[S2] [E8] How to Awaken Your Cultural Awareness with John Eing, Partner at Abacus Wealth Partners

[S2] [E8] How to Awaken Your Cultural Awareness with John Eing, Partner at Abacus Wealth Partners

Our upbringing determines our identity and values. Every decision we make is affected by our beliefs growing up. As a result, it can become a constraint in a diverse workplace, where you have to learn how to put yourself in the shoes of someone from another culture. By learning how to respect each other’s differences and awakening our cultural awareness, we can achieve success in everything we do.

In this episode, John Eing joins us to talk about how you can advance your career without compromising your values in life. He also discusses the importance of breaking cultural norms and stereotypes in the workplace. Also, he highlights the role of cultural awareness in our multicultural interactions in the workplace and society.

This episode will teach you the importance of culture in living a happy and successful life. Tune in!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn the three most important pieces of career advice John learned in his first job.
  2. Find out how our values and cultural beliefs affect the way we act and make decisions.
  3. Discover the role of cultural awareness in addressing obstacles in the workplace.


Episode Highlights

John’s Background

  • Graduating with a degree in economics, he wasn’t sure at first what he wanted to do.
  • John started his career in the equipment leasing industry. He was making sales, but he found that he didn’t like what he was doing. Nonetheless, he was learning a lot, most especially perseverance.
  • While making sales calls, he encountered a CFO of a hospital named Rusty Youngblood.
  • In that phone call, he gave John three pieces of career advice that he will never forget.

The 3 Pieces of Career Advice John Got

  • Pick the place you want to live in.
  • Recession is going to happen, so you want to be in a big industry where you live.
  • Look up your state license and figure out how to get it.

Getting into Accounting

  • He went back to some accounting classes. He eventually got a job at an accounting firm focusing on entertainment accounting.
  • John had always known he wanted a career in money and finances.
  • He went into private industry shortly after getting his CPA license, and he had worked in banking for the next 10 years.
  • After having a baby, he realized that there’s something better out there for him.
  • When he went back to business school, he realized he was pursuing his career for the wrong reason. He was doing it all for the money, title, and “career progression.”

Making Decisions Around Your Values

  • Upbringing contributes to the decisions we make in life.
  • Asians were raised to value making more money and getting the more prestigious title.  And most of the time, the decisions they make are not based around their own values.
  • This begs a scarier and more significant question: what are your values?
  • This internal conflict happened to John. So before he looked for his next job, he sat down and wrote down the things he values.
  • Tune in to the episode to learn more about the importance of figuring out your values based on John’s experience!

Ending Up Miserable

  • You work really hard, and you leave at the end of the day feeling in your heart that something is missing.
  • The moment the big carrot at the end is taken away, it will open your eyes to what your future could be. That was what happened to me. Listen to the episode for the full story!

Being an Asian-American in the Workplace

  • For John, the hardest thing was calling people older than him by their first name. As a Korean, he had to culturally get over it.
  • He was also brought up to defer to authority and leadership. This results in not speaking up as much and not expressing ideas publicly.
  • John shares a passage in the book Checklist Manifesto about not questioning authority. Listen to it in the full episode!

Breaking Cultural Norms

  • You have to break free from your cultural baggage to showcase your skills.
  • For John, learning about his culture helped him develop professionally and personally.
  • As a financial planner dealing with clients, he realized he has to learn about their culture too. It helps him identify and clear out potential hurdles to connect their values with money and their goals.

Awakening Your Cultural Awareness

  • At John’s firm, where he’s co-leading a diversity, equality, and inclusion initiative, they connect with other cultures through “lunch and learns.”
  • During these “lunch and learns,” each person shares their culture and upbringing with the firm.
  • By comparing cultures, they learn about other cultural perspectives.
  • This way, they can meet each client eye to eye culturally.

5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

“Culturally, you’re supposed to make more money, go for the bigger title, get the corner office. All that I hit: check, check, check, check. Internally conflicted. And I realized why in business school. The big aha moment was this: none of those decisions are based around my values, which brought up a bigger and scarier question, which is, what are my values?” 

“You had this big carrot at the end, where you’re free to pursue your passions and learn and do all this stuff. And the moment that was taken away, it kind of opened up your eyes, really, to what your future could be.”

“Not only should I know now that that’s in me and I should speak up, but I also need to—just like Boeing train—retrain the Korean pilots. I also realized I need to train my superiors who, in most cases, are not Asian or familiar with my culture.” 

“In order for me to be effective in what I do in my job, I realized—just like the cultural learnings I have for myself has helped me kind of grow from personally—I need to do the same for my clients.”

“We’re learning about different cultures, whether we have Brazilian culture clients or no, so that if we do—and when we do—we want to be able to meet them eye to eye culturally and be able to service them the best way we can.”

About John

John Eing is a financial advisor and partner at Abacus Wealth Partners in Santa Monica, CA. He brings clarity to his clients’ financial lives by making them see how seemingly small financial decisions affect their future significantly.

You can reach John via his LinkedIn account.

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