Current Progress

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The next milestone

So I started this blog 4 years ago with the intention of losing 50 lbs. Well, I've never actually reached that yet nor did I even set a deadline of when I was going to do that. Well that's kind of pointless eh? Lemme correct this by publishing this intent for the world to hold me accountable - Before my 5 year anniversary of this blog, I WILL LOSE 50 lbs. No excuses.

To get me to this goal, I have a few more very measurable and achievable ones that I will definitely need to hit.
  1. Work out 5 times a week.
  2. Consume home cooked food 15 meals a week. When on travel, stick to goal #4.
  3. No alcohol and No cigarettes.
  4. Eat healthy fresh food whenever possible - low glycemic index/glycemic load, not processed, low simple carbs - at least 5 times a week.
  5. Spend 1 hour to myself offline - 5 times a week.
  6. Stay on top of all medical work, appointments, and executing recommendations.
  7. No moving apartments, cities, countries for at least a year.
  8. Stop going over and beyond the duties of a friend to rescue or save people as I used to.
I have gotten distracted and lost in the past so I'll promise to post a monthly report of my progress. And I need you, my friend, to keep me accoutantable :)

Being alive and healthy can be as easy or as hard as you'd like to make it. I'm definitely grateful for all that has happened to prompt me to start the blog the moment I started living on borrowed time. It's been exhilarating, joyful, painful, and heartbreaking all at the same time. As tough as I think it has been, I know it could have been much worse. I'm lucky to have great friends and great support throughout the years and there's really no reason why I can't achieve this next milestone so we can have another reason to celebrate!

Thank you!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pendulum of Life

I'm entering my fourth decade in life and feel like I've barely started living. This year was all about testing my limits, getting to know myself and becoming realistic. The one thought that's helped me frame and make sense of everything that happens is to think of my life as a pendulum. So I wanted to share what makes sense to me.

A pendulum has been the most accurate way to tell time until the 1930s when quartz was used instead. Here are the parts - of interest are the frictionless pivot, massless rod, massive weight (name Bob), and the equilibrium position.

You - your mass, your physical body - is suspended from a pivot that swings freely. The experiences you have are a result of forces, momentum and gravity at play - swinging and oscillating back and forth. You'll be swinging as long as you live, what you can control is how much energy you want to put into reacting to natural forces at play like situations that happen or things people do to you. As you move to one side, forces will try and make you return to the equilibrium position, as you reach it, there's velocity that you gain to continue your swing to the other side. No wonder everyone finds it tough to achieve balance...and even when you do, it's not for that long before other forces and pressures happen.

The pivot in which the weight swings on, in my opinion, is your core - your values, your morals, your soul, your spirituality, your beliefs, whatever you wanna call it. As it gets more defined and solidified when growing up, this pivot solidifies making your swings more predictable and determines how much you swing.

Further more, the massless rod that you're suspending from, well when you're born, you have the lightest mass possible in your life and you're connected to your mom by a fragile cord. Your parents nurture you so you're not swinging alone and so that flimsy first cord evolves into a thread which reinforces itself through plenty of experiences. As you grow up and get heavier, you keep upgrading this thread into a string into a climbing rope as you learn how to take care of yourself.

The only way to achieve perfect balance and stillness and connect with your core is to meditate. But it's just short glimpses, probably until you join a monastery and meditate the rest of your life like the Dalai Lama or are trained as a child monk.

There's something called a Foucault pendulum, which swings in in 2 dimensional space with the rotation of the Earth. Swings can be really unpredictable if you have no idea what your core is and you're spineless, directionless and not aware. You can also imagine a Yo-yo as a more difficult pendulum to be as it has the ability to move up and down as well as side to side.

So what's all this mean to me? It means that it's very important in the early years of life to be surrounded and nurtured with love and care and proper education so that your pivot and string are strong enough to swing with. The job of parents, family, community to kickstart this is significant. The age old debate of nature vs nurture can be put to rest with this analogy - nurture plays an important part. Don't fret if you didn't have this growing up, we're in the same boat :)

This realization also shows me that it's pointless to just want the good, the fun, the joy - that for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. You need to suffer to appreciate what good is. You need to accept that life is nothing but a bunch of swings and you could choose to roll with it or fight it, but the reality will be what it is. As you become aware of the swings, you can start seeing glimpses into your state of equilibrium as the swings happen.

Long story short - if life is a pendulum, I feel that there are things you can control and things that are out of your control. You can control your weight, your health, your mood and reactions to the ride of life. Everything else, is out of your control so stop worrying about it. Try your best and let life unravel. Set goals for yourself and achieve them. Don't fret about outcomes you can't control or other people's behaviour and reactions. More importantly, that everything is related and equally important - the mind, body and spirit - there are things you can do to keep your pendulum clock ticking in the best possible way.

