video1052010783: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show, Christina. Thank you so much for being on today. Thanks John for having me.
Really excited to be here. For our audience who might not have heard of you can you give us a quick intro of who you are and what you do in your own words? For sure. So, I'm Christina Chi. It's really hard to describe. I guess I'm an entrepreneur is probably the best way to put it.
my really weird, fun fact is that I've actually never worked for somebody else full-time before, for better or worse, and it could be actually really bad thing. But ever since my college days, I started my first company from a dorm room and that was a hedge fund. And I ran a [00:00:30] hedge fund.
Doing high frequency trading. And we did that for actually almost a decade, pretty much. And then shut down the fund recently and started a second company called Data Bento, which is a market data provider. Now we're more in the FinTech space, but we provide data for a lot of our customers are hedge funds and financial industry folks anyway yeah, it's been really fun to come back and be back to being an entrepreneur again at the early stages and to.
Kinda see that growth and journey. But yeah, I am originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, and I live here today as well. I lived in [00:01:00] Boston for 12 years during my first company's journey, and then recently moved back to Salt Lake City to be closer to my family. So yeah, it's really great to be here with you guys today.
Awesome. I'm gonna add that one detail 'cause I remember reading your bio when you first started your first company that was the high frequency trading fund. And I had to go and look up what that meant, but you guys were trading up to $7 billion a day and you started out with a thousand dollars in your dorm room at m I T, right?
Yes. Yes. There's a lot of [00:01:30] students who are like, I got a thousand dollars in a dorm room, how do I get there? Yeah, for sure. it was a 10 year long journey, pretty much. And there was so many ups and downs in that process.
It wasn't an overnight, I wish it was like Bitcoin where you just buy Bitcoin in 2009 and then you become a billionaire by 2013. It's, not like that at all. It was quite a big struggle, rollercoaster of ups and downs. But yeah, that is true. So we did start with a little bit of money that I had earned from one of my summer internships actually.
It was funny actually 'cause I [00:02:00] interned in sales and trading. They didn't give me an offer but I earned a little bit of money just through that summer internship. And then I was able to put that a thousand dollars into some very early strategies that this wasn't high frequency trading yet.
We need more, a lot more technology to put that together. But we saw some promise early on and then over the years decided let's scale this up and try to achieve more and more over time. And then I guess the ironic story was that some of the companies that I interned for ended up actually investing in my fund many years later.
Oh my gosh. So it was a really cool things coming full [00:02:30] circle for me a little bit. Yeah. And so hold on. These were the companies that didn't give you a job, right? Yeah, so to be fair, I was a bad intern, right? Like just looking at it objectively, didn't work as hard as I should have.
I definitely was rebellious in terms of just not following instructions very well and, just not really being a good intern, and so if I was my boss, I wouldn't hire myself but yeah, I'm really grateful that we were able to build something new in this space that was wanted by these companies.
Yeah. So, tell me more, a little bit [00:03:00] more about that. You said that you were a little bit rebellious. 'cause that's an interesting thing for me because where Asian Americans, especially in the fi finance, are not typically known to be rebellious. This is not a word we usually hear. How are you rebellious?
Oh my gosh, that's a good question. I guess it's more that for me growing up for whatever reason, I've always just had very little respect for authority. And I hate saying it that way ' it's not like I don't respect any authority, but just more compared to your average student.
There were some things in my school that just made no sense. So [00:03:30] I'll give you an example. Even like in high school, I have core memories of when I was taking a beginner chemistry class and I would ask a question and the teacher would say, I'm not allowed to ask that question, because of, I think it was the No Child Left Behind policy where every student the, worst student had to catch up to the best student in the class.
Yeah. And so we weren't allowed to even ask questions during class that were very basic Oh my god. Questions. So I had to Google 'em instead. And so just policies like that where I'm like, I start to critically think wait a second. this is really bizarre. I'm a student, I wanna learn, I have questions, and the teacher won't even like, answer my [00:04:00] question even though he knows the answer.
He could've just spent two seconds saying yes or no. But instead he's I can't answer that. And, it just blew my mind that it's not the teacher's fault. It's probably some kind of the law and what's allowed in our country and stuff like that.
But growing up in that environment, I grew up in Utah, by the way. So that's another thing is maybe I was influenced by the education system here, which is it's great. Like I moved back because I want to if I have kids, like I want them to be able to grow up here.
So there's a lot of merits to being here. So I'm not complaining, but I swear, I think that's just where the, that rebellion came from a little bit where just realizing, hey there are [00:04:30] some things that the system could improve upon, and that for me, as an individual, like I can hopefully do something to get better at that.
And if I can't, then I'm sure you guys have all worked in we've all worked in environments where there are arbitrary rules that just make no sense, right? And Some of my previous work environments where one of the companies I worked at, we were required to stay in the office until after our boss left.
And it's just an arbitrary rule. I'm like, wait a second. It wasn't like you had to finish a certain amount of work. You just literally were not allowed to leave. Exactly. You was doing busy work. [00:05:00] Yeah, it was like FaceTime where we had to show our face and be present.
And even if we finished our work early for whatever reason and, I get it, look, internships are a, sunk cost for most companies, even for us for me as an employer. Now I get it, but at the same time I'm like, I would never impose that on my interns. I would never tell them like, you must stay until I step out of the office.
I never step outta the office like, it's like a weird policy and so, just learning and just when those things happen, you feel stifled a little bit. You might feel like like why you question things. And, so I think that's where the I wouldn't [00:05:30] even call it rebellion.
It's just more thinking that things should be questioning why things are the way they are, then critical thinking. Yeah. Yeah. was this a ' cause again so many Asian people just coming back to my own culture, challenging authority was not a big part of Asian cultural teachings, typically speaking.
So did you learn, was it something your parents that taught this or was this just your own personality that showed really don't know. Maybe just my own personality a little bit. Definitely I know my parents had their rebellious days back in the day. I know actually [00:06:00] during my mom doesn't like me talking about this, but during Tiananmen, like Tiananmen Square massacre my dad was a student at the time and he crawled into a tank and argue with the people.
So I didn't know whoa, hold up. I need the whole story for this. He crawled into a tank. A 10 square. Yeah. He like crawled into a tank and argued with whoever, the, tank person, like the soldier who was driving a tank. Yeah. Was your dad Tank man? The guy I know, right?
I don't know. Ot. What happened? Was he the tank man? No idea. But Yeah. And it was like I, didn't really know these by the way, until later on in my life. and then I [00:06:30] realized, and I discovered, I'm like, oh, yeah I didn't realize my parents were also rebellious in their own way.
And I feel like everyone is, it's just that we're stereotyped as being obedient. And and I get it. Look, we're as students, right? I'm, the one I like to ask questions and stuff like that. But then even in high school, I'm sure my classmates are like, oh, yeah, Christina's a shy, quiet, obedient person.
But actually I think of myself, I'm like, wait a second. I was always the one criticizing people and just being the more rebellious one in terms of that. And so maybe it's also just how we're perceived by the media and by others around us. But actually it's not true.[00:07:00] and, the other thing is, by the way, there's nothing wrong with being shy and quiet. And, I think that really bothered me when I remember I was applying to college and there's a forum called College Confidential, and I don't know if it's still around.
This was like Oh, yeah. Years ago. Yep. Yep. But anyway, so billion years ago where all the keeners are. Yeah. Yeah. and I remember reading in the forum about someone was asking like why are Asian Americans like how, can we stand out more in our applications?
