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Photoshoot pictures

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Last week I had a fun little photoshoot with an incredibly artistic and talented photographer, Helen Han! We were testing and thinking of a new theme to use for the final photoshoot for my product, Axent Wear “Axent,” shown above. Axent Wear is a company that I cofounded with my roommate Wenqing Yan. We make wearable hardware that the world hasn’t seen the likes of before. More on that to follow! 

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Books I’ve Read Recently

The Book of Jonas

Beautiful writing. I really enjoyed the description of Jonas’s experiences in the beginning. A lot of the characters oddly seem to lack a certain depth, and the ending was a little confusing and unsatisfying to me, but overall, it was an enjoyable read. I’d suggest this book if you want something quick and beautiful to pick up and want to read a book on an alternative perspective or on the conflict in the middle east.

Wizard’s First Rule

Quite an epic journey. I really enjoyed the rules and lessons that the book discusses, as they’re really good life lessons. Although it was long, I couldn’t put this book down. One of my only complaints is that the only main female character seems to almost get raped more times than I can count, which is unnecessary. The narrative is also obviously male-centric, as it goes into what I feel is an excessive number of soliloquies on Kahlan’s beauty. We get it. She’s beautiful. Overall, I would highly suggest this to readers who enjoy fantasy or to anybody in general. It’s a fantastically written book and has a lot of deeper themes, and is as addicting as crack.

Lean In

Sheryl Sandberg tries to reintroduce feminism with a very reasonable, warm, and understanding tone. This book receives a lot of criticism, and I understand the reasons why. However, I think this book is still a valuable read for women who are reasonably privileged and have resources at their disposal. That’s a fair market. Sheryl Sandberg is clearly doing her best to make an impact on gender disparity, which I really respect, and she has a lot of great advice. I would say that her advice is mostly applicable for upper middle to upper-class, educated women, but this shouldn’t discount its value. I enjoyed it nonetheless. Great read if you are one of said women. It’s also a good read if you’re one of those people who believe that gender disparity does not exist in developed nations.

Dogrun

Dogrun’s plot revolves around a struggling young writer closer to her thirties than her twenties, but mentally closer to twelve. The setting is in gritty New York City, and captures the city wonderfully. This book was very frustrating, as are most of Arthur Nersesian’s novels, because the characters are so frustratingly irresponsible and incapable of making good decisions. That being said, I enjoy his writing, because even though the characters make me angry, his story telling is well done. Only read if you enjoy artsy novels and have a tolerance for frustration. Still enjoyable for the right people, especially if you’re an artist. If you like this author, I highly suggest “Chinese Takeout,” as that’s my favorite book from him.

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Hard Choices Let Us Make Who We Are

http://www.ted.com/talks/ruth_chang_how_to_make_hard_choices#t-80826

In a 14 minute long TED talk by philosopher Ruth Chang, she explores why we should embrace difficult choices instead of agonizing over them. I paraphrase her words below:

In an easy choice, one alternative is clearly better than the other. In a hard choice, one of the alternatives is better in one way, another is better another in another way, but neither is better than the other overall.

Realizing small choices may also be hard, makes big choices seem less intractable. We also shouldn’t think hard choices are hard because we are stupid.

Fear of the unknown rests on a misconception of them. We don’t have full information, but even if we did, hard decisions would still be hard because there’s no best option.

A higher salary for being an investment banker makes that job option better than it was before, but not necessarily better than being an artist. Neither is better than the other, nor are they equally good.

That’s because we try to assign quantities to values. Justice, beauty, and kindness are values, but we assume they have quantities. They may be in the same league of value, but have different kinds of value.

We create reasons for the hard choices we make and thus we make ourselves into the distinctive people we are.

People who don’t exercise their normative powers are drifters. They let the world write the stories of their lives.

So instead of agonizing and fearing hard choices, we should see them as precious opportunities for us to celebrate the human condition.

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Challenges

View at Medium.com

I read the article linked above that describes a 4 year long struggle in the life of a startup founder by the founder of 99dresses. She’s gotten so much further than me, and yet I empathize more than I can describe. 

Life is hard. I know that working in a corporate environment isn’t easy or necessarily enjoyable either (I’ve tried it and encountered obstacles that were as fun to deal with as getting kicked in the face, and they weren’t even as bad as they could have been), but at the same time, it didn’t consume me like my brainchild did. Working as an employee didn’t take over me and my life and my heart and hopes, but now I see the many benefits of learning in a corporate environment before getting cast into a struggle in which multiple bad decisions could lead to undesirable situations and eventually failure. Corporate is a good place to learn. Although the press likes to gloss over failure and glorify struggle, as Durkin mentions, there are some forms of struggle that are best to be avoided. There’s no point in swimming through a lake of poisonous snakes if you could have just hiked around, had you known. And while you learn the most by doing, I find that perhaps doing smaller iterative cycles of learning and building and success might be better than jumping headfirst into a four year long project. 

