Celebrating International Women’s Day with a True Trailblazer
Monica H. Kang and Alex Jensen discuss her career and life with the backdrop of International Women’s Day 2022. Monica is the CEO and Founder of InnovatorsBox.
Monica describes herself as a curious child, a person who never stopped asking the questions that we all do as children, but somehow, unlike the rest of us who have lost the habit, Monica has kept it.
The first part of her career was just about as far away from being an entrepreneur as a person could get. She worked in the world of nuclear non-proliferation, ‘preventing the bad guys from spreading nuclear weapons around the world. In this space as a younger Asian-American women, she found herself constantly surrounded by white men. But she found the courage, the mentors and the belief to never be limited by others view of her identity.
After a great deal of s(e)oul searching, Monica decided a change was required. She began the switch to serial and serious entrepreneurship while authoring two children’s books and.
The InnovatorsBox helps its clients (re)discover the creativeness to drive cultural transformations and team development. Their research-based, interactive programs empower leaders to unlock their creative mindset and adapt to change so they can thrive in today’s complex world.
Today’s episode is made possible by the support of the EastPoint Partners. Connecting you with an unparalleled Asia-wide network of corporates, governments and investors.
D-2 Korean Presidential Election: Merger, Major Pledges & Record Early Voting
Alex Jenson 0:08
You’re listening to Koreabizcast with the KBLA. I’m Alex Jensen, and it’s Tuesday, March 8, which is International Women’s Day. You might feel that after so many years of marking this day, we’d have made continuous progress. But according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 released by the World Economic Forum, the time needed to close that gap has gone up from 99.5 years to 135.6 years, with a pandemic having a big impact on that extension. So much work to be done. Our guest today, I think, is an incredible person full stop, but she is also a woman who has navigated a diverse range of workplaces. Monica H. Kang is the founder and CEO of Innovatorsbox, and hope you enjoy our chat shortly. First, let me thank today’s sponsor Eastpointe Partners, which offers an unparalleled Asia wide network of relationships with corporates, governments and investors. And now it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome on this platform, Monica H. Kang. Thank you for joining us. And let me first ask, what does the H stand for? And why is it important for you to have it there?
Love that question. And thank you for having me. Great to be here. H actually stands for my Korean name, which I actually only use in my family. And so I keep that to show that my Korean name, which legally isn’t my middle name, is important. But I go by Monica, so.
Alex Jenson 1:39
Okay, very good. We’ll call you Monica. But that does bring us to this question of your own background. You grew up for at least a few years here in Korea, but you were born in Washington, DC, and you sound American, and you’ve done work with the US government and so on. So tell us about your identity a little bit if possible?
Yes, well, I’ll start with that. All the third culture kids who’ve gone through multiple identity crisis, I fit right in there as well in your bus. And it was tough growing up, I think, you know, both grown up first in the States as American but you know, is obviously Asian American, Korean American, and then came back to Korea, or came to Korea for the first time in elementary school. And my parents would say that, like I would come back from school and do my homework. But the teachers would say repeatedly, like, yeah, she didn’t say a single word today, too, because I didn’t speak Korean. Because I’m a foreigner. That’s for now, like having grown up in both cultures and countries. I spent most of my education studies, of course, in the States and abroad, and in Europe as well. But to share that into context, because Alex, that led me to really thinking about how culture, people, language in your environment really matters and how you’re experiencing everything in the world. And it got me curious, so like, Hey, I just know two countries and cultures in particular, but like that’s already helping me realize that I can’t assume or take anything for granted, especially at work and in life. And that got me curious about what is culture and leadership?
Alex Jenson 3:11
You use the word curious a lot. And it’s understandable then that one of your podcasts that you host is called Curious Monica. I think we are urged to be more curious today as we grow up, it is a kind of trait, isn’t it that we fall off in the curiosity?
