People Will Go Where They Can Grow

Welcome to issue #2 of the Women-In-Action series!

If you haven’t read the first issue, yet, you can read it at: How to Ignite Your Calling, Despite Your Deepest Fear.

Today I’m going to share a number of career transition stories to ignite your calling. I used to watch the mainstream media for years, and was easily swayed by magazine cover stories or newspaper headlines about someone’s overnight success. I’d get motivated to try what they did, and inevitably failed when I thought I was taking actions the stories suggested. I later learned that there were 10 years of preparation and actions that led to the success of these people. It was never as easy as the headlines suggested. Silly me.

Now, if I read or hear about someone I consider successful, I don’t give them a chance to share their proudest achievements; instead, I dig deep into their mind and heart and unearth their ultimate pain points.

The pain point is where, when and how the magic happens. All your greatest plans will come to fruition if you understand and make use of your pain. The obsession to win is great, but the pain of losing is the changing agent.

In today’s article, we’ll explore:

  • What you can accomplish in two years
  • Awaken the bulldog within
  • Be a fearless woman
  • A lawyer who flew to New York
  • An investment banker is taking a sabbatical
  • A secret society and a driven woman

What you can accomplish in two years

I landed a job that didn’t pay because I rejected the money. I bragged to all my friends that I worked with my hero on a non-paid job. Most of my Hong Kong friends asked, “Who is Derek Sivers?” It turned out my hero was famous only to new age people.

But I was happy. I’d landed my first dream job, even though no one understood what it meant to me. The pain of missing something important to me drove me to write and write for six months, on top of a 60-hour workweek. I put all the writing pieces in a blog that landed me the job.

But I didn’t know why I was always unsatisfied. “Am I not grateful?” I thought. I looked at the blog that landed me the first dream job. The pain of missing something important to me drove me to code and code for three months, in a 7-day-a-week intensive coding bootcamp. The coding landed me the second dream job.

Two years ago, I never thought I would become a writer and a programmer.

Awaken the bulldog within

I’d never thought of myself as a bulldog until I was validated by one. “I’m proud that I’m a hustler,” I said, “but I’m too hardcore; people will be intimidated by my actions sometimes.”

“I’m not intimidated by you,” the lady said. “You know what? My boss used to call me a bulldog.”

Her articles, courses, and book helped thousands of individuals in over 80 countries. She designed, created, and launched a huge online course at a 5.6% sales conversion rate (industry standard is typically 1-3%), and built an automated sales funnel with evergreen info-products, as well. Her work has been featured in Lifehacker, Skillcrush, the Daily Muse, and a bunch of other online publications.

The bulldog I’m referring to didn’t always work in technology. Joyce Akiko took a circuitous route to get there. She chose a formal education before she knew what she really wanted to do with her life. She graduated and felt chained to her Psychology degree, stuck in a narrow range of career options.

She went back to school for another two years and earned a graduate degree in Human Resources. She quickly felt trapped. She was restless, underutilized, and frustrated with her job options. But going back to school wasn’t the answer.

The pain of missing something important to her drove her to self-taught coding.

Did html or the bulldog within her set her down the path of success?

Be a fearless woman

Man or woman; our primate brains teach us to be afraid, not to be happy. We are taught to survive, not to thrive. The pursuit of happiness is a kind of lie to those new-age people who are unsatisfied and always daydream about missing something.

Who are these new-age people? People like Derek Sivers, Tony Robbins, and many others. Who are your role models? Are they high-achieving women like Sheryl Sandberg? Or Oprah Winfrey? You learn best from successful women who’ve done what you want to achieve.

They’re liars, but you believe them. Why?

A lawyer who flew to New York

When I asked Jonah Lau if I could interview him regarding his career transition story, he replied, “Sure. Why not?” Radiating confidence, he had a firm voice.

He is now not only a Co-Founder and CTO of a startup, but also an investor of a messenger app that groups like-minded people.

Two years ago, Jonah was a lawyer.

I asked him how he drummed up the courage to quit his legal job. “To be honest, I didn’t. I was scared shitless when I quit.” Was this related to his pain point?

He went on: “Having supportive family and friends, and developing self-belief was what helped me conquer my fears to leave behind my comfort zone and the stable income law profession provided. There will always be doubters and cynics, and having the self-belief that you are doing what is right for yourself will help you deflect the negative energy.”

