Was there a significant turning point that kick-started your career and eventually led you to Silicon Valley?
It has been exciting co-founding a financial technology startup in Silicon Valley, which, to me, embodies the culmination of many of my passions implemented in a totally foreign context compared to my past. I don’t know if I ever had a special breakthrough moment in my career because every career change has been catalytic in leading me to co-found Juntos Global. I loved working at Young Life, and then discovered microfinance and moved to Congo to work for HOPE International. I then moved back to the States to head HOPE’s development team and through another turn of events, met my Juntos co-founders at a fundraising event; the rest is history.
Speaking of all these huge risks, what was your biggest fear in work and how did you resolve that fear?
My career transitions never seemed risky to me, even when I moved to Congo or Silicon Valley. If the worst I can imagine is going home or temporarily couch surfing, I’m taking that leap! I do not consider fear to be a huge counterbalance in forming my career choices.
If I were to identify a major fear, it would be the fear of failure. I’ve read Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly at least three times, and I remember a quote from her along the lines of, “Success is not my value, courage is.” I deeply resonate with that whenever I am faced with the fear of failure. There are two questions that I ask myself when faced with a decision:
Do I value success more than the passion and courage to try? Is this work so important that it is worth trying and failing at?
Innovation happens when someone notices a loophole in the discussion and dares to venture into the process at the risk of failure. I think that the courage to try is so much more valuable than success itself.
What do you think about the myth that you need expensive tools to be successful?
I don’t think you need expensive tools to be successful. But when you ask about money and success ‒ what I think about is that success often comes from a place of first having wealth before spending wealth. I am not ruling out miraculous underdog stories because they do exist, but I think that if you were to conduct a research on the common traits of materially successful people, your data will most likely show a positive correlation between successful people and middle-class or upper middle-class privileged backgrounds. It takes money to make money, and that’s an unfortunate societal reality.
I don’t often reflect on how much the privilege I’ve known in life has contributed to my current place in life ‒ and that’s the danger of privilege. It feels invisible. That’s a thread that runs through the work I have done too ‒ at HOPE before and now at Juntos ‒ are there ways we can help level the playing field? Ways we can extend opportunities? Ways we can give voice and freedom to greater numbers of people?
Thank you so much for your insight. You’ve been through a few drastic career changes including your most recent one: moving to Silicon Valley to start a company. How do you stay grounded while holding high-ranking positions?
Building a company keeps me on my toes because my company could go bust the very next day; who’s going to call me successful then? My daily mantra of my prayer life and intentions focuses on the gospel truth, that I have the ultimate gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through God’s grace. My concerns, successes, or failures are relatively minuscule compared to God’s gift of mercy and love, which brings me into a place of humility and faithfulness towards God.
Are there any specific steps in your devotional time that remind you of God’s grace every day? How then do you maintain your relationship with God especially in the context of work?
My devotional practices have been evolving through the seasons, and I have found much freedom in knowing that there are no cookie-cutter solutions to spending time with God.
To say that time with God only involves a Bible, a journal, and a pen is akin to me saying I connect with my husband only through dinner dates.
There are days when I’m in the season of picture-perfect coffee-laced quiet time, and then there are other days when my spiritual disciplines hit the ground running with me as I attend meeting after meeting. Right now, my spiritual discipline is the consistent meditation on the words “I shall not want” written on the first page of my work notebook. I can be at peace with myself regardless of the busiest circumstances because God is my Shepherd.
What are some time management principles that help you steer each day well?
I have a to-do list based on a two-tiered principle. The first contains all the overarching goals and objectives broken down into seasons, whereas the second is an extension of my goals detailing issues that need immediate attention. It could be something as simple as scheduling time to prospect for sales before I actually start prospecting for sales in view of a bigger goal such as hitting a revenue target. If anything, I base my time on keeping in mind strategic seasonal goals and completing daily urgent tasks towards achieving weekly targets.
I understand that you may get hit with low motivation even on the busiest of days. What do you do to get out of that slump?
Exercising or running in the middle of the day is always a good refresher for me. I find myself least motivated when the next steps seem unclear, so an awareness of that leads me to brainstorm and seek out the next best thing to do. That next step might not solve the problem, but it could perhaps get me closer to a solution.
The last thing I do is indulge myself in creative endeavors during the weekend or some evenings. I am no professional, so my art mostly revolves around geometric patterns or just modern weirdness. When I am all wrapped up in mixing and matching colors and designs, the creative process becomes a cathartic release for me; immersing myself in a completely different environment allows me to come back to work with a renewed perspective. Good luck trying to sell my abstract paintings for $500 though.