progressive architectural design

Amanda Gunawan, Changing the Design World Through Progressive Architectural Design (#203)

Amanda Gunawan is an architectural designer and real estate developer from Singapore, who moved to the United States to pursue her dream of changing the design world through progressive architectural design. In 2018, she’s started her own Architecture & Design firm, OWIU Design, from the ground up on the creative streets of LA’s Art District. OWIU Design is an abbreviation for “The Only Way Is Up”, and represents Amanda’s innovative and progressive mindset, which she uses to impact the world with her architectural design.

Amanda’s passion for architecture developed over the course of her life, but she was pretty clear about that being her calling. When she was 8 years old, the teacher asked the class to write an essay called “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up”. Amanda wrote that she wanted to be a real-estate developer so that she could be an architect and design buildings that she wanted. These elementary school wishes often stay as such, but not for Amanda. Fast forward 22 years later, and she’s on her way to becoming what she had envisioned at such a young age.

Progressive Architectural Design for the Future of Cities

Cities are continuously expanding. That’s great for efficiency and growth, but it will also end up causing an oversupply of inhabitants and a lack of infrastructure supporting it, not to mention the over-pollution. So, what’s the future of cities looking like?

Here’s an interpretation from OWIU Design, a concept called “Jack and the Woodstock”.

Amanda and her team at OWIU believe we should go back to basics, reinventing the concept of the skyscraper. In this project, in fact, the location of skyscrapers is no longer connected to a busy city. They’re actually immersed in the Swiss Alps. The foundation of this project is a skyscraper made up of a series of building blocks — a structure made up of 1-foot wide lateral wood columns aggregated through simple joinery. A fine example of how progressive architectural design can change the design world.

And now here’s Amanda Gunawan.

Full transcript below

Video on Changing the Design World Through Progressive Architectural Design

Explore the SIA-LES Archifest Pavilion 2020

Visit OWIU-design.com to Learn More About Progressive Architectural Design

Discover the Architectural Projects by OWIU Design

Connect with Amanda Gunawan on LinkedIn

Follow Amanda Gunawan on Instagram

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Podcast with Amanda Gunawan. Changing the Design World Through Progressive Architectural Design.

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Mike Malatesta: hey everybody welcome back to the how to happen podcasts i’m so happy to have you here today and i’m so excited to be able to have this conversation with amanda gunawan amanda, thank you for joining me today.

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Amanda Gunawan: Thank you for having me.

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Mike Malatesta: So here’s a little bit about amanda before we get started, today, she is an entrepreneur love entrepreneurs she’s an architectural designer and a real estate developer.

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Mike Malatesta: Originally from Singapore, she now lives at least most of the time and we’re going to get into this, I heard, I listened to another podcast and I think there’s some split time between Singapore and Los Angeles.

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Mike Malatesta: So so we’ll get into episodes in La, which is where she started her business, but maybe three years ago, four years ago, or so.

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Mike Malatesta: With their partner Joel one we’ll we’ll get into that as well what’s really cool about I found really cool about first of all.

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Mike Malatesta: The company which is called O w IU design and stands for, the only way is up and it really, really interested in getting into where that came from such a great name but not just for a company just for a movement I love it for for a lot of reasons.

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Mike Malatesta: But anyway, that’s the name of her company and we’re going to get into a very issue story and amanda I start every one of my podcasts with the same simple question, and that is how it happened for you.

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Amanda Gunawan: So I feel like this question gets asked a lot and I kind of like reinterpreted your your how did it happen question to when did my passion for architecture start.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I can’t give you an exact day or an exact time, I think it would like blossom for me, but I always start with like this very distinct memory that I have.

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Amanda Gunawan: of being a child, when I was eight years old, and I was in elementary school and I, so we had English class in English class and my teacher.

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Amanda Gunawan: We have this creative writing assessment and everybody in class has to write about a particular topic, and then the topic, this time was what you want to be when you grow up and I was, I was just eight like it was a class of like 30 something, and it was just eight years old and.

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Amanda Gunawan: three of us got selected to read our essays, and so I got selected and I stood up and I said I wanted to be a real estate developer.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I was just eight years old and nobody in my class knew what I was talking about teacher even asked me to clarify.

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Amanda Gunawan: Real Estate developer, can you can you get into that amanda and I had said very specific to, and I remember this, I said that I wanted to be an architect, I wanted to design buildings, I didn’t want to have a client, I wanted to do what I wanted and for an eight year old that’s just nuts.

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Amanda Gunawan: Obviously I didn’t have like any idea of like.

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Amanda Gunawan: How the world works or like how economic work, I just wanted what I wanted and then it’s it’s such a distinct memory, because it was so.

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Amanda Gunawan: Such an odd thing for an eight year old that.

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Amanda Gunawan: My parents like during the parent teacher meeting my mom like teacher actually had the conversation with my mom going to to know that your daughter wants to be a real estate developer, I think.

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Amanda Gunawan: We kind of need to talk about this and my mom came home, it was like a funny story to them even nobody took me seriously he.

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Amanda Gunawan: came home my mom was like I heard you want to be a real estate developer, and I was like yeah.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah I do and it’s one of those things that parents like share among each other is like uncles and aunts like kind of like look at each other and like laugh, and when when they think about it, but I mean fast forward 22 years later, and I am on my way there so.

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Mike Malatesta: Okay, so where.

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Mike Malatesta: Did did the real estate developer thing come up just as you were thinking about the assignment or Had that been something that you had been thinking about before the assign.

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Amanda Gunawan: The thing is, I never really know like I was always the type of person that was very focused.

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Amanda Gunawan: On the thing itself and not so much the external world, so I always had like as a kid growing up, I had my internal world and I like.

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Amanda Gunawan: I spent a lot of time in that and that kind of like and my love for architecture kind of blossom there like I knew I wanted to be an architect because.

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Amanda Gunawan: I knew that I wanted to do something in design, because I knew that the way that I process information and I take it in.

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Amanda Gunawan: Is through like perception and all of that, and then the way that I express it was always visual that was how I felt the most comfortable how I felt like I could give like I can be the best version of myself.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so um so I always knew I wanted to do design, but then I wanted to impact on like a very large scale.

