Someone I met just once changed my life. He said something so inspiring to me last year that I walked away in wonderment. I felt inspired but not sure what to do about it. I left out chat emboldened and empowered. But to do what? He said… to beat the drums.

He spoke like he’d known me all my life.

Dave encouraged me not to downplay who I am. He said it’s good to be humble, but not so much so that you’re intentionally dimming your light. He encouraged me, saying at this age and chapter of my life, I’m hardly at risk of becoming prideful. So instead of hiding my light, go let it shine.

So, why the drums?

Well, I do love music. I grew up playing piano and even studied at the Eastman School of Music. I played the flute and violin, too. A few years ago for my annual challenge, I picked up the drums. Not having space for a full set, I learned to play the cajon drum. And as I learned to play different beats, I learned and felt the role of a drum in music. You see, the drummer lays the foundations, providing the beat and letting the rest of the band express themselves creatively.

Ooooh, I like that.

Emily Chang beat the drums for band

My actual job is the beat the drums.

Can you believe it? I get to lead an organization that creates, from designers and copywriters to creative technologists and data scientists. Every one of them expresses themselves creatively and I get to lay the foundation for them. We work with outstanding client brands (and partners!) and create amazing experiences together.

And check this out! Looking back, I spoke with Dave in Aug 2022, right after Laini and I were unexpected grounded in LA. A few months later, I was offered a job with Wunderman Thompson. Then in December, we merged with VMLY&R to become VML. Now in this amazing job where I work with amazing people, I get to beat the drums.

Yet, I think there’s more.

Beyond this rewarding job where I get to beat the drums, I think Dave knew there was more. I don’t know what it means yet, where else or for whom I get to beat the drums, but I’m keeping eyes and heart open. Have you ever met a Dave in your life, and what did you take away?

To read more about our annual challenge check out our latest for 2024 here.

Click here to read about living with and thriving in the midst of unpredictability.

Check out 3 things we can learn from water.

All images created with Dalle 3.