Value the Right Things

Lately, I’ve had some struggles moving on from a past relationship. My writing, building community, and my friends and family is what makes my life so rich. But during this relationship, my focus shifted from my passions and friends to this girl.

That’s when the relationship begins to stem from a place of insecurity. Through this experience I learned that even when I meet someone special, I need to double down on what gives me meaning and joy, not lean away from it. If someone doesn’t want to be part of my life, then that’s okay, my life is already rich as it is.

April 15, 2024

Quest for the O1 Visa

Any non-US citizen understands that the US immigration system is a nightmare. I hold a TN visa, a special employment-based visa for Canadians. While it’s relatively easy to obtain, it’s tied to your employer, restricts earning additional income outside of your job, and it’s not a path to citizenship.

My goal this year is to transition from my current visa to the O1 Visa, which is known as the extraordinary persons visa. It offers more flexibility in earning income from various sources. Contrary to a common misconception, achieving the O1 Visa doesn’t require reaching a Cristiano Ronaldo level; meeting specific criteria from a checklist is all you need. The first step is understanding the O1 Visa checklist and then I can build my case over the next year or two.

Here are a few relevant resources shared by a few friends:

April 14, 2024

Great Art Creates Tension

While on a recent business trip to Salt Lake City, a design colleague ranted about the bland and uninspiring paintings in the hotel we were staying at.

A few days later, as I strolled through East Village, I came across a hotel with a striking charcoal painting displayed in its glass front. The artwork depicted a large man jumping off the top rope and body slamming a baby. The painting is amusing, it’s edgy, it’s controversial, and I love it. The picture’s polarizing nature has created tension, causing me to think about it for several days.

April 13, 2024

Highs and Lows

Since starting annual reviews in 2021, my life has been continuously improving. Just as a rollercoaster has its ups and downs, I have experienced external perceptions of both highs and lows.

However, I do not view these perceived down” years as setbacks. I often reflect on an Oscar Wilde quote that resonates with me: There are two tragedies in this world, you either don’t get what you want or get what you want.” It is through losses that I learn and grow, shaping my perspective to see the glass as half full.

April 12, 2024

Being the Youngest in the Room

I recently attended a customer advisory board in Salt Lake City with my colleagues and customers. I was the youngest person at the event, with the average age being at least 10 years older than mine.

I often find myself as the youngest person in the room at work, making me feel insecure at times. Despite being asked to lead various discussions and roundtables at the event, I sometimes doubt my qualifications and experience especially since my experience and qualification pales in comparison to everyone else’s.

But I enjoy being the youngest in the room because it allows me to be curious, naive, and energetic. It also means I’m surrounded by people to learn from, I have ample room for growth, and my company believes in me regardless of my age.

I’ll cherish these moments, as I won’t always be the youngest and that window is beginning to close. Perhaps one day, I’ll write about being the oldest in the room.

April 11, 2024

Dedication Pages

Currently, I’m reading John McPhee’s book, On the Writing Process.” While flipping through the pages, I came across the dedication page.

Books are unique in that they contain a dedication page, showing the support of various people involved in the challenging process of book writing.

It’s also an interesting prompt to consider who will be on the dedication page of your book - who will you honor with your piece of art?

April 10, 2024

Public Speaking is a Superpower

As a product manager, public speaking may only take up <5% of your time, but it impacts 50% of how you’re perceived by others in the company.

April 9, 2024

Everyday’s a Story

Inspired by Rishi’s blog post.

Learning art is more than designing a garment, writing a story, or taking a photograph.

To learn art is to learn to see.

Writing every day has changed how I view the world. I’m more observant, I’m more curious than ever before. I’m always seeking inspiration, and when I learned to see, I discovered that stories are everywhere.

April 8, 2024

How to Get the Most Out of Anything

Many people move to NYC asking what can this city offer me?

Many people join a community asking what can this community offer me?

Many people enter a relationship asking what can this person do for me?

Instead of asking what they can offer you, ask what can you offer them. There are very few people with this mindset. Yet, ironically, this is the mindset where you get the most.

April 7, 2024

Old Game

Credits to Woke Salary Man

Lebron James is an anomaly in the world of basketball. The average age for an NBA player to retire is 34 years old. He’s 39 years old and still putting up similar numbers as his prime.

LeBron James continuously adapted his basketball skills throughout his career. Initially relying on his athleticism for driving to the basket, he later realized the need to develop his jump shot. In addition, he focused on enhancing his mental game by studying opponent plays and scouting reports. Lebron worked on his old game” by improving his basketball IQ and advancing his technique which compensated for his declining athleticism.

