Outdoor Eureka Wedding - #thengulyweds2019

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Client Profile: Congratulations to Linda and Dong!

Venue: Eureka Building in Irvine, CA

Photography: Wildflower Photo & Co.

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Be More Than Ready for Your Wedding! Check Out These Best Tips & Tricks for a Stress-Free Day!

HERE COMES THE TIPS:

Pre-Planning

  • Create an inventory check list of all the wedding decor items you have purchased and write down exactly the quantity of items and where you’d like for it to go.

  • Seating Arrangements - Create a well-thought out seating for your guests. Try not to seat all of your younger guests on one side of the room and all of your older guests on the other. Be mindful of where the speakers are placed in the room since you don’t want the music to be blasting in people’s ears.

  • Gift Giving - To show your appreciation, you should plan on giving gifts to your wedding party, parents, and perhaps anyone who worked hard to make your wedding day meaningful. It’s the thought that counts!

  • Makeup - Book a make-up trial with your top two make-up artists! And remember to wear white so you can see have an idea of how your makeup will look while wearing the color white. Also, ask these artists to send you RAW/ untouched images of their before and after. Show them a picture of your dress and be open to them giving you their professional expertise!

Timeline

If you do not have a coordinator or a wedding planner, make sure to send your final timeline in PDF format to ALL vendors at least one week prior to your event date. It’s best to finalize everything a week before (just to play it safe) so that you can avoid emailing your vendors last minute. And by vendors, I mean all of them.

Speeches - Aside from the Maid of Honor/Best Man speech, it’s a great idea for your parents to give a thank you speech before the dinner reception begins and for the bride and groom to also give a small toast after cake cutting. Speakers should take the time to create a short outline and practice reading it aloud so it sounds natural.

Wedding Rehearsals

You and your bridesmaids should practice holding the bouquet prior to walking down the aisle. Typically, it is held centered right around the belly button. Practice the speed of entrance, where you should be entering from, walking formation, and remind your bridal party to smile!

Music Selections

  • First Dance I recommend going into your first dance immediately after the grand entrance before the first course is served.

  • Parent Dances It is recommended to dance through the first chorus of the song but playing the whole song might be too long. Consult with your parents first in regards to this.

  • Bouquet/Garter Toss Bouquet - If you know that a lot of your guests are in a relationship or married, you may ask your emcee to announce ALL ladies to the dance floor so that no one is left out. Garter - You may choose one song for the garter removal and one song for the actual garter toss.

  • Song Selections Prior to your wedding date, send your DJ a set list of songs to play, songs/artists to avoid, and of course, finalize all song selections for the ceremony and evening reception.

On Your Wedding Day

Bring an emergency touch-up kit (Matching nail polish color for touch-ups, bobby pins, hairspray, makeup, hair tools, elastic bands. Breath mints, tweezers, blotting papers, tissues, clear nail polish, stain remover, floss, double sided tape, perfume, deodorant, safety pins, sewing kit, band-aids) Second pair of comfortable shoes!

Outdoor Spring Rustic Wedding - #Hitched2Hammond

Client Profile: Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Hammond!

Venue: Ethereal Open Air Resort

Emcee: Khanh P. Duong

Photography: Faye Gedik Photography

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Rustic Wedding in Trabuco Canyon - #VyvyandPat

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Client Profile: Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. McNally!

Venue: Coto Valley Country Club

DJ & Lighting: McNally Enterprise

Fairytale Wedding in Pasadena - #KapasfortheNguyen

Their Proposal Story:

Cindy and Peter were celebrating their anniversary in Cabo San Lucas and little did Cindy know that Peter had something up his sleeve. Peter hired an event planner to surprise Cindy with a beautiful romantic private dinner on the beach.

Cindy did not know this private dinner at The Resort at Pedregal was planned for a proposal, but she was overwhelmed by the amount of thought and elegance that was put into it. When Peter finally proposed, Cindy was totally caught off guard and without hesitation said YES!

Client Profile: Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Kapas!

Venue: Castle Green in the heart of Pasadena, CA. Here’s a fun fact about this gorgeous historic venue -
Castle Green was built in 1898 as an annex to the resort Hotel Green. In the 1920’s it was converted into private residences and over the years has been called home to many artists, designers, musicians and collectors.

