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The Road To Become The Second Princess For Miss Asian Global

With Aileen Bui

Published on: Dec 7, 2018

Aileen Bui, recently crowned as 2018 Miss Asian Global Second Princess and the COO of SignLab, talks about the journeys she took across different endeavors in her life. Aileen is a young professional with entrepreneurial mindset. She shares how she has traveled across twenty countries growing up, attending conferences and experiencing different cultures. Aileen talks about how she became the Chief Operating Officer at SignLab, and shares how she got into the Miss Asian Global pageant competition. Aileen proudly talks about the lessons she has learned throughout that journey and the value of celebrating yourself as a woman.

Our guest is Aileen Bui. She was born and raised in Vietnam. She started her journey abroad when she was nineteen years old and has traveled to fourteen countries by the time she was 21. She was the first Vietnamese to win the Young Speakers Contest at the Annual ASEAN+3 AUN Regional Economic Forum. She was one of the two Asian delegates at the entrepreneurship boot camp by Think Young and Google in Brussels, Belgium. She was crowned as 2018 Miss Asian Global 2nd Princess in California, USA. She is the COO of SignLab startup base in Norway and seed funded by the Norwegian Research Council. Please join me to welcome Aileen Bui.

Welcome to the show, Aileen. Can you share with us your childhood memories? Which city were you born in Vietnam? What was it like growing up in your family with mom, dad, and siblings?

Kimchi, thank you so much for having me on the show. I was born in Nha Trang City. It’s a small beach town in Vietnam. It is now very famous for tourism, but back then when I was growing up it was a very peaceful and quiet town to live in. I took for granted going to the beach every afternoon after school, but that was how I was growing up. My parents were both engineers and they worked in the army. I have an older brother who looks completely different from me. It’s no joke. For some reason, my face and his face, we inherit different things from my parents. Growing up, there were times that I believed that I’m adopted, and the whole neighborhood gathering to tease me about that. I lived in a small alley where everyone knew each other. We were free to play outdoors and we created many team building games with the kids. That was a beautiful childhood; I just wish I could go back.

Unlike any other Asian parents who constantly tell their kids to be like this or that, you may already know that Vietnamese parents always talk about “The kid of that family”, meaning “con nhà người ta.” in Vietnamese. We never know who “that family” is exactly, but we always know that there is such a magical and talented kid that always get A+ at school, always wins the first place in any contest, he or she is well-behaved and perfect in everything. My mom never did that to me. Part of it was due to the accident that I had when I was twelve years old. When I first started sixth grade, a drunk man hit my mom’s motorcycle; I fell down and hit my head on the street. This became a very big part of my childhood memory. It was a long story of how my parents fought with the hospital to let me go to a better hospital to get a surgery.  I was in the hospital bed for two months. I had my hair shaved and I had completely lost my balance after the surgery. Long story short, I went through one serious surgery to gain back my life.

Fortunately, my brain was not affected. Since then, I noticed that no one ever expected me to study too hard. Maybe they were afraid that my head would explode.  Even my family never pressured me. I felt like I attracted all the spotlight. When I went to school, my hair was shaved and I wore a hat to cover it. I still remember one very funny childhood memory.  When the whole school stood in the yard and prepared to have a ceremony; the rule is no one is allowed to wear any hat during the ceremony. Before the ceremony started, they reminded us of that rule. Most kids removed theirs but I didn’t take my hat off.  When the principal saw that, he said, “I see someone over there still wearing a hat. It looks like it’s from a student.” Then the whole school looked at me. I had all the spotlight and then the class monitor had to come up and explained to the principal, whispered into his ears, then he gave a signal to go on with the ceremony.  That was fun for me. I had a very lucky childhood that I could just be a kid. I didn’t have to match myself with “the kid of that family.” I do well in school and it was all about having a good relationship with my family.

Did it give you less pressure to be better than any other kids because not many people expect you to be highly intellectual growing up?

Maybe I just ignored it. My memory is not that good to remember what was the thing that people told me. I may just ignore those pressure.  In my family, we were raised in a certain way; we were taught to focus on studying because that is important. Just give your best because that is what’s going to bring you a brighter future. I never had pressure in a negative way, but I did see many kids in my early days suffered from that kind of pressure from their parents. Maybe I was just lucky that I did well in school; I didn’t experience as other kids did.

How did you start your journey abroad at nineteen years old? Was it through a school scholarship?

