The one about being 30+4

Since embarking on my 30s, I have written a piece every year on my birthday to capture my thinking and my mindset at the time. It all started at the age of 31 where I wrote my own 31 rules of life. Funny enough, these rules continue to apply to this day.

First, let’s talk about Vancouver.

2019 marked the first year living back home in Vancouver.

I love this city. But there is the notion that Vancouverites are “cliche-y” and “not open”. It wasn’t until a recent Living Room Series when I learned that we are each walking our own journey in life. Friends come and go. Perhaps your current chapter in life doesn’t align with their chapter in life. But that’s how life is.

This year, I realized that I was holding on to old friendships trying to re-create memories of the good old times. This inevitably led to cancelled appointments last minute or if they went through, a realization that we are now different people.

So I asked myself, “Why not continue what I was doing when living abroad by being the first to say hello and make new friends instead?”

This changed everything. On my birthday last week, we jammed in over 70 people at my place. A majority of these people are new friends from the past year. Thank you all so much for coming by.

Second, let’s talk about tests.

My favourite author, Mel Robbins, talked about seeking what gives you energy. To me, it is teaching, creating community and personal growth.

This year, I started a new venture called Beyond the A along with a few friends. The why behind Beyond the A is to destigmatize anxiety in the legal profession and provide tools and workshops for students and lawyers to thrive in their careers. One of our ideas was to create an interview prep workshop for law students.

Sounds easy right? Not at all.

There was a point when I thought about cancelling the whole thing — we were not getting any initial traction, people didn’t understand our intention, and to top it all off, one of my co-presenters had to cancel due to a family emergency.

It wasn’t until a conversation I had with my brother, Victor, which saved me from the abyss. After describing to him what was going on, my brother reminded me that life throws in obstacles as a way to test how committed you are. And this was just another test.

With that shift in mindset, I decided to go 100% in. In the span of two weeks, our initial workshop went from zero attendees to a sold-out class of fifteen attendees — many of whom continued on with private 1-on-1 interview coaching. This further led to additional workshops in Calgary and Victoria.

A few weeks ago, I saw a torrent of emails landing in my inbox. What was happening?

I quickly realized that it was job offer day. Reading each of these emails about getting a job offer(s) made me realize that this was all worth it. Because if I gave up on this idea, I am sure things would be a lot different.

I wanted to give you a quick update: “Firm A”, my top choice, called with an offer yesterday! Thanks so much again for all of your help last week, I can’t thank you enough.

Done deal!!! Paper signed and ready to go! Hows your schedule looking! I want to thank you in person!

I got three job offers today (“Firm A”, “Firm B”, “Firm C”). I chose “Firm A”. Thank you for the interview prep! It has genuinely been extremely helpful and I don’t know if I would have gotten the offers that I did without your help.

Last, let’s talk about ego.

So much of what we do is driven by the ego — the need to feel known, the need to feel important and the need to feel recognized. The ego is useful in the sense that it can push people to achieve tremendous growth. At the same, the ego can be equally as destructive as it can lead to envy, jealousy and anger.

There is a preconceived notion that if we do not have ego, we cannot achieve these societal norms of success. I soon realized that this is not true. In fact, people who live without ego attract an incredible amount of abundance and happiness; this is because they are not constantly chasing the next new shiny thing or seeking the approval of others. Rather, it is because they are not doing the above that they live a live of abundance, pursue what is meaningful to them and are able to engage in deeper levels of thinking.

It is quite tricky to unpack a concept like ego in a short post like this nor do I purport to be an expert, but I invite you to read A New Earth or any similar books on the ego (Stillness Is The Key by Ryan Holiday; Illusion of Money by Kyle Cease). Prime examples of leaders who follow this way of thinking are Satya Nadella who single-handedly turned around the fortunes of Microsoft and even the president of my current company, Visier, who recently recommended A New Earth as his go-to-book.

Until next time — 30+3, it has been a pleasure. 30+4, let’s get things started.

See previous posts: 30+1 | 30+2 | 30+3.

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Steven Ngo

Steven Ngo

Musician. Social Entrepreneur. Lawyer.