Work Hard, Play Hard

Decadent food (lots of it), spirits, massages, golf, just the right amount of sun, lots of rest and relaxation… we were able to share some much needed quality time. Yes, this is what Tony (and the other top producers of his company) were awarded and because he’s my fiance, I was able to share in this experience with him. Insert hashtag blessed, hashtag lucky… right here — #blessed #lucky, ah and heck #winning!

We shared a very well organized trip hosted by his company, and yes while the above listed is something to talk about, the way in which his company continuously invests in personal leadership development, sharing in the experience among other Power Producers, hearing the keynote speaker, are both impressive and assuring. I left this trip impressed, motivated, and ready! I rarely have proud moments, but this past weekend, I had one of those unique experiences. Yes, proud. I am a half glass full kind of a gal and spend most of the time focused, working on, obsessed on filling the emptiness. Okay, sometimes I harp a lot.

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Congratulations!

Being together for as long as we have, it’s easy to get hung up on all the bang ups that comes with his line of  work…the unknown, ever-changing guidelines, regulations, and unique circumstances of each client, the incessant texting, emails, stress, pandemonium (yes, even an anxiety attack which led to an ER trip)…it’s a part of mortgage lending and sales territory. To see Tony go up on stage, it was not about this trip and this moment per se. To me, it was about all hang ups, the times he felt paralyzed to have a pipeline of business that he couldn’t close due to the lack of infrastructure, the doubt and the adversity. When foreclosures were #trending, I used to have to tell him, “Just trust in this journey, or move on.” Saying this was easy. It was having conviction in this that was hard. It’s been a ride, and this moment wouldn’t have been made possible without the unwavering support of our dear family and friends who always kept us (him) going. What made this past weekend so sweet was that it was about the journey that led to this very moment. I know that this is just the start of many.

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Keynote Speaker Carey Lohrenz…what a message!

Meeting, listening and sharing in the experience of the keynote speaker, Carey Lohrenz left an indelible impression. Towering the stage at over 6 feet tall, well spoken, funny, relate-able and oh…and just the first female F-14 Tomcat pilot, she’s knocked down walls and spoke about fearless leadership and of the many takeaways, she shared about the importance of not waiting for perfection and how just doing is part of the process. (yeah, you had to be there to feel the umph!!!).

Another treat…something that I would have never checked out on my own, dinner was hosted Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. We got to meet with pilots and hear about their experiences in their service.  Those jets and copters are no joke! One can lift two hummers, oh and to see the guns and where the ammunition was loaded…it was quite a treat!

Thank you, Prime Lending… what a great example of an organization that believes in investing in personal development! Oh, and Thank you, Tony. Well done indeed!

On Life & Death

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“The white haired man is never supposed to bury his black haired son.” From time to time, my late grandpa would randomly say this with a blank, empty stare. I’d stare back and listen. I knew that these words came from his heart. He’s referring to how he outlived his son (my dad); and would go on about how life was never the same. He shared that when a parent loses their child, there really wasn’t anything else to fear in life. I’d often wonder if my grandparents lost their will to live. I’d wonder if they both felt guilty that they lived a longer life than him (both died in their nineties). When they died, these curiosities went away.

Last week, they resurfaced. The last few weeks have been heavy. My uncle is on his death bed. It’s cancer. Initially, we were told he has four months and things took a quick turn and now we are counting down his days. Fifty-four and much too young. Sadness, anger, guilt, resentment, regret, projection, all of the should haves, would haves and could haves have been very present. It’s been especially hard on his parents. In processing my own feelings and empathizing for them, my curiosities resurfaced.

I recently learned that in Chinese culture, an elder should never show respect to the younger deceased (even their own children). So, if the deceased is a young bachelor, for example, he does not have a proper funeral held at the temple and his body cannot be brought “home” and must remain at the funeral parlor. His parents cannot offer prayers to their son, either since he was unmarried, he did not have any children to whom he could perform these same rites.* It’s traditions like this, that lead me to believe that certain customs exist because such rituals teach us how we should respond to unexplained tragedies. In Chinese culture, it’s often viewed as shameful or “no face” when a man outlives his son because it deviates the law of nature or how life should be.

