Today’s challenge: Asking a favor

Yesterday’s task was to visit doctor’s office. Well, I didn’t make it – but I called and made an appointment for next week. Also, recently I learned that someone I love and admire had gone through surgery for breast cancer. It came as a bit of shock to me because she seemed so healthy and energetic from what I could see on SNS, and she is my age. This made me think of “what if”. So I also made an appointment for cancer exam. It was liberating to have made those two appointments, it made me feel like I am slowly starting to defeat a habit of procrastination.

Today’s challenge is about asking a favor. This is also one of the things I hesitate… I feel more comfortable asking a favor if it’s someone I know well, and also have done something for them in the past. As I write this, I realize that I am operating from this “quid pro quo” mentality. I know this world is full of good people and most people will be happy to help out others, as long as it’s withtin their power and the request is reasonable. Basically I am in search of English tutor who would come to our place and teach our sons how to write essays. It just so happens that there is a dad in my youngest son’s daycare who is a teacher at an international school in the area. He is English, and his wife is Japanese. I don’t know them too well but today I’ll ask them in a way of a letter slipped in their son’s backpack, as we rarely see each other at drop off/pick up.

The day I made my friend cry (WDS2015)

The inaugural World Domination Summit(WDS) took place in Portland, OR in June 2011, and this year we celebrated its 5th birthday. I have gone to all of them. Someone mentioned that only 2 % of this year’s attendees have gone to all five. I am not sure what this fact makes me, but I’ve had a wonderful experience every time I went back for WDS. This time, WDS team wanted to highlight the Japanese community – a handful of us have gone back to WDS year after year, and they wanted us to talk about why we come all the way from Japan. I liked the idea of doing something different this year, as I had the feeling that this might be my last WDS when I was planning my trip to Portland. When my Japanese friends and I were discussing what we could do, at some point I suggested us doing a skit to tell our story, but after some back and forth, we decided that I would be the main speaker on stage (and no, no skit… just talking).

So I prepared the speech, sent out the presentation slides, and practiced it on my way to Portland. Once I got there, the speech evolved with the help from WDS “magician” Michelle Jones, and we decided that fellow Japanese attendees will be on stage while I talk. We were called for rehearsal on Saturday afternoon during the long lunch break. (Yujiro snapped this great shot!)

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My speech was focused on three things: what WDS does for us, community & friendship, and remembering who I am.

DSC06992What does WDS do for us? WDS helps us to feel free(er) to do things we would be more self-conscious doing in Japan. For my friend Hori, it was Bolleywood dancing. For me, it was giving a hug to my Japanese friends or calling each other by their first name.In my speech, I shared about my realization that hugging is not a part of Japanese culture, and I often let that notion stop me from hugging my Japanese friends when I see them. hugs But I do want to hug them, so I went ahead and started a hug-chain on stage. This act earned me at least a hundred hugs once I got off the stage, and someone even said “you are the hug lady!” Also, one guy said to me “you know, a Muslim guy was sitting next to me, and while watching you guys hug each other on stage, he said he wants to hug his people too ”. This made me smile.

I then talked about community where I put my friend Oliver’s picture on a slide, because I think he is someone who embodies the idea of WDS community. Oliver is kind, fun-loving, adventurous, and super supportive. DSC06996I still talk to him regularly via Facebook chat every now and then. He is always there for his friends and I can count on his encouragement and support whenever I need it. I aspire to be Oliver for whatever community I’ll enter or create (later I learned that this part had him in tears)…. I was lucky to have lived in San Diego because we have a great WDS community. Connecting with them after WDS 2012 was one of the most significant events of my 12 year stay in San Diego. They taught me what it feels like to be surrounded by loving and supportive friends, who see you as someone who could do anything. They hold your vision for you, even when you can’t see it for yourself.DSC07007

While I was away in Portland, I left our three kids in my husband’s capable hands. The night before I left, I mentioned to him that this might be the last WDS for me, because I saw that he was playing this scenario of “what if kids get sick or I get into a car accident?” in his head. It wasn’t that he was overly anxious or worried, but he wanted to mentally prepare himself for emergency as he would be left in a foreign country where he didn’t speak much of the language. When he heard me say that this might be the last WDS, he initially said “that’s cool (so I don’t have to do this again)”. But after a while, he continued;

You know, I am not sure if your not going to this kind of thing is the best decision for our family. After all, you are just trying to be the best person you can be. Self-exploration is necessary for that.

