You first need to please one person — YOU


I wrote this great piece today. Please go to LinkedIn to leave your comments.

About two weeks ago, we learned that our manager’s husband is very ill. I know her parents have passed away and she doesn’t have any children of her own. So when I think of the coming holiday season, the time of family gathering, I feel like reaching out to her and letting her know that we care, even though she is a rather private person. I shared the idea with a colleague of mine and went out to get her a blank thinking-of-you card.

After I got the card, I typed these words on a piece of paper, printed and pasted it on the card– “… hopefully, knowing that someone cares will help you going through the difficult time in your life….” Both of my colleague and I signed on the card, then I emailed to a colleague at another location, asking her if anyone wanted to sign the card.

This week that colleague of mine wrote to the whole team, “I was wondering what (if anything) the … staff has done for [our manager] in the past around the holidays?” The ideas of sending the boss this or that gift rushed in.

Giving the manager a holiday gift? We have never done anything like this before. I feel uncomfortable doing it simply because she is the boss. No one ever gives me, a rank and file employee, anything on holiday, even though I have more than once gone out of my way to help. It disturbed me even more when I thought of the fact that the team had done nothing when another colleague’s mother passed away. Not that they didn’t know. The double practice brings to my mind words like curry favor with, ingratiating, efforts to please the superior.

Make no mistake that we all start our lives trying to please others like our parents so that we can be taken good care of when we are too small to survive on our own. I remember clearly that I was so eager to make my parents happy by trying to do well at school, even though I seldom did well there. Also years ago when I got back from office, the first words that my son shouted out to me through the door were like this, “Mom, I got another 100!” I was very pleased that he cared so much to please me. But still I keep telling my children that I am pleased as long as they are pleased with themselves.

As we grow into adulthood, we realize that we have our own journey to cover, and our own dreams and passion to fulfill and to follow. Pleasing others is no longer the priority because we no longer latch on other’s pleasure for our happiness. We create our own happiness through our own accomplishments and attainments. In adulthood, it is crucial that we understand that we need to please ourselves first if we want to please others. If you are not happy with yourself, it is difficult to make others happy.

Of course, I am not naive to the point of not knowing modern day politicians. Pleasing voters at any cost is just the means to their end. Their end is winning the election. Winning makes them happy. Perhaps, gift-giving to one’s boss alone is also a means to an end, ulterior or not.



If you need a good laugh, read H.L. Mencken


On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. H. L. Mencken

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

Before a man speaks it is always safe to assume that he is a fool. After he speaks, it is seldom necessary to assume it.

Communism, like any other revealed religion, is largely made up of prophecies.

To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia – to mistake an ordinary young woman for a goddess.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

A bad man is the sort who weeps every time he speaks of a good woman.



Introducing Zhongshi Chen’s Modern Classic, White Deer Plain


I wrote this great book review and published on Critical Flame.

I am not sure how large is the readership on this book review. It won’t make much sense if you have not read the original novel, White Deer Plain. Since there is no English version of the novel, only those who can read in Chinese can possibly read this, which makes readership even smaller.

Another discouraging fact is in this age of mobile technology, people don’t have time for long novel like this. They don’t have time for even short essays like what I posted on LinkedIn. The age of no deep reading. It is what it is.



Doing what you preach: teaching local Chinese kids, making Xmas ornaments…


I went to Blue Valley library today to teach a group of Chinese kids making Christmas ornaments, like the ones I posted on 11/17/2016. I remember the words that I kept telling my children when they were small, if you are smart and want to mean something to others, do one thing — help others. Whatever you know, whatever you have means nothing to others, if you don’t share with others, if you are selfish… I am glad that I have lived up to what I once preached, exemplify the virtue that I want my children to possess.

I only hope the children were teenagers or little ones with their parents around helping them. It took too long to get anything across with the little ones. I don’t think I have achieved what I had planned. I wish I have the virtue of patience. I’d like to work with teenagers, sharing with them both skills and ideas. But I guess by teenage years, kids feel like above doing things like this. They might not like listening to adults at all. That’s life.



Three salient features of Poor man’s mentality


I wrote this wonderful piece a few days ago. Please go to LinkedIn to leave your comments. Thank you.

People are likely to associate mentality of the poor with the real poor who have no plan of getting out of government assistance. But in reality this mentality is found not just among the real poor. It exists within many who are in the range of middle class. It is the mentality that traps people where they are for decade after decade, leading them to be surrounded by a pile of poor man’s junks.

Number one salient feature of this mentality is they don’t know the value of time, in that they value money more than time. They are willing to save money at the cost of spending extra time. They let time pass without gaining any tangible and intangible value. In a way, we all trade our time for money when we go to work every day. Very often, how much value we can extract from our time at office is not entirely up to us to decide. Some people have to take a day job for basic sustainability so that they can work on their day dreams as soon as the day job is over. There are always something that we can control in regard to our time. Here are some examples.

An IT guy who works in the neighborhood of Overland Park Convention Center lives north of the Missouri River. He spends an hour and half daily on the road. He told me that he would not be able to buy a large house like his in Overland Park. Never mind about the cost of daily gas and the stress on the road. I would say he exhibits the mentality of the poor when he tries to save money by squandering extra driving time every day. The thought process must be like this– while time is free, large house costs more. He would trade his free time for the costly house.

Influenced by this mentality, he finds it hard to part with his money and would grab anything that is free. Here’s what he doesn’t realize: the free time is not unlimited. With money, he earns, spends and can earn it back; but not with time. Always keep this in mind — time is the only thing in life that we have less and less.

It is because they don’t value the free yet limited resource that they don’t invest wisely their time to generate more values or assets. People waste something that is the most valuable one in life.

There is another case where a friend of mine drove us around the town in Los Angeles to find sale beef. For a ridiculously insignificant amount of saving, we spent like an hour checking in and out grocery stores. It even seems comical.

Number two of poor man’s mentality is to trade health for money. Like when people work strenuously or sit there for so long that they won’t stop until they are struck down by illness. They don’t know how to extend their life span by investing in some fitness activity or by stopping working when they should. Whatever they earned is not enough to pay their medical bills or to bring back their health and enable them to enjoy life. What a short-sighted idiocy!

Number three is to bring home sale items or free stuffs even if he doesn’t need them. Nothing is free. Everything he brings home takes up his time and space. Once again this mentality leads people to trade their time with some cheap or free stuff that they don’t really need, and later on they will have to spend some time to decide how to dispose it, like selling them at garage sale. Gradually they end up being collectors of poor man’s junks and their lifetime will be an endless cycle of junk collection and junk disposal. How pathetic!

My 85-year-old mother knows best. She keeps telling me, “Don’t bring back anything from America. They are all made in China. If I need, I can get it cheaper here. More important, I don’t need anything.” I know what she needs most. My time. Good luck on this.



Men, you don’t have to follow the masculine norms, it’s for your own mental health


I read this article today. I cannot say that there is a definite association between masculine norms and man’s mental health. But I can say for sure that the society-enforced masculine norms are unnatural. And anything unnatural is detrimental to our health. Take for example self-reliance. On the one hand, it is great that we are financially independent, that we don’t have to be seeking daily assistance; on the other hand, we are social beings. From time to time, we rely on each other emotionally, psychologically, and financially. It would be unnatural if a man tries to appear like a superman when he is not.

The title of the article is “Being sexist could harm men’s health, study suggests”

The article starts this way, “Men who have “playboy” attitudes and believe in power over women may face a higher risk for mental health trouble than men who don’t, a broad new research review suggests.”

The findings from the studies that involved nearly 19,500 predominantly white male participants include:
(1) “the more that men conformed to masculine norms the poorer their mental health, and the less likely they were to seek mental health services… men who adhere to masculine norms are generally in a worse state of mental health, and less motivated to seek psychological help.”
(2) “self-reliance was the trait most strongly associated with worse psychological outcomes.”
(3) “masculine norms was more likely to be associated with being lonely, hostile or having problems socializing than it was to a risk for depression.”

The study defines “masculine norms” as
— the desire to win;
— to retain emotional control;
— to take risks;
— to engage in violence;
— to exert dominant behavior;
— to participate in a “playboy” lifestyle;
— to be self-reliant;
— to elevate work to the highest level of importance;
— to retain power over women;
— to maintain a disdain for homosexuals;
— and to pursue “status.”



Christmas for the needy families


Our clinic participates in adopting a needy family during this holiday season. Below are the items that they need. It gives me a sad feeling when I go through the list. I think of my children and miserable I would be if I wasn’t able to provide them with what they needed when they were small.