At nineteen years old, I was at a conference. It’s a Cross-Cultural Exchange Conference in Korea. It was just a short trip like two weeks and I got an invitation and got selected.  They covered every single thing. I was like, “It’s so good,” as a student you got a trip. I had a very long itinerary every day but they cover everything for my whole trip.

It’s a conference, what happened there?

I was selected to represent Vietnam in a Cross-Cultural Exchange about food and music. Every day, we had a very long schedule of what session we were going to do to share our dining culture. It’s interesting how we can tell a story about the ancient culture just by the noodles. Each Asian country has many kinds of noodles. We thought that we already knew a lot about noodles until we met the others from other Asian countries and it was like, “There’s a lot more.” We could see a lot of similarity in the way we cook our food or the way we invent the dishes but there is still a lot of differences. We learned about that. We also learned about history, career and musical instruments. There was session that we created traditional instruments using bamboo and all-natural materials. That was fun. That was one of the most interesting conferences I was in because I felt like it was so entertaining. 

We were featured on KBS and there were always people going around asking about how we are feeling about the activities? It was a good experience. We all lived in one academy. I’ve watched many Korean movies before, where they showed people sleeping with a very thick blanket on a wooden floor. Korea did a good job to impress you how tasty their food is. When I came to Korea, I lived through that experience. We had the master rooms so we had roommates from other countries. Every day we had a busy schedule from morning until evening. We had some free time during late nights so we could get together and play games, which were fun activities for a teenager.

You have traveled to fourteen countries by the time you were 21. What countries have you visited by that time?

Most of the countries are in Asia and Europe because at that time, I was travelling for the conference and study. As I’ve been traveling more and more, what impressed me is not the country name. If you’ve been to Paris for seven days, you cannot say you know France.  I’ve been to more than ten cities in Germany and I see completely different sides of the country. For me, it’s more of the impression of the city rather than the country name.

Even from the same country, one town, one city or one state can be totally different just like another country. People in California will be different from people in Idaho.  Each state itself is like a country and inside the state, the city will have different kinds of feelings and different kinds of people that you will meet. The more I travel, the more I see that I don’t understand how things go. There are still a lot of new things to learn from.

What were your five favorite cities that you remember?

It’s so tough to pick out my favorite cities but let me just name some of the very special cities to me. The first one is Jakarta, Indonesia. It was the city that I’ve literally didn’t know anyone in that city when I was there for a conference. I was hosted by a very nice family and now they became my foster parents. They treated me like their daughter. That was the very first time that I have learned about the Muslim people. Someone from different religion than what I was familiar with in Vietnam. That was the very first time I lived in the house and saw how Muslim people live together. My foster parents were so nice. I couldn’t ask for more. They’ve shown me around the city, which was quite chaos on the street but that was a very special city for me. The other cities are those that I’ve lived long enough to have an impression about it. One of it is Nuremberg in Germany where I got a great group of friends in the same program. I like Paris, Prague and also Chicago in the US. Those cities impressed me a lot with their great architecture.

Miss Asian Global: Just give your best because that is what’s going to bring you a brighter future.

You are now a Chief Operating Officer at SignLab. How did you become the COO at this company and what age did you start at that position?

SignLab is a startup at a very early phase. We just started and the CEO of the company is one of my friends in the entrepreneurship boot camp. We met five years ago in Brussels. As I’ve been working in software product development and project management, I’m now doing consulting service for his company in Germany. I joined SignLab to consult on their product development. It’s a very early phase. The team that needs to make a decision on product and things, we are in the founding team. I fill in that COO position.

Was there any challenge getting into that position?

For a startup, it’s not like you’re competing to be in that position. The challenge is when you come in, there’s nothing set up. Also, the team is in Norway, I’m in the US. To put things together and to create something together from a distance is the challenge that we do have. It’s been years that I’ve been working toward the distance. I’m here and my clients are in Germany. Most of my work includes traveling, but I don’t have to sit in the office. That became a part of my career.

Let’s focus on the pageant journey. How did you get into pageant competition?

I’ve been to San Francisco quite often. Last summer, I was in San Francisco for a global summit on disruptive technologies. I do appreciate the art part of San Francisco. There are a lot of artists and museums. I came to know about this pageant as the oldest pageant in the US for Asian people.  So I was curious. I talked to friends and asked them whether they know about this organization and I also read about their mission. It came across my mind since that time, but I didn’t decide right away that I wanted to be in a pageant. A year later it came across to be a part of my path.

