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Curitiba and Sao Paulo, Brazil

2019 May 14

I joined a startup called Pipefy a little over a month ago and got the chance to visit the Brazil office recently.

A few of the things that attracted me most to Pipefy were (1) the unique origin story and culture (at least by Silicon Valley standards) and (2) the opportunity to make an impact at a global scale.

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I arrived in Curitiba, Brazil, but when I got there, I was blown away. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. The energy and spirit was amazing and contagious. I fell in love with the culture.

Maybe it was because I was being welcomed into the company or some other reason, but I definitely felt the love. If anything, I learned that Brazilians know how to party and they know how to barbeque.

Brazilian barbeques felt like the quintessential activity. Pretty much every house has a barbeque grill oven built into the side of it, and when you host a barbeque, you just invite over your friends, play some music, throw endless amounts of amazing meat on the grill, have some drinks.

You just can’t help but have a good time.

My weeklong trip had a little bit of everything:

  • A day trip to a cute town called Morretes where they are known for a stewed beef dish called barreado.
  • Played futbol with the Pipefy crew. Brazilians are good at soccer fyi.
  • A trip to a beautiful beach
  • Happy hours with cachaca and caipirinhas
  • Learning the lyrics and dances to some popular songs
  • Lots of steak

Unfortunately my trip back home didn’t go so smoothly. As a frequent flyer, I encountered one of the worst scenarios when we my plane was about to take off from Sao Paulo.

As we were accelerating on the runway, there was a small explosion in the right wing engine. I was seated on just a few rows ahead in the middle of the plane and saw it all: the boom and the orange flash of fire. Luckily, the fire went out right away and we slowed down.

The flight got cancelled and on the bright side of things, I got to unexpectedly spend a day in Sao Paulo. It was Easter Sunday, and I walked all around the city, exploring Avenida Paulista (the huge main street in the city which is closed to traffic on Sundays), Ibirapuera Park, and Liberdade (SP’s Japantown). It was a great little walking tour.

At night, I flew out without any issues this time. I had a blast in Brazil and hope to visit again soon.

Good vibes only.

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Dreams of My 8-Year-Old Self

2019 April 7
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by Stanley Quan

It’s one of my favorite times of the year as the Major League Baseball season started a few weeks ago.

I’ve always been a huge baseball fan. Each year in March, all baseball players come back to work and get ready for the upcoming season through Spring Training, mostly in Arizona or Florida where it’s warm.

There’s something really special about Spring Training. It’s when you have minor leaguers and veterans competing to make the big league roster. Every team starts with a clean slate and the hope of an entire fanbase thinking “this might be our year.”

After casually talking about going to Spring Training over the years, I finally made it to a Spring Training game in Surprise, Arizona this year. I got lucky that I was scheduled for a work trip in the Phoenix area and couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

It honestly felt like I was making a trip to the holy land, something that every diehard baseball fan has to do in their lifetime.

As I strode up to the stadium, I couldn’t hide my excitement. It brought me back to when I was eight years old.

Every day after school, little Stanley would wait impatiently for his dad to get back from work with the newspaper. I would immediately grab the sports section and flip to the baseball box scores, where I would meticulously read through the stats from the previous day’s games.

Remember, this was pre-internet, so TV and newspapers were all I had to work with. And the sports segment of the news only came on for a few minutes, so the newspaper was my baseball bible.

Most people are surprised when I tell them that my favorite sport is baseball. Many think it’s boring and ask me why I like it so much.

When I was younger, I didn’t even play little league (insert something about the high cost of youth sports). I just played in a free summer Junior Giants league run through the city police department. But there was something about the strategy of the game, the multitude of stats, and the anticipation with each and every pitch that pulled me in. The homers, the strikeouts, the steals, I loved it all.

I was hooked and have rooted for my hometown Giants ever since. Baseball was my sport.

Back to now, walking into the Spring Training game, I was as wide-eyed as when I was a kid stepping into my first baseball stadium. It was everything I ever wanted: the crack of the bat, the chatter in the crowd, the smell of the grass…

Dreams of my eight-year-old self finally came true.

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Winter Yosemite

2019 March 18
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Whenever I go a long time between hiking trips, I feel like I start to lose my connection with nature. This gets especially tough when work gets busy and all that time indoors in an office gets me a little stir crazy.