Mom Age 32
· Wears size M Shirt
· Wears 12/13 Pants
· Wears Shoes size 9
· Coat Size Large
daughter Age 12
· Wears size L Shirt
· Wears 14 youth pants
· Wears Shoes size 9
· Favorite Color RED
daughter Age 2
· Wears size 4-5t Shirt
· Wears size 4-5t Pants
· Wears Shoes size 10 Toddlers
· Loves Disney Princesses, Peppa Pig & Mickey Mouse
· Favorite Colors PINK & PURPLE

Items that are needed/requested:
1. Coats
2. Gloves
3. Toddler Bedding
4. Twin Bedding
5. King Bedding (Earth tones/Black/White/Grey Preferred)
6. Sweatpants
7. Underwear (Size 7)
8. Shirts
9. Pants
10. Gift Cards for the Teenager (Target/Walmart/etc.)
11. Toys/Dolls for Toddler (Disney princess preferred)



The highest insult at workplace


I wrote and posted this one today while at work.

1. Unappreciative of Efforts
2. Lack Recognition and Respect
3. Constant Criticism
4. Expect Employees to Be Like Them
5. Hypocrisy
6. Delegate Too Much – or Not Enough
7. Micromanagement
8. Manipulative
9. Don’t Value Employees

What an awful list! Two years ago when I read Glenn Lopis’ article “9 Ways Leaders Insult Their Employees,” I thought who, in his/her right mind, would do these to his/er employees, like hypocrisy, manipulative? Get real! Not in my wildest dreams!

I have seen micromanagement. It is called super responsibility in my vocabulary. I have no complaint about it as long as the manager takes responsibility for whatever under his micro.

Many of the items in the list look like the same thing to me, like appreciation, recognition, respect and value. Of course, appreciation and recognition encourage people to keep doing what they have done. But what difference does it make if you are paid adequately? We are old enough not to crave for recognition, and we won’t do a shoddy job even if we are not duly appreciated. Respect? It would be nice if you are truly respected. But how do you know it’s genuine or not? I can live without it. What matters most is you are treated legally, that is, without any form of discrimination.

To me, the highest workplace insult for someone, who is the key player in a team and who should play the leading role in a project, is assigned a subordinate position and is told to play second fiddle to an outsider who doesn’t know what he is talking about and who interferes in whatever the key player does.

Readers, what is the highest insult that you have experienced at your workplace? Go to LinkedIn to post your comments.



The season of giving … share the joy of origami with patients, colleagues and all….


I made over 50 of origami ornaments and donated them to our clinic. These will be sold at $4 each and the proceeds from the sale will go to benefit some needy families during the holiday season. I felt like breathing a sigh of relief when I finally handed them over. It’s a few months in the making. I have realized that it takes more time on my part than simply handing out some cash. It’s not that I have more time than money but the fact that I wish to share with people the joy of origami. I am sure the joyful color will bring festivity to the season.

This is one of the reasons that I’d like to involve in teaching teenagers. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. No fear of spoiling the soup.
origami-ornament-home-door
origami-ornaments-office
the-joy-of-origami-ornaments



Some questions from Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Some questions from Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (designed for 文化村英文读书会 by 吕行)

1. Why do you think Coates decided to format the book as a letter to his son? Why is it effective? (Fun fact: the book wasn’t formatted this way until the book’s fourth draft!)

2. Coates praises Malcolm X for being “the first pragmatist I knew” (p. 36) and speaking like “a man who was free” (p. 36). Do you think Coates would describe his own writing in this book as such?

3. How does he differentiate between the racist individual and racism as an institution? Does he believe there is a difference? How does the moment in the movie theater with his son speak to both?

4. Who are the Dreamers? What does he mean when he says “The Dream is the enemy of all art?” (p. 50)

5. Coates claims that he has not spent his life studying the “problem of race” (p. 115) and yet many would argue that the problem of race is this book’s very focal point. Why is this an important contradiction?

6. What is “the black body?” (p. 35) Who are those who “believe they are white?” (p. 42)

7. What did Coates gain at Howard University that he feels other universities in America could not offer?

8. Describe why Coates felt more freedom as a foreigner in France than as an American. Why did he feel it was important to take his son to Paris?

9. How does he differentiate between the violence at home (in the form of corporal punishment) and the violence experienced by the black body outside of home?



Five categories of to-do list


When I was in school, weekend relaxation started Friday noon. When I work, weekend planning starts Friday afternoon when I am physically in the office but have mentally checked out. Sometimes I made such a long ambitious list for the weekend that it is even discouraging to look at it. Recently I found that I will be able to get more things done if I divide the tasks into different categories. I think for me there are at least 5 categories of to-do list for now.

(1) Office (I make this one during weekday, not on weekend)
(2) Sideline –books I’m reading, articles that I have saved and will read, pictures that I will take, writing topics;
(3) Friends and relative — my children, my relatives in China, crafts I promise my colleagues, friends I will contact, volunteer activities if there is an opportunity
(4) Family — grocery shopping, cleaning (endless), kitchen work, yard work;
(5) Personal care — walk and other exercise, daily mental exercise, memory training.



Reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara


I remember a colleague of mine told me she couldn’t remember what was about in a book that she has read. Now that I have read novels and non-fictions one after another, I want to make sure that I will take home at least one thing from each of the books that I have read. I just finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

The story is pretty straightforward. As the title indicates, A Little Life, it is about one person’s little life — Jude, though the novel starts with the lives of four college kids.
JB — artist, gay man
Willem — actor, gay man
Jude St. Francis — lawyer, gay man
Malcolm — architect, non-gay, got married
In the end, only JB survives. Willem and Malcolm died in a car accident. The four men were friends and roommates in college and continued being friends throughout their lives.

More than anything else, the novel is about the long-time impact of the traumatic experience that Jude had during his childhood. He was a foundling in a bag by a dumpster, picked up, raised and abused by monks in a monastery. One man (Brother Luke, a pimp) took him out of the monastery when he was 8 years old and turned him into a male prostitute. He prostituted till he was 15 years old. He developed the habit of cutting himself during that period and continued throughout his life.

Jude wasn’t able to recover psychologically and emotionally from his childhood trauma throughout his life, even though he was smart, very handsome, worked very hard, became successful lawyer, loved by everybody who knew him. He committed suicide at age 53.

I think the author’s message is one’s children’s trauma is like a lifelong psychological wound that is hard to erase, that is continuing cutting a person, that it is crucial that parents provide children with a happy childhood so that they can grow into healthy adults.

Some people might think there are plenty of people who haven’t had healthy childhoods and not all end up killing themselves. I agree with this view. There are always something that we cannot control in our lives, especially in our childhood, but once we are strong enough to protect ourselves and wise enough to make sound decision, we can be and should be masters of our lives.

Then again, I think people are different. In some rare cases, some people simply can’t rise above life’s traumas and adversities. Since I don’t have that kind of extremely traumatic childhood, thank goodness, so I don’t know what I would do if I were in Jude’s shoes. That’s why I try not to judge too harshly.



Plan for next year… continue good practice


When I started my current job in 2005 in healthcare area, I realized this was a totally new field for me and I had a lot to learn at this place. So I made a point of learning at least one thing a day. I even created a file named “What I learn Today” to record my learning. lol

I plan to quit my job at the end of this year. But I don’t want to get lazy and boring, and quit some of the practice that has benefited me for the past decade. One of them is learning new thing everyday, even if it’s not everyday, at least continuously.

With this plan, I have changed the title of this site to “Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day”

I hope my readers will learn and grow with me as days go by.



Employees as Customers: Loyalty, Trust, Empathy and Happiness


This is what I wrote today at office,

People might not see employees this way, but when an employee is considering changing jobs, it bears some similarities to a Sprint customer thinking of switching to AT&T or Verizon. Here are four places that show their similarities.

Number 1: accessibility. Because customer service cost money, some companies discourage customers to talk to the real person by making it difficult for customers to reach them. So, making customer service accessible is the first step to a good service. Similarly, a good employer will provide its employees with an avenue through which an employee can unreservedly share his work-related ideas and thoughts. I remember vividly when, back in 2013, my workplace hired an outside listening ear to hear what people had in mind. During the meeting with these outsiders without the presence of our manager, people were like horses being unbridled, vying with one another to have their voices heard. Because they don’t have such an opportunity as often as they wish. Such listening ears should be always available.

Number 2: same expectation. When customers called customer service, they expect customer service agents to treat them with due respect and make them happy and satisfied. When people go to work, they have the same expectation of their employer as the customers.

Number 3, same win-win situation. That is, if the company respects and treats customers decently, making efforts to make them happy and meet their need, customers will more likely to remain loyal to the company and to stick at it for as long as they can. This benefit both the company and the customers. It’s the same win-win situation between an employer and his employees.

