Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Brought Here, Raised There

One of the weirdest phenomenons I've see in the Asian communities is something regularly addressed in the TV show, Fresh Off The Boat, as well as by it's book author, Eddie Huang.

The phenomenon is this: Asian families move somewhere "West"... call it the US, Canada, whatever.

Then, they raise their children as if they were still in their country of origin.

AND, what is completely insane is this: While they are clear and quick to figure out how the local customs, foods, laws, economy, etc works in this now foreign land... they completely ignore stuff like how the academic system works or how it relates to the job market.

They keep on going, out of principle, along the same lines of success that would otherwise be relevant on their home countries back in Asian. HOWEVER, there is practically NOTHING relevant about the job market, how that relates to school, or even success... as it pertains to how things are "out West."

Now, it's not just the families that bring children "here." Even say, American born kiddos of Asian descent are corralled into this Asian mindset... a way of thinking and living where they are still raised, in effect, as if they were back in Asia.

The problem?! EVERYTHING. Everything about this has vast and very profound detrimental effects on these kids growing up in school, in the workplace, and in their social circles as Asian culture and "Western" culture have some of the most diametrically opposed values and ways of thinking.

The kids are made to feel that if they adopt local culture, they sell out to the motherland.

And, since they are so loyal to the motherland culture out of duty, they are weird in their own homeland.

This has GOT to stop.

If you brought them here, you must RAISE them here. IF you came to across the globe to a new country; retain your values, retain your culture -- BUT, do your earnest to also integrate into this new place you've CHOSEN as home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Presence of Success vs. Absence of Failure

I just realized I haven't blogged on here for a WHILE. And, I wanted to just drop a few very quick thoughts down regarding success vs. failures under the framework of the Asian shame based culture.

See, I was doing some mentoring and was talking with some of my mentors... and, I realized... the Asian mindset has it all wrong in terms of defining success. That is why 99% isn't good enough. That is why getting an "A" grade isn't good enough. That is why being #1 still isn't good enough... because, you could always be better... right?


It's because, success as defined by a shamed based culture is the ABSENCE of failure. And, since no one is perfect, failure is always present.

This leads to a cycle of never getting positive feedback for any achievement. And, achievement is the basis of success.

You have to ACT. You have to DO. You have to BE more, to be successful.

No one ever rose to the top by avoiding or making absent failure. Some of the most famous and revered of innovators, inventors, business icons, and social leaders FAILED ALL THE TIME. They embraced it and even credited failure as the pathway toward success.

Therefore, revamp that mindset!

Don't make absent "bad things" and credit it as success. All you've done, is not do... which is STUPID.

What you must have in your life is ACTION. Action to achieve and become more. Credit, celebrate, and welcome PRESENCE of success. And, indeed... embrace failure. For, there is no such thing unless you FAIL to LEARN. Failure is fine tuning. Failure becomes failure when you fail to act from the lesson it brings.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Look It, Sound It, Be It

So, my wife found this BuzzFeed article about how Asian-American men are finally getting a "normal" image and screen identity.

This has been something that has been bothering many... more specifically, this has been a thorn in the side of so many Millennial Asian men as they are constantly seen as the nerdy one, the math one, the science guy, the one who isn't necessarily great at sports, insecure, and socially inept.

Here's the lesson: Look the part. Sound the part. Act the part. Be the part.

It's all about mindset.

It's all about how you project yourself. If you project confidence, people will treat you with confidence. You will then be the recipient of that behavior... feeling more confident to act more confident. It's a positive cycle.

However, most of the time, the all-too-common-stereotypical Asian-American male demonstrate insecurity... which means people treat them with insecurity, making them feel more insecure, causing even more insecure social behaviors. This, is a negative and very much a vicious cycle.

So, what is to be done?

While I'm seeing this area improve in leaps and bounds, there are still many opportunities for Millennial Asian men to be... men.

It's been far past due. The time to man up... is now.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Balancing Culture

So, this post was inspired by a talk on Twitter about entrepreneurial balance. There was a very nice broadcast by Dr. Jeff Moore.

Now, unless you're catching this within 24 hrs of the Periscope broadcast, it'll be gone unless Dr. Moore posts it on YouTube or something. The theme of the matter for him was this: Entrepreneurs don't have balance. Work-Life-Balance goes AGAINST the grain of entrepreneurialism.

To this: I agree! I'm an entrepreneur now and I completely see how this is true. However, I'd modify this in that the work-life-balance that people have sought in the past is no longer the norm to consider.

Rather, vertical balance is the new norm versus the horizontal balance you'd see in a pie chart or Venn Diagram. Then it hit me! The same goes for balancing culture!

Balancing Culture

So, instead of thinking: Okay, I'm American, or I'm Canadian, or I'm Australian, or whatever your national culture may be vs. your inherited and/or ethnic culture... I'd encourage the Millennial Asian to stop thinking about balancing out your culture as the middle point balance of this:

And, think about stacking your cultural self vertically -- on top of each other, existing in the same 2 dimensional space and adding depth from the ground up.

All too often, I found that there's this weird colonial dissonance & slow dripped modern toxins present in the lives of Millennial Asians which have in concert, destroyed the vitality and positivity of that could be the Millennial Asian culture.

So, rather than trying to balance out "even time" and "even emphasis" the cultures that are a part of you and that you identify with... stack them on top of each other. For myself, I have Taiwanese, Chinese, Dutch, and Polynesian in my blood.

I'm very proud to be born in America and couldn't be more American... just ask my wife.

