First of all, I am overjoyed at how many people took the time support my blog launch and read my first post Philosophy last week. I received a lot of feedback in the way of encouragement and suggestions. Thank you so much for stopping by again!
This week I had a hard time narrowing down to what it is I want to say next. I am about 5 steps ahead with this blog, dreaming of all the topics I want to cover. But before I get topical, I’d like to make sure you get to know me, and hopefully I can get to know you better too. You now understand what it is I’m truly passionate about and the kind of person I strive to be in this life. In my About Me section, I promised as you read along I will share how and why I live in 2 cities, so I’m going to start there. Strap in – this will be a long one!
I inherited the entrepreneurial itch from my father who owned his own company for 15 years. He has been a huge influence in my life. I was enthralled by his business decisions and marketing strategies as an elementary student. But I went on to take a very practical path in life, which is what he wanted for me – job security.
I had no idea what I wanted to be when I “grew up,” but I knew I was good at math and science. I remember a high school math teacher of mine encouraged me to study Mechanical Engineering since there “weren’t many women in engineering” and I’d be a great fit. To be honest, I had never thought about the fact that some careers are male-dominated until that moment. That is mainly because my father pushed me just as hard academically as he would have if I was a boy. The sky was the limit and I was never told differently, which I am eternally grateful for. But still, this teacher’s comment resonated with me because it meant something else – a challenge. I could succeed where few others of my kind had before and be somewhat of a trailblazer. Once that thought crossed my mind, I was stubborn enough to make it happen. I attended Purdue to study Mechanical Engineering. It’s funny to realize my career path started with my own stubbornness and refusal to quit, even after I realized what I had gotten myself into!
I had always wanted to see the world, but I was too busy making practical decisions for that to happen. In undergrad I did a co-op program so that I could get real full-time work experience in product engineering every other semester, which extended my graduation date by 2 years and limited my ability to study abroad without further extending my graduation. As I neared graduation I was kind of over Engineering to be honest. I wanted more traveling and people interaction, less individual cubicle work. I applied to tons of consulting jobs but nothing was panning out. Of course I was getting tons of attention about engineering jobs I wasn’t as interested in.
A woman I had met at a wedding reached out to me two years prior to my graduation. She worked in HR at Eli Lilly & Co. and figured I would be graduating soon. I sent over my resume, surprised and thankful that she thought of me, but also thinking it would be another typical engineering role I was not interested in. The role ended up being the perfect fit which combined my technical expertise with my desire to travel and interact with more people. There I led a cross-functional team and contract manufacturer to launch a medical device for Diabetics. I traveled to Boston monthly to support the role and finally got the chance to travel abroad through that job to China, France, and Spain! I could go on and on about my experience at Lilly. It was priceless for so many reasons, but overall I was still in Indianapolis where I started. I wanted to see the world and live somewhere new. Two years into the job, I was thinking about applying for an MBA and using it as a chance to live and learn in Europe for a while. But my plan was to sit on the idea until I had been at Lilly for a full 3 years.
I randomly signed into LinkedIn one day (which I didn’t do very often), and a message had been sitting there from an Apple recruiter for a month about a role on the iPhone team. Needless to say, my response was not too late, and within a month I found myself moving to San Francisco, California, where I would start a new life from scratch. I ultimately got what I wanted but it came from an industry I had not considered and interrupted my plan when I was least expecting it. My move to California could not have been a better change, and I welcomed it with open arms.
After living in SF and working in Silicon Valley for almost 2 years, California was still the perfect fit for me, but business travel had become routine and the startup culture in the Bay Area was clamoring for me to pay attention to it. I was experiencing a new dying itch, this time to leave large corporations and satisfy my entrepreneurial desires. I wanted to be completely engulfed in the start-up culture, whether it was by starting my own company, working for a start up, or working for a venture capitalist. I just wanted to be in it.
