Anna Yen has worked at a wide range of tech companies. She spearheaded investor relations for industry leaders such as Tesla Motors, Market Watch, and Pixar Animations Studios, and reported directly to some of Silicon Valley's most respected leaders. She has co-founded several tech start-ups and is currently Managing Director at Ellipsis, an investor relations firm.
I can’t say this advice will work for everyone, but it worked for me.
I have an attitude towards life being short. If you want to be the type of person that really feels comfortable speaking your opinion, then it helps to find work that you’re passionate about. It could be the weather, a company, a product, or that you enjoy the role that you’re in, but there you have to enjoy what you do. If that’s the case, then you’ll feel like you’ll have more opportunities to speak up.
It doesn’t always work out. I’ve s gotten in a lot of trouble because people didn’t always like to hear my opinion. My advice on that is to state your opinion once and then let it go. If I’d known that, I would’ve fared a lot better.
I dove into everything that I did without any fear because I take this “life is short” attitude.
This worked out for me, but I was very lucky. I had great people that I worked for. Having persistence and thick skin for my personality certainly helped me land jobs with people in places I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
It comes back to exactly the same sort of things we’ve been talking about.
You have thick skin and learn from your mistakes. A lot of the times, especially in the beginning when I was getting fired, I deserved it. I was a smart mouth and I would argue with my bosses all the time. Unfortunately, it took me like three times for me to learn my lesson.
I would say you have to look at your failures as an opportunity.
I’ve always gotten save as much as you can and don’t use your credit cards.
There’s a lot of people that would say that’s the worst advice you could get because credit is cheap. Or if you could find the right credit card, interest rate, and Yada, Yada, Yada. I prefer a more conservative approach.
So, I stay away from the credit cards and pay everything with cash instead. Honestly, if I can’t pay cash, then I shouldn’t buy this all.
Investments don’t only need to involve money–you can invest in your friendships.
For me besides my education, it would be learning how to network. I have made a point to know how to build and grow my network–although it’s tremendously exhausting. Each time I meet someone and have meaningful conversations with them, that’s an investment of my time.
Networking isn’t only messaging someone through LinkedIn after meeting them. It’s about getting together with them and building a friendship with these people. For example, remembering their birthday or asking them if they want to grab burgers sometime. This will help you in the long run if you should ever need someone’s help.
But, don’t make friendships only because you may need something in the future.
I want to make an impact.
I would look for a nonprofit that was in need. I’m very, very interested in animal welfare and the treatment of animals and also cancer research. So I would want to put that to the best use.
I would say I’ve been there and that there’s a way out.
For example, you could rent out a room through Airbnb. That’s a great way to make extra money. You could also start driving a lift or get a roommate.
More important, I would say to put your ego aside. That’s so you can do what you need to do to earn extra money until you are smooth sailing.
Money means security and freedom.
It’s not about you being able to buy the things that you want. It’s more about the comfort that you get from money.
For example, if the government shuts down again, you’d be able to get through a couple of months without feeling stressed about this. Or, if you become sick you have some sort of cushion to fall back on.
Chris writes personal finance and productivity articles for software companies. He gets fresh ideas through continuously investing in himself and interviewing successful entrepreneurs.