DJ: Prolific Productions (From the Bay Area)

Emcee: Khanh P. Duong

Coordinator: Debra

Dinner: Grilled chicken breast served with a citrus ginger glaze or a sizzling hangar steak in an espresso and peppercorn rub

How I Found One of My Callings

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A calling is not some fully formed thing that you find. It’s much more dynamic. Whatever you do—whether you’re a janitor or the CEO—you can continually look at what you do and ask how it connects to other people, how it connects to the bigger picture, how it can be an expression of your deepest values.
— Angela Lee Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

When I was in the third grade, my English teacher made us participate in a comparative study of the Cinderella story across multiple cultures. I was an introvert at the time and found an undying interest in reading novels well above my grade level. At the end of the quarter, my teacher had us auditioned and performed a version of a Cinderella play in front of the class. As a Leo, I knowingly auditioned for the lead role (Duh) but ended up getting selected to play the Fairy Godmother (aka the narrator) instead. I remembered being so disappointed with the outcome and telling my mom I wished things would turn out differently.

During one of our dress rehearsals, my teacher told us to stop running our lines and then she called out my name. "Uh-oh," I thought to myself. "Did I do something wrong?" 

She smiled and turned to my fellow peers and said, "Did you see how Khanh performed with so much conviction? Now THAT is how it should be done."

When I heard those words, I felt time stand still and my entire body — including the hair on my arms and the back of my neck — bristles as if called to attention. I felt liberated and alive. When you experience something similar to this in your own life, slow down and listen attentively to the universe. You're onto something and that something is called "your calling." I've only shared this story with a handful of people and my best friend Steven is one of them. So every time I'm in a crossroad in life, he always reminds me to think back at the very moment I feel the most alive. 

This "moment" stayed with me all through my teenage and college years. I did the morning announcements on the intercom at my high school, participated in class skit performances, was the lead speaker of all school assemblies, did a graduation speech in front of my school district, graduated from the top communication and journalism school in the nation, and now I have the opportunity to MC several weddings every month.

I'm listing these things out because they all have one thing in common: I am really good at telling stories. But here's the thing, we're all storytellers. Whether you're a musician or a UX designer, you have a narrative you want to convey and we're all artists in this world. 

When I made the decision to move from Los Angeles to pursue a career in technology, I was told not to make the leap and that I'll be joining a boy's club. I was also told to stick with what I was good at and that was to be "the pretty token Asian in my department." Well, knowing me, I did it anyway because I don't like being told what I can or cannot do. I went from telling real-life stories to helping thousands of business owners tell theirs. 

In my humble opinion, doing things you enjoy is a gift you give yourself that continues to echo through the course of your life. I hope you all find your calling, whatever it may be, and may you continue to share your gift with the world. 

 

 

A Short Film: The Fall *Must Watch*

A short film based on the works of David Cortez

Director: Xerxes Sangco
Assistant Director: Antonio Espino
Starring: Khanh P. Duong

Edited in Adobe Premiere
Color Graded in DaVinci Resolve

*Shot on RED Scarlet-W*

The premise of this short film should invoke a sense of confidence within the audience. As our hero had previously fallen, we now catch a glimpse of her at a stage where she has overcome her demons. She is now ready to conquer the world.

What Happens After You Get Turned Down for a Raise

"Your power lies somewhere between immobilization or being a puppet pulled by someone else's strings to high proactivity, the power to act according to your own values instead of being acted upon by other people and circumstances."

'This is it,' I thought to myself. 'This is the moment I've been waiting for.'

After six months of slaving myself away in the office, I'm finally ready to have "The Talk" with my boss about my current role and ask him for a raise. Ever since my previous coworker got fired, it's been clear to me that nothing is ever guaranteed. Since Day 1, my role as Production Manager for a small start-up company has somehow expanded into a part-time secretary, part-time executive assistant, part-time digital media strategist. You name it, I was probably living it. I never once mentioned how all of these high-volume tasks has somehow made work more daunting for me because I am a girl boss and girl bosses never complain. They just go and get the job done. 

Well, I was wrong. It didn't occur to me how unsatisfied I was and while none of my emotions played a heavy impact on the quality of my work, I was very sure of one thing: I was underpaid and overqualified. 

When I walked in that Monday morning, you can imagine how empowered I felt, knowing I was going to talk to him, negotiate, and finally get to see that light at the end of the tunnel. Little did I realize at the time, I was about to walk into a 30-minute dead-end conversation.

