365 days of strategic thinking

Monday, June 13, 2011

The 9 Per Week Project

Today I'm excited/nervous to launch my next blog, the 9 Per Week project.

9PW is a 6 month game, by the end of which I will be a better Natalie. I received so much support from The Plan readers, so I wanted to update you guys first on this new project.

Read more and follow along here.

Thank you!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

-Anais Nin

Had a bit of a personal revelation this morning and found the trigger for my next project. Still working out the details, but have never felt more strongly that something needs to change.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


@createstuff Have courage, be brilliant. Worry only about your own expectations of what is awesome. Make something. You are changing the world. #day1

Today is June 1. I’m participating in a crowdsourced creative exercise called 30 Days of Creativity, which is exactly what it sounds like. In short: create something every day for the month of June.

I’ll be posting my daily output on nataliefoundit. Excited to push myself, as I don’t usually “create” on the regular. To free myself of expectations and just ship.

Here goes.

PS - Hi to ex-Plan readers! Though life is less stressful sans The Plan, I do miss writing in here. Sometimes I'll find myself composing long-form emails that sounds a little like posts, and I know it's a manifestation of withdrawal. This 30 day exercise isn't my next blog project, but an in-the-meantime exercise.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

365) The Very End

First, watch this message from me. (If you don't have Flash 10, you can watch it in the very first panel of natalie found it.) Again, how flattering is the still image? Tried to upload it directly to Blogger, but it keeps giving me an error message. (Lesson 0.5) For the record, Tumblr is a better blogging platform than Blogger.

It's here. Number 365, the last day of The Plan. I was going to write a normal post, but there's so much to say about this project itself.

The Plan

Last April I told myself that in a year's time I would be a planner. I remember writing a note to myself in huge, all caps letters, double underlined in my journal. In a nutshell, I told myself that YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN FOR YOURSELF (sounds very Captain Planet, in retrospect).

Part of what came out of that note was The Plan. I realized that while I might still be working in management, I could (and very much needed to) practice my analytic thinking and writing skills. I needed something that would push me to be more curious, to observe more, and to coherently express myself.

I'd been keeping another blog, natalie found it for over a year at that point. And while I still love it as a catch-all of things I think others should see, I would go weeks without posting anything. If I was going to blog, I needed to make a firm commitment to it (Lesson 1). I think this is true for any blog. Your commitment doesn't have to be every day, but there needs to be some sort of posting schedule to which you hold yourself.

When I started, posts could take up to a few hours to think about, craft and write. On good days I would have thought about an idea or topic throughout the day. On the bad ones, I'd get to my computer at 10:30PM with not a single meaningful thought in my head. I used to fret about shitty, short posts I pulled out of my ass. But eventually, (Lesson 2) The Plan taught me that there's good and there's bad, but in the end, it's all good as long as you just do.

Posts got easier as the year went on. I can't believe where this blog has followed me - LA, Barcelona, Seoul, Beijing & Shanghai, Palo Alto, Austin and now New York. When I started The Plan, I had no idea how much change the year would bring. In that sense, The Plan now serves as a neat little thought trajectory of the year in my life where everything changed.

Thank you

As my awkward turtle video said, THANK YOU so much for reading and for supporting this little exercise of mine. It was such an added bonus to receive comments and emails from some of you. Thank you to those who sent blog fodder - you saved my ass more than once. Thanks to the international readers - I have no idea how you found me, but your little dots on the analytics map reaffirm every day the big world outside of my little world. And thanks, Mom and Dad, for reading every day, being the best PR team ever (I have a legion of readers who are friends of my parents). Dad, thanks for being my number one spell checker.

What's next

The short answer is, I don't know. But here's what I do know:

1) The Plan was an incredible experience, and a huge part of the last year of my life. While it's gotten me to where I wanted to go (for now), I'm ready to move on to something else. So no Plan year 2 plans.

2) I do want to keep writing and blogging. Not every day, and not necessarily about what I've been covering in The Plan. I'm toying with the idea of more personal and more creative writing.

3) Whatever it is will have to push me. Maybe this means looking outside of writing, incorporating other creative media.