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Amanda Gunawan: And then I became super super fascinated with architecture and I was always surrounded by so much good architecture around me.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I really like the process of Problem Solving I think that’s always been a thing that I liked.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so I knew that was architecture from like a very early age and so that’s where I that’s what I had it to words and the real estate development thing was so that I could really, really do everything that I just said to you with out like.

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Amanda Gunawan: would like to be able to have the opportunity to do that without Boundaries because I would be my own quiet, I would be able to do what I want to do like I would be able to take my design to what I want it to be.

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Mike Malatesta: Okay, so i’m going to skip to the end here, but then we’re going to fill it in as you’re sitting here right now.

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Mike Malatesta: Are you were you wanted to be in that eight year olds mind.

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Mike Malatesta: In terms of being able to design what for you, as opposed to design for someone else.

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Mike Malatesta: Yes, okay.

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Amanda Gunawan: i’m very goal oriented like that, so, in a sense, I like I am an A i’m i’m at a and then, as long as I see like I don’t need to see B, C D I just would go.

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Mike Malatesta: figuring that all the other letters would figure themselves out as long.

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Mike Malatesta: As you.

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Amanda Gunawan: intercede exactly.

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Mike Malatesta: Okay cool I like that.

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Mike Malatesta: So tell me about your parents and then what it was like growing up, I want to kind of understand what the influences were on you.

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Amanda Gunawan: So I had a very i’m like the youngest of three siblings they’re all girls and I had a very odd childhood compared to them because i’m a lot younger than them my first sister is 10 years older than me and.

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Amanda Gunawan: Because there was like a civil because I was born in Indonesia and then there was a civil riot that happen, and so, because of that my parents had to make the tough decision of moving me to Singapore, when I was just five years old.

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Amanda Gunawan: And because their work was mostly in Indonesia, they actually had me they had to only see me like once every couple months because they had to take care of their work and I kind of had like a caretaker take care of me, so in that way I kind of grew up pretty like far from my parents.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I was under the care of mostly my caretaker.

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Amanda Gunawan: That kind of.

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Mike Malatesta: me well, what about your sister started interrupt wherever they are, they.

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Amanda Gunawan: By that time my sisters, they were they were with me, too, but it had like one to two years, and then they moved to America for college.

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Amanda Gunawan: Okay yeah.

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Mike Malatesta: i’m sorry I interrupted.

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Amanda Gunawan: No, not at all, and so um I was mostly under the care of my caretaker and I kind of like it gave me a lot of autonomy.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I think having that much autonomy, it made it very important for me to really get to know myself it gave me so much time to get to know myself, because a lot of.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like minor and major decisions we’re now going to be made by me and without like parental guidance per se and.

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Amanda Gunawan: Because of that, I really am thankful, because it made me very independent it gave me a lot of time to really discover who I was and to be able to be assertive and make decisions at a very young age.

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Mike Malatesta: And how long you mentioned the parent teacher conference, how long after you had you know written this paper and said that you wanted to be a real estate developer, to the meeting.

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Mike Malatesta: parent teacher meeting and happen because i’m trying to understand if your if your mom was so surprised by, for example, and you were like shouting from the rooftops you know all day, this is what I want to be, this is what I want to be this, what I want to do.

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Amanda Gunawan: It was, I would say, was about maybe they haven’t like once every like four times a year so maybe I would say two months.

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Mike Malatesta: Okay, so you, but it was something you, you mentioned earlier that you know you kind of created your mind you said, my internal world and i’m.

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Mike Malatesta: Like.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah okay.

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Amanda Gunawan: I was very quiet kid and I had a corner, where I would just like create things like I would love making comic books I love, just like writing stuff and like drawing and I was a quiet kid so.

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Amanda Gunawan: i’m like I would imagine for my parents to get to know me and they did, by the way they had to sneak into my journals a lot.

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Amanda Gunawan: Oh yeah.

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Mike Malatesta: So um Do you remember having to when you left India Asia, I mean five you probably do have some memory of.

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Mike Malatesta: I do actually living there, and that had to be tremendously difficult to be separated leave and then be separated from your parents and I guess the rest of your family, with the exception of your sisters i’m not sure how all that work, but how did it work.

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Amanda Gunawan: I think when your kid um you’re generally more accepting of things like because i’m.

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Amanda Gunawan: Because, for me, like my school actually stop halfway within the week and I remember this, I remember it was it was bad like it was a bad situation all around their rights everywhere.

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Amanda Gunawan: But and as it can you can kind of sense it right, like you can sense that something is wrong, but you don’t really know.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like the political intertwining of what was actually happening you just knew that nobody was happy, like the adults weren’t happy and then all of a sudden, you have school like I was in kindergarten or playgroup and then.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like all of a sudden, like mid week I don’t have school anymore, and as a kid you’re just happy here like oh yeah I don’t have school anymore.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah exactly and like.

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Amanda Gunawan: I was just playing at home playing playing playing but I remember this one time, I was.

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Amanda Gunawan: It was in the middle of like one of those adventure things that I was having at home, like just you know kids like make believe and stuff like that I was on my like.

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Amanda Gunawan: house the patio of my house and I look out, and I could see people rioting.

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Amanda Gunawan: And it was just not good anymore, because, like even as a kid I could sense that, like violence was happening something’s happening and everyone’s nervous like there’s this energy.

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Amanda Gunawan: And like it was it was the kind of thing where like these writers would come and.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like you would be like obviously at that time I didn’t know because I was a kid but people will be scared that they would come into your House.

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Amanda Gunawan: Because if they do, then okay great like they’re going to start racking stuff or something like.

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Amanda Gunawan: they’re just like nervous like my parents were super nervous about this and I had no idea but standing on that balcony like I could sense that something was wrong and so.

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Amanda Gunawan: it’s kind of like as a kid you are very in the moment to where it’s like yeah I don’t have school and then you’re playing in the balcony oh something’s wrong.

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Amanda Gunawan: And then my parents are like we’re packing your bags we’re going on a trip to Singapore, they didn’t mention that I was going to stay there forever.

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Mike Malatesta: Right.

