A Simple Advice

Shuhan. 

Shuhan. 

I like planting seeds. Whenever I engage student in a dialogue, it is usually done to implant an idea (or ideas) and let that idea(s) take root. And that’s what Shuhan and I, conversed, midway through reading “Who is J.K. Rowling” yesterday.

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As you can imagine, many 7-year-olds are easily influenced by others and have trouble creating their own identity. So I’d like to know how far I could take Shuhan’s desire and turn it into reality. Here is, essentially, what we discussed:

 

William: What do we know so far?

Shuhan: Well, Jo (J.K. Rowling’s nickname) always liked to write. She’d write every day. She didn’t like her job but she’d always write when she’s not working.

W: Many writers have similar beginning struggles in life. They’re always afraid their work may not be well received by readers. They’re always worried that they can’t earn any money by writing. So many writer wannabes end up working at jobs they hate. But for Jo, she kept writing. She kept following her heart. How many years did it took her to publish the first Harry Potter book?

S: Seven years.

W: If you think about it, seven years is a lifetime (writing the first draft, proofreading it, and then rewriting it over and over again). She didn’t write it because someone told her to write imaginative characters. She didn’t write because her teachers assigned it as homework.

S: Actually, her teachers were not very good.

W: Yes. She spent seven years because she wanted to write. Nobody pushed her to write. Not her parents. Not her teachers. She did it because she followed what her heart always longed for.

S: I always want to be a writer.

W: If you want to take Jo’s advice, then start writing. If you want to write because your heart guides you in that direction; because you are a creator; because nobody pushes you to write, then you are a writer.

S: So write because I want to, not when someone tells me to write.

W: Tell me, do you read Chinese poetry?

S: Yes, I do.

W: Now, do you think those poets wrote poems because they were homework? Or because their parents told them?

S: No.

W: You’re right. So whether you’re reading Chinese or American poetry, poets write because they want to write. They’re born to be writers. They’d go out in nature, see the clouds, and the birds, and the trees, and the rain, and they’d express their imaginations and words on paper.

S: Do you write?

W: I try to write every day. But now, I don’t plan my writings anymore. I just follow my heart. If I want to write that day, I just write. Due to the nature of my work, usually my writings have something to teach. They have lessons embedded in them. Otherwise, there’d be no purpose for me to write.

S: I see.

W: I don’t care how many people will like them. I don’t care if they’ll make any money. I just sit and write. So in say, five years from now, I’ll have a lot of words and pages. Then all I have to do is string them together with a single purpose in mind (remember: everything has a purpose). And maybe, just maybe, I’ll publish them into a book.

S: Hmm...

W: So... will you do it? Will you start writing every day because it is what you want to do?

S: ???

Understand: Children always gravitate toward something. Follow that, and they’ll show you something you’ve never seen before.

 

10 Reasons to Quit Your Job

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1. You don’t need one

People get a job for stability. But companies are not loyal. They don’t care about you.

Nassim Taleb says, “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”

I’m adding one: stability is an addiction. So please, don’t be an addict.

 

2. Jobs make you depressed

“Nine to Five” is a myth. It doesn’t start at 9. It doesn’t end at 5.

I asked a friend once, “How many hours a week do you work?”

“Between 50-60 hours,” he said.

“I thought your contract was for 40hr/wk?”

He laughed.

Depression is highest in people who are fully overworked. We are simply not made to work 60 hours a week. Archaeologists figure that our paleo ancestors “worked” around 12 hours a week.

And then they would do other things to keep up with their foraging and hunting skills.

Why is your job depressing?

  • Being bossed around by people you don’t respect.
  • Meetings.
  • Office politics.
  • Corporate regulations.
  • Spending 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. getting ready for work, commuting to work, working, commuting back, and too exhausted to move when your back home.
  • Business trips.
  • Relocations.

I’m sure there are others.

 

3. You hate your boss

Every time you create $1 in value, and you have a boss, who has a boss, who has a bigger boss, who has a board, who has shareholders... so how much of that dollar do you keep?

I hope you know the answer.

 

4. Jobs are going more and more obsolete

Amazon’s new checkout-free store, Amazon Go, is a new kind of store.

When you walk in, your phone beeps. When you pick up a bottle of milk, your phone registers. When you’re finished, you simply walk out. Then your phone automatically logs into your Amazon account and buys the milk in your basket.

They have 10 locations (as of this writing) spread over Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Where did all the cashiers go?

