Influenced by Faith: 6 Values I Strive to Live By at Work

My values for work and my work ethic have been influenced by many,

some through direct experience and demonstration by great and horrible bosses, and others through minds in books: Ernest Hemingway on the attractiveness and persuasiveness of brevity; Ray Dalio on embracing the natural bents, strengths, and weaknesses of others, Shane Parrish on the many mental models I could employ to make smarter decisions, and Marcus Aurelius’ father on how to treat your co-workers, to name a few.

I give credit to the Bible for most of the underlying values in work I’ve cultivated in my professional life; They are things I strive to abide by and commit to at the age of 28.


Here are some lessons I learned from the Bible on how to live as a Christian in work:


Rest and relaxation must become a familiar presence in your life. 

Having work physically, emotionally and mentally consume one’s life and identity is against the character of a Christian life.

As a Christian, participating in the Sabbath is an act of obedience, a reminder for me that I am not a slave beholden to my work (“How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!” (Matthew 12:12)), and a demonstration that I’m putting my money where my mouth is when I say I believe God is sovereign, at the center of my life and my purpose for being.

It’s also an healthy act of rest: to rejuvenate, restore, and re-center myself in the things that matter most to me in life.

So, we keep the Sabbath. (Deuteronomy 5:12-14):


Listen and actively seek and embrace guidance and counsel from others.

Be humble and open minded in the counsel and feedback of others.

Proverbs 15:22: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Proverbs 11:14: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.”

Proverbs 24:6 on being a wise and successful king: “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers”.

What these verses do not imply is to accept the guidance of anyone, or to always embrace the guidance of close counsel. They simply state the value of taking into deep consideration the counsel of one’s advisors. Who do you see as an advisor in your life? Hopefully someone close, who reflects principles and values you respect, and someone you trust and respect.

Despite demonstrated differences in values, principles, and/or opinion, have respect for and be respectful of placed authority.

It is important to show a level of respect to those placed in specific positions as they have been “elected” and placed there by people, whether it be by the board of your company, or by your nation’s people. (Romans 13)

While I struggle with showing deep admiration for someone when his/her principles are at odds with mine, regardless of position, I learned that is different from being able to show thoughtfulness and respect for the dignity and position of another.

Shane Parrish, founder of Farnam Street, has also savvily quipped once: “you can disagree without saying anything.”


Engage in and pursue work that has purpose and meaning.

Being involved in work that is “beneficial,” “constructive,” or benefiting the “good of others” is in close character with Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:23


Celebrate and compliment your colleagues’ strengths and accomplishments. Mentor your juniors; actively give credit to them.

Lift up your peers [hype them] when there is any true opportunity to do so. BUT avoid flattery.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
“For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:18)
“For there is no truth in their mouth…. their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.” ( Psalm 5:9)

Bises,

Soo

Poem_When Push Comes to Shove

You like espousing ethics and break

promises in the same breath,

you say you value communication, but here’s the silence I

got instead.

You wanted trust, but pulled away before we’d even built a foundation

you said you like to give, but push came to shove and all I got was the taking.

 

 

Show Me, Don’t Tell Me Your Values

We all like to say we have values. We write them on our resumes, on our dating profiles, and shout them to our friends,
but values are not the things we’d like to define ourselves by, they’re what our practices and actions show.
Show me your values.
And if you can’t, re-evaluate yourself and start from there.

12 Experiences of 2018 and 10 Goals for 2019

Experiences of 2018

1. loved

2. made life long and diverse friendships from my time in California in the summer

3. tested myself as the CEO of my own company– and dealt with and am continuing to deal with the everyday prospect of rejection and personal rejection and observing myself responding to and living these moments, well, or not so well.

4. saw the fruit of my strong relationships with the women in my life

5. revealed a personal long term trauma of mine from childhood to a room of 60+ colleagues and strangers > which unintentionally sparked a wonderful and effective road to recovery, healing, closure, and peace in my life. It was a mixture of owning the experience and being of the age and emotional maturity to really own it. I’ve talked about this trauma to other people before and when I was younger, but I was never “there” emotionally and mentally to free myself from the burden of my experience. This time, it seems I was.

