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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Why I’m Moving Back

From being in Hong Kong, to growing up going to schools at various ends of San Francisco, to going to college in Rochester, starting anew has always been the story in my life. It was no different when I told my friends in 2011 that once again, I would be leaving San Francisco for Los Angeles to pursue something that I’ve only ever dreamt of doing — to work at IGN.

I’ve grown and learned a lot in the past few years. And through these two years it took a lot of thinking in figuring out where my next level should be in 2014. It’s time to return to San Francisco.

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Continue reading “Why I’m Moving Back”

100w100d: Perfect Day

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry... Life is great when you get to do all three in a day. #vscocam

Day 98: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: life is great when you get to do all three in a day. A day like today.

Starting with having brunch with my lifelong friend and mentor Bruce, to bumping into my old colleague Matt, to grabbing a drink with fellow IGNer Tate, to rounding out the night with dinner and desserts with my high school friends, I’m still baffled by just how many amazing people I have in my life.

I met each of them in wildly different ways, but purely through happenstance they all came together to create this blissful, perfect day. Wow.

100w100d: Stupid

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Day 89: I was such an asshole growing up. There were so many cringe-worthy things I’d said and done. Some of them still eat inside me, while others will lead to me facepalming every time these memories bubble up to my mind. And they often do.

I can’t blame my previous actions on anything or anyone, because if anything I can only blame them on my process of growing up: accepting my identity, outgrowing my insecurity, and fumbling over this constant yearning to fit in.

Stupid is as stupid does, I just hope I’ve become a better man because of these moments.

100w100d: Traffic

Apple Maps

Day 78: I’ve had the luxury of avoiding most of the notorious LA traffic during the first year and a half of moving here. It wasn’t until our IGN office had moved to Culver City for me to truly understand how ridiculous LA traffic can get.

Located 5.5 miles away, it would take me about 20 minutes to get to the office if I leave before 7:30am. Not bad right? But anytime afterwards or on a bad day, it can easily take up to an hour to get to work. An hour to travel 5.5 miles — that’s LA traffic for you.