsequent attempts on following trips to San Francisco, plans would be made and broken again and again. And the questions of, who else is going to be there? Is anyone else going to be meeting up with us? ... Is there anyone notable that she would miss meeting if she didn't come out to meet up with me? ...
It just was not working out. I suppose I could have confronted her candidly about what I was experiencing. Then again, the relationship at that point now had a giant chasm of doubt in between. I did not trust that I knew anything about her anymore. The character and values that are so important to me didn't seem to match. Then I had to make a conscious decision and remove her from my mental list of folks that I wanted to see, and/or wanted to see me... I took it as perhaps I'm just not that exciting enough for her. Perhaps not beautiful enough. Perhaps not influential enough. Just not enough - and perhaps most definitely, we're not a fit for each other anymore. It was causing me so much heartache so I quietly went a different direction.
Experiences where family and friends don't keep their word puts a dent in the trust tree. Words and Character - they should mean something. Put enough dents into the trunk of the tree and it'll fall down and die. Perhaps it stems from a childhood trauma - like so many of these things we think are unique in our adult lives.... I used to run home every day hoping to see my father after school. He was never there.... and then only once he was there standing behind the front screen door when I got home.
And then, he was never there again.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tapping my shoulders.
I saw this image fly by my eyes at about 330AM this morning - and I saved it as a reminder that I want to share/write about this... A LOT MORE ABOUT THIS.
Many of us humans, we have our dark down days. Some have them more than others. At my worst, I think I did not leave my room/bed/apartment for weeks. Some times, the idea of being alive is just so exhausting. Some times, I am able to push myself into being somewhat functional, going through the motions of a fully productive day - only doing what is absolutely necessary to not let anything blow up. Other times, I've written long goodbye letters to my husband and family - only to "wake up" and throw it away. I even daydreamed about getting in the car, alone, and driving endlessly on the highway to just go away from this surreal non-reality reality I was living in.
I had a really tough time with postpartum depression with our first baby. Really bad. I had no idea how bad it was at the time. Only looking back today, do I realize how deep in the depths of velvety despair I was living in day to day, night after night, month after month. To help myself with this newest baby who was recently born, I did things differently.
Five Things I'm Doing Differently with Our Second Baby to Avoid Postpartum Depression:
Having a baby - it's like the whole family getting hit by a bus. For the mother who just gave birth, it's like getting hit by the bus a few more times. The physical and mental demands are big - and not knowing any better, I really struggled with recovery with our first baby. This second baby has been easier in so many ways, and more difficult in other (like having survived the unplanned c-section, that got infected... more on that some other time.)
Ask for help.
Accept and embrace the help.
Don't add more stress than is really needed.
Eat/sleep as much as you can.
Have strong mental and visual anchors to stay strong daily.
First open mic comedy night. Yes. My first time taking the open mic at a comedy night. I was sooooooooooooo scared and nervous out of my mind. I decided to share those (funny, to me) stories of how I take fun of those challenging moments as a woman, and an Asian person. I can control my reactions. I can't control what other people say or do. Here it is:
I randomly applied to be one of three startup founders to take up the three open mic slots for that night. I didn't think I'd get it --- but then, Sunday, I found out I did. And the open mic night was that coming Thursday, August 10. ... I think it went okay for a first-timer. :)
This is the aftermath of my 1 hour session with Heather Redman of FlyingFish VC. She's an investor in GiftStarter (my startup I've been quarterbacking since 2014). Usually we meet over coffee or drinks, and I give her my update. She gives me feedback, helps answer questions, and connects me to helpful people. This week, we met and got our nails done. My nails are bright purple (as inspiration to myself to be like a purple unicorn!)!
After three years of wooing, and then continuing to woo our investors (GiftStarter), I've learned that really, when it comes to all meetings, it's completely always about the relationship. Not just, do I like this person, do they like me back? Honestly, do we like each other as people? Do we respect each other?
All I can say, is that I LOVE the investors that invested in me/GiftStarter - investment of dollars, time, and resources. Some really really really (emphasis on really really REALLY really) awesome people. I am so appreciative of the opportunity, the opportunity to go to battle with a very tough set of cards, and the opportunity to have learned all that I have gotten to learn (and continue to learn). To all founders out there, investors are people, too (not just dollars).
Row, row, row your boat
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream
[Full lyrics here]
(I am late to publish my #postaweek2017 for last week.)
In general, when it comes to life, the best way to live, is to not expend more energy than needed to accomplish a goal. Rowing a boat against the current, or upstream is WAY HARDER, than just sitting in the boat and letting the river take you.
This "Row, row, row your boat" thinking can be applied to:
Lately. I have been applying the "Row, row, row your boat" principles to the topics that are coming up a lot lately in the ecosystems I am part of. The topics of "Women in ___" (be it in the workplace, in tech, in startups, in leadership, in the C-Suite, etc...", and "Diversity" (be in race, gender, etc...). My current belief is that we're missing a purposeful coordinated focus on identifying and influencing MIT in what'll really move the needle in a meaningful way. That's why the whole topic of gender, of women in ___, of social equity and many similar topics have been so slow to change.
