Wendy’s July Founder’s Note: The Architect Of Your Journey

Do EVERYTHING, and fly everywhere.

Wendy July Founder's Note
PHOTO Wendy Hung

Recently, I’ve had several discussions with bright, young, intelligent women who all pose similar questions regarding the uncertainty of their futures. This one is for you, ladies. You rock and keep flying with colors!

A few months ago, a fortune teller – with a bird and a turtle hidden in the mountains of Taipei – saw me and the first thing he said was, “You’re everywhere. You’re not meant to stay too close to home.” Instantly, he had me. Years ago, another fortune teller told me the same. He pretty much nailed everything else in my life except he couldn’t place where I would physically be in the future. After thinking about it for awhile, he said: “Honestly, I can’t tell. I just see that you’ll be everywhere.”

You may not believe in fortune tellers. But us, the Taiwanese, we love them. We crave for them. For some, they’re the Bible. No joke. Fortunately, I’m a little too overconfident to let a guy with a bird and a turtle dictate how I should design my life. Never in a million years though, did I ever imagine that a girl who grew up in Taipei, Taiwan would someday live in the City of Light and find herself be, literally, everywhere.

When I was young, not yet speaking a lick of English, I wanted to be and do EVERYTHING when I grew up. In Taiwanese elementary school, I was in choir (several of them,) the conductor of the marching band and always won in writing and calligraphy competitions. A total geek, right? Not really! With braces, pigtails and knee-high socks, I was that girl who was friends with everyone! Amazing. Never underestimate “a little dash of overconfidence.” #BestOxymoronEver.

When we moved to America, my mother forced me to choose between violin and piano. Burn! I was so utterly torn that I couldn’t decide for months. Piano won, which was already paving the way for my very first business venture, I just didn’t know at the time. In middle school, the private school I attended required Spanish or French classes. Of course, I wanted to learn both, but French won. And this part, we know how the story goes.

In high school, I saw that all my friends had jobs at restaurants and I also wanted to earn some extra cash but wanted to do something different. So I thought, why not teach piano? At the time, my piano teacher had an overflow of new students so she wanted me to takeover some younger ones. One student eventually turned to 30. By the time I left for university, I had enough cash in the bank to know that I created an excellent fallback career. If all else fails, I could be your kid’s piano teacher.

Don’t ask me how I got into Berkeley. I had only been speaking English for six years, I sucked (and still do!) at math and science, I sometimes think the administrations office must’ve made a giant mistake. Except, I knew. Despite that I can’t add or subtract, I can communicate like a beast! Or like a princess. Or like an intellect. Or like an airhead. Or in Mandarin. Or in French. Or in person. Or in writing. Anytime I had to express my thoughts to anyone, I could somehow connect. It’s an instinct, it’s a vibe. Something within me flows seamlessly, and I’m performing at my best. Berkeley saw that, and I did not want to waste my time there.

So I had two internships, both in communications. I worked as a PR intern at the CBS-affiliate in San Francisco which eventually led to a producer gig for a weekend news program. In addition, I had a radio show in Mandarin. On Fridays, I would be in a basement studio near Montgomery Street and record a week full of shows that would air in every multicultural radio station in California. One time, I saw my cousin Milton who had heard me on his road trip from Los Angeles to San Jose. I liked that feeling. I could see a future. It was blurry but I knew I had already laid out the construction.

I couldn’t have graduated college at a worst time to look for a job. September 11th happened and the country was in deep recession. I applied for jobs like a maniac, I worked for free, I worked part-time, I worked for minimum wage. Until I landed an assistant job at a company where I poured coffee and bought lunch for my boss with a degree from the #1 public university in the world. But I thrived on it, I just knew that it was all going to lead somewhere. When the company was reviving a music label, I was at the right place at the right time. At 25 years old, I was essentially managing a music label, flying from New York to Los Angeles to Las Vegas working with major artists, making business deals happen. Half of the time, I didn’t know what I was doing but I worked my butt off. Music, travel, and communications became specs of my lifestyle, the architecture of all things I knew I was good at since childhood.

This article, however, isn’t about the architecture of careers. Rather, it’s about the journey. I walked away from my job when it was no longer fulfilling my soul. How did I know? I just did. Because, we always know, if we listen close enough.

As a traveler from a young age, I’ve always been a firm believer that experiencing the world brings light. When building a life or a career is exhausting and the vision somehow gets lost, taking a break is not an escape but a blessing. Giving yourself the gift to travel is opening your eyes to other possibilities, inspiring you with new ideas. This was the gift of India, where I stayed at five-star hotels but witnessed extreme poverty right outside of glamorous walls. I wanted to create a platform to share these experiences, not just mine, but with many others whose perspectives have been changed just as mine were unveiling.

