My Japanese Friends

I started learning Japanese in Shanghai many many years ago, at that time, all my teachers were native speakers, 小仓 sensei, 山田 sensei, 谷村 sensei, 佐藤 sensei… Now looking back, i did have frequent interactions with them, but those were not sufficient to make myself to really understand them, understand Japanese people, probably because of the context. Most Chinese think they understand Japanese well, it’s actually not true. The values between the two societies, especially in the modern times are rather far apart, in my opinion.

So in this post, the following paragraphs will give a sketch of the Japanese friends I have made in NYC.

They May Forget What You Said, They May Forget What You Did, But They Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel …

The very first few Japanese friends I have made were the language exchange partners I had got to know through a website with the intent to improve both language capabilities. We talked our background, our life experiences, our families, the places we have lived and grown up at,  our views on various topics, and quickly I became really close with some of them. I have to say, the kind of connection I have with many of them are truly dear to my heart.

There is ex-news editor who studies political science at Columbia, who writes me incredibly long emails and corrects my grammar sentence by sentence, word by word.

There is the girl coming from a quite well-established family (dad is a biology professor, mom is a cooking school teacher) who is extremely compassionate, and travel to different developing places such as Philippines, Africa, Vietnam, with a dream to work in UN and help out all those people living in poor conditions in the world.

And there is people although now being very successful in Finance, but telling me that his dream is to work in agriculture – have a farm and grow corns and wheats.

Recently I have also often thought about the kind of choices people eventually made. Fumio-san, for instance, who originally had a stable job in the same bank as me. She was the first person who came over to me and talk to me, and invited me for lunch together with a group. I could never forget how kind she was to people, how peaceful and at ease every time I saw her and talked to her, as well as the image of her reading a book quietly if she happened to have lunch by herself.

Fumio-san was not the only one Japanese friend I really really adore at work. In fact, my coworker friends have given me so much love and support generously. They inspired me to cook and bring healthy bento lunches to work. The interesting and occasionally girly topics they talked about always made me so happy. We would eat one cup of ice-cream together after a meal (cuz we are girls – we need dessert but we don’t want to get fat. =P) Sometimes, if one of the girls bake something at home, we would share the yummy treats together in the lunch room. Under their influence of being good cooks and basically life-savyy as a professional housewife, I was eventually able to cook a table full of delicious and nice-looking Chinese home cuisines for 10 people.

Follow your heart

最近我常常想起Fumio-san做出的选择- 离开银行、遵从自己的心灵去教书;想起工作那么努力那么出色的Y 说过的话,如果不在金融行业工作其实他真正想做的是在田地里耕种农作物;想起Chie 酱-善良温柔而且坚强的Chie 酱,大学开始就到贫穷的地方(非洲菲律宾)等等国家去做志愿者,今后目标在联合国工作帮助那些贫穷落后需要帮助的人们;还有学习fashion今后想要开一个life style coffee shop的Takuya; 钟情于音乐作曲,有自己的乐队在bar开live concert 的chiyoung. (除了音乐主业,她兼顾许多part time 如给日本服装品牌到美国做推广,她去帮助做展台,还有在日本医院诊所帮忙、但这些打工都是为了自己的梦想– 音乐)。

在纽约也有遇到律师、和银行家的日本朋友。律师的朋友一天工作12个小时,除此之外,每天4小时的工作外自学,业余的看书杂志也都是相关法律,对自己所做的有本能的热情。

The kindness and friendliness of these people, the warmth they brought me, allow me to see ever so clearly how people work extremely hard for their dreams and beliefs based on their own choices.

Yes, because of these people, I was able to sense the things I have never been able before, as my heart is free from the materialistic thoughts and social biases.

Epilogue

A few days ago, we had a corporate cross-culture training, mostly focusing on the Japanese and American ways of doing things and thinking, the instructor really triggered my inquisitive mind and the heart constantly screams “Wendy, is this it?? is this where your ambition stops?? is this what you really want out of your life??”