I used to think that the easiest conflict to accept is Man vs. Nature. After all, why stress out over things beyond us? Let nature do what it does. With age, I’ve learned it’s not as easy as I thought. I once read that Nature is selfish. How can one of the most selfless things be called selfish? I think it’s a matter of interpretation. It can be both, selfless and selfish. While nature selflessly gives without any expectation of receiving anything in return, it’s also relentless and does not stop. When unexpected tragedies take place, we ask quesations like, “Of all people, why did it happen to him?”  or “How can he die at such a young age?” We question why things happened so unnaturally, but the reality is, things can and do happen and can change on a dime. The world continues on and that is nature at work.

It’s Think Out Loud Thursday today, and I really didn’t want to talk about death. Rather, I want to encourage you to think about how selfless and selfish life is. It’s easy to forget this, so please think about the life you want to live and live it. Life’s too short. Our time is now.

*While I have been told this many times, it was also validated by China Culture

25 Years since the Rodney King beating

Show any Angeleno this image and everyone has a different story.

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Rodney King beating March 3, 1991 Source: Wikipedia

It’s been 25 years since the Rodney King beating. Angeleno or not, what does this image do for you? Anything? It’s Think Out Loud Thursday, and this anniversary has me thinking all kinds of things and remembering all kinds of emotions. As with many others, this event created a chain of events that have changed my life.

I was eleven years old and in fifth grade. That evening, my siblings, grandparents and mom were in the living room and our eyes were all glued to the television. That night, we had no idea how the very event that we were watching on the television monitor would change our lives. A little over a year later, I was in the sixth grade. The clouds were orange and the air smelled ashy during recess time. The principal called a special assembly. We all marched over to the atrium. The teachers and faculty were trying to assure us that while something “bad” was happening, that everything was going to be okay. The uncertainty on their faces told me that nothing was okay. Nothing made any sense.

After school, I rushed home and searched for answers and turned on the news. The Los Angeles Riots were in full effect. Pockets of Los Angeles were hit. Fires, looters, sirens, it was mayhem. Uncertain, I still felt safe. The riots weren’t anywhere near my home. Until, I heard my mom’s voice. She was home. Home? During the middle of the day? What’s she doing home?

I shut off the news. The sound and tension in my house were all of a sudden very different. It was quiet and intense. I went upstairs and her room door was closed. I heard her voice and was trying to make out her words. She was talking to my uncle on the telephone. “There is nothing else to do. It’s gone.” she said. I knew she was referring to the business she built with her savings and all that she knew. It was gone. All gone. I opened the door and she was lying down with her eyes of disbelief wide open. I asked, “So the looters took everything?” She confirmed that yes, that’s what happened and that while other store owners went to protect their businesses with rifle in hand, she chose not to. She shared that being a single mom, she had too much to lose. I am so grateful she didn’t go that day.

True to my mom’s nature, the next day, she went back to what she knew and started sewing. She moved on and so did we. We all move on.

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My 7th grade English Teacher, Mrs. Sally Olson, encouraged honest, creative writing and this was my poem on the Los Angeles riots. Age 11, Sammy Tang

Sorry, Not Sorry

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Just as we speak different love languages, the same applies to apologies. A dear friend of mine says when she’s been hurt or wronged, she wants an empathetic apology and she needs to hear the words, “I am sorry and I will not do it again.” A former colleague of mine had a hard time saying the words, “I am sorry.” Instead, he’d buy his wife a nice handbag, jewelry or a gift as his way of apologizing. It’s Think out loud Thursday, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be sorry and the subject of apologizing.

Why do apologies exist and why do we need them? It’s pretty simple. An apology says to us, “I matter.” Especially in meaningful relationships, an apology reaffirms that we have shared values and we will protect each other and our relationship. Most importantly, it also means that there will not be a repeat and we are not going to be hurt again.

Do you apologize? Do you have a hard time? How do you apologize? Sometimes people have a hard time apologizing because it admits imperfection and that they’re wrong. Many relationships don’t recover from this simply because one’s ego was too important. Conversely, there are people who say “sorry” so often that their words hold no value. My former colleague’s method of gift giving as a way of apologizing would not work for me at all. It actually humors me and is insulting. Like my friend, I need to hear the words, “I am sorry and I will not do this again.” It also needs to be sincere and for me often requires time to show me that they will not repeat this again. How do you want someone to apologize to you?

