In which I talk about work and rant about Chulalongkorn university (Huh?)

Random blog post title, anyone?

Let’s start off with work. I hardly mention about what I do on here, it seems. We just got a new project – Facebook advertising and content marketing for a new international program at a private university. Last year I was mainly in charge of eCommerce and marketplaces like Lazada and Zalora; running an end-to-end eCommerce process for clients. Toward the end of the year I did mention to my boss that I wanted to try something new, with an aim of becoming a more well-rounded person in digital marketing field. When we got a new client this time and I saw it’s an online ad project, which is what I’ve been wanting to do for a while, I stepped up and told my boss I wanted to be in charge.

And here we are! More work that I requested for myself 🙂

It’s a nice change too – to be involved in an education industry, which is what I’m interested in. Walking in a university campus for a meeting for the first time even felt refreshing, strangely enough!

I’ve been helping with my friend’s education startup, CareerVisa, from time to time by being a career workshop facilitator and a career mentor for university students. I always find the work rewarding and it feels good that you can help other people out, by listening to students stories/issues and sharing your experiences, as well as giving some pieces of advice. By doing that, I’ve discovered that I’m drawn to this education industry. During last semester in my senior year, I was struggling, not knowing what to do, and having zero clue of career paths and where to continue after graduation, and it was one of the most terrible feelings. I wouldn’t want anyone to experience that, which is why I am more than willing to share my own struggles and experiences, if I can be of any help with students.

Back to our new project. It was quite an experience going to a private university campus here. The campus and facilities look too good to be true, compared to a public university like Chula. The whole atmosphere feels quite laid back and chill, and professors are easy to talk to, whereas Chula feels uptight, ridiculously conservative, and highly academic driven. 

It got me thinking there is such a huge gap between private and public universities in Thailand. Why does Chula feel the need to stick their noses high in the air like that? Everything feels inaccessible – they like to place themselves high up there somewhere. It is my alma mater I have no emotional connection attached, as I’ve never felt they were being helpful to me in any ways. 

Let me tell you one little secret, Chula does NOT have a career counseling center! And this is, as claimed, #1 top university in Thailand. CHULA CAREER COUNSELING CENTER IS NONEXISTENT. Or maybe they did have one, but I, a student in a Thai program, wasn’t aware of it (And I was/am a nerd, so this is the type of information I would know, trust me). 

Speaking of university marketing, Chula Thai programs have never done anything, as far as I’m concerned. People may argue that Chula doesn’t have the need to advertise themselves, because it is a well-known, well-established educational institution in Thailand. That could be true, but they could try to be more approachable to students, considered how they are extremely terrible at communications. We found out most things (e.g. scholarship news) through word-of-mouth and students from former year. There is no communication platform that connect students together in one place. Systems, as well as buildings, are out of date. (And we all secretly wonder, where did all the money go?).

What is the need to hold yourself high on that status, Chulalongkorn? I can see that the pride in long history associated with royal family plays a big part, but when will they start focusing on present and future? To what purpose does it serve, staying conservative when the rest of the world has changed? Is this hold-yourself-higher-than-others attitude the type of attitude you wish to cultivate your students? How does this add up to an already widening social gap in Thai society?

I could tell and picture all those differences with one visit to this private university. You really feel different “vibes” Yes, private universities may be commercial. Yes, they may have to try harder to advertise themselves and attract potential candidates to make more $$$. Yes, I am aware they are much less academic and have different sets of USP from public universities. It’s still nice to see their attempt of trying to reach out and be helpful to students, according to the brief we received which will be conveyed in our marketing messages. It is something I’ve never seen at Chulalongkorn. Once again, it feels like a different world in the same country. 

It would be nice to blend those attitudes together and narrow that gap a little bit, between public and private universities. I’ve been told many times that Thailand is the Land of Extremes; there is no middle ground. Public VS private universities surely is another great example to add up in this case.


Google AdWords Certified & Passion for learning

To become an AdWords Certified professional has been on my to-do list for way too long, even before I stepped into digital marketing field this year. Finally, being able to tick this off my to-dos feels pretty amazing! 

The requirement is, you need to pass 2 exams – AdWords Fundamentals and one more on Search, Display, Video, Mobile, or Shopping Advertising to be certified by Google. There are videos and study guide materials available to study online. 

I did try to study many times, but it was very difficult to stay motivated on my own cramming everything for the exams. 

Until a friend told me about Google Ignite, a 2-day seminar on Google AdWords with a lecturer and study materials for you to take 2 exams at the end of the seminar, and I happily registered without thinking twice. Everything is free of charge. I even found out later Google provided us free lunches, snacks, drinks, as well as many freebies throughout the seminar. Thanks Google for a cute Gmail bag! AND a Google tote bag they will send us along with our certifications in the mail. 

