Creating Family Traditions


As we watch Kiana grow older, we like to talk about the experiences that we have as a family. Over the Veteran’s Day weekend four years ago, our weekend plans to Texas were rescheduled, but our family had allotted the time away. So I planned a surprise trip to London. I cashed in all my miles & my points for the next great adventure.
Our trip to London was one of the best experiences. Although Scott & I had been to London 13 years before, it was like a first experience to watch my daughter see and learn about London for the first time. In addition, despite the desire to go away to a warm place, London in November was such a fruitful experience. We, as a family, have a new appreciation for Veteran’s Day as it is a BIG deal in the UK. We wear our poppy pins proudly.

Our second year was an even better experience with our trip to Paris. Again, although Scott & I had been there before, we enjoyed watching Kiana excited to see the Eiffel Tower, for her to try a macaron at every store that sold them, and to view how small the Mona Lisa is in real life. Scott & I enjoyed the vacation as well because we were able to reminesce about how we had saved our money for our first trip. Although we had a wonderful first time, our second time had us falling in love with the city again.

Year three was a pivotal since no one had been to Spain before. It was an experience the three of us would be tackling together. We loved eating jamon iberico until we couldn’t anymore (Day 4). We also empowered Kiana to choose and arrange the itinerary. This was the best decision, and stopped the “I am bored” comments. She planned for us to take segways through Barcelona’s Olympic Park, scooters down the boulevard alongside the beach, and electric bikes up and down the narrow streets.

Now we are in year four, and our tradition continues. This year we headed to Italy which included Rome & Florence. This is the second country that no one in our family had visited before. As we continue our adventures, all three of us actively researched what would be fun to do as a family. We were amazed at Rome and Florence’s history, their loyalty to the Catholic heritage, and the preservation of art not only for its beauty, but for the history & pride it brings to the country. This does not even include the amazing food we discovered and devoured.

With all of this being said, my wish is that Kiana has memories of great childhood experiences that teaches her about different cultures that is not so centric on our American life. In times of instant gratification of accessible data from her iPhone, she has learned patience by assisting in planning and executing itineraries, map reading, and hands on minor foreign language dialogue. We hope that our good fortune allows us many more trips abroad as a family to continue the tradition.

Follow Your Intuition

 

I grew up taking on a scientific approach to problem solving.  The power of deductive reasoning seemed to work the majority of the time.  I always thought it was odd that people lived on the edge or winged it, and then things would go their way.  I got a whiff of the “gut feeling” occasionally, but never considered it to be part of the formula of decision making.  It wasn’t until recently that following my intuition became part of my daily routine.

When I first started hiring staff at CSMI, I would check the boxes of the technical qualifications of a candidate.  I would also check the boxes of basic manners.  This would work for the majority of hires, but there were a few people that we wanted to hire that gave an off vibe, and I could not identify exactly what it was.  There was the person who had a different odor (not the typical bad body odor) during the interview that had the worst odor problem in the office once he was hired.  There was the person who seemed absolutely perfect who used all the right terminology, but he ended up having all the excuses and zero work product.

Personally, we’ve had people that we have relied upon, but were the biggest flakes.  I will say that as we get older, the easier it is to read people and situations.  So is it truly a gut feeling or the sub conscience utilizing previous experiences to help make good decisions?

I think if it’s a life or death situation, your body will definitely take over.  However, this is a rare situation so I’m swaying towards it being a balance of your body physically telling you something, and your sub conscience weighing in as well.

And this brings me to my point-  I believe you have to be receptive to utilizing your intuition for this to work.  This includes living in the moment which ultimately leads to being passionate about your life.

Call to action: Are you being mindful and listening to what your intuition is telling you?

The World is Your Oyster. What’s holding you back?

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Last week, I joined a friend of mine to visit his cousin who became a professional athlete at age 18.  Twenty five years later, the cousin has aspirations of owning his own business and bringing the “cool” factor back to the sport.  He says that the sport has gone corporate, and he has some great ideas of how he can generate a lot of revenue while bringing an old school vibe back.  This included customized equipment, cool apparel, and school & training programs.  Everything sounded solid, and I later found out that he has been discussing this same plan for the past five years.