I'm going to enjoy solidifying my pivot and continue to lose the weight to get my pendulum back into tip top shape. This upcoming year, my goal is to figure out how to keep a balance and hold onto the positivity and thirst for life. Thank you to all my friends who have stood by to watch and support any passion of mine - this time I'm going to take care of myself and not have so many people so worried.

PS. To reach far out there, how do you think different peoples lives relate to each other in this pendulum analogy? Maybe another blog post there :)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Luck is when Opportunity meets Preparation

When life gets you down and you go through something traumatic, it takes time to heal. It's taken a lot of will power to just wake up everyday (sometimes at 5am, other times at 2pm), find things to do (work out, grocery shop, cook, read, drive), and try to be positive and optimistic around people and yourself...and some days it's great and some days it sucks. If you're like me, and you have absolutely no idea what the next steps in life are... what to do, where, how, when - you're kind of in this limbo of a semi-retired life but you're only 30 (and poor) with so much experience, passion and insight to want to create something and stand out...but you don't know how. It also irks you that you're supposed to live each day like it's your last and make the most of it...but you sleep through it and wish the evenings and weekends came faster so there's actually stuff to do with other people. You also set a deadline to stop the moping around...

And right when that deadline hits....

You answer a random email from an old friend from junior highschool about making an app and you meet up, just for something to do..and because there's sushi involved. Then it becomes therapy when the friend turns out to have gone through much worse and for way longer than you have. His travels, his insights, his interests, his values really have mapped him in a really similar seemingly random path as you. Then you decide to collaborate and it comes so naturally. To think, someone that I've never said more than "hello, how are you" and "school sucks" and "aw man i bombed that exam" had way more in common with me than anybody I've ever met. It's really something. This is called luck. :)

Entrepreneurs are a different breed, definitely not too many of them to begin with - and in that subset, it's almost like the wild wild west of business. Loose processes, trusts and hunches and limited resources lead to things that can be good or bad. The risks, big wins and big losses remind me of gambling at casinos. Imagine the type of people that they attract. Everyone sitting at the table to play comes with their own hands of experiences, connections, degrees and money - each believe they have the edge to win. In the pursuit of wealth and success, there's plenty of tricks, traps, broken promises, broken agreements, greed, pride, egos, friendships and relationships to navigate through. Having emotion is a detriment...though having passion helps gets you through. Striving to find win-win situations or putting in all you've got to help someone else can be a thankless pursuit.

On the flip side, you can look at entrepreneurship as an adventure...maybe a quest. At it's core, it's a temporary organization to discover a business model that's repeatable and sustainable. It's about creating value and problem solving. It offers the chance to innovate and also to find intrinsic motivations in people. It's really rewarding to bring people together to learn, collaborate and have fun under the pressure cooker of limited time and resources. There's no map on this adventure, but every time you play, you get better at it - even better when you have more like minded people to join you.

What nobody ever told me much you learn about yourself - your strengths, weaknesses, values and limits throughout this adventure. You learn that failure isn't the end of the world, that there's so much more to learn, that mistakes can't be avoided but can be learned from, and most importantly that sticking to the golden rule reaps more benefits than you can imagine. (Karma really is a b*tch)

You know what, I'd do it over again in a heart beat. From riding the elite Alberta train to Whistler as official media in the Olympics, to having heart to heart talks with my culinary heros Vikram Vij and Jason Bangerter, from raising funding on Kickstarter to publish a book to being covered in the largest newspaper in Vietnam (Tuoi Tre), from selling WiFi to a large national retailer to developing a product with Toronto's first Techstars Boston company - I can't complain about my fun filled past three years of entrepreneurship. I've attributed all of it to luck...or just being open to opportunities.

Anyway, my depression is passing. Things are looking up. I'm so grateful to have some of the best, most loyal and caring friends around who have supported me through my slump(s). Listening to my everyday complaints about first world problems, letting me indulge in not-so-healthy-things that makes me feel better. I'm so grateful for all the food, drinks, and couches and tissues, hugs and the referrals, contract work, introductions and mock interviews. My best decision yet has been to spend the last year in Toronto and realizing that it takes a village of support to get things done and take care of each other instead of doing it alone. Looking around and knowing what I have and what's coming, makes me think I'm the luckiest and most fortunate person I know. Thank you.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

3 years is up.

Well the end of June marks 3 years of my crazy journey of leaving the corporate world without any idea of how to start a business, how to work through relationships, how to survive with high uncertainty, and how to take care of myself.

Now that three years has passed, I like to think I'm older and wiser but yet I can't say I've mastered any of those lessons yet. You just gotta keep learning and keep improving over time.