Perhaps time to think again about my own passion, my own path…

 

Motivation of the upcoming Japan series

I have been wanting to write a series of articles about my feelings about Japan, the journey that I have been through, the growth I have experienced and the paths that I will be led to, for a very long time.

As a girl who was born and grew up in Shanghai, having lived in New York for over 10 years, and now working for the largest bank in Japan, I have seen and experienced a mini global world value system inside myself gradually forming.

Many people understood and appreciated the advantageous parts of American culture, but on the hand, I think Japanese culture has been under-rated, or to say the least, over-simplified therefore misunderstood.

The culture by-products such as food, tourism, music, movies, on the other hand, have been globalized… but i think the value of those things do not reflect even 1 tenth of the beauty of Japan. The value of these byproducts are dampened by way too many times.

It’s not surprising because Japanese tend to express things implicitly. They are too modest to pass along their beliefs directly through words themselves. (Come on, for a nation of people who wouldn’t even use the word “No” in daily conversation, do you think it’s possible for them to preach their values and enforce on others? Few people who have traveled to the country not like it.

This series about Japan is based on my own journey of discovering the beauty of Japanese mindset.

Culture and values shape all aspects of human interaction. In fact many conflicts that i have seen in life could be addressed and solved through the understanding of cross culture perspectives.

Last but not least, even if you don’t care about Japan, I truly believe from the bottom of my heart, implementing  these values from Japanese traditional philosophy would increase happiness of one’s own, make people’s relationship with each other more harmonious – living better spiritually, as well as life quality - slowing down, and being present to enjoy every aspect of anything at the moment, experience and enjoy things like drinking a cup of green tea peacefully at ease.

 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being 生命不可承受之轻

Saw Sebastian Marshall today. It was a really powerful experience. It’s like meeting the me three years ago.
I miss the me who reads and writes a lot.
Interacting with him in person also made me realize that the reason his writing is so powerful is because he is a very nice and kind person with charisma and willing to take the lead.

(我们在点单时、他说服务员都很kind, please do tip them) 在social event 的过程中,他辗转不同桌子,照顾到大家的conversation topic. When he hears someone’s need, he would say, I do know someone… let me put you into contact with someone there.    Networking: you know someone do sth, if you could help facilitate Then you are truly adding value.

Elliott told me to write a memoir. It will be very powerful and influential for others to read.

Reading Sebastian Marshall’s blog makes me realize there was a dream of doing something wonderful deep inside me.

Coming across Sebastian Marshall and that whole bunch of entrepreneurs, taking courses at General Assembly, Toastmasters and fantasied about making changes was also once part of my life and path, my dream.

People like Sebastian has already inspired and lived a longer life than many of us.
Most people see Sebastian’s talents; I see Sebastian’s admirable personal character and leadership charisma first.

Blogging, writing books, and hosting meet ups for blog readers
The friends like that are quite meaningful and fulfilling.

Sebastian recommended laotsu.

其实生命重有重的活法,如Sebastian, ikigai (travelled, written so many words to inspire others..) . 用老子的方式,stoic 的方式去影响别人。

轻有轻的活法,如庄子,逍遥行。
其实自己逍遥,同时与别人分享这番喜悦,就是好事。

生命不可承受之轻。其实overthinking would def leads to unhappiness.

Sebastian 的眼神是清澈的,其实不论走哪条路,最重要的是活得坦荡,坚定自己的价值观。
生命不可承受之轻。天将降大任于斯人也。

日本也好,Sebastian 也好,真正震撼人心的,是无私的付出、真诚、满腔的热情、以及行动力和自我约束力。
社会和谐的角度而言,日本真的是在生活质量上和思想上(国民的素质和修养、还有人与人之间交心的方式、互相的体谅),最接近完美的地方……

和美国人相处,用开阔的胸怀(日本)去包容他们。
Wherever you are, you can outperform others through inspiring.

