August 4, 2021

Virtual Training Camp Diaries: Tiana Lui

I’m Weak for Week Four

You have 20 seconds to surprise me. 15 slides to keep my attention. 

Training Camp Week Four Takeaway: The most important skill is to be able to tell your own narrative. 

Who am I

I’m Tiana. I built a screaming robot in NYU Shanghai. I did that because I’m a fan of project-based learning. That’s why I’ll be a Marketing and Sales Director at TinyCircuits promoting fun STEM learning. 

So About TC

The best place for me to start talking about Training Camp (TC) is the structure. TC is thoughtfully organized to be action packed, applicable, and teamwork oriented. It’s intense. What looks to be a one week challenge feels to be a one day venture. There are a lot of half-sleepy, half-adrenaline late nights where you’ll be bonding with your team and cranking out deliverables. The only difference to Week Four is that the challenge is individual to give everyone a chance to practice public speaking.

Not only are the challenges action packed, applicable, and teamwork oriented, but so is the rest of Training Camp. VFA is constantly seeking to improve Fellows’ experiences, even with the ice breakers, the speakers they curate, and the surveys after every session. My favorite sessions of Week Four were Growth Marketing and Product Development 101 because our speakers’ had expertise, clarity on their field, and an ability to explain frameworks plainly and succinctly. Three important takeaways I keep from Week Four are: 1) know your rights, 2) find a personal Board of Directors, and 3) learn to tell your narrative. What differentiates VFA is that it prepares Fellows for success not through hard skills, but by teaching them the more elusive mysteries of how to navigate the workplace and build lasting relationships. We were lucky to have an HR startups session to understand how to protect ourselves and hear Lorenzo Gomez explain his concept of a personal Board of Directors, people who give you support and real talk when you need to course correct. No one makes it on their own. 

Andrew Albert, ‘16 Fellow and VFA Director of New Orleans, hit it on the nail for this week’s theme: telling your narrative. Your billion dollar idea is worth nothing unless you can communicate its value to investors, partners, and customers. Your ability to pass job interviews relies on you being able to condense your experience and strong suits in a compelling way. Your success at a job includes being able to convince your teammates that this is a good idea. Having to tell a Pecha Kucha, a story with 15 slides, 20 seconds per slide, and only images on the slides (NO WORDS!) was an important exercise for us all. 

But of Course the People

With TC being virtual, I had my doubts, but what made it amazing was having like-minded individuals who were in for some friendly competition, keen on building camaraderie, and created an atmosphere of exciting creative buzz. I was also in the unique position of organizing a Fellow-led event where I had the privilege to hear other Fellows open up to each other about their backgrounds. Yes, TC is TC because of official events like Credos (Fellows volunteer to be vulnerable and tell a story to the whole Class), but also because of Fellows taking the initiative to connect and host their own events. TC is what you put into it.

Conversation after conversation, I’ve heard that the reason ‘21 Fellows’ joined VFA is because the cohort and existing Fellows are amazing and inspire them to become better people. These are not my stories to tell, but Fellows are building businesses, creating art from oceanic waste, compiling scholarship funds for those who can’t afford college, bartending, running the best bagel shop in Detroit…every Fellow has an interesting story. Many Fellows come from a place of resilience and courage. We share similar values of creating opportunity for myself and others, taking space and making space, having empathy, and assuming positive intent.

VFA’s Five Credos

  • My career is a choice that indicates my values
  • There is no courage without risk
  • Value creation is how I measure achievement
  • I will create opportunity for myself and others
  • I will act with integrity in all things

VFA is committed to what it says it is committed to; bringing on Founders of different backgrounds to speak to us, showing us that it is possible to be entrepreneurial, no matter where you come from. It has created a space where Fellows can bring their authentic selves. And the cherry on top: my Pecha Kucha made it to the top ten this week! 🙌


I’ve looked in the mirror 7665 times. This is the first time I’m seeing an entrepreneur?!

If you’re looking for a community to better yourself in, and gain confidence as an entrepreneur, this is the place to be. 

I can’t believe it — I’m an entrepreneur and I have a job!


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Posted in: Fellows, Inside VFA