Wait, there’s more. JP Morgan has outsourced hundreds, if not thousands of legal decisions to AI. Why talk to a lawyer when AI can out-speed 10,000s of legal precedents in a micro-second. Tax and Accounting firms have downsized their teams, and instead, opted to AI. Why keep more accountants on a company’s payroll when AI can out-smart, out-productive, out-cost, and pretty much out- everything else?

Goodbye 90% of lawyers, accountants, cashiers.

 

5. The great shift

Every time someone writes a new line of software, a job is lost.

This is not a bad thing or a good thing. It’s just a fact. An example: when digital music started, music store died.

You may argue, “But Alibaba has created many new jobs.” And how many retail stores have been closed down because rent prices are increasing and they’re losing customers since it’s cheaper to buy online?

Robert Chase, founder of Zipcar, said, “When self-driving cars are everywhere, 90% of the auto industry will disappear.”

With 90% of the auto industry going away, the car insurance industry will collapse. The oil industry will tumble and turn upside down. The real estate industry will change. And so on.

 

6. Millionaires don’t have jobs

They have incomes.

According the IRS, the average millionaire in the United States has at least five different sources of income.

A job, which is basically from 6 a.m. (wakeup) to 9 p.m. every day, is only one source of income. And pays you less than 1% of the value you create.

Guess what?

Selling an app is one source. Being an entrepreneur is also only one source. This highlights the importance of freelancing and part-time work in the gig economy.

 

7. Now is the gig economy

The gig economy consists of taking up short-term, flexible, temporary work that can be completed according to your schedule. And thanks to the advancements in technology, it’s now easier than ever to scout one.

As explained by Harvard Business School: “Unshackled from managers and corporate norms, people can choose assignments that make the most of their talents and reflect their true interests. They feel ownership over what they produce and over their entire professional lives...”

Drive for Uber/Grab/Didi. Host on Airbnb. Buy from Alibaba, then sell on Amazon. Build subscribers on YouTube/Instagram. Get hired to design a book cover from Freelancer/Fiverr.

The gig economy is growing every year. Can you replace your monthly salary from it?

I did.

 

8. You’re losing your productivity

People work 2 hours a day TOPS in most 8-hour shifts. The rest is spent on meetings, chatting with co-workers you don’t like, breaks, commuting, doing nothing. You’re losing more than 30 hours every week.

30 hours a week for 50 weeks is 1500 hours. Do you know what you could do with 1500 hours? Build a business, write a book, travel around the world, acquire new crafts, be with family, whatever you want.

Productivity is not about sitting behind a desk so you can get a promotion.

Productivity is about using time to make a better you.

 

9. You sold your dream

If you love your job, stay. If you are working at your passion job, terrific. People are envious of you.

Unfortunately, many people don’t feel the same as you. They want to jump ship and and figure out life. I did that — twice.

Many people are on the treadmill of school, college, job, job, job, retirement, death.

Many people focus more on money than freedom.

Life is short. So obtain your freedom, pursue your passion, and start living your life.

 

10. Don’t quit your day job just yet

A year before I quit, I had started something on the side.

I built it up while I still had my full time job. I had to navigate so many things. Particularly how to provide what kind of service the market needed.

I had to learn how to balance a double-life. I had to work in the morning and work some more at night.

I had no rest. I had to work seven days a week.

Today, I don’t have a job. I have incomes. A little from here and a little from there add up to something greater than what I normally need.

Are you ready for the gig economy? Make sure you are when the shift happens. It won’t be too far in the future.

On the Vanity and Falsity of Religion

Q: Why do people subscribe to religion?

A: You have to ask them.

Q: Is it wrong for them to subscribe to religion?

A: There is no right or wrong.

Q: Is it bad for them to subscribe to religion?

A: There is no good or bad.

Q: Do you subscribe to religion?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: I have no interest in formalities. I do not need any doctrine. I do not follow anybody.

Q: Is that how you view religion?

A: Why does this matter?

Q: I wish to know your point of view.

A: In all accounts, there is the absolute and the bastardized. There is the immaculate and there is the artificial. It can be said that at one time religion was immaculate. But whether it was or not, this is not what it is not today.

Q: What is it today?

A: Bastardization, rituals, artificiality, and cunningness.

Q: But isn’t religion a gateway to god?

A: Religion has nothing to do with god.

Q: Would you kindly explain?

A: The moment you seek god, you seek an idea. What’s worse, the word god has become a wishing well; and religion: a social club. The idea of god has turned mankind into beggars. If god was seen as someone who does not have the power to give mankind an object of desire, no one would give him the time of day.

Q: Some claim that religion brings them peace.

A: Peace is derived from within. Not from external objects and images

Q: What about prayers?

