Shortest list of things I’ve learned at 30 ever!

1. Track habits and moods based on my menstrual cycle

Yo, this tracker is life-changing!

As a woman, it’s not hard to realize how crazily my menstrual cycle affects my wellbeing. Oh not hard at all! Tears that come out of nowhere. Sudden waves of anger and irritability. One day feeling so fatigued and the next day is like a surge of energy. Well, I can’t change that part of my nature so I had to find a way to understand it better (knowledge is power).

Five months ago, inspired by the bullet journal ideas, I created an analog system (photo…

As I went over my old notes, I came upon this.

July 7th, 2019

Today is dedicated to noble silence practice. I’m not supposed to read or write anything. But here I am, jotting down my experience over the past 4 days.

This is the fourth meditation retreat with thầy. Even though thầy always gave the same lesson, it came in different lights each time.

The first day I got here, I was overwhelmed with worries, thoughts, frustration, and desires. I was mad at my housemate. I wanted my OPT to get approved. I was upset at my boyfriend. I had millions of…

Every year close to NYE, I spent a day reflecting on the past year then wrote down new year resolutions which I came back to once in a while, whenever I felt a little off balance.

This year, I was at a meditation retreat in the last four days. All I did was thinking nothing, not about the past nor future. But somehow I came out with this list of resolutions. The mind does wonders when it stays still.

Self-awareness is an on-going process. This list is not perfect or even close to it, more like the first draft of…

Came across this question in one of the job application forms, “Who inspires you the most and why?” At first, I was concerned if it would be a risk to give a “spiritual” answer to a “professional” question. But job hunting is like looking for the right date, either we share the same values or at the very least, appreciate and respect each other’s.

So here I am, sharing with you what I would like my prospective employers to know 💁🏻‍♀️.

[4:30 AM] Where it all began…

Thay Thich Thong Tang, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, is the person that inspires me most. He has been my meditation teacher for the past nine months. Through his teachings, I have been able to practice…

Area of focus: Short-term unsecured personal loans

What’s now

In Vietnam, there’s a significant increase in demand for short-term unsecured personal (payday) loans. These loans tend to be urgent, especially for low/average income families and individuals who have little to no credit history. Banks set a large number of constraints on loans of this kind due to their high-risk, which results in a complicated and slow process that does not accommodate the consumers’ time-sensitive need. People in need are then forced to turn to loan companies (with unreasonably high-interest rates) and loan sharks that take advantage of their desperation.

The most common…

Think before products, before technology, into behaviors and solutions that were not designed at all, and eventually as far past into human evolution as you can find. Look at the threads connecting major leaps, and the accidental variations that ended up being hugely influential. Then place your idea on this continuum and argue how your idea could contribute to future evolution.

Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

An informative and quick read on the history of lending. Here are some of my thoughts based on the research.

  • The evolvement of lending is significantly impacted by the advancement of technology.
  • Contract and Collateral are to reduce risk (trust is the core factor here), Interest Rate is for lenders to make profits, Credit Scores is to indicate the…

Brainstorming exercise to come up with thesis ideas that are in different forms than a mobile app.

Form #1–Designing a system


  • Holistic approach
  • Potential to create a sustainable and scalable ecosystem


  • Multiple touch points and stakeholders
  • Requires different skill sets
  • Hard to maintain and update

Thesis brainstorm

  • A system that helps to make the lending process holistic and efficient. The borrower can get connected straight to the source of the assets they want to get the loans for. They also get help with financial management, which ensures they will get the most suitable lending products and make payments on time. …

I met Jamie when I was doing my observation at Pay-O-Matic (from which I shared some findings in this post). He couldn’t see well so he asked me to help with the Coinstar kiosk.

Jamie was originally from Alabama, he moved to NYC in 1963, lived in Long Island before moving to his current place in Flushing.

He’s a regular customer at this Pay-O-Matic. He really took time to count his cash. When I got inside the center, he was at the corner going through his cash and finished half an hour later.

My impression of Jamie’s financial attitude and behaviors from our conversation:

  • He doesn’t like carrying cash around due…

In the attempt of learning more about the unbanked and underbanked population, I spent an hour of pure observation at one of the stores of Pay-O-Matic, New York’s provider of check cashing & financial services.

The location I chose is located in Flushing, Queens NY. The area has a dense population of Chinese residents so I hoped to get some insights about their financial behaviors.

Pay-O-Matic in Flushing, Queens NY

Here are 10 short observations:

  1. Pay-O-Matic is located far away from the financial area (with banks and other financial institutions) of Flushing.
  2. There’s a Korean lady who walked into the center and tried to sell some DVDs to someone who…

Over the past five years,

I have been exploring ideas for Social Innovation in my home country, Vietnam.

I once wrote a blog, “Why am I dead set on pursuing Social Innovation?”, sharing why Social Impact, and Human-Centered Design have remained a central theme in my choice of projects, thinking process and product development so far.

Throughout the years, I have experimented a wide range of approaches, from furniture to interior design, from launching a startup social enterprise to running a crowdfunding campaign, from partnering with a non-profit organization creating a social program for the student volunteer community to making a documentary to raise awareness…

Angie Ngoc Tran

Product Designers by day, Zen practitioner all the time 🧘🏻‍♀️ One mindful moment at a time

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