This idea of old game” is relevant for anyone’s career outside of basketball. Because I’m still young, I can work long hours because I have the time and energy. But, as my life and career advance, I will need to develop my old game” like management, communication, and leadership skills for when I have a family or as my energy diminishes with age.

April 6, 2024

Whatever Happens, Happens Revisted

Credits to Cowboy BebopCredits to Cowboy Bebop

Sometimes you did everything in your control to influence the result.

Regardless of the outcome, be proud you gave it everything you got.

April 5, 2024

On Muji

During a storm in NYC yesterday, my umbrella broke, causing me to get soaked while walking in the rain and wind. Frustrated, I vowed to avoid purchasing low-quality umbrellas from Amazon in the future. I visited Muji the next day and bought a high-quality umbrella from them instead.

Muji has become my go-to store for stationary, home goods, basic clothing, etc. If I need something at home, I assume Muji has it and they usually do. Personally, I also prefer their basic clothing line to Uniqlo because they primarily use natural materials compared to Uniqlo’s use of synthetics. Despite creating high-quality and reliable products they are still relatively affordable too.

Muji is short for Mujirushi Ryohin in Japanese, which means no-brand quality goods.” While reading their About page, I found an interesting section explaining their philosophy:

This is because we do not make objects to entice responses of strong affinity, like, This is what I really want” or, I must have this.” MUJIs goal is to give customers a rational satisfaction, expressed not with, This is what I really want” but with This will do.” This is what I really want” expresses both faint egoism and discord, while This will do” expresses conciliatory reasoning. In fact, it may even incorporate resignation and a little dissatisfaction. MUJIs goal is to sweep away that slight dissatisfaction, and raise the level of the response,“This will do” to one filled with clarity and confidence.

The umbrella I bought from Muji was $15. It wasn’t expensive but compared to similar offerings on Amazon, Muji’s umbrella was much better. When I first saw the umbrella in the store, I didn’t think, I must have this.” Instead, I thought, This will do.” And that’s what I love about Muji. Their approach to designing products that are simple, succinct, and affordable is clear in their entire product line.

April 4, 2024

Fatigue Pants

Trying on fatigue pants at Chickee’s VintageTrying on fatigue pants at Chickee’s Vintage

I visited Chickee’s Vintage, a small boutique in my neighborhood specializing in vintage luxury items. While chatting with the sales associate, I asked about her favorite piece. She mentioned she loved fatigue pants and directed me to a few pairs in my size.

I’ve heard of fatigue pants before but never paid much attention to them. She finds fatigue pants to be an underrated item - comfortable like sweatpants but versatile enough to pair with a t-shirt, jumper, or overshirt.

Patch pockets are a distinct feature of fatigue pantsPatch pockets are a distinct feature of fatigue pants

Fatigue pants were first worn by the US military for non-combat activities. They were designed to be comfortable and durable for soldiers in the field, featuring an olive green color, a baggy fit, a high-waist, and a distinctive patch pocket on the side for extra storage. Originally practical for the military, they have now become a fashionable choice for casual wear.

I’ve worn my new pair multiple times since purchasing them last week. They are now my favorite lounge attire, providing both comfort and a polished look suitable for quick errands outdoors.

April 3, 2024

The Nothingness of Money

From More to That’s recent piece:

For example, if a friend told you that he wanted I outperformed the S&P 500” on his tombstone, your immediate reaction would be to laugh. There is no way you’d take it as anything other than a joke.

The key is to take that exact feeling and remind yourself of it whenever money hijacks your attention. That when you’re fixated on its pursuit, you can break the spell by understanding how laughable it is to be remembered for it. That in the end, it will have very little to say about the person you are.

Last year, I was chasing the most financially lucrative opportunity. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I’m financially secure. But what will I do with the time and resources that provides me. Will I use it to make even more money? Na, that’s not what’s most important for me. I decided to chase what makes me feel the most alive instead.

April 2, 2024

Living in NYC Improves Your Taste

When I first moved to New York, I found a piece of artwork at an artist flea market near my house for my bedroom. I asked the artist where he gets his inspiration from. He said, I was born and raised in Harlem. I’ve seen dope shit all my life. My artwork is the accumulation of that experience.”

In NYC, we’re immersed in a vibrant, eclectic environment. Whether it’s how people dress, the graffiti on the street, or the various events in the city, inspiration is everywhere. Despite the high cost of living, just living in New York City improves your taste. And every artist knows that taste is priceless.

