The Semi-Telecommuter

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of travel hacking and working from the road, which is a very nice dream to fantasize about. But in reality, I don’t think I’d actually enjoy that life. The problem is I’m too much of an extrovert, and I need the consistent company of trusted people to sustain my sanity. So if I were to move that often and not having any stable place to call home, I would find that too unnerving. Even though I would be happy to meet new people and create new communities everywhere I went, none of them would last long enough to be sufficiently fulfilling for me.

At the same time, I’ve also learned that I hate staying in one place for too long. So the common practice of keeping one permanent home and then taking frequent trips from there while working remotely is also an unattractive prospect for me. After a while, I would get tired of always coming back to the same place time after time. And in the same vein as above, I’d also get tired of constantly traveling and being on the go, on the road, that frequently.

On the other hand, I am also aware that I do still tend to move fairly often. Looking at my housing pattern over the last 5 years, I’ve moved 10 times and on average about every 6 months. So it would seem that my ideal term of residence is about 6 months, and then I feel the inexplicable urge to move on and start anew somewhere else. It doesn’t even have to be that far away. Despite moving 10 times in the last 5 years, I stayed entirely situated in the California Bay Area. So clearly I don’t need to move far to feel that sense of starting fresh.

So if I were to take both of these into consideration, I imagine I’d like to create a new kind of mobile working lifestyle. I don’t want to be constantly on the go, but I do want to be able to change my surroundings every 4-8 months. So I’m not sure yet what that will entail exactly, but I’m excited to explore how I can construct this ideal lifestyle of mine. How can I maintain a life of moving every 4-8 months, without disrupting the nature and flow of my work, or my work-life balance?

The life of a semi-transient worker. The somewhat location independent businesswoman. The occasional telecommuter. The periodic nomad.

Do you think this concept already exists, and if so, what do you think of it? Or if not, do you have any ideas how you imagine this might work? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to Leave a Comment!

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A New Me

It’s far more important to know who you are, and be comfortable with that, than to know or try to be who others think you are (or think you should be).

I used to know exactly who that me was. And I may not have been the gentlest, or calmest, or most mature me, but at least I was me. At least I knew who that was. The only problem was, I didn’t really like where that me was. And I wanted to change.

At the time, I thought it was just the lifestyle I wanted to change. But looking back now, I realize it was actually that me that I wanted to change, that I no longer wanted to be. What I really wanted was to change me, be a different me, a better me.

However, I wasn’t aware of this at the time, so I didn’t really focus on solving that particular issue or getting to the core of it. Instead, I fixed my situation and surroundings. I found a new lifestyle, a new career, a new world to occupy myself in. And that made it all better… for a while.

Maybe I could say that on some level I did know that entering this new world would also force me to change who I am as a person, and how I would live that new life. But I didn’t spend any time actually thinking about how I would change or figuring out who that new me would be.

So now here I am, with this incredible new life, new career, new relationships and new community, and I’m amazed to discover that I’m still not completely happy. Because I still don’t know who I am – who this new me is that fits into this exciting new world.

That’s still something I’m working on. And I won’t figure it out overnight, but at least I’m focused on the core issue now. I’m looking inward for once, instead of at my surroundings and how they affect me. I’m taking responsibility for the affect my recent major decisions have had on me and my personality.

For example, I’ve been struggling with the fact that I feel less ever-bubbly and energetic like I used to be, and the fact that I now actually frequently desire the company of fewer people at a time… sometimes even none. That scares me, because that’s completely different from how I used to be. And I thought that meant something was wrong. But it isn’t wrong. It’s just new. Being in a new place in my life has also meant becoming a new person. And I don’t regret this new life, or where I am now, so how can I be disappointed in the me I am now?

I’m going to embrace this new me, and find the joy in the things that this new me values – more intimate interactions, greater comfort with trust and vulnerability, more time for quiet and reflection, and a need to feel ownership over my own space and own choices. And if I can do that, then I can truly say I know who I am within this new life, and new me, that I now call my own.

Sneak Peek at My Dream

OK now you’ve heard all about my dream come true, and you’ve seen the official trailer for it. So how about I give you a little taste of what the actual dream will look like in reality?

Watch this sneak peek at one of Death Grip‘s most heart-pounding scenes!

Pretty gripping huh?

Well if you liked that, then you should definitely go check out the Death Grip movie website for more awesome clips and teasers. And get excited for the full feature film coming out very soon!

PS: Here’s the official trailer one more time, just in case you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet:

My Dream’s Official Trailer – Watch Now!