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Amanda Gunawan: To be to be fair to them, I don’t think they knew that either I think they just wanted to get us out.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so I love going to Singapore, we had a house in Singapore and I thought it was a vacation so I just pack some stuff and it was very exciting for me like oh we’re going on a family vacation and then.

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Amanda Gunawan: i’m in Singapore and everything’s happy and then all of a sudden they’re like okay you’re gonna stay here we’re going to start school and.

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Amanda Gunawan: I like I don’t really remember what I was feeling, but I imagine it was very in the moment.

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Amanda Gunawan: You I do remember the airport ride, I remember writing from my house to the airport and I remember that being like I was so young, but I can remember like very vivid scenes of like how traumatic That was because we had the military people in the military.

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Mike Malatesta: Take us.

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Amanda Gunawan: To the airport and I know my parents were super nervous about getting stopped because if you get stopped like because the riot that was happening was against Indonesian Chinese and that’s what I am.

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Amanda Gunawan: Okay, so if you get stopped in your Indonesian Chinese you will never know you never know what’s going to happen to you, and so I remember.

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Amanda Gunawan: They were just kind of like holding their breath almost like just trying to make it to the airport, because the moment they make it then like we’re safe.

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Amanda Gunawan: But like you had that it was like every time I think about it, I still like I can still remember just that nervous energy everybody in the car just scared now it’s just this little kid but somehow that like stuck with me all these years.

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Mike Malatesta: And my my do political history is a little weak here, but how long did that go on, because you mentioned that your parents had to go back for their business and I asked you about that afterwards, but how long did it go on it, but eat and you never went back.

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Amanda Gunawan: I wouldn’t.

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Amanda Gunawan: Go back during my school holidays.

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Mike Malatesta: Well, he was.

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Amanda Gunawan: Exactly how the right one on I think um I think at least went on for like maybe the rest of the year, or like six months.

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Amanda Gunawan: or less it was so intense but and then, following that there were obviously repercussions from that, but it wasn’t maybe it’s not to the point where it’s unsafe anymore or its violent anymore, but it was definitely a definitely made a lot of people move out of the country that tire.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah you certainly could still get a target or whatever, as usual, Chinese.

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Mike Malatesta: Exactly.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah.

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Mike Malatesta: And amanda your caretaker was was the was your caretaker with you in Indonesia and came with you to Singapore or didn’t do your parents find someone for you.

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Amanda Gunawan: insist upon someone in Singapore, but she was Indonesian.

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Amanda Gunawan: Okay.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah just a bit a stranger to you at the beginning.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah she was a stranger to me at the beginning it’s very funny because it’s not common in America at all, but it’s surprisingly quite common in Asia.

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Amanda Gunawan: And my caretaker took care of me for.

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Amanda Gunawan: I think 13 years and, at that time she had like a one year old baby and so she would see the one year old baby once a year, and she was basically with me and I was basically her daughter and it’s it’s just wild to think that.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah so up to the time you left for college pretty much.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah yeah that was pretty heartbreaking I would say.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah so what i’m assuming your parents for safe, though, the whole time, even though they had to go back yeah Okay, but and what’s the word they entrepreneurs as well, what you mentioned that they had a business I don’t know if that means they were working on a business or.

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Amanda Gunawan: On the business, so they they have businesses, they mostly do food and beverage and hospitality.

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Mike Malatesta: Okay okay.

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Mike Malatesta: So yeah so tell me about this relationship with your caretaker and she’s with you for 13 years from the time you’re five.

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Mike Malatesta: So the time you leave you mentioned it was kind of me and Sarah Sarah it almost seems like.

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Amanda Gunawan: In some you have she was and i’m like the funny thing is, I still had a lot of autonomy so it’s a very weird hierarchy where it’s like she was the adult.

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Amanda Gunawan: But she barely spoke English and so she needed a lot of my help and she was kind of they’re doing very motherly things for me, but at the same time it’s like when we’re out in the world, I kind of had to take care of her.

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Mike Malatesta: Oh OK, I see.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah make sense.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so um she definitely felt like an ally to me like I would say that, like, I definitely like growing up, I was very happy to have her because.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like when I like again I was like a very quiet person like I was a very quiet kid and like I always kept to myself, but when it came to like things that I needed to talk to somebody about like because I had to like I would talk to her about it.

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Mike Malatesta: And it’s.

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Mike Malatesta: Interesting so in your right it’s it’s cool to explore this because it’s not you know it’s not something that you see that often in the States means you, you see it very rarely actually where someone essentially takes takes over that raising a child.

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Mike Malatesta: molesters a masters of.

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Mike Malatesta: You know dysfunctional situation which yours wasn’t yours is yours is like a very intentional response to something that was really could could have been awful and it, you know it was it really had to protect us both more than anything.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah I have to teach her English I remember this and I would, I would like even have lessons with her like I don’t know why I enjoyed doing this, but I enjoyed like giving her lessons and I even enjoyed given.

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Amanda Gunawan: For some reason I was the type of person that also really enjoyed giving people homework I would give her homework, I even gave my friends homework and I don’t know why they were friends with me.

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But.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like I like.

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Mike Malatesta: I like comic books for her yeah.

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Amanda Gunawan: grab these comic books that had both English and Indonesian translation yeah so we were like my parents were still very much present like they would come quite often, and they like my dad called me every night.

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Amanda Gunawan: And they would communicate with her, obviously, to be like what what is amanda up to like is there anything that we need to know about, but yeah it’s definitely having to pivot their parenting a little bit.

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Mike Malatesta: very interesting so so age eight through 18 why don’t you take us through what happened 813 so at eight you’re you’re going to be a real estate developer.

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Mike Malatesta: At a team you leave for.

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Mike Malatesta: architectural school, I think, or undergrad i’m not sure.

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Mike Malatesta: So test.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah what what happened along the way.

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Amanda Gunawan: So along the way let’s see wanted to be a real estate developer, I was always very focused on what I wanted, and I was very good at playing hard but also studying hard.

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Amanda Gunawan: I think that I had a conversation with someone recently about like external validation and internal validation.

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Amanda Gunawan: and finding out what it is that gives you internal validation like if the rest of the world didn’t exist, what was the thing that.