To me, an apology has these 4 components:

  1. Accepts Responsibility 
  2. Expresses Regret
  3. Is delivered in a Timely manner
  4. Is Sincere

Without responsibility, there is no accountability and it’s just an excuse. Without regret, there will be a repeat. Timeliness is also essential because relationships are so delicate that things can spiral down quicker than a black hole! Sincerity is important. Ever seen a teen roll their eyes while apologizing? Talk about adding fuel to fire!!!

Here are some examples of “Sorry NOT Sorry” apologies that are just a waste of breath, have you ever experienced any of this:

  • “I am sorry that you feel that I hurt your feelings.”
    – NO accountability or acceptance of responsibility
  • “I am sorry that I hurt you, but you over reacted.”
    – Accepts responsibility, however it’s followed with a justification
  • “I am sorry that I was late, it will never happen again.” ONLY to be late again.
    -All talk, no action

Knowing how to recover when we have done something wrong or when we have been wronged are important in relationships. Also, knowing what we are willing to accept (and not) are just as important.

The Power of Your Narrative

Last week during one of my workouts, I got pissed. Ever get so pissed off at yourself, you don’t know what to do? It all started when my trainer, Jason, asked me to do this…it’s called the ab roll out. He said, “Focus on the core, tighten it up.” So I focused! Just like her…not really…but I focused.

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Ab Wheel Roll Out. Just in case you’re wondering…That’s not me up there.

In reality, this was what as really going on. I made out with the floor and there was no tightening of any core. I fell flat on my face (and on my core too)! UGH!!!!

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How?!?! How did I this happen so quickly? I was actually excited to go to the gym, and in a matter of of a few seconds, it was an epic fail.

As I was balancing myself on that wheel, I wanted to throw in the towel. The more that Jason was trying to help guide me, the more frustrated I was becoming. I was so bothered as I already know how it should be done. I’d done this before the right way and with more ease. Then the negative self talk took over, “Sammy, how did you let yourself go?” “Sammy, you used to do this so easily…what happened to you?” Oh man, my narrative was just as negative as Nelly can get.

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AHA!!! That’s when I realized something…many of us, well…I can only speak for myself. I avoid doing things that are uncomfortable or make me feel less because it reminds me that I am failing. In this case…I have made excuses to put off working out. Be it a wheel roll out, push ups, or a run that I may be struggling with, I just avoid it. Dealing with the struggle reminds me of my shortcomings or how I have fallen off the band wagon. It’s easier to not go to the gym or face any of my weaknesses to begin with.

When I shared this realization with Jason, he shared, “You don’t think that even the best athletes fall off the band wagon? But the best keep going.” Those words resonated and I needed to hear them that very second. Do you know what I am talking about? Do you ever avoid fear because it may take you to a nasty place? It’s Think Out Loud Thursday, and I think it’s important that WE create positive narratives for ourselves. It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves and the negativity can quickly snowball.

Earlier this week, Ronda Rousey shared some courageous words on Ellen. I don’t know much about UFC, but I find her thoughts and emotions to be so raw and relatable. It also validates my experience and how our choice to change our narrative is the start of the change that we want to see in ourselves (and in the world for that matter).

How do you Christmas?

Every Christmas I get on this high thinking about and crafting up keepsake gifts for my family and friends. Clothes, toys, electronics…it can be a bit much. It brings me joy to be able to make and gift something unique, handmade, and personable. I especially enjoy giving things that capture a moment in time. I think this stems from my childhood.–Of course, there still is that special purse that I have been  wanting and wouldn’t mind receiving…just saying.

My family didn’t celebrate Christmas. Not so much because we aren’t religious but because being first generation immigrants, we just didn’t celebrate for cultural reasons. Mainly, not knowing. My grandparents didn’t celebrate and neither did my mom. I remember being in the second grade and having to tell them about Santa and traditions like leaving cookies out and making a list, asking them, “Were you naughty or nice this year?” By the time I was in the third grade, I saved up enough money and bought gifts for them. I wrapped them up and placed them under the tree (it must have been donated to us as it was missing branch pieces). Still, it was perfect. I would tell them that Santa told me to get the gifts for them because they were good (to me) all year. Talk about being parentified at such a young age! I still don’t remember if they played along (or not), but I didn’t care. This was Christmas for me and I loved it. What’s not to love?

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We celebrated Christmas festivities at the Grove in Los Angeles. Never in my wildest childhood dreams did I ever imagine being so close to such a huge dramatic Christmas tree!