And an actual, a real admissions officer for a really large university came in and said Asians are always so shy and quiet and [00:07:30] they're always so good at math. And she said those as if they were bad things. And thankfully people called her out. They were like, you say those things being quiet and obedient and good at math as if those are bad things.
And that's not true. And it's just, For some reason it's being used against us. imagine saying that to any other race, right? Oh, you're good at math, and that's like a bad thing. That's a bad thing. You're right. Yeah. It's a good thing that your math is everywhere around us.
I use math in my job every day and I, I think it's a great thing. And but yeah, so just felt their stereotypes do perpetuate, I think, over time. And they do, [00:08:00] unfortunately I think it is being used against the Asian race for one way or another.
And so yeah, a hundred percent we, do see that in workplaces where employers would oftentimes write things like, oh, lacks executive gravitas, or lacks executive presence, and doesn't really have that. Essentially what we're talking about is assertiveness, right? Yeah. That, critical thinking of hold on a second, this doesn't make any sense, and that willingness to speak and say something isn't right.
And. I think that is the part that is a miscommunication. We, as Asian people, we got this [00:08:30] like weird myth branding that we don't ever question we obviously do. exactly. There's half the planet are us and it's oftentimes it's like unspoken. Like maybe for me I was like, growing up I remember I was taught to respect authority and so maybe I wouldn't interrupt someone during a meeting to say something.
I might dmm them, I might email them on the side or pull 'em to the side and say, Hey let's, why don't we do this instead? the context is everything here too. So it's like they're expecting us to be certain way. But sometimes definitely it's taught me a little bit, I've had to learn a little bit about this by the way too, in terms of when I was [00:09:00] growing up, I definitely did have one thing, which is like the, I had a child mentality where when I was a student, I thought that I'm like the kid.
My professors are the adults in the room. The guest speakers who come in, they're the adults in the room, and I am this kid who I need to be mentored. I need advice, and stuff like that. And whenever I would reach out to them they would never respond to me, obviously.
I'd be like, will you be my mentor? I've never had a single person say, yes, I will be your mentor. If you think about it, it makes sense, but one thing I didn't realize is even as a student, I have value to bring to my [00:09:30] professors, to these guest speakers, to professionals, industry professionals that I'm meeting. For example I remember when I was applying to jobs, I would just send the application and then hope for the best and they'd schedule an interview and I'd respond and they would never respond back. Sometimes even the, recruiter would ghost me in the process. And I'm like, What's going on? And then, Realizing hey, if I had known at the time, like I have value, I could say, Hey, I'm happy to forward your job posting to my student mailing list. I have, my dorm has a mailing list of jobs. My student clubs on campus, like the business clubs and stuff they all have mailing lists.
I'm [00:10:00] happy to forward your job posting or my student group, we could have you as a guest speaker for one of our student societies on campus. Those are amazing, valuable opportunities that any employer, when they read that message, they're gonna respond to you because now they realize you are a person of value to them.
And I never realized that as a student. And That I have that self-worth too. And so that there was a little bit of, and I don't know how much of that's cultural or nothmm but definitely growing up being taught to respect your elders and stuff like that, definitely had a little bit of an impact on Sure.
On that mentality. Yeah. Yeah. When we hear that somebody say [00:10:30] no, we just take it at face value and go, okay, that's it. I'm not diving in. One thing that I, found such an interesting point, by the way, any of you guys who are right now in the job searching process, what an incredible piece of wisdom, right?
Go in, take active thing, don't take no for an answer. You can actually offer value and think about where it is that I can introduce value in this dynamic, in this relationship. Because even if it is seemingly a hierarchal relationship where it's like a professor or an employer to a prospective employee, you could see that we're [00:11:00] equals, there's exchanges of value.
So by thinking for them, we could actually create a lot of opportunities. Exactly. Yeah. And I, wish I had known that when I was a student and instead of just begging people for mentorship all the time, which didn't work clearly should have just said, Hey I have value to bring, and here's what we can do. And there's so many opportunities. If you're a student, you have an entire network at your school, right? And Thinking about how you can forward even just offering to forward someone's job posting, which takes two seconds of your time. Like doing something as simple as an offer like that gets a recruiter's attention, gets hrs attention [00:11:30] and they'll, continue to move you along that process as, a result. And so, there's a lot of things you can do to help along. And and I, for me, unfortunately, I realized it, I learned this the hard way a little bit where when I was a professional, I'd already graduated and I still had this mentality.
To be fair, I was like, what, 22? You're, talking about the kid mentality that you're Yeah, the kid mentality. what's, the kid mentality? What do you, mean by the kid mentality? I guess it's just more at the time because I was also so young I'm thankfully like a lot older now, but 10 years ago, 22, 23 and I felt like even then that we had to [00:12:00] find, the first thing we had to do for a job, for example, for my company, is we had to find a lawyer. And I would email like a dozen lawyers and my emails if I go back and read, and I cringe 'cause they were polite and I was apologizing through my emails.
I was like, I'm sorry for bothering you. Sorry for wasting your time. I'm like, yo, I'm paying you a thousand dollars an hour for this. I'm not wasting any you're wasting my time. Like that's how I'm supposed to be thinking about it. But yeah, you work for, you got it wrong.
I thought it was like such an honor to talk to these people and I'm like, no and then I would ask them for things and one of the lawyers actually responded and said [00:12:30] you're just a kid. Like, why would I wanna work with You wait a second.
So did they, actually said, and again, you are essentially their client. You're hiring them, you're paying them money. And they, said, what? They called me a kid and they said that and this was, by the way, there was an email that I wasn't supposed to see. They were emailing each other as colleagues to debate about whether to work with us.
And somebody said, these are not legitimate customers. They're just a bunch of kids. Let's charge them a really high retainer so that we can drive them away. And I was accidentally CC'd in the [00:13:00] email. And then when I replied, obviously they all ignored me.
They were like probably embarrassed about that. But it did help me realize this is how people view me behind my back. And that is actually valuable feedback for me. Now I think about it again. I'm still gutted when I read that.
Yeah. I'd be so pissed. What in the world, and I was just gutted that we had the money, by the way, we had already raised venture capital funding. So it wasn't like we weren't coming to them saying, Hey, we're a bunch of poor students. Could, I ask what, that will look like?
Just for those of you guys who listen, understand what venture [00:13:30] capital funding means. What, does that mean? How much were we talking about? How much money did you guys have? Yeah. I think at the time we had raised about like a $3 million seed round, which I know sounds like nothing today, but trust me, 10 years ago, that was a lot of money.
We had $3 million. To pay these lawyers and that was more than enough of a budget I felt like to help us to, pay lawyers and get to launch and we wouldn't be stingy. I'm not gonna be a penny pincher about this. No. So it blew my mind that even with $3 million in my bank account, that we still weren't able to hire these, lawyers in [00:14:00] town.
Yeah. But anyway, that feedback helped me realize that I was wording my emails wrong. I was clearly doing something. And now when I email lawyers, obviously it's an error of authority an error of this is my time is the valuable one here, I'm the client.
I'm not the one begging you for anything. So just the, tone that I've definitely shifted over time become a lot more, think just professional in terms of how to interact with, even just like lawyers. And so my, kid mentality, I've definitely changed that and realize we are all equals and that I don't need to apologize ever for wasting anybody's time in the [00:14:30] business.
Yeah. I think that's such an important part of it, is when we make that change, it's not just in our languaging, right? Because I think a lot of people, their first question is, okay so how do I sound more authoritative? It actually just starts with our own mindset and realize that you don't need to pretend.
