All posts by Christine Mason

Introvert, Extrovert or Ambivert? Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

A recent book that got me thinking is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Really interesting read because I initially read it to better understand the introverts in my life. Interestingly, I discovered more about myself and how to interact with colleagues and loved ones better.

To most people I appear extroverted. To those whose known me for all of my life would say I am an extrovert. However, after reading this book, I tested to be an introvert. So I might be an “Ambivert” a personality trait including the qualities of both introversion and extraversion. So I found the Myers Brigg test and tested to be an introvert. So I dug out an old book to figure out what color my parachute was. Shockingly, the answers I used to give were different from how I would answer them now. So the color of my parachute is much different now that when I was college (yes, I’m a hoarder and somehow have my college copy too).

In the past decade my interests have moved from social gatherings to more intimate settings. My parties were replaced with yoga and mediation sessions. In the past few years, my large groups of friends were replaced with online communities that I led, assembled or connected. My dance music was replaced with old school jazz and eclectic world music. My daydreams of whirlwind international trips to metropolitan cities have satisfied with long secluded hikes in the California mountains and sea cliffs. My past anxieties of staying at home had been relieved somehow by my gardening, crocheting and art photography projects. Social media and my addiction to Instagram helps me continue me extrovert image, but if you count how often I’m with more than 1 person, its rare. Maybe I am a true Ambivert.

I found the most interesting parts of the book were the Extrovert Ideal and her observations on the differences between Asian Americans born and raised in America versus the ones who come here as adults. Comparing that to the Asians in Asia as observed by expats. The personality traits that each culture values and respects are drastically different. Leadership styles were in stark contrast of each other. Americans seem to value the extroverted leader and undervalue the introvert. Whereas in Asia the introvert’s calm demeanor seems to be the model f the rock solid leader.

As a Vietnamese-American born in Saigon and raised in Hawaii, which is officially America but it too has its own language and cultural identity. Assimilating was a bit confusing especially when my immigrants parents were trying their best to provide the basics. Between my extroverted “Tiger Mom” and extremely introverted father and the pulls of conforming to the Westernized social norms, it was a challenge. Needless to say, I straddled the introverted perfect grades bookworm as expected by the Tiger Mom with extroverted pursuits such as taking any leadership opportunity I was given. I’m not sure I ever figured out the balance between Eastern and Western cultures, hence my ambivert traits. So I ponder about the next generation.

When it comes to the business world and preparing for the future, it’s undeniable that Asia is a powerhouse. Japan dominated the eighties and now China is the world’s superpower. Asia was booming while American were still going through our recession. So how do we help Americans and future generations prepare for the decades ahead where Asian and Asian style leadership will be valued. I remember being in Hawaii in the eighties, the Japanese businessmen were trying to learn English. Now it’s the opposite. It the Americans learning to assimilate to Chinese culture. We’d have to address this cultural difference if we are to compete in the future.

My Fifty Shades of Grey at the Office

After reading one of my favorite new books Fifty Shades of Grey, I somehow manifested my fifty shades into my professional life. (Mind you, everything was non-sexual just purely done for correlation sake.) Like Anastasia, I was seduced into a professional relationship with a powerful man infamous in his industry for his “quirks.” Needless to say, when given the opportunity to work alongside this phenomenal businessman, I jumped at the opportunity. My mentor and advisers all tried to steer me away since his reputation is big in this area. So, I assumed there will be some growing pains as I learned from him.

As uncomfortable and sometimes painful as the learning experiences were, I somehow enjoyed the growing experience. I felt much like Anastasia through much of the book, even though I had 10+ years of professional experience it was my first time in this industry. So like the virgin bright-eyed bushy-tailed character I pranced to work each day. Each evening I would return and emotionally bruised but somehow found a way to enjoy nugget of knowledge gained that day.  I guess I was looking at the long-term benefits through rosy glasses.  Throughout the book, Anastasia discovers her own powers and starts to take control of the situation as I did. Just needed to stick it through to be able to learn what I needed to learn.

All this made me question what other people are putting themselves through for what they believe is the long- term benefit. Here in the bay area, seems like every twenty-something person has a tech startup. The stats are shocking when it coming to the success rate and long-term success rates of these entrepreneurs. I have watched countless people sacrifice today for a perceived benefits in the future. They coin it with cute terms like “bootstrapping a lean startup living on ramen noodle budgets.” They are dreamers hoping to become the next Zuckerberg and Dorsey by meeting Conway and McClure by coding all night and pitching until they are blue in the face. They are know the stark realities of the startup world but they the push on. They push on because each have a dream they he or she can change the world. They are willing to suffer now for the benefit of tomorrow. Each are hoping to change the way we all live in some way so their names can be revered like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Everyone has their fifty shades of grey learning experience. Seize the day. Dream big, dream hard or go home. To each entrepreneur and dream out there…”Never Give Up” ….the tattoo on my butt.