6. actively sought to support, pray for, and aid the people in my life and colleagues I met once or more than a couple times through my work.

7. experienced very little depressive thinking and anxiety

8. had the opportunity to travel and experience the most wonderful new things nearly every month

9. lots of family loss and pain because of health problems + dealing with the painful history my immediate family shares.

10. learned to love my body and myself even more. Not over exceedingly. Just accurately.

11. practiced killing my pride and the areas of my close-mindedness

12. Experienced both the bliss and fortitude of not comparing myself to anyone and the pain of putting myself down or making myself insecure by comparing myself to others throughout intermittent months

Goals of 2019

1. Be a better listener. More actionably, stop interrupting and learn to put pen to paper if my thoughts keep overruling my desire to listen to the other and overwhelming my head and tempt me to interrupt conversation.

Enforce the mindset that a conversation with ANYONE = a precious time to show my appreciation for and understanding of them through LISTENING – action.

2. Stop my pattern of mumbling.

3. Last year to become fluent in French

Take it as a black or white scenario. Winner takes all.

(This kind of harsh mentality might not work for everyone, but I’ve found that for me, when I deal with mental absolutes when setting expectations for myself, I end with half or half + the expectations I set myself. )

4. Be increasingly there for my family members, H, W, J, and J while keeping boundaries for the life and identity that I am uniquely constructing for myself on my own terms.

5. Learn how to say NO – two reasons – 1. protect my wellbeing, and my limited energy (if I keep saying yes, I’ll run myself to the ground) and 2. check bullshit from others as the first sentence is uttered or written. Find a way to stay kind and respond or ignore messages without feeling guilty and without bile to people who seek to take or have an agenda that is not wise or in service to you or others?, or… I feel like there is a wiser way of going about this. But I haven’t come to the answer yet.

6. Have ATEM succeed

7. Work better to protect the marginalized and misunderstood, particularly those with issues I am personally passionate about:

  • sexual harassment
    • check people, even if they are people who are more powerful than me or men I have a personal attachment to.
  • gender discrimination
    • grow as a woman who denies expectations prescribed to her present and future (be independent! Be a wife! Don’t be a wife! Don’t quit your job! Quit your job! Be more dependent! Be less dependent!). Grow as a woman who determines what it is to be herself on her own terms. Grow and inspire by example. Currently, it means being secure and proud of the fact that I want to 2. continue doing fulfilling and meaningful work, and 1. [In the future] devote all of my resources to be the best family woman there ever was. I want to have a wonderful husband and I want to have children. I want to devote myself 100% to my partner and am okay with throwing myself 100% to support my partner’s career aspirations (if and when a family exists), so long as when the time comes that I am asked to make a sacrifice, the changes are decided on “together” with the mutual understanding that it was needed not because I am a woman and it’s the responsibility of the woman to fulfill the family rearing needs, but because it was my choice, my honor, and my joy to take that choice for the family; I am 100% supportive of any partner making career changes or stepping back from something for the family as a whole. That is my definition of being a woman and a person on my own terms.
  • racial discrimination
    • be more vocal in the public sphere and during my day to day commute when I see this happening for example on NY subway platforms.
  • domestic violence
    • explore and identify projects I might want to get involved in either with my resources with time or finances
    • think proactively about the future: while there are not many in my personal network that are married, the numbers will rise with time, and it is important to be diligent and create a strong foundation for my female (not excluding males too) relationships now of openness, compassion, and willingness to listen, so that if the time ever comes these people (or even me) have someone to fall back on and trust or send an SOS too.
  • lack of access due to socio-economics – financial/human capital
    • immediately actionable: use the professional and personal network I have to nurture and help individuals in the ways I can.

