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In 2020 Vancouver BC my home was called the anti-asian hate crime capital in North America. With 1 out of 2 asian descendants reporting a hate crime.*

Cathy Park Hong takes the time to provide personal stories from her early 20s in university to today in her 40s stating how she started thinking about writing this book because of her daughter.

The book title came from theorist Sianne Ngai who wrote extensively about negative emotions, and how minor feelings are "non-cathartic states of emotion." Another example is when she is told that "Things are so much better here" and "Asians are so successful," when she feels like a failure.

In the chapter called “The end of white innocence” she shares how there was a lot of shame in her life. She also provides an example of living in the USA and not realizing the cultural nuances. Cathy was in grade 4 when she went to school wearing a red shirt with a white silhouette of a bunny. During school a student came up to her to ask "do you know what that means?" The author said no and saw the student smirk and walk away. Cathy is filled with shame and doesn’t know why. It was a playboy bunny shirt. This is common for immigrant children to be made fun of over something that is beyond them.

I discussed this book with my partner Alex who is Filipino and he shared how he was told to always be good and don’t cause a scene. These comments stick with us and start to affect our identity as "the good asian student."

This book is raw and real and I am grateful for the author to share her experience with the world.

*Vancouver Is the Anti-Asian Hate Crime Capital of North America (


So this book looks at the myth around work that if you just show up, work hard, listen and stick it out you will be rewarded. Who else has heard that before? And then remember the time when a colleague received a promotion and you thought to yourself, wait I have more experience.

This book debunks this myth and provides alternatives to how to be indispensable

The author talks about meeting David and how friendly and helpful he was working at a high end coffee chain Dean & Deluca. When asked about his great attitude he said "I work for blessings". I bet if we asked his co-workers who they like working with I bet David's name would be number 1 or 2. Now I don’t work for blessings but I definitely try to bring humour, curiosity and support to the work I do. My role is to support people on their EDI journey….no it doesn’t mean they get a free pass to say any racist or sexist comments but I do take the time to understand.

This book spends quite a bit of time talking about the Lizard brain aka "resistant brain". The lizard brain is focused on anger, sex, revenge and fear. You know the person at work "well I knew it wouldn’t work." This is all because fear takes over and people don’t want to be uncomfortable. Discomfort brings change and with that we have opportunities.

In this chapter Seth Godin says successful people think about failure differently. They don’t feel bad about trying; they look at it as an opportunity for growth to get better and move on to more challenges. Can you imagine if we all could think of failure like this?

So near the end of the book the author says there is no one way to become a linchpin, however you have to make the choice every day to be better. Atomic Habits by James Clear talks about the 1% improvement and how these small improvements are cumulative over time. On page 218 you can read about the abilities of the linchpin. I don’t want to ruin it for you.

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I am always curious to find out what I call secret nuggets of knowledge on how people become experts. This book provides some insight.

Divided into 3 parts: deep practice, ignition and master coaching.

Let's start with something called Futsal where soccer is played in a room with a small ball that is 2x the weight of a regular soccer ball. Virtually every great Brazilian player played futsal and the reason they became great players was because they touched the ball 6 times more per minute and the heavier ball demanded precise handling. You couldn’t just kick the ball down the field. And players touching the ball more often translates into learning faster. It reminded me of the work in diversity and inclusion and how we start with pilot programs to test and modify before we expand regionally or globally. Pilot programs are where you can test out what is working and it gives you an opportunity to change quickly and make the program better before expanding to other teams.

My favourite chapter was called The Talent Whisper. It discusses what makes an amazing coach. The author talks about John Wooden who led UCLA to 9 national championships in the previous 10 years and his coaching style. What is interesting is that he doesn't spend a lot of time giving compliments or getting angry at the players but spends most of the time providing pure specific information to make the players better. He also knows the players and what kind of information is needed for each.

How does this relate to equity, diversity and inclusion? Well it made me think of the way I work with the diversity taskforce and why it's important to know each member of the group personally to find out how to bring out their best talents.

I would say the Culture Code was better than the Talent Code, however still an interesting read. Every book provides an opportunity to learn something new.

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