Cloud Atlas – our ripples

Cloud Atlas, as rare as it is for me to do a film review, this was definitely worth it. An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.  The novel was riveting but once again my imagination is nothing compared to Hollywood CGI.

I simply love all stories that relate to this sort of topic. As a Buddhist who believes in reincarnation, I do believe there is another world waiting for us. I do believe we don’t live just once. I believe that some of the characters in our lives have been in our lives for many incarnations now, just playing a different role in each. Our soul mates could be found around us now and throughout our lives.

I have my soul mates around me, and luckily I have some I met from far away. I always wonder what the purpose of us meeting in this lifetime is though. I don’t believe in accidents, I believe everything was meant for reason. If someone is in your life in this lifetime what is their purpose? For some they get to marry, for some they are related, and for some they are perfect strangers. Why do we continue to draw each other from one lifetime into the next? Sometimes it’s so profound you look at the perfect stranger as if you have known each other before. Or see a stranger from across the room and feel love at first sight.

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GMIC SV 2012 – Connecting Global Innovators

GMIC SV 2012 in San Jose, I was lucky to experience it with a VIP pass which allowed me to join their VIP dinner reception the evening before the conference began. At my table I met some interesting VIP movers and shakers from the local area as well as those visiting from all over Asia. It was an impressive group of executives in the mobile industry who optimized their opportunity to rub elbows with investors, vendors representatives, government representatives and many more. It was interesting to see everyone’s hyper focus on exchanging business cards, shaking hands and working the room. There was so much synergy in the room it was palpable.

Here’s a quick summary of their wrap-up

This year, our vision of “Connecting Global Innovators” was brought to life at GMIC SV as we brought together over 5,400 attendees from 58 countries for 2 days in Silicon Valley.  GMIC SV was clearly not just another tech event. Our hope was that through GMIC SV, you would be able to better understand and connect with the global mobile industry and ultimately, grow your business.   And, with the support of over 60 partners, 45 advisors and 20 sponsors, we successfully fulfilled that vision.

9 stages with 200 speakers
From the Main Stage to the Global Stage to stages dedicated to startups and apps, we built a platform for attendees to hear from all aspects of the mobile industry. Attendees were able to learn from mobile-industry leading companies and thought leaders.

My experience connecting Global Innovators

The variety of seminars and speakers were impressive but their attendees were what really set this conference apart from other conferences I have experienced. I noticed the high caliber of Asian tech and mobile startups represented as well as the myriad of established sponsoring companies that want to strengthen their presence and alliances with the bay area and American tech companies. This was not just an expo where attendees march like zombies but they are actively listening, asking questions, exchanging knowledge, longer conversations and obvious business deals being hashed out.

At the conference I spent much of my time in the VIP lounge meeting and chatting with the fellow VIPs. I always skipped the VIP dinners because I was able to connect with some interesting people including successful billionaire expats, the social media king of Vietnam and a prodigy startup tech founder. The fact that I was able to connect some of these men who and the potentials of their future collaborations make this a very unique and eye-opening experience.

 

 

My vision for women in tech

Recently sat down with a girlfriend who quit her job from Yahoo and decided to follow her passion to be a life coach. Today, she just finished going back to school and started her own business. So, I decided to make a vision board of what I wanted from my future. It’s been a few years since I stopped dreaming big…really big. This time I”m being less of an artist and more of a geek. Instead of creating a vision board table, I’m making this on Pinterest. I dare to reach for the stars, I dare to dream. I am at a place in my life where I truly feel nothing is impossible. Everything we go through is a step towards where we are meant to be. Don’t be afraid and envision what you want out of your life.

Already things are starting to shape up. First, I put up Oprah, I wanted to meet her live! So I pinned and image of her. In hunting for the image I decided to go onto her webpage. I poked around and voila! I found she had the “O You!” Conference at the LA Convention Center on October 20th when I was already planning on being in town. Coincidence or destiny?

I’ve been obsessively sharing Sheryl Sanberg’s Ted Video: Why we have too few women leaders, with anyone that could read or discuss it with me.  At work, I reviewing admissions at the tech accelerator but noticed a sad trend in the number of applicants that were female. Given that for the first time the graduating class in the Silicon Valley is graduating 50% women, I was hoping that there would be a higher representation in the applicants. So I stuck Sheryl Sanberg on my board. I will meet her one day, if I’m lucky, I get to work with her! I appreciate that she is building her name and reputation on female empowerment in the workforce and trying to start a cultural change to allow men to contribute more at home.

Luckily, my male boss says we have access to a number of high-caliber female mentors locally to boost women in the community. Third on my vision board is my brainchild – similar to Oprah’s Lifeclass, I envision a fireside chat with the female leaders and executives in the Silicon Valley mentoring women entrepreneurs internationally. Not only do we start a dialogue but an action plan about what we could do change this industry. The ripple has already started now how do we ride the wave? I’m envisioning that world now but I also hope to help shape it, there’s plenty of space on my vision board.

