Top 10 Most Influential People of the Decade (to me): 2010s edition

I did it then, so let’s do it again!

I am surprised that I had put down the former manager at Method for my last list. Interestingly, I didn’t really talk to her after I left Method. Beyond a short sweet moment where she actually supported my Kickstarter and a brief attempt for consulting, I only saw her life pass me by from afar.

So let’s see. It should be easy to name 10!

Okay, after more than an hour, it really isn’t. Unlike my previous lists, the names couldn’t come easily. I looked through my contacts, people I talked to on Google Hangouts and Facebook messenger, email, elsewhere. I wonder if it’s because I have a more cynical view of people now unlike the optimism that I had 10 years ago. Also, like most people, I now reject the idea of celebrity and influencer culture. I don’t believe that a single person should be obsessed over. And yet, who really influenced me? Or is it just entities rather than individuals?

10. 45
Because you know that he doesn’t deserve a name. Before the election, I joked about him winning, thinking that I would move to another country if it happened. Of course, it did happen, but I did not move. But it made me rethink what my purpose was in work and life. Like could I really make a difference? And the type of people I wanted to surround myself with? It made me…as they say…more woke. It made me more aware of the things that I say and do that could affect others. It made me question how I wanted to treat others and how I wanted to be treated.

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Top 10 impactful moments of the past decade OF ME: 2010s edition

Just like the one that I did in the last decade, here’s a list!

Obviously, as I observed, the big NEWS events across the world didn’t quite directly impact me. But unlike the last decade, when they happened, I did take stock and make decisions that I wouldn’t have without them.

10. Joining a writing group
This was a long time in making because I had failed in making my own. Not once, but twice. Not that I wasn’t committed, but I couldn’t find fellow committed writers. Also at that time, I wasn’t quite a good group leader. After so many stumbles, I finally found one and stuck with them for five years until I quit earlier this year. The writing group held me accountable in reviewing work regularly and invited me to question what good writing is. I learned that it was subjective—which irked me, but I appreciated how my fellow writers supported each other. It was every week on Wednesday at 6 pm. I went to nearly every single meeting no matter how tired I was. But toward the end, I told myself that I needed something else for my writing journey. Five years changed my life and my writing got better because of it.

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Top 10 Internet THINGS (that influenced me) of the past decade – 2010s Edition

And for the decade edition! I first wrote a version of this for the 2000s.

Now that I am settled in adulthood, I feel that things have changed less. Ten years ago, I had already graduated from college and graduate school. By then, big life changes have happened. Granted, in the past ten years, my grandparents have passed all away—that generation has moved on…or in a cynical way, have completely disappeared, stored in medical and historical documents and the memories that we now have left in our mind.

But just like my 27-year-old self, the Internet has influenced me significantly in the last ten years. But more in the way that it has influenced everyone else as the Internet has completely matured and became a tool/power/resource/etc I am less reliant on my laptop as I used to be. And to my displeasure, I became reliant on my phone. But that’s the way I expect it to be, perhaps?

I have always been fond of technology, especially in the way that it connects people. I have always been curious about the new services. But more than the previous decade, I have become more cynical and jaded, swinging all the way from optimism (this service will save us all) to pessimism (this will destroy humanity!) But yet, I can’t deny my attraction to the way that technology makes it easier (and then sometimes complex). In the last decade, technology especially leveraging the collective power of the Internet has impacted my life in ways that I never anticipated.

In the 90s, it was very immature. In the 2000s, it was just trying to find its footing. In the last decade, it certainly was experimenting widely.

Anyway, let’s begin!

10. SoLoMo
Obviously as noted in Silicon Valley, Social Location Mobile! This idea wasn’t exactly that new to me. But the fact that it became a thing finally like nearly 5 years after I had studied and conceptualized it in college. And then it became a bigger thing in the last decade was what struck me. In college, I worked with a graduate student to ideate on the different ways that have location-based services would be like on a mobile device. Now back in 2003 and 2004, there was no such thing as a mobile phone as we have today. Back then, it was this idea of sharing your location or receiving ads. Before Minority Report. I thought that it was interesting, but I didn’t really have the mental framework to make it real. Then in late 2008 (right before I was laid off), I worked with an internal team to come up with an Android app that was essentially similar to Foursquare. Share where you’re at with friends! During the past decade, I was obsessed with Foursquare—later known as Swarm. Letting people know where I was. And in 2011/2012 when I finally relented to get a smartphone, I was obsessed. I would track everywhere I went, perhaps to a detriment. But today, it’s a bit less, a bit more practical. I still track. But it’s almost passive now as everything, everything knows where I am! But the history, now tagged in photos, now automatically shared. It’s assumed. And I am annoyed if the technology doesn’t know!

