- Hometown: Toronto, Canada
- Pre-MBA: Venture Capital and Education; McKinsey & Company
Post Graduation Goals:
Crafting powerful stories which resonate, so as to move hearts and minds on a global scale
Favorite GSB Memory So Far:
(1) Winning our section’s Executive Challenge with my Squad! (2) Learning my story “Swimmer of Yangtze” made the shortlist for the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize!
Why do I wake up nervous? Because today, I’m scheduled to deliver a personal talk to over a hundred classmates (our Stanford TED Talk Series we call LOWkeynotes). Terrified, I take a few deep breaths, and rush to my favorite class this term: Family Business!
Having grown up in a working class immigrant family, I’m learning so much from this class. Our professor, Leo Linbeck III, is incredible; every week, he flies in from Houston to teach this class. In the past month, our homework has included watching “The Godfather” and reading “War and Peace.” Amazing!
Today, we visit The Primary School – and play tag with cute kids! Funded by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, The Primary School (TPS) started up last year to combine health/wellness with education. Today, two dozen Stanford grad students visit and learn more about their school model. Prior to Stanford, I had spent two years working with low-cost schools for poor families in Africa and SE Asia – so discussing TPS with co-founder Meredith Liu and School Principal Andrew Elliot-Chandler, sitting on a rocking chair, brings back fond memories.
My talk, ambiguously titled “Unfinished Stories”, is heavy. By its end, so much adrenaline is flowing through me that I can barely hear the applause from classmates. I find myself touched. Every year, thirty MBA students are selected to deliver LOWkeynotes speeches relating to our motto of Changing Lives, Organizations and the World. It’s a treasured GSB tradition, and I feel grateful to have been accepted in my first year. Thank you Linda Capello (my speech coach) and Professor J.D. Schramm. Without either of you, I might never have gathered up the courage to share my story.
Ramen = Friendship & Love. After my LOWkeynotes, my friends Duo and Cindy take me for a surprise – to Mountain View for ramen! Since my consulting days at McKinsey in New York City, I’ve always found that ramen helps me relax. Last year, I even wrote a story about ramen (“Love | Ramen”), which was shortlisted for a writing prize in Canada.
“Bravo.” The Stanford GSB community always surprises me with its culture of support. After my LOWkeynotes, dozens of friends and strangers alike reach out. But the most unexpected email arrives from Professor Glenn Kramon, a former editor at The New York Times and supervisor of 20+ Pulitzer winners. I hadn’t even known that Glenn had been in the crowd. Professor Kramon’s kind note floors me.
Finally, it’s the day of the 2017 Future of Media Conference! Being passionate about storytelling and entertainment, I am moderating this year’s panel on “Storytelling in Video” for Stanford’s Future of Media Conference. Featuring luminaries from Oculus Story Studio, New York Times Video and Cone Communications, we enjoy a thought-provoking discussion on storytelling in Cemex Auditorium. Around 300 people bought tickets; I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while now.
A selfie with our “Storytelling in Video” speakers. Kim, Christian and Francesca were the most wonderful panelists I could have brought to Stanford; after weeks of calls, it was a pleasure to finally get to know each of them in person. A few speakers later, Scooter Braun, the music agent for Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, goes on-stage to end our conference on a high note.
This is Duo! After a long day, Duo and I meet to chill out after she returns from SF, where she has been completing an Impact Labs internship working with some health clinics every Wednesday. Over salad, I help Duo decide between a pair of summer internship offers (yes, she is a rock star). In the end, I convince her to pursue the more challenging opportunity. This summer, Duo will work at IDEO, a leading innovation consulting firm in the Bay Area. I’m really excited for her!
Ending my evening on the floor, showing support for a friend. Tonight, I listen to my friend Vince deliver his TALK, another long-standing tradition at the GSB where our classmates share personal stories with a packed room. Though familiar with Vince’s inspiring story, I feel nervous for my friend. But his TALK is sensational, finishing with the powerful conclusion that “love is a choice.” At the end of the night, I’m exhausted. But for a long time, I cannot sleep. Because every time I close my eyes, I hear Vince’s closing words echoing in my head, like reverberations from a taiko drum.
Trials of a Long-Distance Relationship: Every Sat. morning, I log onto Skype to chat with my girlfriend who lives in London, England. Dating anyone while attending Stanford is difficult, by virtue of our hectic schedules, but dating someone across the ocean makes it that much more challenging. We constantly prioritize each other to make our love work. Today, my girlfriend, a clinical psychologist, talks about her recent struggles dealing with a new patient. As I listen, I can’t help but admire her for her grit, kindness – and how she consistently places the needs of others above her own.
Nutella and Strawberry Crepes: Stanford’s campus food hasn’t won any Michelin Stars, but this “Strazza” Crepe from Coupa Café is great. On weekends, there’s often a long line so I bring some reading; today, I’m finishing up “Memory Wall”, a short-story collection from 2015 Pulitzer winner Anthony Doerr, who visited Stanford in January. The night Tony spoke, I became so inspired by his talk “The Beautiful Art of Failure” in Cemex Auditorium that I hurried afterward to meet him backstage. We’ve been trading emails since.
On sunny Saturdays, I can’t imagine a better place to read than Meyer Green. Located right outside Green Library, I finally finish the last story in “Memory Wall.”
On Saturdays, I try to relax. This January, I had the fortune of hearing Clayton Christensen, the founder of disruptive innovation, speak at a church. Professor Christensen talked at length about his commitments to God and his wife never to work on weekends. That night, I decided to invest Saturdays in those relationships I treasure, and also some weekly self-care.
Aaron Diehel presents: “Jelly and George.” Tonight, my friend Samantha and I sit front-row at Bing Concert Hall, listening to fresh arrangements of old jazz from the great composers Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin. We only pay $15 each for tickets as Stanford students – and Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant ends up making an appearance to sing as well!
After the concert, Samantha and I return to her apartment with some delicious food from Chef Zhao, a Shanghai restaurant in Palo Alto. Both Sam and I were born in Shanghai – so this cuisine brings back fond memories of home. Eating with us are our Stanford GSB classmates Ben, Selina and Yena (note: Sam is too busy to smile here because she’s on the phone with Chinese suppliers to order more high heels for her shoe start-up!)
After dinner, we rewatch “Oldboy”, a classic 2003 neo-noir thriller by Korean director Park Chan-wook. It’s one of my favorite films, so we stay up well into the night after the movie is over to delve into its many intricacies. What a crazy week.