My Story

Today, I share with you a story of myself, for the benefits of those of you curious about the writer of this very very exciting blog *laugh*. For those of you who are uninterested, you can stop reading now.

For those of you who are still reading, I will try not kill you with boredom.

I was airdropped onto a frozen part of America, aka Mid West, in the middle of winter as a pre-teenager from Hong Kong. As a small Asian male with very little fat cells, it was the perfect time and place to be. I hope you realized my sarcastic tone. I had a cold that lasted me that whole winter, and the winter was loooooooooooooooong in Michigan.

Why the ice-land? The idea was to be close to relatives. Though, the main purpose for my parents to move to the States is still the education and future of their children. This is important because I would otherwise only have a “lowly” bachelor degree today. Kidding about the “lowly” part.

I never really enjoyed those early years in the U.S. because I had to help my parents due to English barrier, while my siblings were away at college for most of those time. Imagine a young teenager dealing with bills, writing checks, balancing accounts, reading work-benefits policy, visiting banks and insurance agency… Now imagine Paris Hilton reading the Constitution and studying mountains of text for Harvard Law. And I still had to deal with school work. I also had no idea about Simpsons and Dunkin’ Donuts and Backstreet Boys. I was as FOB-ish as can be in a mostly black and white community. It was impossible NOT to get picked on. And don’t get me started on the house chores. It was definitely GOOD time. I did enjoy the part where they all think about me what Keanu Reeves’s famous for saying, “I know Kung Fu.”

An extra little fact is that during this time, I, this clueless teenager only knew some half-ass English, is the translator in the house… at least attempting to doso. The best stuff were these insurance policy materials that contain “sophisticated” words and legal jargons. The result amounted to something like Chris Tucker trying to speak Chinese… But I digress.

I did not write about all these to complain. Besides to humor you, I mentioned these experience because I believe they have a huge impact on what I would become and how I would handle money. Most importantly, I realized how money can become such big issue in life. Yeah, I am real brainiac :P Moving on…

For my undergraduate studies, I was lucky enough to obtain enough scholarships to cover the 4 years at a state university. Additionally, I worked half-time in my college department as a slave system administrator to support my lifestyle. During that time, I spent some and saved some, without paying too much attention. I paid off credit cards monthly and never carried any balance. I believe this is the result of family influence, without noticing it myself then. As a computer science geek, I am as big a party animal I could be. I spent money eating out and for some evening outtings as many fellow students did. I did not travel to exotic places to see women with beads as vacation, but I did incur a lot of expense as a fencing team member. Besides the athletic part of the fencing experience, I was able to visit many college campus in different states (even Florida!), bonded with my fellow teammates, and met lots of other students from other universities. Although it cost me a lot during the 4 years, it’s not something I’d ever regret doing. This goes to show how money isn’t everything.

The tougher time comes during my master degree. First, let me say that I did not plan nor want to do a master degree because (1) my desire to become independent, (2) knowing there will be little financial support from family, (3) consequently, my concern with debt, and (4) I was never a big fan of school. I was a brat who is ready to become the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs… yeah right. Anyways… life is not without a sense of irony. I was accepted into Stanford, to my surprise AND dismay. I finally decided to go for the sake of myself and for family expectation – to fulfill my “final” duty as a son. Remember my parents’ purpose of coming to the States?

I said “final” because it is part of my desire to become independent from my parents. You can chalk it up to typical relationship between son and very strict Asian parents.

At Stanford, no longer with any scholarship, I spent most of my savings (from scholarships and part-time in undergrad), took out student loans, and stopped to work full-time (and continued half-time during the rest of my school) in order to afford the tuition while opting only for subsidized loans. I did my best to make it through the 2 years. Before I found work, I sometimes starved myself until I can get home for dinner to save lunch money.

