Being Asian American in the American Workforce

Growing up with Asian values, I have found it extremely difficult for me to be disruptive.

And by disruptive I do not mean shouting YOLO while you stumble into work hammered as shit on a Tuesday afternoon, nor do I condone starting shit with your boss because you disagree with them.

I’m talking about the disruptive nature of progress.  We’ve all seen and read about them.  People and companies featured in INC, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg etc.

& generally the payout is huge, not only in dollar signs, but also some capacity of gratification.

I’ve always had a rough time being “disruptive” in that sense.  The Asian American culture I grew up in is extremely aware of how your actions affect others.  (Not to say other cultures don’t, I’ve just never lived out any to speak for them).  We hold ourselves to how we are perceived, and avoid stepping on toes as much as possible.  Sometimes I almost feel like I took this ideology and ran with it.  (More of a personal issue, but that’s another story. LOL)

Even as I write this, I am all too cognizant of people I may offend.  I know there are many Asian Americans out there who are not afraid, more bold, and less worried about stepping on peoples toes as they are advocating for change and progress.  Not only advocates, but out there doing it.  Building companies, setting their own fires and blazing their own trails.  I’m not talking to you.  

I’m talking to those who have huge dreams and strong desires to lead.  Those who want to change the game, but can’t seem to get passed the fact that while you need to start fires, something or someone is going to get burned.


I’ve found that my cultural tendencies influence the way I behave at work.  I will present the following example:

While I may question some of our corporate practices, I have not acted upon them to be changed within our infrastructure.  Doing this, among other things, would require me to ask someone (most likely senior management), to take time out of their schedules to assist with my own agenda.  The thought of this throws me sideways, not for the mere fact of asking for someone’s time, but it creates the following equation in my mind:

Your time > my ideas on improvement in the workspace

Pretty reasonable right?  If your asking for one’s time, it is ultimately their decision.  Hence: your agenda hinges on their response.

But then I look around me, and I see people pushing for others time to be theirs.  They have an agenda, a master plan that is greater than themselves, and they will practically steal other peoples time for the betterment of their master plan.  These plans, in reflection are far from selfish. They are fighting for change and not taking “no” for an answer (even multiple times within an hour).  Sure they annoy the shit out of the people they pester, but at the end of the day they are 10x further ahead than me. 

& by the time those people put it all together, and successfully execute, they go from: crazy, time stealers, rude, pestering, hyper aggressive individuals to —> Genius. Leaders. & Mentors


The friends & connections I’ve made, the opportunities that have arisen, have all been somehow shaped by my culture.  I’ve ironically found however, that in order to exceed & excel, I need to be comfortable with being disruptive.  I’ve learned that being disruptive does not mean being disrespectful.  You can surely be both and get ahead, something I wish I understood a long time ago.

So if your anything like me, I encourage you to be disruptive.  Sure my example may have been a little extreme, but its what I’ve noticed day in, day out.  Try making one or two bold moves a week / month towards your goals. Be a little selfish, step on some toes and break walls if you truly believe in what your doing.

“You don’t win by being reasonable”



PS: This meme has nothing to do with the post.  I just love it. LMAO


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