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2019: Everything’s OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

In 2018, it was realizing my own qualities. In 2017, it was giving advice in hopes of inspiring others. In 2016, it was the moment that when immersed in the election aftermath that anything could change. In 2015, it was the moment when I realized that I could finish Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2014, it was when I wrote a well-crafted piece (that I read to a live audience 11 months later). In 2013, it was when light shone in the face of despair. In 2012, it was when I stood up for myself. In 2011, it was a moment of clarity, sincere belief and friendship. In 2010, it was an action of commitment.

When I am feeling uncomfortable with someone, I imagine the conversation that we’ll have. I would say words. A few. A lot. Just enough. The other would understand and nod. They would say “I never knew. I now understand.”

In actual practice, it’s never quite like that. It’s always my words as I have imagined them. Then it’s the unexpected: the other person feels defensive. My words aren’t heard. My feelings aren’t validated. I am wrong. I am misinterpreting things. I am making them feel bad. No matter how much I think that I have prepared. And everything is falling apart in that moment. And maybe I start doubting myself—did I not say it clearly? Was I not supposed to feel that way?

There were two moments this year that…didn’t end up that way although it appeared to be so.

When I gave my notice, I had a very prepared speech—rehearsed for a few days in front of a colleague. The colleague prepared me for potential reactions. At a previous role, out of anxiety and fear, I would start crying—a feminine reaction that often is interpreted in the worst way. This time though, I kept my mind at peace while I stated clearly why I was making a decision. He disagreed, of course, which I anticipated, and we nearly launched into a long disagreement. I quietly took a deep breath and simply said, “I see your point, and I may be wrong. But when I make a decision, I don’t often change my mind.”

And the tension dissipated. It was going to be okay.

The second moment was when my parents, granted, texted me a note of concern about Chris and me. “Is he dedicated?” they said.

As much as I have been frustrated with Chris, I was up in arms about what they said. Because they didn’t understand. And I already had said multiple times that he needs the space to heal. All the pressure isn’t helping. I glared at their message and eventually said, “He shows his dedication in different ways than through words. He’s not good with words. He shows it through the things that he does for people—acts of service. And you know that he has helped you a lot.”

They responded, “Yes, agreed.”

And then it was done.

Maybe there was one more moment. Chris told me his worried about a mutual friend’s relationship. “They’re fighting and screaming at each other all the time,” he said. “You know how they say that some people have irreconcilable differences. They have those differences.”

“But don’t we fight?” I said, thinking about our bickering about washing dishes and all the dusty electronics still blocking the loveseat for over two years.

“Not like them,” he said sadly. “We will be okay.”

2019: Next Step

When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

In 2010, it was about dream making. In 2011, it was about sticking to my boundaries. In 2012, it was about being true. In 2013, it was about embracing fear. In 2014, it was sitting my butt down and writing. In 2016, it was about leading. In 2017, it was about persistence. In 2018, it was about seeing the big picture.

My last day as a principal designer/product design manager at my last job, only a few days ago.

Now, I wouldn’t say that it was a job that was traumatic or beat me up. It wasn’t that at all. There were jobs that I held previously where I felt incredibly pummeled. And even then, I have often withstood them and drawn my clear boundaries.

Some would say that I didn’t give the job enough time. But I believe that I held my ground and that for over 6 months, I was clear about what I needed and knew that I couldn’t get it at the company.

Rather, it was this idea of getting what I wanted and constantly reframing it. I wasn’t too thrilled with the things that I was tasked to do, because it didn’t align with my goals. My interest in the industry declined as I realized that the health and wellness industry simply could not compete with the policies that the government enforced on its citizens.

“What could have been done differently?” my manager asked after I gave my notice.

“I would have left earlier,” I said.

Yet when I see news stories or friends’ posts on social media (or even strangers’ post), I still would recommend health coaching to encourage at least some initial behavior change.