As you can see, there are a lot of vague question marks to address. While I'd love to continue the momentum from The Plan, I hate the idea of starting another blog just to start another blog. So I'll be taking some time to think carefully about what the next project will be. In the meantime, I'll still throw things up on natalie found it, and will be sure to update The Plan once I figure out what's next.

If you want to keep in touch in the interim, you can reach me at natalieyoungkim(at)gmail.com or peek at what I'm up to via twitter.com/natalieykim. I would love nothing more than to say hi to each and every one of you individually.

That's it for now.

Onward and thank you,

Friday, April 15, 2011

364) Accent Awareness

French Learning English. Watch more top selected videos about: Inspector, Clouseau

A coworker of mine (well, several) is from Australia. We were working in a small war room when another coworker looked up from what she was doing and asked whether she hears her own accent when she speaks, or if it sounded like we Americans were the ones with accents. While American English is notoriously "flat" and seemingly accentless, the Australian responded that she doesn't realize she's speaking differently than everyone else, and that we were the ones with the accent.

"What does it sound like to you?" we asked.

She proceed to mimic an American accent. The accent (not the imitation) sounded awful, completely crude and unrefined. Oh god, we said, that's what we sound like?

By the same token, the Australian said that whenever someone imitates her accent, she gets self-conscious and vows never to speak again. It got me thinking - does anyone hear their own accent and think, "Man, I sound awesome." Granted, an imitator is usually exaggerating in their effort to come across as authentic. Some of the ease and naturalness of the accent is lost. But there is some truth to it. Perhaps it's just startling to hear our accents, since we are usually unaware of them.

And have you ever noticed that people change the tone of their voice when imitating other languages? I grew up learning French and whenever my dad prompted me to say something, he'd always repeat me in a voice an octave higher than his normal one, his mouth delicately puckered. It's the same reason why people imitating German often resort to a deeper, guttural voice.

I'd love to come up with a study to differentiate and explain how we hear ourselves versus the way others do.

(Mini aside - the penultimate post!)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

363) Dear Crunchy Leaves

A friend posted a link to Dear blank, please blank on Facebook today. The site is a collection of short, quippy, user-submitted letters. Some are reflections on pop culture, others are clever jokes. I was reading through some of them and realized that they are, in essence, a bunch of little crunchy leaves. They're funny because they're true.

If you get the following reference, you might be my soulmate.

You can rake through the leaves here.

(Mini aside - Thank you, thank you for all your kind support these last few days of The Plan. Your Likes, emails and notes of congrats mean so much to me. Two days, guys!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

362) Sway Just a Little

They say to write what you know. Tonight, something I know nothing about.

I had a long catch up conversation with a girlfriend of mine the other day. She has a boyfriend of several years (who does not read The Plan) who recently moved abroad (disclosed with permission, of course). Despite the commonly known and accepted fact that long distance relationships are difficult, they decided to stay together (there's a great Sex and City line that gets to the heart of it - "And then Trey told the lie that all parents to be tell themselves to procreate. 'We will be different.'")

Should she decide that for whatever reason she doesn't want to be in the relationship anymore, a cause and effect dynamic has been put in place that makes any initiation of split that much harder. Clearly, her boyfriend wouldn't have left behind a good relationship if it wasn't to pursue something important to him. But a split initiated from home will inherently make him feel like he had made a mistake, that chasing his dream was wrong - that it's the direct cause of this heartbreaking effect. And who wants to be broken up with while on foreign soil? The guilt of knowing his lack of support system abroad is enough to keep her in it.

It doesn't matter if long distance itself is the culprit, or if the distance is simply a window through which certain things about the relationship become clear - it will be interpreted the same way. It's a difficult position to be in, for all parties involved (including me, who has no idea what advice to give).

This is certainly not meant to pass judgment on those who do choose to do long distance. And clearly, not all long distance relationships are doomed (this one included). I've had plenty of friends who are doing it, have done it, and come out the other side, still together - strong, if not stronger than before. The physical separation of two people with an emotional connection is powerful, for better or for worse.

And as much as I shake my head and back away from the very thought of long distance, my friend put me in my place. "But Natalie," she said, "if it's worth it, why wouldn't you?"

(Start at 1:45. Trust.)

(Mini aside - 3!)