I took a straightforward approach and dived into the conversation by discussing my level of performance and the kind of tasks that I've tackled, all of which requires a higher level competency. I told him that I've exceeded my 3 month probation period and that I was seeking a role that could potentially expand to more. I even requested to work more hours, if needed. But I walked out of that meeting feeling defeated.

For a brief moment, I assumed that decision to keep my pay as is was entirely an act of good faith on his end. Perhaps, it was just bad timing. Replaying the conversation over and over again helped me reassess the situation: 

1) Even if he didn't explicitly denied me and left an "open-ended" answer, my gut instinct told me that he will never give me the answer I'm looking for....no matter how diligent I was. 

2) Don't work for nothing. The cost of living in Southern California is extremely high and the painful reality is that I will never be able to reach a level of sustainability if I continue to settle for these low risk/low reward jobs

This led me to my final verdict: I've been taken advantage of. It was never a matter of negotiation, or communication, even if I had an axe to grind, if they wanted to give me that raise, they would have done so already. If you're currently in the same rut as I am, I would like you to ask yourself a couple of questions:

1) What is your intrinsic worth? 

2) Are you motivated to go to work every day?

3) In the worst case scenario, if you were to quit today, will you still be able to find a means to sustain yourself?

I have asked myself these questions before being reminded that I was more than anything that a boss or this company could have offered me. So take some time to determine other options before you start to immobilize yourself. These situations are sticky and often times, uncomfortable, but I guarantee you that there's always a way out. There is always something bigger and better waiting for you so long as you choose to pursue your goals relentlessly.

XO,

Khanh P. Duong

Equal Pay Day - My Battle With Gender Wage Gap

This day symbolizes a lot of things for me - how hard a woman has to work and what a woman must do in order to earn the same amount as a man. To give you a better picture, on average, a woman makes 81 cents for every dollar a man makes (this number is even less for women of color). Our antiquated system tells us, "You can be a wife, but you can't have a career. You can be a mom, but you won't be able to make money." It's always a dialogue of if this or that vs. why the heck can't we do both?

Today,  I'm going to share with you my own personal story in hopes of letting you know that you're not alone.

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Instance #1: 

A few years ago, I was working as - an executive assistant/digital brand strategist/every other role you can possibly imagine - for a married couple who was well established in the Youtube space. For the first couple of months, I was their only employee until they decided to scale the company and brought on two more team members (one guy and one girl). After taking on several responsibilities and roles, I figured it was time to ask for a pay raise. No one was more excited than me at the time for this opportunity. I prepared a deck, practiced my pitch and come time when I had to deliver it to my bosses, they told me, "No." I asked them, "Well, how come?" And the only thing they could say to me what that I needed to work harder and that I haven't quite earned it yet. For some time thereafter, they "rewarded" me with more projects, more responsibilities, they even had me download an app to track my productivity down to the tee every day. I shut my mouth, never once brought up the idea of vertical mobility again and like a lot of you, I decided to work in silence. 

Time passes and I later learned that not only did they give my male coworker a higher pay, they even asked him if he wanted a raise. As in they've reached out to him and asked him if he's okay with them paying him more. The irony was that he wasn't doing more of the work, his roles haven't changed much, we had the same work schedule and was asked to work on the same projects. 

DAFAK?  

Instance #2: 

I was offered a position to work for a great company and the recruiter couldn't have been any less welcoming; I was ecstatic, to say the least. Before I accepted the job, I learned that my colleague offered the same role (there were a few openings) but with a higher base salary. 

Reluctantly, I started to question myself. 'Did they not like me enough? Or did they see more value in him?' I couldn't quite wrap my head around it. On paper, names aside, our accomplishments were quite similar. We both graduated from prestigious universities, we both have the same years of experience, we were expected to complete the same daily functions, held to the same quota---the only noticeable difference was our paycheck. 

But this time, unlike the first incident, I called my recruiter back and laid everything on the top. I would only take the position if and only if I am able to receive the same equal salary as my counterpart. PS This is one of the most ballsy things I've done in awhile. I held me breathe while waiting for a response and fortunately enough, my recruiter said, "Let's do it."

