I got a job at Apple! 

Dear Friend,

I’m fully aware how cheesy it is to want to work for a trillion+ dollar company. But before there was the iPad, iPhone, or even iPod, there was my very first Mac — a Blueberry iMac G3. I still remember that fateful day when my friend Tommy helped me unboxing it after school. I was so, so excited but neither of us could even locate the power button! And once we found it, we then spent another hour troubleshooting why the iMac kept crashing upon booting up (turned out it needed to update to OS 8.5.1). Anyways.

I’ve wanted to work at Apple ever since that day, and for so long it has only ever been a dream. I’ve lost counts of how many actual dreams I had about working there, and even more so how many times I’ve applied at Apple. The journey of these applications (and the hopes or dreams attached to them) would end the second I hit submit — into the void they went. It’s honestly more like lottery to me than anything else, but as my aunt once told me, “You’d need a ticket if you want to win the lottery.” Until a recruiter reached out to me one random morning…

My first day at Apple!

What’s actually more interesting to me now is to reflect on the chain of unexpected moments and people that had prepped me for a job opportunity like this. Honestly. If Tobin did not hire me at Research Now despite my lack of work experience in the US, I would not be able to find my footing and know my way around Salesforce. Then if Rick did not hire me at IGN to end my 10-month unemployment gap, I wouldn’t have learned how to put out fires across teams and realize “oh shit, there’s an actual role title for what I do and it’s called… a Program Manager?”

And lastly, If Chad did not hire me at Walmart, he wouldn’t have thrown truly random things at me to sort out (literally on day one right after new hire orientation) so I could meet everyone in the early days of WMG (now Walmart Connect) and to gain their trust. And if he didn’t know about my prior experience with Salesforce, one of those random things wouldn’t have been to work with Kenny — someone who (still scares the daylights out of me) gave me the space to grow and learn how to pull SQL queries, design Salesforce processes, Product Management, and eventually be able to talk the talk with Engineers as a TPM.

I don’t want to imply that this road’s been easy or straightforward. In between these milestones were full of tough moments where the best option was to cut my teeth and lean into the grit, in order to outlive the fires and learn to hope in hopeless times. It’s also true that this road hasn’t been all bad — through these thorny moments were very patient people who gave me space to grow and adapt. I’m lucky, and I’m humbled by their faith in me at times when I don’t necessarily have that in myself.

Looking back, there hasn’t been a job I felt qualified for on day one, and the imposter syndrome for this one is still running high. Just like I did when I started at Walmart, IGN, Research Now, Hallmark, hell even at being an RA back in college — an experience I truly believed was life-changing.

Times are so tough right now, but if a depressed, gay kid who grew up from one of the poorest neighborhoods in SF could dream and somehow stumble his way toward it years later… then maybe there is still room for us to dream today, knowing that Life may take us into a better tomorrow.

Love Wins

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Rain, Plants, and Everything Else


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Foreword

First of all, thank you for subscribing to FORWARD.

In this social-first, auto-playing video, trending topic world, FORWARD is aimed to be the opposite of all of that noise. Not quite a blog, not quite a newsletter, my hope for FORWARD is to provide a monthly dose of inspirational features for you to check out when you have time instead of offering something that will fight for your time.

In this issue, you’ll find an update on the California drought, how to keep plants alive, why it’s important to speak up, and more! This is the first issue so please be patient as things may evolve over time as the newsletter forms its own identity. But in the mean time, please take a look at FORWARD, and join me in this brand new journey.

Oh! And if you like the newsletter, please share by forwarding (hehe) the newsletter to your friends and family.

Let the rain fall down

Before and After the Rain

After weeks of heavy rain, it seems to finally help California alleviate its record-setting drought. KQED did a nifty feature where you can compare the massive difference between 2014 and 2017 side-by-side. You can check out the feature here.

Not so Tender Greens

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Despite my best intention, I have yet to keep a single Rosemary plant alive around the apartment. My black thumb has become somewhat of a joke as Ian keeps buying me Rosemary plants to “replenish” my dead ones. You can check out the feature here.

Minus365: T-Shirts

I’ve always lived minimally, but even with a mindful intention my closet still tend to fill up over time. I was watching The Minimalists, a documentary currently available on Netflix, the other night and it totally sparked an idea for me to declutter my life.

