New York, New York

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New York, New York

The past month and a half have not been easy. Within only three weeks time I had achieved every milestone of the move-to-New-York process faster than I could ever have imagined, none of which would have been possible without the generous support of amazing friends.

I woke up at 4:30am on my first day in New York City, to join a 5:00am run in Prospect Park with the Brooklyn Early Morning Runners Meetup Group lead by Kuma. Police patrol, hills, dogs, bikers, other runners… we the full 3.2 miles around the park with a few breaks in between. The air was fresh, and the park was so safe. I loved every bit of it, chatting with Kuma about my relocation to New York and his offering to send me some job opportunities in the public sector (which he did!). I felt I was off to a great start with New York.

The following week, I arrange a number of meetups to catch up with friends and explore more parts of the city. I followed mailing lists for interesting events and attended a few the following week. At the same time, I was frantically looking for housing (which fully consumed my second week) so that I could stop couchsurfing in the comfortable guestroom of my friend’s gorgeous gutted brownstone home in Clinton Hill.

There were ups and downs. I was very lucky to find a friend (from my Minnesotan highschool!) to live with! We spent endless trips visiting homes that we felt dissatisfied with in Bushwick, Crowne Heights and Lefferts Gardens. We found a place for a deal in Williamsburg. It doesn’t have a sink in the bathroom. It’s charming as hell. I slept on the floor the first night of our new house and caught a cold. I got a bed the next day and cooked our first meal from these amazing pots passed down from generous Craigslist donors. We didn’t have a key that worked until the third day. I didn’t sleep for my first week because my neighbors were too busy making noisy love – both upstairs and next door. I ran into a friend from Beijing. I received a bill with hidden charges from Time Warner Cable but realized that if I called customer service they would put  me on mute again like they did last time I called to try and halt the installation of a bill I did not want to confirm. (I hate Time Warner Cable more than I find BNP Paribas incompetent.) I befriended our previous tenant and she’s really cool! I went all the way to Washington Heights to pick up a craigslisted furniture item.  I ran into a friend from Paris. I met my bestie. I rode the train the wrong way twice in a row and barely made Mid-Autumn Festival dinner. But I learned my lessons quickly…and made a website for a NGO helping North Korean orphanages, met Lauren Bush Lauren and Sharon Bush at the WIE Symposium where I volunteered last minute, went to Maker Faire, Got invited to PetchaKucha by the founders of RockPaperRobot who I met at Maker Faire, and confirmed two great work opportunities this week (one as social media intern with New Americans Leaders Project and another as a part-time event producer/social media specialist with Kinney Group Creative who put together the WIE Symposium). On the side, I’m still learning every day – preparing for a couple of exams, and learning to code as well as getting certified in Google Analytics (this website is now equipped!). I killed three mosquitos in the past 24 hours. I did it all in one breath.

So yesterday, while I was running across the Williamsburg bridge listening to “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus (of course), I burst into tears.

Why was I running so hard? Where was I going? Why was I so far away when I could be at home in the wonderful city of San Francisco? What was I chasing? And why can’t we stop?

I am young and I am in freakin’ New York. That’s why. This is no small town.
This is the time to be resilient, to seek a current to swim against and come out stronger so that we can make the final stretch later.
I need to carve myself into who I want to be.

I had a great conversation with a really wonderful girl friend of mine who was back in China. We share the same birthday.

We were catching up, and I was telling her about my transition back because she might do it too. Many of us are still thinking about it. And she made a great point: “It’s really hard to leave a good job here to go back and do internships. It’s not the transition I was envisioning.”

We talked about this and realized…this is it. We’re all afraid of this. Leaving China where we were stars, with a trek back that is not as glamorous. But we also don’t want to stay. We’re afraid to let fate decide where we should be. So we decide to come back. It’s a decision. It’s like waking up from a wonderful dream in a soft comfortable bed (with a lot of smog and struggle). It’s conscious.

And when we make this decision, we anticipate starting over. No matter how social, how capable or how intelligent we are we understand we might have to start from the bottom, but do so with courage because we know we belong at the top. And just because no one hires you doesn’t mean you aren’t worth anything. We all have (incredible) experience that needs to be translated. It’s a test we all go through in New York, and those who have the vision to give us a chance will never regret it.