Or one, one advice I don't love is fake it till you make it. Because I'm oftentimes like what are you faking? That you have value, that you deserve respect? Of course you do. There's nothing to fake. You just have to accept it and, act like once you get there. And that is such a huge transformation I would say my question here is, [00:15:00] when did that start to land for You When did that transformation happen for you? Yeah, I think first it was uncomfortable to write emails with, I started no more apologizing, it takes a while to get outta that mentality because that's what I learned and that's what I've done this whole time. And it wasn't working for me.
And so then changing that and starting to write more being more concise and just changing the wording and also the mentality. I think first it was uncomfortable and then over time, I started seeing more results, right? People respond [00:15:30] faster. They're like, when I'm more assertive as well through email and I, just say, Hey, I'm Christina.
Or sometimes I'll even tell 'em like, Hey my, my hedge fund traded $7.1 billion a day. they see that and they're like, oh, crap. They have to respond to me. And so yeah, absolutely. It, does demand more attention and it helps me realize this kind of stuff does, it does work, and that it's okay to say who you are and what you've done and what you've accomplished and self promote.
And from there yeah, I'm a really big believer. One of the core messages I think in big Asian energy is I, actually think Asian Americans need to be [00:16:00] much better at self-promotion. we, just gotta own the fact that we're, often really good at what we do, but we're not that good at telling people about it and just owning the fact that, yeah, you're a badass.
Speaking of owning and being seen for that, Tell me a little bit more about what happened with the fund after you guys the Michael Lewis Flash Boys came out. 'cause this, was a, big deal. So can you gimme a little bit of that background and, what happened? For sure. So to give you guys some context first we were starting a high frequency trading hedge [00:16:30] fund, which is rare.
It's usually high frequency trading firms are not really hedge funds and structure. But anyway, that's a story for another time. But all you need to know is that it was high frequency trading. And the definition of that is basically we were making high a large frequency of trades every day, so we would make, let's say thousands of trades. It could be over 10,000 trades a day. At the end of the day, I look at our broker statements it's quite long, like the statements go miles and miles long 'cause we're making trades like pretty quickly, and we're reacting to events in the markets on a, think of it like looking through a microscope, like on a [00:17:00] very micro level.
We're looking at data at that level and trading at a very micro level in the markets. And things were going fine, we're starting the fund. I remember we were speaking at some events, I think it's, it was a Bloomberg event like around early March of. 2014. This was a while back.
And everything was great. The event ended and everyone's asking great questions and people would line up to, have chats and ask me more questions and, About the fund and how we started it and everything was going well. And then at the very end of March this book called Flash Boys came out, it's New York Times bestseller, written by Michael Lewis, he's [00:17:30] famous for a bunch of movies out there, I think The Big Short and a bunch of, there's a bunch of other movies and books that he's written he's one of those people who's known to write a lot of books related to the, financial industry related to business.
And so he wrote this it was like Cascading Flash Boys is basically this book that tears apart. The high frequency trading world. And it talks about how high frequency traders the origin of this, how these high frequency firms are digging holes like through the mountain and under the river, and just to be like one millisecond faster than their competitors.
[00:18:00] With sending data from one location to the next, just they call it front running to be one second faster. And the book had a lot of unfortunately misconceptions that came around with it. So front running, for example, is illegal by the way. And we don't do front running. We can't do front running. And, for us, like there was so many misconceptions about all that because what we were doing is all we were doing is just taking data that was available to everybody. We were paying the fastest routes now between let's say New York and Chicago for those wires, microwave towers and cables and stuff.
Those are owned by vendors today. They're not owned by individual companies, so we wouldn't do that. So all [00:18:30] we do is we pay a vendor, think it was only $5,000 a month. It was a pretty cheap price. And we would get the same fast speeds as everybody else. So it was actually an equal playing field.
So there's a lot of misconceptions like that. But the funny thing was after the book came out and I went to a conference like two weeks or three weeks afterwards. And this time it was like everything changed. It was like night day, like people in the audience, someone raised their hand and it was funny 'cause he worked at Bank of America.
And I remember that for some reason, but, He raised his hand and he's you guys are evil. I hate everything you're doing. Oh my God. I can't, God, you're front running like you should be in jail. And he said this to me and I [00:19:00] was like, oh my God. While you were on stage giving the talk Yeah.
While I was on stage just someone just yelling at me and saying like, all these things. And I'm like, oh, wait a second. We are not doing any of those things described in the book and Right. We are still doing high frequency trading but it was just basically looking at data and making predictions on a very micro level, but we weren't like buying other people's trades. We weren't doing any of that kind of stuff. So there's nothing sketchy going on, but how, did it feel in that moment where you were on stage and, getting heckled essentially by, by someone mis accusing [00:19:30] you? Yeah. The scary part was it felt like people thought that I was responsible for what happened in the book.
You, became like a face, like literally your face was published onto if I remember correctly, like a bunch of magazines around the world, Forbes, Nicka wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, all of these places you became somehow, a, figure a, talking about.
I don't, and it was weird because I'm like, I, like I'm not a pioneer in this industry. I'm just a nobody who just started a company. And we're still at the early stages. But we are, one of the louder companies. That is true. A [00:20:00] lot of what happened after Flash Boys came out was a lot of the big high frequency funds.
They changed their branding. Some of them, oh, I remember. Some of 'em would remove their website altogether or they would completely overhaul their site and instead of calling it high frequency trading, they would call it electronic market making or quantitative trading. There are other terms that are less controversial.
And we were the only ones where we're like, let's just proudly call ourselves high frequency trading in all caps on our website. Yeah. And so definitely at some point I think we were on the first page of Google. If you Google high frequency training, our website would appear, which is like bizarre.
And [00:20:30] so it was good and bad in the sense that we got quite a lot of attention and lots of job applicants as a result. Lots of interest media reporters wanting to learn more about high frequency, wanting to learn about. From a real someone who would take an interview, nobody else would take interviews for some time.
And I was like, sure, I'll help debunk some of those myths. And so, yeah, it was like an interesting experience. Would I ever relive that? I don't know. But yeah, it was quite a unique experience to go through. Yeah. This is an interesting theme that I'm seeing going back to your experiences being like a, little bit of [00:21:00] a rebel in high school through university.
Going through the internship processes, starting to start your own in your own dorm room, and then taking charge and saying, Hey, look what we're doing, yeah, we do high frequency trading, but we're doing isn't sketchy or unethical, and I don't mind, I'm not gonna be like those guys who are like running and, rebranding.
I'm gonna step into the spotlight and again, like that, I'm curious. Was there any hesitancy around that? Was there any fears that came up, or did you just go Nope, I'm gonna channel that energy, I'm gonna step right into it? I think a part of it was wanting to [00:21:30] set the record straight in this industry, and it was really sad that not a lot of people were willing to speak up.
And the people who did often were criticism the critics who were saying that this was evil. And, I wanted to set the record straight if not for myself or the company, at least for the industry to say, Hey here's what it's actually like. And by the way, it's funny speaking of things being unfair or unequitable.
only in my career of doing this high frequency fund for almost a decade the most unfair things I encountered, had nothing to do with high frequency trading. It had everything to do with what I mentioned, the lawyers not wanting to work with us. [00:22:00] That was totally unfair. tell me more about that?