DSC07009This caught me by surprise and I felt deeply grateful for our partnership. This was when I realized what WDS means to me. It helps me remember who I am. People say “wow, you came all the way from Japan? That’s so far!” Yes, going to Portland from Japan is quite a bit of travel. But it’s an important journey to go back to who I really am underneath of all the “roles” we were supposed to play on daily basis. Taking away those labels, masks and armors, I become just “me” again.

At the end of the speech, we had everyone stand up and hug each other, and we left the stage. I felt relieved that it was over, and I didn’t fall on stage or anything like that. I also remember feeling deliriously happy when I first walked on that WDS stage – yes, I was nervous before I got there but once I started seeing some friendly faces, I couldn’t wait to start connecting with them. This is not to say that I am an experienced public speaker; I had never given a speech in English to an audience bigger than 60-70 people before that. But on Saturday, I was watching how engaging the audience was, laughing and responding to keynote speakers on stage, and I knew that it was very warm and kind crowd. I had this trust that even if I fell on stage, it would have been ok, they would be supportive and cheer me up. So I knew that giving my best was the only thing I needed to do.
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OliverEtsukoAt the closing party, I felt a bit melancholic and bitter sweet, because at that point I knew that I was not going to come back next year. WDS team announced that the size of the participants for next WDS will be reduced to 1000, and 500 tickets had been already sold at that point. That means only 500 more tickets will be sold in future ticket sales. I had the honor and privileges to come to all 5 WDS, and it is time to let someone new experience it. But I knew I was going to miss a super fun party with my dear friends next year, so I made the most of the little time we had left together.

And then it was over.

Everything good will come to an end, and that’s ok. This is by life’s design, so that we can put ourselves in a new environment and grow some more. 4 years between the first and the last WDS gave me tremendous gift. Being in WDS community propelled me to take action, and brought me to where I am now. Connections and friendships I made through this community will continue to grow and so will I. So, I will say good bye for now, with gratitude.

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(images: Armosa Studios)

Revive Your Dream (World Domination Summit 2014)

The 4th annual World Domination Summit (#WDS2014) concluded last Sunday. I have been attending this summit since the year 1 – but this time I participated as an ambassador (=volunteer to help out running the show).  I have always been curious about the ambassador team with different color shirt from the rest of us, and after attending as a participant for 3 years, I wanted to see how it’s like to be on the other side. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. Throughout the few days of being an ambassador, I found myself wanting to sing the Lego Movie theme song “Everything is Awesome” as the lyrics goes “everything is awesome when you are a part of a team”.  I did watch the movie with my boys so I know this is not necessarily a song about being unconventional or remarkable, but all jokes aside, being an ambassador was unique and wonderful way to experience WDS.

Since I was a part of the team that focused on making the attendee experience as great as possible and helping out with whatever and where-ever was needed, I really can’t write much about main stage speakers – this is not to say that I didn’t catch any of it. I was able to see about 50% of the speeches. But I was always “on duty” and constantly looking at the clock on my phone so I was not late for the next task, so I was not fully present while sitting in the audience.  I also sat different parts of the theater as opposed to the front rows where I always sat over the past three WDS (which explains a fair amount of my pictures on flicker stream from past WDS!) As a result, my level of engagement or excitement for the content of speech was very different from the past years. I look forward to catching those speeches once they become available in a few months – from talking to my friends or reading others’ blog post, I know they got a lot of inspiration out of them.