Finally, I have this amazing “little sister” who’s still in high school. She’s the most amazing young woman I’ve ever met and yet still not full of herself. I love her to death and I told her what I wish someone (who I’d listen to) had told me when I had been in high school:

Don’t let anyone tell you “you’ll have plenty of time” because you will just have enough.
So don’t waste it. 
And be passionate. 
Work hard and think hard, because only with practice will we be who we are today. 

Love,
Yin

P.S. Britney did a great job with her video. My sentiments exactly. #Dope

 

Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In in China

Sheryl Sandberg Lean In in Beijing

 

Sheryl Sandberg Lean In in Beijing

Recently, Sheryl Sandberg visited Beijing, China to launch her book “Lean In” in Chinese. Before her visit however, I witnessed first-hand the group of young women (and a few young men too) who took charge of her movement to launch the first Lean In Circle in China.

From intense WeChat group discussions on planning a website, a survey and a successful launch event… the group now actively shares interesting links via Google Plus. The ladies seriously tackle the issues surrounding the internal and external hurdles young women face in all aspects of their career and life.

In August, the group started coordinating with Sheryl Sandberg who responded to an email they wrote and was invited to one of her two events in Beijing during her short stop. In September, they were able to meet her in person!

I can’t wait to see what happens next. Check it out:

Featured on New York Times, Sept 18, 2013 :
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/world/asia/for-china-a-new-kind-of-feminism.html?_r=0

Featured on Business Week, Sept 20, 2013:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-20/sheryl-sandberg-inspires-beijing-women-to-lean-in

(more…)

Evening Garden Party – A “TTFN” Gathering

August Farewell in Beijing

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Thank you to everyone for coming out to my send off party!

 

Thank you to Kate Smith and Sophie Smith as well as the Nine Gates Polyphony (Piano by Alan David Lee) for singing Belle Nuit D’Amour by Offenbach (video) on this lovely night, to celebrate the moment together. Thank you to Aaron Berkovich for taking the photos!

 

With such horrible Friday traffic and heavy rain, I never expected such a great turn out. We took over the entire restaurant at The Pavillion Grille in Beijing, which had just gone under a beautiful renovation depicted here at Kristen’s wonderful blog Lumdimsum. We also celebrated Mariel’s birthday and migrated over to Gulou area to say goodbye to Shuchao and celebrate Mariel’s birthday at our favorite hutong bar Mai Bar.

 

Everyone keeps asking me, “are you leaving for good?”

 

I can’t say. I will be in San Francisco, San Jose, Nevada and New York in the coming few weeks. It’s been a long while since I lived outside of China, and would love to experience life back in the US. I want to take a moment to figure out where I want to live, and where I should go next, and where I truly belong. I want to see what the world is missing, and where I can fill in! And finally, I really look forward to getting some stellar internet connection in the US to record all of this activity.

 

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.

 

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Alumni Ball 2013

Alumni Ball 2013

www.acbeijing.com

 What an evening! Champagne, multi-course dinner, keynote speaches, aerial acrobats, charity date auction and raffle prizes raising over  30,000 RMB for the charity partner APSA (Americans Promoting Study Abroad) in support of their US-China student exchange programs, 450 attendees from over 80 universities…what a spectacular night!

Btw, if you attended the ball – don’t forget to fill out this survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YRVNCWL
You will be automatically entered into a lucky drawing, where two lucky winners will each receive one VIP All-Access Pass for free access to all ACB events in the next 12 months, including next year’s Alumni Ball! We look forward to seeing you at our next event!
See more event photos on the Alumni Clubs of Beijing Facebook Page and tag your friends!

Ladies’ Luncheon with Joy Chen at Conrad Hotel: The Luxury of Being Yourself

Luncheon with Joy Chen
Luncheon with Joy Chen

I was ever so surprised when I received a private invitation from Ms. Elizabeth Haenle to attend a luncheon on April 19, 2013 at the Conrad Hotel with Joy Chen.
Joy Chen is an internationally acclaimed women’s advocate and writer.  A Chinese-American former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles, she now is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal (China) and several leading Chinese fashion and lifestyle media. Her smash China best-seller Do Not Marry Before Age 30 debunks conventional wisdom that single women are “leftover” by their late 20s, and instead inspires them to realize their dreams. Joy maintains an active presence across China’s print, broadcast and digital media with a goal of helping Chinese women be freer and happier.
Among those who attended were:

