What I think success looks like?

I’ve seen this on Facebook and my bosses’ office. I definitely agree.

I’ve found myself in really sticky situations especially lately but like all other times, I try to turn it around. Lately these last few situations have been a more serious degree. I really enjoy my new job.

Not too long ago, I got laid off from my job. I’ve been working in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry since I graduated from college. I saw that as an opportunity to re-think my goals and choose another career path. That was when I changed gears towards public health and I am currently working for a non-profit.

Also my most recent one was walking away from a promising (once-so-promising) start-up. I’ve been with this group since February and we got ourselves a grant and an accelerator. When the accelerator started, my partner was fighting over silly things like money even though my partner said we should try to avoid fighting over money. The thing was I never fought back over money but my partner kept starting the fires. The reason why I never fought back is because I had no money to really keep in the first place.  I already knew what was coming. When you’re an entrepreneur — expect to be without a paycheck for a while. I’ve heard various answers — it could be months and it could be years. I didn’t mind behind without a check from the start-up. I guess my partner was stressed for putting her eggs in one basket. Also my partner and I had very different visions for our start-up — one driven by commercialism, the other was driven by passion. I left not just the accelerator and told the program to just give my stipend to my partner, but overall I left the start-up. Like I said, I had no money to even take in the first place. There was no point fighting back.

That is the ugly side of being in a start-up. Make sure your partner is a real partner and shares the same vision with you. My partner and I saw things differently and it simply wasn’t working out.

It was really hard for me to leave because I was the spokesperson for the start-up. I attended networking events and everywhere I went, people told me that I seemed extremely passionate about what I was doing. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen the next time I was going to see these people about what happened. But now since the worst is over, if I were to ever bump into any of them again, I’m all right telling them what happened. I am posting on this blog after all.

I was afraid of leaving because I was afraid people would think I’m no longer interested or was not willing to take on the work. Not true, I felt because of what happened, the relationship was going to be so toxic and not salvageable — the easiest thing for me was to walk away. I knew I had other avenues to pursue.

I know these won’t be the last time I’ll encounter difficult situations. My boyfriend tells me that my stand-out quality would be tenacity. I encountered some pretty unfavorable situations but I try to do the best I can with whatever cards I’m given.

Getting on my feet again…

I haven’t posted a blog in a while, I’m really sorry.

Yesterday has been a very rough day or so I thought because I got laid off from my corporate job.

I was a contract-to-hire working at a corporate job for almost 7 months. It was funny because the day before I saw an opening for my position, I applied and the the following day I get the news from my contract representative that my corporate job decided to let me go.

Me: Did they give you feedback?

Contract rep: It’s unusual, they didn’t. They called me to come over to give you the news. They just said you were nice girl but it wasn’t going to work out.

Me: That’s not really much feedback.

Contract rep: I really wanted to get feedback if you did anything wrong but HR decided to let you go. (Big corporate fatty name AKA BCF) is really opaque about these things. You’re not the first person who’ve gone through it. They’ve all told me the same thing — they’ve followed all the rules and they’re a great fit with their department. It throws them off the loop.

Me: I see. I applied to become a permanent employer, I guess HR told you to let me go.

Contract rep: Look, I also cover the LA area. I’ll contact you if another opportunity comes up.

That was pretty much the summary of what happened to me.

How did I cope?

1. Talk to people about what happened — ASAP! 

The first thing I did was call my boyfriend to tell him the news and my friends and network and my old coworkers a final good-bye. My coworkers had no idea what was coming. In fact, neither my supervisor until I walked out of the building. It was just the natural.

I also believe if you have the right people who cheer you on and support you, they’ll help you pave the way. I felt it created a ripple effect. That was something I haven’t felt in a long time. I guess that’s what happens when you ditch bad friends for good ones. When I told my boyfriend, he told his work’s HR, and his HR talked to me. She actually asked for my resume. And also she gave me steps to apply for unemployment insurance right away and try filing a claim.

I talked to friends and my network and they did think what they did was horrible. They asked me for my resume too. They also told asked me for my hobbies and interests and try to get freelance work for money in the mean time.

I even said “goodbye” to my old coworkers. They told me since I applied externally, they’ll try to get me back in. I said “sorry, what’s done has been done. I applied the day before and if they really wanted me to stay, they’d let me.” I told them I think I can find opportunities elsewhere.

2. Breathe back life in the things you love

I do pro bono side projects in my spare time. Neuron Highway is probably my biggest project and I can spend more time on it instead of focusing on it 2 days of the week. I felt very split between working for BCF and meeting up at school — they’re 40 miles apart! Some days after work I would debate whether or not to go to a networking event to promote Neuron Highway but I would be overwhelmed with the distance.

