Mentoring at work

In my new and elevated role at work, I am being turned to for mentoring both formally (new hires) and informally (through our internal team mentoring program). I was sitting with my colleague who I oftentimes chat with as my new mentee. He sat there and as I would expect, complained to me about his current situation, not being in the line of sight for a promotion, and how he keeps getting told he doesn’t have “executive polish” and needs to work on it. When asked how to improve his “level” of executive polish, he is given no concrete tactics to help this “area of growth.”

I’ve actually watched him present, so I gave him some suggestions. In his case, he lacks poise and confidence both in areas such as his posture and voice. I suggested ways for him to share little anecdotes of other customers and even his own stories in relevant ways during presentations, to speak with more volume and authority during meetings. It’s amazing what wearing an outfit you are proud of or even standing a certain way can do for you when others view you while you are speaking.

“All this is really helpful, and it’s not even that hard to pinpoint if you observe me,” he said, thanking me for my suggestions. “Why wasn’t my own manager or anyone else who works more closely with me able to share this with me?”

I did not respond to that.

Overloaded with meat

For Chris’s dad’s birthday today, we took him to Danji for dinner this evening for their tasting menu. New York City has been experiencing a big wave of modern Korean/Korean-fusion restaurants, and while some of them have been hit or miss, Danji and its sister restaurant Hanjan have been really great dining experiences with high quality and local ingredients. Danji provided the second “tasting menu” of Korean food we’d ever had, and while I enjoyed it a lot, I’ll be honest and say that it was a bit too meat-heavy. Tasting menus should be a good balance of meat, seafood, vegetables, and starches. In this tasting menu, the majority of the dishes were pork and beef based, and there were very few vegetables outside of the different varieties of kimchi and radish that were presented. I wish there was more fish and other types of seafood that were presented. I realized this as the dishes progressed and came out, and towards the end of the meal when we ended up not finishing the final savory course, I found myself feeling bloated and really uncomfortable, and I had a feeling it was probably from the amount of meat we had overall. It was so uncomfortable that I had troubles falling asleep that night… and if I thought about it, the sheer amount of meat was not even that much. It wasn’t like I had a big steak or other massive slab of meat to myself. Ugh.

Keep it down

Tonight, Chris, his parents, and I went to dinner with Chris’s mom’s cousin and his wife, who happen to live just four blocks away from our apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. We usually see them once a year when Chris’s parents are in town. The more I have seen his mom’s cousin’s wife, the more funny I think she is. She is extremely gregarious and social, very opinionated, and quite loud in volume. The last part always cracks me up, especially when she laughs. Like me, she has a loud laugh, and I always love how when she laughs, her husband seems to have a somewhat sheepish look on his face, and sometimes even asks her to lower her voice and calm down. He asked her to do this tonight when she was talking about a series on Amazon Prime about Indian wedding planners and being open about sex. I loved every second of this story, especially her facial expressions as she was describing bits of it.

It’s a bit of a gendered expectation, isn’t it, to expect your wife to be quiet (or quieter, in this case), to not laugh as much, to be less vocal or lower in volume. They have children who are high school- and college-age, so they are older than us, but I am always relieved when I witness little gendered gestures like these that I am not married to someone who tells me to keep my voice down and not to laugh as much or as loud. I’m loud when I laugh, and well, everyone just has to deal with it. And if they want to be as loud, they can certainly join the party.

Tibetan cuisine

One of the greatest things about New York City is the incredibly diverse and delicious food you can get here. Having lived in Queens for four years, I still keep going back to that borough even though I no longer live there because of the vast diversity in cuisines represented there (and at low price points). Tibetan and Nepalese food has interested me more and more as the years have gone on, with its spices and chilies, as well as its thick knife-cut noodles and momo dumplings. We took Chris’s parents to a Tibetan restaurant in Elmhurst, my own neighborhood, for dinner tonight, and had a delicious meal of noodles, dumplings, and spicy and garlicky vegetables. They were spicy in a hot and numbing way, and also well seasoned. The dumplings bursted with hot broth. In these moments while eating these meals, I feel very proud to have lived in Queens, and even happier to live here in New York where I have such easy access to this kind of food.

One of the most amusing dishes we had was the yellow fen, which was essentially yellow rolled rice noodles filled with… instant ramen noodles. The server told us that these noodles are either served stuffed with tofu or “noodle.” She didn’t mention that the noodles were instant, though. They were crunchy and spicy. Chris ate these and marveled at what the filling of these noodles were… until I told him that they were instant ramen. 😀

Camera tutorial

Yesterday, I went back to B&H for a camera tutorial of my new Sony A6400 mirrorless camera. With pretty much every visit to B&H since I started researching new cameras, I’ve been very happy with the level of service I’ve received and the tips I’ve gotten. The tutorial lasted about an hour, after which the person helping me said that I could sign up again at any time for another hour-long session in case I had any other specific questions or things I needed help with in regards to my camera. This is also regardless of whether the original purchase was made at B&H. That is so generous! All the YouTube tutorials were fine, as are the online manuals, but nothing really beats 1:1 time that is fully customized.

Back to work after club

It was my first day back at work after President’s Club, and I had a number of people ask me how the weekend went, what I did, what the activities were, etc. President’s Club is the most prestigious event that someone can get invited to at our company, so it felt funny and strange at the same time to be part of this event this year. When have I ever really been a part of the “insider” club… ever?