Number 4, same empathy. That is, we listen to both employees and customers with the same empathy and same eagerness to help them out. Because we are dealing with human beings, be they customers or employers, we need the same kindness, sincerity and the capacity to understand and meet their need.

The thought for the leaders: if you think customer service is all about making customers happy, we can say the same thing about managing people.



People are different. It is unprofessional to Compare one Employee to Another


Today I wrote this one at the office. Enjoy!

There was one incident at my workplace where a manager told one person, “Look at what L is doing at her role. And what you’ve done?” The word made that employee instinctively on the defense. I was watching and at the time speechless at this unprofessional behavior from the management team.

It is unprofessional because we have our professional standards, in that one employee is not the standard for the others to follow. All the employees are expected to live up to their job descriptions, good clinical practice, FDA guideline, etc.

It is unprofessional because people are vastly different in their personal aspiration and their social, educational, economic, cultural, ethnic background. Each of us come to the office not empty-handed but heavily loaded with values, dreams, hopes, and everything up to that point that has made what we are. Our past defines our present. Some employees dream big while others are happy without any dreams.

It is unprofessional for a manager to say this because it is potentially pitting one against another instead of encouraging teamwork.

The thought for the management: as long as the employees live up to what is expected professionally, accept them as what they are.



The Healthcare hierarchy with gender factor


I wrote this short piece today and posted it on LindedIn. I don’t have a clear idea as why I wrote it. Perhaps I want to cause people’s attention to this well-known phenomenon.

More female nurses than male nurses.
More female nurses than female doctors.
More male doctors than female doctors.
More male doctors than male nurses.
More nurses than doctors.
Naturally, more money paid to a doctor than to a nurse.

In a team building event at my work place early this month, an announcement was emailed out, “Bowling lanes will be reserved: 8 people per lane/6 lanes so be thinking about how you want to construct team competition!” One doctor replied all, asking to have four guys on his team. I replied to him, “From my observation, the healthcare hierarchy is like a pyramid, the downward you go, the larger is the crowd, the less guys you will find there.” So I wished him good luck on getting four guys among nurses.

A quick search on the Internet confirms my observation. Beckers Hospital Review’s “Gender ratio of nurses across 50 states” reveals ratio of females to one male in America as 9.5 to 1. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation shows the distribution of physicians by gender in percent with female taking up 33 percent and male 66 percent in America.

I was wondering how other countries are like in this regard. So I got the data on female doctors as percentage of the total in 2000. See my article posted on LinkedIn. At least we are getting better now than 16 years ago.



Some of the best gifts that parents can possibly give to their children


The best gifts that parents can give to their children do not include any material like gold and silver. Instead, they are good habits, a strong character, values that last life long time. Here are some real basic ones.

(1) Have a kind heart. Be reasonable and nice toward anybody.
(2) Have the habit of making a plan for whatever you want to get done and follow it through.
(3) Be self-reliant. Anything you can do, do it yourself.
(4) Manage your time well. Time is all we have in life.
(5) If it’s not yours, don’t ever touch it.
(6) Be humble and sincere in your heart
(7) Admit your mistake. Say I-am-sorry when you are wrong.



Take Nothing for Granted –The Need for Recognizing Good Work


I wrote this article today, while at office.

The company that I was associated with was bought by another entity in June 2011. After that, especially after a new senior executive director came aboard in mid-2013, a new meeting item crept in monthly, that is, massive accolades showered upon the deserved employees within that new entity, almost nothing upon old place folks. This is something entirely new to me.

Some people in my old company might think it nothing but you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours. People just do what they are supposed to do. There is no need to make a fuss about it. This is so not true.

First of all, there is a difference between following your job description and going above and beyond, and between a good job and a shoddy one. There is definitely a need for encouraging excellent job over the not-excellent one by the endorsement from someone, so that the bar will be raised for everybody.

Secondly, recognition will make it more likely for the outstanding people to continue their great performance. It’s like I open the door and let you in first and you say thank-you to me. This way I will do the same next time. This is called the rule of reciprocity that we all embrace. A recognition from the management will most likely make someone a happy employee. We know the relationship between being happy and being productive. People don’t like to be taken for granted for too long.

Third, there is a need for the manager/supervisor to engage every employees by confirming his expectations. Sometimes, a manager can make it known to the employees his expectations by recognizing some people and leaving out some others, sending a clear message to those being left out that they need to catch it up.

A thought for the leaders: keep your eyes open for great performers. Be profuse in your praise for the great ones.



Locker Room Culture and Conformity in Office


Finally I finished this piece on locker room culture last weekend, which I planned to get done the weekend before last.

Donald Trump’s widely publicized ‘Locker-Room Talk’ is at best a sign of adolescence immaturity; at worst, you can say whatever you want. Your imagination is the limit. No comment. The term itself pushes to the front what I experienced when I first started my current position back in 2007.

Urban dictionary has this definition — “The crude, vulgar, offensive and often sexual trade of comments guys pass to each other, usually in high school locker rooms. Exists solely for the purpose of male comedy and is not meant to be taken seriously.” Don’t take me wrong here. Urban dictionary’s definition is too narrow. My office is not like this. Because it is both different and much more than that.

People called that office room a big closet because it doesn’t have a window. Once the door is closed, people who are kindred spirits would say whatever they had in mind without any moral scruples, nor any qualms of conscience. One lady almost never spews out one sentence without her favorite ingredient, the f word. See the similarity here? Except they are not people of high school age and not boys. These are people who are old enough to be grandmas.

Trump’s locker room talk makes me wonder why people are succumbed to this kind of behavior. I refuse to believe that people are as mean spirited as their words betray them. I would attribute this to two factors: the locker room culture of that office and the desire to belong.

Each company, each office has developed and cultivated its own subculture, some energizing, some energy-draining, some with can-do spirit, some filled with whining and complaints. The one I was first exposed to in 2007 was certainly not a healthy one. You could even see negativity flowing in the air.

Because nobody wants to be marginalized in a subculture, not even me who already stands out in a crowd as a foreign-minority, people make great efforts to conform to the subculture by trying not to appear different from others. Plus, consider this key fact that I have come to appreciate: America is not the land of independent thinkers. Instead, the pressure to conform is the rule of the land.

Thought for the leaders: make every effort to cultivate positive culture. The herd will follow.



Weekend plan, 10/15/2016


I am the firm believer in making plans, even if it is a weekend. This way I can be more focused and get more things done.

My sister’s son is coming to America for his undergraduate education. I believe he will go to our local community college for a semester of English before he enrolls as full-time student at Kansas University next fall. This means a couple of things for me. House-cleaning is always on the top of the list.

(1) House-cleaning task
(2) Start writing the book report on ‘My Name Is Lucy Barton’ by Elizabeth Strout
(3) Finish writing the article on locker room talk
(4) Work on back yard to remove the weeds that are going to yield seeds.



Two Pearls of Wisdom in the office


I have such a rich work-related experience that I would waste it if I don’t share it with my dear readers. Here’s one that I wrote today.

(1) Take care of your reputation, even if you don’t intend to stay long at your current position.

Here are something that I hear people talk about behind the back.

“If she does one thing, she will make sure the whole town knows it.”
“If you don’t hear her complain, it’s because she is not doing anything.”
“Her words? You have to take it with a pinch of salt.”
“She talks non-stop but says nothing.”
“She is very trustworthy.”
“She is the to-go person if you ever need help.”
“You can always count on her.”
How do you want your colleagues to talk about you when you are out of sight? This is the reputation that I am talking about. I know someone who often cries wolf at office. When she does need help, people don’t take her seriously until this grandma cries like a baby.

(2) Be your own cheerleader.

Because nobody notices you if all you do is to bury your head and do a great job. There is no grading system at work, no final exam to let your stand out. My children were all great students at school, so they never got teacher’s attention. “Only when you break some rules or break something like window can you get some attention. Of course, son, that’s not a good one.” They got it. In fact, they learned more when they watched TV news. Very often, the one who has done something horrible gets the most TV coverage. Let’s not talk about it.

The point is you don’t want to be a nameless hero at office. Nameless hero only sounds great but let’s face it, in reality it’s not appreciated and recognized at all. You need to make sure you are at least appreciated. It’s like in research, if it’s not documented, it’s not done. Like I used to do two persons’ work in one workplace silently for nearly a year. I thought it known to all and never complained, never bragged or even mentioned it to anybody. In the end, I was not only unappreciated but was told “You are expected to step outside your role to help out.”