Based on my age, my gender, my race? Who knows? Yeah. Or was it my language that I used when I spoke to them? It could have been a combination of factors, but those to me, were more unfair and made our chances of success lower. Rather than the high frequency stuff was all fair, like data stuff.
Oh, great. We get data from this, like New York Stock Exchange or nasdaq. And they give data to everybody else for the same price. And it was like, that was totally fair and equitable. We didn't have to front run anybody back run anybody or anything illegal to do that. And the, [00:22:30] training stuff was relatively straightforward.
I think it was more the operations and the backend of trying to find a good lawyer, trying to find good we wanted auditors and accountants like these service providers that we wanted to hire. It was a very difficult process for us to get a lot of those in place because of a lot of, I don't know if it's biases in the industry or maybe because of like how, old or young we were at the time.
But yeah, it could be those when I think about Wall, Street looks like, and this might be my own bias, but when I browse Wall Street board members, they tend to look like old white dudes. [00:23:00] And I don't mean that as like a, criticism, but there is a history of that.
So you being a young Asian woman definitely doesn't quite fit that model. And it sounds like that affected you guys' experience. Yeah, I think it's mostly microaggressions by the way. So if you ask someone, Hey, are you racist? Everyone's gonna say, of course not. Of course I'm not racist.
Right? Nobody thinks so. But then the microaggressions are like, when they have good intentions, but then. It's still based on a bias that they have. So for example I've talked about this [00:23:30] story before about I was at the Schwartzman Library in New York and it was like a dinner table setting.
It was a hedge fund event. And I was walking up to stage to give a talk during this event and everybody else was sitting down. You weren't a student at this point. You were Yeah. Quite events in your career Berg? I was already in the hedge fund space. I was already giving a lot of talks and having some authority and just speaking out about H F T and doing a lot of things in the space.
We So you were already established, like dorm, yard was already well known and you were like a legit kind of person you've been on Exactly. Yeah. 40 under authority and all money if that [00:24:00] matters so, they invited me to give a talk and I was walking up to the stage to give my keynote.
And this guy, I just hear someone going, excuse me ma'am, we're done with our table we're done with our food. Can you clear our, plates? Very angry. He's sounded frustrated and I turned around and he is look clearly looking at me and motioning to his table being like, yo where, how aren't you doing your job?
And, again, like that's a textbook definition of a microaggression where he had good intentions. He didn't say, oh, she must be a waitress or whatever. He didn't do that to make fun of me. He genuinely just thought I was a waitress. And so I told him [00:24:30] and I froze and I was like, oh, crap, what do I do?
Do I yell at him? What do I say? And I was like, okay, I'm just gonna just play it off. So I said, okay I'm happy to take your plates as soon as I give my keynote speech up on stage. Okay. And that's a mic drop moment. and he felt horrible. And afterwards he came up to me and he was like, I'm so sorry.
I'm so embarrassed obviously like people have good questions and so he's I'm so sorry I'll treat you to dinner. What can I do? And I'm like, don't worry about it. Look, next time hire more women. Have more women in your company go up on stage and give talks.
And until one day when we get used to that so that our [00:25:00] kids, when they think of what you mentioned and think of a finance person, a trader, an entrepreneur, that they can think of different type, they can think of a woman, they can think of a person of color, and not just for now it's like when I think of, even for me, when I think of a trader, I'm like a Warren Buffett there's a stereotype in my head.
And one day I hope that those stereotypes they can be replaced by other types of role models in this industry that look different and maybe, hopefully look like me and talk like me. That'd be really cool. But yeah those microaggressions, they do happen though even frequently.
This was a week ago, even as recently, I hate to say these, I have so many stories about these, but, So [00:25:30] my co-founder's also Asian and we were on a call with I won't say the name of the company. It's a household name, a big financial firm that employs probably tens of thousands of people.
We were on the call with a very senior executive from that company, and when I introduced myself as Christina and my colleague introduced himself as Luca, and those are our legal names, by the way, those are our given legal names. He immediately says you can use your real names, right? And, he's, this guy's he's not Asian, right?
But he is like, why don't you just use your real names? That was his first comment was like, oh, like [00:26:00] you guys should just use your real names. And I'm like, That is my real name. Like what, makes you think I have another name? Yeah. My parents call me by a Chinese name, but my legal name on my passport is Christina.
And it was just such a rude to me, I'm like that came outta nowhere and you're not even Asian. Like why enter my space and tell me what name I should go, should and shouldn't go by, and this was a week ago and, it's funny, my co-founder doesn't get bothered by this at all 'cause he just whatever.
Like it happens. He is used to it 'cause he is Singaporean. And he gets microaggressions every day. You know when in America people will say your English is [00:26:30] so good to him all the time? 'cause he has a Singaporean accent, but English is his native language. Yeah. And everybody in Singapore knows this, right?
Yeah. Your native language, you grew up speaking English, your mom speaks English, your dad speaks English. Like his mom only spoke English to him growing up. His mom doesn't know any Chinese, his mom doesn't speak Mandarin at all. And so the stereo, it's just such a stereotype.
And he gets, your English is so good all the time. And I'm like, I'm sorry. And he's whatever. He's used to it. But for me, like when that happened and people are like, you gotta go by your real name. And I'm like, Where are you really from? Yeah. Where are you really from? Yep. Yeah. That's the new [00:27:00] version of that from, and I'm like, I feel like the only solution to that these days, just to ask them question that same question back and just be like, great.
And what's your real name? Exactly. Yeah. Where are you really from? I'm Chris Williamson. Oh, wow. And you have a great English accent. Did it take you long to learn that? Which is great too. Oh my gosh. How did you learn? Oh my gosh, Chris, I went to you. I do that too. Yep. Yeah. How do I pronounce that Chris?
Say no. But it's a legitimate thing. I think last year I have a study here in front of me. They, found that in the financial sector, over 60% of Asian women say that race [00:27:30] had been an impediment, like a major impediment in their careers. Especially the higher up that gets into leadership, the more it gets questioned.
And I think 62% specifically a p i women, and this is once again, One of the smallest groups of leaders maybe take a look at statistic numbers like, 1.5% at, the C levels. and, it's a huge population at the analyst level. So something doesn't add up, the math doesn't work. Something's not adding up there.
it is really unfortunate because I feel like a lot of Asian people feel like they can't talk [00:28:00] about those issues or they feel like other races are going through a lot more. And, yes, absolutely right? Like I'm, grateful that I've never been held at gunpoint. I'm grateful that I've rarely feel like my life is being threatened.
But at the same time, it's like there's so many issues that are still legitimate. You're, feel like you're valid, right? There's still a lot of valid issues that do need to be addressed because it does affect us in every stage of our lives and every stage of our careers. And yeah.
It's great to know that statistic though. Thanks for sharing that. Yeah, no problem. I, was just Googling it. It was on a router's article [00:28:30] and, done by a i m the Association of Asian American Investment Managers. They have some really great studies that come out.
I, can't believe this is something you're still encountering this to this day, but at the same time, this is the reality, and you're right we've gotten really good at telling ourselves it's okay. personally, I've also run into so many different small racial experiences so good for an Asian is one of those things that I've heard so many times at this point that I'm like, if I only had a dollar each time I said it each time I heard it.
But I think that when we speak up we're, helping the next generation not [00:29:00] have to be taking a look at this because it's not about what's being said, I think that most of us were like, yeah, it's fine. We're just shrug and we don't mind it. But it's about, if that's what's being said, how does that affect their unconscious decisions?
