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#ItStartsWithConversation: On passion, questions, and defining your story

Posted in:  Highspot News, Uncategorized

Conversations are powerful; they are how we connect, learn, and grow. As we honor Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we asked three Highspot employees to share stories of the conversations that have changed their lives, from finding your calling to defining your own journey.

“Make mistakes and experience new things.”

My parents immigrated to America from Vietnam. Because of the language barrier, they have always worked selling flower arrangements although it wasn’t necessarily their passion. Still, they were super hard-working. They would always tell me that I was lucky to pursue whatever I wanted to do. But it took me a while to figure out exactly what that would be. 

Going into college, I knew I wanted to do something different. Initially, I thought that meant something related to math and science…until I realized I sucked at it. One day, a speaker came in and gave a presentation on how design had the power to influence people’s decisions. I loved that notion, that it had the power to persuade. It made such an impression on me that I decided to pursue graphic design. And I’m still working as a designer today.

Looking back, I see that working hard at something, even though I didn’t end up liking it, was a necessary step for me to find the path to the thing that I loved. I hope that people reading this can learn to embrace the hiccups on their journey. Go make mistakes and experience new things. That’s how you’ll discover the things in life that click for you. And when you see that spark, follow it. 

-Johnny Luu, Sr. Visual Designer

“Questions are powerful.”

As a child, I was inquisitive and asked a lot of questions. I learned early on that questions – especially when chained together – can become annoying very quickly. And so I learned to set a limit on the quantity of inquiries I would vocalize. Over time, this self-made limit became a beautiful constraint. Thanks to the finite allowance, I learned to ask hard-hitting questions. I’m recognizing more and more that questions are not just a means to get answers. Questions send key signals about the askers’ background context, operating assumptions, and critical thinking; which makes them useful in making an impression or building a reputation. Questions also have the power to reframe conversations or encourage creativity and problem solving; which makes them critical to building a culture of collaboration and unleashing the potential of minds coming together.

While it requires courage to ask questions, it’s a muscle worth building.

-Wuen Oh, Sr. Solution Architect

“Don’t let the world define you.”

The world will try to define you. For me, it started when I was told I would have to work twice as hard because I’m a girl and three times as hard because I’m an immigrant in order to succeed. For the longest time, I thought excelling in academics and becoming the doctor, lawyer, or engineer my parents wanted was the definition of success. I followed that charted path to college, where I took engineering and pre-med courses. Exposure to more ideas made me realize I can choose my own path. So I leaned into that newfound freedom and went into consulting after graduation.

After venturing into the corporate world on my own, I began to understand my parents’ perspective. They were not trying to control my destiny; they were trying to protect me. My parents took a huge risk immigrating to the United States where they had no support system. The careers they encouraged me to pursue were less risky because they knew people in those fields who could help me. They only wanted to provide me with the support system they never had.

It took a lot of trial and error to get to where I am because I charted my own path. Looking back, I realized how I navigated through challenging times helped me understand who I am and what I value – freedom and growth. Don’t let your identity be determined by the whims of the world. I was happier to make my own mistakes and learn from them than to follow paths laid out by others. Experience what you can, lean into the struggles so you come out more certain of who you are and how you can live an authentic life.

-Tingting Wu, Sr. Product Manager