Chen Song - Don't be afraid to truly, deeply want something - The Purposeful Pivot Project

I met Chen at Minds At Work in Cambridge, MA and he's become a fast friend . He's a lifeline when I get stuck, he hears things in my voice most others miss. Chen is a Talent Development Specialist at Credit Karma and recent MBA graduate from UC Berkeley - Haas. He leads Credit Karma's curriculum design and implementation of their leadership onboarding program for new managers. He’s passionate about connecting people with their passion and opportunities to grow. He draws on a rich teaching background as a manager for Teach For America and Tulsa Oklahoma School District.

+What is one piece of advice a mentor told you that's stuck with you? Who told you?

Mike Katz, head of the Interpersonal Development Program at Haas, once asked me to reflect on whether charging headlong through my career, chasing shiny badges valued by others, would actually allow me to find what I value in life. The answer was such an obvious, "no," that I remember feeling immediately confused by how I had never stopped to ask myself that before. I went to business school looking for meaningful work without considering that meaningful work is a personal journey and not something that I could attain through other people's endorsement. 

+ Name a time that you pivoted in your career?

I pivoted in my career when I decided to go from Teach for America and non-profit, education work to UC Berkeley - Haas to pursue an MBA. 

+How did it change your life and where you are today at work and home?

As I mentioned, I went to Berkeley looking for prestige and ended up having two amazing years to explore the passions that guide the work I am now doing. Through Haas I learned to manage my inner critic, access a broader range of emotions, communicate my needs to others, and so much more. As a result of my pivot, I have a clearer understanding of how I want to interact with and impact others so I can invest more fully in relationships. At work, the clarity I have around what's important to me in a job (e.g. connection with others, the opportunity to build community, the ability to see others growing as a result of my efforts) gives me the confidence to pursue work that I find fulfilling even though it's not the traditional MBA path.

+What advice can you offer the next generation of working men and women just leaving college?

Don't be afraid to truly, deeply want something and go all-in to get it. I spent most of my life giving things 80% because I was afraid failing to "win" or achieve my target would mean that I am a failure. I can see now how that kept me from pursuing many opportunities that would have been exciting, fun, and incredibly rewarding - even if I didn't reach my initial goal. My last three years have been full of failures, professional and personal, that have opened up incredible opportunities for learning and connection with others. I am confident that if I had learned to fail earlier, my life would be even richer now.


+What's one word that describes your career up to this point——-Wonderful

Lynn MullComment