Knowing your purpose can be hard.
Correction: Knowing your purpose IS hard.
Meet Michael K. Pham
Being raised in a low-income household with parents who were refugees from the Vietnam War, Michael Pham’s identity has always been influenced by his family background. After graduating from high school in 2018, Michael took the unorthodox route of taking a gap semester during which he got connected with an international mentorship program called Vision 365. During his time as a V365 ambassador, Michael was able to explore entrepreneurship and business leadership, eventually deciding to pursue social commerce.
“Freedom for family.” That’s Michael’s brand.
All of us, regardless of our age and background, have a reason behind the things that we do. If we are lucky, we already know our “why” (a concept by Simon Sinek), and are actively pursuing it. Most of us, however, are still in the process of finding our vision and discovering the brand that we want to build for ourselves.
So how do we do that? I asked Michael who already knows his purpose at the young age of 20.
According to Michael, finding his “why” took 4 questions.
The 4 Questions To Ask Yourself
1. Who are you at your core?
“Before you ever identify yourself with your major or career, the first step you take is knowing who you are. My background of being raised by refugee parents is something I will carry for myself a whole life. I do not believe that my major, occupation, career, company, etc. fully represent who I am as a person. They are just a part of me, like a slice of the pie.”
2. Given who you are, what do you believe in?
“Given that I am the son of refugees, I believe in financial security and stability for my parents. My values correspond with my brand that’s freedom for family.”
3. What do you want?
“What do you want… not from a career, but from your life. Do you want to make ends meet, more time on your hands, more choices in your life, etc.? We all want different things, so it is important to figure out what YOU want from YOUR life.”
4. What can take you to what you want?
“Now that you know who you are, what you believe in, and what you want, you need something that can take you there. In my case, entrepreneurship can take me to those things that I want; but everybody has a different road that can take them to success.”
Don’t Be Told What To Pursue
“In our current generation, we have so many options given to us. We’re told to do this… do that… pursue this career… take that path. Instead of understanding what we actually want, we tend to follow what others want for and from us, including those popular paths that are widely deemed successful. What I have learned over the years is that: the first step to being financially independent is to be independent in your decision-making.
As much as I love my parents and as much as I want to make them proud, I know that I need to make decisions of my own accord. If I want to make my parents proud, I can pursue an education at a top university like Harvard or Stanford, like most Asian Americans. But what I want is financial independence. And are those schools going to help me achieve that? Can Harvard realistically take me there? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. In my case, I feel like entrepreneurship is what can take me there – a better quality of life for my parents and myself.”
Stop Comparing Yourself
“For a very long time, I felt that I was behind my peers. Being in the Bay area where a lot of my peers were landing prestigious internships and full-time jobs, I found myself struggling to really understand myself and my potential as I scrolled through social media.
What really helped was starting my online business venture from scratch. As I saw results and growth in my team, I was able to start ignoring comparisons and truly understand my potential.
You don’t have to compare yourself less. You just have to surround yourself with people who understand you and see your potential – with or without your credentials.
I was blessed to have met people who didn’t see me for my GPA or my vocation but instead, saw me for where I was heading. A lot of young people do not have these people around them. And that’s why networking is so important to me, because I can work hard to seek out the right people who can add value to one another’s lives.”
Take A Chance
“Give yourself a chance. Take risks. If anything, the riskiest thing alive is to take no risks.
I don’t want to say go out of your comfort zone too much to the point where it can harm you. But try new things, increase your capacity to learn. Only then can you understand your full potential and what you can both create and overcome in life.
Ratatouille is one of my favorite movies, and I came up with this myself: COOC (COOK) – anyone can Create Opportunities or OverCome.”
***Michael’s 2-5 year plan is to transfer to Cal State Fullerton by the end of 2021 and graduate in 2023. On the side, he will continue building his brand via v365 so that he can eventually make passive income for his parent.