Earlier this year, I froze my eggs. It was a very spur of the moment decision. I woke up one morning and thought, “I’d like to freeze my eggs.” My next thought was “I’d like to eat a strawberry chicken salad for lunch today.” And I made both things happen. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now I think my subconsciousness was telling me that this was something smart to do before I turned 30.
I’m really happy I did this. I unfortunately don’t have any interest in having children now. Most of my co-workers have children and they are wonderful parents as they spend a lot of time with their children and are very involved with their lives. Previously, the idea of children was very abstract to me. But now that I’ve observed what it’s actually like to be a good parent, I have a much better idea of what it entails. Freezing my eggs will buy me time to make this decision.
The actual process of freezing my eggs wasn’t that bad at all. I just called the fertility office, set up an initial consultation appointment, and got the go-ahead after they checked my ovarian reserve, which is the functional capacity of my ovaries, and ran some blood tests. Everything looked good and I was on my way. One of the first things to do is to spend a ridiculous amount of money on fertility medication, which you can pick up at your local drugstore.
Once I started the fertility shots, things really got underway. The shots weren’t bad at all. There are instructional videos online that teach you how to administer them yourself. You don’t even think about them anymore after a few days, it just becomes second nature.
Around the sixth day, there was a feeling of heaviness and I felt like there was something growing inside me. I felt like Noomi Rapace in Prometheus when she finds out there’s an alien growing inside her, she climbs into the medpod, the medpod cuts her open, yanks out the alien octopus baby like a claw crane yanking out an overpriced toy, and then staples her back up. Note to all the ladies reading this: DO NOT watch the clip if you plan to have your eggs frozen. Bad idea.
During the last few days of shots, the heaviness feeling just got stronger. My tummy also got more bloated. I didn’t exactly look pregnant but around the fifth or sixth day, my pants didn’t zip all the way up. I went in every morning around the last week for an ultrasound so the nurse could monitor how the follicles were growing in my ovaries and administer some more blood tests. Things were growing at a good pace and the doctor kept adjusting the dosage of fertility shots I would inject myself with every day. I felt a little weird but there was no pain.
But during the morning of the procedure, I woke up feeling incredibly nauseous and quite terrible. I had never felt this nauseous before in my life. The heaviness feeling started to feel overwhelming. I guess that alien octopus baby wanted out RIGHT NOW.
I made my way to the fertility clinic and once I got on the operating table, the anesthesiologist got to work and I conked out. “100, 99 … ZZZZZZZZ …. Electric sheep. ” When I woke up, the doctor told me how many eggs he retrieved. I gave him a high five.
I felt great if a little groggy. The nausea and feeling of heaviness had completely gone away. I didn’t feel any bad side effects after. I honestly felt fantastic. The hills are alive with the sound of music!
Just to be clear, freezing an egg doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have one baby. It’s not like a magician waving a wand and then suddenly, TA-DA! Presto, chango, this egg has transformed into a baby. Frozen eggs are like baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean. Not all of them make it. There’s always a jerk hawk that swoops in out of nowhere and eats the baby sea turtle.
When you thaw the eggs, some go bad. When you mix the egg with the sperm to create an embryo, not all embryos are good. When the embryo is implanted in the mother, not all of the implantations take. There’s this stat that 10-20 frozen eggs means one healthy child. (That stat varies based on how old you are when you froze your eggs - the younger, the better - but gosh, that’s a pretty tight funnel). I don’t plan on having more than one kid, if any, so I figure I’m good to go.
Having said all this, I am confident I made the right decision for myself. If you are a young woman reading this and you have the financial means to do so, this might be something to consider. My entire out of pocket cost (for the procedure, the medication, the ultrasounds, the blood tests) was around $12K (not including the annual egg storage costs after, which are several hundred dollars / yr). My health insurance, surprisingly enough, covered some of it. Egg freezing costs have actually gone down over the past few years and I think it may even go down more in the future. Companies like Apple and Facebook are even covering that cost for their employees.
In the past, women who wanted to have children unfortunately had to stick to a strict timeline. In your 30s, it’s now or never. I believe that freezing your eggs will give you more control over your life and hopefully help you make smart decisions about who to have children with.
Good luck, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Ending of the "The Social Network" directed by David Fincher; song is "Baby, You're a Rich Man" by The Beatles
I've never seen the The Social Network (2010) by David Fincher but I hear it's pretty good. I'll get to it someday. I was reading the synopsis on wikipedia and the ending intrigued me.