I feel this project can help raise my personal brand profile and introduce me to more doors. My partner from Neuron Highway told me that there are people that want to meet us but she always had to put it on hold because I always working and could never attend. I feel maybe this will open doors for exponentially.

I also noticed I haven’t blogged as much as I wanted to. But I can use this blog as my journey of getting back on my feet again.

3. Focusing on your personal brand

Maybe being in BCF it was hard to create a personal brand or maybe they recognized my personal brand and thought it wasn’t a good fit. The word “fit” is such a vague word. I thought being a great worker, showing initiative, getting along with your department and superiors, and being recognized by them is enough to stay. I don’t understand. I thought that’s what “fit” meant.

4. I can finally enjoy Saturday and other holidays

Self-explanatory. And not to mention drive 50 miles per day. I’m looking for my next job to be within LA where transit is more accessible.

5. My opportunity of getting out of the box

Since the start of post-college career, I’ve been in cell culture manufacturing. I graduated in 2009 with a Neuroscience degree in a TERRIBLE economy. But also at the time I did not have industry related experience. I got my break 6 weeks after I finished my last class at UCLA and was working in cell culture manufacturing. I’m not a biology person, I actually saw myself more of a biochemistry or a chemistry person when I was in college. I thought if I gave myself a couple years I would get out of cell culture and move into something else. Well that “couple of years” became 4 years in cell culture. I felt when I was looking to get out of cell culture, I got more calls for interviews for only cell culture positions. When I was head-hunted to work as a contractor for BCF, I thought this was my step to work for a BCF and maybe be able to move around within a BCF. The perception of working in something bigger is that you’re moving on up. It didn’t matter how many supervisors and colleagues in other departments liked me and wanted me to work for them, I felt BCF-HR stuck me in a box.

But since yesterday I felt I finally got out of that box and now I can move on.

Good to know

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others.
Unsuccessful people are always asking ‘what’s in it for me.’”
- Brian Tracy

Last week I found myself showing to people I got a lot more to offer. Let’s see how far that goes…

I have no problem with becoming a Waity-Katie

Some days, when I’m at my boyfriend’s parents’ house, his brother remind us that we were destined to be those couples who will be together for a long time and never marry and have no kids. I thought “well what’s wrong with that?” Then the world answered.

Every week I hear a girl say, “Me and So-And-So have been together for 2 years (3 years or 1 year or  8 months or something like that) and I know he’s going to pop the question. I know it because all his family members say ‘she’s so wonderful, So-And-So, she’s the one!”

Sounds like high school levels insecurities. Why does she need him to propose to make her “problems” go away? When I say “problems”, I really mean “you think that ring defines your self-worth.”

When you get engaged, problems don’t magically vanish as soon as the box opens. Planning weddings are very expensive and they sound so stressful — you have to find the vendor, find a good date when all your guests can show up, fight with another bride tugging the coveted dream dress or asking for a raise at work because you need more money to pay for a wedding.

The day of the wedding is pretty stressful too. I know because my friend is a wedding planner and she gets a lot of brides hiring her at the very last minute and she has to make sure the brides keep their cool and everything is going according to plan.

Then after the wedding, the problems don’t go away either. You still have to face financial problems, quality time you don’t spend your spouse problems, and quality time for yourself problems. I always hear “the house is always a mess” and “I go into the store intending to buy 50 dollars worth of groceries and I come back 150 dollars worth of groceries.” Once in a while, I hear stories about how some girl or boy cheating on their spouse and I hear their more regressive state that them cheating on their spouse isn’t wrong.

This little magical box apparently vanishes all insecurities and doubts.

I have the urge to write this because I do have everything one wants in their twenties. I am a college grad who has a job, has their own place, traveled, and still aspire and works hard for bigger things. I didn’t work and study so hard to let my whole life defined in a little box.

I remembered one week I told a girlfriend “hey did you know that Couple A have been together for 6 years (total 8 years) before they got married?” She goes “really? That’s interesting…” She made it sound so condescending that Couple A were together for 6 years before getting married and she got married after 1.5 years. Not sure what she meant by “interesting.” But if I didn’t know any better, Couple A, sure do sound like they’re newly wed couples. Would have never guessed they were together for 8 years.