As a millennial, I'm not asking people to go easy on me. I'm not asking for opportunities to be handed on a silver platter either. I'll work for it, every last bit of it. All I ask is for people to see and acknowledge that women clearly have the skills and competencies to succeed at any level. We'll earn the rights to lead, but we need to be treated on common benchmarks. Judge us by our work ethic, character, performance, and integrity. 

That's all I have for you today. Thank you for reading. Fight On!

Runa & Jay Say "I Do"

Client Profile: Congratulations to Jay and Runa! 

Venue: Venue by 3 Petals in Huntington Beach, CA

DJ: Radiate Productions

Cinematography: Xposure Films

Photography: Tin Photography

Fun Fact: My clients also celebrated their 5 year dating anniversary this weekend with all of their family and close friends as well as their lovely daughter Autumn. We had an ice cream and sorbet stand for the kids and an open bar/photo booth for the rest of the guests. Can we also just take a moment to appreciate the details of that beautiful chandelier?

Here are some behind the scene photos at the evening reception:

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Le-Tiz Wedding: The Villa Westminster

Client Profile: Congratulations to my clients, Johnson and Lupita! 

Venue: The Villa in Westminster, CA

Guests: 280 guests

DJ: DJ Sergio

Fun Fact:  We started the evening cocktail hour at the Grand Salon, which was an open contemporary space where we set up the couple's photo booth, caricature stands, and two open bars. Since there were a lot of kids attending this wedding, we also set-up an a-y-c-e dessert bar that was fully stocked throughout the entire night. 

*All photos were taken by me*

 

"PhaBellas": Wedding: Hyatt Regency Hotel Orange County

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Client Profile: Congratulations to my clients, Phillip and Bella! 

Venue: Hyatt Regency Orange County, Garden Grove, CA, USA

Guests: 300 guests 

Fun Fact: Bella and I competed in the Miss Vietnam of Southern California pageants (not in the same year)

Their love story:

From Phillip's perspective... with Bella's approval.

“Let’s give this a chance for 30 days. After that, shall we connect and decide if we should continue?”

If I were to write my own romantic love story… those would most likely NOT be the words for the main character to woo over his partner’s love… Life has written us a much better story.

Bella and I were 2 ambitious young individuals. We both placed high values in our family, career and community. Our schedules were filled with separate weekly activities, 3 months plans and 1-5 years goals. Our hearts are open but our calendars rarely do. If we had never met in person, the only chance of love for people like us would probably be online - much later - when we feel that we have “made it.”

Fortunately we did not have to wait that long to meet, nor did we meet online. But that was also a major problem. We met at work. At first it was mutual admiration and respect. As we spend more time together, I sense there was something more. I see the inevitable (unspoken work place romance) conflict and did everything to avoid it. At the same time, avoidance never seemed to be our style.

This brought us to the memorable meeting. I lay everything on the table for Bella: my thoughts, feelings and worries. We considered the risks and pondered the possibilities. Option A. Option B. Option C…etc. Bella even gave me the time to go on a 6 miles run to let everything sink in (not the brightest but I’m a very lucky guy). That evening, we decided to give love a chance and Discover What’s Possible. This was the biggest risk that I have taken in my life – yet it felt right because she is worth it.

Still - being in the typical risk management fashion of insurance people, we agreed to do some risk mitigation:

“Let’s give this a chance for 30 days. After that, shall we connect and decide if we should continue?”

We are fortunate to overcome several challenges together and continuing to “renew our terms” daily for the last 4 years. We are excited to embrace this upcoming arc of our lives where we transition from Working as a Two in a Team to Living as One Loving Family. In our continual journey of Discovering What’s Possible, Bella and I are thrilled and honored for you join us on our very Special Day that marks the beginning of this new chapter."

 

 

When It's Time to Leave Your Job

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I'm Asian. I'm a woman. I'm young and have since shifted from pursuing a career in entertainment to working at major software companies. So, I felt like either a) I've always had everything to prove and b) I needed to work harder than everybody else.

I did recognize for a long time that there's always someone who can walk in the room with more experience than me, a skin color that someone might prefer more, a man someone might respect more. But if I continued to work diligently and proactively - no matter what the odds were - I will eventually come out on top. 

This time, last year, I felt complacent...like I wasn't doing enough. I had great co-workers and had finally built a solid pipeline of clients, but I felt stagnant as far as learning goes and that left me feeling mediocre. The whole idea of me wanting more than my 9 to 5 is not wanting more money but my insatiable appetite to be challenged. I thought to myself, "I'm making a decent living, I'm traveling, I'm treating my boyfriend out to lavish meals and I feel so good physically but what else?"

