Alex Her

Global Employer Brand Program Manager, Informatica

I Lived in a Mitten...Literally

I grew up in the capital city of Michigan, Lansing. It was your typical midwestern city in the US. The city thrived off of the automotive industry, insurance companies, and Michigan State University.

At the time, I was the third oldest out of 7 kids. I was adjusting to a new life in a sense, as my mom died a few years prior to that. My mom left my dad with five kids, and my dad remarried and blessed us with two more awesome siblings. While most people would’ve found our situation to be awkward, we embraced it. We all didn’t look the same, but we loved each other like we were born out of the same womb.

The world was a different place back in the day. When I was younger, I enjoyed playing soccer, hanging out with my cousins/friends, singing, breakdancing, and riding my bike. There was just something amazing about getting on my bike, cruising the neighborhood, and riding away. I guess you can say that was my form of traveling at a young age.

Looking back at things, I never realized how much of an impact a place called Mt. Vernon would have on my life. Mt. Vernon was a townhome community where I made lifelong friends, got into trouble, but had some of the best experiences of my childhood. While there’s no specific event that I can point out, the experience of growing up there taught me so much about life and some of the things I would eventually have to tackle.

Currently, I reside in the awesome city of Austin, Texas. I live there with my wife of many great years, two beautiful kids, two joyful dogs, and my two young yet ambitious siblings. I’m the head of Employer Brand at a little cloud data management company called, Informatica.

So if I were to impart lessons to my 13-year-old self they would be:

Stop Being Scared

I know you’re young, but right now, you’re scared of anything and everything. There’s gonna be a day down the road where you completely change course and finally take the leap, and meet someone amazing who will get the best out of you. Be ready for that, because you’re going to change the world and have some awesome stories to share.

Do It. Be Somebody!

You’re more worried about what will happen, what people will think about you, and how badly you’ll fail. Take the leap, and just do it. Join those conversations where you feel you like you don’t belong, sign up for that group that you always wanted to join, and speak your mind. You have a lot to say, and the world needs to hear it.

Travel, and then Travel Some More!

There’s a whole world out there, just waiting for you to explore it. Life isn’t just about visiting family in the midwest, Hmong New Years, and soccer tourneys. You’re going to eventually start traveling the world, and it’s going to be something that you truly live for and enjoy doing.

Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin

You’re biracial and bilingual, and that’s what makes you amazing. You’ve always struggled with being Hmong and Caucasian, not looking like the rest of your family, trying to fit in, and trying to speak the language. It gets better, believe me. You eventually embrace who you are, accept that you’re different, start speaking Hmong, and stop trying to be like others.

Remember Who You Are and How You Got Here

Life will get harder, and that’s fine. Always remember who you are and how your people got here. You’re a first-generation Hmong-American and a descendant of many great people from Laos. Everything that you do moving forward will likely be something that nobody else in your family has done before. Buckle up that seatbelt and get ready for the ride.

Say Goodbye to Being an Introvert

I’m sure you think this is an April Fool’s joke, but it’s far from that.  The quiet kid that you are today is going to be a little unrecognizable in 20 years 🙂

Your Dad Was Always Right

You’re young right now and think you know everything, but you don’t. It may suck to get lectured by your dad and be told that he’s right, but trust me, he is. His advice and lessons will guide you in life, and help you become an amazing and well-rounded person. He’ll eventually come to be one of your best friends. You’ll raise kids together, travel together, enjoy drinks and UFC, and spend tons of time together.

It won’t be all rainbows and butterflies, as you’ll have times that will test you, but make you love him that much more. Spend as much time as you can with him, and listen to him, as you’ll lose him when you get older.

In closing, here are a few things that will serve you well in the busy life that you will eventually lead. Be quick to listen, and slow to speak. You can’t choose what someone says or what they do, but you do have a choice when it comes to how you react to the situation.

Thank you Alex Her for writing A Letter To My 13 Year Old Self

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