Yeah, yeah, no, I appreciate you pointing that out. I think it’s something that I even myself completely forgot. I would love when I had conversations with my family. And you know, ask them about hey, how I was like, when I was younger, I think it’s always fun to hear like, who we are, before we had all these other societal impacts that colored what we thought is important about our lives. And curiosity was something always important. But similar to as you pointed out, there’s a really interesting stat by a book that I love of, you know, beautiful, more beautiful questions, more meaningful questions. And the researcher wearing burger talks about how there’s a drastic change as any child goes into middle school of like, you know, somebody who used to ask 1000s of questions, you stop asking, because you were told no, all the time. You’re like, oh, no, don’t have time for your question. Child. Sorry. Don’t ask that as a teacher, like we’re busy. We got to learn this lesson. So we stop asking questions, which movies stop getting curious. And we start assuming everything of like, oh, I can’t ask that. Because somebody is going to think I’m stupid, or like, somebody is going to judge me that I didn’t do my homework. And then we carry that in our lives. And I realized that was part of the reason why I got depressed and stuck. And I wanted to rekindle that. So it’s both intentional and unintentional that you caught me saying that word.
Alex Jenson 4:47
Yeah. Well, I’m very pleased to have done so and I certainly don’t have any problem asking questions. I’m glad interviews give me the opportunity to do so without appearing overly curious. But there is something very interesting in your background before we get to your current work in the workplace and encouraging us all to be more creative about that. And that is your work in nuclear nonproliferation. You’ve worked at the UN, with the US government, you’ve got a ThinkTank background. Can you tell us a bit more about that before we then shift to your entrepreneurship?
Absolutely. I think for many of those who, you know, do some work and across different countries and cultures would relate to this. But I was I was always curious. Well, I’m not really a science or math person. And I really love this to culture and country thing. What’s a work in Korea that I can envision in diplomacy, international affairs, like whoikyogwan, like those were all things that felt obvious. And so I, I pursued everything in that career tract. And somebody gave me the wise advice that, hey, you can be either a regional expert or an technical functional expert. And even though I was curious about Asia Affairs, and of course, you know, Korea, North America affairs, I felt like well, every other Korean American is kind of doing this. What’s like, the technicality. And that’s where I got to get curious about, well, nuclear weapons is obviously one of the hot topics given North Korea and the Korean Peninsula sensitivity. But actually, this is not a problem just in Korea is around the world. And so that’s how I fell into then the whole industry of nuclear weapon, hence, nuclear Non Proliferation, a target of terminology of how to prevent the bad guys from spreading nuclear weapons around the world. And Alex, it was just a humbling experience, because it really reaffirmed how important communication trust, relationship building across cultures and countries are. And one of the memories I never forgot, was just like how it was to be in those meetings, as an American, you know, a low level junior staff, helping out as a contractor attending these meetings in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan on behalf of the states, helping make sure other countries are thinking about nuclear weapons security, safeguards and non proliferation. But because I was one of the few Asian Americans, the other colleagues who happen to also be Asian American would come to me and feel like they can talk about their family, they can talk about what they’re worried about. And by the way, then, as a result, they feel more comfortable talking about other security matters, or asking like, Hey, can you talk to your boss about this thing? And that got me realizing, like, wow, we’re attending to separate work in life so much. But what if we thought about merging all of that, and so had some challenges, of course, of being one of the few because this is one of the industries where you would rarely see many parts of who I am as identity, female, Asian, being junior also, at that time, who looked also younger than my actual age, I was a minority, yet seeing all these things that excited me. And I felt like, I want to figure out what makes this so unique, and how, what are the skills that I can build on it to find a voice? And that’s why I think I got so passionate about wanting to understand and build a niche in non proliferation, but then also later to this other career. So that’s a little insight into that space.
Alex Jenson 8:09
Yeah. And I mean, you still look very youthful now, by the way, and I don’t want to, yeah, well, I wish I could pick up some of that from the local diet. Yes, but I’d like to just address this, we wanted to talk to you anyway, and then realized, well, we’re looking to organize this interview, and it’s around International Women’s Day. So let’s celebrate a woman doing remarkable things in the world. So while on the on the theme, and during this time, perhaps we should just tackle this square on if you try to imagine if I said to you, okay, I’m going to introduce you to a nuclear non proliferation expert, I daresay many people would automatically picture a man. They might also not picture like you suggested a youthful, Asian American woman. So there’s no particular reason why that would be the case. Maybe it’s movies and and experts that have appeared on news shows over the years that propagate that idea. But did you feel apart from being able to chat about culture and so on that that you were able to smash through that barrier? And and how do you think maybe that the world is changing with its idea about what a certain position should look like?