8. Visit my mom in Korea

9. Go back to France. 🙂

10. Find a new system to reincorporate an optimal rate of reading and doing/seeing art (things I love) as I continue to build ATEM – system I continued into 2018 with and worked with throughout the year doesn’t work anymore due to the immense time suck I’ve had with my personal time due to work demands and stress (stress, because when super drained, it is hard to read, even if you do have that hour).

Glossy Co. Beauty & Wellness Summit 2018

Attending Glossy Co.’s Beauty & Wellness Summit gave me the wonderful opportunity to connect and discuss issues the wellness & beauty industry is facing with leaders and new players; it was also a moment that made me, a relatively young founder of wellness company ATEM, realize just how disparate the opinions of notable leaders were on:
– what the future looks like in both personal care sectors
– how brand leaders, beauty conglomerates, and partnering software companies have very polarizing views on how to systematically define how a business must scrape customer data [in these modern times of multiple revenue streams across multiple sales channels in digital and offline)
– software companies and b2b companies in beauty not having clear guidelines for clear beauty and taking these murky definitions to the analysis stage
– lack of agreement industry wide on a general process for validating an authentically wellness focused good, brand, or business.
Wellness at the summit was a topic discussed from a product standpoint, rather than a movement or values POV. I believe and hope that in the future, leaders might look to considering and incorporating the full implications of marketing and branding their businesses as “wellness” and take this self-identification with wellness more seriously.
Because I sadly have little time to elucidate these thoughts in writing, I’m just going to leave you with these surface-scraping comments here and my photos from the summit which are more readily available. 🙂

IPSY’s Executive Chairman Jennifer Goldfarb primarily speaking on her company’s strengths: personalization.

NARS Cosmetics ‘s Benjamin Lord, Executive Director of Global Marketing

HUM Nutrition CEO Walter Faulstroh

Taking an hour break with a quick jog on Santa Barbara’s shores

Dash Hudson, a data partner of major companies, researches topics like clean beauty using hashtag identification, when in fact, hashtags are often mis-attributed and mis-allocated by content creators and brands.

 

Thank you Glossy Co. and Digiday for having me on this wonderful and intriguing summit for beauty and wellness.

I look forward to the next year.

 

Bises,

Soo

Personal Traits to Desire

I’ve written down a list of traits I find most desirable in a human:

Discretion

Understanding

Uprightness

Love

Faithfulness

Discipline

Righteousness

Wisdom

Humility

A study of these and I find I have much to improve on.

It’s easy for us to forget these most important things when the things we chase after for which we can see the end result/return more easily/tangibly start to consume us.

Better to write them down, imprint them on your skin, sear them in your heart, then to forget and find yourself lost in the chase.

The chase is long. And the human race has proven time and time again that it’s a gigantic, messy blob prone to dissatisfactions, strivings, and wanderings.

It’s good to re-evaluate regularly what you are about, who you are, and why you are pursuing the things you are pursuing.

It would be a pity if you found yourself at the long tail of a track some day… having run all your life… having forgotten the why.. so far away from the person you initially dreamed you’d be.

Musings & Tucans in Le Marais

I am sitting in a very pretty coffee shop called the Yellow Tucan.

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The cafe owner decorates the cafe with bright spots of yellow: oranges, tulips, architectural chairs, and truly brightens up the spirits of anyone stopping in.

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It’s been 4 days since I’ve arrived in Paris.

Outside of my meetings for work I’ve committing to a practice of solitude as that’s what I have been looking for as I chose to take this trip– to recalibrate and deepen my focus.

After a sprint of work here and finishing this letter, I will go out to meet a friend, Pierre, to do what’s perhaps some much needed socializing. We will be going to the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature. It will be my first time, and I am so very excited to go as I know the decorative art pieces there are splendid!

It hasn’t been difficult at all to find new friends here. There have been the hiccups of having to ward off men though. …on runs, during walks between meetings. But it’s nothing.