Lots of hope amongst tech community during the crisis in Spain

During my recent trip to Spain, I fell in love with the people, culture, music, food and sites. The experience was amazing! I loved that in each town we had Spaniards and locals to meet and hang out with. The locals were excited to share their culture and show me how they actually lived, ate, drank, communicated, conducted business. While in Spain, I traveled with Luis, a climbing buddy I had climbed with in Los Angeles for a few years. He’s moved back to Madrid and is a physics teacher in the school system facing wage cuts so he was very enlightening to chat politics with. They are facing a 25% unemployment rate nationally and the younger generation, the graduates are at 50% unemployment. The highest in the European Union.

I also met for tapas and cervezas with Alex Mason, a budding Canadian entrepreneur I met in San Francisco but moved to Madrid to pursue a business venture including joining a tech incubator.  Miguel Galera, CEO of Grupo IntegralCom and Director of the local chapter for Founder Institute, treated us to a wonderful local lunch of Spanish style. They all acknowledged even though they are in a crisis, there are still some cultural challenges they need to overcome to truly grow the tech community . One thing they both mentioned is the slower pace Spaniards adopt new technology. They have hope they can overcome that and be part of the growing tech community there,thus creating jobs and boosting the economy.

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Unconventional limbic brain leadership lessons

Leadership – Doing it the unconventional way by turning on the limbic brain…the thing that supports our functions such as emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory. Recently, I have been inspired by a few unconventional leaders and read some radical books that shifted my paradigm. Interestingly, I always already been at this wave length and am so excited to find others who have found that in the pursuit of their passions, they are shifting the course of this world whether it be through shifts in consciousness, to globally empowering entrepreneurs, to envisioning our future on a different planet. Here my suggested 3 steps to becoming an inspirational leader.

Step 1 – Be passionate about something. Discover what inspires you to become or be a part of a greater cause much bigger than yourself. Declare your intentions! Scream it at the top of your lungs.

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VIDEO: Busted Foundation’s 8th Annual Bowling for Boobies 2012 – Breast Cancer charity event

Check out Bowling for Boobies 2012 promo video produced by our Horror Starlet team. This will be their 4th year supporting us. Please help us spread the word. This year’s Bowling for Boobies, Busted Foundation signature annual event is a non-profit organization that financially supports local women who are currently being treated for breast cancer.

Thanks Allison Kyler, Ashlyn Yennie, Brooke Lewis, Carlee Baker, Cerina Vincent, Kristina Klebe & Natalie Victoria for your continued support!

Help us by making a donation today. You will be surprised at how far $25 or $50 could do. Thanks!!!

Greg Kidd, Jeffrey Paine, Peter Chen, Brian Wong, Andrew Chen (top) & Trip Adler

Men teaching the boys to fish – building a legacy vs. a tech startup

The proverb goes “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” After several weeks of intense fishing lessons from some of Silicon Valley VIPs, founders and investors, it leads me to ask are you a man or are you a boy? Are you creating a tech startup hoping for a fat exit? Or are you a man building a legacy? In speaking with some of these high level achievers, the one biggest difference I noticed is their thinking. They don’t just see the trees but they see the forest. While people are asking them fundamental question on the building blocks of a successful startup, these men are scheme to build a legacy that will be resilient to the test of time and go way beyond them in this lifetime. While some are plotting their next step, these men are miles ahead.

What is the larger picture? What are the true questions you should be asking? If I am lucky enough to have a mentoring session with anyone I respect, I often ask questions that try to get in their head, behind their thinking, understand their decision making, their motivations, their inspirations, their strategies for the higher level questions, etc. Even if your startup isn’t going well and you will need to pivot later down the line or quit all together, the higher level advice is what will last you forever.  Realizing that these men probably already made enough money already, so what motivates them to continue? They are inspired to build a true legacy business. Pitch them what you have has what it takes, know your shit and back it up. They can tell a winner vs a loser from a mile away.

Be inspired by something true. Be motivated to make a change in the world. Live with intention. Build something you are truly passionate about. The pieces will fall into place if you keep working your ass off to create your own luck. Learn how to fish.

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Founders Showcase 2012 – International tech startup pitch competition

The Founder Showcase is a quarterly startup pitch and networking event that gathers over 300 top technology CEOs, investors, and seed-stage companies in Silicon Valley to hear talks from leading CEOs, and help launch a promising startup to greatness. The 11th Founder Showcase was Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus. Guests were treated to an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 of the best seed-stage companies graduating from Founder Institutes globally; as well as talks by Kevin Rose (Founder of Digg, Venture Partner at Google Ventures), Aaron Levie (Co-Founder & CEO of Box), and Hiten Shah (CEO of KISSmetrics). Appetizers and drinks will also be served in a networking hall full of other hot startups demoing at the Demo Table Competition.

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