And of course, the other thing I got asked about was what crazy conversations and incidents happened at club. Some of the interesting bits included when our CEO mentioned how during his college days, he used to frequent Studio 54 with his rich friends’ parents connections, our CEO and COO’s excessive tequila shots (even though we technically don’t serve hard liquor at any company event due to a new company policy), and the fact that two of our colleagues’ plus-ones (platonic, at least) hooked up with each other. Funny and a little awkward to observe, but hey, they had an all-expenses trip paid for them due to their friends’ hard work, so… why not? I guess it’s not their work reputations on the line.

Tacos are not enchiladas

I had my usual bi-weekly team meeting from 5-6pm tonight, which means that Chris gets upset, as that means he has to eat dinner later. In his ideal world, my husband would like to eat dinner at 5 or 5:30. If my last meeting ends at 6, the earliest I’d be able to get home is 6:30, which means his stomach ends up grumbling and he gets grumpy.

I usually fix dinner for us, even if it’s just leftovers, since I’m a bit of a control freak, and I want to make sure that certain things are served the right way. If we’re having my chicken enchiladas with mole, for example, that means making sure each one is rolled with chicken, mole, cheese, and cilantro on the inside, then topped with more mole, cheese, and some avocado. But since I would be getting home later tonight, I told Chris he was in charge of fixing up dinner.

When I got home, the enchiladas were not rolled. Instead, they were presented on the plates as tacos fully open. “Hey, these aren’t enchiladas. These are tacos. You have to roll them!” I exclaimed.

“It’s all the same shit!” Chris indignantly said. “It’s a bunch of stuff in a tortilla!”

Uh-huh. Sure it is.

Bendy tripod switch at B&H

My heavy Sony zoom lens was weighing down my 3K Gorilla tripod, so I had to go back to B&H today to get a longer bendy tripod that could accommodate more weight. I went back to the store to get a heavier tripod, and I insisted that it still have the same bendy, flexible legs that my original one had. The salesperson didn’t seem to hear me say this and insisted that I get a rigid tripod that couldn’t extend as long. It was such a weird experience since my previous three visits to B&H were amazing; everyone was super helpful and friendly, and I always felt heard. This guy was clearly not listening to me when I said I wanted a taller tripod with bendy legs. The key words in that statement are “taller” and “bendy.” In the end, I got the 5K tripod that could accommodate up to 11 pounds and exchanged for this.

I received a B&H survey, which asked me for my overall customer satisfaction. For the most part, I gave extremely glowing reviews, but I did note that customer service was not fully consistent, as this last tripod experience was a bit spotty and I didn’t feel heard. They immediately followed up via email to ask me to provide more details so that they could ensure more consistent and great customer experience.

B&H is pretty amazing. They do pretty much every single thing right, from customer service to friendliness to speed of checkout to even price matching with Amazon. I almost feel lucky I’ve been able to shop there and have these experiences, and I never say that for in-store experiences anywhere and almost always rather buy online!

DiFara pizza-making class

What is arguably the best and most famous pizza in New York City has very recently decided to start pizza making classes at its old shop in Midwood, Brooklyn. The new manager of my team decided to do a team event here tonight, so I got to benefit from these classes. While it’s not a traditional cooking class in that you do not actually make the pizza dough, the tomato sauce, etc., from scratch, what you do get is to try one slice each of their signature slices, then shape your own dough into a pizza round/oblong, add your own seasoned tomato sauce (San Marzano tomatoes, no less) to the dough, then top with mozzarella, parmesan, and olive oil.

The DiFara pizza is noticeably different than other NYC pizza slices: the crust is thinner and crunchier, the tomato sauce is a bit more balanced between sweet and tangy, and the topping of parmesan and olive oil as a finish is always just right to add the last bit of savory and salty. I would not say it is my favorite pizza, as that would be a hard call to make, but it is definitely delicious and noteworthy, even without the original owner making every single pizza the way he always wanted. That just wasn’t scalable for his level of demand.

I enjoyed every bite of the pizzas, even the slice of the pizza I made where I tried a bite out of it right out of the oven. At 600 degrees F, I burned the roof of my mouth and left the place with tender and sore gums, but it was all worth it in the end. These are the moments I am so grateful to not have a gluten allergy.

And during the class, they closed DiFara’s. We noticed four guys knock on the door, and they begged and pleaded to let them buy two full pies, as they traveled all the way from London just to try this famous pizza. After some back and forth that probably lasted a few minutes, the workers relented and let them in. They freshly shaped and made the pies, stuck them in the oven, and the Brits paid and left happily with their hot and steamy fresh pies.

As I walked out, I noticed that even though DiFara’s says they are cash-only, they actually did have a credit-card machine that the Brits used to pay. And they also left the receipt on the counter… which showed that they tipped these guys over 50 percent.

Signs that you are thinking about work too much

When you start having dreams about your colleagues, that’s when you know that you either spend too much time at work or are thinking too much about work.

Last night, I dreamt that a colleague of mine, who is known for not being particularly social or interested in getting to know the rest of us, was actually a prolific Impressionist-style painter who painted endlessly every evening after work. She works at my company by day, but at night, she is either painting or selling her work at a gallery downtown.

In real life, I know this couldn’t be further from the truth, but perhaps this serves the point that not everyone is exactly who they seem to be at the office.