How I balance this is through having all these aspects exist in the same space, stacked on top of each other, balanced like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It doesn't matter that I'm more American than I am Dutch. I acknowledge both evenly in the same space on the ground which these layers exist above. They aren't in competition. They balance on top of each other; relying on each other to balance both the layers above them, and below them. And, certainly, there are priorities. My American identity is my priority. And, that's a good thing! However, instead of trying to divvy out resources across various areas, isn't it better to acknowledge they all exist and to give each their representative recognition as an important part of you? No matter how big or small?

That's how I do, for balancing culture.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Not Failing, is NOT Success

Hi Everyone,

It's been a really long time. I hope you've been well. And, thank you for coming back for another visit!

Today's post is inspired by something that I've realized remains consistent to the Millennial Asian as a cost of cross-cultural dissonance. Essentially, there is difficulty syncing the values of the "motherland" with contemporary Millennial expectations.

The one big one I want to cover today is:

Not Failing, is NOT Success!

I had this talk with a friend a while back and I was rather struck by the familiarity of his quandary. His biggest struggle in academic wasn't getting 100%, it wasn't about getting As, it wasn't even about passing.

His biggest struggle in the entirety of academics... his greatest fear? Is Failing.

But, here's the thing... just because you don't fail, doesn't mean you've actually succeeded. It only means that you've avoided enough "bad" things in life that you aren't "in trouble." I thought back to my past and shared experienced only to realize that this is a rather common experience.

We already know how important school is in the Asian circles. But, in a time, age, and economy where it really isn't about "school" anymore -- and, it's really more about your applied skill sets, technical skills, relational skills, and strategic networking... these two values just don't mesh!

Millennial Asian students are sent to school with "no choice," facing the bells of doom because they can't get the grade or don't want to or don't even want to be their in the first place. They fear for their lives because if they "fail," their life as they know it is over. At the same time, they also instinctually know that failure isn't bad. In fact, the vast majority of successful entrepreneurs are actually professional failures.

What is their difference? They learn from their failures.

In fact, there is a BIG emphasis in contemporary business strategy about fast failing and fast following... basically, that it is indeed welcome to fail so long as lessons are learned and improvements are made.

My hope for Millennial Asians, their parents, and those that mentor them... they refocus their efforts to actual goals, life experiences, professional achievements, and family values. Instead of fretting and fearing over not being good enough... of failing. Instead of living life in an effort to avoid something, why not live life in an effort to BECOME something.

Failure is the mother of success. So, go fail! Go do -- and, become something great!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Backwards is the New Forwards

In most Asian countries, there is a big emphasis on school because there is a direct career path from grade to grade entrance exams and the job you actually get.

In most Western style educational and economic ecosystems, this is hardly the case. In fact, this is NOT the case. In most Western style systems, you can study anything you want and get a job that basically has nothing to do with what you studied.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Only about half of my classmates in Physical Therapy school had a major related to the profession. The rest of us had random majors like engineering, psychology, sociology... not everyone was a biology, chemistry, or kinesiology major.
  2. The vast majority of my classmates pursuing an MBA did not have a business background. While they were in some form of business, their undergraduate work was related to their industry, not business proper.
  3. Many science based undergraduates are finding their niche primarily in service based industries such as retail, restaurateur, and business-to-business sales.
  4. Getting a PhD in most schools do not require that you studied any specific or related field, only that your prerequisites are met and that you qualify as a desired candidate.
  5. Many professional performers have degrees in a variety of things; however, their primary job is performance be it music, theater, movie productions, etc.
So, why am I sharing this? Well, there is STILL this huge emphasis through familial and social bullying, by both parents and peers, that Millennial Asians HAVE TO study this or that because that is the only way they will amount to anything. And, they have to do it in the way of old. The thing is, it doesn't work anymore.


Working forwards isn't valid anymore. Working backwards is the new forwards.

Just like so many math tutors tell their students to work backwards from the answer or potential set of answers, career paths are becoming quite similar. Rather than looking only forwards to what the next level of schooling or training should be, we should be encouraging our millennials to look to the final answer: What do they want to do with their lives?

And, from there, work backwards to find the proper paths. It is absolutely enlightening to see how very many of them have both ambitious and artistic goals for their lives that will more than suffice financially and do not require the typical and liturgical academic approach as dictated by "the culture."

So remember... Backwards is the New Forwards.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What's in a name?

It's going to be a quick one today! This is simply in response to something I had to help one of the people I've been mentoring as of late. It's plain frustrating.... but, when you take a second look. It's so stupid it is actually silly. I really hope we can move beyond this as Millennial Asians.

We all know that line from Disney's The Lion King, right?

Thought of changin' my name...!
What's in a name?


Today, I want to talk about this idea that a name, a label, a title, a birthright... is your destiny.

And, I want to SHATTER the idea.

See, the biggest problem I have with this is the culturally pre-loaded expectations. While the examples are endless, today I want to focus on the "first born" expectation.

Your name is equated with being first born if you are first born. Moreover, if you are the first born son, everything is upon you.

It is your job to be the best there is... in everything. It is shameful to you if any of your siblings are superior in any way... at least in the eyes of your parents. And, why? It's because you're first born. It is because you are older. It is your destiny!

BAH! What bunk.

I hope we can all agree how stupid that even sounds now, when said out loud. It doesn't matter what family you are born into, what name you hold as your own, what label you've received... NONE OF THAT MATTERS.

What matters is what you do with your life. What matters is how you treat others. What matters is that your actions are meritorious, honorable, and right.

So, what's in a name? Only the value you give it.