I appreciate you asking that, Alex, because that’s one of the very reason and drive for me of why I wanted to pursue nuclear weapons security because honestly, one of the thing was I was just tired of seeing non Asian or non Asian American experts talking about Korea, talking like you would turn the news on I’m like, Okay, that’s great that they’ve studied and like assessed but like, I’m significantly young and new, but like, I don’t think they really understood Korean culture. Like I don’t think they really understood American culture. I don’t think they really understood this context. And if that’s like, naive of me, perhaps seeing it, it got me thinking about the bigger classes like, well, there’s so many other experts around the world. Why are we not seeing that on TV? Why are we not hearing spokesman from all these different voices not just Asians, but like all these other ethnicities, all these diverse, you know, all different sexualities, talking about different ways of different topics. And that’s part of the reason why even though work was so tough, and at times, you know, that that sensitivity of feeling like you’re the one of the few, literally, in this large room of people, where it’s majority, all white majority, all white male of a certain age and background, I was one of the few who would go to all these events and nerdy events. And I’m the only one who did not have a military background did not have a government background, like in a family, like most of them would have reasons of why they want to pursue this nerdy career. And I didn’t, and it was hard to feel like, you know, I don’t have any family jokes, I could talk, like, talk about like, I like the TV show. So it took a lot of courage I and what I want to as a result, share and hence, you know, as we celebrate this important month and day, and every day of the importance of celebrating everyone’s voice, and I am so grateful that I had mentors and peers, who both looked like me, but also did not look like me that would encourage me and says, Monica, don’t let that get to you. Focus on what is something that you can only do and let your quality of the work speak for itself. And if there are people who judge you or therapy people who let that color and miss understand you don’t let that get to you and you know, undervalue yourself when that’s not true. And so, like, Alex, that’s why I think I got even more intentional about okay, like, I want to be remembered as the expert who happens to be an Asian American, who happens to be a female, who happens to care and have done these things. But I’m called upon and asked, and sought out because of this expertise. And that’s how I got even more curious and intentional about how we position and how we show up. And it’s like to share that advice, actually, to a lot of other females around the world, who are at time struggling and asking, like, how can I speak in my voice, like, I feel judged at times, I feel like I’m one of the few. And it’s a duality of stepping in even more groundedness of like, yes, be intentional and aware. But also remember who you are, you’re not, you happen to have all these identities, and all of that is what make who you are. But you are never limited by each of those identities, just because society or some person said it. And I think it’s even more crucial, as a result to keep supporting and voicing for those in sharing or different thoughts. So I hope this is one way that I can help remind somebody else who’s listening to this of like, oh, yeah, what is my voice? Who am I?
Alex Jenson 12:57
Yeah, it’s really important. And thank you for sharing that too. And we’ll get onto your transition to entrepreneurship and InnovatorsBox and what exactly you’re doing with clients ranging from Fortune 500 to startups here in Korea in a moment, but I want to use this opportunity to kind of just get some advice for some of us listening who might feel slightly uncomfortable, like including myself, here I am, a white guy with a podcast all about Korea or setting Korea. And people on the surface might also have that instinct, because I’m not, I’m not explaining constantly, you know, my wife is Korean. I’ve been living in Korea for more than a decade or, or this, that and the other. And I know other people have been here for like, 20 plus years, and they almost feel like they’ve become Korean now. And how do you think we should approach conversations, either in the workplace or in the media in a way that is more culturally sensitive. And perhaps this can also apply to someone who’s just been placed in a post here five months ago, and is still grappling to adapt to the culture but has a workforce of Koreans that they have to work with and adapt to