And it’s in this work that I learned about resilience. A significant type of education in health. Maybe some people would say that it isn’t resilience. But resilience is about the idea that in face of failure and disappointment, that…I can still get up. It doesn’t freeze me. I have it within me. I can adapt and work through stressful situations.

2019: Moments

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2019 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2019.

2018 5 minutes, 2017 5 minutes, 2016 5 minutes, 2015 5 minutes, 2014 5 minutes, 2013 5 minutes, 2012 5 minutes, 2011 5 minutes, and 2010 5 minutes

  • Learning about Chris’ bike accident and then ER
  • My nephew Jakobe being born
  • Trip to Tokyo especially Hokkaido despite the freezing weather and Tokyo — day with the Waldos and…yes alas getting separated
  • Getting a promotion
  • Deciding to quit the job
  • Interviewing at many places and refining my narrative
  • Litcrawl with my new writing group
  • Having dinner and coffee with Jenny
  • Going to Portland for XOXO despite having challenges with Chris
  • Going to New York despite Chris’ noise issues
  • Standing up to badly behaving coworker when he said something inappropriate
  • All my great research projects at work especially personas, abandoners, and consumers
  • Cinderella bike ride in the east bay…for the third time, I think
  • Going to Yosemite despite it not being the best
  • Hike in the Pinnacales…
  • That pseudo proposal with a ring pop!
  • Creating our holiday video, especially the concept and editing process
  • Having my short story workshopped at the CCSF writing class and realizing that hey, my story actually really works and other people really admire it
  • Being on the healthcare panel

2019: Making

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

In 2010, I made xmas photo. In 2011, I made metaphorical things—that were intentionally symbolic of relationships and history. In 2012, I made ice cream. In 2013, I made design. In 2014, I made “my room”. In 2015, I made the last line of Ice Cream Travel Guide, literally. In 2016, I made my annual holiday video. In 2017, I made another annual holiday video. In 2018, I made scones (from the Tartine cookbook)!

Well, of course, literally, the last thing I made as popcorn as a snack for myself as I idly worked on my penultimate day for my job. My stomach rumbled and I craved some salty snack. Knowing what would happen if I tore open any packages, I decided to make something…perhaps more healthy. Chris had procured some fancy popcorn kernels now stored in ziploc bags in a fancy cardboard box. I used one of our fancy saucepans. Dunked some olive oil—likely went rancid. Then popped 2 kernels in and covered the pot, following some recipe out there that said this was the best way to make popcorn. Waited until a kernel popped then I poured in a quarter cup of the kernels. Then once the popping slowed down to one every ten seconds, I poured it into a bowl. And ate it.

But really, what I made was a holiday video. Proud! Like every year, I suddenly realize that it’s holiday video time just before Thanksgiving. It’s time to think of the concept. A meme?! A viral video? A message that I want to say?

This year after debating two approaches—one of which was a version of the Peloton ad. Instead for ease of use (and decreasing the burden of acting), we decided on Succession, a VERY GOOD show from HBO. But then began a collection of clips and photos. Being a lifelong collector of photos and videos (of my life), I already had a lot in store. I asked my dad to get the DVDs that contained digital versions of the many home videos. Unfortunately, Chris didn’t have that much of anything from his childhood. So I cobbled together videos and clips in iMovie. In studying the title credits for Succession, I realized that there was an old VHS filter and large flashes for transitions. iMovie was limited in that respect. For a moment, I considered using Adobe Premiere Pro, even to the extent of downloading a trial. But when faced with the immense app, I could not bring myself to use it, especially in figuring out everything that I needed to know.

So I decided to just use iMovie.

Over the course of a week, I clipped videos and photos (and took the audio track from the Succession clip). For all videos and photos “before us”, I made it black and white with the old movie filter. Then I added some title words to emulate Succession as much as possible, but instead of a collection of words…I just used our names and locations where we lived. (although I just realized that I left out Pittsburgh, PA…ugh!)

Then I played it over and over again until it was done.

As always, we created a top ten list of things…and then carefully selected a group of recipients!

And then done!

2019: One Moment

Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

In 2018, it was the moment that we realized that the car would start. In 2017, it was the moment (or moments) that I deeply connected with a group I had just met at a conference where I thought I would have been antisocial (or just horribly socially anxious). In 2016, it was the moment that I felt in the flow in telling the story of Ice Cream Travel Guide. In 2015, it was the moments after my hat was “stolen” in Rio. In 2014, it was a moment in a writing workshop that I had achieved greatness. In 2013, it was talking to Yasar Usta in Istanbul. In 2012, it was using the ocean as a “big toilet” while floating outside Palawan. In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End to the Night.

