Work

A New Adventure Begins!

cōnstantia f ‎(genitive cōnstantiae); first declension

  1. firmness, steadiness, constancy, perseverance
  2. agreement, harmony
  3. (of character) steadfastness, immovability, constancy

My first name is short for Constance, which means "constant, consistent, and steadfast." It's a name that aptly describes my reservations about change. Over the last 26 years, however, I have come to learn that change, though potentially painful, is crucial to my personal growth. I don't think changing for the sake of changing is healthy, but if it helps me gain a new perspective, learn something about myself, or further my skills, then the pain of change is worth it.

Three years ago, I made a huge career and life change by joining an oyster company as its first marketer and moving to Boston to be with Jonathan. Boy, what an amazing ride it has been! Hands down, one of the best decisions of my life, both professionally and personally. I got to pursue my passion in food marketing and build a marketing program from scratch. I got to work for a manager who gave me the freedom to try crazy ideas. I got to spend weekends and holidays with my partner and enjoy Boston summers without college kids! It was three years filled with rare opportunities and amazing experiences I'm blessed to have had, and I will forever look back at that time fondly.

 
 Jonathan super excited to find a horseshoe crab on the farm...

Jonathan super excited to find a horseshoe crab on the farm...

 

As young people, I think we often take time for granted. "I'll do it tomorrow. I'll do it next year. I'll do it after my next promotion." Lately, though, I've come to accept that time is something we can never get back and soon, we'll be forty with a mortgage, a few kids, and responsibilities we can't neglect. This is not an excuse to shy away from responsibilities, but rather, an acknowledgement that there's less room for risk and error when one has serious commitments.

So, with all that said, I am embarking on another life journey:

For the next year, I will be working and traveling around the world!

Let me answer a few questions right off the bat:

  • I left my job at the oyster company to do this.
  • Jonathan is not coming with me.
  • I will be in Australia for the first 6 months, but I don't have anything lined up yet besides my first month's lodging.
  • After Australia, I plan to travel through Southeast Asia and Europe for the rest of the year, and then return to Boston.

So why am I going?

Before I get into that, I want to mention for the record that deciding to leave my dream job and being apart from Jonathan were really hard decisions. And the fact that I still chose to go on this trip emphasizes how important this is to me.

There are a few reasons why I am going: my desire to work abroad, sightsee, and do something outside of my comfort zone (i.e. not having a plan), but the most important reason is I want to know what's out there. I want to know how Australians prepare their coffee. I want to know how the Japanese appreciate sushi. I want to know what authentic Vietnamese food, supposedly the best food in the world, tastes like! (Can you tell it's very food-focused?) Sure, I could have vacationed to these countries instead, but having a strict return date limits my opportunity to completely immerse myself in a new culture and explore it fully. After all, time cannot be bought.

 
 

If you know me well, you know the saying "Curiosity killed Connie" is pretty accurate, so in a nutshell, that's why I'm going. How am I feeling about all this? Ha, scared shitless, but super excited too! Not having a plan or knowing what to expect is not my MO, so this will all be about going with the flow.

As for timing, this goes back to not taking time for granted -- I want to do this while I'm still young. A conversation with my mentor encouraged me to think about it seriously, and I'm so glad I did. I don't want to be the person who will regret not going when I had the chance. I want to be the person who said I did it and was forever changed by it.

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Update 9/22/16

Since writing the above post two days ago, my travel plans have already been derailed. Guess I'm being tested to "go with the flow" from the start!

Being a Student of the Internet

Growing up, I was the pedantic and studious nerd. My Asian mother raised me to get good grades, and the modern school system trained me to use textbooks. When I got to college, I continued to strive for those grades on paper, but I knew I was an applied learner. I always valued hands-on or out-of-classroom experiences like internships.