How does that affect their decisions when they're in boardrooms or leadership meetings where they're going, okay, we'll have all these people to promote and am I gonna promote the one, what's even her real name and Right. If I don't even know can she speak English Well, it's true.
It's subc, the easier things to show up. Yeah. It's like a subconscious thing. And, that, scares me a lot too. You're right. And I've seen [00:29:30] this happen even for my own board where my previous company, the hedge fund, we were interviewing a board member. And, yet this is again another person who's very senior level from a very prestigious company, probably has his own Wikipedia page whatnot.
And so he comes into the office and, I'm chair of the board by the way, so we're in the middle of the interview and he gets a phone call he, just immediately picks up and he is like, Hey, sorry, I'm talking to these kids right now. Can I call you back? And, I don't know if you caught that, but he said, I'm talking to these kids right now.
And in my head I'm like, I'm chair of the board and look if we were friends, like if he was my uncle's [00:30:00] friend or whatever you call hey kid. Yeah. That's totally fine. But the context is that we've never met before. This is an interview for a board position of my company.
And if we ever down the road, if things ever went bad, went south and we had an argument on the board or disagreements on the board, which does happen. Subconsciously he thinks of me as a kid. don't want that, that's a bad thing. So Yes. It, even the, story you mentioned there that relates so much to me.
I can totally relate to that. It's happened to me before and we ended up not hiring him we didn't select him for the board because of that, actually, and of a variety [00:30:30] of other factors, but. That was one of them was we realized these microaggressions are, they're small. And they might not mean anything if we ever get in an argument and what does he think, I am At the end, I'm just a kid. That could be a very negative thing. And by then I think I was already I was almost 30 years old. I get it. Compared to him, I might be his kid's age. But still again, this is a professional relationship. We are hiring him and paying him to be on our board and to be unbiased on our board.
And so again, like he didn't fit the criteria for the role. It's not about what's being said. It's [00:31:00] exactly as you said, it's like maybe he is that casual, but it's given the context of the situation, given the professionalism that is expected of the sa situation, it, reveals kind of his own unconscious biases.
Exactly. Yeah. and then it's also nerve wracking. I'm like, should I point people out when that happens? Or do they recognize it when that happens? And decided, you know what it's not worth it. These people are so senior, they already made a ton of money in their life and they're already successful.
And and I don't wanna ruffle their feathers too much. And, unfortunately there's still a lot to lose for me. I have many more, hopefully many more years to [00:31:30] live, I hope. And I just don't wanna get on someone's bad side. And when we, if we were close enough, then I would definitely mention it to people.
But again, it's it's not my job to go out there and always correct people on stuff. I, think this is key is that when we encounter these kind of things, one question is why didn't you say something? it's not my responsibility to educate people, but in this situation it's clearly demonstrates something.
Like even just picking on the phone in the middle of the meeting, to me I, would consider that rude. dude, you should know better, right? is not how you would talk to an equal. This is not how you talk to a peer. So it sets this [00:32:00] up as this is what is being thought of. Yeah. And I think that's the, deeper element.
And you have had such a history of you've been a Forbes 30, under 30, I see a 40 under 40 thing behind you. These are in impressive of words. But I also see that you do a lot of nonprofit work. Can you tell me a little bit about that? For sure. The basis for doing nonprofit one was like, I've realized for me I, get a lot of satisfaction out of just giving back without expecting anything in return.
Whether that's donations of my money or my time, [00:32:30] or my skills or whatever kind of things. But for me I think that's always been fulfilling and it's something that I wish I had learned earlier as well that it's okay to give back, but also that there's opportunities and you don't, even, people don't realize this too, that nonprofit work isn't just a giving a bunch of money away and that's it, right?
There's actually a lot of valuable opportunities that you can gain by doing, like serving on a board of a nonprofit, for example, right? And helping out with a cause that's greater than yourself, that's greater than a single human being. But As a [00:33:00] cause whether there are causes to help underrepresented minorities or I serve on a lot of causes that help with. example, invest in Girls as a, I served on that board for about five years, I think, and for that organization we help lot of high school aged girls who are oftentimes from underrepresented low income communities to have an education in.
Basic financial literacy in finance. and the goal isn't that everyone wants to go into finance. That's not the goal. The goal is just to teach them to how to talk and think about money and how to basic things like what are taxes and what does it mean when we talk about investment banking [00:33:30] versus sales and trading, right?
Like many people, one of us probably didn't know what those were growing up. And so it's really cool 'cause they've heard about these terms, but then to really teach them what it means and what are the careers and what does it look like has been really cool. And then also to bring them into financial into the industry.
And they have visits to some financial firms and for a lot of them, it is their first time ever being on the 50th floor of a building ever. Oh, wow. And so that is also just a life experience of it. Is your first time ever being in a high rise building? What an experience that is for a high school student who's from a [00:34:00] low income background, who's never experienced that. For me, it's like doing those things. I think it, it gives me a purpose to this, look in finance, it is true when I had worked in the hedge fund space were we curing cancer? No. are we making a huge difference to million?
Are we saving lives? Absolutely not. Don't wanna, Sugarcoat that because it's true. In finance at the end of the day, our business model is that we were taking money from, a lot of times there were billionaires because by law we're only allowed to take money from old individuals by, law, by the way.
trading the money and then making them richer. and I'm like, that's, yeah. That helped me make a [00:34:30] living and it helps me 'cause I take a cut of that revenue and that's the hedge fund model. That's how it works. But I wanna use those skill sets and I want to help the next generation to at least know basic financial literacy so that they know how they're not gonna be in debt in the future.
How do they pay off their credit card loans? What does it mean to start a credit card and a debit card, and all those different things. And yeah, it's been really, meaningful for me to be able to give back and to do those things as well. And it also helps me meet other people who are also like-minded in this industry and it's nice, like investing girls is a lot of times when we have, when we were having our board meetings, a lot of them would [00:35:00] say, this is my first time in a meeting with mostly women in the room, and it was like, oh, same here. Yeah. I'm used to being in meetings where mostly guys in the room. And then it was really nice to see a, board meeting with mostly women on the board was also really cool. Those experiences are definitely experiences. I, recommend to anyone who's just wanting to give back and be more involved in, any community.
That it's been just such a rewarding experience for me personally. But yeah. And then also since you mentioned it, the Forbes 30 under 30 and whatever those awards look, how I view these awards is that these are all just [00:35:30] shiny trophies and. yes, some of them are great and that they lead you to more opportunities.
I am personally very skeptical of awards lists and look, if someone wants to put me on one, I will fully graciously accept it. But at the same time, knowing that these lists are not perfect, there have been multiple people are now in prison who are on Forbes under 30 Freed. I think he was on the cover, Elizabeth Holmes.
Oh, my gosh. Yeah. He also on the cover and Again, so these lists are not perfect. They're by no means definitive of here are the best people in the world. [00:36:00] No, not, they're not a, reflection of self-worth or value. But when someone wants to apply to this list, I okay, great, go for it.
There's nothing wrong with having ambition and doing it and applying year after year until you get it right. There's nothing wrong with that. But at the same time, recognizing that there's a lot of flaws with how society's obsession almost with awards and trophies. So there's a little bit for me, I'm like, now I can look back and be like, whoa, yes, I've benefited enormously from them.
But also like, why is society so part of it's because society's obsessed with them, so And just questioning [00:36:30] why is also really important. Yeah. So that's a perfect segue we just talked about these, brilliant moments of success and awards and everything like that. I love to hear because it's something that you specifically have talked about before and mentioning.