Dream to date

My future dream would be to live in Tokyo and Paris each for a year with you while traveling around domestically and to the surrounding neighbor countries in Asia or Europe; make some meaningful friendship at each place; let our future babies experience different culture since they are young.

Perhaps I will eventually settle in somewhere (like the metropolis New York). But who knows, I’m open to anything as long as I could have you sharing my dreams, making step-by-step plans, with an outlook of being able to live the life to the fullest.

Life is short enough; and the future is ahead and always seems so close. I’m trying my best to reach out… So many things, so many encounters, after all, it’s the depth, length, authenticity and sincerity that matter.

 

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What Professionalism Entails for Junior People

Things that matter the most sometimes lie in those details. I would like to encourage you to make improvement with me in terms of acting more professionally and really excelling on our jobs.

This is the target list I have made for myself, which could be helpful to many of my peers.

  1. Never be late.
  2. Always reply to emails within 24 hours.
  3. Clarify any assignment requirements.
  4. Boring job… make it organized, streamlined, and gamify it – try to make it fun somehow!
  5. Following others’ suit might lead you to certain opportunity.
  6. The “last 5 minutes” could really determine your work efficiency.
  7. Prepare, Study, Review… 
  8. Ask questions based on your notes!
  9. Work means constantly reviewing things that you might have learnt before.
  10. Take meeting minutes even your boss didn’t ask you to!
  11. Speak in the meeting, and make your voice heard.
  12. Networking starts from arranging the first meeting.
  13. Greet people energetically in the morning! :)
  14. In the case of leaving work early… See [http://blog.officezilla.com/leave-work-early/Arrive early on the day you plan to leave early. Be sure to stay organized all day — don’t get distracted! Plan ahead. If you  know you’re going to need to leave early on Friday, double-down earlier in the week so you can leave guilt-free. Notify your boss and co-workers ahead of time so that if they need your participation or input on a project, they’ll have time to get what they need before you disappear.
  15. Prepare – do your homework for the meetings
  16. Work involves learning by imitation
  17. Information needs to come from the original source.
  18. Motivate teammates.
  19. Communicate via emails and phone calls.
  20. Books – read and digest.
  21. Resources/Info – don’t just organize and collect. Make use of them immediately!
  22. Foreign language skills
  23. Not just your own work, knowing the big picture and context matters.
  24. Knowing the history of things related to your work
  25. Apply what you learned!
  26. Adding stress to your brain effectively! It’s necessary sometimes.
  27. Find the mentor that suits you.
  28. Take qualification exam, continuously motivate self.
  29. Newspaper reading, paper-based materials would be more ideal.
  30. Dine with people who’s not directly related to your work.
  31. Wear fitting clothes.
  32. Use humbled language at work is totally fine, as long as you know it would help you accomplish your job at the time.
  33. Be polite but not subordinating.
  34.  Keeping distance doesn’t mean unfriendliness. Sometimes it’s actually better.
  35. Respect older people.
  36. If you feel touched, definitely express it!!!
  37. Provide feedback to boss sincerely.
  38. Whenever making mistakes, think hard how to prevent it next time!
  39. See the underlying message of any criticism.
  40. Organizing meeting actually is a great privilege.
  41. If there’s a presentation, pull all your effort.
  42. Rest up well for work.
  43. Think of work with an athletic mindset.
  44.  Dislike-able people – indulge them. Dealing with them makes you stronger.
  45. Control the pace!
  46. Do not get too close with people of the same class.
  47. Complain only to those are not related to your work at all.
  48. Don’t go drinking with internal people
  49. Grow your savings.
  50. Manage finance by knowing your spend and budget well.

I will repetitively review the above list until having truly internalized everything. This might take a while, but we shall all make it there eventually!

 

Leaders are not happy – A few thoughts on MBTI

Leaders are not happy.