When I had asked why he hadn’t started his own business, he replied in one word “FEAR”.  He’s now a father of 3 and a husband.  He works for a corporation, and generates a salary.  My friend believes in his cousin, and has offered to fund the start up, but yet he hasn’t pulled the trigger.

When I’ve spoken to others who want to start their own business, I hear similar verbiage.  They don’t know if they will fail, and they are comfortable with their steady income and benefits.

My feedback is simple: What is the worst thing that is going to happen if you start this business, and it doesn’t work out?  Typically, the new business venture is something that they are talented in or they are experts at in their current job.  I believe the worst thing that can happen is that they would have to go back to their job or get another job.  Sure, there may be loss of time and money, but if you don’t even give it a shot, how will you know?

I do believe writing down a business plan is important.  It should be deliberate, but doesn’t need to be a huge endeavor to create.  This will provide a guideline as you work your way through the process, and regular reviews can keep you on track.  This includes how much you’d like to invest into the business, what kind of clients/markets you will be involved, and why you are doing this.  Check out this guideline:  http://theeverygirl.com/what-to-include-in-your-business-plan

Call to action:  What’s holding you back from living the best life you envision?  First, let’s write it down, do a little due diligence and pull the pieces together.  Go slow or go fast, but do something to live a life that you are passionate about.

A Letter to My Husband on Father’s Day

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Dear Scott,
Twelve years have passed since we brought Kiana into this world.  Twelve years wouldn’t be considered beginner’s luck anymore, but I still feel like we are novices and we are still learning how to be parents.  I wanted to thank you for being such a wonderful father.

I am so appreciative of our lessons learned through this journey.  Here’s only a few……

  1. It’s okay to sound like our parents.  We swore we wouldn’t be like our parents when we were kids, but we are reciting lines to ours like “I am the mom, and you have to do it because I say so.”  We both know that we want the best for her as did our parents for us.
  2. It takes two of us big people to take care of the little person.  As long as we both communicate with each other, we can collectively bring up a happy and confident child.  She has always observed our behaviors, and we can see some of our “skills” in her personality.  We have set the expectations of the best grades, to honor commitments to our friends and family, and follow through with our responsibilities.  The three of us are on the same winning side so we have to stick with our plan together.
  3. You have to be firm, but flexible.  We want only the best for our daughter, but we also want to ensure she is not an entitled child with little to no responsibilities.  If she does well in school, you remind me that she has fulfilled her responsibilities so she should be able to go out on a school night as a treat.  We have learned that if we are too flexible, she will take us to the cleaners.
  4. It’s about life experiences, and encouraging her to dream big.  While I would never agree to buy anything at the M&M store, you agreed to buy her whatever she wanted in London so it would be a memory for her.  I also never would buy that photo that they take at the tourist places, yet you bought the premium package (keychains and all) at the London Eye, Atlantis in the Bahamas, and the luau in Maui.  All of these items (except for the M&Ms) are still displayed in her room.  You also said to me when I complained about the cost of all the Stanford shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and accessories that if she believes she is going to attend college there, why should we shut that down?  You are absolutely right.
I am so proud to be your wife, and the mother of your daughter.  I believe that we are bringing up an amazing kid who is learning how to be an independent, sharp, and ambitious contributor to our society.  I look forward to watching our daughter evolve into a strong person.  It is with your love and dedication that our family remains solid.
Happy Father’s Day!

Spring Cleaning: Organizing with Intention #1

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I think I was born to be organized, and I am constantly developing processes to maintain an efficient system for my entire life .  This includes both physically, and more recently electronically.   About six months ago, I went through a clothing purge and managed to eliminate about 50% of my wardrobe and 26 out of 30 purses.  I also eliminated 80% of the books I owned.  Not only was it personally liberating to have more space, I was able to contribute everything to worthwhile causes.

How have I been more efficient? I found myself wearing the same few items even though there were a lot of clothes in my closet and drawers.  With keeping the clothes that I really like, I am able to get dressed quicker, and I have been able to wear some items that were dormant in the closet.