It helps me focus much better to study and absorb knowledge in a classroom environment. For a moment, I almost missed taking lectures in school. Once a nerd, always a nerd! I guess it will never go away! 

In the end it’s not even about getting certified. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see its benefits, and think Google is smart to educate people to be able to use their tools effectively, therefore they create this positive image and make people eager to learn and use their marketing tools. Win-win situation. 

But apart from that, this short seminar and seemingly tiny personal achievement made me slowly realize what makes me happy. This year I’ve come to realize how heavily goal-oriented I am. And now I’ve found out I DO need to constantly push and challenge myself to do and learn new things, with concrete goals, in order to stay happy. 

Most importantly, I’ve realized I have a passion for learning, and I never want to stop learning and educating myself, ever, no matter how old I am. 

It is quite amusing, now that I ponder, I am very much like these Google marketing tools I’m using. What makes online ad campaigns so effective? Because everything is trackable and measurable. And that IS exactly me. In order to stay productive and motivated, I need trackable and measurable goals to see my own progress and improve my performance. My exercise routine and reading challenge this year adds as another important proof. Quite spooky, isn’t it? 

When work life has become a routine and everything feels quite stable, in which, by the way, I can’t stress enough how grateful I am, at the same time, though, it can be easy to get bored and lose motivation. Everything is good, but I’m not 100% satisfied, which is most likely normal for all of us. Lately I’ve probably lived inside my head and internalized way too much, as well as kept questioning myself a lot about what truly makes me happy in life. Loving, fulfilling relationship? Yes, important, and admittedly I really want it now. But at the same time it really is not the ultimate answer to my happiness, and it feels like relationships for people my age these days are too easy to get screwed up in one way or another. I’ve had enough, got so jaded that it honestly even made me sad, and kind of lost faith in that now (More on that some other time, if I can summon my energy to write it up). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, even when I’m in a relationship, I constantly need to fight this self-battle and this void inside of me still. Most likely, to me, it would be a bit terrible to hope someone else can fix your internal issues. After all, it’s yours, so it should be YOUR responsibility to deal with. A good life partner would do their best to support you. But after all, you are the one who has to figure it out yourself. 

Everyone’s definition of happiness should be entitled to themselves. But I’m glad that this weekend I’ve glimpsed a tiny bit more into tips leading to happiness, designed for me. I will keep an eye on more opportunities to learn something new and challenge myself. Self-improvement IS important. Self-discovery is even more satisfying, and, in my opinion, is crucial to create a lifelong, sustainable happiness. 

So, what are you working for?

Recently I’ve been contemplating about life and work during morning commute.

(Oh hi Existential Crisis, welcome back!) 

It disappeared for a while, and I was glad my brain could just shut up and leave me in peaceful oblivion, but this (useless?) life contemplation is back visiting me again. Seems to come in a quarterly cycle (What are you Brain, performance quarterly report!?) 

What is your purpose of working, financial reasons aside? 

What drives you to get up and work every day? 

(The kind of question that would make my mother snicker, roll her eyes, and say “you poor thing, have too much leisure time and luxury to contemplate about purpose of work, when majority of people have to do it to survive and make ends meet.”) 

I just asked my best friend this question. Her answer striked me. 

She said “Yeah, I used to wonder that too, but then I remember I still have a daughter’s obligation to fulfill, and that is – to take care of my parents. So that gives me a sense of purpose to keep working.” 

So that made me wonder, would you have a clearer sense of purpose to keep trying to do or fight for something, when you do it for other people, not for yourself? 

Suppose if you have kids, you must work in order to raise them up, make sure they are well taken care of, because you love them and want what is best for them. Even though work is tiring and/or boring, you can’t quit when you have kids relying on you financially at home. 

Would that shut up the voice in your head what or who exactly you are working for? You know you have to struggle and try hard for the kids, for their good life. 

Or would that put even more pressure on you as you have obligation now? And this would make you hate your job even more? Not lost, have a sense of purpose (kids), but hate it and have to do it anyway. 

Perhaps it doesn’t need to be kids. It could be a greater sense of purpose – doing it for other people, a lot more people. For some causes that are personally meaningful to you. 

Would that give you a purpose of working? Would your energy shoot up when you are fighting for it and improving something for other people? Would that give work a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction? 

As a single working woman who doesn’t have many responsibilities toward anyone but myself (Don’t roll your eyes at me, please. I already got that from my mother, ok?), I do have freedom and choices to choose what to work (Oh hi Maslow. Keep seeing your pyramid these days.) Freedom is good (I guess), but choices also come with doubts. So many things to choose, so which one should you pick? Which direction should you be heading? 