By now, you all surely know about the martial arts action-thriller I’m producing, Death Grip. (And I don’t care if your name isn’t Shirley!)

So you’ll forgive me for sharing another update about this very exciting film, because it’s possibly the most exciting news yet –

We’ve just released the Official Death Grip Trailer!

…and boy does it pack a punch! If you liked the old trailer, just wait till you see this one – it totally kicks the old one’s ass. But be forewarned: this new trailer is exponentially more action-packed & awesome, and it might just blow your mind!

We are so damn proud of this trailer (which Eric Jacobus and I cut together in one day I might add), so we’re going for a really lofty view count on this one!

Please watch it, “like” it, comment on it…

and then SHARE IT – put it on your Facebook, Tweet it, Blog it (or just re-blog this post), email it, write it on a post-it and stick it to someone, anything!

And as always, a huge thanks to everyone who made this a reality. I’m living my dream people, and this trailer is solid proof!

Anniversary of a Dream

I know I keep coming back to this same theme and repeating the same story, but I really am still amazed how far my life has come in only the last year. Somehow, I managed to go from living a nightmare to living my dream. And it only took a year… well a year + 4 years.

For 4 years, I puttered around in a cloud of corporate processes and org restructures and watercooler talk, changing roles and teams and even departments trying to find the kind of success other people had told me I should want. And after those 4 years, my health and spirits were deteriorating. I’d developed anxiety disorder and started having panic attacks in the office. My life became a shadowy nightmare of itself, sharply contrasted with the bright and colorful world of the Google office.

Even when facing a destructive situation, it sometimes takes hitting rock bottom to actually do something about it. My boss and mentor finally sat me down and insisted I take medical leave, even though she knew that once I got my head back on straight, it might result in my decision to leave the company altogether. I was overwhelmed by this generous offer, and I took my leave very seriously. So that after 3 months of heavy self reflecting and soul searching, I decided on my next course of action.

And then on March 18, 2011, exactly one year ago today, I bit farewell to Google and the corporate world for good and embarked on a brand new occupational adventure that has lead me to where I am today.

Even today, it still feels like a wonderful dream come true.

My Google Alumni Voice

Recently an old Google colleague reached out to me with an exciting proposition. The Google Alumni online network, of which I am now a member, has launched a new publication called the Alumni Voice and she asked if I would write an article for it to share my post-Google story.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance and found myself once again writing out the story of how I came to leave Google and find the incredible new path I am now fortunate to be on.

Now I’m so proud to see it live and published, that I wanted to share it with everyone. Unfortunately, only Google Alumni members have access to the Alumni Voice. So I asked for (and was granted) permission to share the content of that article here with you all as well.

Enjoy!
Rebecca


Alumni Voice: Rebecca Ahn’s 2nd act as a stunt actor

Mar 09, 2012

Alumni Voice: Rebecca Ahn cannot sit still. Her life is as action-packed as the movies she creates as a film producer and stunt actor. When she’s not making films with Action Pact Entertainment & The Stunt People, including the current Death Grip, she is writing poetry and blogging about how to achieve greater balance with the chaos that inevitably comes with creativity. Rebecca worked as an Admin and AdWords Account Optimizer while at Google for 4 years.  RebeccaAhn.com

NOTE: We have launched another outlet for alumni expression called “Alumni Voices,” an area of the Network dedicated to your musings. We want alumni to express themselves and connect with one another through alumni-written articles about their passions, interests, hobbies and advice.

Some people just aren’t meant to find fulfillment in the corporate world. I know Google can be an incredibly encouraging and satisfying work environment. It just wasn’t for me. And after 4 years of changing roles, and teams, and even departments, trying to achieve the success others told me I should want, I found myself wondering, “am I happy?”

So I began my search for a new career. I created lists upon pages with every insight I could muster into who I am and what I really want, finally culminating in what I called my Occupational Trix. I listed my 10 “must have” work attributes along the top row of a new Google spreadsheet and over 40 possible jobs (regardless of location or skill) down the first column. I then checked the attributes that each job fulfilled and deleted every job that didn’t meet ALL 10 of them, until I had my Top 5 careers. But rather than tell you what they were, I’ll tell you what they weren’t.

They weren’t at Google.

So with my manager’s genuine understanding and support, I bid Google farewell and embarked on a brand new occupational adventure.

What happened next was nothing short of magical. One of my Top 5 careers was Film Stuntwork – and while this seemed the most far-fetched, it also resonated the most strongly with me. So you can imagine my excitement when a good friend mentioned she knew someone with a Bay Area stunt crew. I don’t know how to explain it, but somehow something in me knew this was it – this was the one and only path for me.