Being an ambassador was a fun experience. I loved being able to say hi to anybody, smile or attemptto give high-five without being self-conscious about it because of the orange shirt I was wearing. I do not consider myself introvert – I am right in the middle based on the test Daniel Pink recommended in his book – but being an ambassador pushed me to be extra friendly or open to talk to anyone, asking where they are from or if this was their first time attending WDS. I know I could have done all those things as a regular attendee too, but the orange ambassador shirt empowered me to do more, and also pushed me to stretch myself even when I felt tired and didn’t feel like it. Because of that, this WDS became the year I talked to the most people in all of the years I have attended. I also got to know more about other ambassadors and core team members. They are truly devoted, committed group of people. Jollie Guillebeau (Chris’s wife) reminded us right before the closing that WDS could not happen without this team and that is true. I was happy and proud to be a part of the team who believe in the vision of WDS.

At the closing, Chris did something to make me all teary. The team and he selected 4 attendees to be on stage, and after showing their vision for their future captured in the video they shot during the registration, he announced how they’d help them realizing their visions. He said “We can’t help everyone. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help someone”. One of the four people who received this incredible gift was clearly overcome by sense of shock and joy, and crying. Seeing her face got me crying too. Later when I congratulated her in person, she said it was a miracle. Of course Chris didn’t forget to remind everyone that they still have to do the work, it wasn’t like he or WDS made their dream come true. But he also said that all of us have a responsibility to help others with their dreams as well.

This last segment made me think of my past 4 years of attending WDS and what it all meant to me. Here is a short recap of what has transpired since the first WDS.

WDS 2011 – I didn’t know what to expect but I signed up right after it was announced just because Chris invited us to do so (I was and still am a true fan). It was much smaller event with just 500 attendees. Iremember the ice sculpture of the globe at the opening party and thinking “they do things differently here” as I had never seen one at a conference…. I enjoyed every minute of it including a Bollywood dance lesson during the official programming on the main stage by DJ Prachant. Yup, it really is a tradition to have him at WDS! Credit to Chris for finding such talent and bringing him in. You can read about my experience of the inaugural WDS here.

WDS 2012 opened with a keynote speech by Dr.Brene Brown who blew away everyone with her own act of vulnerability. Then at one of the attendee-lead sessions, I was so inspired to learn that someone from my own town took immediate action after the first WDS…that person was Gregory Berg, he started Radio Enso after the first WDS and he was presenting how to start a podcast show in a workshop! I was almost shocked and felt like “what did I accomplish this past year?” Looking back, I did have a baby between the first and second WDS, so I should probably cut myself some slack, but in any case, I remember thinking that I need to do something before coming back again. At the end of the last main stage speech, Chris shocked everyone with the gift of $100. WDS 2012 was truly magical from the beginning till the end. 7 months later, I used that $100 to purchase some microphones and a mixer, and I started my own podcast show. I continue to produce one show a week ever since its launch and as of this writing, 74 episodes have been released.

At WDS 2013, Darren Rowse talked about dream. Then he had Clare Bowditch perform a beautiful song and he re-appeared wearing a superman costume. His speech and Clare’s song planted seed in my mind and on my flight home, I decided to revive my dream of moving to Japan with my husband and kids for a few years – a dream I had shared with my friend Eddie Hori (@mehori) at the first WDS, but had given up after we had our third baby.  After returning home from this experience at WDS 2013, there was a big meetup in September with San Diego WDS group, and I told my friends there that I am committed to do everything in my power to make it happen.

Then, one month before this year’s WDS, it became clear that we are moving to Japan in one of the best ways we imagined possible. I saw Darren Rowse at the opening party, so I had to share this story with him – that it was him who inspired me to reconnect with my dream, and that 12 months later it is about to become a reality. He said he came back to WDS this year partly because he wanted to hear what people did with their dreams. From that perspective, this year’s WDS really felt like a celebration. Speaking of celebration, WDS has always closed with an epic party, but this year was extra special – I somehow ended up dancing on stage in the end (I believe it was the power of orange shirt), and WDS designated “party closer” DJ Prachant gave me a gift of having everyone sing Happy Birthday for me after the party ended at midnight as my birthday officially began.

