Who I coach
These days, my life isn't very exciting. I spend most days working, cooking meals, and babying my 4 pound Yorkshire Terrier. It's a stark difference to the chaos my life used to be.
I was born in Southern California, but was primarily raised in the Cupertino neighborhood of the San Francisco Bay Area. A former gifted child at some of the most competitive schools in the country, I started stumbling in school around fifth grade, which was incredibly hard on my highly educated Taiwanese-American immigrant parents. Even still, I was privileged to be able to lean into my non-academic strengths, scoring parts in school plays and musicals, and singing in Jazz choir.
I attended San Jose State University, but school was never my strong suit. It took 7 years for me to graduate, during which I took time off to attend and graduate from the short-lived Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell, CA. I graduated from SJSU with a BS in Hospitality, Tourism, Recreation management in 2010 during the height of the recession. In 2012, tired of still working as a server and bartender, I bought a food truck on an impulse, then continued that impulsivity the year after to co-own a restaurant in downtown San Jose.
The restaurant turned out to have a devastating effect on my mental health, and I eventually made the decision to leave the restaurant business. Having to pick my life up from scratch, I worked as a Customer Service Representative, a Project Manager, and an Executive Assistant before being hired at Google as an Administrative Business Partner in 2018.
There, upon the cusp of another disastrous burnout event, arrangements were made for me to change teams, leading to a work lull. I used the time to seek a new therapist, who, upon my declarations of what I'd like to work on, suggested I get an ADHD assessment, and referred me to a nearby clinic that specialized in adult ADHD. After hours of assessments, I was diagnosed with combined-type (hyperactive+inattentive) ADHD.
My ADHD journey
When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I had already been struggling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder for decades. For more than two weeks afterward, I cried everyday, mourning my lost potential. I wondered what would have happened if I was diagnosed when my ADHD symptoms started presenting, at the start of puberty. By the time of my diagnosis, I had known myself to be an unreliable, inconsistent failure, never able to finish what I start, never able to succeed in anything I do. I was also emotionally explosive, which drove a wedge into every relationship I've tried to maintain amongst my friends, family, and work colleagues.
In the years since starting treatment, my life has completely turned around. As an Administrative Business Partner at Google, I was in a role that is almost entirely executive function. I went from being a constant burnout, barely able to handle the responsibilities of my job, to thriving in the role and being seen as a role model to others. I co-created and co-lead the ADHD-Women@Google ERG, which grew to several hundred members worldwide in less than a year. I got a promotion, mentored other ABPs with ADHD, and served on several advisory committees and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion panels. In September 2021, I became the first and only ADHD-trained peer-to-peer coach at Google, just a few weeks before speaking at the Alphabet Mental Health Conference, encouraging others to create the communities of support they wish to have.
More important than my career success, I was able to work on my Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria and emotional dysregulation. I was able to examine problematic and unproductive thought patterns, address my deeply rooted shame, and learn to love myself as a human. My anxiety levels have dropped to almost zero, and I've become someone who is able to trust myself and my abilities for the first time in my life. With the work I've done on respecting others and my boundaries, I've slowly begun to repair my fractured relationships. For the first time in my life, I have a truly open, respectful, and enjoyable relationship with my parents. I have been able to communicate my needs to them in way that makes them enthusiastic at the challenge, and did so by meeting them where they are. It continues to get better everyday.
Why I became an ADHD Coach
While serving as co-lead of ADHD-Women@Google, speaking from and ADHD perspective at Diversity, Equity and Inclusion panels, and mentoring other ABPs, I always questioned whether or not the advice I was giving was helping. I wasn't just unsure if what I was saying was the right thing, I was also curious about what the right thing would be.
I had looked at all the positive change I had made in my life, and wanted to help others with their journeys as well. I decided to train to be an ADHD coach, since that sounded like someone who would tell ADHD individuals what to do, and give a bunch of tips and tricks.
Months into training, I discovered that's not what coaches do at all! What a dilemma. How could I help other people if I couldn't tell them what they needed to do?
Turns out, being told what to do is not an effective way for us to learn, which I should have known from a lifetime of "knowing what to do" and not doing it. Coaching is the opposite of telling someone what to do, but providing them with the support and accountability for them to challenge their own thinking. I truly believe this is the most effective way for ADHD individuals to be supported, so we can make our own discoveries, craft our own plans, and achieve our own successes.
I took this back to Google and, as mentioned above, became the first and only ADHD-trained peer-to-peer coach, part of a robust and thriving peer coaching program that, unfortunately, lacks resources for neurodivergence. Since all coaching at Google is done as 20% projects, I was only able to dedicate 5-8 hours a week to peer coaching. My entire coaching schedule filled within a week of my coaching profile going active, and accumulated over 40 people on my waitlist form. This clearly showed a need for a support that wasn't being provided.
In April 2022, I decided to do what I love, and left Google to become a full time ADHD coach, as well as create learning program that explores the way ADHD affects each individual, and provides guidance on how to create more fulfilling, deliberate lives with ADHD.
My coaching philosophy
I want to make things easier, not harder for my clients. Most coaches have several pages of intake paperwork where clients fill out their goals, life background, ADHD history, spouse's name, etc. This can sometimes be intimidating for clients to fill out, and I've heard of multiple cases where a client was stalled and unable to start with coaching because they couldn't get themselves to fill out the intake paperwork.
I choose to limit my intake to just legal paperwork and whatever my clients volunteer to share before our sessions start, opting instead to cover applicable details in the sessions themselves.
I also don't keep notes about the details of our sessions. Coaching sessions aren't protected by HIPAA, and the last thing I would want is to have session notes be used in a detrimental way toward my client. I take notes on a small whiteboard during sessions so I can keep my full focus on my clients, then erase the whiteboard at the end of the session.
As a coach, I aim to create an environment that validates your feelings, questions negative or unproductive thought patterns, celebrates your successes, and allows you to fully believe in yourself. I don't subscribe to good vibes only, and believe a lot of good can come from learning to sit in our discomfort. My clients report regularly feeling uncomfortable in our sessions, but also feeling safe, supported, energized, and victorious. This is what I wish for everyone.