What followed was a blur of fortune and chance. I met Eric Jacobus, founder and manager of The Stunt People, and began practicing with them. He showed me his latest screenplay that he was preparing to direct, and suddenly I was being offered the female lead part. Then when Eric needed more help producing the film, and learned of my strong theatre and event production background (pre-Google), he asked me to come on board as the film’s producer!

Over the next 10 months, I experienced immeasurable happiness and fulfillment performing in and producing the action-thriller Death Grip, simultaneously developing a deep relationship with Eric, my producing partner, co-star, and eventually also boyfriend.

Even today, as Eric and I build our new production company and prepare to make our next several films together, it all still feels so surreal. In a year’s time, I went from feeling empty and lost to feeling like my life’s dream is coming true. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t get here without a great deal of struggle and self-questioning, or without the courage to leave behind a world of comfort and security, but you’ll never hear me say it wasn’t all completely worth it.

That’s because what’s even greater than knowing the career I want, is knowing who I am and what success means to me. Some people just aren’t meant to find fulfillment in the corporate world – they’re meant to go out into the great unknown and build it themselves instead.

The Power of Film

Whenever I’m having a really bad day, when something sends me into a tailspin, the one thing I’ve ever found that can always pull me out of it is finding another story (other than my own) to watch on screen. Throughout my entire life, I’ve found regular escape in movies and shows that help me see something beyond my world, beyond my misery, and give me the strength to face my own.
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Angelina Jolie once said that “Film can… send strong messages.” Or as Charlie Rose said, “… uniquely be able to tell their own stories.”

And now as fortune and fate would have it, I’ve found an occupation that lets me send my own messages and tell my own stories, and in turn create and produce for other people that which has so often rescued me. It’s a greater honor than I could have ever asked for, and has brought me a greater sense of purpose and passion in life.

This film, Death Grip, is so much of that rolled into one project – my first bold step into this new arena of fulfillment and validation that couldn’t possibly have come from anywhere else. This is my dream, what for so long has given me dreams and pulled me out of nightmares – and it’s coming true!

I can understand if you are skeptical of my enthusiasm, or think perhaps I’m celebrating a little too early. Sure the film hasn’t been finished yet, and we still have a long road of post-production and distribution ahead of us. But what’s important is knowing that I’m on my way there, and knowing what experience I’ve already been fortunate to have. I’d still feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and I’d still feel like I’m living my dream, even if this film never makes it to market – because I know it’s not going to end there. I’ve only just begun this journey, and I intend to continue embracing it and keep making movies until I physically can’t anymore.

I hope you can relate to what I’m saying, even a little bit, or at least believe in what I’m doing. Because that says something about what all of us (you included) are capable of doing. If I can live my dream, and get to give back what has given me so much, then you certainly can too. And I do hope you are as fortunate to find the path that truly fulfills you and makes you feel excited to go to work every day.

Sound too good to be true?

Well guess what? It isn’t! Or at least it wasn’t for me.

No, for me, it was the power of film that fulfilled my dream, and helped me realize the power in me.

A Little Bit of Mystery

This thing we call life. It’s all such a mystery, isn’t it? I took this monstrous step and am now attempting to tame the wild beast that is both within me and in the nature of life itself.

It’s a couple of chess pieces inching across the board; it’s a set of hieroglyphs scrawled on a cave wall; it’s a car careening around the bend on a mountain pass; it’s the part of the story where the plot congeals and takes some totally unexpected turn and (… wait, what am I reading again?); it’s a hat on a peg in a dark corridor…

It’s the point where it’s hard to tell where the plot is heading – though who’s to say if we’ll ever really know. The world can be a very mystifying setting, and the journey an unpredictable narrative, where mysteries unfold and anything can happen.

It was in this mystical realm that I attempted the unthinkable… to step away from all structure and certainty, and fervently take on the unknown beast, leaving all future possibilities to fate’s mischievous disposition.

It’s a little bit like life-noir. I’m walking the streets of San Francisco as a dark misty fog starts rolling in around me, and somewhere Dick Tracy’s voice is saying:

It’s a big world you know… I was beginning to wonder, what was I waiting for? A nice, safe desk?

And there I am, in my trench coat and fedora, scanning the streets suspiciously for a sign. I’m searching for something that seems to be calling me through the fog. I can’t see it, but I know it’s out there, waiting for me to make it through the dubious forecast and into my future.