Here's the coles notes of the past 3 years:
Year 1. Started a blog (, got a media pass to get the behind the scenes taste of the Vancouver Olympics, learned how to cook all kinds of food from the best chefs in the world. I found out how hard monetization is and how hard it is to make decisions in uncertainty and how to inspire or demotivate a team.

Year 2. Raised money on Kickstarter to travel to Vietnam to write a book, My Quest for Yummy Banh Mi published and distributed in hotels throughout the country. I got to experience the country where I was born, and see it for myself in my own unique way. Of course there were hardships and pivots but I rolled along... It was my first successful project of a profitable small business.

Year 3. Worked with a super talented team as they went through TechStars. We entered a new space, did customer discovery and applied principals from Lean Startup to build a cool product. It was my first time working with such a smart competent team of friends and to see how important the network of support and trust is to succeed. Being under the pressure cooker of showing hockey stick improvement within 100 days was an unforgettable experience. It was awesome to be behind the scenes, using my past experience and expertise to be able to drive and create something useful and get the early customers too.

(Ok, I've been reminded that I also sailed along the west coast from Vancouver to San Francisco. I helped set up some museums with WiFi. I helped kids find out more about scholarships and studying in Canada. I marketed a photo sharing app and I hosted the first Google+ Hangout On the Air cooking session in the world. My voice plays every night in a hotel in Hoi An to narrate a traditional Cham dance show and I was able to spend time with street kids who were on their way to getting culinary degrees. I lectured about entrepreneurship in one of the best universities in HCMC. I also conquered Machu Picchu and Half Dome and Haleakala and the Vancouver Triathlon.)

So I gave myself three years to just absorb and experience life. I think I did that. I'll probably post again about lessons learned and advice for budding entrepreneurs another time. What's important is that I learned a lot more about myself and maybe other people have learned more about me than I knew :) I'm definitely searching for happiness - which for me is challenging myself and getting thrills out of it, surrounding myself with close friends and family, and having the ability in health and means to keep experiencing life. Now, I can firmly say I know exactly what makes me happy. Now, it's time to do it.

Onwards to the next adventure....details...well tbd.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thu Step 1

So much is going on in life - I never learn how to deal with stress properly and resort back to my old habits of over eating, over drinking and getting back into old stupid habits.

So trying to make an entry in here, so that I can start again. I'm pretty inspired by those around me who's actively keeping fit, losing weight, being healthy and trying to regain that balance. So why not write about it.

A heavy cloud has lifted a little within a week. It really did break me last week but after the emotions passed, I took a deep breath and kept calm and carried on. I've learned that there's things in my control and things that aren't. So next time something stresses you out:

1. make a list of things that stress you out
2. put it in columns of "things i can control" and "things i can't control"
3. just completely cross out the things i can't control
4. prioritize and check off the things you can do.

As the wise words of UK Government, Keep Calm and Carry On.

Let's pick up the pieces and start moving forward, faster.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

So I'll keep with tradition and write a post about my goals for 2012.

2011 was a year of growth for me - a year of getting to know myself, pushing boundaries, listening to gut instincts, throwing myself at new challenges, striving to follow through, and completing some life goals.

I realized this year that I'm a serial entrepreneur and finally achieved small successes, mastering the art of pivoting and really liking all the challenges and uncertainty that it comes with. And I finally realized this year that I'm not alone, there's crazy people just like Vietnam and in Toronto. Thank god.

In the process of my adventures there's two things that I let slip through the cracks that I need to work on in 2012:

1) HEALTH. I let it slip this year as I had food, alcohol and cigarettes to comfort me through the crazy year. So I will start from scratch with a cleanse and follow the Hormone Diet to get myself all sorted out again. Hopefully I keep this blog alive as I tell you all about my diet. The smoking has got to go. The alcohol only for a few rare occasions. The food has to be homecooked, healthy and delicious. The triathlon training has got to start.

2) STABILITY. I definitely pushed the envelope of random this year as a serial couch surfer. In my head I can count at least 100 different beds/floor/couch/bus/plane that I've woken up from. This means every 3 days for the year I woke up somewhere else. The advantage of that was that I didn't pay rent this year I guess...but I'm too old for this backpacking couch surfing hippie lifestyle. I couldn't see much further into the future than a day or week or month and I learned to really live in the also caused a lot of stress and conflict. I just want to be able to wake up in the same bed in the same city perhaps 200 days this year. I also want the bank account to go up instead of in a downwards spiral.

And I want to be able to be able to do the triathlon in August and know that 1) I'll be in the right city 2) I can afford it.

That is all. Two things to work on and 365 to do it. No problem.

So I have a feeling that 2012 will be a great year - not without its challenges but hopefully yours will be filled with laughs, love and good stories too!