Category Archives: Life

Celebrate Women, Life & Liberty

Yesterday, I went to participate in the 40th year celebration of women, life & liberty in San Francisco at the Justin Herman Square in San Francisco. My highlights were, the song and dance by Code Pink, the flash mob preview of the One Billion Rising, and the impromptu lunch with Evan Low, Mayor of Campbell. Low is also the youngest, openly gay mayor in the country…even younger then I am. After the rally, while at the swanky Slanted Door overlooking the pier, our party openly discussed if “vagina” was an appropriate word to use publicly being a public official. We all agreed its a medical term not to be ashamed of. Just don’t use the “P” or “C” word. The pro-abortion doctor and her 3-year-old daughter was with us as we chatted about sex. Yes, a very surreal San Francisco moment that I utterly enjoyed.

Celebrate Women, Life & Liberty (27 photos) these photos were shared with Celeste Fremon of WitnessLA, an award-winning journalist who was appalled at the lack of rallies in Los Angeles. See my photos on WitnessLA Monday.
After the women’s rally at Justin Herman Square, we marched down to Union Square to face-off with the anti-abortion rally. We exercised our 1st amendment rights to they point they couldn’t be heard even w/ their sound system. I quickly lost me voice as I shouted and chanted along. I was apparently vocal enough for megaphones to be handed to me by those with lower volumes. Needlessly to say, I have a megaphone headed my way courtesy of Amazon Prime via their mobile app. Yay for tech enabled impulse shopping! Now my voice will be heard even louder. I love protesting. I am joining Code Pink!!!

The flash mob was part of the One Billion Rising movement. Code Pink also sang of the Vday 2/14  where they are leading a dance across the Golden Gate Bridge at 10am. I will be there! Join me. Also, they have dance rehearsals prior to that. Yes, that’s the same day as the Women2.0 tech conference I had tickets to in the city. I guess I might have to make my appearance there in my pink tutu. That evening, there’s a protest and flash mob at City Hall. Yes, I will be there too!

One Billion Rising – I have been moved by this movement and finally found a way to participate. Being just one person I reached out to my international network and let everyone know. I signed up a few friends in different cities internationally. I am happy social media as enabled us to make our footprints and ripples felt throughout the world. Everyone, man and woman should stand up for this. My male friends will be buying tons of flowers to hand out individually to women at the protest so show they love and support for woman-kind.





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.

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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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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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.

Stephen Covey – Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw – My Tech Detox adventure

Stephen Covey author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and a series of “7 Habits” books had just died today. These are the habits and attributes I aspire to. My favorite is Habit #7 – “Sharpen the Saw - Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes on exercise for physical renewal, prayer (mediation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to the society for spiritual renewal.”  By chance, I was thinking about writing this blog about him this weekend as I left on my total tech detox weekend adventure to sharpen my saw. Living in the city, the urban stimulations has been great but it’s truly refreshing to completely unplug and unwind. I treated myself to a weekend free to my smartphone, 3G, Wifi and everything that comes along with it.

In the past decade computers and electronics have all sped up at a break neck speed. Whereas the human brain is progressing at normal rate. We need to be constantly upgrading every gadget or we will fall behind.  Everything is much more instantaneous, so our patience for life and everything in it has been shortened. A new study suggests individuals rely on mobile phones for mood regulation and maintaining relationships. As a society, we experience Phantom Ringing syndrome, we suffer from Ringexity, we feel alone even when are together and so on.

To counteract this sociaholic tech obsession I need a tech detox, enjoy exploring what the world has to offer. I love nature, camping, rockclimbing, hiking, snowboarding, etc. Of course, I recently upgraded to my first Digital SLR camera and now sharing photos on my website.  Here are some recent tech detox weekend trip photos of Yosemite National Park, Pinnacles National Monument, Courtright Reservoir, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Joshua Tree National Park, and other adventures. Sharpening your saw to renew your spirit is essential to living an effective life. Being Zen & meditating is practice by some of the greatest leaders and minds in the world today. Allowing your mind to rest as your renew your passion for life. Invigorating your body with stimulating endorphins is awakening its spirit with exercise will bring you endless joy. (No really, it could.)

Could you stop and take a moment? How long can you survive without your smartphone? I challenge you to discover this about yourself. Take the Tech Detox Challenge. How will you sharpen your saw?