Yes, I claim that there is a negative correlation between leadership and happiness. In order to understand my proof here, first you need to know about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Please feel free to look up anything relevant and proceed.

Now that you got the most genius creation of personality theory, while the framework offers a perfect amount of information, and 16 groups are certainly granular enough for you to distinguish and slide the scales in each dimension, I found the Four Temperament theory even more intriguing.

In “Please Understand Me” by Keirsey, he did something absolutely amazing: mapping the MBTI 16 personality types into the classical 4 temperaments. Specifically, they are:

4 temperaments

Several things caught my attention:

1)     “The choleric temperament is fundamentally ambitious and leader-like. They have a lot of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were choleric. They like to be in charge of everything. However, they can quickly fall into a deep depression or be moody.

My comment: Leaders of aggressive nature could be powerful, but it’s hard for them to be sustainably happy.

2)     On the other hand, there’s another leader type, we call them “Sanguine”. Check their description out:

 “The sanguine temperament is fundamentally impulsive and pleasure-seeking; sanguine people are sociable and charismatic. They tend to enjoy social gatherings, making new friends and tend to be boisterous. They are usually quite creative and often daydream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean sensitive, compassionate and romantic. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when they pursue a new hobby, they lose interest as soon as it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy. Sanguines generally have an almost shameless nature, certain that what they are doing is right. They have no lack of confidence. Sanguine people are warm-hearted, pleasant, lively and optimistic.”

My conclusion: Be a sanguine type of leader. Then you could lead happily. 

3)     If your life goal is to be happy, then try to acquire a temperament of “NJ” (phlegmatic) or “SP” (sanguine). This makes a lot sense to me, because S is the pragmatic factor here, and P is the “go with the natural flow” and “how to be likeable” factor.

In the case of “NJ”, I do find a lot of people with “N” are incredibly smart, they make sense of things instinctually rather than with book knowledge, however, as you know, a lot of things in life, are counter-intuitive, with only “N”, the magic inputs, you cannot success; you would have to draw logical conclusions and make rational decisions in a blink of eyes or after some thoughtful considerations.

“NJ” and “SP” are balanced temperaments. 

4)     So the next question: could personality be altered? I would say, yes. Granted, people are born with certain character which we call status-quo, but you could really nudge any factor to go towards the other direction.

For instance, if you want to be sanguine instead of melancholy, all you need to focus is figuring out how to go from “SJ”  to “SP” – basically try to live a more flexible schedule and lifestyle.

Additionally I believe the middle two factors are harder to change than first and fourth. With explanations as below:

  • S/N is the input wire, which is the hardest to change.
  • T/F is the output wire, which you could forcefully unwire, making decision not following your usual style. It may actually win you big at times while completely screw you over and make you regret otherwise.
  • J/P is a life style choice, which is relatively easy to change.
  • I/E is noticeably a situational variable, meaning it varies according to the circumstance, so I would say, it’s only easy to change if you could figure out what are the motivators for a person to become introvert or extrovert at a certain scenario, then start adding those supporting factors to the background (usually it’s some likeable (eg, hobby) or fun (eg, game) factor) , introversion or extraversion would naturally change.

5)      Lastly, figure out what’s particularly important for you to be consistent or to be versatile. Take myself for example, I have an “S” in my MBTI, “S” is already in my blood, and “P” is a conscious choice – be flexible and have an open-mind to accept natural occurrences in life. In other word, “P” is a friend of “S”.

Also, “I”, seemingly on the opposite end, is also a friend of “S”. Why? Because sometimes you don’t have enough life experience or knowledge explicitly ready to have a good sense of things and make the right decision yet, in that case, you might as well go with intuition. In fact, especially in those cases, your hidden weakness, which you unconsciously try to deny, would be reflected and conquered. So being an “S”, use the INTUITION to decide whenever you are unsure.

Thanks for reading these five viewpoints. I’d like to get some original ideas out first. More thoughts to follow after I actually read the book “Please Understand Me”…  =)