Is failures. It's something we don't talk a lot about, especially with the Asian people. We just don't really talking about it because it's part of our culture to we don't show the ugly side. This is an actual, I'm trying to translate a Chinese saying here. So can you tell me a little bit more about what happened with Dome Yard?
Yes. Absolutely. So do yard [00:37:00] ultimately failed, and I do wanna quickly before that, you're right. By the way that especially with Asian Americans and Asians in general, by the way, there's like in a lot of other cultures too, there's a culture of like shame and losing face. You don't wanna lose.
Space you wanna be manly, you wanna be like, everything's going well. And yeah, all the time. Shiny. Perfect. It makes it so difficult to open up about whether it's like emotions or failure or vulnerabilities. Even asking questions. Sometimes I think we are a little bit afraid of raising our hand and asking [00:37:30] questions because of the potential embarrassment that you might have of Oh, what if it's a bad question over time, I've learned to not be afraid to open up about failures and about those types of things at the risk of my reputation dying and that's okay. and I realize that the, risk is, it's worth it because one is that it helps other people learn from my mistakes, but also two, to me, it's actually therapeutic to be honest, to be like, yo, this was a massive failure and I wanna talk about it with people.
And and I'm grateful by the way, to have friends and family who understand willing to like I can cry on their shoulder [00:38:00] essentially. but yeah. So anyway to, go back to your question on what happened with Dome Yard in 2020? We had a very bad year.
Unfortunately, our performance, we were down 12%. And I know like for many people you're like, what? That's not too bad in the grand scale of things. For us, like it was the final nail on the coffin on many frustrating years of we had a lot of just a lot of challenges operationally with all kinds of things with scaling our fund, for example.
Scalability was a big issue. We couldn't scale beyond a certain, we were trading like 7 billion. We couldn't scale beyond that. And it was really frustrating for us. Oh, wow.[00:38:30] The cost of going into new trading in other locations as well so just thinking about those challenges, the cost of hiring by, then our cap table was also cap tables, like who owns equity in the company and stuff.
It was quite like all over the place a little bit. and so just was getting to a point where we were like, okay maybe it's time to move on and to use this as a signal that we should do other things in our lives. And we had been running this fund. My initial goal with starting the fund was I just wanted to pay off my student loans.
I was $40,000 in debt and my mom had lost her job. It was like oh 8, 0 9, right? [00:39:00] So not, my parents didn't have a jobs and so we ended up being in a lot more debt than I was expecting. And so my goal was like, I just wanna pay off those loans and get just and that was it.
And so I paid off my loans already by, far, and I like helped my parents did all those Asian things help my parents with like their, debt too and whatever else I need to do. And I was like, I've already accomplished my goals. And I don't need to become a billionaire. I don't want to become a billionaire.
I just want to like I'm well off enough. And decided, hey, let's shut this down. And I wanna be able to focus on starting a company called Data Bento to be able to. use, my skills. We have the [00:39:30] skillset and data. And at the time we were wasting millions of dollars on data.
And so we're like, let's fix this data problem and make sure that this data industry can be more accessible, data can be more affordable and accessible and good quality, better quality to all of our users out there. And so, that's what we decided to do was, thankfully we had another idea and we wanted to work on it.
And and it was a more impactful idea. 'cause now we can make a real difference. We have a lot of startups that use our product and every day we get messages of, oh, thank you. You helped us launch faster with your data product. I'm like, oh, thank goodness. it's been really, positive to be able to, going from a [00:40:00] controversial industry of high frequency trading Oh.
Into running a data company. I'm like, I'm actually really grateful, even though people are like, why would you ever do that? And I'm like, it's the life I wanna live, making a positive difference. And I like the difference. Yeah. I like the positiveness of, being in a space where people understand like what to make a difference and to help other companies.
I think it's a, good mission. And yeah, have really enjoyed this journey so far. Yeah. I wanna hear a lot more about data bentel and, the starting of founding of that. I, really wanna hear about The, way that you describe this transition sounds so [00:40:30] effortless and. Beautiful. I'm sure were, there any tough days in that time? There were many, tough days. Even just the decision of whether to shut down the company or not, we could have continued by the way we, really could have, it wasn't like anything really bad happened where we must shut down.
There were no lawsuits or anything like that. All of our investors were really sad when we told them we wanted to shut it down, and Oh wow. They were, A lot of them were like, why? And I get it. There were definitely a lot of tough conversations about what does it mean and what, kind of future do we want [00:41:00] and do we want to really.
Continue doing this. And but just for me, looking back on, I was just thinking, I did a lot of exercises where one of those mental exercises where you're like, imagine you're in your deathbed, you're like 9,200 years old, and looking back on your life and what kinda legacy do you wanna have, right?
What do you want to be known for? And How would you feel comfortable doing this for the next 10, 20 years? And and for me, my answer was clearly a no. I was like, oh, I actually don't wanna be known as like a high frequency trader, even though it's a sexy thing. And these days it's it's fine.
The controversy's over from 10 years ago now, that we've moved on to crypto being the controversial [00:41:30] thing and NFTs and there's so many other more, way more controversial things today. But I still don't really understand what NFTs are. Please do not write me messages.
People countless friends have tried to explain, I still don't get it. Yeah, same. And it's, difficult for me because it, it feels like I, can go on about forever about this topic. I know that's not the topic of the podcast, but yeah, I've definitely had a lot of conversations, I guess you could say about these things too.
But yeah, for me, I'm like, I don't wanna be known for that kind of stuff. I wanna be known for doing something trying to change the financial industry for the better. To do [00:42:00] something in this space where the industry becomes a little, even if it's a little bit more affordable or a little bit more accessible to everybody else in this industry, then I'll, feel a lot happier with what we're doing.
And, the good news is like, when we do make an impact like that, the money will always come. It's just that I don't wanna focus on that as my only thing in life anymore, like I wanna have some impact yeah. Was it at all challenging, especially making the decision to like letting something that you've grown for so long die?
Were, there any kind of Yeah failure, lots of tears. Like a [00:42:30] failure for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Lots of tears. Lots of days where you kind of existential crisis 'cause it feels it does, I hate to say it feels like a baby because I've never had a baby before and I know that's a different thing altogether, but it did feel like you're losing something very precious to you, is how it worded.
Of course. It really because it's all I've known, it's all my entire career. I've only had that one company and I had it for the first decade of my career. That's a really long time. That's like a over a third of my life just dedicated to this one mission, [00:43:00] this one company. So yeah, absolutely.
It felt very brutal to have to let that go. And I was the face of the company. The company shut down actually a few years after I had already left to start data Bento, but it still stung it still felt just as like bad and. just for me almost like the stages of grief and mourning, like I was definitely mourning.
The loss of it and was, really, and then the other thing is being open about it, it was very, even for me, difficult to if I open up about it, how many opportunities am I gonna lose? And I did lose some opportunities, by the way. And I don't wanna say that to discourage people [00:43:30] from opening up about their failures and stuff, but just saying that realistically and the people who don't give you opportunities that you, don't wanna work with them anyway.
You know what I mean? It was funny 'cause I had announced the failure of my first company when I was raising funding for my second company. And you betcha some VCs the, ones I don't wanna ever work with Would say, Hey, Christina your company.
They ask the questions in a way that clearly it bothered them. They were like, oh they didn't say oh, what happened to your previous company? It wasn't like an open-ended, they were since your previous company failed I don't think, I don't believe in your ability as a founder anymore.