Startup Mansions – Thinking outside the box in San Francisco’s hot apartment rental market

Ever heard of co-working? Well, this takes co-habitating a new meaning. With San Francisco’s tight housing marketing, residents are starting to think outside of the box and revolutionize an old idea of co-habitating. The demand for 1-2-3 bedroom apartments are extremely competitive currently, but demand for 10 bedroom mansions, not in this economy. There are a handful of mansions housing tech startups around the city and bay area.

Here’s a renovated Victorian mansion across from Alamo Square houses 10 startups under one roof. I was lucky enough to get a tour from one of the occupants. They have a Great Room furnished with kitchy retro decor where all the walls is a giant chalkboard motivation board. Their living room was designed to house a bullpin of computer stations the call the “War Room.” The use of dry-erase paint on the walls make it easy for the ad-hoc meetings that occur many times a day. The house also has a music room, ping pong, billard table, community kitchen, bunk beds to pile in the bootstrappers, large deck facing Alamo Square. Some bedrooms have private baths, whereas some are shared.

Sure its the “Real World” tech style, but it goes beyond convenience. The benefits of these arrangements is intangible yet significant.  The increased productivity gained, forged friendships, partnerships formed, synergy of share resources, network and peer feedback makes this simply priceless. These occupants are selected by the company that holds the lease, thus holds the risk, but this gives the most flexibility in terms of lease terms, especially for the international entrepreneur where it’s more difficult to get a lease or sub-lease. There are several mansions like this already and the company that has the lease to this mansion is planning to expand operations. Check for some options.

Workin’ It – Alumni Networking Tips

Even with all the technology social media today, nothing beats the old-fashioned one-on-one personal meeting. There’s a certain connection that is made and a rapport that’s developed very quickly upon a live in-person meeting. I recently moved to the

Bay Area from Los Angeles.  One f the first places I looked to expand my professional network is USC. Luckily, the Trojan family is very strong and there’s plenty of opportunities even up here. Here are some tips I found useful when I am networking with alumni:

Tip #1 – Your university alumni network is a great resource. With everyone being online now, its easy to track down your college buddies via the university’s alumni webpage, LinkedIn groups, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Google+, etc. Attending an alumni event is always a good way of expanding your professional network and maybe connect with old friends.

Tip #2 – Get noticed, if you were asked to speak or have an opportunity to speak, don’t be shy. Grab the microphone and be ready with a snazzy intro. First impressions are everything. In the photos, I’m wearing a hot pink scarf when caught a lot of people’s eye, so the photographer took plenty of photos, especially during my speech.  So when the alumni followed up with me via email, the scarf was mentioned multiple times.

Tip #3 – When speaking in front of a crowd, I tend to scan the room to see the audience. If I’m ever nervous I just make eye contact from time to time with a friendly face. It’s natural, just take a breath and wing it!

Tip #4 – Work the crowd, shake as many hands as possible. However, remember, whenever given an opportunity, always speak to someone one-on-one for a more meaningful conversation. It’s amazing what might come out of  a 2 minute conversation even at an expo.

Tip #5 – Always bring some cards with you. After you exchange cards and they walked away, flip over the card and write how and where you met this other person so you could follow-up later. Maybe a hint on your conversation to jog your memory.

Tip #6 – If you are speaking to someone you really want to follow-up with but you forgot your cards, ask for their phone number or email and send them a quick text or email immediately.

Tip #7 – As soon as possible, follow-up with any conversations you might have had with someone. Do this while you are still fresh in their minds. Ask them for out for coffee or a meeting if possible.

Tip #8 – I’m not sure on the etiquette of this, but some people follow-up but adding this new person as a contact on Linkedin and other social media sites. Personally, I do not do this unless I have had extensive conversations with this person so my actually know my network of contacts. Others dislike being requested to add after just a quick first meeting.

Tip #9 – Networking for me is about meeting new people with the goal of meeting someone interesting. Through the conversation I learn about them and what they are doing currently and I often listen to see if that person is in need of anything. If they are and I could assist, I often volunteer to do something nice such as connect them with someone else that could help. Connections and synergy is what it’s about.

Tip #10 – Be genuine. People could tell right away if you aren’t, so just be yourself.

Remember…follow-up, follow-up, follow-up is key to your success. Good Luck!