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Amanda Gunawan: You know, could keep you going and, for me it was learning like learning new things, whatever that may mean and also creating things like seeing the product of my creation.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so, these are things that I had to go back to childhood to really pick out and figure out like what is it that gives me internal validation.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so, like, I had a lot of time to really cultivate that and like to like basically and I love learning so I was the type of kid that loved school.

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Amanda Gunawan: And like I would hang out with all these friends and some of my life because I imagine, I had no parents, well, I have no parents with me at that time I could do whatever I wanted like I could go out late, nobody would know so sometimes I would go out late with some of my friends and.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like I obviously the people that the kids were going out late, are the ones that are not studying so like I would go out late and I hang out with them, but then i’m like secretly I would be studying when I got back and like I would do really well my exams.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah okay.

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Amanda Gunawan: Well, and then they would just be very confused they’re like but you’re always.

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Amanda Gunawan: At that time it was like a trend to go to computer shops and play computer games together so they’ll be like your but you read the computer shop with us like almost every night like how are you finding time to study, but I really love studying.

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Mike Malatesta: That is so funny so you change you adapted to be with your friends, but you didn’t leave.

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Mike Malatesta: This internal validation component that you had made sure that you went back and did what you wanted to do for yourself, even though your friends may not have been into that.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah you like the way that you say it sounds like i’m doing it consciously but I wasn’t.

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Amanda Gunawan: Sure, whatever made me happy and I was like okay i’m going to go out my friends, but wait a minute, and then I got home and like i’m like I really do actually want to do all my work and more.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so i’m in Singapore, I think the education system is really like I personally find it good Of course there are shortcomings, but I think it’s good because it’s very structure.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I think as a child and a lot of people may disagree with me on this, but I liked structure as a child, I like structure on a child, I think, especially growing up with someone where.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like from the parental side, at least, like, I did not have structure, I really like that about my school I like that, when I went to school, there was consistency that someone gave me some sort of direction and.

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Amanda Gunawan: So I wasn’t a like it’s quite rigid the criticism about the Singapore education system is that is very rigid it leaves very little room for creativity.

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Amanda Gunawan: But I think that having that kind of structure is really good at that age and then eventually going to college, where you get to do what you want to do and pick what you want to do.

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Amanda Gunawan: And that’s really when they’re like you already have this structure you already have this discipline.

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Amanda Gunawan: You have all the right attitude, and the right tools to succeed, and when you go to college it’s about like just really allowing your creative juices to flow and like for you to really like, finally, just hone all of that.

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Mike Malatesta: But it sounds like the whole time and even though you were in the structure, you were you had this sort of side internal world as you as you call it of creativity, where you were doing the things you wanted to do on the creative side, and while you were also.

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Mike Malatesta: You know, allowing yourself to go with the flow and it came to the structure, I think that’s yeah so that to me, is a very mature.

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Mike Malatesta: Because a lot of times, people will do one or the other but they.

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Mike Malatesta: And they won’t do either one of them, usually won’t do one or the other, and one of them, the one they don’t want to do they.

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Mike Malatesta: You know they’re there.

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Mike Malatesta: they’re not going to adapt to do it, you know they just do it.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah which I think I think as a child, especially I think that’s a very, very good quality to hone to be able to do the things that you don’t want to do.

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Amanda Gunawan: So to like, for example, exercise for me, does that too, like, I think that if you wanted to train your discipline you wanted to train resilience tenacity and whatnot.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like I always advise people exercise, because you are actually conditioning yourself your mind to be okay with pain.

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Amanda Gunawan: And to to know that, even though I don’t want to be here right now I don’t want to do this.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like you can actually get through it and, as you keep doing this, you know it takes like 18 months to cultivate a habit soon your brain starts to really understand and like you start becoming like fearless almost.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah.

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Mike Malatesta: And you start, I think you start to focus to on the.

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Mike Malatesta: result, instead of focusing on what you have to do to resolve like working out, for example, it’s easy to say I don’t want to do that today, but I do want this.

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Mike Malatesta: I want to whatever I want to maintain weight, or I want to.

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Mike Malatesta: Put muscle on our own I look, whatever your motivation, so if you, you know you you can’t get there, without this so let’s not focus on the pain here because we’re focused on the pleasure, which is the result of that that comes from doing this from the pain, as you said.

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Amanda Gunawan: Totally and I think a lot of people don’t actually realize that sometimes like there are these tips and tricks to kind of trick your brain a little bit.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah because, like sometimes you’re very stubborn.

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Amanda Gunawan: And there are ways in which you can incorporate and it’s all conditioning right, like you, can you can take steps sometimes people make these statements and they’re like I don’t know how to become like inserts like an abstract word let’s say I don’t know how to become more.

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Amanda Gunawan: Determined or more motivated but they’re actually like things that you can do they’re very action oriented and I always tell people, one of them is exercise.

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Right.

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Mike Malatesta: So.

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Mike Malatesta: You go off to college.

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Mike Malatesta: come to you the United States for that correct.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah okay so help us understand how that process works and what you know yeah how that process worked and how you made your choice and how you got to you got to school.

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Amanda Gunawan: I think I was very lucky because i’m like I said Singapore has a very structured very rigid system.

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Amanda Gunawan: And and.

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Amanda Gunawan: I la and I chose an architecture program that was vastly vastly different.

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Amanda Gunawan: From the education system there, so I came to the southern California Institute of architecture, I knew that was the program that I wanted to do for architecture.

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Amanda Gunawan: And the reason for that is that it’s kind of it’s so like Sire, which is like the name of my school and they really allow you to.

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Amanda Gunawan: explore everything you want to explore, in order for you to find out who you are as an architect, and how you work and all these programs that they have.

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Amanda Gunawan: They allow you so much autonomy and they also allow so much creative freedom to really like they it’s like a testing ground.

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Amanda Gunawan: So whatever you choose there’s so many different options and whatever you choose, it allows you to really explore whether or not you like this particular thing and whether you want to go in that direction.

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Mike Malatesta: So.

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Mike Malatesta: So, so I see a couple of things right required Tommy that answer first was the.

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Mike Malatesta: This it’s it’s hard if i’m thinking you tell me if you agree with this, but I don’t think it’d be hard to get wouldn’t have an environment like that or.