I am about to embark on a new journey at the end of summer with my husband and three kids, and I have many more dreams I will pursue. At the same time, I am also curious how I could be of help to other people’s exploration of their vision. I’d like to encourage you to share your own dreams publicly, if only initially just with close friends. I, for one, would love to help in any way I can if you dare to share your dream with me.

*Photos by Armosa  Studios & Gregory Berg

World Domination Summit 2013 (#WDS2013)

This year’s World Domination Summit (WDS) was different in a few ways. The biggest difference was the size; there were more people this year than previous years with over 2800 participants from 33 countries. I also traveled a lot more distance to get there unlike last two years (See my previous post for details). Here is the brief summary of my experience.

・Speakers & Workshops

My #1 favorite speaker was Jia Jiang who spoke about how he overcame the fear of rejection. His experiment of “rejection therapy” where he deliberately seeked rejections by asking outrageous things such as driving a police car or flying airplane was very inspiring. You can watch one of such experiment on his YouTube video. I heard from many attendees that they would like to do the same thing in order to overcome their own fear of rejection. Often we talk ourselves out of pursuing what we really want because we are afraid. Jia Jiang beautifully articulated how he built an intimate relationship with fear of rejection so he could go for what he wanted without being afraid.

I also enjoyed two musical performances; Clare Bowditch sang this song called “Amazing Life” at the end of Darren Rowse‘s presentation.  On the 2nd day, Steve Schalchlin who is living with HIV/AIDS performed his own songs while playing the piano, singing about the days of his struggle, later accompanied by Portland Gay Men Chorus. These musical performances were  played with such heart and soul  that they brought tears in my eyes.  Judging from the looks on the other attendees, I believe I was far from alone. I was reminded how powerful the human voice can be.

One of the workshops I attended was with Danielle LaPorte from Canada. She had many “quotable” suggestions. I have always enjoyed her talks very much as her words always come from her heart. She spoke about desire mapping and how to find one’s core desires. A few of the memorable phrases are:

“Your journey of exploration could be moneytizable”

“Love at first sight can happen when you trust it can happen”

“What if joy is your birthright?”

“Beauty is a powerful door-opener”

“Imprint yourselves with victories”

“Obsess yourself about being useful”

“Real men love curves” – this one came in response from a question about women and body image issue. She also said “either deal with it or learn to accept it”. I believe this is true for other aspects of life.

・Friends & Attendees

WDS is not just about speakers on main stage or breakout sessions. Meeting with other attendees is a core aspect of WDS. On Friday night at the Oregon Zoo, I saw lots of familiar faces from the past 2 years. Also, I became a part of a San Diego WDS group last November and we had several meetups this past 6 months, so seeing many of them again in Portland was really nice. Knowing so many people made me feel more comfortable than the past two years in social settings. I was particularly happy and proud when one of our San Diego friends won the Unconventional Race. Well done Oliver!!

・Parties!

When I told someone that this was my 3rd WDS, he said that “you must really like the parties”. I never thought of WDS as a party, but it is true. They know how to throw good parties! The opening ceremony was at Oregon Zoo with a marching band playing music while doing all kinds of crazy tricks. For the closing ceremony, they blocked off “Pioneer Square” which is at the center of downtown, and following the WDS tradition, Bollywood dance kicked off the party. In both places I had lots of fun, partly because of the music and dance, but also it was a great opportunity to connect with the old friends as well as make new ones. Of all 3 years of WDS, I had the best time at the parties this year as I knew a lot more people this time around, and it also made it easier to meet new people during this time.

Also I did a river cruise on Saturday evening where 400 WDS attendees got on a cruise ship called “spirit”. I had a good time on the cruise – I enjoyed meeting with other attendees, looking at the scenery along the coast, a view of the Portland bridges which are very unique, and beautiful sunset.  To top off an already fine voyage,  the  excursion included  swing dancing with a fellow attendee named Trevor whom I also danced with at the last year’s closing party.

