written by
Srinivas Rao

Laura Huang: Turning Adversity into Advantage

2 min read

These are cliff notes from an episode of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast

1. Laura’s parents were immigrants who instilled the values of resourcefulness and hard work. Later in life however she learned that the world does not exactly function based on meritocracy and that hard work in and of itself is not enough. That motivated her to write her book.

2. Parenting is a role in which there is no instruction manual and many things are being done on a fly. Having underlying principles is helpful. Laura’s children are being raised in a multicultural family and she is trying to preserve some immigrant values like diverse perspectives on life but also encourages children to have their own identity.

3. Students are often torn between the pragmatic or passionate path in life. Although engagement and passion are important, sometimes we have responsibilities we need to fulfill and we need to put our passions on the back burner. That is OK because we can go back later and pursue them.

4. We usually choose a career based on one trait but we have multiple and the way they combine may differ significantly from person to person.

5. In the time of crisis or uncertainty, we often do what everyone else does and in doing so we usually perpetuate the same problems. Many resources are now emphasizing the power of grit and grit is important but so is being smart and strategic.

6. Laura is a proponent of the idea “Grow where you are planted”. That means leveraging your own strengths within your own context. Privilege is real but most of us can do at least something to set things in motion. And because we are all different and living in different circumstances, there is no such thing as a universally good decision. Each decision has to be observed in the context (is it the right decision for you at this moment) and that is where you start creating your own edge.

7. Laura’s book is titled Edge, which is the acronym of the following words: Enrich- that’s how you provide value; Delight- providing value to others in unexpected ways; Guide- even after you enrich and delight, you need to direct next steps; Effort- that is a hard work that comes last because when you stand in your strengths, hard work is more effective.

8. In the world of work, we see a lot of mismatches in hiring. Managers usually stick to performance improvement plans rather than go one step back and investigate persons motivations and reasons for low performance. For employees, many roles are ‘bridge jobs’ taken out of the necessity. In today’s world of work, we need to be proactive in creating our own roles rather than relying on a system and our busy managers.

9. There are two components of success: the value we add and the value that others perceive. These can be correlated but they don’t have to be. We all know that the be person that does an average job but goes above and beyond to promote it and is thus perceived as valuable. Many of us were told that we should let our work speak for itself but that is not good advice. We should make an effort to show it and work on a presentation to make sure others perceive us the way we want.

10. To be unmistakable according to Laura, you need to own where you come from and own where you are going.

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