April 1, 2024

On Hell Yeah or No

Last week, I hosted a Digital Spring Cleaning session on Wednesday evening. Despite it being a break for the OTWC, I ended up hosting another event at Verci. The week prior, my friend that I co-hosted the Digital Cleaning event with, suggested the event idea, and I immediately agreed.

Over the weekend, I asked myself why I accepted this commitment. It’s a busy time for OTWC as we’re planning for next season, my sister and brother-in-law are visiting NYC, and now I feel time-poor. Although the event was simple to host, it still required time and mental effort. While I enjoyed it and used the time to migrate budgeting apps from Mint to Monarch Money, looking back, I should have declined and focused on my priorities.

This year, I’ve been overwhelmed with attending too many events. I’ve adopted the Hell yes or no” approach — if it’s not a resounding yes, then it’s a no. But what if everything’s a hell yes? I have many friends hosting cool events and parties. But I work a full-time job and dedicating my nights and weekends to writing and OTWC is my priority. I need to raise my bar again.

If it isn’t a f*cking hell yes, then it’s a no.

March 31, 2024

On Akira Toriyama

Earlier this month, the renowned manga artist Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball, passed away. Dragon Ball Z was my first introduction to anime, and I have fond memories of watching it on Friday evenings as a child while my mom baked Pilsbury cookies for me and my sister.

Dragon Ball is a cultural icon that has inspired millions worldwide. Even if you haven’t watched it, you’d instantly recognize its main character, Goku. The show laid the foundation for other popular Shonen manga series such as Naruto and One Piece.

When I consider Toriyama’s life and work, he is my inspiration. Can I ever create something that can match the magic and impact of Dragon Ball? I doubt it. Even achieving just 1% of its impact would be good enough for me.

Rest in peace, Toriyama-san. Thank you for creating Dragon Ball and inspiring a generation.

March 30, 2024

We’re in the Golden Age of Menswear

Sometimes I’ll watch a female fashion content creator and am always impressed by womenswear’s creativity, innovation, and ambition. Comparatively, menswear is much less expressive and diverse. Fashion was seen more as a woman’s hobby for a long time. Streetwear was the first trend where guys could show interest in fashion and not have their sexuality questioned.

Nowadays, menswear as a hobby is more widely accepted, possibly due to microtrends influenced by platforms like TikTok. There are no dominant trends, just a variety of microtrends, allowing anyone to dress freely as they wish. There truly has never been a better time for menswear.

March 29, 2024

Be Kind, But Assertive

As a child, I had a reputation for always saying yes, which sometimes led to people taking advantage of me. In Grade 2, a third grader asked to borrow my basketball during the last week of school. On the last day of school, I saw him shooting hoops with my ball and when I asked for it back, he told me that he’ll return it to me later. I didn’t refuse, and of course, I never got my ball back.

I was the nice kid, I was a people pleaser, but I was a pushover. I didn’t like to be rude or disappoint other people. And while I believe kindness is important, there are moments when taking a stand is necessary, and being kind is a cop-out that leads to regret down the road.

As I got older, I learned that kindness and assertiveness aren’t mutually exclusive. When taking a stand, I won’t aggressively shout, Gordon Ramsay style, but my approach is more calm and communicative. I prefer to tell the person directly and share how that makes me feel. Being assertive is also a form of self-respect. If you can’t stand up for yourself, how can I stand up for other or for what I believe in?

Choosing kindness in certain situations may bring immediate relief, but problems arise in the long term. On the other hand, being assertive and honest may lead to initial friction, but garners long-term respect.

March 28, 2024

Creative Peak

People often ask me when I write in a day. I typically write in the evenings on weekdays and in the mornings on weekends. The mornings are my creative peak and I’ll spend those hours on my job during the work day.

Given complete time freedom, I would dedicate my mornings to writing when my creative energy and idea flow are at their peak. I find that I write much faster and more effortlessly during this time. In contrast, writing takes me significantly longer in the evenings. While the actual act of writing is not difficult, the challenge lies in generating ideas, which come more readily to me in the mornings.

I find that many people wait to write in perfect conditions: when they are in the right state of mind, when they have the time, when they are inspired. But perfect conditions rarely occur. Part of the discipline of daily writing is the practice of writing in suboptimal conditions. For example, right now, it’s 1:18am (my personal rule is I have to publish before I sleep), I’m very tired, I struggled to come up with an idea for the past 2h, and I can’t sleep until I publish. Like a boxer fighting in the championship rounds in a bout, albeit with much less stakes, I have to push past the fatigue and dig deep to find something to write about.

March 27, 2024

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