I am so grateful to have the support of so many wonderful people, especially my parents. They have been indispensable as a support system, being real with me when they have to in the way only asian parents can (very bluntly), and listening to me and helping when anyone else would have been fed up 10 million years ago. 

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Motivation

The last thing I want to happen is to be wondering, at age 30, a good 8 years from now, “Why haven’t I written that novel yet?” “Why haven’t I reached for my dreams and done xyz yet?” “I’ve always wanted to have accomplished this by now,” “Man, I should have partied more.” 

Life is so short. It terrifies me that one day my parents aren’t going to be here with me, or that I’m not going to be here. 

Every time I start getting complacent (which is pretty much never, anyways), or whenever I start getting slow on progress, I should look at this post.

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YC Female Founders

I had an incredible birthday. A kind of cool thing about being born on leap year is that the next day I had an extension of the best birthday ever! So I’ll just talk about the latter. 

I was invited on Saturday to the YC Female Founders Conference in Mountain View, the first all-female startup founder conference held by the YC. It was planned by Jessica Livingston and described as their most over-subscribed event in history, which is impressive considering the immense popularity of their meetings. The day featured back to back talks and candid/very useful advice. It was refreshing to attend a meeting with so many driven women, all there with a similar purpose in mind. Walking into a room with at least 900 females was also very interesting, because it was like walking into a sea of estrogen. 

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Jessica Livingston opening the conference.

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I had a lot of fun and met some great people. However, one of the best perks of the conference was the gem mine of good quotes. My favorite speakers were Adora of Homejoy and Jessica Mah of inDinero. They’re both beasts. I’ll share some of my favorite quotes of the night below: 

“It’s best if your target user is yourself. Then you can have a conversation with your users just by thinking!” -Jessica Livingston

“Running a startup is like sprinting a marathon, but with hills and mountains, and earthquakes and avalanches in the way, and things that look like water holes that turn out to be mirages.” -Adora 

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Gary Danko

I had the privilege, recently, of attending literally the best restaurant in San Francisco. My partner in crime took me to Gary Danko for our anniversary, and I was floored by the food. The staff were kind enough to give me a small gift to take home, which turned out to be the best breakfast cake I’ve ever had, plus the mini dessert snacks we could not finish, and those were also the best I’d ever had. There were a lot of best-I’d-ever-had’s. I’m a lucky girl.

I’m not a foodie, and my palate isn’t particularly sophisticated. That being said, I am a huge appreciator of food. Every dish that night had so much complexity. You’d get hit by waves of flavor, one after the other, blending together with subtlety you’d never have imagined.

Starting off, I had the best oysters and caviar I’d ever had in my life. If I had to choose words to describe it, the oysters could be described as “succulent,” and the caviar “smooth.” The flavors were balanced so well. Definitely one of the best dishes. (I really want more.)ImageSecond: this was undoubtedly the most beautiful dish I’ve ever seen. The tuna was perfectly fresh and even the avocado was incredible, which was key. The sauces also complemented the dish very well. Amazing.ImageLobster on creamy potato. Probably my FAVORITE dish of the night. I can’t describe it. I’m a giant fan of lobster, and everything on this plate was just delicious. I’d eat this every day if I could.ImageSalmon coin on top of cucumber. Very refreshing and light. (He likes salmon 🙂ImageVenison! The oats were incredibly good in this dish. Otherwise, the venison was my least favorite dish of the night, but probably only because everything else was so incredible.ImageLamb. As over-filtered as this picture is, the lamb was the best lamb either of us had ever had. Tender, and with the best flavor. My boyfriend’s favorite. Would definitely order a second time and recommend to anyone to try.ImageChocolate souffle! I have a weakness for chocolate souffle. This was incredibly fluffy. I didn’t know souffle could be this fluffy, almost as light as air. Unfortunately by this time we were getting full, but it was full of flavor without being too heavy. P got the pineapple flambe (they seasonally switch the fruit), and although that was a great show and came with fine vanilla ice cream, I still liked mine better. Image

Lastly, the mousse was incredible, and the chocolate calligraphy was elegant and beautiful. Those little desserts in the back? I ate them the next day and remembered just how good the restaurant was. I was a happy girl.Image

If you ever have the chance, this place is a must-go! It’s pricey, but if you can afford it and you love food, I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Thank you to my sweetheart for taking me here. ❤