・The Toast

At the closing, close to 3000 peop      le in the theater toasted with apple cider (Chris was cracking jokes on how they came to chose this beverage while close to 3000 glasses of apple cider were being distributed throughout the theater) . It was quite a view. Every year, the ending closes with bittersweet feelings as I always feel that I don’t want it to end. I must admit that I didn’t particularly love having to wait a long time to get in the main building or workshop venues, but it is true that all of the attendees are what make this event so special and that is what makes me want to come back.

・The Team

Don’t forget the amazing team of “Ambassadors”!  I felt so much love coming from them each time we walked into the theater, and a few different ambassadors helped me throughout the weekend, all of them equally helpful and very friendly. WDS came out of Chris Guillebeau’s mind but the team truly embraced his vision and created something really magical. If I lived in Portland, it would be a team I’d love to be a part of.

・Next  step

I wrote most of this blog on a flight going back to Japan. I also wrote my new goals on another list, with specific “next step” for each one. I am excited to get it started, and I will share them here in coming days.

Journey to Portland, OR (#WDS2013)

I attended the World Domination Summit(WDS) in 2011 and 2012 and had a wonderful experience in both years. This year, however, I almost did not go back.

I’m from Japan and I’ve been living in San Diego since 2002. My husband and I now have 3 sons, ages 6, 5 and 16 months old. This year, we decided to go back to Japan as a familyfor 6 weeks, starting early June, so our oldest son could have the experience of attending a school in Japan for one month. It was what I’ve always wanted to do, so I did not purchase the ticket for WDS2013. I told myself that I could not go to WDS this year.

January came around, and a good friend of mine said, it would be nice if I came. Yes, it would. Then I asked myself – why wouldn’t I?

I then realized that I was putting myself in a box – a box that is made up in my mind, putting myself in the roles such as being a mother or a wife. The self-talk sounded like “I should not go because I’m a mom of 3 kids including a baby”, “Japan is so far away from Portland, OR”, “I should not leave my husband at my parents house, that’s just not what a good wife & daughter would do”.

But then I remembered how capable my husband is in taking care of our sons, or how my parents and my husband get along well enough that they would be fine without me for a few days.

When I pitched this idea of me leaving for a few days for something I really cared about, they were very supportive. They didn’t reject me. They had already embraced who I am a long time ago and they continue to be the most supportive people in my life.

This experience reminded me that you have to be vigilant, constantly keep watch on your self-talk, and keep these “shoulds” or “shouldn’ts” in check. A quick recap of WDS2013 will follow in the next post, but I wanted to write about the journey to get to Portland, OR this summer and how grateful I am for my family. Making the round trip Tokyo – Portland just for the weekend was a crazy thing to do, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it was well worth it.

World Domination Summit 2012

World Domination Summit 2012 ended last Sunday. It was my 2nd time to attend this conference (I wrote about the first one here). This year, it was twice the size from last year, and it was amazing to see this beautiful theater filled with 1000 attendees. What’s more, apparently some 5000 more people wanted to come.

The most memorable speaker for me was Brené Brown. I wasn’t familiar with her work before I heard her speak, but I am now a fan. She talked about vulnerability.  The topic happened to coincide with an area I’ve been  working on these past few years. Most of us are so afraid of being or feeling vulnerable. She then talked about the value of keeping our heart open even when we want to shut down, withdraw or hide, because that is what keeps us connected with people, and with the world. It’s what makes us feel. She said that “the capacity to be wholehearted can’t be greater than your willingness to be heartbroken”.

After seeing her speak, and sharing the experience of singing the song “Don’t stop believing”, a popular song by Journey, with everyone in the theater full of people, I remember thinking “this alone was worth coming here”. You can read a back story of this occurring in a blog post by Brandon Sutton, who took over the microphone from Chris (in picture) after a while. Reading Brandon’s post reminded me that nothing is quite how it seems on surface, as he looked calm and confident as if he was practicing for this performance…

