Introducing Anh Ngo - a high school student (!!!), social entrepreneur and chemist researcher who started her career journey when she was 8 years old. She has since founded her own business, MindsetSeed. Check out her story below!
Tell me a bit about you, your career and what gets you up in the morning.
My name is Anh Ngo, and I am currently a high school student, a chemist researcher, and a social entrepreneur. My career originated when I was 8 years old, founding inBooks, and now I am the founder at MindsetSeed. Throughout my school years, friends often categorize me as the “quiet” kid in class, as a preferred to listen and keep to myself. However, to the surprise of many individuals, I greatly enjoy voicing my opinion in public and discussing critical issues with like-minded peers. Because of this, I can have clear directions in identifying my goals and impact. I believe that my passions regarding chemistry, neuroscience, research, and writing are all sparked by my love of public speaking. In expressing my ideas out loud, I am not only able to connect with my inner self, but also with those around me. With this in mind, I rise every morning, wishing to seek connections, either through networking with my ideas and emotions or communicating with my teachers, mentors, and/or friends.
How did you begin your career and what was your starting role?
If someone were to ask me how I found out I loved public speaking, I would probably smile and get a nervous feeling in my heart as I relive the first experience. As a young child, I would normally be categorized by my fellow observers as “shy” or the “quiet kid” in class, as I often busied myself with internal thoughts, and listened to the ideas of others. However, I recall this one time in 3rd grade when I wanted to voice my opinions and make a change in my school community, therefore I decided to run for class president. I prepared this heartfelt speech, and walked confidently yet worriedly onto the stage, and said my piece - it was here that I knew this was what I loved. Thanks to this event, I began to gain more confidence in myself and began to seek discomfort.
Also in the same year, I founded inBooks, an organization that utilized photography to raise awareness for the impact of poverty on education. Through this platform, I published my first book, “The Life of Every Child”, as I combined my passion for photography and writing, to capture the depth perception of the world, through either shuttering lenses or applying friction on paper. I decided to depict the rough life of many young minds through a series of traveling trips to low-income countries, where I marketed this book to raise money to strengthen the education system. At the age of 8, I was able to identify the things I most cherished, and using this my interest branched to even further fields, such as chemistry.
My starting career was when I was young, as a class president, as a social entrepreneur, and as a writer. These three things I still bring with me every day, as I strive to make a change in the community, from the smallest things such as holding the door for someone or fundraising for a research cause, these trio roles are what makes me who I am.
What has been the biggest influencing factor on why you do the work that you do? Eg; was there a bad experience that led you to want to do something differently? Did you travel and abroad and found what you were looking for?
The influencing factor on why I founded MindsetSeed, would not be one single event but rather a long-lasting period in my life. Ever since I was in pre-school, I wanted to build this image of myself as being good at everything I tried and pretty much making no mistakes. I was considered a gifted child, as I could solve complex mathematical problems at a young age and excelled at everything I did, from dancing, painting, sports to solving equations. However, I recall an instance where I first learned the program “Scratch” in fifth grade, and I struggled to grasp the concept of learning this tool. Instead of trying to master it, I decided to give up, as I did not want others to think that I had a flaw. This mindset continued until my freshman year in high school, where I was taking rigorous classes, yet performing poorly on one of my favorite subjects, history. It was then when I fell into a state of hating myself. I constantly compared myself to others, and my self-esteem hit rock bottom. After around a month of this state, I decided that I had to get myself out of this hole, as the lyrics of the song “Dreams” by NF woke me up.
From this moment, I decided to adopt a growth mindset, which is the concept that your abilities and potential can grow through implementing effort and learning from your mistakes. It was a difficult journey, as I had to seek help and admit I was having difficulty with something. However, the results I got from this experience were beneficial, as I gained back the confidence that I once had and began to accelerate even more, but this time through a series of hard work. This is why I wanted to found MindsetSeed, to help others avoid the hole I feel into and rather build a stronger pathway for themselves when adapting a growth mindset.
Life is busy. How do you manage it?
In planning out my day, I strive for organization and accuracy. This is why, when someone peeks at my Google Calendar, they would be amazed as the day would be filled with blue and yellow boxes. As life can be busy, I seek to plan out my time, most accurately as possible. I would schedule from the smallest events, like hanging out with friends, to bigger events, like an interview or the due date of a project. In managing my time using an external tool, my mind is free from remembering deadlines and appointments, giving myself room to think, analyze, and feel.
What is important to you when it comes to the work you do and the work of those around you?
Whenever I decide to perform a course of action, I ask myself one question: What impact can this choice make? Because I believe that every small decision can create consequences, big or small. Having said this, it is why in everything I do, I strive to make a positive change within myself or others. Particularly, with MindsetSeed I hope that others will have healthier mental states, as I know myself the power of the mind. Even shifting our vocabulary bank, for example, saying “I can’t do it” to “I can’t do it yet” makes a change in how we view our capabilities. Therefore, in my perspective, the importance I am making is to network with others and raise better awareness of the need for kindness around mental health. As I stated before, I love public speaking and discussions, therefore whenever I view the work of others I am always amazed by the things they have done. I sought to understand the accomplishments or projects of others better. Because, everything that an individual has done has a deep background, and can make great impacts. Therefore, whether it is through further creativity, helping the community, or exploring the scientific phenomenon, every course of action one takes, holds great power.
Where to from here? What are your plans for next steps?
In my mind, there are various ideas, ready to take action. One exciting plan I am currently making is opening up new MindsetSeed chapters around the United States, and also globally. I hope to translate our resources into multiple languages, in order to share our mission with many others. I also wish to enlarge the MindsetSeed circles, including more volunteers and innovative leaders around the world, in order to cultivate a great knowledge of not only ideas but also kindness.
Top 3 tips for women looking to get their start.
You are enough: In an informative world like the 21st century, it is easy to be overshadowed by the success of others. We open up our phones and the exciting life that others are living. Seeing such events, we may start to compare ourselves to others and feel bad about what we have yet to incite. However, good things take time, and it is important to remind ourselves that we are enough. I have struggled with this, as I always strive to improve and perfect my surroundings and never really be happy with what I have done. And this creates a wound that will keep bleeding and bleeding without being healed. Until I started to burn myself out and struggle to stand back up again. I had to remind myself that I am enough and that I am worthy of the things I have done. Knowing that you are enough aids in believing in yourself, and in a long and bumpy road to achieving your goals, it will be your drive to continue.
Get Started: For me getting started is always the hardest part, because there are many unknown factors. My vision may be clear in my mind but becomes blurred by fear as I try to take my first steps. But it is significant to share my ideas with the world and gain feedback, whether they are positive or negative. It is scary to start, as there are many fears such as failure or judgment, but I have found that as I push the pedal, my goals become clearer, and my worries begin to decrease. So, what I am trying to convey is that, although it may be scary to take the first steps, the fears will be shattered away if we believe and get started.
It is okay to rest: As I shared before, I am the type of person that wants to work until I get to my goal without acknowledging myself or giving myself a break. However, this is extremely harmful in the long run, because the pathway most of us are taking is a marathon, rather than a sprint. So in running and running, I become exhausted, and my productivity lessens, conversely if I were to give myself either a physical or a mental break, I can run faster the next time I try.