Perhaps the purpose of working for self-learning and self-development is not strong enough, when things get rough and tough. 

At the end of the day, could you stop yourself from wondering what or why you are working for? Being tired and stressed for what? 

Still looking for the answer. Back to square one

Embracing a new change

Hi Change. It’s been almost a year since we last met. Not that long I suppose, but when encountering you again, I almost forgot what it feels like, and almost forgot I still needed you. 

Encountering new, unfamiliar changes surely is confusing. At the same time anxiety and worry join forces as you are exposed to these things for the first time. 

But it’s been a while I’ve felt this. I was too relaxed for too long. It can be stressful in the beginning, in this unknown territory, but somehow, surprisingly I’ve missed it. Being confused is confusing! Yet it means I’m learning new things again. You can never take learning opportunities for granted – they make you grow, they make you become a smarter and better you. 

And it’s so important at this point of my life. I still think it is. This is not the period to stop and stay still. 

Being surrounded by talented people also pushed stress even further. But again, hopefully the environment will keep me motivated. I only hope I won’t feel too stressed or too worried that I will underperform or won’t live up to the expectation. I’m fully aware I have the tendency to put the pressure on myself, even when no one is forcing me anything. Usually I am always the one who drives myself crazy, thinking I’m never good enough. What a nagging feeling! The right amount of pressure is good, but too much of it will leave you nothing but stress and worry. And worry never fixes anything, only makes the situation worse than it is. 

Ever thought the older we get, the harder people say or admit “I don’t know”? I see this attitude often and am sadden by it. People are scared to admit what they don’t know, because they are afraid others could view them incompetent or even stupid. As a result, they seem to work hard pretending they know everything, but in fact they haven’t got a clue. And this creates a lot of problems afterwards.

Ego is a very dangerous word when you get older. Funnily enough, perhaps it takes more courage to admit what you don’t know to other people. After all, isn’t it impossible for a person to know everything

I’m trying my best to not be scared of asking questions and admitting I don’t know something, but at the same time showing I’m willing to learn and improve myself. 

HA! This blog post feels like a pep talk to myself to keep it going. Release stress by writing it out, perhaps. I might need to come back and re-read it when I feel overwhelmed! 

Life Coach

Hung out with my best friend on Friday night at Wishbeer. Fifteen years of friendship, we have grown and changed so much, but it’s always great to see her. Feels like it’s been a while since we sat down talking and sharing stuff going on in our life at the moment. 

And it’s just great when your best friend casually asks “So what book are you reading at the moment?” 

I don’t get asked that very often (or at all). She knows me, you know. 

He is away, and will most likely be away for almost all of July and a bit of August. Although I miss him and cuddling (TMI? Cuddling IS crucial!), I suppose having plenty of Me time can be amazing too (But I miss him and cuddling…….). I even joke that I’m single for a month, and my friend said, “Get on Tinder”

The modern society of dating and relationship is sad, you guys. Just sad. 

Anyway, back to what I wanted to write. Again I updated my friend about my current issue and told her about all the conversations I’ve had recently about career. And she added some of her opinions and shared some experiences. 

(Sometimes I can’t help but think it’s probably not even worth calling it an issue. My life, in general, is great, and I am thankful for it most of the time. I hardly have to worry about external stuff. This internal thinking process could kill me at times, though. Hence, the “issue”) 

First, I can change and switch jobs and do anything. But it would help a lot if I could determine what exactly it is that I wanna go to. The big picture. The goal. So that it could guide me as a direction. Whatever action I do today, tomorrow, 2 or 5 years from now, I can decide if it is going to contribute to that goal in the end. Sure, the goal can be changed as anything in life. But at least if I have something to look forward to, it would help making these small decisions easier today. 

Second, we don’t lose anything but the time. Time is extremely important. It generates experiences, knowledge, and so much more, and we cannot get it back. If I am going to lose anything today, it is time

Third, she did share her experience with the “Life coach” which is like a consulting service, only it’s not for business, it’s for people. These people don’t really suggest anything, but they help you form and clarify your thoughts in a systematic way by asking a lot of questions in order to help you solve your problem. The session is only 40 minutes, but it can be exhausting as you have to share and think hard about the root of your “issues” and then they would try to analyze it for you. 

Apparently, this life coach thing is common for executives; people who have to constantly make decisions and face issues. One course could cost many hundred thousands of Baht. That is quite a lot, so I asked her if she could contact them and ask if they still need more “samples” as I am interested in trying this, even for a few sessions. 