I kept telling myself this is an investment into myself. Hmmm, self-hypnotizing… that to get the Stanford name is akin to getting my name “gold-plated.” I was very fortunate to received help from my sister for a place to stay. Stanford’s environment began to shift my mentality and the tougher time makes me think, really think… It became the turning point for me…

To start learning about money.
To take charge of my own finance.
To try short-term stock trading. (bad idea…)
To understand that long-term is the way to think.
To know that having a corporate job will only get me so far, without supplements.
And most importantly, to take full responsibility for myself.

I used to envy peers who received support for school and especially, for their first real estate properties. However, I know now such envy is unnecessary. I know I would not become as independent had I gotten an easy way out. I would not have the confidence I have today. I would not act with backbone. I would not be an avid learner to study myself and the world around me. I am in the best place I can be. Oh, and of course, this blog would not exist otherwise either.

These experience also made it apparent to me, why a friend called me “a survivor” years back.

Hereby I conclude my little semi-autobiography. I notice I ended on more boring notes. My apology. Still, I hope you enjoy the read.

Originally posted 2008-02-25 00:32:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

I Suck at Giving Advice

I guess it has been a long since I wrote anything that’s personal so here’s a tid bit today just for fun.

My good friend D was accusing me of being not very good at making myself known or heard. Yes, I said. So maybe I should not use the word accusing, but on the other hand, I behave my way not because I don’t want to be known or heard.

Here’s what I do if I shall ever feel enticed or am asked to give advice or suggestion.

— I will say it once.
— I will repeat it.
— I will not say it thrice, unless the other person changes his attitude and shows a damn good display of genuine interest as to why I say what I did, which never happens.

Two things are apparent by the time I said the same thing twice (perhaps paraphrased and presented differently).
— My idea is simply out of the person’s grasp at that moment in time.
— The other person simply does not agree and/or wants to hear what I have to say.

Now the real reason to not repeat myself thrice is this — Let fools persist in their folly and they may become wise.

In other words, let people make mistakes and hopefully they will learn. And because we know that people often DON’T learn from their mistakes, sometimes the necessary evil is, to trick and nudge people into making more mistakes and hopefully they will learn… eventually.

Or in martial arts term, instead of directly resisting an opponent’s attack, one redirects the opponent’s force against himself.

Therefore sometimes, instead of saying what I want to say or what I had said, I instead advise the person simply with what he wants to hear.

Applying this idea in a grandiose scale, we — some humans? — may just have the responsibility to nudge the human civilization into further catastrophe before we will ever learn. Learn about what? Eh, maybe another’s day topic.

And I end my post today promoting — MORE consumption, MORE easy credit, MORE oil drilling, MORE technology, MORE medical drugs, MORE wars, More MOre MOrE~~~~!

Originally posted 2010-06-02 23:54:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

I got 1000000 million dollars… now what?


First of all, the title is NOT true. But if I am to become rich, I would undoubtedly be travelling the world, eating fine cuisines, drinking fine wine, accompanied by world-class beauties. Money, woman, food, and wine. Everything a man wants. By now, you are probably thinking what a superificial douchebag or this materialistic son of a #@$%!. I hope you didn’t take me seriously.

The truth remains, that I am not filthy rich like that… yet. Most unfortunately. So here I am trying rigorously to get there like many people, ever so diligently, with so much discipline, day after day. Though I can probably be a much cheaper person than I am now, so cheap that I can save such a high percentage NOW and by the power of compounding along with brilliant investment, become multi-billionaires with a “B” someday. Then I’ll finally be able to do what I want… perhaps some of the stuff I mentioned at the beginning :)

So I will spend all the coming years chasing and chasing after this destiny. Who knows how long it will take for me to save and invest? Probably will take awhile. But I will finally be able to do all the things I wanted!

Come to think of it more though… by that time, I’ll likely be in lesser health. And likely with less enthusiasm. I may even have saggy, flappy skin (amongst other saggy things). Yikes! Then I’d realize I’ve wasted all those years not living at all, being a cheapass, which defeats the purpose of all the effort on making money and saving so much. This makes me think of the ambitious fellas out there relentlessly accumulating money solely for that purpose, meanwhile forgetting family, friends, and ultimately themselves. Besides, there are also those who consistently work ungodly amount of hours each week for whatever reasons. I feel kinda bad for them. Those poor things.