A: What about them?

Q: Do you pray?

A: No.

Q: Why do people pray?

A: Out of habit and fear.

Q: Would you please elaborate?

A: If one is taught to pray from a young age, she will pray out of habit. Prayer is not done for the well-being of the object one prays to. It is done for the well-being of the one who prays. Prayer is also done out of fear. The fear of losing possessions or the fear of punishment if one does not pray; in other words, a cry of self-pity.

Q: What is it that you do?

A: I seek the Truth.

Q: Do you think spirituality leads to the Truth?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Spirituality is as depraving and polluted as religion.

Q: But spirituality has nothing to do with religion.

A: It replaces one object of devotion with another.

Q: In what way?

A: Spirituality is a series of concoctions and prescriptions that are merely half-truths. It is a circus of people conversing in spiritual psychobabble using ineffective jargons like meditation and mindfulness.

Q: Why do you think this has happened?

A: Because humans are forever interested in formalities and fashion. Truth seeker is as rare as  a needle in a haystack.

Q: Should people seek the Truth?

A: There is no should.

Q: Would they be better off if they did?

A: Not if it was done by following a teacher, by way of a doctrine or a prescription. One must have the desire for the Truth within his bones. Only then will he not stop until he finds it. Not because he should, but because he has no choice.

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

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Today is my birthday. Every year, I celebrate by starting something new. Afresh. There’s never a time limit to be whoever you want to be. Trust me, you’re never too late. You’re always on time.

At 8 I wanted to be a teacher.

I’d bring my dad’s old briefcase and play pretend. I’d fill his briefcase with books, papers, and pencils. I’d set-up my bedroom as a classroom with one small blackboard and colored chalks. I’d let my stuffed animals be the students. I’d talk to them. I was in my own world. At night, I’d lecture in my dreams.

Decades later, I teach.

At 10 I wanted to be an FBI agent.

You could say that I was an X-Files nut. Every time I watched Mulder and Scully, I’d always want some piece of the action. I’ve even asked my neighbor who’s an FBI field agent at the time for a summer internship. He told me he’d hook me up, but that dream went by too fast. It turned out, guns and violence were not my thing.

So I switched, from that to...👇🏼

At 15 I wanted to be a doctor.

I’d watch “ER” almost every day after school. I was addicted. And that led me to this next one...

At 16 I started working at a hospital.

Some days I prepped patients’ beds and stocked supplies. Some days I did research for the attending doctor. Some days I stayed in a lab collecting and monitoring samples. And some days I spent talking to elderly patients. All of them were great experiences, but none of them suited me.

At 17 I wanted to become a world class swimmer.

The first day I joined the swim team as a high school freshman, my coach said, “You’re talented.” I told him that I wanted to swim for the University of Michigan. But apparently, my “so-called” talent is not enough to secure a spot in the state championship. In the end, it was a just another one of those dream...

At 18 I wanted to go to Harvard.

I passed the first and second interviews, but failed the third (supposedly the last one). Maybe they didn’t liked my answer. Maybe they had a better candidate. Maybe it was destiny. Whatever it was, it didn’t mattered anyway.

At 19 I wanted to be an investor.

I suddenly developed an interest in growing and managing money. I’d come-up with crazy financial plans. I’d calculate interest and amortization values. I’d start analyzing stock charts and figures. But I didn’t have enough money to start an investment firm. So I’ve put this goal aside for a later date.

At 20 I became an entrepreneur.

I met a strength coach. He became my mentor, and I learned a lot. I knew my way around the weight room. I coached collegiate athletes and individuals. It was a business that I’ve built. I was, what you’d call a “fitness entrepreneur.” Then my dad got diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I had to sell my share of the business and fulfill his dying wish (that was, to be an Optometrist and continue the family business).

At 21 I was a day-trader.

I’d place my trades in the morning before going to lectures. I’d check my bets and would place more bets throughout the day. I was so good that my relatives started pouring money into my pool account. I’d return their interests monthly. This was my side gig. More often than not, I’d contemplate whether to quit Optometry school and just day-trade to make a living. Then one day, I lost it all. I kept losing, more than my initial investment.

Because I was so good at losing, I quit the game.

At 23 I was an assistant professor.

I’d go to different guest lectures at different hospitals in Boston and then teach what I’ve learned to first-year students. My hard work and effort sparked attention from the neurobiology department, and that lead me a job to teach their course for an independent study credit.

At 25 I finished Optometry school.

I graduated. I passed the board exam. I fulfilled my father’s wish. But I didn’t expect what came next.

In fact, nobody will ever know.

