Trade-offs and Triumphs 37 by @jennykim

Issue 37: Great Conversations and Dear Creative Writing, Approachable Design and Vectors are still my Nemeisis, Experiments, Closing Thoughts

👋 Hello, friends! Thank you for subscribing! Thank you for reading!

Welcome to issue 37 of Trade-offs and Triumphs - a newsletter of resources and thoughts about how to balance trade-offs in life to find and celebrate the small triumph; every decision point requires thinking through trade-offs and not just immediately aiming for the “solution.”

How was your week? What were your trade-offs and triumphs?

Special shout-out to my Morning Season writing team, Dan Greenwald and Abhi Verma. Without them, I could not have made some professional changes and exercised my courage muscle - find the stories that keep you safe but prevent you from growing #Storywatch.

Check out Dan’s workshops and Notion templates - once you learn to identify the stories that keep you “safe,” you will learn how to reframe to take the action to help you grow.

Thanks, Dan and Abhi!

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This week we will hit on:

👉 Great Conversations and Dear Creative Writing

👉 Approachable Design and Vectors are still my nemesis

👉 Experiments

👉 Closing Thoughts

For a quick oral summary of Issue 37, hit ▶️ below:

Great Conversations and Dear Creative Writing

Serendipity struck again. Great conversations can happen when you least expect it and not with the people you know regularly.

Incubate Me profiled LivingOS’s founder, Charlene Wang. She runs a coaching business, which focuses on personal growth. By day, she works as a product manager at Google, but she pioneered her value coaching practice to help entrepreneurs, creators, and leaders find, in 20 minutes, their key life values.

Charlene offerred the Incubate Me newsletter readers a link to experience her signature value coaching program in twenty minutes.

I signed up.

Skeptical mind, tired body, and somewhat closed-off heart entered this scheduled meeting. But during our twenty-minute conversation, Charlene demonstrated her love of systems and conversation to identify my values. And during the final exercise, this short letter popped into my head and out of my lips.

Dear Creative Writing,

What character will pop up today or tomorrow?

Once you pop up as a character, I don’t have any control over you anymore.

I also wonder: Am I you, or are you me?

Oftentimes, the pen writes itself on the paper. I’m not really sure where you came from. What mischief are you going to cause now?

You will exasperate and frustrate me, but I still need to get you out.

Forever Curious,


🎨Approachable Design but Vectors are still my nemesis

“What’s that?” my father asked, pointing to my blob on a large piece of paper.

“An elephant,” my 4-year old self announced proudly as I held up that large piece of paper.

My father shook his head. “Stop painting. That is not an elephant. You don’t know how to draw. Go do something else.”

A decade later…

“What did my teachers say? Am I doing well?” I inquired impatiently before my father even took off his coat. He had just gone to the parent-teacher conferences and had met with all of my teachers.

My father hung his jacket first and then met my eyes. “Study harder. You can do better in math.”

I nodded. “Ok. What else?”

“Your art teacher said that you have no talent in art. So don’t waste your time.”

I blinked. I nodded.

Since then, I have stayed away from color, text, and shapes. I accept my limitations:

  • I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler - curved, straight, or otherwise.

  • I have hundreds of unfinished crocheting projects that look like Jello and marshamallows experienced a terrible accident.

  • I have many unfinished cross-stitching projects that broke the cardinal rule of cross-stitching - the back looks nothing like the front.


But being terrible at something is no excuse not to learn it, or at least learn the basics of it.

Enter Approachable Design by Nate Kadlac. He and I were Write of Passage Cohort 5 classmates, and he was a guest lecturer on the first iteration of Minimum Viable Video led by Cam Houser and Julia Saxena (also former Write of Passage Cohort 5 classmates). Nate presented his design materials effortlessly and made it look much easier than it actually is. Most importantly, he spoke English when he explained design concepts.

So when Nate launched the first iteration of Approachable Design, I leapt. It was going to be only 8 students and a weekend - I could deal with that. Also, I wanted to know what questions to ask about design, because everything in the world actually revolved around design - whether it was reducing compliance friction for clients, or making items aesthetically pleasing.

I jumped into Approachable Design expecting that I would be a deer facing the headlights, especially when Nate spoke about developing our taste palettes.

Taste palettes!?! I did not have any taste, I had no talent in art, but I would try.

Nate did not disappoint - he and his co-instructors eased us in and made sure that we understood design’s basic concepts. We, the students, interviewed each other about our interests, values, and people important to us.

Board #1: Who Are YOU

Then Nate instructed us to review the “Who are you?” board and figure out which elements spoke to us. Using those elements, he wanted us to find photos to create our mood boards. Great, I could select photos that would be aesthetically appealing and symbolic.

Board #2: Mood Board

I felt cautiously optimistic. I completed the first two boards, but then the difficult part came: Review your mood board to

  • Select your fonts

  • Select your primary and secondary colors

  • And then find shapes in your most appealing photos.

I scratched my head on the first and third instructions. To a certain extent, all the fonts looked the same to me. How was I supposed to find shapes within the photos? I saw mountains, flowing gowns, arched ceilings, but what exactly was I supposed to do with all that?

Side note: I struggled with vectors in high school, and I still struggled with vectors in Figma. Full circle.

But then it started to make sense during my 1-on-1 with Nate - at least on how to find the shapes within the photographs. We can say that I helped choose the fonts - actually, I deferred to Nate’s design eye, which I do not have. All this resulted in the third board, which will be a perpetual work in progress.

Board #3: Jenny’s Fonts, Colors, and Shapes

Per the King from the movie, “The King and I,” fonts are still a puzzlement, and vectors continue to be my nemesis.

But I can’t shy away from what I don’t do well - otherwise, I will be shutting down opportunities, “etc. etc. etc., and so forth.”


Why just stop with design? Why not exercise my other “courage muscles” per Dan Greenwald?

Why not also figure out how to “Design and Refine Your Niche?” Because as lead instructor Maiko Sakai always emphasizes, “overnight success is 10 years in the making.”

Wheels started turning in my head when I took Maiko’s quiz - “What type of entrepreneur are you?” I am not sure what I expected, but I was super surprised when my result was “Acquired Taste.” The other categories were:

Crowd Pleaser, Community Builder, and My Way All the Way.

Take the quiz and see your results.

In the meanwhile, I started experimenting with the idea of workshops and how I can impart the “how-to” I had gained as an in-house corporate attorney to make the transition easier for other attorneys.

Stay tuned!

Closing Thoughts: True Champions, Being Inspired, and Feedback

Please leave me your questions or thoughts in the Comments section below 👇👇👇

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Be conscious of your trade-offs. Before settling on any one “solution,” run your fingers through all the trade-offs and decide intentionally and specifically.

And then celebrate your triumphs, no matter how small.

See you next week!