Speaking to a friend last week about work, something came over me that was strangely not my usual self. Maybe the inspiration came from TedX RVA Open Mic event I had attended a few days earlier, but when my thoughts on Job and Work became clearer while conversing, it seemed like a good idea to share that in front of 100 strangers at the next event. I despise public speaking and have avoided it at all cost whenever possible, so this was most surprising to me. But when talking myself out of it with a hundred reasons all started sounding like chickening out, there was no other way but just do it.
So this is what I fit into 2 minutes last night and I am glad I did it.
JOB vs WORK
TedX RVA Open Mic 2016
I have been JOBLESS for six years.
but my life has never been wealthier, or fuller.
and I think it’s because I found WORK.
do you have a JOB?
or do you have WORK?
I know we often interchange these two words,
but do you feel differently about them?
I feel that I am ARTFULLY living, and ARTFULLY making a living.
I don’t have to be an artist - a writer, painter, dancer - for my JOB and WORK to be the same.
So I would like to ask you…
Do you have a JOB?
OR do you have WORK?
I was happy to share my thoughts on participating #creativesprint as a group for the ramen ninjas. Glad it got shared with others and hope it will prompt more teams to participate next time.
Restaurant work can be grueling but requires you to remain happy and hospitable with guests at all times. Being on VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) campus, a lot of my staff are students and young people. Bringing #CreativeSprint to work encouraged them to show off their talents, have conversations with each other and most of all, a little fun.
A lot of what we did was more silly than artistic, but we laughed a lot. It put everyone in a better mood. I believe that positivity translated to our service to guests and that's how I justified the time we spent.
Watching young people collaborate and listening to their conversations while they work was my favorite part. We spend a lot of time together, so those family dynamics played out and it was good to watch them build on their relationships.
The most challenging part of my job as a manager is people; I can control a lot of tangible elements of the business, but I cannot force people to like each other or work well together. Building a team is truly like building a family - it takes time and heart and it's not always easy when you work in a fast-paced, high pressure environment where everyone is on the go. #CreativeSprint provided an opportunity to take a break, consciously engage with people I work with and have fun together. And doing that actually made the rest of the job easier.
Co-owner, Shoryuken Ramen
It was her silver hair I noticed first.
As women, going gray is a daily test for self confidence and acceptance. At 41, I now see more of gray hairs every time I look in the mirror, and each one rattles me just a little bit, even though I know full well I shouldn’t. Each time is an opportunity to accept my age, life and mortality and carry on. So when I see younger women with all silver hair who proudly made the decision not to dye it away, I immediately credit them with a level of confidence I strive to have.
Rebecca rocking her gloriously silver hair in a short cut, was sitting at my restaurant. Is she yet 40? Maybe. Then when I heard her speak in a distinctively direct way I made my final assessment: If there were a war to fight, we’d win if we sent her into the battle. I don’t know what war I was thinking of, but probably any war, any battle that’s worth the fight.
Weeks later I had made a connection that she is @thepoetryofthings on Instagram I was beginning to pay attention to and a mutual friend thought we should meet. Days later, we ran into each other at VMFA, where a small talk about ramen life led to all-out business in no time.
Rebecca> Can I give you an unsolicited advice?
R> You and your servers shouldn’t interrupt guests by asking if they need anything so often. Needing the validation the guests are doing OK comes partly from your insecurities. Take the water pitcher, fill up their glasses without interrupting. They will tell you if they need you. If not, all things are good and you walk away.
WHAT? Did she just read into my mind, pointed out something I need to improve on, then suggested a solution? Yes, she did, without missing a beat, feeling uncomfortable or making me feel uncomfortable.
Those of you know me well enough know that I eat this shit up. I love NO BS women who are direct, know their stuff and get stuff done, but do so without losing warmth and elegance.
I went back to dinner service that night and tried this new trick. Worked like a charm! And I did feel more chill and confident.
So that’s how Rebecca got on the top of my Ramen With Strangers guest list. I could not wait to spend more time with her. When she showed up for a late lunch, I discovered the softer side of this Joan D’arc when we chatted about work, family, fighting cancer and true to form for two single women in 40s, dating.
our lunch menu:
House sodas with ginger beer and pear shrub
Karaage Buns of Steam
Veggie Hiyashi Chuka
Originally posted on Instagram: 2gutsygirls
I was telling my#ramenwithstrangers date yesterday that for many years I tried to reconcile my all-out intensity work mode and uber chill/whatever-goes attitude because you couldn't possibly be both.