We’ll see how it goes. 

Whew, my blog always sounds so serious, doesn’t it? This is a place I choose to write inner thoughts and opinions that I don’t get to express in everyday life, though. 

In fact, what I do today, Saturday, is far from anything serious. Spending some quality time with mom feels almost like a privilege these days – I took her to the hospital, did hair and nails together, grocery shopping, and even condo checking (!). She bought me a very nice present, a two-month-in-advance birthday present, and I couldn’t be happier. And we (well, she) talked a lot, just like we did every day when I was in high school. My mom has always been my good friend, except we now get to talk much less than we used to. 

On days like this – ordinary day like this – I feel like life is good, everything is fine, and my issue is so small that just the thought of it even feels ridiculous. 

Sometimes I do feel that there is nothing more beautiful than just simple, ordinary days in life, surrounded by people you love and love you. 

What do you want in life?

Life and career talk on one fine Sunday afternoon at Rocket coffeebar.

I feel incredibly grateful when people who are more experienced than me share some knowledge they know or suggestion. It’s such a valuable experience, because they make you think and question yourself a lot as well as make you feel like you learn something.

Having a mutual connection really helps. It gives you a sort of “friend” feeling, and people are more open and willing to talk. It was the first time we met, and this finance turned businessman apologized he talked too much, usually he doesn’t talk a lot but he thinks it would be helpful if someone told him all these things when he was my age. I kept saying thanks and there is no need to say sorry as I truly appreciate it.

It’s not usual that you meet someone for the first time and go straight into deep conversation about life, career, and future. The whole thing was totally unplanned too! But I also find that when I am open and sincere about my current issues, with the right people, they tend to offer their opinion on the subject back to you.

I decided to do this in bullet point style, just to help me organize my thoughts better. Here are some of the things; suggestion and comments I picked up from today’s conversation.

  • You have to know what you want.

I got asked so many questions in which I can’t answer. Within a few minutes of conversation, he could tell that my problem is not about whether I am happy with my job or not, but it’s that I don’t know what I want.

What do you want to do?

In what industry?

Do you want to work in big corporate, middle company, or small company?

Do you want big money, or nice salary? (Huge difference)

Do you want to live in Thailand or abroad?

Are you willing to put up with long hours?

And the list goes on.

He said he always knows what he wants to do. He prioritized money and was willing to sacrifice job satisfaction, so he was in trading. He then knew he does not want to have a boss, so he declined Goldman Sachs offer. Also, he was willing to take a big risk, so it was ok to make a lot of money, back to 0, and then work his way up to make a huge amount of money by being his own boss, running, and expanding his own business in Southeast Asia.

But not everyone is like that. So first, you need to decide and figure out what you want, what matter to you. 

  • Ask yourself a lot of questions, and put them in “Yes” “No” and “Maybe” categories.

Write them down and divide those questions into different categories; of what you want and don’t want, of what you are and are not willing to sacrifice. Be honest with yourself. That way, you may be able to define what exactly you want in your career.

  • 27 is a critical age.

It’s an age when it’s ok to be confused and think a lot about future career path. “You are still young,” he said (People love to tell me that, huh?). But this could be a turning point that set you in the right direction, if you make a right move.

When you are 33, it’s going to be difficult to change your path and go back as everyone has had 7 years of experience or so. So, right now, at 27, it is good to sit down and contemplate what you want in life as it could have an impact setting future career from now on.

  • Think about how this career is going to help you in the future.

This I have heard many times. You should think about, if/when you quit the company, what can you write in your CV? How much have you learned from this job at this company? But then again, you would know how this job could help you, when you know what you want in your life (Back to number 1 again, huh?)

  • You have a good profile. It’s rare in this country.

Again, within the first hour of conversation, he told me that straight away. He said he is quite sure that I have the ability to pick what company I want to work for, and most companies would want someone like me to work for them, because this kind of profile is rare in Thailand. So I have the advantage to really think hard and choose where I want to go.

When I am surrounded by friends and people whose profile are no different from me, or even way better than me (Finance degree from Cambridge, law degree from Oxford, grad school in Sloane MIT, Kellogg, King’s scholarship, Fullbright scholarship, Erasmus scholarship, Chevening UK scholarship, Monbukagakusho scholarship and blah blah blaaaah, you name it, I know those kinds of people), sometimes I forget that it’s rare and I’ve got the advantage, because I hardly see myself that way. Confession is: I’ve never felt I’m good enough! Too many insecurities can make you focus on what you lack, not what you have, and eventually they make you doubt yourself too much.

  • You look nice too. Use this as your advantage.