What did you have to do to prepare for the pageant competition?

I was very new to pageants. Growing up, I never dreamed of one day becoming a miss and being crowned. This pageant was something very special to me. I’ve talked to the title holders of the previous years, they do have a very special charisma in the values that they hold strong. In the way, they’d be in the pageant but not letting that pageant defined themselves. It’s just a part of their life experience but they do have things they believe in, things they hold on and projects they are building up. That pageant was special for me. To prepare for typical pageant you need to prepare knowledge, and you need to prepare all the performing skills like walk on heels, and all the clothes you need to find. At least you know what kind of clothes you look good in and your fashion style, all the clothes that you’re going to bring to the final performance. Aside from all those things, this pageant has a lot more rounds of interview.

The interviewers were those who work in tech and healthcare. Those interviews focused more on digging deep into my values or my perception of things in life. Preparing for this pageant was a pretty fun time for me because when you practiced all that, you’ve learned a lot about yourself. Also, the pageant was in English. It’s not like the other international pageant that you can choose to speak your native language and you have someone translate it for you. In this pageant, everyone spoke English like their mother language. They grew up in Canada and in the US. I had to prepare my language too. It was the first time I realized that “I have a lot of accents.” I needed to practice to reduce the accents.  For me, any competition that I do, or see things that I still need to improve, that competition is something that I want to be in. At the end of it, it’s going to change me as a person.

Tell me about what did this experience teach you?

From the time I decided to be in this pageant until the final night, is a total of four months. At first, I didn’t think pageant is a very powerful experience until I was in it. I still remember the day I got invited to the interview and they said they could do that via Skype, but I decided to fly out. I wanted to see the people. I wanted to be in it and feel how tense it is because the mission as stated in the websites is something I very much agreed on. It is about women in power and about how this competition is revolving around that, not just all about beauty and all about the materialistic things. I flew out and I met all the volunteers who’ve been working with this pageant for more than 30 years. Can you imagine they are volunteers for something for more than 30 years and they don’t even receive any money for this? As a non-profit organization, you have limited funding but these people enjoy what they are doing. They always love us and try to help us to have a good experience as young girls in this pageant. I never ever saw any motive for money or fame. They taught me the lesson about doing something that you know why you do it and so you can have fun and enjoy doing that.

Another thing that those experiences taught me was to be a woman. I’ve been working in an environment where most the people around me are men. Also in tech, people don’t dress up that much. I used to work in a corporate job that I do business development so I dress formally to go meet managing directors and attend those kinds of meetings. Since I moved to work in tech, people around me are mostly men. This time, being in a pageant and be surrounded by modern women, a very diverse group, was a good time for me. I felt like I need to do this to celebrate myself as a woman. The group was diverse. This pageant allowed girls from seventeen to be in it. We formed a group of very diverse age and also diverse fields, like high tech, healthcare, biotechnology, sports, and psychology. There were a lot of different people that I could network with.

Miss Asian Global: Do not let the pageant define you. Remember that you have a very special charisma in the values that you hold strong.

It’s great to observe and learn from the women working in different fields. This pageant also taught me to be confident, to be ready to compete and be yourself at the same time. Every single girl will have a different experience, different strengths and weaknesses and you cannot tell who’s going to win. It had a matter of luck in there, but also the pageant was very intense. Every day, we had a very long schedule. We had tons of things to do. We learned to perform well under pressure. Overall, being in a pageant was a very brave decision from these girls. Coming out of it, what matters is whether we are satisfied or feel fulfilled. Sometimes you might win a pageant that you don’t feel fulfilled at all. The whole experience of being in the right group of people, to learn and compete at the same time, being caring for each other as a human being, that is the environment I’ve never thought that would exist until now. This pageant is a family to me.

You say that sometimes people win the pageant and they don’t feel happy or don’t feel fulfilled. What about you? You won at the second place, were you fulfilled? Were you happy that you got that award?

I’m very fulfilled. The thing is when I decided to be in this, I’ve constantly asked myself, “Am I doing the things that I want to do?” From the beginning to the end, all the experience that I had with the girls and the volunteers and the activities we’ve done, I felt that I enjoyed being in it. In this pageant, I’ve been enjoying every single moment, including all the time that I had to travel back and forth a few hours per day. I felt worth it and a large part of it was from the group of people I socialized with. When I met other pageant sisters, even though we were in a competition, I adored them. If you are in a pageant, and you are completely standing out, and you don’t adore the people that you are hanging out with, or socializing with, then you will not feel fulfilled at the end. The crown doesn’t mean anything. If you don’t get the crown, then what’s the whole point of spending such time together? I wanted to make my time count.

