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Authors Meetup: Network Extravaganza

by Gezelin Cantuba, Junior Creative Engineer at VPG

I had the pleasure of attending the Meet the Authors event on January 17. At this event were Ashley Cheung, author of Collaborating in Competitive Ecosystems, and Lisa Gable, author of Turnaround: How to Turn Things Around When Things Are Going South. My role there was to be the event photographer. While I snapped away at taking photos, I also had the opportunity to listen in on the discussions.

Gezelin Cantuba and Ashley Cheung

It was a small intimate gathering, but I found this moment to be very insightful and I would like to share some of my own takeaways from this gathering. At this event, there was a wonderful food spread available and, as attendees grabbed plates and went around introducing themselves, eventually a small group discussion about the books began. Lisa Gable, being an accomplished businessperson, was a wonderful speaker. She provided such inspiring stories of her work helping to breathe new life into businesses. When talking about her book Turnaround, I found it surprising how practical the plans she makes to turn these businesses around seemed. The way she approached and broke down her topics made it easy to understand and she shared some of her own personal life stories. I think my main takeaway from her discussion was that you should learn to be able to identify the things that you need to change. Think about what is successful in your life versus what is not and from there make practical plans to attain your goal. This idea is also a topic she talks about in her book. Although it is related to her work, I felt it could be applied as general but realistic advice for working towards a goal. I may not be a business owner or in a leadership position now, but her advice and approach to these topics made me feel like big goals can be realistically attained.

Ashley Cheung, the other author and the host of the event, also revealed quite an inspiring story about her journey to success. Understanding boundaries in a workplace and realizing how work environments can be draining on mental health, she has worked hard to create her own business and brand for herself and now puts emphasis on maintaining a work-life balance. She also mentioned how she enjoys being a mentor for the young people in her company, and as one of those people, I am incredibly grateful for her attentiveness and willingness to provide amazing opportunities for us. When talking about her book, she brought up the importance of collaboration. Her book was a long and involved process that included many people helping with the editing and working with her talented illustrator. One aspect of her discussion about her book that I found admirable is the importance she puts on collaboration. I find it is important to have good collaborative skills, not just in work but through life. Working together as a group towards a goal and asking for help from others when needed can be a much more fulfilling experience than attempting to do everything by yourself where you might find yourself being overwhelmed.

Towards the end of the discussion, the floor opened to everyone talking a bit about themselves. During this time, I also had the chance to introduce and share a little about my own background. Amongst the attendees I was the only one pursuing an art-related career and on top of that I was also the youngest adult there. Sometimes, when introducing myself to people who have pursued more corporate or traditional jobs, I mention the path I have decided to take to be a creative, I get a few skeptical looks. I especially get this when I talk to fellow Asians as I myself am an Asian American and culturally they put the significance of success into pursuing traditional jobs. This group, however, felt very open-minded and continued to show interest by asking more questions about what I wanted to pursue in art. This interest was encouraging, especially coming from adults who are all much further along and more experienced in life than myself.

Overall, even though I was attending this event to document photos I genuinely enjoyed the discussions held. As a young adult, and being the youngest at this event, I found it reassuring to hear about the different journeys and advice given from the guest authors and even some of the attendees I talked with. Everyone there had their own sort of unique takes on life and in career, it felt comforting to see them talk about them. As someone who is only just starting out on their career, it was encouraging to understand that everything has a process and that everyone has their own journey to achieving their goals. There is no need for an incredible amount of pressure or meticulous comparisons. Instead, I will take these interactions as a learning moment for working towards my own goals and opportunities that may come my way in the future. With that, I encourage you to check out Ashley Cheung’s book Collaborating in Competitive Ecosystems and Lisa Gable’s book Turnaround. Both books offer great advice and tackle important ideas that can be related to life both in and out of the workplace.

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