Then there was Cal Newport, author of “How to be a high school superstar”. He talked about how thefamiliar advice of “Follow your passion” is a bad career advice, based on his research and discovery. He said that nothing is quite as simple as the phrase suggests. He talked about the value of craftsmanship, spending 10,000 hours or more to be truly great at something, how we all should want to strive for mastery – and how the most satisfied and happy people at their jobs share common “patterns” in their career paths. When you come to this kind of conference and hear the speakers talk, you might think that the people up on the stage make everything so easy, and “anyone can do what they can do”. Or just the opposite, they might make you think that they possess something special  that you don’t, and you can’t do what they do. The truth, of course, may lie somewhere in between. Anything worth doing, and more importantly, anything that creates a lasting impact will take time to master, and one needs to put in some serious effort. Those who are the happiest at their job have spent time doing the work and got really good at a rare and valuable skill, to the point that they can leverage those “career capital” to gain general traits(characteristics of the life you want), so their life can be filled with the value of their choice. Cal concluded his speech with this remark “Do what Steve Jobs did, NOT what he said”, meaning that when you closely look at his career, creating a computer was not his #1 passion to begin with. According to Cal, if Steve Jobs had followed his passion back then, he probably would have become Zen instructor. Overall, I enjoyed Cal’s speech a lot. It reminded me that in the world of instant gratification, sticking to one thing and pursue until it becomes your passion, has lots of value. It can also be a good relationship/marriage advice. Rather than try to find what you love, learn to love what you already have….

Then there was Chris Guillebeau. At the end of these mind-turning, heart-opening, inspiration-loaded 2 days, he managed to shock us once again. He shared that unlike last year where they lost about $30,000, this year they came out ahead and made a small profit.  Then he talked about an anonymous donation that came after the last year’s summit. He announced that he would invest that money in us, the 1000 attendees of this conference. He told us that we were all going to receive a $100 each when we walk out of the venue, so we could do something good and meaningful with it. When he said that, I felt like I could hear what people are saying in their heads while quietly gasping in shock and disbelief. The picture above was taken when he just announced. In the end, we walked away with an envelop which contained $100 bill and a small card that said “Thanks for making #WDS2012 a fantastic experience. We’d love to see how you can put these funds to good use. Start a project, surprise someone, or do something entirely different – it’s up to you”.

How will my life be different because of this experience? How can I make someone’s life different, or make a positive change in this world? These are the big questions I still need to answer. But first thing first, my birthday is coming up in exactly 3 days! Since I pledged to give up my next birthday at the end of the presentation by Scott Harrison for his charity: water,  I created this page and started a campaign to raise money so we can give more people access to clean water all over the world. Please join me to make it happen!

Thank you Chris, the action team and the ambassadors, all of the speakers, and all those who attended and became part of this experience!

*Photos by Armosa  Studios

World Domination Summit in Portland, OR

It’s been a few days since the inaugural World Domination Summit has ended. Those who’ve attended are still talking about it on twitter by using the hashtag #WDS. Numerous blog posts have been written, including this one by the visionary and creator of this event Chris Guillebeau. I’m about to add one more to the list.

First, I have a confession to make. At some point I had seriously thought about not going. I purchased the ticket as soon as the registration opened up last year in fall, partly because it was offered with a “pioneer price” to the first 50 or 100 people (Also, being a “true fan” that I am, I usually respond to Chris’s invitation to his readers). Portland is one of my favorite cities because my friend since elementary school lives there with her family and I had fun memories visiting them a few times in the past. But as the departure date drew near, other things started to come in to my life. I decided to take a spontaneous trip to Japan at the end of May, which would leave only one day between Japan trip and the trip to Portland. I was also feeling a bit selfish for leaving our two young sons with my husband’s care in 2 weeks in a row.

The other hesitation was that I felt like as though I already knew what I’d “get” by going to this event. I’ve been following Chris’s work for 2 years – I’ve been reading his blog regularly, I have translated his manifesto to Japanese, read his book and even worked really hard to get a Japanese publisher to buy the foreign book rights in Japanese… I knew what his message was all about. Also, I knew some of the speakers at the event, including big-name bloggers such as Pamela Slim, Danielle LaPorte, Jonathan Fields… I have heard all of them speak before and/or have been reading their blogs occasionally, and felt like I sort of knew what they are about too. Additionally, I had already taken a leap of faith and have been living my dream! Shouldn’t I stay with my family instead of going on “vacation” to Portland, after being absent for a week?  If I want to know more about what they have to say about anything, I could read their blogs…

In the end, I am glad I didn’t cancel my trip. Looking back, there were many memorable moments throughout the weekend, but here are some key things that I took away.