Mark Zuckerberg has "won." He's won the numerous lawsuits filed against him, built the largest social network in the world, and is the youngest billionaire ever. But at the end of the day, he is alone. He sits in a dark room by himself and thinks about the one thing he can't ever have - his ex-girlfriend. At the end of the day, despite everything he has achieved, he's still searching for a connection. A real one.
I think a lot about money and what it can buy - a lovely home in a great neighborhood, freedom, independence, etc. But I also learned a few years ago that there are some things that money will never be able to buy you. A real, genuine connection. You can obviously buy companionship but if you know deep down that it's not real, then what's the point? It reminds me to be fully present when I'm with people I appreciate and am very fond of. I'm lucky I have those people in my life and I hope I'll always remember to never take them for granted.
"Be worthy of your advantages ... Dream big. Work hard. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency ...” -David Mccullough Jr
Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal are two of my favorite movies of all time. Both are definitely in the top 20 list. I vaguely remember reading the book Hannibal, written by Thomas Harris, when I was younger, but I think because I loved the movie so much, the book was a bit of a let-down. But there was one thing I remembered. Hannibal Lector had stashed large sums of money around the world knowing that if he ever had to go on the run (like what happened at the end of Silence of the Lambs), he’d just retrieve the money and be okay, wherever he was. I am OBVIOUSLY NOT ADVOCATING that anyone become a cannibal or commit crimes but the idea that even Hannibal Lector was aware of how financial independence can get you out of a sticky jam.
Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of commencement speeches. I guess it’s that time of year again. Everyone always talks about how you shouldn’t be afraid to fail but no one ever talks about the importance of saving and investing, about how that will help cushion the fall and help you get back up.
If I were ever asked to give a commencement speech, I would spend the entire 20 minutes talking about saving and investing your money. But I’d make it really fun. I’d tell a lot of jokes, jump around the stage, wave my arms around, do a song and dance number directed by Baz Luhrmann himself, all the while wearing a tophat, a long silver cape, and ruby-encrusted disco shoes. I just really want students to know that they should start investing their money NOW, that time is on their side.
But these commencement speeches are still pretty good. Below are some of my favorites:
1) Conan O’Brien 2000 Harvard Class Day Speech
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cFY0-IFcwc
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErZVczhKIss
I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of the Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet every failure was freeing, and today I’m as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good. So that’s what I wish for all of you—the bad as well as the good. Fall down. Make a mess. Break something occasionally. Know that your mistakes are your own unique way of getting to where you need to be. And remember that the story is never over.
If you’ll indulge me for just a second, I’d like to read a little something from just this year. “Somehow, Conan O’Brien has transformed himself into the brightest star in the late-night firmament. His comedy is the gold standard, and Conan himself is not only the quickest and most inventive wit of his generation, but quite possibly the greatest host ever.” Ladies and gentlemen, class of 2000, I wrote that this morning. As proof that when all else fails, you always have delusion.
2) Conan O’Brien 2011 Dartmouth Commencement Address
There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized. I went to college with many people who prided themselves on knowing exactly who they were and exactly where they were going. At Harvard, five different guys in my class told me that they would one day be President of the United States. Four of them were later killed in motel shoot-outs. The other one briefly hosted Blues Clues, before dying senselessly in yet another motel shoot-out. Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42. One's dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course.
3) Conan O'Brien's Speech 2006 Stuyvesant High School Graduation Speech
I don’t want to freak you guys out, but twenty five years ago, I could have been any one of you. I went to a public high school, and I was a bright, ambitious, hard working kid who wanted more than anything to go to a good college. The only problem is, I was much more interested in succeeding than in really learning. When you’re a smart kid in a competitive school, it’s an easy trap to fall into. So I did a lot of things in high school not because I enjoyed them but because I thought they look good on an application. I think you know what I’m talking about. I was on a debate team — hated it. I ran track — I was terrible, I got so bored running the two mile that I tried to talk with my opponents during the race. “what are you gonna do later, I mean you gonna be doing something later?” I joined school government — hated it. Of course, like many of you I worried obsessively about my GPA and my SAT scores. And of course, it worked. I got into the college of my choice and to this day I’m proud of the work I did in high school.
But old habits die hard. Once I got into college, I had every intention of joylessly grinding away again. I was gonna turn college into just another step on the road to being successful, whatever that meant. I told people my plan was to go to graduate school in law or government, just because I thought that’s what smart people were supposed to do. And then something really weird happened. My roommate — by the way, he was the weird roommate — my roommate was going to an orientation meeting at the Harvard Lampoon, the school humor magazine, and I decided for some reason to tag along. I wrote one piece, then I wrote another piece, then another. Before long, I was running the place. The only difference was, I was joyously happy. I was succeeding at something because I loved the process, not because I was trying to get anywhere. I had found the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I honestly didn’t care where it took me or what it paid.