Work is going very well, although I’m shy to share with you the details of the project I have been working on just yet. It takes a lot of preparation, a lot of risk, and sharing sometimes feels scary because it feels like I am putting all my eggs in one basket, when I myself am not absolutely sure where this heading. But this I think is the scared me talking. 🙂

Things are moving very quickly forward though. It’s enough to excite me and frighten me simultaneously.

I hope I have the courage to continue on.  And if not, I hope I have the courage to take up something new again. To persevere, and also to be brazen when acting for the good things– the worthy things.

Arming myself for the days ahead.

Love,

Soo

 

 

 

Understanding a Marginalized Metric in the Arms Race for Success: Emotional Intelligence

In his delicious article “What Makes A Leader?,” brain and behavioral sciences expert and professor Daniel Goleman summarily tackles and identifies Emotional Intelligence as the fulcrum of the development and measurement of leadership within spheres of business and management.

First surfaced in 1985 via Wayne Payne’s doctoral thesis, “A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence”, EI was formally termed to account for the additional types of intelligence not subscribed in the parameters of technical and IQ modules.

Emotional Intelligence is an important quality to understand as how you measure up against these elements/pre-requisites are factors that can affect one’s ability to be a leader: managing a critical mass of people and ultimately creating high-impact value.

Out of the many models that have since been created by many scholars in their attempts to define EI, Goleman’s on EI has withstood the 2000’s and has served as the frame of reference for many educational and professional institutions seeking to understand this more deeply; I have likewise found his model for EI to be particularly useful, so I will continue on with reference to his model of five fundamental components:

Self-awareness is pretty by the book. It’s having a keen knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, your needs, and your desires.

Self-regulation is the ability to maintain what can be simply described as the “emotional/professional poker face”, having the ability to yield reason over instinct despite certain situations natural eliciting a reaction that might be oppositional.

Motivation is the desire to achieve something. Often times, those who are motivated in the work place who currently hold decision making power have been observed to have the inclination to achieve for achievement’s sake regardless of there being a targeted goal or not.

Empathy, is empathy 🙂 Showing and successfully conveying genuine camaraderie and understanding for teammates, despite facing situational differences, deadlines/hard decisions being needed to make (i.e. corporate layoffs). Having the ability to treat each person uniquely and smoothly to best fit his/her emotional makeup and reactionary dispositions.

Lastly, social skills, i.e. being  gregarious – being willing to open up your time, resources, and mind widely. Studies have supported that people with great social skills often have  friendship networks that are very wide in breadth. Also, in the working space, high-leadership potential individuals can paradoxically appear to not be working as much because they more often than not recognize the needs to do things like allocate amounts of time during their work day to “chat ” and get to know their colleagues cross-departmentally.

Goleman doesn’t merely expound on or seek to heighten the value of pre-existing didacticisms, and this particular excerpt, amongst many, is very enlightening as it gets into the neuroscience of it all–showing where exactly EI growth is being activated and how we can push ourselves and our lovely comrades forward towards [higher command!] higher vision:

“With competency and leadership training programs provided in leading companies, it’s important to determine where exactly our emotional intelligence comes from. It’s a mixture of nature and nurture, but studies show that a large part of our development in regards to this as physiological: “Emotional intelligence is born largely in the neurotransmitters of the brain’s limbic system, which governs feelings, impulses, and drives. Research indicates that the limbic system teams best through motivation, extended practice, and feedback. Compare this with the kind of learning that goes on in the neocortex, which governs analytical and technical ability The neocortex grasps concepts and logic. It is the part of the brain that figures out how to use a computer or make a sales call by reading a book. Not surprisingly-but mistakenly-it is also the part of the brain targeted by most training programs aimed at enhancing emotional intelligence. When such programs take, in effect a neocortical approach, my research with the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations has shown they can even have a negative impact on people’s job performance. To enhance emotional intelligence, organizations must refocus their training to include the limbic system. They must help people break old behavioral habits and establish new ones. That not only takes much more time than conventional training programs, it also requires an individualized approach.”