Unlike me, my neighbor Cynthia celebrated Christmas. She had a huge family. Eight kids!!! Since they’re Caucasian and I’m so very Chinese, everything they did was so normal. Everything! They would make pies and have it with vanilla ice-cream a-la-mode. Meanwhile, I had porridge with fish, mustard greens, black beans, and some fermented tofu (and this was way before tofu was even cool). Like my family, they were also very close. But they did not have a Christmas tree. What?! Yeah, they didn’t. Could I possibly be more normal than them?

No tree and no big fancy presents. How in the world did they not have a tree and I did? Well…her parents, who are some of the kindest people you can ever meet, did not give into the commodification of Christmas and were very put off by it. Cynthia and I would talk about all the things we wanted. I remembered her complaining that the only thing that she would get from her mom was an envelope of photos. Her mom would give each of the kids a deck of photos she accumulated throughout the year. At the wise age of about eight, I remember envying and wanting all of Cynthia’s complaints. I thought, “I want an envelope of photos.” We didn’t even have a camera so of course there weren’t any photos for my mom to give me.

A few years ago, Cynthia and I were talking about Christmas and she shared how now as grown adults, all of her siblings are so very grateful that their mom gave them such a simple yet treasured gift. –A deck of photos (every year). Sometimes, it’s the simplest of things that find its way to our heart.

However way you celebrate Christmas, may it find a way to your heart and bring you much comfort and joy. Sometimes it’s not as complicated or stressful as we may think. Happy Always, Merry Everything.

How do you Christmas? What do you do to make your heart warm and spirt bright? I would love to hear from you!

 

Top 5 Life Lessons learned from my most difficult sales deal…ever. Ever, ever!!!

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You’ve accepted the rejection. You have grit. You want this deal more than anybody else. You are tested and are just about ready to throw in the towel. But you don’t. You close the deal.

This blog isn’t about me. BUT…I recently closed the toughest sales deal in my entire sales career. Many people love to hate sales people. I don’t blame them. They’re We are easy targets. They’re We are known to be annoying, self absorbed, terrible listeners. We have long lunches, come and go as we please and we come back to the office dressed well, laughing out loud with with our big white shiny teeth and with a (insert your favorite drink) in hand. The reality is sales people often feel alone in doing what we do. There are days where we put on our Sunday’s best only to be denied. And the best ones are opposite of what I just listed. Often alone when cold calling, rejected, hung up on, oh and yes…even breaking down after pounding the pavement and out of answers. It’s not all roses, but this isn’t a pity party. Even though Sales professionals are movers and shakers, we are only as good as our last deal and as trying as it may be, it’s ALL WORTH IT.

Here are five lessons and takeaways from my toughest sales deal to date (a deal that took me over three years to close). My hope in sharing with you is that in the event that you need to dig deep and may be experiencing a deal (or even a project) that is testing you…that this will keep you going. Onward and upward.

It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. Good selling.

  1. Pace yourself. That saying, “it’s not over till the fat lady sings…” well, a lot can change. The bell cannot be un-rung. That commissions check is not yours until you have earned it. Avoid burn out. Enjoy the ride and ensure that you have it in you to keep going…until the very end.  Until the very end. It’s a marathon. Not a sprint. Keep your eyes on the prize.
  2. Know that you are great at what you do. Own it. Your prospect/ buyer may have a fancy legal team and more resources than you can imagine. Many times, they don’t know what they want or what they’re doing. You need to guide them. You are their advocate and #1 resource. Having this conviction is a must in everything that you do.
  3. Focus on your customer’s problem first and your solutions second. Especially in layered selling where there are many influencers or sponsors, know what each department’s goals are. Can you really be a part of their solution? If so, tell them how. Differentiate yourself from your competition who is likely talking price and product. Help them visualize your mutual success. Clients do not know how valuable you are until you show how much you care.
  4. Do not give up. Sometimes your customers will ask you questions and demand answers. You may have no idea what they’re talking about. Understand why it’s important to them, how they’re doing it, what are the consequences if there is no change. Go find the answer. Utilize your resources.
  5. Know when to walk away. It’s a lot like dating. You may not jive. If it’s not a good match, it’s not. You may not meet their requirements, and that’s okay. Don’t force it. Walk away. You will be glad you did.