What we can learn from one of the most successful women in the world

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I just finished reading Shonda Rhimes’s book called Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, and I have to say, it’s a really funny book. Which is surprising because Rhimes is not a comedian. She’s the creator of serious, award-winning TV dramas like Grey’s Anatomy (one of my favorites), Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and most recently, Bridgerton on Netflix. She’s a powerhouse in the entertainment industry, and with a recent deal with Netflix, she’s only going to get bigger.

It’s an honest, poignant book about redefining success…


How the feeling is represented in popular culture

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One of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read is called Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I read it almost three summers ago, in August 2018, and was immediately wowed by it. Now, years later, I’m still wowed by it. Not surprisingly, Honeyman’s debut novel won the Costa Award for first novel in 2017; the book propelled her into international fame and landed in my hands and the hands of many others who no doubt enjoyed the book as much as I did.

What’s surprising to me about the book is that it’s not an immediate draw…


From guides on how to monetize your passion to classes on entrepreneurship, marketing, creating, and everything in between, we live in a world burdened by the need to produce and earn. It’s time to rethink this “how to” ideology

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I’ve never lived in such a polarized or confused world. Everywhere I look, there is conflicting information about what I should be doing with my life, career-wise. First, there are classes and workshops that promise to help you find your “passion” and thrive in the current economy. Then, there are the people telling me that it’s okay to have a day job, that I should set aside my free time to work on what I’m passionate about. There seems to be no marriage between these two ideas. I simply cannot focus on my “passion” entirely, or I’d get burned out…


In other words, navigating my new normal

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Today I purchased a bar of soap at a local grocery store. Not just any bar of soap — but a bar of the pure castile, “not tested on animals” kind.

This is clearly not the most mind-boggling or exciting fact in the world, but for me, it’s new. It’s different. It’s me venturing into something I don’t normally do — buying bars of soap. I’ve always been a body wash and loofah kind of girl, so the fact that I was even looking at soaps was a surprise even to me.

As I walked the beauty and bath aisles…


On being intentional with your time and other ways to become less distracted

Cartoon image courtesy of Bizarro.com

Recently, I was roasted by my eight-year-old daughter.

While glancing at my computer screen one day, she saw that I had a lot of tabs opened on my browser. Now, if you know me well, you’d know that I have (what I consider) a major character flaw — I always have too many tabs open, because I always think, “I’m going to get to that eventually.” That ‘thing’ can be a video that I want to watch, a podcast I want to listen to, or a website with beautiful pictures that I can admire, or something related to a task…


On belief systems, identity and working your mind muscle

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If you walk into the self-help section of any bookstore or library, you might come across a simple, bright cover book with an eye-popping word — “badass,” which might prompt you to stop and glance at it. The author, Jen Sincero, isn’t someone you’ve heard of. In fact, if it weren’t for the book You Are a Badass, and the two subsequent ones, you may never have heard about her at all!

In the mid-2000s, Jen Sincero was in her 40s living in a garage in Venice Beach, California when she realized that she had no money in her savings…


These are the most common traits that one should have

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As someone who aspires to be an entrepreneur (or rather, work for myself), I’ve always been fascinated by people in business, technology, sports, entertainment, and/or creative industries who seem to embody the kind of personality that enables them to succeed. It wasn’t until I made a conscious effort to learn more about entrepreneurs from all types of industries that I soon realized how little I knew about the struggles of entrepreneurs.

To be an entrepreneur requires a lot more than a certain type of personality. It has very little to do with upbringing and more to do with persistence, passion…


A tale of some noodles that almost killed me

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Recently, I realized that one of the most common things I do is also one of the greatest mysteries — eating spicy foods. Consider, for example, the following phrases:

Koreans are obsessed with spicy food. (Kimchi, anyone?)

Asians love to eat noodles.

Everything’s better with sriracha.

The first two are common stereotypes; the last one, I made up.

On a fourth season episode of the TV show Kim’s Convenience, titled “Chammo,” Kimchee Han, played by Andrew Phung, stakes his ability to eat the spiciest foods ever. During a scene, he discovered his coworkers had given another coworker, Terrence, the nickname…


“The process of changing your habits is the process of rewriting your story.”

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The late basketball player Wilt Chamberlain once said, “Everything is habit-forming, so make sure what you do is what you want to be doing.” There’s no time when that’s truer than right now, in the dark days of January, when many of us are beginning to work on New Year’s Resolutions — things like Dry January, working out, eating better, etc.

Many of us were forced to change our habits when the pandemic happened. As a result, our view of the world and of ourselves changed. For the past nine months, I’ve been running. It started with several days a…


It’s not something you’re born with — it’s something you work towards

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Have you ever sat on the bleachers at a baseball game, with great anticipation rising up in your chest as you watch a player slide into home base? Or sat at a basketball game and watch with awe as a player dunks the ball into the hoop? Or be mesmerized when you’re listening to a violin player at an orchestra? Or be completely blown away when you’re watching a gymnast fly through the air faster than you can say “cheese”?

These all appear to be great feats done by superhumans who possess a certain skill or talent. …

Hoang Samuelson

Editor @ BooknBrunch. Writer of personal essays, short stories, fiction, and the occassional book review. More at hoangsamuelson.com

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