1.    Awareness and gratitude:

On Saturday morning, in his opening remarks, Chris mentioned; “This is not a motivational conference”. Listening to him, I realized that I went there partly because my life is already awesome. That awareness filled me with gratitude for my life and my family who supports me in my journey.

2. Connections with new and not-so-new friends:

I have made several meaningful connections throughout the weekend. One of them was with @Mehori, or Mr.Hori from Japan. On several occasions we had a series of conversations about life, work and the current status of things in Japan. It was refreshing to hear his point of view from many reasons. Another re-connection I made was with @mma323, or Mr.Matsumoto – for those who were there, he’s famously known as the guy who Pam Slim took down on stage. Actually, Mr.Hori, Mr.Matsumoto and I had met in Tokyo last December, but reuniting again at this side of the ocean meant a lot to me.  Mr.Matsumoto and I had dinner together on the second day of the conference, and we joined fellow WDS attendees afterwards for a drink. It was interesting to hear him talk about his pursuit of romantic relationships. We’d have to continue the discussion when he comes down to San Diego this weekend…

3.    What makes me feel most alive:

On the 2nd day of the event, Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen took the stage and presented their Mondo Beyondo talk. These two giggly ladies asked us to think of a time where we felt most alive. This question threw me off a little bit, because the first thing that came to my mind was not at all what I had expected. It wasn’t about accomplishing amazing goals such as getting a job at the United Nations or publishing a book –  it was when my kids and I were pumping the pomp of this fire truck to make it move forward at the Legoland, or when I was out swing dancing by the beautiful San Diego bay. Then we were supposed to talk to a partner and solidify why these moments came up, and pick a word to describe it – which ultimately pinpointed the value we hold dear. The word I picked was “let go” because when I get out of my head and am taking action I feel most alive. Also, they told us that their message to each of us will be found underneath of the chair we were sitting. This earned them a standing ovation from a hall full of 500 attendees – the card I found on my chair said “You are becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be”. This experience brought me tears. The rest of the speakers were all uniquely great and inspiring but this was one of the most memorable moments. I carry this word with me and try to look at it written at least once a day. Oh, we were supposed to write that one word we found somewhere on our body to honor and reconnect with that value…it looked something like this in this picture of @mma323. As you can see, his one word was “love”!

Last word about this event; there is something about being there in person. Yes, you can accomplish lots of things on-line these days and the distinction between “virtual” and “real” are getting blur especially if you are connecting with “like-minded” people. But being in that space and creating a face-to-face connections is still very powerful. An inspiring event where you get to connect with inspiring group of people, where you feel like you belong, an event which bring you tears and laughter….If this sounds like something you would like to be a part of, you can put your information here so you can be one of the first to know when the registration opens this fall. I look forward to The Sequel in 2012.

*Photos by Armosa  Studios

PS….Short video of WDS2011 can be found here.

Start with Why

Today I attended “It Takes a Village to Create Change” conference where Simon Sinek did the keynote speech. The first part was basically his TED Talk contents with more emphasis on creating community with people who believe what you believe, and he talked about why you need to start with “why”, and not “how” or “what”. I have seen his TED Talk multiple times prior to today, but I still found it very energizing and inspiring.

The second part was a Q & A session and he became even more lively and engaging as soon as he opened the floor to take questions from the audience. Someone asked his thoughts about President Obama and the recent election results; He won the presidential election two years ago by effectively communicating “Why” with the voters, and yet, it appears that he might have lost his way as evident from the most recent election results. Simon replied that it seems like President Obama does not trust that communicating his “why” is enough. Moreover, Simon speculates that because President Obama, with his college professor-like intelligence and knowledge, likes to try convincing people with facts and figures (which is the “What” in Simon’s golden circle), he keeps getting sucked into the argument over the details. Simon reflected how he would have started out the President’s speech to push through a health care bill. He demonstrated how reversing the order of WHAT-HOW-WHY to WHY-HOW-WHAT, as explained in the video clip above, would have been much more effective in inspiring people to agree with him on his health care plan. It was beautiful and very powerful. Even before Simon finished his spontaneously-created health care speech, someone yelled out from the audience, “I’m in!”, meaning that they are sold on to that idea.

