The first mask removed – sounds from the past

Originally posted on Linkedin

Look at Daniel, you should be more like Daniel.

That is the model minority myth.

Asians work hard, they make lots of money, they’re good at maths, they stay quiet.

I am only “successful” because, in hindsight, I spent the majority of my adult working life grinding under the gun.

Pause for a moment and think about that image. You’re rushing to get a spreadsheet done for a deadline, someone literally has a gun pointed at your head. You’ll get it done because it’s life or death. Are you going to complain about working conditions or worry about life’s purpose? No, you will die if you don’t get this done.

While I have never had a real gun pointed at me, I spent most of my life with the nervous system of someone who did, and I worked like it was life or death.

My fate was sealed before I was even born

It’s 1979, my mother and father traveled separately under the cover of night to sneak on a small river boat to escape the communist regime of Vietnam. In the years prior, my father served in the South Vietnamese Army alongside American soldiers.

In 1975, the US forces pulled out, and anyone left was rounded up and sent to re-education camp, including my father. After he finished his time there, the newly “educated” people were sent to the New Economic Zone, a worthless piece of land where nothing grew.

Life had become impossible, and the alternative of sailing out to the open sea, where more than 50% now reside at the bottom of the ocean, was a better prospect for life.

My mom was 3 months pregnant with me when she and my dad made the attempt. They sailed for seven days and made it to Indonesia. There are hundreds and thousands of these stories. You can listen to the Vietnamese Boat People Podcast to hear these stories.

No alt text provided for this image

What happened to the children of these refugees? We hear in the headlines the humanitarian stories of rescuing the refugees, but we rarely see what happens a generation later after the original trauma occurs.

On the surface, because I wear a mask, Daniel Hoang turned out to be a typical minority immigrant. He gets good grades, he graduates, first of his family. He receives another degree, he gets a good job, he buys a house—end of story.

What if you peel back the mask?

Why lies underneath?

I sent my soul away to survive in this new world

Through the magic of modern therapy, I did a few sessions of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). It was 2020, and the pandemic and everything else in the world brought me to a brick wall.

I had an outsized reaction to a life event, and my therapist suggested I try this form of trauma therapy.

I don’t have trauma, WTF do you mean?

That was my initial reaction. I would later come to understand this voice as my protector. He keeps me from feeling the feels.

During the treatment, what initially sounded like gunfire became louder and more apparent. I could make out the individual guns, some bomb exploding, and eventually, a group of screaming voices.

All of this lived rent-free in my head for three-plus decades

When I said earlier that I performed like a gun was pointed at my head, in some way, there literally was a gun at my head. Genetic coding was passed down from my 22-year-old mother. Nature performed her duty, preparing the child for the world at war.

The treatment continued. It was very uncomfortable to hear these sounds.

In the final round, I made out a voice, one voice. It was muffled, but I knew it well. It was familiar, a voice I’d known my entire life. I had time traveled back in time to hear the voice of my 22-year-old mom.

She was scared.

She was carrying her unborn child.

And in that moment, I felt the direct love of a mother. Nothing words could ever convey but the pure love coded into our DNA.

I sat at the office in shock.

Underneath all that horror was unconditional love.

Meet Dan, my protector

You don’t go through a war and come out at peace.

I don’t understand the science behind intergenerational trauma, but I am living proof that the coding passed on is more than chemicals. There was a deep and spiritual passing of information between the generations.

I came to this world prepared to survive war.

Except the guns and bombs were replaced with bureaucracy and spreadsheets.

Enter Dan.

He breaks down organizations. He fires people. He puts up with the corporate BS.

For those of you who have directly worked with me, you met Dan at some point. He wins. He’s successful at all costs. He will work 24/7 to win. Second place is for losers. USA. USA. USA.

Dan wants me to stay here, don’t dig any deeper.

The rabbit hole goes deeper

This discovery was life-changing for me until I realized that it was just a superficial layer for something much, much more profound.

This deep inner work takes you down a path.

It’s hard. It’s not for the faint of heart, but you’ll emerge for the better.

Until next time…

Published by Daniel Hoang

Daniel Hoang is a visual leader, storyteller, and creative thinker. As an experienced management consultant, he believes in a big picture approach that includes strong project leadership, creative methods, change management, and strategic visioning. He uses a range of visual tools to communicate business challenges, solutions, and goals. His change strategy is to build "tribes" of supporters and evangelists to drive change in culture and organization. Daniel is an avid technologist and futurist and early adopter.