I’ve also started using the app Stylebook.  It’s $3.99, but I think it’s worth it.  I have photographed the majority of my wardrobe, and have recorded what I wore on the calendar.  I have also entered in the brand, size, and colors my clothes.  This has helped me when I shop to buy additional colors of items I like or to not purchase another pair of black slacks.

These are the questions I asked with each item in my wardrobe:
  1. Have I worn the item within the last 3 months (minus formal wear & outerwear)?
  2. Does it fit well?
  3. Have I worn it so much that I am sick of it?

I would encourage you to go through this process, and hopefully, you can get that feeling of accomplishment and sense of newness with your wardrobe like I have.

Next steps:
I’m slowly working on organizing electronically including my photos and files.  That will be in a future post.

Chinese Deliciousness


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I am a dumpling addict.  It all started with xiao long bao (小笼包) – abbreviated to XLB – which I had at Din Tai Fung in Shanghai’s Xintiandi. XLB are pork dumplings that have a delicious rich broth inside. You eat them by dipping them in black vinegar & ginger, taking a small bite of the dumpling skin to let the steam out, sucking the soup from the dumpling, and popping it into your mouth.  I think these rank up there as the perfect bite of food conceived by man.

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A year ago, I found a new dumpling obsession.  My friend introduced me to Shengjianbao (生煎包). These crispy-bottomed dumplings are filled with pork and broth, pan-fried, and garnished with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.  Amazing!

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During my most recent trip to Hong Kong about a month ago, I discovered Lau sha bao (流沙包), salted egg custard buns.  It is sweet and a bit salty, but that yellow filling just oozes out and there’s nothing to say except, “OH MY GOD!”  My sister was in Hong Kong during the same time, and when I put one on her plate, she refused it.  I asked her to take one bite, and the smile on her face said it all.  The next morning at breakfast, she told me that she was dreaming about the bao.

I can’t wait to find the next bite of deliciousness.

 

Leave Me Alone! (republished from 1/9/15)

Traveling has taught me to be more observant, more organized, and more flexible.  Most of the time I am responsible for my schedule, and I have realized that the majority of the time I am alone.

The luxury is that I don’t have a routine, I am not worrying about my daughter’s schedule, and that I can choose what I would like to eat.  As much as I love spending time at home and with my family, my alone time allows me to reflect and be quiet.  This may sound frightening or not fun, but I truly appreciate this time.

In September, I traveled to Asia and spent a lot of time alone.  I didn’t feel the need to occupy every moment in the day, and interact with as many people as I could.  I became very self-aware, especially when eating alone.  It also gave me time to realign with my personal and professional wish list.  My favorite realization was that I was able to distinguish between being alone versus being lonely.

I was chatting with a good friend who is single.  We were talking about how empowered you feel when you are alone.  There are times that he would love a companion to attend events together versus attending alone, but the freedom has made him a more independent, and in my opinion, a happier person.

Sure, it’s always wonderful to share experiences with others, but I do believe that everyone should allow time to be alone where you are the decision maker for all of your activities.  I also believe it’s important to enjoy being alone.

At this time of the year, I believe a lot of us go through an evaluation of the year and set up resolutions for the upcoming year.  I encourage you to allocate some time for yourself – to quiet your mind and be autonomous.

You Make Time For What’s Important

9D1F9873-7945-478D-A19A-9EC0123662F6The pressure of writing something impactful on my blog is so unwarranted. So to take the pressure off, I’ve decided to write quick and shorter posts about things that have helped me. I’m calling these posts “You Make Time For What’s Important”.

My inspiration has come from The RED podcast with David Hooper interjecting smaller sized solo podcasts versus the normal podcasts with his co-host & new wife, Laurel.  With that, my first YMTFWI post is a snapshot of the six podcasts that I am listening to on a regular basis.

