Run Free, Pay It Forward — Dinner with Diana David, Serial Investor, Educator and Writer

Diana donating dinner and raising 80 volunteer hours

Sometimes the most meaningful and inspiring conversations happen over casual meals. The Time Auction Blog is a snippet of our meetings with people who have found passion in their life and career, where we get a glimpse into their mentality and attitude behind their ventures and stories.

Most of us dream only of landing a job (any job) after graduation, but for Diana, her resume after Uni began with “assistant to Dr. Henry Kissinger.” Awarded a Luce Scholarship to come to Asia in 1999, she has been working towards bridging US & Asia ever since. She is also a TEDx talk speaker, the author of Hong Kong ABCs, and is currently promoting educational robotics at DaVinci Labs. Despite her diverse interests and career pursuits, what has remained constant is the work ethic of this self-proclaimed “responsible nerd.”

Over dinner, Diana shared about not just racing full-speed ahead, but running free — enjoying your work and always looking for new ways to add value, whether that means serving your community or paying it forward.

Do you have a life motto you live by?

“I always try to keep learning — that really guides me. And lately, of course, the idea of running free has guided me. I always think,

‘Is this something that will give me joy and passion? Will I be present in doing this?’

I’m sort of a slow learner, so it’s come up on me late in life. In my first job, I asked them why they hired me and they said, ‘You just seemed like you would be able to carry a heavy load up the mountain and never quit.’ Basically they said I was a pack mule! Being able to do things that are free, that are just for the joy of it and spontaneous… this is new to me.”

What were some of the most important experiences in your 20s?

“When I was 25, I had just graduated from Columbia Business School and I was one of the youngest people there. I was full of ambition and anticipation.

In my 20s, just fundamental things — leaving college, getting my first job, moving into an apartment by myself — all those things really taught me to be independent and gave me a sense of pride in my work.

That first job out of college really is an opportunity for you to realize what work is and to look at where you can add value.”

How can people impress you?

“I think people who are doing something in the community, or doing something that is larger than their own self-interest really impress me. I aspire to be one of those people.”

What is one thing that you hope everyone can take away from meeting you today?

“When I was in New York, I met a family friend named Tony. I had no clue how to interview for a job and he gave me a whole template: ‘These are three people you’re going to meet, this is exactly what you’re going to say to them…’ At the end of all this, I was saying, ‘That’s so nice! You’ve never met me before — why are you doing this?’ and he said, ‘The only thing I require of you is that you pay it forward. So whenever somebody asks you for a little bit of advice or if they need a leg up, pay it forward.’

That’s what I expect from all of you, and I think you’re already self-selecting into that group. Pay it forward.”

Thank you Diana for taking the time out of your busy schedule to have dinner with us, and thanks to everyone who volunteered and took part in raising 80 volunteer hours to Room to Read, Cancer Fund, KELY Support Group and more!

For upcoming opportunities, visit Time Auction to volunteer and meet inspiring mentors.

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