So when I graduated form college in 1985 I told my parents “thanks for the amazing Ivy League education, now I want to be a comedian.” Later, in the emergency room after they woke up, they said they were fine with my decision, and I was on my way. I’ve had a lot of highs, I’ve had my share of lows, but if I hadn’t allowed myself to experiment and risk doing something without a clear career payoff, I might have missed out on so much.
4) David Mccullough Jr 2012 Wellesley High School Graduation Speech
Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction. Be worthy of your advantages. And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principal, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life. Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer...
The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that fell into your lap because you’re a nice person or Mommy ordered it from the caterer.
5) Drew Houston MIT 2013 Commencement Speech
They say that you're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Think about that for a minute: who would be in your circle of 5? ... One thing I've learned is surrounding yourself with inspiring people is now just as important as being talented or working hard. Can you imagine if Michael Jordan hadn’t been in the NBA, if his circle of 5 had been a bunch of guys in Italy? Your circle pushes you to be better.
I used to worry about all kinds of things, but I can remember the moment when I calmed down. I had just moved to San Francisco, and one night I couldn't sleep so I was on my laptop. I read something online that said "There are 30,000 days in your life." At first I didn't think much of it, but on a whim I tabbed over to the calculator. I type in 24 times 365 and — oh my God, I'm almost 9,000 days down. What the hell have I been doing? … So that’s how 30,000 ended up on the cheat sheet. That night, I realized there are no warmups, no practice rounds, no reset buttons. Every day we're writing a few more words of a story. And when you die, it's not like "here lies Drew, he came in 174th place." So from then on, I stopped trying to make my life perfect, and instead tried to make it interesting. I wanted my story to be an adventure — and that's made all the difference.
6) JK Rowling Harvard 2008 Commencement Speech:
I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
7) Phil Knight 2012 Stanford Business School Graduation Speech
Two "nines" working together will beat two "tens" working for their own careers, every time. Ability and desire almost always trump money and power. If you can't get financing, don't be afraid to go 7,000 miles from home. Government is part of business, any business. There is such a thing as managing creativity. And dare to take chances, lest you leave your talent buried in the ground. And where there is no struggle, there can be no art.
And finally, there is this thought. Ten years from now, the first of you will be asked to give the commencement speech to what will then be the finest class in the school's history. You'll be a bit torn. You are multi-tasked to the max. Two kids. One has an ear infection and needs to get to the doctor right away. Your husband is more needy than usual. And he has a flight in the morning to Europe for 10 days. Your company is at a critical point in its strategic planning and everybody looks to you for what the answers will be. Plus, the company has a PR crisis. And you have TV appearances scheduled for five days straight. And that golden lab that you've had for all of two years has all of a sudden decided he's not housebroken.
There is no time. There is no time. And then you'll accept -- because of the honor, because it's a chance to have some influence on the most able, best-prepared young people on the planet. And you'll accept, though it's hard to see now, because there is a part of you that longs to go back to a place and a time and a self, forever gone. And in looking for things to say, include in your consideration moments from the school's history. You might even look back to that time in the deep past, that moment over six decades before, when Frank Shallenberger, the professor of entrepreneurship, said the words that meant so much to me, the words that became the mantra for his class, the words that said, "The only time you must not fail, is the last time you try."
8) Sherry Lansing 2008 Penn State Graduation Speech
Please don’t be afraid to fail. Fear of failure leads to mediocrity. I’ve often thought that people who have the greatest success can also tell you a story about their great failures, but instead of being defeated by their failures, they learned from their mistakes. They paid attention to their mistakes. You know, they often say that good judgment comes from experience, and of course experience comes from bad judgment. Mistakes are going to happen. They have to. If they don’t, you’re not trying hard enough. You’re just playing it safe, you’re being complacent. But the important thing is a mistake should not be a permanent setback. Instead, you should use it, you should use it to learn from and to grow from. I failed as much as I succeeded.
9) Stephen Colbert 2011 Northwestern Commencement Speech
You have been told to follow your dreams but .... what if it’s a stupid dream?