Nothing could really compete with the experience I was getting at Apple. I specialize in hardware, and hardware startups can be a little shaky since there’s a huge financial barrier to entry. I wasn’t interested in moving from Apple to another large tech company unless the product was totally different or much better. Plus, I thought, I should wait it out at Apple for another year or so, do my time, and evaluate my options then. You know, the practical route.
The LinkedIn scene in Silicon Valley and notably hardware is really strong, so I check it just like I would any other social media source now. Several recruiters had reached out but the things I was most interested in did not leverage my expertise, and vice versa. But again, a connection to Snap came about unexpectedly through LinkedIn. I knew Snap was in LA, but I took the call out of curiosity as Spectacles had just been announced that week.
Now keep in mind, my partner Brian and I had just moved in together in SF after a year of long-distance. This wasn’t just a convenient move-in. We had put our hearts and souls into picking our apartment. We viewed 25 spots, interviewed for our top choice (yes, SF is crazy), and literally curated the apartment with furniture, plants, and decor that we relentlessly researched, scrutinized, and hand-picked.
Despite this being ridiculous timing, Brian and I found ourselves traveling to LA for an on-site interview and I had an offer for an amazing opportunity only two days before a major vesting milestone I had coming up at Apple. This would give me just enough time to reach some level of mental clarity before giving my two weeks notice and saying good bye. Although we had rocked our long-distance relationship when he was in grad school, we weren’t wanting to start it all over again, so we tried to think outside of the box. How could I take this opportunity and maintain my life in SF with Brian? I’d have to have 2 apartments and fly to and from SF every week. We considered logistics, finances, opportunity, and happiness.
What Brian and I realized was that everything was a positive change other than having to sacrifice our weeknights together. But with both of us working, our weeknights were not filled with quality time in the first place. We were both commuting from the South Bay (Silicon Valley) every day which means we didn’t get home until 7 or 8 pm. In addition, once I got home I would still have calls with my colleagues in Asia late into the night, sometimes planned and sometimes unplanned. I was pretty much always on call, so it was hard to truly relax. I would finally think I had an early night of calls so we’d sit down for a meal or movie and 5 minutes in someone would be calling and texting urgently. Even worse, we’d be out for dinner and I’d not pay attention to my phone for 1 hour and then have extreme anxiety over 60 missed messages as soon as our meal was over, racing to get home to call in privacy.
All things considered, we decided together to take the plunge and accept this new opportunity. Again none of this happened according to my plan, but I commend a higher power than myself for planning this whole thing down to the day and making all factors no-brainers except the move itself, so that Brian and I could focus on what was best for us in the long-run. So far things have been great. Even flying to and from work on Mondays and Fridays, my commute has decreased from 20 hrs/wk to 6 hrs/wk, and I have so much more energy. Brian and I miss seeing each other in person every night, but we FaceTime instead to catch up on our days, and I still spend at least 3 nights at home per week (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). This new schedule allows me to compartmentalize my work and life. During the week I’m focused on work and during the weekend I’m focused on life. I mix the two here and there (grab a late dinner with friends in LA after work, fulfill an urgent need for work on the weekend, or travel for an extended work trip). But overall I like the two being more separated as I am able to set realistic expectations with myself about when I will spend time with Brian and friends versus when I’ll be working like there’s no tomorrow. So for right now, this unconventional setup is working well for us! It just takes some getting used to.
I’d like to about any topics you want to cover in the future. Feel free to comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are some ideas I have, but I want to hear yours!
- How the Bay Area changed my mindset
- Fitting everything into my precious weekends!
- Eating healthy and exercising with a crazy schedule in town
- Eating healthy and exercising when on business travel with very few options
- Packing tips when you’re always on the run
- Mentorship series
- How to make new friends
- Salary negotiation
- My style and how I prioritize aspects of it into my busy life
- Finding the right partner
- Contrast between SF and LA vibes
- Creating an adaptable routine
- How we rocked a long-distance relationship
- How I held myself accountable to start a side project (my blog)
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