The place I recommend starting, is remembering that we’re all human beings. And as simple as that statement is, it’s so easy for us to bring all these other colored instead of like, you immediately see somebody who’s like, oh, I can guess their age, or I can guess like what their background like I’m looking at how they dress like I’m looking at how they’re talking. This person must be so and so are this type of personality. And our thinking rushes so fast, that before we realize we’re coloring and assuming so many of who we feel we’re talking to that we’re letting that color, the experience of who and what conversation we’re having. And so it’s such an intentional act and hence practice, which could be hard at first. And so that’s the first step that I recommend everyone who’s listening who really wants to give this true shot. It’s just doing it two ways. One reminding yourself first as well, because right if we’re not able to practice thinking of ourselves as a full person of like, okay, who is Monica? Not because of all these work, not because of these, you know, other culture as it but who is Monica Foley as a person? Like how would I want to be remembered as? How am I want to show up? And actually, that’s why you hear the word of curiosity often because I am genuinely a curious person. And I’m glad I rekindled that I’m glad I can feel more comfortable asking more questions. And if anyone forgets anything and everything, I hope they remember that. Yeah, this person was really like, thoughtful, was very curious. Like, we got to learn about a lot of different things. And like, if they forget about all my other things, like that’s okay, like, that’s part of who I am. And if I forget, if I ever forget that, that that means I’m not showing up fully as myself. And so taking the courage to first get curious about yourself, which is like, what is that one or two words in how I would describe myself and how I want to show up, you can then intent on it unconsciously actually show up in that voice, which is hence the way how others can meet and see the true you. The second lens as a result that I recommend is really then being intentional about getting curious about the other person about like, Oh, I wonder who this person is, in that one or two words, like, you know, again, not trying to label and letting those things color, but just genuinely seeing them eye to eye, what you see and where you see from there. So often, I think when we you know, come to a new country or you know, work in another place, you know, you share Alex, you shared about, you know, even like, you know, people might make assumptions when they first see you and they don’t realize that actually, I’ve been in Korea for quite some time. I know all these different insights. And it’s, it’s understandable why we do it unconsciously. Because human brains like to judge and we want to process things fast to get to the solution. I mean, we’re wired that way. That’s how we survived, right? Humanity survived because we made fast decisions. But that’s not how we see, we should always see humans and so encourage taking the step of taking that one step back before I assume or judge anything. Let me just see this person knows who this person is right now. And what I experience and let that feeling lead. That’s when I feel I can walk more into the rooms and see the other person forgetting the age, forgetting the sexism, forgetting the gender of danger, forgetting the ethnicity and all that. And then coming across accidentally, Oh, wow. Like, that’s cool. Like now that you lived in fewers. Like, I have no more questions or like, well, because of your journey, like I want to have all these other things that I would love to I would love to share that. That’s when you get gradually mergency materialities. But those are two areas that I recommend starting and giving the reminder that it could feel hard, because we’re not wired to think that way. And so it will take a lot of courage. And so giving yourself kudos to say, how do I do that? treating each other as humans? So I know it could feel a little abstract. But I’m curious, is this resonating with you, Alex?
Alex Jenson 17:58
Yeah, it is. And it’s really great to hear from you. As I said, I know that you’ve got a lot of experience talking to various different kinds of audiences, including through your, your podcast and in person very recently in Korea. So it’s no surprise to me that you have that capability to, to engage with me now today, as you have with a variety of people. I’m conscious, though also of the of the time. So I want to move into InnovatorsBox and ask about how some of what you’ve already said, and your background in a very different sphere, dealing with the public sector as well kind of shaped this idea. What the idea was basically what was the problem that you were looking to solve with innovators box and how is it developed?