It is very tactic as how to broadcast your accomplishments without sounding like the squeaky wheel that wants more oil. Consider sharing your accomplishment this way, “I know it is not in my job description, still I have done this or that because I know too many deviations/mistakes, even if it’s not my fault, would not make us look great.”

In summary, think of this daily at office: (1) how to cement your reputation; (2) how not to be a nameless hero.



At work, we are first and foremost living beings


I just published this article on LinkedIn today.
After I put down the phone with a colleague, I went to the infusion room. The sights of patients and the words of my colleague suddenly seem so discordant. There is something so not right. My colleague just told me over the phone, “These red queries make my blood pressure shoot up.” I could almost see her anxiety level skyrocketing from the way she talked. Oh dear.

Here I see patients fighting for their dear lives. I imagine they would give up anything if they could get back their health. And there my healthy colleague run the risk of getting hypertension over a few queries.

Once a colleague of mine requested a patient’s chart from medical record department. When she didn’t get what she requested in due time, she marched to the medical record supervisor’s office and reported the incident. When the medical record person came over to explain how busy she was at the time, the two got into a raucous and truculent fight. To me, any kind of fight is detrimental to health and to life.

Very often when people work themselves up emotionally and make a gargantuan deal out of something very trivial or when they entangle themselves insignificantly in the office, they are doing disservice to their health and they lose sight of the big picture, that is we are living beings, which are also called lives. Life means many things. Like all living beings, life has a beginning and an end. On top of everything else, life means vulnerability.

Anytime people place trivial things above their health and their lives, they actually put the cart before the horse. The patients in our infusion room have taught me that nothing, not even wealth, fame, and power is more important than life.



What do you lose by giving your people more responsibilities?


I posted this great article on the LinkedIn,

I know a case in which an employee at a giant communication company, then software engineer level II, applied but lost for a SE level III position within the same team. That employee is the key player technically in the team, constantly helping other level III team members. His only problem is he doesn’t talk much.

Upon being rejected, he started applying for other internal positions, which immediately triggered panic attack on the part of his supervisor who desperately needs that employee to be in the team. The supervisor knows that employee is the only one who can get any urgent challenging job done. He knows the team cannot function without that employee. In a frenetic attempt to keep that employee, the supervisor promised mountains and oceans to him, including the level III position.

Case like this is not an isolated one. It always makes me wonder this question that I have for the supervisor/manager/to-whom-it-may-concern: What do you lose by giving your people more responsibilities, by trusting your people more, by promoting an internal employee whom you already know?

Nothing, as far as I can think of, especially in light of the fact that nearly all new hires need training before embarking upon the new position. If you can trust that an outsider can be trained into the new position, why can’t an internal employee be thus trusted, unless that internal employee is an imbecile?

What does the denial do to the employees? Potentially, it could lead to decimate trust and productivity, and high employee turnover.

How to retain great employees? The answer should leap to the eye.



My Besetting Sin at the Meeting


Here’s another great article that I wrote on the LinkedIn,
I have to confess that I enjoy reading and hearing words from pastors or ministers or someone with Rev. before their names. They all make me think about something else. Today, I was reading Pastor Cole’s writing on besetting sins at bible.org.

“Four ministers got away for a retreat. As they sat around the fire talking, one pastor said, ‘Let’s all share our besetting sins. I’ll go first. My besetting sin is that every so often I slip away from the office to the race track and bet on the horses.

The second pastor volunteered, ‘My besetting sin is that I keep a bottle of wine down in my basement. When I get really frustrated with my deacons, I sneak down there and have a nip of wine.’

The third pastor gulped and said, ‘My besetting sin is that I keep a punching bag at home. When I get mad at somebody in the church, I go home and think about that person as I hit the punching bag.’

They all turned to the fourth pastor and asked, ‘Well, what is your besetting sin?’ He hesitated, but they coaxed him. Finally, he said, ‘My besetting sin is gossip, and I can’t wait to get home!'”

It is the last two pastors that not only make me laugh but also set me thinking about numerous occasions at work. The fourth pastor, in particular, reminds me of one of my besetting sins.

While we are all sitting around the table at the work meeting, seemingly thinking about the topics under discussion, you can see the presence of the fourth pastor among us. Sometimes, it’s obvious when you see smile on someone’s face while she is sneaking a peak at the cellphone. Sometimes, a person prefers not to say anything at the meeting but can’t wait for the end of the meeting like the last pastor.

The only time when people competed with one another in expressing themselves was when the company hired an outside consulting company, Huron Consulting, to preside the meeting, without the presence of the manager. That meeting was like a gargantuan boiling pot.

My besetting sin at the company’s work is, I am always thinking about one thing, not about the topics under discussion but this, if I were to preside over the meeting, how can I nail down people’s attention on where I want them to? How can I engage everybody? How can I make them as enthusiastic about the topic as water in a boiling pot? How can I make everybody talk without any fear?



Uphold your own standards, regardless of your work environment


Well, you can see I am not as busy as I should be at work. So I pour my creative energy here. I have been contributing to LinkedIn lately. This is one of the articles that I wrote.

When my daughter started her intern job last summer, I felt this strong maternal impulse to share with her something really important.

People at your work place can be as diverse as birds in the forest. Some talk more and work less; some work and no talk. Your manager might come from a finance background and try to mess up with your graphic design. Your colleagues might come from the place where minorities are as rare as pandas.

Some people may offer help but will talk behind you about how incompetent you are and have to seek help for the work that you are supposed to know.

On the one hand, you will find people of your grandma’s age gossip and giggle like teenagers, on the other hand, there are people with full integrity.

A friend of mine told me about her daughter’s decision not to work at any bank. “Look at big banks like Wells Fargo,” Of course, we know the notorious deeds of Wells Fargo. I know someone at healthcare office cares only her paycheck. I hear too much whining and complaining around in my office.

Number one: don’t look for absolute fairness and justice at your workplace. It’s all ideals. Whatever you learn at your classroom about social justice and equality, keep it in your head. Workplace is not about justice and equality. It’s all about getting the assignments done legally.

Number two: unethical events like Wells Fargo are not uncommon. But make your own judgment and always do the right thing, regardless of the pressure from above. Better lose job than lose principles.

Number three, seek out your own role model, your mentor in your work place as early as possible, and follow them.

Sometimes, you might think you have to compromise something in order to fit in the culture of your work place. Compromise as we all do in life, but never compromise your values. e.g. you can giggle one of your silly giggles but never gossip about others, even though gossiping is the norm.

Always hold dearly the values and principles that define who you are.



Know Yourself, know your pitfalls


This is one of the articles that I published on LinkedIn. You can leave comments there, if you have any.

When my son was small, he would make a face-losing scene at the store if his wish was not met. The remedy for this was not to take him to the store until he could behave himself in public.

Sometimes, while I am in the middle of a task, I find the need to get on the internet for a brief search. Very often that 5-minute sidetrack quickly runs out of control as I click one link to another and then I forget what my initial intention is. This is what happens when time flies by without getting things done. The cure is, instead of stopping for each search, write on a paper notepad what you want to search. Do it at the end. If you need to get answers now, set a timer.

Sometimes, I feel very lethargic after eating too much. The cure is to avoid heavy food intake if I know I still have work to do.

Some people lose focus and become distracted when they get bored sitting in a not exciting classroom or meeting. The trick is how to keep them intrigued.

When I related the story to my daughter, she totally got it because that’s what happened to her, too. Most of us have our particular pitfalls or traps that lead us to the opposite of where we want to go, and to the waste of time and life. The question is how to hold yourself from falling into these pitfalls. I told my daughter this. You need a self-check mechanism.

To act proactively, you need to know yourself, know your pattern of behavior, know when you have your peak hours in a day so that you get serious things done in those hours, know under what situation you are most likely to lose focus. This way you can foresee what will happen in certain situations and proactively avoid getting into that situation, just like what I did with my young son.

The earlier in life you know yourself, the better.



What should young college graduates look for in their first job


Of course, readers here have read this article before, perhaps not under the same heading but having the same content.

When my children were at home, I often lectured to them on any topic that came to my head at the moment, so much so that by the time my daughter was in her senior year high school, she would put on her earbud when I got too boring. It was quite funny.

I remember talking to them about their first job upon college graduation. Number one, the decisive factor is not the paycheck. No matter how attractive your first paycheck is, if you don’t have strong expertise, your laughter won’t last longer than the snow flakes under the sun, and your tangible paycheck is as insecure as the delicious cheese in a rat’s mouth. Even worse is this, a big paycheck might intoxicate you and allure you to forget your own dream about your life.

Number two, don’t choose a company because of its world-class benefit. The more comfortable the comfort zone is, the harder it is for you to break away from it. To be sure, comfort hugging is in most of us. But when you are in your early 20s, you are too young for that.