Alive? This is the thing. About a month ago, I was asked by this financial coach about when I felt the most alive so I mentioned the one in 2016 about telling the story of Ice Cream Travel Guide. But I knew that she was meaning about the moment that I felt happiest by using other words.

I could point to the moment in the Lyft as we were arriving on scene, but I am not sure if that was when I felt the most alive, in trying to determine the next path to take based on how severe the accident was.

Or was it the moment that Chris and I got separated in a Tokyo subway station. It wasn’t quite being alive, but it was devastating and perhaps traumatic.

But what is this aliveness? I get that the word is about being the most present, sitting in the moment. But does it involve emotion?

I think about these moments of the past years: when I finally finished the holiday video in celebrated in the triumph of achieving the goal that we wanted, hosting new years brunch successfully!, hanging out with the Waldo family not just in Tokyo but also traditionally in San Francisco during Thanksgiving weekend, or was it in the hospital room with Chris?

Maybe it’s truly the latter. Maybe it wasn’t the ride to the scene. But it was finding that he was okay as he looked up in confusion and then recognition. “Jennng!” he said.

It was finding him sitting on the gurney right in the middle of the hallway after this ride with the police officer through the city of San Francisco sitting on a plastic backseat. It was after we located the bike where the nurse had misremembered where its actual location (it was in the storeroom of the ER). It was after a doctor and nurse checked his vitals. It was there in the bright lights where I offered my sunglasses. It was where I said things—maybe because I was trying to pass the time. But it was as I recounted in detail.

Of course, I didn’t know that this would be the beginning of a long recovery process. One that peopl—outside people—cannot see.

I knew in that moment that as I bounded over from the hallway with my black Timbuk2 backpack and coffee mug (that I didn’t want to spill so I was holding it) and was so relieved that he was in one piece. His face was contorted in a neck brace. And then it was okay.

I would like to think that it was because I was there. But I think that it was because the future was actually known.

2019: Letting Go

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

In 2010, it was a person. In 2011, it was an idea. In 2012, it was a symbol represented by a person. In 2013, I let go fear. In 2014, I let go of humility (or the desire to appear humble). In 2015, I let go of perfection. In 2016, I let go of expectations. In 2017, I let go of things and people I don’t need. In 2018, I let go of constant discovery.

This year, I let go of expectations. For years, I know that I have expectations, especially from another, things don’t happen. What I do know is that you can make your own destiny.

Of course, I believe that I demonstrate it through my ridiculous behavior of making sure everyone knows that it’s my birthday! :D

I only know that I can make it happen. If nothing happens, it’s not because the world isn’t listening, but it’s because I didn’t make an effort to do something about it.

Earlier this year, my manager told everyone at an all-hands meeting about the best advice he ever received. When he was young, tt was some random guy who pointed him and said, “You make it happen, captain.”

So it’s about making it happen.

The job. The “big” life changes. The people around me.

2019: Writing

Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

In 2010, I said everything. In 2015, I said fear. In 2016, I said that it’s sitting down and doing it.
In 2017, I said that it was work.
In 2018, I said that it was lack of support.

But this year? At first glance, it was work. But for the first half of the year, I took a CCSF class in fiction—the intro class. I am not sure if through it, I was burnt out. Because shortly before it ended, I decided that I had to follow through on a promise that I had made to myself—to quit my writing group. The one that I had been thinking of quitting for a long time due to a number of factors.

And so I could say that the latter half of the year is this idea of the lack of accountability. But it’s not that either.

It’s possibly…simply the idea that the consistency isn’t there. I used to write every day on this blog. But then other things took precedence. The job. The TV watching—yes, lots of that. And then there was this guilt that I still wasn’t finishing the novel. The inability to finish editing.

With a lack of a group, I don’t have the accountability but I also mostly lack of the consistency of simply sitting down and writing. I don’t have the structures that I used to build myself because I used to have so many online friends which lowered the barrier to simply writing.

The computer tires me. The Internet tires me. All I do notice is that my short quips have made it. But my long drawn out thoughts don’t.

Maybe though that’s the thing that needs to be invirogated. to build up that consistency again. To make me love the written word.