I asked him what were his fears then. Did he doubt or fear letting go of the career path he’d developed for five years? “I can very confidently say that I don't think about my legal career anymore. Many people say it's such a shame that I spent so long on something, only to leave it behind. I understand why people think that way, but that kind of thought process doesn't do anyone any good. Sure, five years is a long time - but thinking that way almost makes it seems like I learned nothing during those five years. The skills I acquired in my previous line of work will stay with me forever, and will always be my greatest asset.”

So what was his fear? “My only fear everyday is that my skills are falling behind others in the tech industry. It is a constant battle to keep yourself up to date, and it’s extremely draining. It's not all bad though - the same fear drives me to make a conscious effort to learn at least one new skill every day.”

That same fear drove him to quit law two years ago, fly to New York, and complete a 3-month 7-day-a-week intensive coding bootcamp. "I was dead broke after the bootcamp. My bank account had no money."

Now I could see why he was scared shitless.

An investment banker is taking a sabbatical

Let’s turn the dial to a career transformation currently in motion. Yujin Cho previously worked in investment banking, helping private equity firms with their financing needs, and later analyzed trends in robotics automation processes. About a year ago, he decided to take a sabbatical to learn about topics that interest him.

What were his pain points? Why did he step away from his job? This was something I dared not do before I was sure which route I wanted to take. Plus, he was about to get married. Why do this?

He said, “For three years I worked in investment banking, which is a lucrative field. I lived like a college student. I put a healthy chunk away for retirement while saving an emergency fund that could support me for a while. I could make it last even longer if I decided to move home with my parents. I had decent backup options, just in case.”

Investment banking can bring in good money. The salary would probably be higher than it would in tech. Was the work schedule the only reason he wanted to leave? What was the difference between working in finance and working in tech?

Yujin said, “I prioritize what I'm doing more than the pay. A big part of it was the culture. There were a lot of douchey people in the field. People get really arrogant and feel like they're hotshots when they make a lot of money. People felt justified treating juniors like crap, because the pay is good for the senior execs. As you advance, it ultimately becomes a sales role. You're constantly meeting with clients and trying to win business. I don't think that really meshed with what I wanted to do in the long-term.  I like analytical work. I like thinking about things and learning different things. Sometimes I worry that engineers can be pretty douchey, too. I think it's just important to find the right culture where you fit in. The difference between the two? I feel like tech potentially offers a more craft-orientated career. Maybe more career flexibility and entrepreneurial options, as well.”

But he hadn’t been a technical person.

Yujin said, “I think it was just seeing a lot of people who were previously non-programmers, becoming programmers. Especially when someone had a similar background as me. It made it seem more attainable. Also, as I'm studying topics on learning and mastery, it seems it's less about talent and more about persistence and dedicated practice.”

He had to have a deep fear of something. I asked what was his top challenge now, testing the idea if he actually wanted to work in tech. What were his pains and fears about making the career change to tech without a tech degree or relevant experience?

He said, “I wonder what is the right level of dabbling vs. committing. As I try different things, will I know this is for me?  Will I find something that obsesses me? Do I need to just pick something and force myself into it, and hope the love will follow as I improve?”

I found his pain point and screamed with joy inside my head. But he is an aspiring techie. I shouldn’t fight him like I did with Jonah Lau. Instead, I will assist him on his journey. A few months later, he built a site to showcase four projects he did and all the tech skills he’d self-learned. His fear hadn’t gone away, but he was taking action against it. I’m sure he’ll make the career transition very soon. Stay tuned!

A secret society and a driven woman

Do you believe in the law of attraction? Like-minded people will flock together? I believe it when I’m in it. I’m telling a driven woman that men are no different from women. We’re not courageous, but we’re ambitious. The driven woman then leads me to the secret society she built.

I have the privilege of being the first man in The Neon Life Society. Ping me after you join, I would love to hear from you. You might wonder why I’m sure you will join the secret society. Because… People will go where they can grow.

That's it!

Stay tuned for next month’s article, the final issue of Women-In-Action series: Want to Make a Career Change? Ask These Questions High-Achieving Women Ask

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