Motherhood is hard. There's so many changes that I've gone through to list, and while not everyone has the same experiences, here are mine (not in any particular order of importance).
Motherhood is hard:
Often, I'll share and say something like, "wow, motherhood is hard". You learn a lot about who people are with the responses. Now having been in this for over a year, I've noticed a most definite pattern. I will always get one of two responses to that question. They go something like this:
Supportive fellow human being:
A) Yes. My gosh I can (or cannot) imagine. With the follow up of, let's go grab some coffee or I'd love to share more with you on this journey. I want to show you that you are not alone and I am here to feel shoulder-to-shoulder in life with you. I want you to know that it'll be okay.
Judging oppressive human being:
B) Of course it is. And, isn't motherhood the most rewarding thing you've ever done? Isn't it completely and totally worth it? There's only one right answer here and you better say it. Motherhood is amazing and that's the only thing any mother should ever say. Ever. Because it is completely worth it.
We get to be the guardian of a brand new fresh pure amazing human life, to guide him (or her) to grow up to be a kind, generous, strong, empathetic, respectful and respected adult. It is hard work. Both ideas can exist.
Happy international women's day 2017
Happy international women's day 2017. Maybe happy isn't the right word. I'm observing this day. I don't know if we should quite be celebrating. The state of humanity is teetering on the edge of being truly broken. I don't know about wearing red, marching, resisting, or any of that. What I do know is the following actions we can do each and every day to honor women, respect women, and be respected as women.
18 Ways to celebrate women and each other on International Women's Day 2017:
and a pen. Take notes.
Having worked for over a decade in management consulting, and now having been running this startup marathon for over three years, I always am bewildered by people that show up to meetings completely empty-handed. Bring a notebook. Always. Perhaps the training I received in consulting was just that good. Perhaps it's training that everyone should follow.
An "Employer" perspective: I once worked with this bright engineer who would nod vigorously in meetings, actively and delightfully participate in product meetings, and then a few hours after the meeting, have no recollection of what the meeting was about. We suggested she bring a notebook and take notes during the meeting to help - she never did. We soon parted ways.
Here's an "Employee" perspective: One of my first memories working at a "Big 4" management consulting firm was sitting in a very large intimidating conference room with the CFO and my firm's Partner level "big wigs". I was an Associate sitting in the back with the other Associates all furiously writing notes. At one point during the meeting, the client pointed to one of our Partners and then to one of the Associates that had stopped typing. A few moments later, he (that Associate) was escorted out of the room because he was not "adding any value" just sitting there. I learned at that moment, never let your guard down in meetings and always strive to add value.
Simply put: Bring a notebook, and take notes = you will auto-magically become WAY more effective.
Always take notes in these 3 situations:
If you're not used to carrying around a pen/paper always, other ways of accomplishing the same effect are: 1) add calendar items toward the end of the day and take notes in there, 2) send yourself emails with the notes, 3) voice record the meeting (not recommended for many reasons.) If I'm at a party for instance, and a situation comes up where I need a quick note, I will send myself emails when I'm not with my notebook.
My favorite method now is to carry a large black artist's sketchbook filled with large sheets of blank paper. I write notes, I draw arrows and connect meetings and thoughts. I emphasize some notes with extra underlines, circles and asterisks. Always bring a notebook.
Inspired by recent events
We've started #theredscarfproject as foundhers and founders to take action in making a difference. :) A lot of us, we see the challenges, we've experienced some of them, and we feel like we have the power to help make it better. Even a little, for at least someone out there.
We're working on getting it off the ground. To share with you a little bit about the mantra, it's about being a shining light of what is possible. We want to help inspire others to not just point out what's wrong, but take it a little further to help action what "right" is. And as we all know, often it takes a few iterations until we all really figure out what "right" really is. Our current focus is on spotlighting heroes in our communities who play by paying it forward. Doing for others what you wish someone had done for you.
Our initial thoughts on what it means to be a part of this:
If you'd like to keep in-the-know of what's going on as we launch this, please LIKE our new Facebook page.
We're working on building our humble startup fund, so if you'd like to donate as we work on our website and building the team, we'd LOVE you forever! Please DONATE here. (Any amount helps: $5, $20, $50, $100, $1000, $1Million). Thanks in advance! :D
More updates to come.
We all rise when we lift others up.
We recently celebrated our 5 years of marriage. Time has just flown by - Looking back at ourr wedding photos (the cool ones above were done by Thom Milkovic, an amazing creative), it brings back so many memories. One of the most happy memories I have to this day - LOVE our wedding. Everything about it.
We planned our wedding in 2 weeks (we had the benefit of me having done event planning for over a decade). Dae proposed and we told everyone about our engagement officially on December 1, 2011, and about 5 weeks later, we had our wedding day. Crazy fast. And still to this day, I say I LOVE our wedding day. We did it differently - like the way we are living our lives, from what's expected normally in society - and it was just perfect for us.
How we did it differently (memorably, and efficiently):
Ah love. It's a journey. This year, for our anniversary, we went out to a steak dinner (we rarely ever eat steak, like ever~).... and then both of us ended up with food poisoning for 3 days. It's been a fun week. Benefit to that is that we'll forever remember our 5h wedding anniversary. :)