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Mike Malatesta: didn’t have some really, really strong discipline and structure to the way that you work already because you could just be with all that freedom, it can be overwhelming right.

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Mike Malatesta: I can’t focus on anything because i’m focused on everything and nothing you know can’t can’t get anything done, did you feel like that it helped you to come from the structure that you had in that environment where it was like hey explorer.

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Amanda Gunawan: I don’t know what would have been better, but I know that that was the situation that was presented to me.

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Amanda Gunawan: and

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Amanda Gunawan: For me, like, I came with a lot of structure, in a sense, like I kind of got the Foundation very strong.

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Amanda Gunawan: And then that’s how I put it it’s like I had a very strong foundation, I had a very like I very good work ethic and discipline and then I was finally put into this like thrown into this thing where okay now you do like.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like like free form, you know and like you get to do whatever you want to do right now and getting thrown into that thing is completely out of my comfort zone.

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Amanda Gunawan: But it’s also because I have that strong foundation that i’m a like Of course I will struggle and I struggled so much because, like I said I was such a quiet quiet kid and my ideas were always internalized and inspire.

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Amanda Gunawan: You had to present your work, like every week, so I would get so nervous and I was the type of person that would.

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Amanda Gunawan: have everything written out on a script because I was that rigid like I would have all the words I wanted to say during my presentation on the script and I have to slowly transition into being comfortable.

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Amanda Gunawan: Talking about my ideas and being able to do this impromptu and it was it really helped me it really did like I think up to a certain point, I think, maybe it wasn’t fast like maybe four years in.

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Amanda Gunawan: I started becoming more and more comfortable talking to people about my work and.

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Amanda Gunawan: I also learned how to talk to people about my work because previously the language that I had cultivated for my work was always a language that I had known.

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Amanda Gunawan: Things that I was telling me, but then I started to learn how to talk to other people and understand that the world doesn’t it doesn’t just revolve in my head like there are.

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Mike Malatesta: Out there okay so, meaning that people didn’t didn’t really get what you were saying, because you’re expressing it in a way that made sense to you, but then to them is that when you’re.

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Amanda Gunawan: A little bit I say, I would say, some people, a lot of like people who internalized their ideas, I see that an architect’s quite a bit to where they when they’re explaining their work, it feels like they’re explained to them and it’s in a way that like is it’s just it’s so esoteric.

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Mike Malatesta: Oh.

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Mike Malatesta: Okay.

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Mike Malatesta: Why are you so quiet kid, by the way.

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Amanda Gunawan: um I i’m most comfortable when i’m quiet and i’m internalizing thoughts in my head and that’s still the way that I would develop new ideas but i’ve also kind of gotten like I I do like people now.

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Mike Malatesta: When did that switch turn.

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Amanda Gunawan: I think it’s when I realized that yeah it’s like I realized, I can learn a lot from other people.

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Amanda Gunawan: Right yeah.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah pretty smart.

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Mike Malatesta: I is was there ever a time while you were in.

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Mike Malatesta: architectural school where you thought you know I.

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Mike Malatesta: Because you wanted to be a real estate developer so i’m wondering was there ever a time when you thought and I don’t know if this is right for me or did you just get all you do you’re just solid and everything was you know the the way that you thought it would or should be.

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Amanda Gunawan: Honestly um there’s so many times during the difficult times, so the times that are like really, really testing.

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Amanda Gunawan: You know what like I haven’t slept a long time.

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Amanda Gunawan: And it’s that an a mix of like hormones everything just packed in lack of sleep lack of food, hormones all of that and i’m trying and struggling to try to achieve something.

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Amanda Gunawan: And it seems like it’s a never ending road, yes, like there were times when i’ve doubted myself and i’m like could it be better for me to just live a slower paced life.

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Amanda Gunawan: But.

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Amanda Gunawan: I also know that i’m not going to make any major decisions, and I should not be trusted in that moment.

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Right.

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Mike Malatesta: What about when you first came to California them had you been to the US before was it did you have friends or family or was it we you didn’t have your caretaker I mean you were here without anyone What was it like came.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah it was honestly like I come here for holiday before and I would say, Singapore is quite a metropolitan city, so I was, I was a city girl like I wasn’t like living in the country, or something.

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Amanda Gunawan: So I definitely like like it culturally it’s funny because I meet some of my best friends here.

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Amanda Gunawan: And they’re always forgetting that i’m from Singapore, because we it’s almost like we had the same childhood.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like we were watching the same TV shows listening to the same bands and so like it’s kind of wild that we grew up so far apart and We grew up at a time when.

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Amanda Gunawan: Technology was just coming in, like the Y2K era, and so, but for some reason we watching, all the same things and it’s almost like we have the same childhood.

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Amanda Gunawan: So yeah like I would say it’s not that far apart and.

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Amanda Gunawan: i’m like I really am very, very thankful for the Community and the friends that I have made in La, and I say this, all the time, but my company feels like.

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Amanda Gunawan: A family like i’ve cultivated this family culture, and it really feels like a family away from home.

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Amanda Gunawan: And um and it’s not just that, but I would not have had the confidence to start my own company here in La if it wasn’t for the fact that I felt like I had the support of the people around me.

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Amanda Gunawan: Right, because I, when I came here, I really didn’t know anyone like how was I supposed to go into an industry that is not only male dominated but in La at least right like the construction industry is very like the workers are all Hispanic.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so they spoke their language.

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Amanda Gunawan: I don’t speak Spanish so like all of that it’s just that all came kind of like what I told you, from the beginning, from like I saw Z.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I kind of let B, C D and E flow in and you’ll be surprised by just how fortuitous some of these events are and how it worked out for me in a way that like it was almost meant to work out.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah well, a lot of times that I feel like a lot of times that happens when you.

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Mike Malatesta: go into Z and you don’t worry about Oh, I can never get to Z.

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Mike Malatesta: So.

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Mike Malatesta: I don’t even start to go to be.

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Amanda Gunawan: mm hmm.

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Mike Malatesta: You know, when you when you’re ready when you see what you have when you have the imagination of what he could be, and you have no idea how to get there, which is what.

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Mike Malatesta: pretty much happens to everybody, but you’re willing to get started it kind of does oftentimes workout you know the way you.