For instance Stephen Colbert of 25 years ago lived at 2015 North Ridge with two men and three women in what I now know was a brothel. He dreamed of living alone. Well, alone with his beard in a large barren loft apartment, with lots of blonde wood, wearing a kimono, with a futon on the floor and a Samovar of tea constantly bubbling in the background, doing Shakespeare in the street for homeless people. Today, I am a beardless suburban dad who lives in a house, wears no-iron khakis and makes Anthony Wiener jokes for a living and I love it! Because thankfully, dreams can change. If we’d all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses. So whatever your dream is right now, if you don’t achieve it you haven’t failed and you’re not some loser. But just as importantly, and this is the part I may not get right and you may not listen to, if you do get your dream, you are not a winner.
10) Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
11) Will Ferrell 2017 USC Commencement Speech
By the spring of 1995 producers from Saturday Night Live had come to see the current show at the Groundlings. After two harrowing auditions and two meetings with executive producer Lorne Michaels, which all took place over the course of six weeks, I got the word I was hired to the cast of Saturday Night Live for the ‘95-‘96 season.
I couldn’t believe it. And even though I went on to enjoy seven seasons on the show, it was rocky beginning for me. After my first show, one reviewer referred to me as ‘the most annoying newcomer of the new cast.’ Someone showed this to me and I promptly put it up on the wall in my office, reminding myself that to some people I will be annoying. Some people will not think I’m funny, and that that’s okay.
The venerable television critic for the Washington Post Tom Shales came up to me during my last season of the show. He told me congratulations on my time at the show and then he apologized for things he had written about me in some of his early reviews of my work. I paused for a second before I spoke, and then I said, ‘How dare you, you son of a bitch?’ I could tell this startled him, and then I told him I was kidding, and that I’d never read any of his reviews. It was true, I hadn’t read his reviews. In fact I didn’t read any reviews because once again, I was too busy throwing darts at the dartboard, all the while facing my fears.
10) And lastly, this following speech by Jodie Foster isn't a graduation one but it's still a very lovely speech she gave while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 2013 Golden Globes.
Favorite Quote: Love people, and stay beside them.
What is the meaning of life?
And that, my friends, is the $1,394,476,285.89 question. Everyone has asked this. Poets, scholars, people high on LSD.
Lucky for all of you, I’ve figured it out. The answer is below. There will be a test on this later, so read carefully. (But don’t worry, it’s multiple choice).
The meaning of life can be bucketed into three key groups - love, taking leaps of faith, and happiness.
Let’s start with love.
First, find and cultivate relationships with friends that you trust and love and try your absolute damn hardest to keep them in your life. Think you’re too busy to keep in touch? You’re not. You know who’s busy? Elon Musk is busy. You know who else is busy? An emergency medical responder is busy. You know who else is busy? A working parent is busy. You are not busy. Sure, there will be moments when you’re super busy, but trust me, you’re not busy enough to not keep in touch with your best friends.
So what constitutes a best friend? Someone who inspires and teaches you new things, someone who gives good no-bullshit advice, someone who pushes you off your high horse when you get too full of yourself, someone who makes you fall over laughing. Someone who has your best interests at heart, someone you would call to get bailed out of jail, someone who is there for you when things get tough, someone who likes you for you. When you find one, latch on to them like a hangry killer shark. They are rare, and trust me, there will only be a few (very, very few) that also feel the same way about you. Remember, this is a two way street.
Second, don’t be afraid to fall in love. Love is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Love is also quite possibly the most rare thing you will ever encounter because again, just like your best friends, love is also a two way street. Both of you have to want to sign up for the same dance at the same time. If you are lucky enough to find the Mulder to your Scully, the Diane to your Jack, the Harry to your Sally, hold on for the ride, and don’t let go.
Be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking that you can constantly upgrade, or that something better will always come along. (Trust me, that doesn’t happen in real life). Relationships take work so don’t be so quick to dismiss someone. Remember, this goes both ways. For every person you dismiss, someone will probably dismiss you.
Oh and by the way, you’ll probably fall in love multiple times in your life. We’re all going to live for a very long time. You will change quite a bit as you get older. You will meet different people throughout your life. So just keep that in mind.
Next, let’s talk about taking leaps of faith.
I have a best friend who is one of the most prominent and successful people in his industry. But he came from practically nothing and was on his own at a very young age. He said he always approached everything with a “I have nothing to lose attitude,” and that is ultimately what made the difference. When you’ve spent your whole life doing the right thing (going to the right schools, working at the right jobs), failure sounds absolutely terrifying (“jump under the bedcovers and cower” terrifying) and thus keeps you from trying new things.
I believe very strongly that in order to live a full life, you have to take those leaps of faith. They can be anything - getting a new job in a more interesting but challenging field, starting your own business, asking someone out, doing something that your intuitive gut and rational brain disagree on.
