What a Month in New York Feels Like

Mar 30, 2017

Victor Authorimage By Victor Ly-Tong

I woke up at 6 a.m. on a Friday in Vancouver, BC, Canada feeling great about life. The previous day I invested in a 500 dollar blender to take my morning smoothies to the next level, and I couldn’t wait to use it. Indeed that morning I made, arguably, the best smoothie in the world. It was a normal morning routine and a normal day at work afterwards.

At 5 p.m. I was told I was being seconded to New York for a Print The Future pop-up store starting the following week. It was exciting and surreal.

Landing in New York City, everything was new. It was a new time zone, new city, and new technology. Truth is, I didn’t know anything about 3D printing, and I don’t come from a technology background either. New challenges never scare me though. What scares me is being the wrong guy for the job.

In four weeks I learned as much as I could about 3D printing, and I am now becoming the in-house 3D expert. I tackled everything from the digital side to the actual hardware itself.

I led 10 case studies, where we collaborated with some amazing designers to print their furniture concepts during the pop-up shop. I quickly realized which types of designs were favourable for 3D printing (and on occasion which were not) and also learned how to operate different types of 3D printers.

What made the process so much easier were our amazing partners and the people of New York who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and ideas. The sustainability and limitless possibility of 3D printing are reasons why this technology is going to change the world.

What excites me is that I got to be with incredible coworkers in the second largest city in the world doing something new and amazing. Even better - our end goal is to help people around the world that are less fortunate. If that’s not exciting, then I’m not sure what else could be.

Let me share with you 3 quick learnings that I’m taking home with me from my time in New York. Let’s talk about confidence, comfort zones, and challenges.

Confidence in yourself is important. I spent most of my life doubting myself, mostly because I put a lot of weight on past failures and what people thought of me. One evening I told Neil, the founder and CEO of Print The Future, that he was giving me too much credit for the success of the pop-up shop, and then he quickly changed my perspective on believing in myself. He said he never wanted to hear that from me again and that we end up believing what we tell ourselves. Positive affirmation is what I got from it. Failing is never easy, but it’s important to quickly learn and move forward. A month ago I was the supply chain director for Kabuni. Now, I’m constantly evolving in a role without a title, but I’m enjoying it all. That’s all that matters.

Comfort zones are your enemy. Being an introvert at heart, there are a lot of things that don’t come naturally to me. Engaging people and being at the pop-up - at the forefront of the action - can be exhausting for me. The truth is there is nothing truly comfortable about your comfort zone: I don’t believe that one day I’ll ever be comfortable with every aspect of my life. If I have become comfortable, then I have just stopped growing.

Challenges are part of the journey. I encountered operational challenges over the past month, but that’s always expected, especially for something so new. On a personal level the one that stands out to me is telling people that I had to leave the following week for a month. I had to rearrange several personal plans, including missing a bachelor party where I will be a groomsmen in the wedding (Sorry friend, I’ll make it up to you!). Details aside there’s always going to be hurdles along the way, but embracing those hurdles is just part of any successful journey. Never let hurdles interfere with what you want to do and achieve.

A month in New York has been incredible. There is something really special about being in this city. It’s diverse, it’s engaging, and it’s busy. Drivers don’t have time to care that a car is blocking the road; they just drive around it. Pedestrians don’t wait for the light to turn green; they just cross the street, when it’s reasonably safe. These are great analogies for outlooks on life. Let’s all strive to look forward, forge our own paths, take risks, and never be afraid to ask for help.

New York, thank you for an amazing time.