I’ve been in a little one of these funks lately, but with a few days off before starting a new job, I decided to use that time to get out into the woods!

So off I went with a friend to Yosemite National Park on a Wednesday and Thursday in March and it was fantastic.

The only other times I’ve been to Yosemite have been during the busy summer or a holiday weekend, when the park is packed with visitors. This time was completely different, as you can imagine with a midweek March visit.

For one, there was still snow on the ground in Yosemite Valley, though it was sunny out. The snow made for an different, but beautiful landscape from what I was used to seeing in the summer.

And because there were barely any other people there, it was amazing to take in the sights of Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, and Bridalveil Falls, without all the crowds competing for photo ops.

There was a nice quiet everywhere, other than the occasional rustling of leaves or the constant crunching of rocks and snow as we walked.

We hiked all along the Valley Loop trail and for most of it, we were the only ones hiking. It was just me and my friend, and the calming sounds of nature.

Even the animals (those not hibernating) seemed more chill. We saw a herd of deer casually strolling along the side of the path one day, and also saw a coyote walking around and laying in a snowy meadow, seemingly without a care in the world.

I’m happy that I went on this little trip on short notice. It definitely fulfilled my nature fix for the time being and was a nice recharge before diving into the next work challenge.

I’ll be coming back for you, nature!

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2018: Searching For Myself

2018 December 31
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by Stanley Quan

Last year‘s fight of good versus evil in America rages on. With all of the xenophobia, racism, and gaslighting, this year has been draining. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the White House in the coming year and what will trickle down into society as a result.

This year, I feel like I’ve been fighting myself as well. It has been a year of ups and downs, and overall, just trying to find myself and figure things out.

I turned 29 in the summer and began the last year of my 20s. Time has flown by and sometimes it’s hard to not feel like it’s passing me by.

Ten years ago, I couldn’t have predicted this is where I would be. I would’ve never guessed I’d live in Wisconsin for a third of that period, or that a majority of my jobs would take me all over the country for work. I’ve learned so much and grown so much during that time.

But right now, I’m not quite sure where I want to go next. A part of me wants to find a well-paying job and settle down in the Bay Area. A part of me is excited to maybe live somewhere else for a few years. A part of me wants to go off the grid and explore the world.

Many people probably face these sorts of mid-career crises, so I shouldn’t feel alone. I did try some different things. I pursued some jobs that seemed interesting, but for whatever reason didn’t work out. I was accepted to Columbia Business School and turned them down.

I’ve been excited and I’ve been deflated.

I think mostly, I’ve just felt uninspired. As someone who has always looked at life glass half full, this has been the hardest part. The not knowing and feeling behind, as more and more friends are getting engaged/married or finding great jobs and moving on.

But reflecting on it more, I’m grateful to have these life choices. I need to remind myself that life moves at different paces and things will work out in the end.

So 2019, I’m ready for you. Here’s to continuing chasing those dreams and maybe, just maybe, finally catching them.

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Crazy Rich

2018 August 31
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I saw Crazy Rich Asians at the movie theater last week and came away inspired and proud.

I’m an adult now and all these years, I had never seen anything like it. Asian main characters on the American big screen. It’s the first Hollywood studio movie in 25 years to have an all-Asian cast. I loved being able to relate to many of the movie’s cultural values.

It’s hard to put into words how impactful this movie is. This feels like a big coming out party, even bigger than how Fresh Off The Boat felt for Asians on TV. Asians no longer just play the bit parts in movies and shows, but we can star.

Even though America is known as the land of opportunity, where you can supposedly become anything you want, I think society and perceptions play a big role in limiting how far minorities can go. As part of the “model minority,” I’ve grown up thinking my place is probably somewhere that I will work hard with my head down. It’s hard to break away from stereotypes and truly believe in yourself when everything you see and hear says differently.

Representation is important. It’s not something I thought of much before, growing up in the Bay Area. Living in Wisconsin was a shock and the thing I missed the most was diversity. Not just being around diverse people, but diversity of restaurants, diversity of languages, and diversity of culture.

I still remember my first time traveling back to San Francisco, arriving at my gate during my layover, seeing people of all different colors, and feeling at home.

I’m glad that Asian representation is slowly making progress. Hopefully Crazy Rich Asians will open the door for many more movies and roles like it.

 

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