Minus365 is where I will remove/donate one object from my life every day for all of 2017. Each month will be based on a different theme, and I’m starting with t-shirts for January to kick start this yearlong project. Just think, if I were to keep this up for the entire year, there will be 365 fewer things around my apartment, and my life!

Between all the t-shirts I was given (or earned?) in my five year of working at IGN along with other gifts and sentimental hand-me-downs, my closet is full of t-shirts. Are you curious enough to join Minus365? If so, reply to this email and send me pictures of your 30 t-shirts (or whatever you decide to remove!).

Say Something

Jamelia, A British R&B Singer

“The problem is that we don’t tell you, we speak about it amongst ourselves and you get to carry on about your day not realizing you’ve ruined ours.” Jamelia

Recently Jamelia, a British R&B singer, was on board a first-class flight with her daughter, only to be questioned by other passengers who asked to see their airplane tickets. She stood her ground and went on Twitter to explain why. You can read more about the incident here.

Now, I’m not a fan of hers because I have barely heard of her before this incident. But this happens all too often to me and to minorities everywhere. Like Jamelia said, I tend to be too polite or try to rationalize myself to be “the bigger person” instead of speaking up and calling out bullies who makes hurtful or ignorant comments.

But words do hurt, and their comments ruminate with me for the rest of day if not for weeks to come. Why do they get to carry on their day while we suffer silently? It’s not fair, it’s not acceptable, and it’s time we speak up.

Between Us: Classic Aransky

Maybe it’s my connection to RIT or maybe it’s me working at the crazy world that is IGN, but I have a lot of friends who are constantly working on various creative projects. Since FORWARD is a monthly showcase of all things interesting and inspirational, I want to use this space and share with you other interesting projects my friends are also working on.

Classic Aransky logo

Meet Michael Aransky and his new video blog, Classic Aransky. By day he’s a senior producer at IGN, and by night he’s on a yearlong journey to get comfortable in front of a camera as he works his way toward to making his first movie since 2012. You can check it out here.

If you have an interesting project and want to be featured on FORWARD, simply reply to this newsletter and tell me all about it!

Take a Minute

Photo by Michael Browning, courtesy of Unsplash


And..that’s it for January! Please (ahem…) FORWARD this to a friend if you enjoy this newsletter, or sign up below if someone had shared this newsletter with you in mind.

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As always, you can reply to this and let me know what you think.

Love wins

Chapter 1: The Reset Button

This is part one of my project Ingredients of Fear, where I would peel back the onion and reveal everything that’s been beating me down and holding me back inside. Click here to learn more about The Ingredients of Fear.


Ever since my family emigrated to the US when I was ten, I’ve been trained to be constantly on the move. From going to middle school on the opposite side of the city, to college in Rochester, to working in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, I’d find myself in a different part of the world every few years. I always looked so restless from the outside looking in, like those people who would rush to the front of the plane the second it hit the tarmac. Yeah, I hate them too.

The good thing about moving so often is that you get to hit the big red reset button every single time to restart your life. Like a witness protection program I’m sent to a different city again and again, every time with the opportunity to be anyone I want to be.

But growing up as a nomad also created this mindset that I could just pack up and evict myself every time an opportunity knocked at my door, even when that opportunity was really an excuse for me to take the easier way out.

I’ve changed jobs, wiped my computers, changed my email addresses, and even moved to the other side of the world just so I could look away from the face of fear. Instead of dealing with my problems head on, I’d just run away and try to restart my life over with a clean slate.

Continue reading “Chapter 1: The Reset Button”

Ahhhhhh fuck it

I’m launching something both exciting and terrifying on my website on 1.1.2015. Watch this space (or sign up for my TinyLetter newsletter below)!

Love wins

Ahhhhhh fuck it

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Wake Me Up When Lent Season Ends

It was something that needed to be done. I was constantly on Facebook on all hours of the day. Like an addict I was always making sure I had read everything off my feed and had cleared off all the notifications. And with increased frequency Facebook had became the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I look at before passing out in bed.

Facebook wasn’t a part of my life as much as my life had became specifically planned around it. I had to cut the cord somewhere, so for Lent this year I decided to give up Facebook and social media altogether.

Let Go Continue reading “Wake Me Up When Lent Season Ends”