Sporkful: I love Dan Pashman’s tagline “It’s not for foodies, It’s for eaters.” This is my kind of podcast. http://www.sporkful.com

TED Radio Hour: We all want to be impactful in the world, but the people highlighted are blowing my mind, and teach me to think even deeper. http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour

Chewing the Fat: Two Chinese American (with a twist of Puerto Rican) women from Chicago talking about food trends, and interviewing experts on cool topics nails it for me. http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng

Meditation Oasis: Balancing your chakras may sound weird, but after listening to a podcast, I do feel calmer and in balance. Who doesn’t want that? http://www.meditationoasis.com

Serial: I have no idea if it’s her voice or the story that is intoxicating. It’s a podcast about a murder that the accused may or may not be guilty, and a journalist trying to find the answer. It’s also the #1 podcast on iTunes. http://serialpodcast.org

The RED Podcast: After being in business for 18 years as well as having several other businesses established over the past few years, I am inspired by the dialogue between the hosts. They understand the entrepreneurial lifestyle enough that their podcasts are about 25 minutes since we all need to get back to what we’re doing which is working less, making more money. and having freedom. http://www.redpodcast.com

Raise Your Glass & Say “Cheers”!

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Today we are celebrating the 7th anniversary of Crush2Press! This is my first time acknowledging a milestone, and I can’t pinpoint why except for our low key approach as an organization.  I am proud of the company, its mission (to capture the craft and personality of the winemaker onto the label), and the philanthropic aspect.  I thought it would be cool to tell you how we got started, and why we believe it does well.  We’ll do a few shout outs to those who have inspired us and those who help us continue our good work.

Our beginning:
Can you believe that it started as simple as attending wine tastings in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago with my cousin, Jeff Chang?  We started to get to know the people pouring us wine, and eventually became friends with Greg Gauthier.  His passion was to have his own label, and it came into fruition a couple years later.  During one of his Chicago visits, he asked my opinion on label designs, and I felt that the first couple vintages were not conveying his personality or craftsmanship.  I asked if I could have a shot at developing a concept for branding Gauthier vineyards, and we hit a home run (thanks Stephen Slater!).  Immediately after that success, we formed Crush2Press, Inc.
Dr. Scott Pouyat came up with the name Crush2Press which is a great play on words.  It’s the perfect name for our company because “crush season” is such an exciting time for the winemakers, and seeing their wine label on the bottles is such a gratifying feeling. It also incorporates the marketing aspect of our business: from nailing the client’s vision to actual printed materials.  Dr. Pouyat also is the top supporter of Crush2Press lending his expertise to the administrative side of the business.

Our success:
In essence, C2P is a small business consortium with a corporate sophistication.  From the boutique winemakers, to our talented designers & suppliers, and to our clients; it’s a community of like minded folks wanting to contribute their creativity to the process.
It works so synergistically that we’ve been able to add a philanthropic component and give most of our profits to causes we strongly believe in.  And we are convinced that this is why we are all successful.

Infinite Thank Yous & Shout Outs:
Jeff Chang for being a compadre in our wine drinking education
Greg Gauthier for giving us the opportunity as our first client, but first as a friend
Jorge Ojeda for being so creative yet so accurate in your work
Dr. Scott Pouyat for being a wonderful husband, supporter, and creator of the Crush2Press name.
Our clients & suppliers- let’s keep doing this better and better.
I say it’s time to celebrate!

 