To me, it was refreshing that Couple A were together for a while before getting married because being with my boyfriend for almost 2 years. I felt the pressure of having chidren and getting married off and the biological clock off my shoulders. Every day I always tell myself to put your best self forward or at least MAKE YOURSELF to be the best self. Focus on that. Don’t focus on being amazing for someone. Focus on BEING amazing.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Thursday morning, I felt inspired and awesome because I saw this on my Facebook newsfeed from the Art of Non-Conformity Page:

(source: Daily Positive Quotes)

It made me realize actually the past Saturday in Sequoia, I slid down a whole mountain of rocks. It was either take the trail to get to the abandon house or slide down a pile of rocks as a shortcut. My boyfriend decided to slide down a pile of rocks while everyone else took the trail. I was standing next to the pile of rocks and still deciding whether to catch up with everyone else or slide. I thought “wow, these pile of rocks look painful though.” And then the spur of the moment, I decided to slide down.

Sliding down didn’t require any thinking other than me just coming back saying I slide down a mountain.

When I saw that picture from the AONC Facebook page I decided to share it and told what was MY last thing I did for the first time and I asked people to think the same. I wasn’t sure if my answer sounded haughty but I think maybe, maybe it pushed someone to do something for the first time.

I guess deep down, to me, I feel like everyday is something I do for the first time. Today when I shared and posted away on Facebook bragging about my sliding down the mountain story — I generally don’t brag but that moment I thought, what’s wrong with putting my most awesome self forward? I usually don’t share my moments on Facebook and a lot of people don’t think I have a lot of athletic ability. I complain all the time how there are some people to tell they’re hot stuff and they’re awesome because they act so sassy when I think, I feel I’ve heard better than those braggarts. So I thought today is the day it was my turn to post how I slid down the mountain and not care what anybody thought.

Other days, well… maybe lately since I’ve been studying for the CAPM, it would be each chapter I’m reading during my course and how I’m trying to memorize another ITTO (Input, Tools & Techniques, Output) in my memory bank.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?


On Saturday July 14th, I went to the La Jolla Playhouse for the TEDxAFC (America’s Finest City) and I had a lot of fun. Didn’t think I’d stay in one place for the whole ten hours. I checked-in at 11 am and didn’t leave until 9 pm.

It was a great event. Met so many amazing people in one day — the founder of Stone Brewery, a man who created the Tupac Hologram, the Marco Polo of neuroscience, Sociologist studying the Tijuana and San Diego border, a paraplegic who has climbed up 2,500 ft and skied the whole way, a rocket scientist who has reminded me the importance of journaling, and a yoga instructor who has taught us to live in our truth. I’m currently waiting for the videos to post up so I can share them with you, don’t think I’m done naming all the amazing people I met and heard them speak that day!

I am so disappointed in people never hearing TED talks and it’s kind of hard to explain what TED talks are without sounding pretentious or snobby (one of my biggest peeves because everyone assumes I am — more on that later).

Example would be when my frend asked what I was doing for the weekend last week.

Me: I’m going to a TEDx event?

Friend: Oh my gosh! You’re going to see “Ted” (as in the teddy bear movie). It looks so funny!

Me: (pause) No. TEDx event.

Friend: What’s that?

Me: It’s just a lecture from people.

Friend: What kind of people?

Me: (pause) Really smart people.

It became a little awkward from there.

Didn’t exactly know how to explain what TED was and I wanted to sound like it’s an exciting event to go to. I told her that I was going with friends (which I was) who also like to listen to TED talks online (which is true) just to make it sound like it’s the latest trend when really, the trend is that a lot more people I know have never heard of TED.

It was relief when I was at the TEDxAFC event because I was telling someone how I had a hard time explaining what TED is about and the person I met felt the same way too.

How would you explain what TED is all about?

Yes, I am back in school

After thinking long and hard…I decided to take some classes.

This plan took quite a long time to execute. For the past year at work, an older colleague always tells all the 20-something coworkers “you’re young, you guys should be going to school.” She tells me that too and I have taken some of her advice from getting Masters, Ph.D., M.D., J.D. but I deep in my heart, I couldn’t feel it. I just didn’t want to go get and a Masters or Ph.D. in Biochemistry and not have much to show for it when I get that title.


(source: All Women Stalk)

You see, I have a friend who is completing a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry — sound very lucrative right? I remembered a couple months ago, she was not looking forward the comin days her graduation because she was getting her Ph.D. and she had no contacts to land herself a job. I just didn’t want to feel the way she was feeling if I were to pursue a Ph.D.

I didn’t want to get a Masters either in Biochemistry because when I look in the job requirements for a certain position they would say “Masters with no work experience or Bachelors with 5 years experience.” Since I’ve been working for 2.5 years, I don’t see why I would get a masters since it’s about 2-3 years to complete and I’m about halfway with earning 5 years of experience so I really don’t want to pursue a Masters in Biochemistry when I’m learning on the job in the tech industry. I can comfortably talk about an equipment or a process because I have actual job experience not because I helped read the instruction manual.