Jessica Rudd, author of two novels, frequent magazine contributer and daughter of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Kelli Cha, Chinese American author, rock star and radio personality

Barbara Demick, Beijing bureau chief, LA Times
Yang Yang, CRI English former host and now producer for CRI English.
And of course our hosts at the Conrad Hilton, including Ms. Yan Pang.
Of course, there was me – a young PR professional highly active with several communities in Beijing, China: Alumni Clubs of Beijing and the team that puts together BarCamp Beijing and TEDxBeijing events for the tech & design/innovation sector.
Although at first quite intimidated, I realized that Elizabeth invited me for a reason. I did belong to this table.
Age and experience aside, we were all women actively leading at the forefront of our respective careers.
(This fear of sitting at the table is recognized as a common barrier for women to overcome in order to better “lean in” to conversations, addressed in Sheryl Sandberg’s recent book/movement: Lean In)

–Women & Marriage —

We discussed the topic of Joy’s book Do Not Marry Before Age 30, and our different perspectives as the chef spoiled us through the kitchen window.

Being young and single, I never gave too much thought about the topic of marriage. As I look to my peers, I realize they all exhibit quite a range of attitudes towards marriage. I have high school classmates who married right after graduation. On the other hand, I have friends who are in their 40s and 50s still enjoying their single life. I also have a few friends whose parents did not even marry until they were 40. Joy Chen married when she was 38, and has two wonderful children.
Today all kinds of questions are raised as we challenge the traditional timeline.
Some wonder what the relationship is between marriage and having children? Can a woman develop her career and pursue marriage at the same time? What are the different factors working against her? How many of these factors can a woman control, by herself?
Joy’s book shares her personal experience in her search for love and acts as a source of reassurance for the “leftover” women in China; Her book speaks deeply to women who feel anxious to find almost ANYONE to appease their family, society’s expectations and their own sense of self worth.
Of course, one meal did not answer all of these questions but we definitely started a conversation about just how women can achieve the Conrad Hotel’s motto:
“the luxury of being yourself”

Yin’s Memories of the Past Year & Welcome for the Year of the Snake, 2013

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The following is a recap note I wrote earlier this year, to a private list of friends.
Dear Friends,
Happy Chinese New Year – the Year of the Snake!
(I’m sure the Wisconsin badgers are prepared: www.badgerbadgerbadger.com)

