🌈 💌 vol.29 / a special letter on post-grad crisis / more meaningful work convos? / taking down borders / ++

The deceivingly simplistic framework isolates people by create borders that weren't supposed to be there.

An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.

— Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978 

A letter to everyone, especially those who are experiencing a post-grad crisis.

Hello beautiful people —

It's the first time in my life that I no longer possess the identity of a student to fall back on. Discounting the early years as an infant who could barely know what's unknown, for the very first time, I no longer feel rushed with a deadline to be endowed with the next label.

There's this notion of the psychiatrist Carl Jung —

"I am not what has happened to me; I am what I choose to become."

There's an essential difference between the cliché "be yourself" from being aware of one's choices. In fact, when people are told to be themselves, they are overwhelmed with the inability to articulate what the "self" really entails.

The "me" who is a leader, driven, creative, and fierce may get a lot more validation than the "me" who wants to be in the background supporting others. The "me" who is associated with a brand name and a position in the corporate structure is a lot clearer than the "me" who does genuinely helping businesses succeed but also loves collecting eccentric potteries. The "me" who wants to make a significant impact on society but also cherishes the mundane moments of cuddling with a loved one in bed.

So often we end up showcasing the former self and suppress the latter until we're reminded in late nights, after a few drinks, that the latter is still around, screaming for attention.

Just like the popular meme "what my parents think of me vs. what my friends think of me vs. what society thinks of me vs. what I am," these discrepancies between the sense of "self" has been one of the leading causes of our anxiety.

My upbringing and education have been in an environment where elitism dominates and prestige prevails. These narratives subconsciously frame our minds into seeing the world as a pyramid, or a ladder, or a cake (~ cream ~ of the crop ?)

The deceivingly simplistic framework isolates people by creating borders that weren't supposed to be there. Someone constructs them, and countless people create their identities around this structure that's nothing but a house of cards that we have to maintain every day. We are then haunted by the fear of doing something that's outside of the border, we are afraid to expose to selves that are subpar to the ideal selves, and the whole world will leave us behind.

What if we see ourselves more like a bowl of salad, with each ingredients adding to the flavor? What if we see ourselves more like a piece of painting, with different colors and textures mixed? What if we see ourselves more like water, who runs its course and rises and falls like tides? What if the two seemingly contradicting selves can coexist?

What if we are borderless?

What if we can choose to live on, discarding the borders that have been imposed upon us?

Without borders, I've been able to indulge in connections made through commonalities and learnings found through serendipity. I've had an hour-long conversation with a stranger about the education system in China and why we came to the US. I've learned about how people rely on Facebook for everything from staying updated with news to conducting businesses in Myanmar. A lady from Paris picked out a cute dress for me at a boutique shop in Greenpoint.

There will still be violation, aggression, and misunderstandings when others see us as the product within our presupposed boundaries, but they only add spices to the flavors, colors to the painting, and weathers to the season. If we take some time every week to read about history, the rise, and fall of individuals, families, nations, species, we will slowly embrace the beauty of even being lucky enough to be a part of the ride.

So instead of fixating on answering the existential question "Who am I? Why am I here? What should I be doing", I’ve found it more constructive to grow my awareness of my place in relations to everything else around me. In other words, being myself means being aware of how narratives are crafted around me and finding pieces of myself through them. There's always a way for me to be helpful, to brighten up someone's day, to be the ear when someone needs to talk. Usually, just by chance, the combination of all the people and places and events that we get to encounter already makes up a unique journey.

As I write on, I continue to be validated why sharing my thoughts is important. If I can be honest here, if I'm pouring my heart and my mind, one soul may feel a bit bolder to take strides towards their childlike dreams and wonders, knowing that they are not doing so alone.

Stay real,


Threads: Facilitate Conversations at Work

Image Source: TC

There has been attempts to take down borders in work by including more people in conversations without making a total mess.

Emails don’t do this well as the “cc” game can get super messy. After a few back and forth, thoughts can get lost in translation. Slack is better, but due to the need for efficiency, soon small group chats are formed without keeping everyone informed.

Having product managed a few projects, I’ve found it extremely challenging to balance efficiency with inclusion? And progress is usually made in businesses when it’s both better and more convenient. The new design provides a glimpse into what that this look like.

As the investor in the firm, Mike Vernal from Sequoia said in a statement:

“With in-person meetings there is a constant tension between keeping the room small for efficiency and including more people for transparency…When we first started chatting with the team about what is now Threads, we saw an opportunity to get rid of this false dichotomy by making decision-making both more efficient and more inclusive.” 

I align with the problem that Threads is trying to solve, although I’m still not 100% sold on its design solutions, but I know a good product team can grow, iterate, and adapt, and I hope the team stays true to its mission.

Bringing down the wall with data

I was at a panel where some leaders in fashion are chatting about how the industry is changing.

Eva Chan (her instagram is fabulous), the head of fashion partnerships at Instagram, shared some insights on how Instagram has changed fashion:

“Traditional retailers need to open up to the community to bring people in. Fashion has always been dominated with the us/them mentality, the “you can’t sit with us” catiness, but Instagram has brought down that wall. Everyone can now find their style icons that they can relate to the most.”

What she describes resonates with a piece of investment thesis on AI that my friend Mind shared with me. In the piece, the author describes how a group of Stanford Engineer built out a product by finding an extremely niche problem and collecting the data to solve that very well:

This strategy — building a data empire in a niche area — is the same reason why you should not expect to see any emerging upstarts topple the empires of AI monoliths like Facebook and Google any time soon. Google, for example, has collected over two decades of data about every click, view, and search of yours to deliver to your screens the most optimized search results in existence today. Such vast empires will endure, gluttonizing on their bacchian feasts of data to the extent no other competitors can catch up.

So remember: Lettuce-head empires pay off. Build your startup empire in a specific market niche that no other player has a data monopoly over. Then sit back and let the lettuce heads roll.

This thesis falls under Thiel’s camp of investing: creating a monopoly in a niche market, and building an empire in a specific market niche where it acquired more relevant data than any of its competitors to train its AI systems in the most meaningful way.

I ran across this tweet and I can’t stop thinking about it.
I’m by nature a hardcore person. In the past, I’ve always been 0 or 100, and moderation isn’t part of my vocabulary.

My commitment to consistency for the past years, doing something small on a daily basis, has been life-changing.

It’s been a slow and painful journey, but I hope we can hold each other accountable .

This is a piece of an award-winning graphic design from a 2006 Japanese magazine.

I was captivated by how accurately it captures the process of writing — assembling and dissembling random letters into imageries that transcend borders.

Am I making a whale’s tail? Am I making a butterfly? Do those words tug at your heart string? The moment I hit publish, the letters will scatter across the borders and get to you. From there, those letters are yours to assemble.

Another tweet storm that caught my attention that you may find interesting and relevant. You can frame tradeoffs in your career decisions in many different ways, but I like his approach here that focuses on impact.

A community that brings together impact-driven thinkers and makers.

Reply if you want contribute to this or just want to be friends. I’m looking for individuals who are passionate about defining what the future of this community could look like.

That’s it. I love you. 💙

Share with the world if you enjoyed this. 🌍

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