And just how important are these for professional development and how do they add up to affect the trajectories of our careers and our lives?

An extensive study of data culled through the numerous competency models employed by top 500 companies of manager to C-level executives has revealed that out of the technical, intellectual and EQ abilities we can strive to develop, EQ is what’s most paramount to hinting at one’s growth potential as a thriving leader.

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There are people that would scream out in surprise, “what a coincidence! That this is so important to my success!! ..I suppose they would be the kind of people who forget that humans are the backbone to every problem and every solution found in this world, but this is only the opinion of one.

Cool stuff!

Anyways, I shall end my advocacy for EI for the moment, but I do hope you take the time to read Goleman’s article, “What Makes a Leader” when you have the time.

Bises,

Soo

***

See here for another benefit to EI form a cost/benefits angle as noted by a leading research team in the UK specializing in management training:

Benefits of early EI measurement:

Case 1: “When hiring recruiters, the government used an emotional intelligence test as part of the process. They found that the recruiters who performed the best were the ones that had scored the highest on the EI test– particularly in the competencies of emotional self-awareness, empathy, happiness, and assertiveness [hiring employees who have high levels of EI gives you a better chance of hiring the right people the first time and reduces employee turnover, resulting in significant cost savings”. The Air Force soon learned that it could increase the chances of hiring successful recruiters by three times as much if they used the EI test. They found that using EI tests saved over $3 million annually by being able to hire the right people for the first time. The results were so notable that the Government Accountability Office (formerly the Government Accounting Office) presented the information to Congress who in turn requested the Department of Defense use emotional intelligence tests in recruitment and selection in all the armed forces.”

***

Read on to get better acquainted with the fundamental tenets of emotional intelligence as delineated here by Goleman: self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, and see them presented through examples within the business sphere.

For additional content, feel free to go further with Daniel Goleman’s work on EI here, or here, to get his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

Trying to Abstain from Social Media, 2016

This is my second week of trying to abstain from all social media, and I have been failing gloriously.

I can’t seem to take my hands away from clicking that app icon.

I have uninstalled apps only to reinstall them. I am finding reasons to go back to Facebook or Instagram, because my mind tells me I have to share this one insight or reach out to this one person, or share this one thing, the message or communication of which [I apparently believe] can only be served through the means of “x” Messenger chat device.

I’ve turned off notifications, giving myself what I thought an acceptable and reasonable amount of distance and constraint.

I am a victim of connectivity.

How have I, along with potentially many of my peers found ourselves to be this way?

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A month ago, I finished reading a book called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, written by Cal Newport. It unpacks the professor’s studies on deep work and deep work’s place in our modern world of connectivity.

As Newport shares mind-opening insights in regards to facilitating deliberate practice and deep work, he questions whether social media and its perceived benefits are truly beneficial to one’s life and proceeds to ask us all to contemplate on whether it actually inhibits our ability to do significant and qualitative work.

In my support for his argument on social media not being beneficial, I am not claiming that one must do everything and justify it solely for its industriousness, its productivity level, or its potential for adding value to our society (That’s where the case for pleasure comes in, for pleasure’s sake.). However, his arguments were compelling enough to give me pause and think deeper about this waves arms around situation.

So, inspired as I was, I decided to embark on a personal project to apply the claims and suggestions I found to be relevant for my life.

For October, I set for myself the goal of abstaining from using all modes of social media for a month. I haven’t not tried this out before, but the cool thing this time in re-embarking on a [Social] Media diet was that Cal Newport’s proposal for  quitting social media suggests we mentally approach this trial period as a means for observation, rather than see it as a time in which we make the drastic decision to quit forever and live a Luddite life for the rest of our lives.

I’ve outlined for you some salient notes that I found key to embarking on this low-commitment period of self-exploration—it’s already yielded some valuable personal insights for me and hopefully you will find this helpful to you too:

Allez vous!