I even mentioned the only way for one to move up is knowing someone, it’s not just about how much do you know and how much schooling you’ve gone through. I told her the way for me to know someone is to meet more people and have a bigger circle of friends. I gave her examples of my friends telling they’re not too happy with their grad school program and I knew I didn’t want that to be me. She didn’t seem to like my answer.

Maybe I’m coming off as cynical. I even told my older colleague that I don’t mind putting my school on hold. If I had the money, it would be nice. She told me if she was my age, she would’ve continued doing school longer. She also mentioned if I was older and I had kids, it would so hard for me to go back to school because I would have too many other responsibilities.

I told her that I actually just want to travel more because I never got to travel abroad or went anywhere during my undergrad years. I told her I want to travel as much as I can before I turn 30 (I hope much longer than 30) but she told me “but you have to save a lot of money.” I wanted to reply back “on the contrary…” but I really didn’t want to bring on my pitch on how I saved money to go to Southeast Asia and paid off my credit card debt at roughly the same time. I believe you should take a good look at your bank accounts, I think you’ll be able to save money to go travel anywhere you want in the world. I understand where she is coming from but I guess to me travelling when you’re young is more important because it’s the most affordable when you’re young and I feel a person is more interesting when they come from abroad. You can do more stuff while you’re young like riding a motorcycle through Southeast Asia or exploring Angkor Wat. If I had children, I feel I would have pay significantly more not just because I have to pay for more plane tickets more money on safety. Exploring Angkor Wat required a lot of walking and I don’t recommend you bring small children — they’ll complain its too hot and their legs are tired and the day is over when your kids say its over. That’s just one example I told my colleague that its better to go adventuring like this when your young because if I had a kid I’d have to wait for them to get so much older for them explore places like Angkor Wat or wait until they make their money to go on their own adventures.


Laos is on my travel wishlist (source: http://www.weekendblog.co.uk)

My colleague didn’t see where my desire for adventuring life came from. I think if I were to go back to school at any age, there are so many options for people in all walks of life to go back to school. In college my T.A. was a single 30 year old (at the time) mom with a 7 year old kid and finishing her Ph.D. in Neuroscience and before she finished graduating she already had some potential employers at the time. The T.A.s and grad students are met were not all alike in age and what part of life they came from and I never thought too much about it when I left. I guess I found them pretty inspiring. When I left college I felt like the world was a place where inspiration comes to die. I didn’t find any inspiration — I still don’t. I feel I am surrounded by people’s excuses like “I would like to [travel, go back to school, find a better job] this but I have [responsibilities, kids, no one will hire me, I have nowhere to go, etc].” In the back of my mind as they list their excuses, I try to think to someone in my life who has overcome their barriers and were able to achieve whatever they want. I usually I mention someone I know who has overcome their obstacles but then more excuses come about. As I said, I feel the people I’ve been meeting lately inspiration someone dies there.

I guess you can call me an idealist but YOU make it happen.

Wow, I went on a tangent. Anyways I’ve been working for the past 3 years after graduation and I finally thought how will I take myself to the next level? As I said a Masters in Biochemistry probably won’t make a big difference. I did not want an MBA like every other person — I mean you earned your MBA and you’re still a research associate I? I know at least 3 people. Guess those MBAs and the amount you pay don’t quit show for it. I always heard in business school, you meet a lot of people in pretty much every industry you can possibly imagine… *shrugs*

So I decided I’ll earn my license in Project Management. I have to take the classes which lead me to get my certificate for completing the class and I could take the board exam to earn my CAPM and eventually earn a PMP. I got the idea because for the past two years I’ve been working more side projects and I’m always curious about how a company makes the decision they make. It’s a purely 100% class. I was thinking about getting the certificate in UCSD but then I realized all it matters if I get the license and I already have the tech industry experiene. Also I don’t get reimbursed for school if I chose UCSD extension :-(. They didn’t have
community college classes offering PM either so I am taking an online course through my work which is pretty much free. The hardest part of the online course is the online course, even though its set at my own pace, I want to go through the course three times a week. The plan was doing a lesson Monday, Wednesday, Friday and I’ve been setting reminders. On Friday I didn’t do the course because I went to happy hour but I did do the course Saturday morning however. Each lesson is about 2 to 3 hours long and I did not realize how much of my evenings it takes up during the week but that’s ok. Also since the course there are no onsite class meetings, I’d probably have to network around and ask people how they were able to move up into project management in the tech industry. So we will see….