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.


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