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Mike Malatesta: You thought you just the way you got there get there, maybe isn’t exactly because you had no idea so that’s the journey and the way you get there, but the end you know it works out because you you started.

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Totally.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I very much believe in that, and I think eventually all the steps fall in because you have such an open mind, so you open yourself up to this idea and you may not know it, but you’re actually planting all of those seeds.

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Mike Malatesta: Right yeah open mind and coupled with the drive to keep.

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Amanda Gunawan: Going like the way that I met like my first step into the construction industry that the way that I met my contractor was because I had joined a soccer league.

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Amanda Gunawan: Just randomly out of nowhere, I decided, I was just I was just like an architectural designer at the time was just working and I was like you know what I need to do things outside of.

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Amanda Gunawan: Work and so I joined a soccer league just alone, and they put us together in a team, where all these like solo people.

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Amanda Gunawan: were like join it elite tooth I was in a team of five and I met my contractor there, who is still currently one of my best friends and he was my first step into basically the construction industry.

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Mike Malatesta: So this is going to be sound like a real tangent but i’m just really interested in, and I think it’ll be your answer i’ll help us with the rest of this conversation, but I was going through your instagram and I saw.

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Mike Malatesta: A tattoo and it said, I think it said I in mind before and anyone else’s i’m assuming that’s yours i’m I don’t know it could be someone else, but I was struck by lightning yeah so I was struck by the wording, and I want to know what that means to you.

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Amanda Gunawan: Well, I really like it, because I feel like.

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Amanda Gunawan: You need to know exactly who you are what you want your ins and outs before you could be present for anybody else.

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Amanda Gunawan: And for like for for the rest of the world, you should do everybody a favor and really get to know that person, so you can be like accountable for your actions, and you can be there in the best way that you can be for everybody around you.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah in some ways, sorry.

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Amanda Gunawan: it’s like when like what I told you about me growing up when I was a kid like it’s like.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like people are always like oh like I feel so like sorry that you grew up like kind of like with a caretaker that you didn’t spend that much time with your parents.

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Amanda Gunawan: And, of course, like you can view it from both sides, but the good the good side to that is that because I didn’t have them, I really am so used to like I had so much time to really get to know who I was.

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Amanda Gunawan: Because I would have to make these like difficult decisions or they’re not difficult but they’re difficult for a kid so like I would let’s say like I was taking an exam.

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Amanda Gunawan: I had school and I was taking an exam and I wasn’t doing well in a subject I would just go to my mom I call her, I asked her for money to basically go for tuition for like a particular subject that I wasn’t good at so it’s things like that that, like, I have to look out for myself.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I know what I was good at what I wasn’t good at like I just.

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Amanda Gunawan: really had a lot of time to do all that.

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Mike Malatesta: When I read the, thank you for explaining it because, when, by the way, there’s a lot of wisdom in what you said so you’re you’re remarkable thinker.

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Mike Malatesta: It got me thinking when I read that I have.

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Mike Malatesta: I have a chapter in my book and it’s called getting selfish and I explained in the book, how you know at.

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Mike Malatesta: About 10 years into my first entrepreneurial entrepreneur real journey and my company my first company I I was just really in a bad place.

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Mike Malatesta: You know confused uncertain afraid didn’t know what to do, I mean we’re on the outside it looked like we were doing well and we were but.

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Mike Malatesta: The whole like a lot of the reasons that I that I got into it for the freedom and for all these other things I was had I had less and less than that because I had sort of designed the system that.

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Mike Malatesta: You know everything depended on me, it was really it really got me in a bad place where I wanted to quit I wanted to get away, and I wanted to do all these things, and then through a combination of different influences I finally learned that if I can’t get clear about what I want.

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Mike Malatesta: Then there’s no way that I can lead people to help me get what I want.

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Mike Malatesta: So yeah so I call it getting selfish, which is kind of a horrible word but it’s kind of a nice play on it, for me, because it doesn’t mean that you know I kind of say selfish is not the bad selfish is the good selfish.

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Mike Malatesta: You know the one that, because you.

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You.

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Mike Malatesta: You can be in the wrong place in your mind.

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Mike Malatesta: And you can’t have someone else’s thoughts controlling you or, if you are actually intent on getting somewhere and making your future something that you actually want like your agency.

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Mike Malatesta: So yeah so it’s really.

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Mike Malatesta: I love I love what you what your tattoo says true.

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Amanda Gunawan: Thank you, I think it’s very important for people to know like what is like what is in their control and what’s not, I think so, in a sense, like I would give to others as much as I can, but sometimes I know when it’s their path to take.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah so I know I know it’s not something that I could like I can’t change somebody’s direction this way, but I can assist or I can support.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I think it’s also important that, like as you get to know it’s really important to get to know yourself, so you kind of know your role in people’s lives, too, so in a way you’re not being selfish.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like know what I can offer.

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Amanda Gunawan: To a person what i’ve been doing with my company lately, is that I made them take personality tests.

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Amanda Gunawan: And it’s not because i’m trying to figure somebody out or like put like define them i’m not i’m trying to.

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Amanda Gunawan: Because I know myself, and I know what my role is and my role is kind of like a almost like.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like i’m like i’m good at being like a conductor like i’m good at like trying to get things together and seeing what the big picture is and so i’ve been getting them into these personality tests, so that I can set up a way in which they will succeed.

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Amanda Gunawan: Right, so I i’ve been like a lot of us like we have different roles in the company, but we’re not more than more important than another person.

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Amanda Gunawan: So, like I I would not be able to do any of this without any of them and, like everyone can say the same thing everybody serves different roles and I.

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Amanda Gunawan: Recently, was like losing my patience, a little bit with one of my staff, and I was trying to because I was, I can get a little impatient, that is my that’s one of my biggest like flaws, is that I tend to want things like like and I tend to put people at the speed that I work at.

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Amanda Gunawan: Right and like so sometimes I need to take a step back a little bit, and so I was, I was kind of like losing the patients, a little bit not understanding why she kept making these mistakes and then.

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Amanda Gunawan: I made her take the personality tests and I realized that she’s the type of person that thrives under a condition, where like.

