I was a smart kid, a happy kid, a good kid – born and raised in NJ, by my Korean grandparents and uncle. I lived in our family-owned restaurant, and enjoyed good food and interacted with many people on a daily basis. I loved to draw and write and play music. I got in trouble for roller skating through the restaurant kitchen during the dinner rush.
On the other side, some parts were sad. I was separated from my mother and father at a very young age, and I learned that the adults around me were filled with many heartbreaks. I felt the need to protect them and quickly sharpened my emotional intelligence. I learned the power of language.
At 10, I reunited with my mother and sister, and by then, I had already learned everything I would ever need to know about self-reliance and managing people.
At 18, I graduated in the top 10 in my class of 450 students and was rejected to my first choice, Princeton. Instead, I took a scholarship to study at the state school, Rutgers. Smug and arrogant, I skipped classes, negotiated with kids who sat in the front row, and learned all about partying, rebellion and who I did not want to be in life. I ran an editing business out of my dorm room and learned I had a knack for understanding supply and demand. I skipped walking at graduation but got my diploma in the top 15% of my class despite my dismal attendance record.
At 22, I joined the workforce during the worst stock market decline this economy had seen since the Great Depression and began my career in finance. I packed my bags and moved to New York City, where I lived in a 10 x 10 foot shoe box of a room a few blocks from Wall Street, where my career would begin as an equities trader. I fell in love with the markets.
By the time I was 25, I had my first six digit year, as an investment advisor with Merrill Lynch.
At 30, I married the love of my life. I had everything. I could do everything. I was on top of the world.
Then… at 31, I experienced my first professional setback which crippled my ego and identity. Simultaneously, all of the ugliness of my past came to bear and forced me to wrestle with it. One day it struck me that I didn’t know me. I had spent so much of my life faking smiles, pleasing others and depending on the world to tell me how much I was worth.
I nearly lost myself.
With the help of my Father and my soulmate, I found me again. Life suddenly became beautiful and precious and I didn’t want to waste a single minute not living life on purpose! My husband and I packed our bags and moved across country to start our life over, not to be defined by consumption and false expectations, but by our love for one another and our curiosity about the world. Right around that time, my career got back on track and I experienced another professional growth spurt. However, this time around, I promised to do it right. I set out to grow in all ways – personally, spiritually, professionally, and academically.
At 34, I got my MBA from ASU’s W.P Carey School of Business.
Today, I am a new mom who has trouble talking about my baby boy Miles, without getting all goofy. I’m that mom who will tell you all of the mundane details of his newest discovery if you ask. And as all moms can relate – he has changed everything I ever knew about anything.
Today, I am more in love with my husband than ever before.
Today, I am living in the space between lighting the world on fire and finding comfort in my own skin.
Today, I am in continuous pursuit of my highest being where my thirst for love, compassion, beauty, and drive can thrive together.
Today, I’m a senior vice president with a multi-billion dollar financial firm heading a team of brilliant and innovative leaders who challenge me everyday. In the midst of the guts and glory I often remind myself that my work is where I fulfill my purpose of empowering others.
I’m a lover of art, music and writing.
I’m a follower of Jesus, who has carried me through everything.
This is my story to date. And so it goes.