Being in a competition, I was confident and ready to be the winner. That’s the kind of attitude I have in any kind of competition. Ending up in the Second Princess title has helped me learn from those moments that I didn’t perform the best as I could, and the lessons that I could learn and improve. Other people that I’ve been talking to, they gave me feedback. That was a very fun journey and at the same time, I’ve achieved something. I also saw where to improve. What else could you ask for more in life? That’s why this pageant for me was a very fulfilling experience.

Do you plan to attend the future pageants?

As I said, pageant just came across to me not as I planned. Our company is providing a software to teach sign language to parents of deaf kids. Sign language is different in each country. Right now, we launched the beta version in Norway, but I’ve always been in touch with the community in the US to learn about the market and about the problem that people are facing here. It will be different than the other place. Since I’m very new to the US, and most of my activities are in Europe and Asia. I don’t have a lot of contacts. I’ve tried to be involved in activities in the Bay Area, in terms of tech and conferences. This pageant came to me as a chance to get to know people who are involved in community service and charity events and those activities that help the less privileged people in the Bay Area. That was the reason I joined the pageant and it was not the other way around. 

When I was in the pageant, I met other title holders from the previous year and some girls who were in the organizing team. They said pageants is a career, and I was like, “Is there such a thing?” I thought it was just going to be a one-time life experience. I’ve been here for four months from knowing nothing about what was expected in the pageant. I read books written by those pageant winners. I read books about how to prepare for a pageant. I learned everything from scratch. For me, it’s like a summer project to have fun and also to expand your network.   When I won the title, they asked me, “When is your next pageant?” I was like,” Sorry, this is not my career.” Maybe I will be in another pageant if that match with my career goal. But being in a pageant itself was not my goal. I had achieved something else that I wanted to do. The pageant competition helped me to learn those skills that I needed and to have a public exposure. Being in a pageant definitely helped, but it was not my goal. This had never been on my priority list.

What are the qualifications to be selected in a pageant competition?

It depends on each pageant. If it’s a national level pageant that selects a representative for that country in an international skill competition, then they also evaluate your body figures. That is a beauty pageant. It is like a sport that is based on beauty. It’s still a very big part of it. This pageant is still a national scale for the girls from all the states but it’s more about celebrating their heritage, and their ethnicity. The very first requirement is you have to be at least 25% Asian. You can be mixed, but you have to relate yourself to some Asian culture. They’ll ask for your picture. They’ll ask for your body figures and some essays just like when you apply to college. They’ll ask for an essay to tell them about the cause that you support.  What are the projects that you have done? Why do you want to be in the pageant so that they can define your motive to be in the pageant. They will invite you over to interview you in person and see your poise, your charisma, and your impression, how you attract people and how you present yourself. In those rounds, they will be selecting and shortening the lists so that you can be in the final round. One other thing about this pageant is they attract the kind of women who are very intellectual. I still remember the interview I had before being informed in the final list. Half of the girls in the group that I met are in Master’s degree from different fields. I even talked to one of the very famous candidates; she’s a Ph.D. candidate in Material Science and she’s so lovely.

I attended one event in 2017. The event was called Imagine Talks. All the speakers were in the beauty pageant and all of them are professional. Either they are studying in the technology field or college or something like that or they have been working as a professional. I was very impressed with that. I was like, “These candidates are educated. They not just only look pretty, beautiful and graceful but they also have intelligence as well. I was very pleased to meet people from that organization. I start keeping an eye on that group. I’m very happy to see that.

Imagine Talks is the side activity of this pageant. It’s a very important talk that happen annually where they bring people from different fields to speak about ideas and things. It’s like a TED Talk, but at a different scale. If you notice on Wired.com, Miss Asian Global pageant was featured on that and their title was, “Can this beauty pageant disrupt the whole beauty pageant industry when they combined bikini and TED Talk?” What that implies are those girls who are performing on the stage wearing bikini doing all the ordinary pageant things, they can be on the stage and hold a speech. They can speak about the ideas that they have. They can be professional at the same time. The whole organization and all the pageant girls, we share the same mission of eliminating that stereotype of being beautiful means not being intellectual. You cannot have that beauty and brain at the same time. As I said for each pageant, the degree of how important physical beauty is will be different.