I felt stuck. Confused. Borderline frustrated.

And then I read somewhere on Forbes that if you feel stuck already, you need to start moving and if you needed a sign to move...this is it. Mentally, physically and for a lot of people, spiritually get moving. Trust and believe that the answer will not come to you magically in your stillness and complacency. While I'm extremely great at having a poker face on, the truth is I never know exactly what my next move is going to be and that scares the crap out of me. 

When I was in college, I zeroed in on getting the best internships in Hollywood and I did that. The issue had was that I haven't gotten the chance to narrow down my next goal. And then I asked myself a question and I'm going to ask you the same thing: In your perfect world, what do you love to do and what would you like to be a part of?

I contemplated thoughtfully for a long time on this question and wrote down 3 simple things. 

  • I like storytelling 
  • I love to listen 
  • I like to help people grow 

That same conversation I had with myself once before led me to start my wedding business. Now that I'm feeling stuck again, I had to go back and remind myself of the things that truly matter to me, which was relationship building, communicating and work with people who value my ideas and creativity. 

If your passion is in entrepreneurship and your cubicle no longer felt like the place to do it then start strategizing a new business venture and network. If the excitement in your role begins to fade, start creating a path where you no longer have to dread going to work. The beauty of living in a time like this and living in America is that you can always use the knowledge you've gained to explore other opportunities. 

I hope you're consumed by this new passion. I hope it brings a light back into your life. I hope that ceiling you once felt no longer exist because you get to call the shots now. I'm not telling you to quit your job and throw everything away since that's just not realistic but if you need to take some time off to reevaluate what you want to do and where you need to be...then do it.

I'll fill you in on the next part of my journey once I'm on the other side of this pothole. Talk to you soon. 

If you sit and do nothing, you will get nothing, you will see nothing and you will learn nothing.
— Grimes

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Your Anxiety and Stress

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Here are a few things I wish we talk about more when you and I talk about success:

  • Mental Health - How are you currently dealing with your acute stress? 
  • Physical Fitness - What are you putting into your body? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you depriving yourself of proper nutrition? Are you binge eating? 
  • Emotional Stability - Who are you surrounding yourself with on a daily basis? 

All of these things are important for you to maintain...if anything, I value these things just as much as I value your hustle, your enthusiasm, and your perseverance. And I say this with the greatest empathy because I know what it's like to not have these three things but today, I'm going to talk about something I've only shared with one or two people in my life.

I have anxiety.

Major anxiety.

So much so that I wake up at four in the morning every day, sweat down my back, tears in my eyes, heart racing. It's bad. And it's gotten worse over the past few weeks. From dreading Sundays to being indecisive about everything (By the way, this is very un-Khanh like) it's not just my mental health that has been affected but I found that my productivity has also decreased. It is very difficult to explain but all I can tell you is that I feel hypersensitive. It's like having a dialogue with yourself 24/7 where you say all of these unkind things to yourself that you would never let anyone else get away with saying to you.

Earlier this week, I did some research on this and found that psychologists say that when we are in a state of fear, "We compromise our ability to process thoughts and events rationally. Our brain wants to protect us by sending us in a direction away from the pain point."

Naturally, when I read this, I wanted to put my fuzzy socks and bathrobe on and snuggle in my bed with my heated blanket. It's always so much easier to hide away from fear then to overcome it but I figured if I wanted to continue to live this way, I'll eventually be someone I wouldn't like. So I decided to do three things that I wanted to share with you:

  1. Analyze the root of the stress and identify exactly what is holding you back (For instance: Is it your career? Do you feel like you are behind everyone else? Is it your relationship? Are you afraid to walk away from a relationship that no longer serves you?) You cannot face something if you don't know what you are up against. For me, my anxiety stems from my ambitions. As someone who is extremely analytical, I get the jitters and preoccupations during times of transition. I'm always going through daily motions, anticipating for the grand milestone I'm about to cross. The "not knowing what I'm going to be doing with my life" kills me. 
  2. Create a small action plan. Talk to your mentor or someone you trust about your goals and objectives. If it's your career, write down things you enjoy doing and things you'd never do again. I'm a very big proponent of writing things down on a notepad rather than typing it down. If you don't have a plan, how are planning to reach your destination?
  3. Work on your physical, emotional and mental health. I work out four times a week. Twice on the weekdays and twice on the weekends. After my 50 minutes work out, I spend the last 10 minutes meditating and practicing better breathing techniques. This has been life-changing for me. Need an app to help you meditate better? Try this one: https://www.headspace.com

I just want to reiterate that this is not a comfortable nor has it been an easy process for me but if it's between succumbing to my anxiety or be proactive about it, I think I'm going to go with the latter.