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Amanda Gunawan: She can’t do well with criticism not not like whether it’s like like good or bad like it in like basically like handicaps her.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so I realized that I wasn’t putting her in a good environment to succeed, and so I started to change my approach and very quickly I started to see her take more initiative and granted she’s not perfect, but I can see that i’m now setting her up for success.

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Mike Malatesta: And that’s.

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Amanda Gunawan: kind of what I want to do for the rest of the people like that’s why i’m making them take this test and like so that I could help them like help cultivate this environment.

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Mike Malatesta: Basically yeah so smart what what what which tests are you doing.

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Amanda Gunawan: i’m just doing the myers briggs.

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Amanda Gunawan: Okay yeah.

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Mike Malatesta: Because there’s a lot of different ones out there, of course, they’re all they’re all good, but I think one of the.

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Mike Malatesta: week I use a test called co UK.

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Mike Malatesta: that’s really.

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Mike Malatesta: it’s really good because it I think it’s a little bit easier than some of the others, but.

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Mike Malatesta: It measures your quantitative process not it’s not a personality.

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Mike Malatesta: process, so it really gets how you’re actually wired for different criteria.

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Mike Malatesta: Anyway, I can get into that with you later, but the fact that you’re doing it is and is really smart, because what I think happens a lot is companies do that they have you take whatever test is myers briggs or disc or whatever, and then.

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Mike Malatesta: it’s like oh that’s really cool that does sound like me, you know yeah can you hear it, but nobody else knows anything about you, you know you.

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Mike Malatesta: In order for people to work together, they have to share that information like you need to know who you are in order to so that I can work best with you, and you can work best with me.

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Mike Malatesta: know that I don’t know that your criticism you know just takes you right down to the seller, no matter how mile I think it may be, or for that matter, then we’re always going to have this problem communicating oh it’s because I don’t understand you and you don’t understand me.

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Mike Malatesta: Totally so really smart.

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Amanda Gunawan: And like looking at these personality test is not to tell you what you already know it’s to tell you what you don’t know.

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Amanda Gunawan: Right oh it’s for me, when I look at that i’m not looking at the results and embracing what I am I am looking at the results and seeing where can I learn to be better.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah yeah good point and I guess what I was thinking when I said that was the person who gets it usually reason they’re like oh.

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Mike Malatesta: that’s pretty much me.

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Mike Malatesta: But, but that doesn’t mean the person that they’re working with knows that’s pretty much said no.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah yeah it’s important to also like only everything so like own everything meaning like you’re good and you’re bad because everybody has goods and bads and like to be able to share that.

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Mike Malatesta: Right yeah very smart so let’s talk about how you got the business off the ground, so you, you get out of school and you go to work as an architect, or you go to work in construction, what do you.

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Amanda Gunawan: know when I graduated I worked for a company I landed, like the job that I wanted from school.

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Amanda Gunawan: was to work for this architect, who I totally admire like an la architect called Tom main.

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Amanda Gunawan: And he’s he’s great he’s amazing like legendary and I was very, very lucky to have the privilege to work with him.

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Amanda Gunawan: So I worked for him for a short time and then the funny thing is my partner, and I do like we always took part in like competitions.

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Amanda Gunawan: And they’re kind of conceptual competitions, but we would just enter random competitions, while we were in school.

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Amanda Gunawan: And at that time we had one this one furniture competition, and it was just a conceptual furniture competition and, for some reason because of like social media and stuff like that that image kind of got.

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Amanda Gunawan: disseminated and passed around quite a bit and then somehow Paris design week caught wind of that and they had asked me if I wanted to exhibit that furniture and which is like a pretty big honor for me.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like especially being that young, but the Chair didn’t exist.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so it was a conceptual competition but and they they were very open about it they’re like if you wanted to make it real you wanted to build it, you can and that’s based exit is yours and.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like my partner and I kind of just looked at each other, we were like should we do this and we’re like you know what let’s do this, and so.

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Amanda Gunawan: I told my company, there are so supportive like they were like you know we totally understand because I don’t want to be doing two things at the same time.

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Amanda Gunawan: I really did love my job, and I was just excited about what was going to happen as well, like the future in that company, I was also excited and I felt like this was time sensitive.

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Amanda Gunawan: And so that was the trigger that tipped me over to leave and my partner left to and we decided to start our own company.

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Mike Malatesta: And, did you feel the peace furniture did out.

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Mike Malatesta: In Paris okay.

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Amanda Gunawan: We did, and we we ended up exiting in Paris design week and Milan design week and we had an opportunity to really take it like.

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Amanda Gunawan: To go into like production and blah blah and really, really go into the furniture business but we decided to just let that be kind of like a trigger a precursor into the world but we wanted to do architecture basically and we’re like we’ll save that for another time.

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Mike Malatesta: and your partner Joel if I read correctly, you actually knew him from high school so How did the two of you get together in the States and get together at the same company.

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Amanda Gunawan: So he every Singaporean has to serve the military.

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Amanda Gunawan: We met in high school and.

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Amanda Gunawan: He wanted to architecture to he served the military for two years and then he went to the same university, while we were in the same university we work together and partner on a lot of projects.

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Amanda Gunawan: And we we just we have very, very complementary skills and it’s almost like a make or break and it’s 10% break 90% make.

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Amanda Gunawan: i’m not gonna lie like there are times when our arguments get like pretty crazy because we can’t agree on the same thing, but at the end of the day, having somebody who has complimentary skills is.

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Amanda Gunawan: Just so useful if you can make it work and we ended up doing that we ended up doing our final pieces together because we work so well together and.

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Amanda Gunawan: When we graduated we like because they liked our thesis to they kind of hired us as a pair and then we left, we also left and decided to start the company together.

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Mike Malatesta: Oh it’s so neat how you ended up together after you know, in the same place.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah we We work very, very well together, I think um yeah like I said, we have very complementary skills and an architecture, it is so valuable to have an ally like that.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah yeah.

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Mike Malatesta: Just curious Are you familiar with the architect David hurts.

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i’m.

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Amanda Gunawan: i’m not like.

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Mike Malatesta: Okay.

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Mike Malatesta: Give me he’s.

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Mike Malatesta: he’s some.

