STORY OF MY LOVE AFFAIRS
This is one of many stories I have been telling for as long as I have been in the U.S. and navigating the country's immigration system from an international student to an immigrant worker to now, a permanent resident (ie. green card holder). Watch this introduction video before continuing below.
THE FULLER STORY ...
Shortly after I graduated from college in early 2000, I found my first love. I had a good feeling. She is committed and I am committed. We can build a life together! We even have a ring (aka green card application) being customized at the shop.
However, she got very sick during the global financial crisis of 2007 & 2008. I wasn't by her side when she told the news to many of our mutual friends behind closed doors. We got to say our goodbyes when I spent the last few days watching her drift away.
As I tried to pick up the pieces of my life, another person came into the picture. I have known her for many years prior to my first marriage and our evolving relationship felt like a rebound. A whirlwind of activities followed as my new and exciting life with my second love started to take shape.
With new documents proofing our relationship in hand, I returned to my home country to visit my aging parents. And like always, I would go to the U.S. Embassy in Singapore to apply for a re-entry permit in my passport.
"You cannot return to the U.S. and need to reapply after a year," an immigration officer told me at the embassy. I stared at the stone-faced officer as the hopes of returning to my life in the U.S. greyed out like the memory wall of an evicted Big Brother houseguest. No ifs-and-or-buts.
One month turned to three as I kept in touch with my second love, explaining the ordeal and assuring her that I will find my way back home to her. After some legal services and congressional activities, I got approved to re-enter the U.S.!
However, she has been cheating on me; or at least that's how I felt. Two weeks before my return, she told me on the phone that I am not coming back to a job. I was in shock. I pleaded for an answer, for more time, or at least, for us to talk about it after I return to the U.S.
The moment I set foot on U.S. soil, I called her. I needed answers to the growing list of questions flooding my mind during the 20+ hours of transcontinental flight between Singapore and the U.S.
"I don't want to talk about it," was all I can remember her saying. It hurts man. After almost being robbed of a chance to return to my home in the U.S., I was faced with another possibility of uprooting my life.
While licking my wounds, I quickly jumped back into the dating scene. Yes, I was desperate and I was not ready to give up on love. Third time's the charm, some say, and my third love couldn't have come at a better time.
I wanted to say that I got wiser. We both agreed on a verbal equivalent of a prenup and started a mutually beneficial relationship. Granted like in any relationship, we have our ups and downs, but it was a blast! I have forgotten about our agreement... until the ring showed up four years later.
If you remember, the "ring" was the green card application from my first employer. If you have not gone through the process, you may not understand the complexity but this approved green card is legit. Okay, now back to the love story.
The ring became the white elephant in the room. For several months, it kept asking me, “Vincent, is this your time to move on, or is this third love your happily-ever-after?"
Well, I wrote a letter to my third love saying, "It's time, my dear. I treasure our relationship, like all the ones I have had. But I am ready to get on the road on my own. I have not given up on love, just ending this one... to find myself.”
15 years 3 relationships
In case you have not already figured out, the love affairs are really three employee-employer relationships during the first 15 years spent in the U.S. between graduating from college to starting my own business.
This is not a story of love affairs at work. It’s my love story in relation to work in the U.S. as an immigrant. And like any human relationship, hearts will be broken as much as lifted up when your legal status as an immigrant is at the mercy of your employers. But I know that I am not defeated as long as I still have breath in my lungs and passion in my heart.
B: MY BUSINESS FOR EXISTENCE
I value these character-shaping careers as they have caused me to ask myself "What is my ultimate business in life? ".
Yes, getting the U.S. Permanent Residency status was my goal, which explains why I kept trying to remain in the system as a legal immigrant through employment.
Becoming a green card holder is a mission that kept me focus on a short-term goal between 2000 and 2013. It became a means to my ultimate desire to maintain the friendships I have formed and deepen a handful of those beyond pleasantries.
Losing my first job did not take away the rich relationships I have built with people at and outside of work. Being replaced at my second job did not take away my skills and ability to continue pursuing the career I wanted elsewhere. And leaving my third job is not an act of sticking-it-to-the-man but a desire to step out of my comfort zone, challenge myself, and take care of the people I love.
Those times were hard; mentally and emotionally. But my Savior Jesus has put specific friends in my life to keep me on track with His ultimate plan for me. I want to nurture those relationships so that I can continue to be inspired by them while discovering more about the Author and Perfecter of my faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
This is just one of many stories I tell. This is part of my B.R.A.N.D. story.
If you are a business owner seeking to make your brand more memorable, it starts with you and your personal brand story. The B.R.A.N.D. System is created as a self-directed tool for you to uncover five key components of your personal brand, which will start you on the journey towards mastering your business brand.
On the evening of October 3rd, 2019, I was in Fort Lauderdale waiting to see if my flight to Ecuador would be cancelled as protests and riots in the country flooded the national news media. The nation straddling the equator was crippled as protestors blocked roads and highways in response to President Lenin Moreno's decision to remove of a four-decade-old fuel subsidies. Read more about it here.
Flying into fire
This was probably the worst time to visit the country known for her diverse landscape stretching between the Amazon jungles, the Andean highlands, and the coasts including the famous Galápagos Islands.
However, having planned this trip since June of 2019 to conduct an initial brand analysis for Alas de Socorro Ecuador or ADSE (pronounced as "ARD-ZEE"), getting front row seat to Ecuador’s 12-day of crisis became part of the agenda.
With the reopening of the country’s airport and the airline continuing her scheduled flight on October 4, I flew into the heart of the protest on the outskirt of the nation’s capital, Quito.
Since the roads were still unsafe for the planned 5-hour drive to my final destination of Shell, I got a chance to experience one of ADSE’s offerings; charter air service via her Cessna 206 propeller plane.
Prior to making this trans-continental journey, I have learned about ADSE between multiple conversations with a staff and a few hours of research via the Internet including perusing the organization’s website. While ADSE is an affiliate of the Mission Aviation Fellowship, I recognized that her operations will vary since she is in a different country and culture.
While I may be the expert in brand design and strategy, I am never the expert in my client’s industry. And that's the mindset whenever I start an initial brand analysis exercise with business owners and leaders. During the 20+ days of living and working with the people from the organization and the community of Shell, I have gained important insights that led to the fine-tuning of ADSE’s Brand Story.
I used to explain the components of a powerful brand with an illustration of an iceberg. However, for the team members at ADSE, I changed it to a tree as a more relatable metaphor to achieve the same goal. And that has formed the foundation to many of my material as a brand coach.
Watch the video below to learn how thinking of your business (and even of yourself) as a tree is helpful in understanding your brand.
Continue with Part 2 as we uncover the values that drives ADSE in their day-to-day.