Tag Archives: Life

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.

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.