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Mike Malatesta: He does homes, mostly but, but you know phenomenal homes like he built the home, out of the 737 or airplane in I don’t know if you’re familiar with that home or not, but he’s close by, you know that he’s he’s in.

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Mike Malatesta: I don’t know Santa Monica or something is where.

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Mike Malatesta: I had him on the podcast so I thought, maybe.

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Mike Malatesta: Maybe it’s an introduction that can be helpful, but anyway, so you might know.

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Mike Malatesta: i’m Okay, so you start with the disparate conceptual furniture design you get the business you strip off the ground and and congratulations, by the way.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah how easy was it.

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Amanda Gunawan: They were.

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Amanda Gunawan: still not easy.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah yeah it’s not it was not easy it’s still not easy and.

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Amanda Gunawan: yeah there’s always this i’m sure you know, this like entrepreneurship from the outside, always looks like a movie but yeah but you miss out like really, really all the non pretty parts and yeah it’s not just like the big struggles, but all the self doubt everything that comes in between.

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Amanda Gunawan: But every day when I asked my when I asked myself the same question like do you see yourself doing anything different or doing something that’s not an architecture and my answer is always no.

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Amanda Gunawan: Right, so I know right place.

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Mike Malatesta: Okay, and how are you getting business or how to know how did you attract clients, you know right off the BAT.

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Amanda Gunawan: it’s honestly come so naturally right now, because architecture is one of those things that it’s about not just aesthetics, but it’s dependability as well and word of mouth is a very big one.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I think if you keep doing good work it kind of just it would just keep snowballing like that.

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Amanda Gunawan: Right, because people will share it and there are always people who want to do houses.

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Mike Malatesta: and your it’s looks like you’re doing.

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Mike Malatesta: A lot of different kinds of work, I saw Jim spaces, I saw.

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Mike Malatesta: coffee shop, I saw the nabisco maybe that’s your apartment and other things that you’ve done there, which is really cool, by the way.

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Mike Malatesta: Things are what.

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Mike Malatesta: What where’s your do you have a particular focus or a place where you want to be another see, for example, that, where you want this business to to be.

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Amanda Gunawan: I think the Z for me is still the overarching thing of wanting to be a real estate developer.

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Amanda Gunawan: So the trajectory like BCG will keep like i’ll keep pivoting in a sense, like yes it’s architecture, but after doing biscuit law, which is the numbers go off I realize, in order for us to really.

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Amanda Gunawan: Stay true to everything that we believe in which is progressive design, but really thoughtful design like careful craftsmanship I needed to.

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Amanda Gunawan: Be hyper hyper sensitive about the construction and in order for me to do that I need to have my own construction company.

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Amanda Gunawan: So that’s when last year, I actually took that step and made productive use of coven and started my own construction company.

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Amanda Gunawan: And i’m very proud of, like the team that we’ve assembled so far, because everybody is working to the level of detail that I want them to work at.

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Amanda Gunawan: And it’s almost like my mission for the construction company is to train them to all be craftsman and to have this mindset of like.

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Amanda Gunawan: Creating construct like constructing pieces of architecture that is not just about.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like it’s not like you just want to get the job done, it is an obligation to the craft itself to kind of finish it to the best of your ability and that’s what i’m trying to instill it’s like a team of like these.

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Amanda Gunawan: Very like these artisans and like it’s a small team, but i’m very happy with what we’ve achieved so far, but at the end of it all like, yes, I would like to come up with.

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Amanda Gunawan: A portfolio of houses at we using our design and our construction team have managed to really so it’s like right now we take a lot of client jobs for both the design and the construction team, but I would really like to see it come together and create my vision for the portfolio properties.

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Amanda Gunawan: Yes, yeah.

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Mike Malatesta: The construction company is that, where your soccer partner came in already working with person you met, and so on.

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Amanda Gunawan: Well So yes, so I met him, and then the funny thing is so he’s a contractor, he also became one of my really good friends, but and his.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like he had like a lot of construction like we had a lot of ties and construction and stuff like that, but he’s slowly transitioning into following his dreams which is completely unrelated to construction so that’s.

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Mike Malatesta: So three or so years into your entrepreneurial journey.

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Mike Malatesta: What advice, do you have for people.

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Mike Malatesta: Like you, that are talented that have you know, a passion for something.

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Mike Malatesta: When it comes to you know, taking the step, which is a you know that’s a big step to become an entrepreneur and start your own company.

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Amanda Gunawan: I think that things shouldn’t be built on a fantasy or a whim, I think it should be very carefully thought about and evaluated on so many angles, I think that.

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Amanda Gunawan: When it comes to execution, a lot of it is discipline and so discipline is action oriented so meaning, you can hold yourself very accountable to these things.

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Amanda Gunawan: For example, for me, because i’m Singaporean I had to apply for this thing called an entrepreneur’s visa, and that was very good practice for me, but I think everybody should do this and what they had asked for and what the US Government had asked for, for me, was like basically.

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Amanda Gunawan: Like they had to ask for projections they had asked for a list of clients they had asked for like an entire like I think I wrote like 100 over pages, like a business model that was going to work.

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Amanda Gunawan: And I needed a CPA to sign off of it, I needed lawyers to sign off of it, and obviously you don’t have to go to that extent, but like that practice of coming up with projections for yourself, those are like basically what’s going to substantiate everything.

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Amanda Gunawan: The first steps to planning, and I think that’s important because it’s great while it’s great to have that vision well it’s great to keep dreaming, you do have to have the substantial things, if not, you will like I mean you have a lower chance of succeeding.

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Mike Malatesta: Basically, you have to get ready.

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Mike Malatesta: If the candidate need to go.

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Exactly.

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Mike Malatesta: Well, man, this has been fantastic I really enjoyed getting to know you and.

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Mike Malatesta: Your journey has been so interesting and your your.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah read very wise for for person your age and that’s i’ve enjoyed hearing and learning how wise, you are so thank you so much for coming on the show how do you want people to connect with you.

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Amanda Gunawan: um instagram would be good pretty active on instagram.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah and that’s amanda gn w n.

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Mike Malatesta: I better.

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Mike Malatesta: Okay.

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Mike Malatesta: yeah alright, so my pleasure, and thank you so much for being on the show, thank you for listening and until next time.

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