For this pageant, they find a good mix of that. The winners are either very good at public speaking, charisma and being inspirational in their talk or they will be very beautiful and good at performing. They will have a good mix of those two. Francis, who is my mentor during that pageant, had a very funny saying that a pageant is going to find either the smartest beautiful girl in the room or the most beautiful, smart women in the room. You can see that they are looking for those two characteristics and impression.

Miss Asian Global: How you attract people and how you present yourself is ultimately what matters.

I’m glad that is the direction that the pageant organizers are focusing because that’s the way to empower women, especially Asian women. We want to encourage young women to create something for yourself not just based on a typical stereotype that beauty will lead you somewhere. You have to have a balance of everything, beauty character your integrity and things like that. Everything’s involved to be somebody that is worth to be known. Would you recommend those young Asian women to try out pageant if they have dreamed of it?

I would definitely recommend them. I’ve not been to the other pageants I can tell but at least for Miss Asian Global, I would definitely encourage Asian girls to be in it. There must be a reason why this pageant has attracted a lot of women. They are studying at Stanford and MIT. They are from all over the states. They are beautiful and talented and very authentic and a great group of people to be with. Just think of it as a summer camp. That’s what I did. You’re going to have some fun time being surrounded by all girls. You do girl things. You learn how to do makeup more efficiently. Those skills, you need it. Instead of taking that away from you, choose a camp that will help you to practice doing it and bring it to the efficient level that you can shorten the time. I myself didn’t know how to do makeup but that pageant forced me to learn how to do makeup in a short time. There’s some skill that you need. The pageant has so many types of activities that I’m sure a girl can find activities that they will benefit from. If you already knew how to be beautiful and how to put things together but you’re not so good at public speaking, you can improve on that or you need a motivation to stay fit to be the best physical version of yourself, then you can work on that. You can use the pageant competition as a chance to find your path, your motives and your involvement in society.

What are the things that you can do and are going to do? There are a lot of things to benefit from. There’s no reason if you can’t make it. Being in a pageant is costly. It’s time costly and money costly. It costs a lot but as long as the motive is right, then you can be in it. The pageant is costly for the organization itself. They have to have a five-star hotel to host the whole group for the pageant week or the pageant month. We have to have a reception for guests and we have to rent the whole theater to perform. We do sell tickets, but there are a lot to things need to be put together. As a candidate, you have to prepare all of your gowns, all of your ethnic attire and things. All the makeup stuff is not cheap. In my group, there are a lot of girls that are so smart. They subscribed to be a member for some fashion designers, so they can have the clothes they need for the pageant. I chose to ask for sponsorship but part of it is how to manage things together. All those logistic things to travel back and forth. This pageant, most of the girls are working women and so they managed to do that. There’s also a big part of being in the pageants. As I said, not everyone can afford to have a pageant experience.

You mentioned that it’s just like a summer camp. How long does it last from beginning to end?

After several interviews until we are announced as finalists, they will have about a month with weekly workshops to train the skills for the girls. In this pageant, there were some girls who never did pageant before. They got trained on all other missing skills like how to walk on high heels, giving the speech, how to engage with the audience and how to do public speaking. All those kinds of things. They will have a lot of training during that month. You can choose to come as much as you can so that you can be well-prepared for the pageant. We also have to do the platform. The thing about a pageant is you ask a question that you would love to hear stories and explanation. For pageants, they have a question and you will just have 45 seconds to put things together. It’s not just only about the content but also how you deliver short and concise and to the point. Also, how to make a story that engages with the audience, how to talk about what you’re caring about in a way that you can get a buy-in from the audience. Do they care for the same group of people so they can support a cause that you are supporting?

It involves a lot of activities working around that as well. Francis is the mentor I mentioned, he has nothing to do with a beauty pageant. He’s a doctor. He works in a biomedical field as a professional but he’s in this pageant to coach others on those areas of the pageant. To raise the cost that you’re supporting and to deliver that with the audience and people that you meet, there’s a lot to prepare. It came to the pageant week, which is one week before the final performance. That week will be very intense. It’s the only week that all the girls are together. We go through all the activities together. We went to Facebook headquarter. We went into ABC, a TV channel station. All those activities we would do together and practice all the stage performance, moving positions that we put together in the show in the final night. For me, that’s a summer camp. You’ll have roommates and then you’ll have a schedule to do together.