What you should look for is something intangible, that is, an opportunity to learn and grow, and to enhance your skills and broaden your network. You might say, “I don’t know if there’s room for growth before I get my foot in the door.” Of course you wouldn’t. But this is the things you look for once you are on your first job. Your first job matters only in so much as it serves as the step-stone to the next one, hopefully a better one.

If you already know what you want to do with your life, find out if the company fits your plan. If you still don’t know where your passion lies, explore and learn as much about the company as about yourself. Like when I started with China Daily, a hugely fantastic place. I found myself unreal and uncomfortable when I had to extract information from people, sometimes a bit unscrupulously. Then I realized there was a mismatch and the rest is history.

If you enjoy yourself and find it rewarding at office, don’t just bury your head deeply in the assignments every day. Keep your eyes wide open and be mindful of on-goings around you, for your first positions should always be seen as the opportunities to something better, way better than anything currently under your nose.

You will laugh last if you can double or even treble your intangible assets on your first post.



What will you do when you are under-appreciated and under-utilized?


I have shared this article on the LinkedIn. Please leave your comments there.

My daughter started the first day of her fall unpaid intern at this new place after Labor Day. Of course things always go slow on your first day, no matter where you land. No rush at this moment.

I shared with her this. While you are a college student, it’s OK to accept unpaid work as long as you get what you need. You actually buy work experience with your time and money. If, say after two weeks, you sense that they don’t appreciate your talents, that is, they won’t involve you in anything above clerical nature of work, you really need to take some actions.

Take initiative.
Take actions.
Propose new ideas.
Nothing will happen before you do something.
It’s you time, your life, your responsibility.
Nobody cares but you.
It’s nobody’s business but yours!



One big SECRET about Young People


I thought of outpouring more articles this year. But I have not kept my plan so far. My birthday reminds me of time running away and I need to do something. Writing is one of the things that I will keep doing. Here’s one article published on LinkedIn.

I learn this from the conversations with my children.

Let me share with you one big secret about the wealth of young people. Most people do not associate assets and wealth with young people, especially when you think of college graduates with huge loans and unemployed. Instead people tend to think of many senior folks with millions of savings under their mattress.

The fact is both young and the old have their own resources. With the old, theirs is money; with the young, theirs is TIME.

Right. Time is the resources of the young, which the old don’t have. With time, the young are not afraid of learning and trying new ideas, venturing out on a thousand-mile journey. They are not afraid of making mistakes. If one idea doesn’t work out, they have time to start all over again. That’s OK as long as they learn from their experience and keep moving ahead. The old do not have this luxury.

The sad reality is many young people are not aware of their resources. They have not fully utilized their resources while they are young. Some become a lifer at one place, like Robert Frost’s poem, “being shore to ocean –Holding the curve of one position, Counting an endless repetition.” For some, they don’t even realize they were once rich in their lives.

Yes, young folks are rich in TIME. Keep in mind TIME is something money cannot buy and TIME has an expiration date.



Happy Birthday to me!!!!!


My son gave me an early birthday wish yesterday. Even better, my daughter texted me telling me that she would Skype with me tonight after class. They all made my day a special one.

At office, my colleague bought cupcakes for me. Two emailed me birthday wish. The sunshine committee gave me a birthday card with good wishes from many colleagues. They all further warmed my heart.

Wish me happy and healthy in the long years to come…



What will you do when you are under-appreciated and under-utilized?


My daughter started the first day of her fall internship at this new place after Labor Day. Of course things go slow on your first day, no matter where you land. No rush yet.

I told her that if, say after two weeks, you sense that they don’t take you seriously, you really need to take some actions.

Take initiative.
Take action.
Propose new ideas.
Nothing good will happen before you do something.
It’s you time, your life, your responsibility.
Nobody cares but you.
It’s nobody’s business!



Work, career and calling…


I wrote down these notes sometime ago on the difference between a job, a career, and a calling. I don’t remember where and when I read it. I just remember I must share this with my children.

What you are doing everyday defines what you are.
The ideal life is this like. Your life blends seamlessly with your work.
Work is not the place where you get your paychecks.
Paychecks should be the last thing that you should think about when you go to work.
It is the place where you spend one third of your day.
It is where you are supposed to generate value for yourself and for he who pays you.
It is the place that defines who you are.
It is where your biography is written.
Have a dream of your own.
Don’t live your life trying to realize other people’s dream.



Appearance matters a lot but you have other options


I shared this short piece with a colleague of mine today, “Appearance Does Matter but you have other tools” In case, this link is not working, here’s the URL,
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/appearance-does-matter-you-have-other-tools-yanwen-xia?trk=prof-post

To my surprise, my colleague said it was well written because it is absolutely true. She said, “Often people don’t tell the truth. I like this article because it is true.”



Don’t deliberately ask questions in order to start a negative topic…


Last Friday, a colleague of mine went to another location to get the so-called “training,” which she told me she didn’t want to go and I don’t think it necessary. When she came back today, I was very tempted to ask her about her training, like what you learned from your training, anything that you can’t learn from here and that you have to go to OP, etc. But I held myself back.

To be sure, training is a privilege. I’d like to share this with her. It is not work, in that you don’t have any responsibility for the time you spend there. When there are tasks waiting for me to complete, I’d like to escape by spending my time on the wonderful carefree training. Too bad I was never given this privilege.

By asking her about her training, what I really want to hear is her complaint about the boring time that she was asked to go through and that gives me an opportunity to add fuel to fire. I was going to share my idea about training. If she doesn’t complain as I expect, I might feel being denied a chance to get negative. This is actually not nice at all. So I thought it better not to mention it to her.

This reminds me of one incident when someone deliberately asked a guest at our house a question in order to start a topic that catered to the low taste of that person. Later, I heard a comment like this, “I knew he liked to talk about it, so I intentionally led him into that topic.”

I don’t like that incident. I see a little manipulation there. Of course, one should not imitate something that one doesn’t like.



How to keep employees engaged and involved at work


To be sure, most of the managers would like to see the employees 100 percent engaged and involved in their work when they are physically present at the office. But the reality is many people mentally check themselves out while at the meeting and at work. I know I do. Call it daydreaming.

I have learned some companies give bonus to those who come up with great ideas and those ideas have been adopted by the company. I would brainstorm myself every day if the place I work with thus encouraged people.

The place where I work use games like jeopardy and Kahoot! which is “a free game-based learning platform that makes it fun to learn…” Of course, at the end of the game, there is prize for the winners like gift cards. This trick works at the meeting but is far from enough to stop the high turnover rate there.

How to keep employees fully engaged and involved at work is a huge subject, almost number big challenges to the employees. I read something like 10-Cs of employee engagement:
1. Connect
2. Career
3. Clarity
4. Convey
5. Congratulate
6. Contribute
7. Control
8. Collaborate
9. Credibility
10. Confidence

I am surprise “Caring” is not part of these Cs.



Avoid the default heuristic if it means coasting an easy way out


I read this piece and wrote it down on a piece of paper, though I forgot where I copied it,
“The default heuristic tells us to coast instead of of changing course, and the scarcity heuristic indicates that rare equals better. But just when you thought you could trust those instincts, …something tells you to reconsider. Most of us can’t tell when we are having rational thoughts and when we’re on autopilot…”

A thought for the day.



“the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”


This is from my office conversation, specifically between two of my colleagues.
“I must be a drama queen,” one colleague said to another.
“No you are not. Why do you think so?” the other asked.
“Well, because my daughter is such a drama queen. I was thinking where she got this. She must get it from me.”

I don’t really know both that colleague and her daughter. But it’s funny that she thinks this way. In fact, it makes sense. I’d like to retell this story to some parents when they complain to me about their children, that is, how selfish or how lazy or how rude or how this or that their child is. I would like to tell these people to stop complaining about the children.

When we see the problems in our children, very often look no further than ourselves for the root cause of the problem.



Be your own cheerleader, always, nobody will cheer for you, if you don’t


Sociologically speaking, we all see things from our own perspective and we are all loaded with pre-conceptions. Call it prejudice. I have my own prejudice which is in my favor. That is, I see myself better than what others see me. Because I know myself better than anyone else since I am basically an introvert type, probably with the exception of my parents. I know what I have been through — coming to a foreign country, earning the highest degree in humanity while teaching sociology courses at college level, raising a baby boy. Then I gave up my teaching job and turned to programming when my baby girl was two years old. No matter how formidable the challenge was, I have without exception met it with triumphant.

Be your own cheerleader, always. If you don’t, whom can you count to? Others might have prejudice against me, no matter how the facts show the otherwise. The truth is we never work with facts. Instead, we always work with prejudice.