Except, I wasn’t ready. My parents are entrepreneurs. I knew what this life entails. It’s 24/7, it’s giving birth to a baby, it’s passionately non-stop. After feeling burned out from my last job, I was still running on empty. So I put my business idea on the back burner and did what I always did whenever I felt unfulfilled: volunteer.

Towards the end of my gig at the music label, I began helping at a children’s hospital in San Francisco. When I was stressed over work projects and tired of office politics, the hospital was my savior. Building close bonds with children who were fatally ill meant that I had the courage to fight my battles back at the office. After India, I volunteered in the ER at a Taipei hospital where my grandmother passed away, and I also got involved with a local HIV/AIDS shelter. Somehow, seeing the brink of life and death offered imminent clarity. In my late twenties, I knew that whatever I chose to embark on, it would somehow be giving back to the world. I’m grateful to say, this is still very much the fundamental structure of my spirituality, and my being.

Around the same time, I went to Dubai, Vietnam, Kenya, Japan…wait, I lived in Japan! It was a way to establish stability while learning a new language. Did I mention, as the girl who wanted to do EVERYTHING, I wanted to be fluent in 5 languages before turning 30? Except I didn’t feel whole in Japan. It was lovely, I met great friends, but it just wasn’t…me. Here’s where the French part comes in. Since I already spoke the language, why not try living in Paris for a few months?

People always ask me: why Paris? My answer doesn’t change, this is where I feel the most myself: creatively, spiritually, culturally, and mentally. When every morsel of my being gels without force, with zero doubt. But I couldn’t love Paris if I didn’t have the ability to leave it sometimes for other discoveries then to come back and love it all over again. That’s my steamy love affair, which was somehow indicative when I chose French over Spanish in middle school. Because I couldn’t live in Paris without speaking the language, as any tourist who has ever been to France would know, it ain’t the same.

Between the music gig and this little website that you’re browsing, between Paris and…Paris again, I worked as a Marketing Director at a job that I hated. This was a first, because I’m a lover of life, of living. But I had never detested going to work so much everyday. Most importantly, I didn’t believe in the company mission. I had stock options on top of a high salary, especially coming off of three years of not working, so I stuck to it. There’s nothing worse than pretending to like your job, faking the passion and forcing enthusiasm and charisma that normally ooze out of me like shiny lipgloss in a tube, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

This was time. Jetset Times was born.

Jetset Times is the architecture of everything I’ve worked from and all things I truly believe in. The creativity of music, art, food in various cultures and how those experiences transpire an individual’s role as an active participant in this big, big world. That to me, defines the modern jetsetter. If you’re passionate about the environment, then stay at eco-friendly lodges and explore in adventures that provide profound understanding of nature and our ecology. If you’re a foodie, then taste different cuisines that offer delicious multitudes of local cultures. If you love staying at five-star luxury hotels, then look beyond spotless beaches and beautiful terraces – the neighborhoods outside pristine walls are worth days of wanderlusts.

Our websites aren’t perfect, but we have plenty of room to grow and that’s the fun! This is the work of many passionate contributors and a team of former and present travelers who believe in my vision. So the daily grind – and yes, this is a non-stop, gruesome labor of love as I write at 5:30 a.m. after 3 hours of sleep – is worth every challenge, judgement and doubt. Because giving back is such an important part of our company culture, when we launched our e-commerce website Jetset Times SHOP last year, I decided that #JetsetForGood would campaign for portions of proceeds to fund organizations that have meant enormously to the edifice of my growth.

Now, to be single at 35 is a surprise. If I were to really design my life, I would be happily married by now with two children (both girls.) No, this isn’t the price you pay for being a female entrepreneur, and it isn’t the consequence of too much traveling. This is just how my personal life is rolling out to be, as much as I want to change the blueprint, I’m still learning to stare at it and relish on all the glorious parts already forged and appreciate the beauty rather than dwelling on the missing concrete. This isn’t to say that I don’t have a lifetime of hilarious rendez-vous stories from different parts of the world. Oh, the ridiculous things we have to see as blessings…or musings.

To anyone who has read this far into the article, believe that every part of your experience leads to the trajectory of your labor of love. If your vision is blurred, pack your bags and take some time to see the world. Allow it to guide you, inspire you and motivate you. Don’t underestimate your need to recharge, and don’t overestimate your future. Since day one, you’ve been laying down the groundwork, planning the construction. The architect of your journey is in full throttle as long as you do EVERYTHING, and fly everywhere.

Love,

Wendy's siguature

CEO/Founder of Jetset Times

Wendy Hung

CEO, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and St. Bart's because they were all so different!

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