Unfortunately, most leaps of faith probably won’t work out. You’ll fall on your ass, get your heart broken, get punched in the face, or a combination of all three. But you know what? When things do work out (and yes, this is WHEN and not IF), you’ll be so much happier than you would have been than if you had never tried at all. If you’re ever going to regret anything, regret what you did, not what you didn’t do. Think about how awesome it will be when you’re on your deathbed and think, “Holy cow, I have had the most amazing life! I really lived.”
Lastly, let’s talk about happiness.
Happiness is different for everyone. We all want different things and it’s important to respect that. But I promise you that if you have these three things, you’ll be happy no matter what.
1) Feeling fulfilled - No matter what you’re doing with your life (working at a corporate job, traveling the world, staying at home with children, whatever), try your absolute hardest to find meaning in what you’re doing everyday. If you are not happy with the day to day goings-on, you won’t be very happy with many other things.
2) Being financially independent - If you are ever lucky enough to become financially independent (through an inheritance or good old fashioned saving and investing), think carefully about what you want to do with your life. It’s totally fine to stay at your job. But think about what else you might want to do. Start a business. Invest in other startup ideas. Hang out more with your family and best friends. Spend money on your family and best friends. Buy 80 gold chains and go ignant. Whatever you want. Just remember that you can’t take the money with you when you die so spend it loud and spend it proud.
3) Understanding and accepting the fact that luck has a large part in everything you do. Stupid, dumb, blind, random, uncontrollable luck. Some people are lucky enough to be born into rich families and never have to worry about money, some people are lucky enough to be born incredibly good-looking, some people are lucky to have been early investors in Amazon, some people are lucky enough to be genuinely happy all the time. Luck will always be a critical component in whatever you do so just accept that, and you’ll feel much more at peace.
All this, dear reader, is the meaning of life. Don’t overthink it. Have a good attitude, be open-minded, and keep in mind that the story is never really over (just like the killer is never really dead in the movies). Onward!
There is a massive glut of business books / self-improvement books out there today. I've read several and I have to say, they're all pretty much the same.
A more interesting one that caught my attention in the recent years was Sophia Amoruso's "Girlboss."
Now, I don't go around hashtagging "Girlboss" and I don't refer to myself in such a manner. I even tried watching the show on Netflix but couldn't get into it. But the book and Sophia herself has stayed in my mind because I think she has a very interesting story.
Sophia was a community college dropout, she shoplifted in her youth, she dumpster-dived for food, she worked at blue collar jobs. No one, including Sophia, could have predicted that she would create Nastygal and the whole "Girlboss" phenomenon.
There has, of course, been a dichotomy between the story we hear and what actually happened (Sophia raised a ton of venture capital to grow Nastygal but it went bankrupt, Sophia is trying to position herself as a feminist powerhouse even though Nastygal didn't have a reputation for treating its female employees in the best manner, etc), but in a weird way, that's life. Human beings behave in ways that don't fit with the ideal narrative that others have constructed.
Despite all that has happened to Sophia and Nastygal, you really have to give her credit for creating a successful, multi-million dollar business (in the early years) and for having the naivete (some mistake it for fearlessness) to go through with something big.
I believe that is why Sophia has resonated with so many people. She didn't have the standard, conventional upbringing. She doesn't have any fancy school degrees. But she had grit. She had enough business and marketing savvy to grow Nastygal into a successful brand. And that is something that very few people have.
Sophia did a very interesting interview with Tim Ferriss on his podcast. One of the questions he asked her was, "What would you tell your 30 year old self?" And Sophia's response was, "It doesn't get easier." Taking on millions in venture funding doesn't suddenly mean business success. Seeing explosive revenue growth in the earlier years doesn't automatically mean that this rocket ship trend will continue. Getting married doesn't mean that you're suddenly "done" on the relationship front. (Nastygal went bankrupt the same time that Sophia's one year marriage ended. If that doesn't make you want to hide under the bedcovers and cry for about a week straight, I don't know what will).
I love her answer because it is so true. (It's probably not the most popular answer but it's the most honest answer). If you are constantly challenging yourself to grow, if you're trying new things that scare you, it doesn't get easier. You will start to feel more secure in your own skin over time but things don't get easier. New complications crop up all the time. Things are never "done" - there is always the next thing to worry about.
I'm not advocating this as the right way to live life (because it sounds stressful), but it's perhaps a way to ensure that when you're on your deathbed, you'll look back and realize that you lived a full and meaningful life.
What is this?
An anthropological look at how people think about money. Created and edited by Star Li.