Hello thirties.

This is because most of the time, I still feel 22. I’m always shocked when people ask for my ID, yet I am equally offended when they don’t. I can’t blame anyone for being confused, I am barely 5 foot. I never received the growth spurt I was promised from all those years drowning myself in that fresh pasteurised milk. Basketball didn’t work either. I’m not the only one; most Asian women look 12 for most of their lives only to wake up one day and skip about 50 years… I have accepted these odds. I guess I should look forward to saving on those adult fares for another decade or so.

As 30 approaches, I find myself looking back on the moments that have shaped me thus far.

Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash

I know I have been very fortunate to have had a very comfortable and privileged upbringing. My parents worked really hard to set me up for a life of stability — an aspiration far reaching for their generation. As such, they were diligent about protecting me from anything that threatened this.

Kudos to them for achieving that. Their super strict rules got me to a well paying corporate gig and I was able to experience the ‘safe and stable’ life. It took me a bit over 2 minutes to get over it though… It’s nice… but not really for me. I do occasionally feel guilty for feeling this way.

In truth, I am disobeying their wishes – to be honest, I’ve always been a rebel without a cause so it isn’t the first time.

But let me explain...

My parents always pushed hard for me to do well academically. Even before school had started, they had taught me to memorise my ‘timetables’ (multiplication pairs). My weekends were filled with tuition classes by age 9 and I spent most of my childhood studying. Extracurricular activities were out of the question unless they resembled a shift helping out at one of their various mixed businesses.

I watched them jump from one random business to another (from convenience store, to bakery, to auto-spare parts). My father has a forklift, truck, bus and boat license. He also thinks he’s a mechanic, handyman, plumber, tiler, and renovator. And while we’re at it, my parents have also dabbled into property investment and the stock market. Statistics show that people are likely to pivot careers paths 3 times throughout life. It felt like my parents were averaging one every 3 years.

I guess you can say they like experimenting. Were they all successful? Not at all. But they’ve never been sour about it. My parents never went to school and barely know a word of English. They taught themselves to swim by jumping into the deep end.

As refugees, this reference is both figurative and literal.

I am thankful they have paved the way for me to have better opportunities in life.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

This is why I push hard on myself to absorb as many experiments as I can. Through uni, I wanted to build knowledge in branding, so I jumped at every opportunity within the realm of sales and marketing. By 21, I had tried door knocking, telemarketing, and retail for a range of different industries.

I had also discovered a bunch of random things on Alibaba which I sold on eBay. From there I wanted to build on expertise in digital — so I dived deeply into absorbing knowledge on the power of branding, digital and content marketing. Here I earnt a decent living, I probably could have continued to climb the corporate ladder and be content with my shiny white picket fence.

It was also here where I learnt the importance of leadership, work culture, company processes and team work.

I wanted a little something more. I knew it was time for me to pivot.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

I decided to try my luck at being a business owner so I opened a speciality coffee cafe with a dear childhood friend. With no hospitality experience, we decided it would be a good idea to start from scratch. We made a hell of a lot of mistakes and it was very financially challenging. But we built a family of a team, shared a strong vision and a positive brand in the coffee community that still continues to run today.

To prove I had learned, I took on the challenge of opening a Vietnamese tuckshop with my family – something closer to my heart and heritage. I carried forth my learnings from the cafe and we were able to build quicker momentum which made all the difference. It too had its fair share of blood, sweat, and tears. But it was rewarding to see my vision come to life and be in moderate control.

These times showed me the likes of compassion, camaraderie, perseverance, community and accountability.

But hospitality, it burnt me out.

I was ready to take these lessons and pivot.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

My husband Pete and I decided we’d pack up our lives up from comfortable Sydney and do some exploring, adventuring, and experimenting elsewhere. We sold all our belongings, handed over our businesses, quit our jobs and said farewell to our family and friends.

During our first year abroad, we spent a solid 6 months in Vietnam. Most of this time was invested in learning, researching and thinking up business plans for new ideas. We wanted to help bridge the gap between the first and third world — if the basic needs (clean water, healthy food, safe & secure shelter, sanitation, healthcare, and basic education) was accessible to all, everyone would have the same opportunities to pursue their goals in life.

Vietnam is no longer a third world country, but it is far from its potential. It never recovered from the turmoil of the war, and in many parts, the next few generations will continue to pay. But change needs to happen as a collective, otherwise, we’ll just be brushing against the surface.

This is when I discovered blockchain technology and this new world of cryptocurrency.

I see it’s potential to improve democracy, security, transparency, and accountability across all industries. The paradigm shift we need to evolve. This is a relatively new space, and expertise is still scarce. To truly make an impact, I need(ed) to learn more.

This meant I needed to pivot once more.

I decided I would venture to foreign soil and chase those that have ventured into this market. I found myself in the start-up scene in London working with a crypto-based fintech start-up. It’s early days, and the blockchain and cryptocurrency communities need to be built collaboratively.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

This is my current experiment. I guess I’ve naturally inherited my parents’ spirit of learning. I am excited to be entering my 30s with a heightened focus of helping to build this future community. I know my next pivot would be chasing integrity and social responsibility.

I guess I forbid myself from being interested in just the white picket fence dream.

The way I see it, the entirety of my parents’ generation made great strides to overcome the poverty, strife, and violence they were born into. They fled their home, country, and war to start from scratch on foreign soil. The odds were truly against them. There are many that have not been so lucky.

I am fortunate and privileged to be born in a time of information, technology, and opportunity. If I could do half as much given my odds, the fate of humanity would be in a much better state. I may not succeed in all my experiments — but I feel it is my duty to at least try.

I’ll keep pivoting until I do.

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