For me, it’s just not very different from the one I’ve been to in Korea when I was nineteen. You have activities to do and then we are free, you form a friendship with people that you share a room. I wake my roommates up and we help each other doing makeup and then prepare the content. At a workshop, we learned about a lot of other skills. How to do networking and fundraising. How to stay safe? What are the rules inside the organization? They did a good job trying to protect us. Many times, we have people escort us trying to ensure that we have a good experience. That is something pageant-specific but apart from that, it’s just a summer camp. It’s very fun.

Looking back on your life, who was the one that had the most influence on you?

In a different stage of life, I was influenced by different people. I would say the first eighteen years of my life when I still lived with the family, mostly with my mom, she is the one who had the most influence on me. I’m so thankful for having her. She made a lot of time to be able to drive me to school and pick me up. She managed somehow to always cook for me. Now, when you live by yourself you realize how challenging it is to work and at the same time manage to cook for people. Cooking for me is the act of loving and I’m so blessed to have my mom, and she taught me all the values she holds strong. She’s very disciplined. She is the most disciplined person I’ve been with. She is the one who had the most influence on me. When I moved out of the house and started to live on my own since I was eighteen and then I traveled to different countries, each place changed me. It will not be a specific person because as you are an adult, you choose whether to be influenced or not. At least that’s what I think.

Miss Asian Global: Not everyone can afford to have a pageant experience. If you can be in it, that would be great.

I read books and I would choose to believe 80% of what I read because this is the way I personally apply it. I don’t think there is some way that the will work for this person and will also work for you. I read books for inspiration. I meet a lot of people and each of them has their stories and each of them has an influence on me. Whenever I move to a new place and adapt with that new environment, I realized I was influenced in a different way. It changed me as a person, as a human being. For the first eighteen years of my life is my mom and then from then on, there is a set of many people. 

Let’s talk about your perspective about life. I want to find out from you, your definition of these words. The word power, what does it mean to you?

Power would mean differently in politics or in the army or in business or in a normal life. For me, power is when I have control over my life or my words, my feelings, my value, my morale and everything that I hold strong. When I do things that I know why I do it and why I do it now, then I have the power in life.

What about the word success?

For me, it is to achieve something that you wanted and you know why you want it to move forward in life and enjoy the process. It can be either way. You may not achieve something yet, but you know why you’re doing it and you are moving forward to that. For me, that is also a success. It depends on what is your endeavor. Some that you can achieve in one year, two years or five years. There are some people that takes a lifetime and still not achieving it; they don’t want to go to the top of the mountain. It’s also like climbing a mountain clueless. If you are moving forward to that top and find that whole process and you enjoyed it, that is a success.

What about the fulfillment?

I feel fulfilled when I do things that I’m capable of doing it and I find a meaning in doing it, then I feel fulfilled.

What will you not compromise or tolerate?

I would say that I cannot compromise the integrity and capability. I cannot compromise when people do not mean what they say and they don’t hold a set of values so that they can live life consistently. As a human being in society, everything is based on trust. Integrity is the thing that I would not compromise in a relationship or in the workplace. This is important. The capability is related to alcohol. I’m not against alcohol, but I’ve had a very bad experience with alcoholic people. I do drink. I know how much I can drink, but if you choose to be drunk, you have to own your own behavior. In Vietnam, there are a lot of abusive and violence cases from the way people don’t know how to manage themselves with alcohol.

What are you proud of?

Two things that I’m proud of, one is that I’m never satisfied and two is, looking back to myself in the past and I sometimes hate her. I seem to have a very strong sense of self-critique and as a Vietnamese and Asian woman, we are always trapped in the burden from the opinion of people around you that you have to be perfect. It means you were supposed to take risks and just be crazy. Eventually, I learned how to make peace with myself. Finding a good balance of that, you will never be satisfied with how things happen and you can always see where you can improve. There’s something else you are practicing because at the same time, the line is very thin. You are not satisfied you are not happy with your life. I’m happy I accept things how it is but I’m never satisfied with what it is. I always keep the momentum to move forward. The second thing is looking back to myself in the past and I sometimes hate that version of me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t accept myself for who I am, but I do see something that I’ve changed to become better and for those moments I feel proud of myself.