Simon also explained that people need to find a way to put words in their “why” to inspire other people, which is not an easy task. He also added that once you find your “why” and a way to articulate it, it is necessary to surround yourself with reminders of your “why”, because people tend to forget as the time goes by, or the organization or business grows, or circumstances change. After finishing his speech and Q & A session which lasted for over 100 minutes, I was able to speak with him briefly one on one. He kindly agreed to say a few words in front of my camera about his own “Why”.

Crush It!

Last November, I met Gary Vaynerchuk at a tWineup in San Diego. He wrote a book “Cursh It!”, I talked to him in person, took picture and got a signed copy. I was fist introduced to 092-copyGary Vaynerchuck by my friend Alan Underkofler – he posted one of many Gary’s talks on-line, and when I watched him speak, I was blown away by how passionate he was about his subject matters which are wine and business development. People say passion is contagious, and you can experience it by reading his book; in his book, he talks about how he has been 100% happy by following these 3 simple rules: 1. Love your family 2. Work superhard 3. Live your passion. This book is a great inspiration to everyone, but particularly to those who are wondering about how they can turn their hobby into business by utilizing various tools that are now available for everyone for little money, if not completely free.

He also talks about how personal branding is now a necessity for everyone – not just for entrepreneurs, but every single one of us, even if you are happily employed. He talks about how he utilized social media in building his personal brand, and how you need to be who you are – in his words, “let your DNA lead you”.  He writes; “You may not have connections, or an education, or wealth, but with enough passion and sweat, you can make anything happen”. The thing is, even if you quit your day job to do what you love, you might be putting the same or more amount of hours you did when you were employed, but if you truly feel passionate about it, it doesn’t feel like work. Your personal life and your professional life will be meshed into one, and you’ll be the brand.

While I really enjoyed my job at the Japanese school for the past 4 years, I felt that I could not express myself fully. I started writing a blog in May 2009, but I was still filtering myself on what I should and should not do or say while holding that position at the school, because people saw me as “Executive Director at Minato School”. I started teaching parenting class called “Redirecting Children’s Behavior(RCB)” on my day off, but I felt like I was still representing the school and it started feeling like a cage. My RCB instructor friends suggested that I should try to bring in this RCB courses to my school but I felt deeply conflicted in doing so, and that if I want to continue teaching this and to start reaching as many parents as I possibly can, I could not continue working there. It was a natural course of action for me to leave. Now that I have gained the freedom to be and express myself, I am ready to take massive action in expanding my network. I’m working on setting up RCB course to be offered near LA where there is a bigger Japanese population, and I’m in the process of creating tele-classes on parenting so people can call in to take my courses over the phone. Just like Gary describes in his book, I reluctantly go to bed at night, and excited to continue with where I left off the night before. I’ll also offer my course in English this year. Dear readers, thank you always for supporting me, and stay turned for my next move. I totally intend to crush it!

Meeting With Chris Guillebeau

This year on my birthday, I wrote a list of “birthday resolutions” – a list of things I hope to accomplish this year. One of the items on the list was “Meet with Chris Guillebeau in person”. He is someone I’ve got to know through my coaching training; one of the students mentioned him in a class, and I checked out 073his web-site as he sounded interesting. I immediately liked what he stands for, and what he is trying to achieve through his blog. I started following him by reading his blog regularly, commenting occasionally and connecting with him on Twitter. He has lots of experience even though he is still in his early 30s, and he writes about life, work and travel in his blog “Art of Nonconformity”. I thought it would be so cool if I could meet with him, so I included it in one of the resolutions.

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