Realistically, people are seldom free from prejudice. Therefore when we meet, we have exchanges of prejudice. e.g. I can come up with plenty of facts to show I am far better than some of the people that I work with. But once again, this statement is not shared by those who, given their prejudice against me, consider me nothing but an impostor or think I am fit for no better than a sidekick for someone else.

Never allow yourself to be disturbed and punished by other people’s prejudices. Hold high that great image of yourself, always! And constantly work toward a better you tomorrow. Meanwhile, never forget to enjoy yourself.



The ultimate challenge to good parenting


I have heard more than one parents telling me how inexperienced they are as parents. To be sure, most of parents are without prior experience when they first become parents, definitely so if they have not been a babysitter or a teacher to young children. First-time parents are overwhelmed with lots of unknown. We all start from ground zero. As we run along the parenting line, difference will develop, due to their difference in temperament, expectations, education, cultural and economic background.

One factor will have a decisive say in how big that difference will be. I believe parents can potentially make a huge difference in a child’s life if they are willing to make sacrifice or do whatever needed for their child, even if it means a change of their lifestyle.

To start with, in the prior-child days, a parent can do however he pleases with his time, money and life. A simple example, he can use offensive words whenever and however he feels the need without having to worry someone might copy the way he talks.

With the birth of the baby, he has to share his time and money with this new life. His life is no longer his own. Like it or not, he is both a parent and the first teacher to his child. Action speaks louder than words. He realizes he is creating his own mirror in the form of his offspring. He has to consider the impacts on his child of whatever he says and does.

Here are some examples of parents’ making sacrifice and accommodation for their children.
1. An ex-colleague of mine went to work at 4 AM so that he could be home when his children came back from school. He started doing so ever since his children started elementary school. He said he would keep this schedule till his children left for college.
2. A father started learning piano at the same time when his daughter took her first lesson so that he could better supervise her practice.
3. A father stopped gaming when his child was doing homework so that his child could concentrate better.
4. A mother changes the way she expresses herself so that her child will learn how in similar situation.
5. A father told me he would leave behind all the stress that he felt at work when he returned home. And he would not show his disappointment and anxiety when he saw the disappointing grade reports of his child so that his negative feeling would not impact his child.
6. A father stops smoking for the benefit of his son.

Here’s one example of a parent refusing to accommodate himself to the child’s need. A father who promised his children to work with them on their Chinese told them to wait till he finished his TV shows, which was way past the children’s bedtime. This resulted in the children never taking Chinese lesson from the father.

Knowing that something in us is going to have negative influence on our children and willing to change ourselves so that we can be a better person/teacher/model for our children — in my opinion, this is the ultimate challenge for us parents. Such as, if a father has a hot temper, which often frightens and is detrimental to his child psychological and emotionally, he makes sincere efforts to change it so that the child will not be the victim of his bad temper.

You don’t need experience to be a good parent. You only need to know what a good person should be and be that person yourself for your children.



Gaming the system– a shortsighted approach to education


Many college applicants try to game the system by being over-achievers. They try to impress the admission officers with perfect SAT and AP scores, perfect class ranking, and a wholesome spotless extracurricular activities. In other word, the applicants look more perfect than real, so perfect that there is no believable life in these perfect metrics.

In their effort to beat the system, they behave rather shortsightedly and forget who they are and what they want to achieve in the long run.

I know someone who didn’t have perfect SAT, without even making to the top 10 class ranking, no collection of admirable AP scores, and who was admitted by some of the top universities. On the other hand, I know many with perfect everything still were denied by the school of their choice.

Make no mistakes. I don’t mean to say that grades are not important, that good performance does not count. They do. Decent grades show that you are a responsible student, that you are smart enough to handle tough courses, and that you dare to take challenges.

But one needs much more than that to tide one up to a higher level. People want to see the character, the potential of the applicants, and the whole person, perfect or imperfect.

The applicants should at least dare to be himself. Not afraid of showing their human side, that is, mentioning moments of weakness and how they have grown and got stronger over time.

Parents need to help their children to develop a goal in life, a strong character, a healthy attitude, and an upbeat approach to life. This seems a less straightforward approach to college application than simply gaming the system. Yet, in the long run, it works better in helping your child than any other way. Knowing what he wants to do with his life will benefit the child during and beyond college campus.



10 Don’ts — part of your efforts to be a nice person


1. Don’t act as if you are always right.
2. Don’t make promise or commitment easily. Once you promise something, keep your promise.
3. Don’t ask for help easily. Always try your best first.
4. Don’t impose upon others. Respect others.
5. Don’t make fun of others. Respect
6. Don’t lose temper easily. You gain nothing from losing it.
7. Don’t interrupt others. Respect.
8. Don’t underestimate appearance. That’s how you are first judged.
9. Don’t be close-minded.
10. Don’t bully the weak ones. Be nice!



Fourth of July weekend flying out to New York City


It’s been nearly a week since we got back from New York City and Boston. What a wonderful trip!

We started on July 1, a Friday morning, leaving our car at the long term parking lot. We arrived there in the early afternoon. My son went to the airport to meet us. If I had my way, I would not want him to come to meet us because he is such a busy CEO. It took us more than an hour to get our rental car at the airport. One lesson learned that day is trying to avoid coming out on holiday weekend. There were people everywhere in the airport, on the highway, even at the car rental office.

We finally got our rental car and drove to my son’s apartment, toured his apartment and met his girlfriend. Together we went to have dinner at a local restaurant called Sage. A nice dinner. After that we left for Boston. My son booked a hotel there. My daughter was waiting for us at Sheridan Hotel in downtown Boston.

It was nearly midnight when we finally made it to the hotel. My daughter was waiting at the lobby. Surprisingly there were still plenty of people, tall and short, at the lobby, due to the 2016 Little People of America National Conference in Boston that weekend.

The next day, the Saturday, we went to my daughter’s apartment, then left Boston and drove north to Burlington, Vermont, which sits by Lake Champlain. The place turned out a better place than we thought, better than Kansas City. It is a small college town, having a rather urban lifestyle, nice and clean, population very homogeneously white, with the look of having a much longer history than any cities in Kansas. Indeed, it does. People seem to enjoy a much relaxing life there than here in KC. I like the place.

We stayed there on Saturday. On Sunday, on our way back to Boston, we went to Vermont Country Store Weston, winding slowly through hilly roads on route 100, instead of taking interstate highway. We stayed at the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, a much nicer one than Sheridan.

The next morning, Monday July 4th, we dropped my daughter to her apartment, then drove back to New York City. We said goodbye to my son at the airport. He took a taxi back to his apartment. By the time we got back home, it was already passed midnight. I was too tired to fall asleep.

It was a short trip and I enjoyed it thoroughly! Since both of my children are busy, it’s a good length visit.



Remembering my father who left us 29 years ago


Remembering my father07112016
It was a Saturday, 7/11/1987, when my father breathed his last and I was in America at that time. I was not there when he passed, which has been a huge remorse ever since. I know he died of cancer which I could do nothing about. Still I often dream of other realities and of things and activities that we could do together if he were around.

More often I thought it would be a huge comfort to him if I kept doing what he wished, even though I know this is nothing but a wishful thinking. I don’t believe people feel or know anything after death. It’s all over beyond that point, as if that person had not been around at all. It’s all what the living does in order for the living to feel better. The dead lives in the mind of the living only.

With that thought, I often feel pressed for time. Time is all we have in this life. My father’s life was cut short at age of 57. So many events, significant and unprecedented, happened in China and in the world during the past 29 years and he wasn’t able to witness them at all. He was an exceptionally intelligent and diligent man and could have accomplished so much in 29 years. He would be 86 years old now if he were around. The thought of that reminds me of the fact that being healthy is of paramount importance to me now, that I need to take good care of myself especially when my daughter is still young. I don’t know what my father wants now, but I know what my children want from me and I still have a lot to deliver on.

Before I can create and enjoy life, I must have a good health. This is what I think of today, the day when I remember my father.



The price for being lazy. Always do your own homework.


I went to our north clinic today to get a patient’s lab that was returned by the unreasonable FedEx. I got lost on the way there. It was almost 11 AM when I got back. The google map says 35 minutes, 34.1 miles via I-435. But I spent around two hours for the trip. It’s all my fault. No use to blame anyone else.

I googled it, got directions and printed it all, without actually going through the directions. I wanted to make sure that’s the north clinic, so I asked a girl from north pharmacy how to get there. She told me it was really easy. She drew a map, telling me to turn at Green Hills. She even wrote Green Hills on the paper, saying you could see it from the road.