I realized that no matter how much I love my job at nuclear weapons security, and the government work and the meaningfulness that I was finding myself to Preston, scary, honestly, even suicidal at some point, and the thought that the person that I thought I was so happy, I couldn’t remember the last day I felt happy, was really, really scary thoughts. And for everyone out there who has ever gone through those moments, you know, I completely know like, you know, when other say like, Oh, I get you, but just seeing as passing and not really hearing you. That’s one of the toughest times and I felt like even though I was going through it, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to express it. And fortunately, one decision I’ve done is that I felt so embarrassed to cry in a bus to work because I got so stressed out and upset about why am I feeling so stuck in my job that I love that the courageous decision of silly naive of me back then was that you know what, back in the commute days if you remember, even though you don’t know anyone in a bus, it’s all the same people so at least let me try to walk to work so that way then people don’t see me crying always at the bus, because that’s a little embarrassing. So that actually was one of my curious but one decision that led me to only that decision and hence changing and hence getting to this curiosity of realizing that how important mindset is, because because of that one change, I now walk to work, which meant I had to make sure I wear comfortable shoes. I had to check the weather, I had to actually think about where streets I’m crossing. And because of that, I started noticing all these other things. Why is there always traffic jam there? Why is that building always with a long line? Why is this color of the building always this? Why are they always doing construction there? I will come to the office hours with now all these random questions that like I just couldn’t wait to like, learn more. And because of that my work? That was exactly the same thing just got more exciting because like, Ooh, you know what, just like that traffic area that always has that traffic? I wonder if I’m always getting stuck in the same question. At work. What can I do? What can I do with my traffic question at work. And I would try all these new approaches like new ways to organize information, new ways to approach client projects, my client started to say like, we already liked working with you, but somehow you’re doing everything better. We can’t figure out and I’m like, I don’t know, either. Let me figure out. And that’s Alex, how I realized the power of creativity, mindset, and dove into the expertise of culture and leadership and realize this is so important. And it’s so available out there, but yet not as accessible and relatable to everyday people like myself, who felt like creativity is an innovation is somebody for the arts, somebody not like me nerdy and nuclear weapon security, that like if I figured out how I can do this, what can I learn and get better at so I can help at least one more person out there in the world, who felt like they can’t be creative, that they can’t speak in their voice. In going back to all the minorities, it didn’t help to realize that, hey, entrepreneurship, and business is another area that I only see one domain, why are we only celebrating what type of business or why are we only seeing, you know, more businesses by men. And so many of those reasons is why I got into it. And hence now today be the company we are which is you know, being expert and culture, leadership, team development with creativity, we help really we help companies and leaders around the world build a creative, inclusive workplace for all. And so questions as working across generations, working across different cultures, different industries, different backgrounds, building trust, doing this remotely and offline is now top of mind, and hence, how I feel grateful to not do projects around the world. But especially having clients in Korea, where I feel close to as well and being able to serve, knowing how tough culture is in workplaces here as well as the world to hopefully help at least one more person to know that, hey, there is a way to change this and build a workplace where everyone gets happier, feel appreciated and encouraged. Starting with that seeing each other as human, not as their title, not as their age, but really showing up as a human being with one step at a time. And so, and then through creative production, communicating that to make creativity, innovation accessible. And so that’s how we produce music, podcasts, books, and all these other tools too, because not everyone’s going to be a workshop person. So we want to make it as accessible because I felt when I was going through that challenge. It felt very separate. It didn’t feel like they were speaking to me, and I want to help break down those barriers. To feel like everyone, wherever they are, is like, yeah, creativity is one of the many skills I have. And I can be a better leader because I know how to. So that’s that’s kind of in a nutshell.
Alex Jenson 23:34
Yeah, well, it sounds like a great idea. But it also sounds, as you’ve suggested, like that there are a lot of ideas there and addressing what the world needs. But sometimes in the world of business, you know, you need to be able to squeeze all that into a one minute elevator pitch, to say very clearly, right? This is a service we’re offering, we’re going to give this workshop and do X Y Z. But you’ve been able to do that very successfully, obviously, because you’ve you’ve got these clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to a global presence, including here in Korea, with startups, for instance. So so how did you build that network? What were some of the steps that you took that maybe others could learn from?
