Finding out more from Claudia…
1. If you could go back and give your 2010 self one piece of advice, what would it be? In university, I was told that all of us are going to do the next big thing and that I can be anything I want if I put my mind to it. Nothing is impossible. Looking back, I feel that this kind of message we tell young people is a half-truth and somewhat misleading. “Having passion” and “putting your mind to it” is one thing (a good thing), but recognizing that a lot of it is simply hard work and perseverance, expecting ten failures for each success, being humble enough to know that you don’t have a lot of the answers (and that that’s okay), and asking for help and wisdom in places where you don’t feel like you have it, is just as more, if not, more important.
When we tell people they can be anything they want (glory and achievement) without acknowledging the pain and hardship that comes with (trial/error and dedication), we set them up for failure because at least in my case, I got down on myself when I did experience the hard stuff (“they said that I can be anything I want so why is this so hard? Is there something wrong with me?” No, there’s nothing wrong with you because the system we live in doesn’t have incentives or rewards for entrepreneurs who are thinking against the grain – and that’s what it takes to bring true innovation. It’s because the job market is generally crappy right now and if you’re a marginalized person, the system has probably been working against you, your family, or your community. It’s also because you’re human and so is everyone else. Mistakes happen. That’s okay.
All we see and hear about is the people who are shiny and great and we ask them to talk about all their greatness, which builds inspiration but indulgence in this area puts horse blinders over our eyes and chips away our aptitude for resilience. And that’s what we need today more than ever in our young leaders in a world of instant gratification and multidirectional distractions: everyone is passionate or excited about something but not everyone can be resilient and committed to figuring out how to solve a problem (or figuring out what that problem is at its core). Along those lines, I would’ve told myself that it takes four years to get good at anything new so have a little more patience and don’t be so freaking hard on yourself.
2. What has been the most unexpected experience/encounter on your journey to meaningful work? How incredibly talented and interesting people who work in social change are. How resilient they are given all the systemic pressures working against them as an activist, as a person of colour, as a young person, as a marginalized person.
3. Career decision that scared you the most: There’s a Chinese proverb a local entrepreneur shared with me: “it’s hard to start but it’s even harder to sustain.” A few years ago, I remember a stat that said only one-third of restaurants survive past their third birthday in the Vancouver market. I feel like nonprofits exist under that same reality. Starting a nonprofit is relatively easy, growing and sustaining it is the challenging part. I thought starting the work was the climax of the roller coaster ride and we’d be coasting from there but I realized that we’re really just started the engine and the next two years of figuring out how to hit our sweet spot in terms of the content for our work, and finding sustained funding for it will be the start of the climb. So I guess you could say that part of the ride we’re in right now is a bit scary but overall, I see it as an exciting challenge that will push me to my limits in a good way.
4. Career investment that has paid off the most: Taking the time through trial and error to find a few mentors who are able to support me through my personal and professional challenges. In my personal experience, I think it’s rare to find an all-in-one mentor or coach that can help you in all aspects of your life (maybe they can but don’t have time), so finding different people (they may already exist in your life) whether that be friends, family, or in your professional field to help you in different areas (career, spiritual, political, family, friendship, relationship) and taking up the job of synthesizing all that information and support has been the most rewarding.
5. What generation do you belong to? Gen Y.
6. Name one Vancouver-based community non-profit whose social impact work you value/appreciate/admire: I really admire Pivot Legal Society. They work on some of today’s most pressing social issues in the poorest neighbourhood of Canada, fighting for those who are most marginalized and impacted by an oppressive system. They are articulate but edgy and fun too.
7. TV Character Alter Ego: I would like to be Sarah Silverman’s apprentice.