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The sizzling fire crackers are reaping havoc outside my window as I write this note to you this morning.
In a few hours, I will board a plane to Shenzhen with my friend Ashley (who I’ve adopted as my sister) where we will spend the Chinese New Year festival with family and friends. Last year I flew to Nanjing and Shanghai. Perhaps next year to Chengdu. I wish you all well where-ever you are, and once again will share with you some highlights of my pivotal past year.
I spent a good first portion of my year planning the Alumni Ball of Beijing 2012 with a team of alumni leaders on May 12, 2012 which brought together more than 350 attendees with a keynote given by the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy of Beijing, Dr. Robert S. Wang. The Alumni Pool Party in July followed suite with another 250 attendees on a perfect day, followed by over a 1000 showing up at the Halloween Party held at Spark in October. Over time, this formed the Alumni Clubs of Beijing, which continues to serve all the 60+ individual Alumni Clubs with unique events and resources to help solidify the alumni network in Beijing, serving as an entry point for those coming to the capital city.
I owe my next highlight to the attentive guidance from Lou Hoffman, the founder of the Hoffman Agency. In the process of writing an article for Lou’s blog Ishmael’s Corner, “Storytelling Telling Through a Business Prism”, Lou pitched my story to Mashable and I was invited to write a guest post on “5 Chinese Social Networks You Need to Watch.
Then in August, I helped plan the first BarCamp Conference in Beijing lead by James Flanagan (founder of TedxBeijing, Rotaract Beijing among other initiatives). We put together a 200+ person event on our first try, followed by 300 and eventually 350+ at our latest event, and also the biggest event featuring 33 speakers, 90+ minutes of independent films, 1 Hackerspace and an overflow of ideas that became coined by our team member Hsu Li as what we now call “the knowledge flea market culture!”
Re-inspired by the energy and ideas from this exciting new space leading innovation in China, I made the difficult decision to say goodbye to the Hoffman Agency (for now) and step back into the world of entrepreneurism. During this process, I made a trip around the world to regain perspectives and compare the different opportunities around the world.
In October, I landed in Las Vegas (the center of conferences and casinos) where my family now lives, traveled up the coast of California from San Diego to San Francisco. Along the way, I met up with friends and caught up with their lives. I heard 12 gunshots in Oakland, where I was staying with a friend in his warehouse-converted art gallery space. I traveled to New York, staying at my friend’s flat in Brooklyn as I visited for way too short with a few friends in the Manhattan/Brooklyn area before I headed back home to Las Vegas and then to Beijing for a week to prepare for my next trip.
In November, I landed in Egypt where I was invited to stay for a week in Giza by a friend of mine from Beijing. His Egyptian grandmother cooked us delicious meals every evening. The pace of Egypt was a balance of both extremely fast and steadily slow with the humming of prayer day and night. Extremely considerate and hospital, my friend gave me a comprehensive tour in the contrastable cities of Giza, Cairo and October 6th. Following Egypt, I visited Paris for another week while staying at a friend’s home near Opera. I had a full schedule meeting up with old friends, family friends and friend’s of friends sharing ideas and re-discovering the entrepreneurial spirit in Paris. My friend in Paris, who was also an extremely considerate and attentive host, filled my life with a routine of health that helps heal me even today during this time of transition. Thus began an incredible journey that impressed me with the type of wonderful people that our lives are dotted with every day.
Egypt-Paris-Bordeaux-Lyon-Venice-Munich-Berlin-Rome-Dubai-Beijing… with each and every place some considerate, hospitable host and friend…I was back just in time for the airpocalypse in Beijing. After a few weeks recovery, I joined the Yoopay team in December as the Community Development Manager. The role enables me to interact with and share event management solutions for the community via Yoopay, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past three months now. One of my friends (Lilly Kam) who was highly involved with the community in all aspects, is now working with Will.I.Am at the i.am.angel foundation. Another one of my friends with a similar role is being approached by high prospects in China. I see the path less traveled as one with opportunities tailored for those who dare to seek adventure, in pursuit of a greater vision for a better kind of life to share with all.
Some of my simple goals for the coming year is to finish a few classes at Codeacademy and learn to use WordPress :).
-Note: I actually found out that I already know how to use WordPress! However, I’ve learned since some more advanced aspects about WordPress that has opened up a lot of new doors on possible design/technology areas that I have not explored before. –
Yesterday, I went to the International SOS (hospital) as an emergency response to a surprise allergic reaction triggered by something I ate (I’m not sure if it’s shrimp or mango, as it’s happened before on a minor scale and didn’t think much of it). It is with great thanks to a few close friends who brought me to the hospital that I am alright now. Falling ill in the middle of Beijing or during your travels is not something we think about on a regular basis, but I do advise you all to know your emergency plan/contacts no matter where you are…
I wish you kindness and all the best that life has to offer.
Thank you for being a part of my life, making “Earth” a place I can call home.
You all amaze me with your abundance of wonderfulness.
Happy Year of the Snake! (And Happy Valentine’s Day soon too!)
春节快乐!
With love from Beijing,
Yin

 

My Article on Mashable about 5 Chinese Social Networks You Need to Watch

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Mashable recently published an article I wrote about 5 Chinese Social Networks You Need to Watch

Here is the article: http://mashable.com/2012/07/02/china-social-networks/

Much thanks to Lou Hoffman for his guidance and recommendation for my work!
My supervisor Tom McHale also gave me invaluable writing advice, and our China general manager Dong Chen shared insightful knowledge on how China social media evolved over time.

Hope you enjoy the article!

 

