Lean In To Grow — Event #10 and growing!

On September 17, 2017, Lean In To Grow was first introduced in the Communications Alumni Network Blog by Teeraporn Johsuntorn ’17. As TJ shared, we started this Lean In Circle from scratch. However, we all knew that it would be something beneficial to international female students. Over the past 17 months, we’ve sponsored ten events and directly inspired more than 200 students.

I personally was inspired by our March event titled “To Heck with Goals. This is your Life!.” The guest speaker, Taryn Ash, began her career as an intercultural communication lecturer, and now she is a self-employed Executive Coach and Business Strategy Consultant. Originally from Canada, Taryn studied and worked in Japan, Singapore, and China for almost 20 years. I heard her “lean in” story, which propelled me to instantly invite her to talk with international students at Northeastern University. Growing up, Taryn was living in Canada and everything was comfortable and easy. After graduating from college, she decided to challenge herself to study abroad and say “yes” to every single risk and possibility. After twenty-five years, she’s now convinced that this mindset led to a far richer and more satisfying life than she might otherwise have had, including her career experience.

Taryn Ash with Lean In To Grow members from left to right: Yuka Kawano, CPS’17 in Leadership, Zirui Yan, candidate CPS’18 in Corporate and Organizational Communication, Mariella Hidalgo Del Alamo, candidate CPS’19 in Leadership

Taryn shared her many “lean in” moments in life and what she learned from those valuable experiences. Below are two of her statements that stuck with me most.

  1. Don’t make your life’s goal a job title.

Through her work, Taryn has coached extraordinary people from all walks of life, including doctors, judges, Ivy League PhDs., etc. Many of them said they felt lost in their midlife stage, wondering what  had become of their dreams earlier in life. By asking them reflective questions about their goals, she deduced that they were figuratively beating themselves up about setting a straight-line path as a career goal.

As Taryn pointed out, “Life doesn’t work that way. Life isn’t a straight line. Quite frankly, if your career path is a straight line, it’s too predictable, and it’s not interesting.” I appreciated her motivating words. As college students and young professionals, we are in an invention stage in life, but we should keep in mind that there is also a reinvention stage. So, don’t make your life’s goal a job title.

2. Keep learning, and developing expertise, even if it costs you money.

Graduating from college is never the end of learning. In such a fast-changing world, only by focusing on self-development and being a lifelong learner will you have a chance to explore the many opportunities and possibilities in life. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) reported that “individuals born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held an average of 11.9 jobs from age 18 to age 50”. Lifetime jobs are a thing of the past.

Moreover, with the rapid development of technology and the emergence of artificial intelligence, many customer service and manufacturing jobs are gradually disappearing. Meanwhile, new industries and jobs are popping up quickly. When Taryn started her career, she was using a typewriter and landline phone, but now she can communicate with her clients around the world in an instant without traveling outside the country. It’s hard to predict if your current dream job will exist in ten years. Keep investing in education and developing expertise is the key to expanding possibilities for your future.


Taryn Ash was talking to Northeastern students March 14th, 2018, “To Heck with Goals. This is your Life!”


Lean In To Grow is dedicated to bringing inspiring speakers to campus to have conversations with international students. Please stay tuned for future events!


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017, August 24). Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth Among Americans at 50: Results from a Longitudinal Survey. Retrieved April 8, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/nlsoy.pdf



Posted by Zirui ‘Linda’ Yan, candidate CPS ‘18