What I can tell you is that I think it's important for you to celebrate your day-to-day progress and small wins. That's what success is about. Having mini victories and giving yourself the permission to feel proud of your daily grind. 

If you're going through this, I would love to hear what you're currently doing to overcome your anxiety. 

 

 

How to Get Started Investing in Your 20s

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"The easiest way to get rich is to inherit. The second best way is knowledge and some discipline." - Seth Godin, Author of Tribes

In college, I never took a class on "How to Get Rich" or "How to Save Money and Get Ahead of My Finance." I blamed the education system for the longest time for not teaching me about taxes, stocks and the power of compound effect. However, personal-finance pieces of training existed. There are hundreds of books on Amazon. The truth was that I didn't care enough and frankly, quite lazy. What did I do next? Instead of placing the blame on others aka the American economy, the lack of funds, the fear of risks, etc. I focused on what I needed to change myself. So when should I start? Am I too late in the game already? What the hell do I do?

Like anything else, the first step was the hardest but between doing nothing to doing something, I knew that doing nothing was worse of the evil. So let me walk you through my thought process: 

Set a simple mission. My mantra is "Live your best life and let money serve you." Then isolate 3 digestible approaches.

  1. Take small bites. I took out a pen and paper and started to write down measurable goals. For instance, I want $180,000 for a home down payment in 5 years. I can start with $45,000 and add $2,000 each month. Then I let the magic of compounding do the rest.
  2. Educate yourself. In order to gain confidence, I knew I had to improve my financial literacy. You can't walk the walk if you can't talk the talk. Towards the end of 2017,  I read 5 different books on finance and spent at least 30 minutes every weeknight reading. A book recommendation for you? "The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy" https://www.amazon.com/Compound-Effect-Darren-Hardy/dp/159315724X
  3. Start somewhere, anywhere. I decided that the first step for me to "save" was to open up a savings account. That would make sense right? So I took a portion of the money that was sitting in my checking account (with inflation...having all your money there is a big no-no) and transferred some to my savings. It took me less than 15 minutes to do it. Tip: Find a bank with a high APY. 

Like me, if you are in your early or mid-20s, you are most likely enjoying the same freedom I am having — no spouse, no mortgage, no children except for your pet or two.  But if you are a woman and you're reading this, you will also have a disadvantage. On average,  we tend to live longer than men. We are also typically paid less than men *Cough, gender wage gap* therefore, it is important for us to start saving and investing while we're young.

This is also time for you and me to start having different goals. Maybe we want to buy a rental property, maybe we want to buy round-trip tickets to Asia, maybe we want to upgrade from that old car...whatever it is, I've learned from experience that if you don't #1 save and #2 invest, the path to achieving those goals will be much more arduous. 

 

Paying Off My College Student Loans

When I landed my first job at a technology company over a year and a half ago, it was the role that got my foot into the world of corporate. All at once, I finally had full coverage health benefits, stock options and a steady income well above minimum wage. 

Before the offer came, I had gotten used to hustling, making job hunting my full-time job and supporting myself by working odd roles like giving out free samples at Costco and being an executive assistant to an ex-attorney and a Youtube star.

I would take on any temporary jobs in order to pay off my student loans and much of my savings went to either 1) rave events (poor investments, by the way) 2) my $30,000 loans at Chapman University (P.S. I had a full ride academic scholarship to USC so I had no debt there). 

Right after graduation, high paying jobs were difficult to come by, and I was incredibly wary about my future. The first valid step I had to take was deciding to move back to my parents' house in Orange County in order to lower the cost of living expenses and food. I also adapted to a minimal style of living by not shopping for things I didn't need while asking my parents to help me pay off all of my high-interest loans first (I paid them back later on).

I remember thinking, "Could this be my life? Is this my trajectory?" The thought of busting my ass off for a college degree from a prominent institution to now grinding it out for the next 5 years and still be struggling financially scared me.