Yin’s Memories of the Past Year & Welcome for the Year of the Dragon; 2012

Since 2012, I started an annual tradition to provide an update during the Chinese New Year as a way to record my journey of the past year, and share a private update with close friends.
Now I share it with you as a starting introduction of what I have done and where I have come from.
Hello my friends, bonjour mes amies, 朋友们你好!
Welcome 2012 and Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Year of the Dragon! 新年快乐!
Where ever you are now, I have taken a moment to think of you as I hand-selected your email address for this letter. I hope you don’t mind hearing from me, and I hope you will write back to say hello! I originally planned to write this letter in French and Chinese also, but I did not want to delay this message any longer….so here we go!
What a year has passed, filled with magical, serendipitous encounters and beautiful moments! In 2009 I spent half a year in France while visiting other European countries and Morocco. In 2010 I left San Francisco/Bay Area for Beijing, China – from where I am currently writing you this email. Now it’s 2012 already and I’m still here…my how time has flown by quickly.
Last year, my series of serendipitous encounters began with meeting Shirley, now one of my favorite people (also designer and architect) who visits in and out of Beijing, who sat next to me on our international flight on Hainan Airlines. On this same flight, I also met a whole crew of Hainan airline pilots-in-training – I hope you are doing well!
Upon returning from the United States to Beijing, China, I began my adventures working at The Hoffman Agency after deciding to commit a few years in China to understand this emerging market, and fully submerge in Beijing, the capital city of China. In April, my friend Jack invited me to a party that he hosted at his beautiful courtyard/四合院 as part of the “April Club.” April Club was an organized series of creative parties hosted on every day of April, attended even by Eduardo Saverin, cofounder of Facebook, just one floor above my old apartment last year! At several of these evenings, I was lucky to meet Lijia, who is the author of “Socialism is Great!”, a past speaker on TEDxBeijing and has a popular blog.
Summer was a continuation of gatherings. Among dinner parties and summer solstice evenings, many friends gathered on the rooftop of Yin Bar to have cocktails and admire the night scene of the bird’s eye view of the Forbidden City, Drum and Bell Tower… so on. There, I met Larry, a core member of MakeSense.org, a group of problem solvers for social enterprises that I hope to continue supporting. Friends gathered on my birthday in The Yard, a few days after it opened, and shared cake and wine underneath a walnut tree in the courtyard.
On July 3rd, 2011, I acted as the event manager for the last event of the Year of Australian Culture where musician Alan David Lee performed beautiful music with a violist and the International Festival Chorus Beijing in a 600 year-old Confucian temple, paired with images by Australian photographers enlarged and projected upon the back of the temple wall. In addition to red and white Australian wine, delicious vegan catering was provided by Laura, the owner of The Veggie Table. The event was sponsored with funding by the Australian Embassy and over 150+ attendees arrived, among  them, deputy director of the National Centre for Performing Arts and around 20 members of ACAA. You can take a look at the photos of this event here. We also had some wonderful volunteers who helped make the event happen that evening!
At the end of July and the beginning August, I visited Seoul and Jeju Island in Korea, traveling with my best friend Jing and meeting up with several other Korean friends along the way.September was Design Week, a month of fashion shows, and many friends visiting. In October, my high school friend Raina Hein, a finalist on America’s Next Top Model, visited me in Beijing with her love Kristof. Later that month, I was invited by a visiting friend to the reception of Prince and Princess of Belgium on their visit to China. At the close of 2011 was the opening of Jeff’s new bar in Beijing, Mai Bar, in his hidden hutong venue on 40 Bei Luo Gu Xiang. Last time I went, this good fellow (who once worked at apothecary) spoiled my friends and me with delicious experimental concoctions.
Most recently, I spent the holidays in Las Vegas with my family and visited New York, where I met up with several good friends of friends who shared their perspective about the city. Not long after returning and recovering from my jet lag, I flew to Nanjing and Shanghai to visit family for the Chinese New Year. In Shanghai, I was able to catch up with several close friends.
I’ve also made several new year’s resolutions (my first time!) to boost my health – such as climbing up the stairs to my 21st floor office every day after lunch as much as possible, and trying to maintain a revived blog. I also hope to visit this beautiful library featured last year on Architizer as soon as the weather gets warmer!
– Note: Although I did manage to climb the stairs to the 21st floor every day for a week, the activity quickly proved to be a health hazard as everyone in the building took smoking breaks in the stairwell after lunch, in the morning, and all the time… and strenuous activity after lunch is generally not recommended. I also obviously did not maintain my blog, but I did visit the Commune by the Great Wall (I believe the library was closed for repairs by the time I wanted to visit). –
It’s now the year of the dragon. What are we going to do this year? Time passes so quickly, and the end of the world is almost here!! 😉
Thank you for being a part of my life. Do keep in touch and let me know what’s going on with you!
Warmth and comfort to all. Cheers to making this world a kinder, more beautiful place.
Sincerely,
Yin

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