What To Teach Your Kids Before They Leave Home

10364042_10203262477736864_754696161956816490_n Kiana, 10, heading to camp & Rachel, 18, headed to Dartmouth in September
My 10 year old daughter will be headed off to camp this summer, and I was wondering what skills we have taught her to prepare her for being without her parents.  Also, this is the summer before the high school graduates head off to college, and I am curious as to how prepared they are when they leave home.  I know technology has put information immediately at our hands with our cell phones, but I do think there are basic skills that we should be actively trying to teach our kids. 
I’m thinking that it would be great if every young person could do the following:
DOMESTIC SKILLS
Cook a traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner (not out of a can)
Wash and iron clothes without ruining them
Replace a button, fix a hem, and polish their own shoes
 PRACTICAL SKILLS
Drive a car including one with manual transmission, and maintain it properly
Change a flat tire
SURVIVAL SKILLS
Know basic first aid and maintain a complete first-aid kit
Know what to do if you get sick, especially if you’re alone
Know when to defend yourself
Know CPR
ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS
Create a budget
Balance a checkbook even if you bank online
Set up a filing system so all of they paperwork in your life is in one place
SOCIAL SKILLS
Carry on a conversation for fifteen minutes with a person you don’t know
Speak before a small group of friends for a few minutes
Tell a joke
Learn basic ballroom dancing skills 
HUMAN SKILLS
Care for a dog, cat or other animal including when they are sick
Baby-sit for children ranging in age from 6 months to 6 years old.
Aid the elderly or handicapped people
ORIENTATION SKILLS
Get around the city on a bus or train even if you typically walk or drive
Know what direction is north, south, east, and west (without a compass) whenever you’re outside
Read a map 
PHYSICAL SKILLS
Throw and catch balls of all sizes without breaking your fingers
Swim half a mile, tread water for half an hour and float for an hour
Ride a bike with confidence
 HANDYMAN SKILLS
Hang a picture straight without making extra holes in the wall
Paint neatly including cleaning up the mess
Know which tools perform what functions and how to use them around the house
Sharpen a knife without cutting yourself
OUTDOOR SKILLS
Hike with friends all day without getting lost, bitten or covered with a rash
Bait a hook, catch a fish, reel it in, remove the hook, then clean and cook the fish
RECREATIONAL SKILLS
Play a team sport
Maintain a fitness regiment
Learn a game (like chess) you can play with friends for life
ARTISTIC SKILLS
Draw an illustration at least well enough to get your point across.
Have confidence to sing aloud
Know how to play a musical instrument
Challenge: Do the young people in your life have command of the above skills?  Are you up for teaching them as life lessons?

MBDA Helps Optometrist Create Vision for Engineering Firm

In 1997, minorities made up only 17 percent of all women-owned businesses in the U.S. Today, “women of color” own one-in-three of all women-owned businesses in America – that’s nearly a 100 percent increase! Minority women-owned businesses are also the only businesses besides publicly-traded companies which have seen a net-increase in employees over the last six years.

Dr. Eng

Dr. Karen Eng seemed an unlikely candidate to become an entrepreneur. Having completed her doctorate in optometry at the New England College of Optometry, Eng had already begun a successful career in the field when she recognized an opportunity to lead her father’s business. Confident that she could take the family business, an engineering firm called CSMI, to the next level, she committed to learn everything that she could about the business and then take managerial responsibility. Her father, who had supported her choice to become an optometrist, was surprised that she wanted to get involved in the family business, but over the next few years she transitioned fully into CSMI and became co-owner in 1999.

In 2009, with her parents’ blessing, Eng finally purchased CSMI outright and has since led the company to becoming a top engineering consulting services firm for the Food Drug Administration & the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulated industries, a mission that her father had laid the foundations for. The first major change that Eng implemented at CSMI was to look at ways to attract and retain the best talent. Regarding these initial efforts, Eng offers: “The most obvious change that I made was to make sure that our employees were getting the best benefits. We implemented a match with the 401(k) plan, reimbursed for education and training, increased the health benefits, and tried to make sure we were working cohesively inside and outside the office.”

Going International

Leveraging her family’s Chinese heritage, Eng wanted to expand CSMI’s footprint in Asia. In order to build a base of knowledge and support system before expanding operations abroad, Eng was careful to utilize all of the U.S. Federal Government resources that she could. She worked closely with MBDA, the International Trade Administration, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States to garner support and guidance. By utilizing these resources, CSMI has been able to deliver on contracts across the globe by expanding its contracts in China and the Philippines, and entering into new markets including Vietnam, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.

Recently, on a panel discussion at the 2014 Ex-Im Bank Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., Eng highlighted that working closely with the U.S. Federal Government has opened doors and helped make initial business connections that have blossomed into important contracts. Eng was especially appreciative of working with MBDA, saying: “As a business owner, there are so many unknowns when trying to build and grow your company. MBDA clarified the unknowns, and worked with me to ensure success.”

CSMI and Eng have won many awards over the years, including the 2009 MED Week Award for Minority Service Firm of the Year.  This Asian Pacific American heritage month, MBDA wishes to once again recognize Eng for her continued success as an entrepreneur and business owner.

 http://www.mbda.gov/pressroom/success-stories/mbda-helps-optometrist-create-vision-engineering-firm