It was hard, it is hard. And I don’t want to undermine that journey. For especially for those who are listening who you know, have your own business or you know, starting something new or starting a new project, you’re going to be told no, in there all the time. And part of hence the first lesson, Alex, I would want to emphasize is that going back to one of my earlier comments If I want to be remembered and shown up as the expert, I better really know how to do this very well. So one of the things I grilled and worked in homes is that because I know it could come across conceptual because I know it was hard for me when I first learned, I want to really be good, and learn the best first so that I can relate to those different audiences in the way they can understand as fast as possible. So I needed to learn how they speak, I needed to learn how they engage, what is actually their pain point, is that something I can actually do? Or if so, how would actually help. And so getting a deeper, deep in insight in your own expertise, learning how to understand what is actually that’s something that they’re trying to solve is part of this first step that I found to be really helpful. And hence, whether that one second pitch, or finding the right client, who we can really help to be the connection point. And through that, that’s where I got to keep finding the commonality. And that there are a lot of leaders in companies who really want to build a better workplace. I care about my people, Monica, I care about wanting to build a workplace where people really look forward to coming to work, but we’ve done all these different things, but it’s not holistic, something’s still missing. I think our managers could think more as a leader, but I don’t know how to address it. And honestly, trainings can be boring. Like, we want to make this fun, we want to make this fun and learnable, but also applicable. And so our expertise in niche as a result has become that I honed in deep and is doing all of those people development and culture development to make it fun and relatable and enjoyable, as well as applicable and actionable. Because as you’ve pointed out, if it’s just theoretical, like Yeah, that’s conceptually nice. And I get it, I understand it, like the ESB should care about people. The challenge is like, we’re busy, I don’t know how to do it. And so whether it’s the workshops or programs are go in approach has always been like, we’re here to help you for the long run. So whether you do a one time engagement, or you know, a multi year project with us, we’re here as your people partner to make this as easy as possible, actionable, and help you shift your mindset as something that you can do. Because I’m asking people, Alex, not just only doing something new, but asking them to open the way they think about everything, which is big, right? Like, I’m taking them to the mindset gym and say, Hey, we’re going to exercise every week, so that we practice our thinking muscle to see differently to think differently, to lead differently. And if we’re talking about the bottom line, yeah, it has a direct impact, because you’re not going to be able to grow as a business, you’re probably not going to survive. Honestly, we seen this during COVID. Constantly, businesses who not only have excelled, but also have grown tremendously, because they invested in their way of doing things and was able to be agile, innovative, adapt, listen to their people to realize what their problem is. For those who are documentary fans. I think, the recent example of how a Boeing actually made that terrible mistake, in that document of downfall shows how bad leadership of not listening to your people and willing to create a safe psychologically safe room has horrible consequences. And how dangerous that is, and so tons of business ROI and references to bring back. But the key is, what is this problem? What is the actual problem? Does this person really care? And what are they willing to put to invest to make a difference? That’s where we start in. If I’m not good at that, then I’m not actually able to help deliver that result. So I constantly work hard. I constantly make sure my team is investing, how can we be the best? How can we get better at what we do so we can deliver the result and help empower their people development team. So that’s some of the ways in how we approach.
Alex Jenson 28:43
And I think you’ve probably touched on some of this already. But I would like to ask as well as as we begin to wrap up. And by the way, if there’s anything else that you want to share as a key message, please go ahead as well. But are there a couple of things that you see workplaces doing wrong or that you think many workplaces as a trend seem to need that you can leave us with as takeaways,
So many that all summer rise in few at the end of the day, no matter where we work. Yes, I understand. Some of us who’s listening is like, well, Monica, but I got to generate profit, like who is going to pay the bills, I understand. But at the end of the day, everything in anywhere we work, it’s all done by people, for other people with other people. If we are not taking the time to invest in that human capital, who is the essence of everything that we do at work in life, and if that person if you’re talking about ROI, if that person is not feeling their 100% You are under utilizing your most important capital in your office because you’re not letting them grow. You’re not letting them thrive because they cannot be themselves. If that helps at least getting curious I hope you realize over time how that care doesn’t just mean of like giving nice sofas in nice cushions are like nice meals, it’s giving them a chance to feel like they can grow, it’s giving them a chance to feel like they can have a voice, that they can speak up that they can make mistakes, and it’s okay. And they can learn how to fix their own mistakes. At times, I think as leaders, even caring ones, especially so get worried that when they see their juniors making mistakes that oh, we can’t afford that. So I’m going to have to go step in and fix it. And in that process, we