And I'm like [00:44:00] ran, they said that ran this company. Directly. And I, damn, we ran this company for 10 years. We could have continued. it wasn't a big scandal. It wasn't like I went to jail or No, none of that. We gracefully wound down fund investors from my previous, the hedge fund.
We, when we told 'em about it, they were all sad, right? they weren't like, good for you, you deserve to die. They wasn't like, not at all. And so it's just funny that some VCs definitely took it the as if this failure was a bad mark on my reputation or whatever.
And I'm like, you know what? Like I don't need that and we don't need to work with, there's a lot more fish out there. And I'm okay with that and I'm okay [00:44:30] with being open. And the good news is also there's been a lot of Entrepreneurs who reach out and they'll say, thank you for sharing and for being open about it.
And I could have not shared it. I could have been completely quiet about it and just moved on. I think most people would've, that would've been acceptable as well, but Totally. But yeah, just deciding to be more open about it, to hopefully set a good example that these things do happen and that it's okay to, be open and to share and so yeah, that's what we did.
It's been also humbling by the way, because back when I was running the hedge fund, look, we were trading billions of dollars a day. [00:45:00] We were establishing quite a big reputation, at least amongst some people in the industry, not that big. but still to give you a sense there were definitely a lot of people who treated me differently after I announced the failure.
For that, back when I was running the billion dollar hedge fund, whatever they would call it. in terms of how do I describe it? Definitely people used to treat me. Sometimes some people would treat me with a lot more authority. Like they would be scared or intimidated a little bit or just be a lot more respectful and want to ask me for advice and things like that.
Almost treating me like a [00:45:30] big, I don't know, more of a big shot than I am. And then now that the, cards have all crumbled. It's been interesting in that the, way that people treat me, it is actually, I appreciate that. Now, I know you know who my real friends are.
I hate to say that, but it, is true, right? Like I know now, which friends are the ones who. Still treat me the same. And they didn't view me for how much money was in my bank account. They view me for me as a person, and I appreciate the people who are, real like that and appreciate me for who I am and not how much money I have.
but yeah, definitely noticed a little bit of that. And I'd say that not to discourage people again, but [00:46:00] more just to Yeah. That, that's just the real world. That's what happens. And that's the consequence that I'm willing to face. And it, and also the good silver lining is that at least now, like my friends are all genuine friends, right?
Like I've stripped Yeah. I've also stepped down from all my board positions, almost all of 'em. I've stripped away my titles, I've stripped away my trophies. Wow. Like all those big shiny objects traditionally used to prop me up artificially or whatever. Like it made me look really cool.
Now that they're stripped away I feel like I'm more human, I, do appreciate that aspect of it. Yeah. this is interesting. Why [00:46:30] did you decide to, step down from all these I'm assuming you're talking about, you were on the board of the m I t a hundred women in finance all these, things.
why did you make that change? A couple of reasons. One is that I moved from Boston back to Utah and Right. A lot of the boards I sat on were local to Boston. For me, I wanted to be able to pass the baton to somebody else, next generation of board members and, somebody who is ready and available to take on those opportunities. And these are opportunities, board seats are they are opportunities, one to give back, but also [00:47:00] you meet a huge network of people and it can be very prestigious to hold these board seats. but I've decided look, I don't need the prestige anymore.
Can still give back being a regular volunteer, but I don't need to be chair of the board anymore. So decided to, step away from those positions. But also, 'cause to be honest, I had served on some of those boards for quite a few years. And it became, for me, I'm like,
I have overserved my positions, I feel like. some of them would continue inviting me back year after year, and I appreciate that. I'm glad that I've provided hopefully some [00:47:30] value to them that they keep inviting me back. But again, I feel like I've overserved some of these positions and realized that I don't need the titles anymore and that I can pass it on to somebody else who, wants this opportunity.
And so, yeah, decided to step off, not all of 'em, but at least pretty large number of board positions where. were quite time consuming or they involved a lot of networking and stuff in Boston decided to just step off of those. And I think it made a lot of sense. lesson on like less is sometimes more and it's okay to, A lot of times I think growing up in we all grew up in Asian, [00:48:00] like some of us grew up in more competitive environments than others, I feel like. But I remember for me it was like a lot of my peers, we would all feel pressure to pile on more and more titles and trophies and awards.
Yeah, because we're millennials by the way. So I'm a millennial and that's, one of the definitions of the millennial generation. I don't dunno if you've ever heard of this. With millennials there's three t's technology, which makes sense. Like we are the techno first technology.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Like we were born with smartphones basically. Not exactly, yeah. But we, were certainly raised with smartphones playing a major role. Yep. Exactly. The second one is trophies. That's the second T. So interesting. And that's when we're growing up, like [00:48:30] suddenly we're in an era where I remember like my younger brother, was on a soccer team and his team lost and he took home a trophy.
And I'm like, wait, you lost? And he is yeah, but everyone trophy. And I'm like, why? So, trophies I think you know this, you go to some Asian household and you see a wall of, it's just a wall. Yeah. That's, a part of our generation, literally.
And then the third tee is trauma. And I think that's so true. A lot of us we had a lot of key events in our lifetime that made us have a sense of distrust maybe in society. So nine 11 was traumatic for many of us as kids growing up. September [00:49:00] 11th recently we don't trust the media.
There's a lot of issues we have and. also just trauma in terms of like mental health. Growing up back then mental health doesn't exist. No. And, now we've realized, wait a second, we've ignored our mental health for so many years.
We've ignored everything. A lot of us have had a lot of depression and anxiety p t s and all these other issues we've developed, but like we never learned to treat them and recognize them. And that's, another big one is they call it trauma. Yeah, so those are the defining features of our generation.
I definitely agree with all those things, but also I'm trying to realize [00:49:30] okay, I can let go of the trophies and, the technology too, try to get off Facebook okay. And to treat my trauma yeah. When you say treat your trauma, what does that look like for you?
when, especially around the last few years of running the fund I think I had P T S D for a little bit, Oh sure. And I still do. it doesn't really go away. It's just more like you learn how to manage it and I just didn't know how to manage it back then.
But a lot of it was just related to one is that for me being in the hedge fund space where we're trading every day it's very difficult for everybody. By the way, in this space [00:50:00] at, the very beginning, you start your career, it is so difficult to separate your company's performance from your self-worth as an individual. and so it could go good and bad. It's a rollercoaster during the good years. You're on cloud nine, you know everything. You feel so confident everything's going well, then your company's doing well, so therefore you are doing well. Exactly right.
Yeah. That's like my life is doing well 'cause we have identity attached to it. Exactly. Yeah. We've attached everything to this, our identity, so Yeah. And then when on a bad year, then it's your life is over. It feels like my life is over. And, it, I realize, has failures to realize no, even [00:50:30] though it is my company and I should have more skin in the game than usual.
At the same time I needed to not dissociate, I hate to say that word, but like that work created. At Arm life, they're separate. Yeah, separate that work and life and there's different like we can move on after work and not think about work and like that there's friends and there's way more to life than just, and by the way, same with starting a company.
When you start, a lot of first time entrepreneurs that I talk constantly working. And that's great. I'm glad that they have the energy too, but it's just, you will burn out at some point. you [00:51:00] have to find other things, friends and hobbies. And Oh, by the way, that was the other thing.
So I don't know if I'm, if this is okay. Maybe as a final story to share. So my brother passed away two years ago. He was a sophomore at the University of Michigan. I'm so sorry. And and he was adopted by the way, so it's a long story, but his biological family and our family do not get along very well.
