Our Option B – Learning from Sheryl Sandberg

May 21, 2020

Feng Jia, VP Data Science


Recently, I watched a FB live video. It was about Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, the joint author of the book, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy”. They talked about how we can all build resilience, find meaning, and support each other during this difficult time. It was very intriguing. Their words of

“Resilience is actually a muscle that you can work on.”;

“Resilience is not about just bouncing back. A lot of people actually bounced forward.”;

“We need to get through two traps. One is the trap of permanence. People tend to think there is no endpoint. The other is pervasiveness. We need to ask ourselves what could be worse.”

are vivid examples on how we could get through this difficult time. This also made me reflect on the journey I went over the past 2 months. Looking back, I feel a sense of strength and appreciation.

The Three Phases of My Personal Journey

Personally, I felt I went through three phases since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in our country. The 1st phase is the “panicking” phase. I remember in the early days of the outbreak when I heard our world renowned clients like Marriott and Hilton furloughed 2/3 of their employees, some of our other clients curtailed their engagement, I was in disbelief and didn’t know what to do. I ended up constantly checking the news, staying up late at night, and binge-watching Netflix over the weekend.  

After about a week or so, I moved into the 2nd phase, the “chaos” phase. A couple of reasons attributed to this. Firstly, my work got extremely busy. I needed to not only ensure we can deliver the best work to our current clients, but I was also pulled into many sales opportunities and presentations. Secondly, working-at-home is a challenge. I struggled at that time to juggle among daily meetings, doing my own work, encouraging my two teenage kids to be productive at home, etc. Thirdly, shelter-in-place changed many of my family’s regular life routines. I found the biggest challenge to me was that we were no longer able to do outdoor sports and go to the gym.

Through some self-reflection and help from my family and friends, I found myself in the 3rd phase shortly after. This is what I called the “bounce forward” phase. My kids and I made a pact that we run together 2-3 times for a total of 8-10 miles a week in our neighborhood for the entirety of quarantine. I became more used to working at home. I was doing better on schedule management and taking breaks. During the previous phases, I couldn’t even find time to eat lunch. Furthermore, I was able to find time to learn new data science techniques on Natural Language Processing during evening hours and weekends. For me, it was an amazing feeling to have control over my life again.  

The Sky's the Limit

I shared my story because it motivates me to push forward. I also believe many of you probably went through a similar journey as I did. Throughout this pandemic, my company BLEND360 has also bounced back. Overall business wise, we grew our top line with an expected 2Q20 7-8%, and our data science practice has an expected 45-50% growth rate YOY. Furthermore, we strengthened ourselves in many ways:

 

 

 

 

My Final Words

Please check out Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant ‘s video at https://www.facebook.com/sheryl/videos/10163272724870177/. I hope you will find it as inspiring as I did!

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