Yesterday, I was having a long conversation with my brother about work and millennial problems – the idea to reach for the stars. We both agreed “following your passion” and “finding your potential” is an incredibly American idea. Classic Tony Robbins and Steve Jobs.
I started out interning through a school program in DC, applied as an Intern twice to get into the State Dept. I found a position with the Office of Policy Planning. When Trump came in, I left along with the rest of the Secretary’s Office and rejoined as a contractor. I was hit by a car a week after my employment. During the last two years of my time at State, I joined as the Korea head at NEXUS Global, a network of social entrepreneurs and impact investors, and hobbled through conferences and made a small network of my own in connecting policymakers and entrepreneurs to keep good initiatives going. I convinced former diplomats and staffers at State that left during the Trump administration and formed a team called GeoStrat Ventures, LLC consulting on new market entry & geopolitics to impact investors. Here in Korea, now I am bringing together my background to help the market entry of federal technologies abroad in aerospace and defense into South Korea.
I think you can have it all, but you can’t have it all at the same time. In my experience, there is a huge opportunity cost to “following your passions” and “staying who you are.” If you prioritize work, you lose family time and might lose out on your hobbies. I had advantages like I was single. And I could afford the time to work on side projects and the money to attend the conferences as I did.
You don’t belong in a certain social group, because you are on your own. You have to be mindful of navigating the cultural difficulties among different social groups. For instance, I am a young Korean woman here, and my State and entrepreneurial venture do not bode well with the older Korean businessmen here in Korea. What helped me is finding a few industry leaders as personal advisors and staying focus on my priorities.
If you have the Tony Robbins dream, and I do think it is incredibly rewarding to have one, there is never a short-cut or the easy-way out. You also have to navigate your own waters, flexible, be disciplined, diligent, be extremely smart in prioritizing. What gives me comfort is knowing where I am and what I can and cannot do.
And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If you’d like to be absolutely original, my tip is to manage your mental health and to keep fine-tuning your skillset. Keep learning and taking the initiative to carve space in your life devoted to what you’re good at and creating an environment that continually motivates and excites you.
Disclaimer: these are my thoughts and my thoughts only by February 22nd of 2021. They may change and evolve over time.