And so we had a lot of it was a very difficult thing both in terms of just his death to process. And still today I'm still in disbelief. I'm still grieving and it's been really difficult just dealing with everything involved. [00:51:30] and I have two brothers, so just in case one, my, one of my brothers tells to be like, wait, he's alive.
I have two brothers. But anyway, just I'm the oldest sister. When that happened, it did help me to step back and realize, wait a second, I missed his 20th birthday I was working, oh, do I remember what I did at work? No, I don't remember what I did. didn't make a difference in the long-term scale of things.
It did not matter at all that I worked that day. But I just remember I was so busy that day for some reason I, missed his birthday and should've flown home and just celebrated with him. I missed [00:52:00] his graduation. I missed just events right in his life. Not, only his life, but my other friends.
I've missed my friend's weddings, I've missed their celebrations, their graduations. They've invited me to parties that I just ignore their invite on Facebook. And I'm like they thought about me in that moment and I've ignored them. And so I missed all these big events in people's lives and I will never get that time back.
I will never get that time back with my brother. for me, that is so just incredibly. Just devastating. It's so sad that I'll never get that time back. [00:52:30] And that has helped me realize that there's so much more to life than work. There's so much more to life than trophies and success and like the definition, society's definition of success.
There's way more to life than that. And if I wanna live my life and step off of all these board positions, strip myself of all these titles, and if that makes me feel happier, and if that lets me celebrate graduation and weddings and birthday parties and the big events of the people around me, then yes, I will do that because that means a lot more to me than these board positions in these titles.
[00:53:00] That was what I learned over these past two years. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing that story. and I'm so sorry for that. It's, it must have been very difficult. Yeah, it's still it's hard to talk about 'cause I still am in a little bit of disbelief. And when somebody, you never expected to happen to you.
He was perfectly healthy by the way. it was a sudden thing. He had a heart attack in his sleep at night, and that was it, that it was like just the next day. Thankfully, he has many friends on campus and they, knew something was wrong and they alerted police came in and at least everything was very, and I hope he, it [00:53:30] was painless.
But again, like I think about those all the time. It always goes through my head and he's always my life. I turn on even today I open Netflix and his name is still on our family account, on Netflix. Just small little things where, and I'm like, oh, he's not there anymore.
Little things like that still affect me on a daily basis, but again, like he's helped me so much just in terms of putting life into perspective. And also I'm, trying my best to get over that. Those what ifs? Oh I, my regrets, right? Oh, I regret not doing this.
I regret not spending more time with him and with my family. But and by the way, that's [00:54:00] also why I moved back to Utah to be closer to my family. That's my, number one reason. Did I move back for career opportunities? No. You think there's any opportunities in board seats for me and Utah?
Probably not. I work in finance but again, like I moved back because I realized that life is really short and yeah, I wanna spend this short time I have on this earth with the people who I, love the most. And yeah, if that's the, hopefully one thing you can take away from the podcast Then so be it. I'm, happy for that and definitely hope that learned a a thing or two. Wow. That's a very powerful story to, share. And, again, thank you [00:54:30] so much. So I'm, watching our time. I did have one thing I really wanted to ask about. Can I just throw one final thing at you and then we'll, yes.
But before we finalize, by the way, is there anything that usually I have a lot of people who have media accounts and stuff like that, that's usually what we direct them. Is there anything that you want us to call out or direct at the very end, or yeah.
In terms of where to follow me, if you wanna keep in, touch. again, like I'm human. I'm not the adult in the room, right? We're all equals here. So I am also human, which means that yes, you can reach out to me in various formats. I'm befriend on LinkedIn[00:55:00] and also follow me or on Twitter if you'd like as well.
I would say on Twitter, I post different content. LinkedIn is a lot more professional. But then Twitter is definitely a lot more of my ramblings and like whenever I have, there's a microaggression, like I'll late night, I'll like ramble about it on Twitter. So feel free to at your own risk.
Follow me on those platforms. And and what's your Twitter handle? Twitter handle's just at Christina Chi, which is my full name. Just c h r hst, I n a Q i. Yeah. Perfect. Okay, so final question. One of the things you talked about on your bio and other [00:55:30] places is the idea of imposter syndrome. Given the fact that you started multiple companies, sat on these kind of massive boards, all these things, do you still experience imposter syndrome now?
Oh my God, all the time. Less than I used to, but now that I'm a little older, but still quite a lot. but there's definitely ways that I've learned to combat imposter syndrome over time. One funny story was many years ago, someone invited me to speak at a conference on a panel for ai and I emailed them back.
I'm like, don't know anything about, I'm not an expert. Ai, I guess my fund does a little bit of machine learning and yeah, a little bit of stuff like that. Why, am I on [00:56:00] this panel I don't have a PhD in ai, so I'm sorry I'm not qualified. And then I look at their website and I see the other speakers who are already on the panel.
And these people, I know them. I'm like, oh wait, this one guy I know, he started his hedge fund like three years after me. They manage a lot less money than we do. they're basically like few years behind us. He knows nothing about ai. I've known him for a long time, like he knows nothing about this topic.
Why is he on this panel? And so then I was like, oh maybe I should be on this panel because I think he's gonna say some really [00:56:30] wrong things about AI and I need to correct him. And so I emailed him back and I said, nevermind, I'll speak on the panel. And so the day comes of the conference, we go to this panel together.
Lo and behold, he says all this BSS about, I'm sorry to swear, but he says all this stuff about AI that is not true. And, he's AI is all about don't know, he just said all these things that just made no sense. And, I was like, no, those are not true. And so we ended up actually debating a little bit on stage for better or worse.
And, it was really funny. Apparently the organizers liked us so much 'cause we were such an interesting, usually on panels, [00:57:00] everyone just nods and views. We were the only panel where everyone was disagreeing with each other. They invited us back year after year, and they ended up just calling it an AI debate.
They were like the great AI debate panel. And so that way we were like allowed to, debate and talk that was expected that we would talk about these topics. Oh my gosh. And it was funny 'cause it helped both of our careers enormously just by saying yes to this opportunity. And again, are we the most qualified people in the world on ai?
Absolutely not. But at the same time it was, we serve the purpose of being [00:57:30] very entertaining on that panel Making people think about these topics. So I think that was the goal and we fulfilled that. And again, if there's an opportunity that you're given and you have imposter syndrome on something, just think about like, how can you use it as an opportunity to give back?
How can you use it as an opportunity to, grow and to learn? and, then also chances are everyone else feels the same way. They all feel imposter syndrome too. just know that you're not alone in that feeling too. Yeah. That's a perfect takeaway and I love that we could go into that kind of debate about AI in that kind of context.
[00:58:00] Thank you so much for your time today, Christina. It's been an absolutely incredible journey. If you wanna know more and learn about Christina's work, either at Data Bento you could check it out at data Bento hq that's at Data Bento HQ and her own personal account at Christina Chi on X, formerly Twitter.
looking at your Twitter. Is your Twitter Japanese or do I have something going on in my computer? Oh, so 90% of my followers are Japanese, and that's another long story for another time. But Japanese people love Twitter. I'll just [00:58:30] leave it at that. Okay, great. Okay, so check Hogan. You follow Christina on Twitter and you can find her on LinkedIn.
Thank you once again. You've been absolutely incredible for your time. Thank you so much, John. It's such a pleasure. Again, thank you.