Then, when my grandmother passed away, I had a constant voice in my head that told me I had to start my own side business and that was the birth of my wedding and events hustle. Today, I am able to contribute 21% of my paycheck to my retirement investments, another 40% of my personal savings/stocks, etc. and leaving me enough money to live comfortably.

One of my greatest achievements is now being able to live debt-free. At the end of the day, it was about the kind of life I wanted to build. At the time, I valued financial freedom over an extravagant lifestyle so I had to write down all of my spendings down to very the last penny. Whether you are earning a six-figure salary or entry-level income right now, it really comes down to saving and investing that money appropriately. 

Until next time, 

Fight On! 

 

3 Things to Know About a Career in Sales

Early in my career, as an intern for two major entertainment companies in Hollywood, I had a front-row seat watching and reporting on CMOs and television personalities as they build their brands and managed the companies' public characters. Image is everything. And it still is but it's not the only thing. 

A little over a year ago, I accepted an offer from a technology software company to join their elite sales department. Like before, I quickly learned how a company's financial success can be heavily affected by their public reputation, culture, and lack thereof. 

Here are a few things I've learned while being surrounded by extremely successful salespeople:

  1. You have to want to succeed. It does you and your company no good if you can’t picture yourself struggling through slow periods and withstanding hundreds of rejections.
  2. You need to have accountability. You are responsible for yourself and your income as well as treating your clients properly. It’s important to be transparent about your product and services and do NOT overpromise and underdeliver. It will come back to bite you.
  3. You genuinely enjoy helping people. This includes being engaged with your prospect, talking to them, listening to their needs, and more importantly, empathize with them. When starting a business relationship with any client, I listen first then devise a strategy uniquely for them. Every business owner is different. I treat them as such. 

Through those previous work/internship experiences, it became clear to me that when your company aligns with clients' businesses and values, the acquisition is more seamless. But it's not always about the client or the shareholders. It is equally important to think about how companies' decisions and its impact on all stakeholders - employees to community members alike.  

And of course, I'd be lying to you if I said sales is easy. It's not. Instead of being daunted by the rejections, I saw every pitch, every "Nos" as an opportunity for me to sharpen my skills and overtime, deliver a higher return. 

Stephen & Christina's Wedding - Mastro's Ocean Club, Newport Beach

This month, I had the honor of MCing a wedding for Christina and Stephen at Mastro's Ocean Club in Newport Beach. Last year, I MC'ed their cousin's wedding so you can only imagine how excited I was when Christina told me they were related. We were one month out when they contacted me so we had to coordinate and arrange everything rather quickly because of our tight deadline.

Right off the bat, Christina and I clicked right away, which is something very important to me---the more connected I am to you, the more I want to serve you and I'm a firm believer in putting 110% when it comes to my client's big day. We finalized everything just in time and I decided to switch things up by rewriting my wedding script for them.

Day of: I arrived at the venue at 5:30 PM and I could not have been more impressed with Mastro's. Beachfront restaurant, 4.5-star dining experience, valet, and delightfully, champagne greetings from the staff as soon as I stepped foot into the grand entrance. I immediately reached out to the General Manager, met the entire management team, scoped out the entire restaurant, introduced myself to the parents and bridal party, checked out the speaker system, and cued my pianist Anthony.

We decided that we were going to continue to let the bridal party do a complete walk-through during the Grand Entrance and that I would later lead the Bride and Groom. This was very different than the usual line-up that I was used to but it was so fitting for the setting.

What I really loved about this particular wedding was that sometimes guests can get a bit tired from all of the activities and games, but that wasn’t the case this time around. Mastro's provides such a magnificent dining experience -seafood tower, ribeye steak, lobster tail, lobster bisque, …- I felt like everyone just enjoyed each other's company, the live music, and the romantic atmosphere. We were a little bit behind schedule but somehow magically opened the dance floor at exactly 10:00 PM as planned. And THAT is what you call perfect timing. You can only imagine my biggest sigh of relief when I saw how much fun the guests were having on the dance floor.

I got home at midnight and still felt exhilarated from all of the energy in that room. Stephen and Christina was such a pleasure to work with. They were open-minded and so easy to work with. I left feeling so proud of myself for being able to be a part of their special day

Congratulations to the MANIACI'S.