At 26 I married the love of my life.

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I tied the knot to my one and only childhood love. Like any marriage of course, there had been ups and downs, but I kept charging forward and never looked back.

At 27 I managed my parents’ eye clinic.

Managing people and telling others what to do were not easy things for me. I had to play games. I had to be a hypocrite and a liar. It’s not in my blood to do such acts.

Two years later, I threw away my degree. I gave the business back. I didn’t regret my decision. If I could turn back time, I’d do the same.

At 29 I moved to Shanghai and started working with children.

My heart whispered and I followed. It gave me something to bear: a new life.

At 30 I quit my job and worked for myself.

Apparently, it was also not in my blood to take orders from other people. I finally realized that I am more suited to be an independent person. Someone without any supervisor nor subordinate; in other words, a free man.

At 31 I was an IRONMAN athlete.

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I swam. I biked. I ran. I finished under 5 hours in my first race. I’d dream of going to Kona. Then I got better the second time. Then I kept training harder. Then I’d upgrade my equipments. And then I’d hire coaches and consult to pro-triathletes. Until one day, I made the startling realization: I’m merely chasing time. And I was no different than a rat racing measured only by its velocity. So one day, I sold my expensive bikes and got rid of everything else. Victory cannot be gained by winning races. It is gained by owning peace internally. I didn’t want to chase dreams in order to live. I wanted life to chase me.

At 32 I became a self-made millionaire.

I’d spend less than what I’ve earned. I’d live frugally (as a lifestyle) and I’d invest what I’ve saved in appreciating assets. I had ZERO debt — not even a mortgage. I’d pay all my expenses in full, sometimes upfront. I didn’t receive any bullshit inheritance. I never won silly lottery tickets, either. No secrets here, only consistency. The day I made my first million, I bought a piece of land where it’s sunny all-year. A place where my family and I could live peacefully.

At 33 I discovered meditation.

I met my guide, my teacher. He pointed me toward the right direction. And every now and then I’d go on retreats. They have become my “reset” button from the influence and contamination of society.

At 34 I launched my website.

I’m not fond of writing when I was a kid. But lately, I’ve developed a passion for writing. So I’ve built a repository to house all my work. I’d post everything from experiences to conversations with children to essays and horrible poetries. The blog also serves as an extension to my teachings.

At 35 I started working on my next project.

You’ll have to wait and see what I’m up to.

Today, at 36 I am starting...

  • To prepare for fatherhood.
  • To declutter my apartment and keep only 100 things I need.
  • To improve my self-awareness.
  • To spark more creativity.
  • To laugh more.
  • To invest.
  • To be who I am.

And at 37 I will start...

Moral: EVERYTHING you think is important and meaningful has absolutely no bearing on your future life.

You can be inquisitive about your life, but you must learn to surrender your ego, trust the Universe, and start DOING. Then you will see the immense possibilities life has to offer.

As Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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Leaderism

A disciple approached his Master and struck the following dialogue:

Q: What is Buddhism?

A: Social leadership.

Q: It is my impression that Buddhist followers devote and worship the Buddha, is it not?

A: That is what you see. But the Truth is rather different.

Q: How so?

A: Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha) set off on a search for the Truth; to know the ultimate Reality. And to self-verify this with his own eyes. He ventured into the dense forests of Northern India. There he came across ascetics whom he began to follow. Soon he came to the conclusion: “These people had not found Truth. They were no more evolved than him.” It is then he realized that there was only one journey that could lead him to his destination. And this was the journey within; a personal journey without teachers, prescriptions, or scriptures. In doing so, he arrived at a place within himself where only few in the history of civilization ever have.

Q: So how was Buddhism founded?

A: After his death, his words were documented into scriptures and books. And while his story is nothing short of inspirational, his message has become lost.

Q: What was his message?

A: For what he found cannot be experienced through simply knowing the “noble truths.” It can only be experienced through DIRECT EXPERIENCE. The man who conquered his mind and came to know his true nature did so precisely because he DID NOT follow doctrine. Yet, ironically, his words have been turned into doctrine.

Q: Hmm...

A: The perception of Buddhism should be Leaderism. Since the death of the Buddha, devotees throughout the world worship pantheons of Buddhas and bodhisattvas alongside plethora of monks, seers, and swamis, asking them for help not only in attaining liberation (nirvana), but also in dealing with mundane problems (i.e. disobedient children or financial matters) in exchange for prayers, candles, colorful flowers, fragrant incense, and gifts of rice and candy. This is nowhere near to the teachings of the Buddha. It barely scratches the surface.