"Unconventional." I've struggled with wanting to feel belonging for a lot of my life. I am Thai-Chinese and grew up as a third culture kid moving to a new country every couple of years. I'm a first-generation immigrant to the US and have been part of the minority as an Asian woman in tech. It never felt like I truly fit or had roots anywhere. In both my personal and professional life, I like being adventurous, trying new things, and taking risks but secretly worried that everyone thought I was weird. These traits certainly didn't fit with my family's cultural values. And sometimes didn't fit into a corporate culture, so I felt very fortunate to start a second career as a founder and entrepreneur. Now as an executive coach and author, I am able to help leaders — primarily women, people of color, and immigrants — find their own authentic voice and leadership brand in a way that doesn't have to follow the standard path. Much of the mindset shift is to own being unique and unconventional, and becoming comfortable with leadership for ourselves first.
My daughters, ages 15 and 12, continue to inspire me. They are kids who had their lives completely upended in a global pandemic. Yet through it all they continue to keep going, finding their own way through a Tik Tok and Snapchat world, and riding the emotional roller coaster of their mental illness. They are a brave generation, full of despair and hope, and through them, I see the rich complexity of being human. I also see them wrestling with their bi-racial identity and using that inquiry to explore who they want to become.
As AANHPI, you bring in a rich family lineage and the ability to straddle many worlds. It might feel that these are obstacles to be overcome to try to fit into a world that doesn't look like you. But these differences and your unique experiences are your superpower. Your voice in the world matters, so don't be afraid to use it.