In this business there’s only one law you gotta follow… Do it first, do it yourself, and keep on doing it.

Action-Oriented

I’ve always been a get-shit-done kinda girl. I don’t waste time. Life’s too short. No reason to dilly dally or beat around the bush. I’m like Nike – I just do it

I learned in making my massive career change last March that bold steps can be rewarded boldly. I learned that sometimes the best therapy is just having the courage to share all that crap bottled up inside of you out with people who care around you. It’s not healthy to keep it locked up inside, doing nothing but stewing and simmering dangerously.

It takes action to make any kind of progress. Writing in this blog has taught me that. Sharing with you all has taught me that. And living my life the way I have, and the way I intend to keep living, has taught me that. It’s made me a stronger and more reliable partner to work with. And I feel stronger and happier when I’m being productive, so it’s a win-win.

How perfect then that I now get to put that tenacity towards creating even more action I can share with the rest of the world. I’m using my action-oriented nature to productively produce great action films that can move & inspire others. A beautiful complimentary combination, I think.

I’m action-oriented. I’m a get-it-out, get-it-done kinda gal. And now I get to say I get-it-on-film too.

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

Happy Habits

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. -Abraham Lincoln

I was talking to a good friend recently about all the goodness and new life happiness I’ve been exploring and developing over the past year. And as he shared his own similar quest, he mentioned his own journey to identify and implement what he called “happy habits.” What a great way to name it!

We all have the negative self-talk and some of us (like me) have an even more frequent propensity to get ourselves stuck in depressing trains of thought. So this practice can be beneficial for anyone, and especially valuable for folks like me who need that constant reminder of the good things in our lives that DO make us happy.

Here are a few “happy habits” I’ve discovered for myself:

1.Take care of your body and health first and foremost! This has been a tough lesson for me, having a tendency to prioritize all the tasks and to-do’s I have on my plate before I take time to relax. Throughout my life, this has meant inconsistent sleep schedules and unhealthy eating habits – often going an entire day without eating anything! But the truth is the healthier and happier we are, the more efficient and effective we can be. So I’ve learned to put this at my highest priority now, and make sure I stick to regular & healthier meals and a more consistent & complete sleep schedule.

2. Along those same lines, exercise exercise exercise! For me particularly, I never feel so alive as when I’m pushing my physical limits. So a trip to the gym or my regular stunt trainings are the perfect happy moments for me. But even if you’re not an adrenaline junky like me, you can still reap great rewards from breaking a little sweat. It’s amazing for your health & longevity, and who doesn’t feel happy when they’re in shape? Best of all, exercise gives you endorphins, which is essentially the happy brain chemical.

3. Spend more time with friends and family whose love and good opinion you seek. Of course I have members of my family and certain “friends” that haven’t been a positive force or energy in my life – so those aren’t the people I’m talking about. It’s been hard to learn how to spend less of my energy worrying about those relationships and focusing more on the uplifting ones. But it does make a difference, so it is definitely worth it!

4. Spend more time outdoors! It’s no secret that being around nature has a calming and soothing effect on people. Especially if you’re a wilderness lover like myself, you can’t go wrong with a quick trip to the park or beach. And if you can’t pull yourself away long enough for something like that, then at least get off your butt and go stand outside your office. Take a few deep breaths and just feel the sunlight on your face. If that doesn’t perk you up, I don’t know what will.

5. Take time to stop and reflect on the good in your life, and appreciate the little things. I’ve started a new practice inspired by my roommate. At the end of every day, he and I will tell each other what 3 things we are most grateful for from that day. It really is a lovely way to remind ourselves of the good things we have in our life. It’s even started to get us in the habit of looking out for those good things throughout the day, so we can remember to name them later that night.

6. Take an active role in something you believe in, be it a cause, an organization, a project or other creative outlet. I’ve found possibly the greatest source of happiness in my life from changing to a career that hits at the core of my passion – filmmaking and stunt acting. By getting to do what I love everyday, I’ve become so much more of a content and fulfilled person than I ever thought possible.

7. Play to your strengths, not your weaknesses. Forget all the hype about being “well-rounded”. That’s all really just a bunch of hooey. The smarter approach is to develop the skills you are already naturally good at, to build your marketability and appeal as an “expert”, rather than slave away at areas you don’t already shine in or enjoy. A community doesn’t thrive by having a whole lot of people who are all somewhat good at everything, but rather by having individuals who are each very good at different roles. So focus on things that utilize your strengths, and I guarantee you’ll have a better time doing them.

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