Some love one aspect of me but not the other, and meeting the Chill Sarah first then discovering the Worker Sarah can sometimes be a jarring experience (queue the ex husband who met the post-Katrina girl happy to be hanging on the beach for days in his baggies and frayed tank, then slashed $70K from a data conversion contract on day 2 of a new job confidently declaring, "I don't need a consulting team.
I got this."). I wasn't happy until I accepted that I AM both, and everything in between.
So here is to doodling pink flowers (like this one), not cowering from tough conversations, crying to Chopin, telling people what to do, gushing over babies and furry creatures and standing with my back straight when someone tells me I cannot do or have something I want, until I prove them wrong. Or at least until I learn they are right, but only after I give it a shot anyway.
Here is to nurturing all small buds to become something beautiful.
More thoughts on my ramen date coming later this week.
I have been thinking about this for a whole week and in Sarah-time, that's a long time to consider if I'm going to do something. So I am going to just start and see what happens: I'm launching Ramen With Strangers.
Tomorrow, lunch service starts at Shoryuken Ramen. And that very realistically means I will be physically at the restaurant more than any place else, six days a week.
For those of you know me well enough, being in the community with lots of freedom to get involved in anything and everything is my lifeforce and as excited as I am about Shoryuken's potential, I am nervous of what this could mean for that area of my life, which I identify with deeply as my personal and professional value.
So, if I can't come to them, I will invite them to come to me.
I'm going to invite so many Richmonders that I'm yet to meet, or only know of superficially, or would like to get to know better, for ramen and a cocktail whenever they can join me at Shoryuken Ramen. I know I will thoroughly love the experience as it is the people I feel most passionately about and if it is of any interest to others, they can read about it on this page.
I have no idea what the frequency of posts will be, but I do have a long list of people I've been dying to meet. So follow me here. Or suggest people here. Or better yet, if you want to be my guest both to my restaurant and the blog, please message me. And if you think this may be fun, please share.
Off to send invites now, oh, and please come see me for lunch this week!
#moveDOconnect #ramenlife #ramenrva
Not very often, but periodically, I find myself in that uncomfortable space where everything is out of my control for the moment. Not in a bad way, but everything and everyone is in the right place and wheeling forward on their own, but it is just not show time yet. There is nothing for me to push forward or pull backward. I just have to let things be.
That’s a hard thing to do when you are used to doing something. A lot of somethings. All the time.
Right now is one of those times. Shoryuken Ramen pop-up will kick off at 5PM. We opted not to take reservations and it’s a Monday coming off of Thanksgiving weekend. But our press release post got 5,000+ views and more on RVANews.com and our fans tend to be on top of things when it comes to our events. So while I technically do not know what to expect, I know enough to expect both scenarios and prepare as best as I can. That includes channeling the nervous energy in most productive way and refrain from impulsively reacting-- checking on all the team players repeatedly, posting a hundred things on social media and pinging close friends to see if this is on their radar.
It is learning to not react, until the right time. It is also a practice of having faith in your own process that if all things were taken care of in a right manner to this moment, that no action does not mean lack of progress. It is actually giving it time to progress and develop without poking at it constantly.
So this post is an attempt to fill that gap of time somewhat productively; because I’ve already put in five hours of work at full speed and it’s only 10:30AM, because my list is half checked off already and I need to avoid filling the extra time slots with random things to do to avoid feeling uncomfortable if I want to last till 11PM without losing my cool and because I cannot possibly drink more caffeine today.
If I could tell my 25-year-old self anything, I would tell her this. And probably to start running earlier, practice yoga sooner and tell her it was a great idea not to consider having children for the sake of their sanity.
Ugh, it’s only 10:37AM.
Working for myself is probably the most rewarding and yet the scariest thing I've ever done. Whenever I catch myself thinking I'm crazy for choosing this path, I center myself again by reading the words of Joseph Campbell that I found by accident years ago:
“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.”
― Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth)
It is the first and often the only thing I will share with others that I come across, who I presume to be on a similar path of dreaming big and working to realize those dreams. I suspect this is as close to a religion as I am going to get, for I often think of words such as faith, truth, gospel and heaven... and sometimes, hell. :)
Sarah SeoYun Choi
October 21 at 8:13pm · Richmond, VA
Sometimes I actually like having no other option but to continue. Hours seem to stretch, right people come to your aid at the right time and solutions present themselves in light. It's either I'm incredibly lucky or hopelessly delusional, or a bit of both.
But this I'm quite clear: If you are not on board, you may want to step aside from my path today, and I ask you do so with speed and accuracy. Please. And Thank you.
Sarah SeoYun Choi
I've been running at full speed since 5AM this morning and my projects at hand made me remember that I set my intention for this life way back in January. Sooner than I thought then, but seriously,
BRING IT, Richmond.