Definitely the kind of advice you wouldn’t hear in business school, eh? He said it’s one of the assets I have, consider it as one of my skills, and how I am going to utilize it. Marketing and HR fields are full of women. Instead, go in the field where there are not many women, for example there aren’t many women in investment banking, management consulting or tech industry, so if you could manage to get in, you would get noticed and this could give you an advantage as many workplaces are looking for male/female balance in workforces. We have studied so much about theories and those things about equality, but in the end you can see that we are just human being, prone to irrationality.

Interesting viewpoint for sure. I’m not gonna say I agree or disagree here, I seriously didn’t interpret this in an offensive way either as I was pretty sure there was no such intention. Simply see this as an opinion. To be honest, the longer I work, the more I see people in society really focus heavily on looks, as it is the first thing people see when they meet someone, so they naturally base their assumptions and impression on that.

Not sure if I missed anything else as we were talking a lot. In the end these kinds of comments feel similar to this 7 questions about life purpose article I just read the other week. I wish I got to have conversations like this more often with many more interesting people. It feels rare, and I truly cherish it.

Pouring my heart out 

I just had a 6 hour conversation, this kind of conversation, on one fine Friday evening. 

About work, life, love and all things that matter and don’t matter at the same time. 

I have always craved for it, believed it is good and important to step back and contemplate about all things in life from time to time. It felt amazingly liberating, as well as confusing as hell. 

And all that is left now is thoughts and more thoughts running through my head all weekend (Typical me). So much that I finally had the courage (?) to start a new blog afresh, to write it out and organize these confusing thoughts, which I always did but hadn’t done in a great while. 

You see, I always describe myself as having this quarter life crisis thing ever since I graduated. For all 17 years of my education life (school 12 years, bachelor’s degree 4 years, master’s degree 1 year) I was never lost. I always had goals and aims to drive me through each step in life, which I worked on it, and achieved all of the goals I set for myself. 

But now, enter the working life. Things felt very different now. Wider, bigger world. More variety of people. More vague. Different paths are left for each of us to choose. They are no longer a pattern or a fixed rule. More freedom, followed by more confusion in my case. 

Where are my aims and goals now? Which direction should I be heading to? In order to achieve what? What is the purpose? 

Of course, there are some typical aims to follow, as society may expect us to – to be good at our job, to perform well, to gain respect and trust from our boss, to earn more, to get a raise, and the list goes on and on. 

What is haunting me is not any of those as I am quite certain I can go along with those fine at this point in my life. 

But for me, it’s about learning and wanting to be good at…something. I want to be great (just like all those years in education, never been anything but the top).

I just read this article yesterday. Combined with the conversation I had, suddenly there are two extreme different thoughts popping up in my head. 

One, yes I have been told quite a few times from many people in life that I have potential to achieve anything, and I would like to believe that. So far I have tried and pushed myself to be the best. It makes sense to continue trying and pushing myself to…somewhere

But is it what I really want? Do I want to try that hard? All those years there were nothing but exhaustion. It eventually felt great to achieve something great, but there were many prices to pay along the way – suffering, stressing, studying so hard, even at one point crying my way, to finally achieve that damn first class honor degree. When I got that piece of paper, I went numb thinking I sacrificed a lot to this, I “suppose” this was “kind of” worth it. 

So here comes my #2 thought. 

Two, what is wrong with settling with something that is “good enough”? Decent job with balanced life. I have more time to enjoy little things, spend more time with people I love, exercise, relax on weekends, read, travel the world, have time for myself, and more. 

It doesn’t sound bad at all. 

But then again, why do I feel like there is something more in me, which can drive me to be greater than what I am now? 

I spoke to my mother about this (as I usually do) and she did say one thing about my personality; I like to feel in control of my life, being organized in my comfort zone. With the “right” environment, I can operate well. So far my life has fitted in that “box” and I am happy about it. 

I spoke to him (yes, I have that him now, still weird to think about it even it’s been a while). His comment? I am still young, still capable to take risks as there wouldn’t be any consequences. If it’s what I want, try. I can always go back and quit if it’s not for me. It’s not the end of the world. 

Which really make sense. 

I was even more lost and confused 3 years ago, when I just graduated bachelors degree. I am still lost now, about where to go from here in life, if I would ever be satisfied with it, constantly asking myself some questions that still remain unanswered. 

I am scared, that one day I could let it go, be okay with the whole thing about career, compromise myself to be happy with “good enough” and just accept it. 

But then again, would that be such a bad thing? Is good enough a bad thing? Aren’t we built to never satisfy with what we have anyway? 

I still hope I don’t need to spend a whole life ahead of me trying to answer that question.