Cal Newport suggests the following guidelines for measuring the value of our connectivity:

“Set a 30 day goal for self-imposed network isolation. After those 30 days, “ask yourself the following two questions about each of the services you temporarily quit:

  1. Would the last thirty days have been notably better if I had been able to use this service?
  2. Did people care that I wasn’t using this service? (p. 205)”

“The Any-benefit Approach to Network Tool Selection: You’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don’t use it.” How do you perceive the value of the tools in your life in relation to this?

After two weeks of following his suggestions, I came to certain, undeniable revelations about myself. I determined I have a very dependent relationship with certain media devices. I also apparently have more of a lack of self-control than I had previously thought (whether this characteristic is exacerbated from being a millennial or being genetically pre-disposed, I do not know). And most importantly, I’ve realized just how distracted I could be as opposed to seeing how focused or not distracted I was. This project was intriguing to me because although I’ve long developed a wariness towards the effects of technology and its byproducts, I was seeing things in a whole new light thanks to Newport’s tips & tweaks.

Ending notes: 

Sometimes, social media tools are very necessary to me, and I find Instagram in particular as a very enjoyable way to spend some portions of my day. But is the amount of time I dedicate to these platforms truly necessary, and ultimately even healthy for me et mon existence as a huuuman?

That is something for me to continue thinking about.

For more, hit up Cal Newport’s post on September 21 on quitting.

Arnold Bennett’s Mind-Warp Fundamentals For Seizing Your Day

The “great and profound mistake which my typical man makes in regard to his day,” “he persists in looking upon those hours from ten to six as ‘the day,’ to which the ten hours preceding them and the six hours following them are nothing but a prologue and epilogue.”… “utterly illogical and unhealthy.”” – How to Live on 24 hours a Day. – Arnold Bennett, English Writer

Bennett pleads to all of us salary men: Think of the hours beyond your 9-6. Think of the potential. Revisit your dreams. Create things. Create things again.

Nurturing From the Inside Out

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It’s the third full season of fashion week for me, and I’ve yet to tire myself out of this world– miracle?.

Yesterday, I had a weekend day free of any fashion related duties and spent the morning volunteering for a pantry kitchen where we served breakfast and handed out grocery goods to approximately 600 – 800 guests.

The organization through which I had registered for this volunteer event was affiliated with a New York based church, but the volunteers’ profiles were not limited to those with particular religious affiliations.

I was allocated this time to valet duty. Valet duty in kitchen terminology is defined as the setting aside of guests’ dolley carts in designated spots within the boundaries of the sectioned off roadside curb (Hello makeshift NY parking lot!).

A cursory glance made this role appear very simple and essential.

However, I quickly came to realize that it demanded all my skill-sets. It required a steady performance via my social intelligence and client facing skills –going way beyond engagement of the physical.

Over the span of 3 hours, I was honored to make the acquaintances of  many Chinese immigrants, New Yorkers, the occasional young couple, and a spirited French man who was owner of decayed teeth, perfect skin, highly swollen legs, a poorly taken care of stitching job, and a brilliant and poetic mind.

I spoke mainly in English as I directed our patrons to and from their possessions, often attempting to speak in my broken Mandarin Chinese as the need frequently arose. This of course didn’t always come across effectively as the entire Chinese diaspora had presented themselves, and upon exchange of a couple of words our disparity in dialects became apparent.

From the multitude of human interactions I had, most of the time spent in communication with our guests was non-verbal. Nevertheless, the value of the exchange was tantamount if not greater than if I had conversed with them over a dinner table.

The connection shared upon us offering to one another our respect, love, and our dignities was affirmed in such a strong and powerful way– channeled through the simplest of gestures, a beautiful smile, or as an observant person that morning noted, “I looked into your eyes and for a moment I saw your truth.”

I was humbled, blessed, enriched, and invigorated by the love we all presented each other with and in the re-realization that we all clearly have an amazing and huge capacity for giving and receiving good things.

I’m excited to serve the city of New York again.

Bises,

Soo