In the end, we need to strike a balance. I like to keep a well rounded perspective.

I admit these balance-striking thoughts sometimes make me wonder why the heck do I work so hard and then I may feel like giving up. Those are brief moments. It is still more important for me to maintain a balance in life and stay sane in this crazy world (on the other hand, I could be the insane one here). I would say that my entire wealth accumulation process best serves to eliminate money as an issue to give me freedom to do other things.

As such, the following story is what strikes a chord in me to write the above.

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”

Originally posted 2013-02-28 23:11:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Introvert living in a world of extroverts

I maybe quiet, but I may also have great ideas.

I maybe quiet, but I may also have great ideas.

We live in a very loud society. At least, it feels that way.

We either scream at the top of our lung or risk being unheard, unnoticed, unappreciated in today’s world. With the ever more stimulating media and everyone’s craving for attention, we all, in turn, need to continuously speak up, and FIGHT for attention.

More and more talking.
Less and less listening, paying attention.

No wonder people are feeling lonelier than ever.
No wonder we seem to understand so little of each other.

When do we have time for contemplation and introspection? Without which we leave little room for substance to grow, new idea to form, and creative vision to arise. Without such, the words that we keep spewing out lack what was mentioned, and they are just verbal diarrhea. That is, what we excrete out of our mouths are malformed, malnutritioned, perverted ideas that will lead us to a world that we… ultimately don’t want. All because we have to be constantly talking and constantly entertained… so it seems.

This is not to say introverts are better than extroverts. This is all about how unbalanced we have become.

We now deem extroversion as “normal.” Our world is not accepting of personalities that are of an introvert. We usually end up calling those people as boring, or inadequate, or even weird.

We are a society that suffocates those who are more introverted. We demand continuous communication even when it’s unnecessary. We ask for non-stopping display of excitement which is obnoxious to introverts.

I am an introvert. I enjoy being alone. I like having time to read at home. I love playing the piano. I find listening to music with headphones which is relaxing. I can sit somewhere and simply people watch.

I had been in management for almost a year now. It is surprising how criticism would arise mostly from a more mild demeanor that is natural for an introvert. If you don’t try to be visible, shouting words at every chance, you lack leadership and are not acting with a sense of urgency.


I am analytical, I like to take in a lot of information, process, and then arrive at a conclusion. But the environment does not favor that. If I don’t immediately respond, it does not mean I do not care. Being able to be quiet and listen is also where understanding can happen, where appreciation comes from. With inadequate traits of introversion, we become mostly egomaniacs. And that’s how more than the average people would act these days (especially people in management).

That’s why I feel a sense of relief when I came across Susan Cain’s TED talk – The power of introverts:

Finally, the talk of the idea to take the time to stop, to enjoy solitude and to introspect.

Introversion is important. That is how we can understand each other. And understanding is the basis of compassion where we begin to truly care for each other.

I believe in action with grace and humility.

And someone like that can still be exciting, can still have style. Our world should not require people to call attention to ourselves in a sort of self-aggrandizing way exhibitionistic way.

From way back, my quiet and introverted style of being has always left me feeling “out of place” in this society, and it’s still does sometimes.

In conclusion, two obvious idea stand out from these discussion:

1) Our society still benefit from learning and adapting more traits of introversion, and as a result be more tolerant and able to work with introverts who may have some great ideas.


2) Meanwhile, introverts need to compensate, especialy if one wants to be influential, by being more studious and knowledgeable, thus more confident and assertive when the occassion arises that we need to speak up.

In other words, to all you introverts, don’t be afraid to go into hulk-mode if you feel strongly that you need to speak up or you know that you are right!

Originally posted 2013-06-03 04:12:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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