Miss Asian Global: Alcohol is not bad but if you use alcohol to explain your capability, then you won’t be good.

Getting a trophy is not the moment I’m proud of myself because if I win something and I don’t know why or how that happened, for me it may be a moment of victory, but it’s not the moment of feeling proud yet. The moment that I walk home every day sometimes, I wander through the park and then put all the random thoughts together and put all the things that are happening together, then that’s the moment of being proud. I did that. It used to be where it is, how I was. That would be the moment I’m proud. If you asked my mom, she’d be most proud of me being the valedictorian from a university in Vietnam because that’s a big thing. For me at moment, I was not proud of myself at all because that’s something that I didn’t think of. What matters is how to go from there. That moment put me in a lot of pressure that I was not prepared for. College life is not just about always winning and proving that you were smarter than the other kids; realize what else you need to improve, for me, is more important.

That’s good that you start looking into yourself and a part of you are proud of and you know you understand the reason you are proud of. What’s next in your life? What is your goal in the next five or ten years?

My definition of goals as I define success is a progress. My goals would be the progress in different areas. I used to try to set goals very specific and then I realized that it’s like you’re planning to be ready to change that plan. Setting a goal too low will not be good and setting off a goal too high is not good either. I set a goal now very short-term. For the next year, my focus is on career development and self-development. I set a goal for myself and the top three is my health and fitness. I’m consulting customer in Europe in different time zones. Sometimes, I have weird working hours and at the same time, I’m doing my Master’s and spending time with friends and stay in touch with my friends. There are a lot of things going on. I have to set a goal of balancing my time to not compromise my health and my fitness. My next goal is the career. This is the time that I’m moving up in my career path. I’m discovering myself through different roles.

My goal right now is to work in the area that I could focus on my strength and contribute to the team as much as possible, at the same time learning every day. It’s not just you do a thing to discover yourself anymore it’s more about making the progress. The very last goal that I have is love and relationship. I will focus on self-development to understand who I am, what I like, my lifestyle and who I would likely to team up with. A lot of people nowadays or maybe the impression I got from friends, they all seem to have the idea of a forever relationship. You are so ready to stop a relationship, to divorce, to break up but that freedom doesn’t mean that you should be more careless in the process of finding your partner. As I understand, a family is important. That’s the unit of society. A relationship is also my big goal in the next five year.

How can people reach you if they want to learn more about you or if they want to connect with you? They will search for your name on Facebook and they will try to connect with you on Facebook. Is that what you would prefer?

You can send me an email at [email protected]

Aileen, thank you very much for being on the show and congratulations on what you have accomplished so far and best wishes in the future. For our audience, what is your number one takeaway from this interview? Let us know your thoughts. If you would like to join our Facebook group, please go to www.JoinAsianWomenOfPower.com. Until next time, live life loud.

 Credits for the Vietnamese Costume and photos:

Costume by: Tuan Hai – Ao Dai designer (http://www.aodaituanhai.com/)
Photo by: Du Nguyen
Make-up Artist: Xi Quan Le

Important Links:

Episode Quotes 

"The pageant is all about yourself; be your best self."

"You have to show your best because luck itself cannot help.'

"Beauty, character, and your integrity - everything’s involved to be somebody that is worth to be known."

"Success is to achieve something that you wanted and knowing why you want it."

"Realizing what else you need to improve is important because there's no stop sign in life."

About Aileen Bui

Aileen Bui, recently crowned as 2018 Miss Asian Global Second Princess, is a young professional with an entrepreneurial mindset. She is currently COO of SignLab, a start-up, based in Norway and seed funded by the Norwegian Research Council with the mission of helping parents of deaf kids learning sign language easier.

Born and raised in Vietnam, Aileen embarked on her journey abroad by herself at the age 19.

In 2 years, Aileen has traveled to 14 countries in Asia and Europe. At age 21, she was the first Vietnamese to win the Young Speaker Contest at annual ASEAN+3 AUN Regional Economic Forum and was one of the two Asian delegates at Entrepreneurship Winter School (EWS) by Think Young & Google in Brussels, Belgium.

In 2017 Aileen moved to the US.

Aileen speaks English, Vietnamese and some German. She loves animals, outdoor activities, photography and enjoys cooking, doing yoga in her free time.

Company website: https://signlab.co
[email protected]
[email protected]
Facebook: facebook.com/miss.aileenbui
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aileen.bui/
Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/aileenbui

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