But after I got back from her, I became lazy, mentally relying on her instruction only. So I kept looking for Green Hills while I was on 425 west. I couldn’t see it even after I reached the airport. So finally I got off the car and asked for help at the airport. A good-hearted lady told me to get on I-29 south, exit at 9A on route 152 east, turn right on Green Hill Road.

It turned out that I should exist at route 152 when I was driving 435 west, and from Rt-152 (not from I-435), I could see the big sign of Green Hills and exit there.

Lesson learned today is never rely on instructions given to me by others. Always do my own homework! I will have to pay a big price for being lazy. 5-minute homework can save a lot later on.



If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on — Kant


These words remind me of a saying. That is, if you make yourself a rat, the other will become a cat. Obviously, there is no peaceful co-existence between the two. I don’t like this dominant-subordinate human relationship. But sadly to say, isn’t it the reality that we have to live in?

Here are some beautiful quotes from Kant.
Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.
Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.
Ingratitude is the essence of vileness.
All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions:
1. What can I know?
2. What ought I to do?
3. What may I hope?

A person is only a person when it has the power to make sense of its surrounding.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There are three things that can relieve life’s hardships: hope, sleep, and smile.

A person’s weaknesses comes from his environment and his time. His virtues and greatness belong to himself.

The busier we are, the more keenly we are aware of our being alive, the more we are aware of the existence of life.

A man without confidence does not even have the desire to get up in the morning.



My Summer Plan 2016


When my children were at home, we always worked out a plan each summer so that we could get something done. It has become a tradition in our family.

We know time’s running out faster than we expect. If we don’t have any plan and follow it closely, very often we end up having nothing done. Even worse, we feel miserable when we don’t have anything accomplished at the end of the summer or the year.

After my children left home, I have become lazy and slack. This year, when I talked to my daughter over the Skype and asked her to share with me her summer plan, I realized I should have one myself this summer. It’s a good practice and I should keep it up.

This is my summer plan (June, July and August 2016):
(1) Finish one book review on the two crime fictions:
Memory Man by David Baldacci
The Leopard by Jo Nesbø
(2) Finish book review on Purity by Jonathan Franzen. After that, move on to the next book and the next
(3) Finish cleaning bathroom and bedroom
(4) Complete at least two-third of a professional article
(5) Learn 90 new German words
(6) Learn 3 German songs

I am going to share this with my daughter so that she can check my progress just as I check hers.



Summer programs, interests and career development


This is what I share with some people today regarding summer activities.

Summer is a good time for club activities, with once or twice a week meeting, like builder’s club (design models with Lego), weaver’s club (making stuffs with fabric or yarn), writer’s club, forensic club (solving crime mystery like lawyers), even origami club.

By the end of summer, you can either hold a contest or a show just to showcase children’s summer achievements.

Its benefits include developing or enhancing interests and making a good use of summer time.

For writing club, there are many writing contests nationally. We can encourage kids to participate in one of them.

Let’s try to avoid using class format. Class form sounds more formal and intimidating than club. You want kids to be relaxing and casual, like sitting in a round table with a lead instead of a teacher, an authority figure.

Regarding management of the kids, two things should work:
1. An agreement like a rule that kids should follow and the consequences for failing to follow.
2. A lead person, which anybody can play that role. You really want to develop leadership talent within instead of seeking outside authority.

It’s like the old style cadres who is elected within the group, even rotating that role. Why do we need a teacher to lead when we have leader within us? It’s like you don’t trust kids can manage themselves well or not?

If you want them to develop extraordinary skills and talents, it’s better to start with out-of-box thinking and unconventional teaching method. This way you can attract more people.

Of course, whoever leads, we have to give instructions and directions. There’s always the first time, which is the most challenging part. Once we pass that challenge, road ahead should be smoother

It’s better to experiment with new approaches of learning and class management. You don’t want your class to be one of those after school knowledge cramming activities. You want to leave a legacy of being unique in developing full potential in each one of the participants.

I think most people are still encased in the conventional concept about education, that is, its purpose is to learn some knowledge. You have to realize that there are plenty of people with knowledge. But without the ability to utilize or maximize their knowledge, in the end, they cannot escape the fate of being nothing but an instrument at other people’s hands.



Try to learn more skills in one activity


I was asked to teach a group of children how to make origami. I want them to learn more than just origami making skill. I hope they can get the habit of trying to learn more skills from one activity or see the activity as a project that involves problem-solving skill.

Below are the questions that I have prepared for the children before class.

(1) Why do you want to learn origami?
My answer: have fun; gift ideas for classmate’s birthday; Xmas gift for teachers; donation; sell it among your friends so that you will have some money for your parents or friends’ birthday gifts and you don’t have to ask your parents for whatever you want to buy. I hope children will feel motivated if they have a big plan.

(2) What would you do if you forget some part of what we learn in class?
My answer: this requires your problem-solving ability. You can make friends with those who have learned it in class or who show special talent here, ask these friends for help. Remember nobody is good at everything. We are all good at something. You can help others with what you are specially good at. The key is we need to help each other. Asking help is the best compliment to your friends.

(3) It will involve a lot of work and time. What would you do if you need help to get more done and you don’t have enough time?
My answer: this again requires your problem-solving ability and other skills. You can teach your siblings, parents or friends, so that they can help you. You need to realize one person’s ability is very limited. It often takes a team to get something done. The best part of this is you can form a team with you being the boss.

(4) How do you get others’ help?
My answer: you can promise something, depending on what your parents like most. Such as, practice piano for one extra hour, do laundry on weekend, share with them your proceeds, etc. You will need to enhance your ability to convince people to work for you. The key here is to keep your promise.

Based on what we just talk, you can see that potentially you can learn both soft and hard skills, which are a lot more than origami making. How much you can learn from this activity depend totally on you.



The child is the mirror of the parents


If you want child to be great, be a great parent first.
If you want respect from your child, respect your child first.
If you raise your voice at your child, the child will learn the same mode of communication.
If you let go your temper, the child will never know self control.
If you waste your default time, your child will do the same.
If you harbor prejudice against others, your child will share your prejudice.
If you spare proper your child proper discipline in the name of love, complain not when you are child does not turn out to be what you want him to be. When you complain about your child, look inward for explanation.

The child is the mirror of the parents. The child is the product of your parenting. Nothing comes from nothing.



You can help your child become a happy adult, part 2


We know being nice ourselves is very crucial to maintain good relationships in life. In case, you might ask what I mean by being nice, here are some examples of being nice.
(1) Never say hurting words.
(2) Never raise your voice even in anger or madness
(3) Respect all
(4) Don’t hold a grudge against anyone
(5) Be considerate of others
(6) Speak out calmly when you are upset.

I am thinking of my father when I make this list. He was all of them except the last one. He kept it all to himself when he was upset or felt hurt because he’d rather hurt himself than hurting others. That’s why he died young 29 years ago.

Some people may say, “I have to shout it out when somebody makes me mad.” Here are three quick facts.

First, the world abounds with people who are for some unknown reason either unfriendly or hostile by nature. Their life mission might be out to upset others and trigger mad reactions. This much you cannot control and do not have to worry about.

Second, nothing can be resolved by shouting. Instead, losing your cool only result in making things worse.

Third, you have to learn anger management so that you can express yourself nicely when you are upset. Angry people cannot be happy themselves and cannot make others happy.

Here’s one trick about anger management. It works for people of all ages, very basic and nothing fancy. When you are angry or mad, tell yourself, time to take a deep breath and count. Count slowly until you know you have calmed down, easy and effective. It’s not difficult to do it if you get into the habit of doing it. We are all product of our habit.

Don’t expect other people to be nice all the time. Don’t expect others not to provoke you. Don’t find excuses for yourself, like I have a bad temper, etc. Don’t blame others for your bad behavior.

Being nice is both easy and difficult. It is easy if you internalize it and have your temper or rather bad temper under control. Difficult if you let go yourself without self-discipline.

Here’s the good news. It’s easy to teach your child to be nice when you start young. To do that, a parent need to present himself as a living example of a nice person.

Start teaching your children to be nice persons if you wish them a happy life.



You can help your child to become a happy adult


Here’s something that parents seldom talk about when their children are young. Consider this question– what is the ultimate thing that you want your child to have in life? A happy life, right? Next, what is the key to a happy life? Wealth? Success? Fame? None of them. Many studies have confirmed this one — a good relationship. And I totally concur with it.

Yes, you are right. Having and maintaining a good relationship is something parents seldom or never talk about to their children. How do you maintain a good relationship? Easy. Just do one thing: Be a nice person yourself. Do parents often tell their children how to be nice persons? From my limited observation, I don’t think so. Probably because most parents assume their children are nice already. Parents may ask, why do we need to teach our children to be nice when they are as perfect as angels? Is it really?

