Thursday, June 07, 2012

Slow growth

Paul and I met with Phil, our new business mentor today. He's the VP of a commercial real estate conglomerate and said our business proposal was "bang on" in describing Toronto's current market conditions.  Although he also gave us some pointers, it was nothing we haven't already previously discussed or thought about on our own. But it's nice to get an objective opinion from someone with legitimate business acumen.  Phil also observed that we make a good team because while Paul is artistic, I'm the hustler. So of course, no sooner had we left his office, I received a text message from a former coworker asking me if Paul was available to take informal portraits for several board members of a mining company. I jumped at the chance and booked the gig less than an hour later. $300 for an hour's worth of work. Not too shabby.

It might be a good networking opportunity as well since most people don't usually get the chance to have their photos taken by a professional.  And I, frankly, want to aim for a wealthier demographic. We shall see ...


My birthday was this week. Received many, many well wishes from friends all over the world, including a phone call from my Swedish friend* currently living in Turkey.  She's been there for four years, working for an economic organization to help spread capitalism to the third world (latest target: Kazakhstan. She says it's worse than how Borat described it). Another friend, whom I met during my professional stint in Beijing, made the leap from television news to being an infrastructure and IPOD consultant (whatever that is). I know she comes from a pretty well-connected family: her mom is some kind of professional networker who connects people stateside to China and, I guess, everywhere in between. (In fact, my friend's [much-hated] cousins are socialites who are regularly featured in Vogue China.) So I think that's how she ended up doing what she's doing and making serious dough. 

I wouldn't say both of these friends are exceptionally happy, but both of them are similarly materialistic. That's not a value judgment. They're doing exactly what they need to be doing to support the values that are important to them. However, I must wonder if their seeming dissatisfaction originates from neglecting or denying their other values in pursuit of the most clear and obvious one. That's something I've been in the process of untangling through my own self-exploration, heavily supplemented by the book I'm reading called The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine. I should have read this years ago!

I'm not a self-help fan, but this book has been a huge eye-opener. She not only describes why people like me are always itching for new challenges, but that we don't necessarily have to start at the bottom if we decide to take on a new industry. She gives really practical advice and encourages diversifying your skills, especially considering how volatile the job market is everywhere. Lobenstine also says that while it is important to focus on a few things at a time, you shouldn't feel pressure to commit to any of them.

The book really is empowering (and I realize how schmaltzy that sounds). I didn't realize I had so many sellable skills or there exists people who also have my brand of curiosity, indecisiveness, and craving for stability. Great book, I highly recommend it!

*We met in a History of Economics class. She used to crane her neck to see my marks since I consistently achieved an A+ average on assignments #humblebrag. I thought it was creepy and, being a journalism student, assumed economics majors were just hyper-competitive. Later on, I jumped to the possibility that she must've had a sapphic crush on me. Then I realized she only talked to people she deemed smart and good enough to be her friend. Don't get me started on the moral implications of that observation #morehumblebrag.

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