Success Culture in the Twin Cities

Hi, friends.

It’s been a minute (AKA about 9 months (congratulations, it’s a creative block!!)) since I have written. It used to be such a vital part of my life.  Nothing felt real or right until I got to pour my soul out onto a page. Granted, I was also in a much more stressful environment while in school and required an outlet.  I keep catching myself with a judgmental attitude towards my shifting habits, but then I remind myself that change is not inherently bad and that I have the power to shift my habits in the direction of my choice. If I want to reap the benefits of contemplative and expressive writing, then by golly, I can start any time I choose!

Let’s begin.   

I’ve been in Minnesota for a year and a half now working as a yoga instructor and part-time leasing professional in my own apartment, and I’ve to to say-- this is WAY less stressful than being a pre-medical student at UCLA. Again, that judgment starts to creep in as I cling to a stereotypical definition of success.  

Shouldn’t I be doing more?

This nagging question has been a part of my rotating queue of self-afflicting thoughts ever since I can remember. Never be satisfied. What’s next? Go Go GO!  It’s quite exhausting, really.  That is why I am beyond blessed to have found writing, dance, mindfulness, and yoga throughout it all. Writing and dance were there for me early on, allowing me to reflect and vent, but it wasn’t until mindfulness and yoga entered the picture that I felt empowered to affect intentional change in my life.  I’m not saying that I’m suddenly enlightened; even after almost a decade of practice, those negative thoughts can plant themselves in my mind and take root. I’m constantly having to prune the darkness back, and that’s OK. I am a beautiful work in progress!

Though I can acknowledge that this sense of restlessness is a product of my life within a Korean-American and LA success culture, I do see that my life of relative ease has softened my drive.  I used to be surrounded by peers who had a clear purpose to succeed in the hardest sense of the word. It’s been hard to even keep up with my friends out in LA because I feel guilty reaching out when all of them are either working 60-80 hour work weeks and/or going to grad school (sorry, friends, I’ll stop shaming myself and pick up the phone!). Though this environment drove me to neurotic breakdowns, it also drove me to bring more knowledge of integrative health modalities to a conference, to bring mindfulness to a whole school of children, and to share my story through pole dance competitions.  I miss the impact I could make, but I don’t miss the immense pressure and stress that came with it. There has to be middle ground!

Enter Alex Stalberger.  I met her here in the Twin Cities through our romantic partners.  My boyfriend works with her husband, so we got to meet at their company’s holiday party in 2016. Let me tell you, friends, she is electric!! She was still just starting her health coaching through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and I could tell she had an authentic fire in her soul to make this world a healthier one.  We became fast friends, keeping in touch to support and inspire each other.

Fast-forward to this past Thursday night. Our lovely Alex of Alex Stalberger Holistic Wellness & Lifestyle hosted an event called, “SuccessfWhole Conversations” at the GORGEOUS Studio Collab. This location had been occupied solely by Deborah Block of Beauty by Design, a bridal salon offering handmade gowns emphasizing sustainable and eco-friendly methods, until she recently decided to share the space with other innovators.  Lucy Stange of My Social Drive, a group that tells the unique story of local businesses with photography and content creation, was the first to find out about this. She brought Alex (and a few others I have yet to meet) in on it, and Studio Collab was born!


The first Thursday night SuccessfWhole Conversation hosted by Alex was magical. With a group of mostly strangers from all different backgrounds, we got to dive into the topic of success culture in the Twin Cities while sipping wine and nibbling on yummy snacks. We had Alex, Lucy, Deborah, and then some more amazing humans contributing.

Roll call:

•Jack, Founder of LivingNimbly and Influencer Marketer at General Mills

•Marie, Owner of The Vintage Gypsy

•Sarah, EMT & Explorer of Career Options

•April, Massage Therapist, Pilates Instructor, Singer, and Performer

The conversation began with the question “What does success mean to you?” As a collective, we felt that there is an “outer” success and an “inner” success, or success that of the ego and that of the soul. The fact that the success that feeds the ego seems to prevail in current success culture, leading to burn out, betrayal, and some serious loss of hope in humanity.  We all wholeheartedly agreed that the stuff that feeds the soul-- connection, happiness, adventure-- is the version of success we strive to believe in and feel accomplished through.

Throughout the night, there were so many potential collaborations between individuals unfolding and ideas being supported, I felt ridiculously high on life!  There are those in your life who validate your fantasies, and then there are those who also build on them. This group of people are the latter.

I had been feeling like something was missing.  At UCLA, I was motivated by all the amazing people who exemplified success in the outward form.  Again, I missed the impact I was able to have through this motivation, but when this impact was driven by the ego, I was spiritually drained.  Can we truly find success without losing our sanity? Being a part of these SuccessfWhole Conversation with souls who want to make a difference while remaining humble and authentic and healthy… I just know this is going to motivate me in a whole new way.  I am beyond excited for this newly fueled adventure .

At the end of our night full of laughter and deep conversation, Alex had us answer, “What small step will you take to make a big difference in your success? And how can we support you?” I said that I would get back to writing and that they can support me by reading and sharing my journey along the way.  And here I am!  

And now, I invite you to ask yourself the same question.  What small step will you take to make a big different in your success? And how can I support you?  MN friends, you can catch me at SuccessfWhole Conversations every Thursday night! Let me know if you want more info.  All other friends, keep an eye out for some potential live streaming of our conversations :) 

Thank you for supporting me by reading my words and feeling my feels.  Sending my love and vibrant energy out to you! <3

Cynthia KimStudio Collab