Here’s the cognitive trap that parents don’t realize. A good son and a good husband are two totally different things. A filial child does not automatically make a loving spouse. A parent might praise a bold act of his child while others might see the same act as being brazenly impolite and void of proper upbringing. Like one person that I know of, he is considered by his parent as a perfect man but is seen by others as just the opposite. As the old saying goes, love is blind. It is especially true when it comes to parental love.

That’s why parents ignore teaching their “perfect angels” to be nice persons.
To be continued…



One big SECRET about Young People


I wrote about this before. I am sharing this again as I think it rather important as a reminder to young folks.

Let me share with you one big secret about the wealth of young people. Most people do not associate resources and wealth with young people, especially young and unemployed. Instead they think of many senior folks with millions of savings under their mattress.

The fact is both young and the old have their own wealth. With the old, their resource is money; with the young, their resource is TIME.

Right. Time is the resources of the young, which the old don’t have. With time, the young are not afraid of venturing out on a thousand-mile journey. They are not afraid of making mistakes. If one idea doesn’t work out, they have time to start all over again. The old does not have this luxury.

The sad reality is many young people are not aware of their resource. They squander away their resources while they are young. For some, they don’t even realize they were once rich in their lives. Rather pathetic!

Yes, young folks are rich in TIME and time is something money cannot buy.



“Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone”


Finally, there is something free from Harvard Medical School email. I am tired of seeing emails from Harvard Medical School. They often tell readers a tiny bit of something, then click here if you want to read more about it. This will take you to an order site where you have to pay about $20 for the article.

Last week, I read this one for FREE, “Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone.” Here’s the whole article.

“The diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle at the base of the lungs, plays an important role in breathing — though you may not be aware of it. When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This creates more space in your chest cavity, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity.

All of us are born with the knowledge of how to fully engage the diaphragm to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older, however, we get out of the habit. Everything from the stresses of everyday life to the practice of “sucking in” the stomach for a trimmer waistline encourages us to gradually shift to shallower, less satisfying “chest breathing.”

Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone. Diaphragmatic breathing (also called “abdominal breathing” or “belly breathing”) encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.

But it’s especially important for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In COPD, air can become trapped in the lungs, which keeps the diaphragm pressed down. This causes it to weaken and work less efficiently. Diaphragmatic breathing can help people with COPD strengthen the diaphragm, which in turn helps them use less effort and energy to breathe.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Lie on your back on a flat surface (or in bed) with your knees bent. You can use a pillow under your head and your knees for support, if that’s more comfortable.

2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly, just below your rib cage.

3. Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting the air in deeply, towards your lower belly. The hand on your chest should remain still, while the one on your belly should rise.

4. Tighten your abdominal muscles and let them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position.

You can also practice this sitting in a chair, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head, and neck relaxed. Practice for five to 10 minutes, several times a day if possible.”



College and your future job — Don’t have to be related


For most of science and technology majors, such as biology, chemistry, etc., students often use what they learn in classmate on their first job. Still, with these majors, college graduates don’t have to use what they are taught at college. Like you don’t have to work in a lab with biology or chemistry major.

You might be wondering: what is the use of college education if you don’t use it in your future job? Also, if you don’t use it, you forget it, like you have not learned anything. Well, if you forget, that means you don’t need it. If you need it, you will always be able to pick it up.

Number one, you form lifelong friendship and important connections during those college years.
Number two, you learn different ways of thinking, which should be critical one.
Number three, you learn lot of general theories, which you can apply to your life in general.
Number four, you get a college degree, which is still valued in many places.

Of course, there are a lot more than this. The bottom line is don’t restrict your future self with your college majors. If you do, you are very much trapped down and never rise above.

One thing you need to watch out during your first five years fresh out of college, that is, don’t be a lifer in one place.



Notable events during this weekend, 4/2 – 4/3


As always, weekend rushes by too quickly for me. These are major events for me during last weekend.

(1) My son called on Saturday afternoon, which always fills my heart with joy and delights.
(2) My daughter texted me.
(3) I met a young man at Overland Park Convention Center on Saturday morning. He is one year older than my son, coming from Myanmar to the USA on refugee status. He met his wife here. He needs to earn more money in order to support his mother and 21 children of his relatives back in Myanmar. He works at a staffing company, which doesn’t pay much.
(4) I resumed contact with a college classmate of mine, whom we have not been in touch since graduation in 1982.
(5) I met two Chinese parents at Barnes & Noble’s, talking about their parenting initiative.
(6) I completed FAFSA for my daughter’s college financial aid for the coming academic year.
(7) Read and wrote



Startup, Baby, and Responsibilities


I heard someone referring his startup company as his baby. You have to babysit it or watch it closely at its early stage. Like a mother who is thinking of her baby all the time or whenever she is free, a startup founder thinks of its company all the time, too. This is a good strategy to keep teenagers occupied.

If you want your teenager to steer away from trouble or to do something more meaningful other than wasting time on gaming or social media or if you want your teenager to take advantage of his extra energy and time for something potentially beneficial, engage him in a startup and assign him the full responsibility for its survival.

Kids love responsibilities. They see it as a heavy dose of respect and trust in their ability. In fact, parents can start this as early as the teen is ready for it. It is also great for resume building.



Remove mental blocks, never say I can’t, Think how you do it…


This I always encourage my children. That is, there is something called mental block, which is self-inflicted obstacles, restricting us from trying new realms, stepping out of comfort zone, or opening mouths asking for an opportunity. I want my children to totally liberate themselves mentally when they think what they can do. Remove all forms of mental blocks. Focus on how to do it. The sky is the limit.

Never think that I can’t because I don’t have proper training for doing this or I don’t have experience in this area or I don’t have a degree majoring in this field. It doesn’t matter what your major is or what your background is. Apply for the position or share your enthusiasm, your passion when you think you can do it.

All you need to do is to show your work, if you have or to ask for an opportunity to prove yourself.

On 3/25 post, I mentioned that I applied for the position left vacant by one RN colleague. I applied for that at the beginning of 2014, which I was rejected on the ground of my lack of nursing background. I know I can do it even without nursing background in this healthcare environment. So I applied again. Last Wednesday, on 3/30, the hiring manager came over to inform me that I got this position. At first, it sounded so unreal.

I believe once a person is given the opportunity to prove him or herself, nothing is impossible.



You have to take a risk, get out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve big in life


I read this piece some weeks ago, “8 things I learned from The Martian as a young entrepreneur” I forgot if I have shared them here. The list is not long. I will post it again even if I have already.

1. One thing at a time
2. Keep an eye on all the resources you have and try to manage costs effectively
3. You have to take a risk and get out of your comfort zone, go big or go home
4. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together
5. Others can help you but you are still the one who takes all the responsibility and face the difficulties
6. Whatever you do, be the best at it, know what you do
7. Only work with the best
8. Don’t afraid to try something new, don’t afraid to fail and never give up



If you think you are smart, that means one thing to others : contribute more


I started teaching my son math in his early age so that he would excel over others at least in one field. Being outstanding in one field would give him a good feeling and boost his self-esteem.

When he indeed excelled in math and thought highly of himself in primary school, I told him this,
If you think you are smart and capable, that means one thing to others, that is, contribute one.

Other people won’t admire you and applaud your achievements as your mother does. The main thing that they care is how much they can give to them. If you cannot share a penny of your gain with others, your wealth means nothing to them. You may say sharing is all they care and all that means to them.

I am not sure if he could understand it at that time. As years go by, I hope my children still remember it and come to appreciate this.



Progress with my son’s work… what a delight!


Last Sunday, five days after his birthday, my son told me that their product now has around 8000 users/customers. I was extremely excited about it, so excited that I wasn’t able to go to sleep for a long time that night.

Prior to this, I was worried about his company. What would they do if they don’t have enough users to generate revenue, especially when they run out of sponsors’ money? The three boys have given up so much for this. They did get some publicity after my son’s presentation at Money 20/20 in October 2015. It’s been a few months since their initial launch last October.

I know my son very well. I know he would not give up if this one didn’t work out. He would try another one. But he has worked on this one for about two years and I wish strongly that he will make it work this time. I think this is his fourth or fifth or even sixth startup, counting those he started during college years. I was worried especially around his birthday. I know his girlfriend is eager to get settled down. It will be five years after his college graduation. I know he has worked so hard all these years.

He keeps telling me not to worry. I should have listened to him. I am so happy for him that I kept thinking about it all day on Monday. I have to write it down here.

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