discourage our other people from growing up in a way, trying and you know, getting a chance to learn from their trial and errors. And so one of the things I encourage leaders nowadays, to note that it’s going to take extra courage, extra courage to try something new in giving yourself permission to know that, hey, I might need a buffer in time for trial and error. How do I create that safe room? And if it’s hard to see that remind yourself, how do you feel encouraged to speak your mind to speak your ideas to be the leader who you are today, and to take your company and your work to the next level? Transactional is going to be short term. So please think of that holistically. Don’t forget your voice in that process. And Alex, the part that I hope to share, especially since we’re talking about a unique audience here who’s you know, doing business probably in Korea, as well as somewhere else, or, you know, going back and forth, or speaking, doing projects in Korea with a global audience is that no matter who you’re listening, as, I hope you remember that your voice and your perspective matters. But also don’t feel like just because you have a disagreement, or different understanding of the other culture or contacts means that I can’t work with this person, or I can’t understand this culture. Sometimes I feel, you know, our instinct is like, Ooh, I can’t get along with this person because of this personality, or this culture or this nuance. Before we rush to that conclusion, asked for that curiosity voice. I’m feeling that instinct of disagreement. And because of that, what can I do to merge the difference? What can I do to understand this person more from their point of view? And maybe it’s just that they’ve never been asked to ask those questions. So that’s why it’s uncomfortable. Or maybe they don’t like being direct. So they want you to help warm up to get to that different conflict, discussion. And so I asked everyone to bring their voice, but not feel like coloring them. And I think that’s one of the thing that makes it so unique to work at a global setting, whether it’s Korea or anywhere else and doing business together and working across. So hope that gives it encouragement, and hope that gives a reminder of how the diversity of those voices and insights is so key. But again, one step at a time, starting with your voice and getting curious. So hope this has encouraged to be more curious.
Alex Jenson 32:43
Yes, it has. And as I said before, you have a podcast Curious Monica as well as another called Dear Workplace that we can listen to for more inspiration. I should perhaps also mention your books Rethink creativity, how to innovate, inspire, and thrive at work. And the other one is, Have you seen my friends? Monica, thank you so much for taking this time out of your whirlwind tour of Korea, you’re still here before you fly back to the US. And I’d love to see you in person when you’re next here. We couldn’t quite manage it this time around. But doing it virtually seems to be the COVID thing anyway. So best of luck with you on your onward travels and enjoy International Women’s Day knowing I think that you are making a difference and inspiring people to to create a more open minded world. So on behalf of everybody, thank you.
Can I share one more quick thing building on that? Which is again, I hope one thing that I could share is that one of the quotes I love from Steve Jobs is that I am kind of butchering the expression. But he talks about how the dots are easier to connect backwards. I had so many moments throughout my life and even up until this day, where it’s like, how is this going to make sense? Like, should I really do this like or like, it’s gonna look weird. Like I’ve done this in my career like now if I do this, like this seems like an extreme pivot. But because of all those decisions each time, I could be the person who I am to them, I could hold this niche because I’ve worked in so many different cultures and nuances working in Europe, working in Asia, working in the states working in five different industries. And so I share this insight that like when people look at me and like say, like, Wow, that’s impressive. I say like, oh, no, before you do that, you know, I was scared the entire time each iteration, and I’m like, I had no idea where was heading next, but I just took one step at a time. I hope that gives you encouragement that before you feel like Oh, I’m not really sure how to get to that next thing. Just remember that you know, do one step at a time. Take one lens at a time, but know that you can always decide how to connect the dots backwards. You don’t have to know all the answers now, but you can’t and you will and so have courage, have faith. Get curious about where you’re heading and you might be surprised even that TV show that you just saw might have inspired you to think of something different that you kind of bring to business. So don’t take it for granted.
Alex Jenson 35:06
Yeah, there really are opportunities all around us even when we might feel somewhat lost. And that resonates so much of I’ve often thought of life as a bit of a path when you look backwards, but as you go forward into the unknown, it can feel daunting, it can feel like you’re breaking down. I mean, you very courageously shared some of those moments earlier in your life. And it’s just so nice to see how positive you are now, which is another source of inspiration among many. We’ll have to do this again because this has been just scratching the surface to certain extent. But thank you again, it’s been a pleasure.
Thank you for having me.
Alex Jenson 35:44
Well, hope that everyone listening has been inspired. It’s been a really meaningful occasion I think to celebrate International Women’s Day with Monica H Kang. You can find way more about her online as I’ve already suggested. I’d also like to thank Eastpoint Partners for making today’s episode possible. We’ll be taking a break for election day and be back on Thursday. By which time we should all know who the next leader of this country is. Let’s hope the best man in this case most likely based on polling data wins.