I used to argue with Jonathan about the importance of school. He was always in the camp that school was useless, but I defended it with my honor, arguing that it taught students good work ethic, social skills, and laid a foundation for future learning. As I have progressed farther along in my career, however, I'm starting to see his philosophy. I still don't agree with him completely, but I can't say I’ve used much (or remember much) from my college stats course...

When I started my current marketing role, I had no prior experience developing a marketing program from scratch. I understood what I needed to accomplish and the strategy, but I was unsure of the right tools and tactics. Questions like how many characters are recommended in a subject line or simply how do I do “x” in this application came up all the time. So what did I do?

I Googled it.

Before the internet, I probably wouldn’t have been able to answer many of my questions without taking a class or talking to an expert. It's hard to imagine that age, but these days, so much free information is at our finger tips, and anyone can share an opinion! Yes, it does take time and experience to weed out bad information, but once you develop hound dog senses, the sky’s the limit.

My recent foray into video really got me thinking about how much I learned just by using the internet. With little to no professional video experience (besides operating a DSLR), I decided to take on producing a 24-video series instead of hiring a videographer, whose fees would have blown my budget. I turned to Google and the blogosphere for all the recommended equipment, setups, and techniques. I watched YouTube videos instructing me how to build a cheap DIY teleprompter; I read reviews on the best DSLR lenses for video; I continued to read and watch tons more videos, reviews, and tips for a whole week.

And then it was go time. After purchasing my equipment, I knew there was no turning back. I applied everything I learned (from the internet). And despite my consternation, it’s going really well!

 My DIY iPad teleprompter! Made with black foam board, glue gun, a tripod, and geometry. Guess school did come in handy for the measurements...

My DIY iPad teleprompter! Made with black foam board, glue gun, a tripod, and geometry. Guess school did come in handy for the measurements...

 Here's my DIY Down and Dirty Lighting Kit setup thanks to Wistia.

Here's my DIY Down and Dirty Lighting Kit setup thanks to Wistia.

I’m currently in the thick of the project – filming every opportunity I have and editing when I have desk time. It’s definitely an iterative learning process, but it’s hands on learning every day. This process has made me realize that unless I was a film major or took a paid course, I probably would not have had the knowledge or confidence to take on this project.

I will be forever grateful for school because there are still many intangible skills the internet can’t teach. I also appreciate and need the accountability that comes with taking a class. But the next time I get an email to attend a seminar I have to pay for, I’m sorry, it’s going straight to the trash.

Photography 101 Exercise: Water

ben-1.jpg

This is my boss, Ben. He loves his oyster farm dearly, and I would argue probably as much as he loves his wife and kids. When I’m at our Boston shop, cooped up in the warehouse office sitting at a desk and reeking of fish, Ben is out on his boat harvesting oysters. I don’t know what’s worse: sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day or having to brave chilly winter winds and hauling heavy crates of oysters.

On special occasions, I make it down to Duxbury to capture the action on the farm. Today was one of those special days. When tides are super negative, the water recedes out of the bay and into the ocean, revealing the rich earth scattered with oysters. It’s mind-boggling to imagine the tide coming back in 12 feet higher and cloaking the oyster beds again until the next negative tide.

Today’s theme of “Water” and being on the farm was completely coincidental. It made me think of how we as humans rely on water in so many ways. People like my boss and I rely on water to support our livelihoods. Cities rely on water to flush sewage. Every single person on this planet relies on water to live. 783 million people in our world today do not have access to clean drinking water. We often take water for granted and never think twice about this precious resource, but when approached by a drought like the residents of central California, the importance of water really sinks in.

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Side note: The results of the midterm elections were in this morning, and it’s clear that we will have a Republican-controlled Congress. There was a very scary NY Times poll showing an overwhelming 83% of Republicans who do not think climate change is a serious problem. I’m typically not into politics, but climate change is one issue I am pretty passionate about, especially working in the seafood industry. I believe we’re already seeing some repercussions of climate change including the effects on our freshwater supply, and unless we make changes, it will only get worse.