Weekly Local Biography

  Antoine Chan-Inn

By Rebecca Lomax, Ph.D.

There is a beautiful and tragic song in Les Miserables, a song in which the heroine remembers her childhood dreams of hope, love, and justice and contrasts them to the hopelessness of the life she is living. We all know people to whom life has not been kind, people who had fine expectations but somehow did not find the fates smiling as they turned the corners in their lives. So what a joy it is to meet someone like Yuttana Chan-Inn, a very positive young man who is simply taking life as it unfolds – and it’s unfolding beautifully.
He was born in Chiang Mai province, the older son of two teachers. His parents chose to teach poor and disenfranchised children in rural parts of northern Thailand, and this choice may be reflected in the son’s acceptance of life. And they chose to teach young children, influencing them when they were most impressionable. These choices influenced their son, too, and he recently found a way to show them how much he respects and loves them. But more later on that.
His Thai nickname is “An”, but he picked up a western name traveling in Morocco that has stuck with him, Antoine. So Antoine it will be for us. He went to local primary schools, then on to Yuparat for high school. He loved sports, especially football (soccer for my fellow Americans), and readily admits that studies took second place to football and fun. He was a typical teenaged boy, getting through his studies with minimal effort and putting all of his energy into sports. But his childhood slowly ran out, graduation was near and he was forced to look at his future. He wanted a good life, and to take care of his parents, but he really had no calling and little understanding of his options and how to prepare for them. He examined his interests and found that they lay in business, accounting and finance. And that’s what he studied, wholeheartedly. He studied Japanese and was an exchange student, his first international travel experience, three times. He says the experience opened the world to him. As his time at university drew to a close, he put his energies into languages, English and Japanese. He intended to concentrate on international business, and he knew that languages were part of that. He graduated with a major in accounting, a minor in Japanese language and strong English language skills that he honed by studying with English majors.
He graduated and applied for jobs, accepting one with a local bakery/restaurant. He worked in the office, learned about importing food, and met the customers. It was good, but he wanted more of a challenge. He worked in the insurance business, then moved to an import/export business and had another opportunity for international travel. He went to trade shows in Morocco, where he picked up his French name, then to Dubai, Jordan and Brunei. But he missed his family – and his girlfriend – so began looking for jobs closer to home. That’s when he and his present company found each other.
He says it was destiny. He looked at their web site the very day they posted the position. He wanted a challenge, an opportunity to learn more about international business; they wanted somebody to market their design business. Here was a perfect fit. He began by observing the operations from top to bottom, from procuring supplies and producing the products to international marketing and shipping. He analyzed; he drew charts and graphs. In short, he took the mystery out of business and put it all on paper. If you do this, this will follow. Or you can do this and that will follow. The creative people in the design company listened. He could free them to be creative while he handled a lot of details for them. He speaks straight in team meetings, an unusual quality for a young Thai man working sometimes with older foreigners. And it does indeed appear to be a team that has formed. He has great respect for the three designers, and says they are all very talented people. He hopes to continue to contribute to the growth of the company.
He’s 29 years old now, and thinking of marriage. He hopes that will come by the end of the year. And he continues to think about his parents, all they have done for him and his brother and all that they continue to do in education. Last month he found a way to thank them. In the finest of Thai traditions, he became a monk for a while. He wanted all of the good things that would come from that to flow directly to his mom and dad, and I’m sure they did. He speaks with wonder and reverence of the experience. His teacher taught him how to totally focus on the moment, to meditate, to trust that his daily needs would be met. He rose each morning at 3 a.m. and took his alms bowl with him as he walked the streets. He never knew what would happen, nothing was guaranteed, but his daily needs for food, water and shelter were met. He says he was comfortable once he learned to trust that this would happen. He had more energy to think, more focus to meditate.
I left our interview with a smile. Not every day is quite so good.