Apr 22 2012

I had an epiphany about humility.

I read a fair number of individual blogs, people that I personally admire. There’s this awesome guy whose blog is a constant source of inspiration for me ever since. But recently, when I got myself into a life crisis, the more I read his blog, the more I feel demotivated. I decided not to read him anymore.

Then one day I realize why! Whether he’s intentional or not, he wants you to be jealous. He wants to tell you “hey I’m really awesome. these are what I did and what I thought”.

No matter how hard one try to be humble, all are pretentious. It’s either you have it, or you don’t. Reading and talking about humility don’t really help. In fact the more you talk about humility, the more clear you don’t have it.

You transform from a man of arrogance to a man of humility by throwing yourself out there doing real work, and fail, and then start doing it again.

A funny thing happens when I “try to be humble”: I have no problem appearing humble and fun to the people looking up to me. But when it comes to people with a higher status (or achieve more than me in the same field – in other word I already established a subconscious sense of jealousy towards them), I have this tinkling inertia that stops me from approaching a person of higher status. And when I finally got the gut to approach, I naturally want to tell them more about myself, hoping to earn some respect from them.

What needs to be changed is the very motivation system that we and society have built into our own body and mind, a motivation system built on ego and social self-consciousness.

“Stay humble” isn’t always the correct advice.

Know thyself.

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Câu chuyện bầy vịt

Jan 22 2012

Có một bầy vịt trên bờ hồ. Con nào con nấy tung tăng bơi lội nói cười, nhưng ở dưới mặt nước, con nào cũng tìm cách vật lộn, duỗi chân để nổi lên thôi. Con này nhìn sang con kia mà ko biết rằng nó cũng gặp những vấn đề y chang như mình vậy.

Trong xã hội này loài người cũng có khác gì bầy vịt kia. Giá mà vịt cởi mở 1 chút, cảm thông 1 chút và dựa vào nhau sống 1 chút, thì mặt hồ sẽ ấm hơn rất nhiều rồi.

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Survival and Ecstasy Guide in Stockholm

Jan 09 2012

Having worked and studied in Stockholm (Sweden) for a year, me and my friend Thet coordinated a little “survival and ecstasy guide” for those exchange students coming to Stockholm to live and study.

The guide is based solely on our experiences and fond memories of Sweden so it should lack lots of awesome tips and places. Do help contribute!

Thanks to all the contributors along the way, especially to Guo Jian for sitting down 2 hours with me coming up with the first draft!

Share away to your peeps in Europe!

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My 3-week Travel Journal

Dec 28 2011

They say only when you’re writing to yourself you can write whatever you really think (actually they didn’t say that, I say that). I’ve been writing journal to myself for the past 2 years. A small portion of that goes to this blog. Whenever I put those things on the blog, I feel like a girl keeping herself before and during a social event:

Hair. Check. Shirt. Check. Make up. Check. Smile. Check. Behavior. Check. Check check check.

It’s tiring, being self-conscious. I wrote about it here and here before.

So yeah, now I’m posting my private journal during my last 3 weeks of traveling around US East Coast. Uncensored. Unedited. It’s struggling, insecurity, realization, self-awareness. It’s me.

San Francisco – Chicago – Fairfax – Philadelphia – LeHigh Valley – Fairfax – New York – San Francisco. Dec 04 – Dec 25

Dec 04

Life seems to mess up cos you don’t have good overall control (both short and long-term).

It’s like I want to spend time with people at the place more than going around and explore the city. But it’s because I feel good talking to these people (which in fact I don’t learn anything new, I’d better start learning something new through reading a book ).

The caveman experiment: hide away for at least a week (or 2), meeting a minimal set of people that you really care about. This will save an enormous amount of time; this prove that you don’t need a phone/social identity.

At the end of the day, as long as you have a warm place to sleep, a peaceful mind, you should feel like home.

Birthday – I actually should mention it so that people have excuse to have fun with me.

Why do people care so much about presents? It’s your own dilution, people don’t really expect presents. Sometimes they said ‘buy me presents’ just for the fun of it.

Dec 05

Can’t sleep. Đăng clicking his mouses suck. Why do people are this inconsiderate? I couldn’t sleep the entire night.

People are funny, most of them are friendly but none of them smile back wen you smile at them (except when you’re a baby).
-> Why? Because if you smile at someone especially girl, you feel scared that the other person thinks that you’re into girl. that thought put you into the uncomfortable/weaker position.

Social Experiment: Smile at people when they look at you.

The process of realizing the bad habit subconscious, turn it to conscious front, tame it and then do it consistently to make it become a subconscious.

Dec 06

In Chicago. Meeting with Ted. Ted asked me if I have a mentor. I don’t! And I should.

The MT organoization turns out lower than what I expected. But the people seem to be the right set of people.

You don’t need to travel all the places. Just walk around the city, try to see how people interact. Cos there’s no point going to all the places tourists will go to. Remember you’re not a tourist, you’re a traveler.

A tourist go to city’s attractions. A traveler explores the city, go to places that locals go to.

Be the last proactive person with the people you don’t really want to hang out anymore.

Dec 08

Arrived at BWI airport. Traveled to 3 states today. DK went about 1 hour to fetch me. Stupid mistakes haha.

When I’m high/hyper/happy cheerful, I make the entire mood around me better.

Hey I’m not sticking to any schedule recently and I miss my gf. But finally being able to come to DC feels just great.

Dec 12

Go to Philly from DC. Started the roadtrip. You will be constantly on the run sleeping from places to places. So just remember home is where the love is. As long as you have a place to sleep, decent food and a sane mind, the physical need of a home fulfills.

So remember your routine shouldn’t really change even when you’re traveling. sleep, eat, supplements, personal hygene.

Arrived at Khoa’s place. Philly is nice. Real cozy, unsafe, entering Philly in a car feels like watching a movie, so surreal.

Dec 13

Seems to use my FB cover again. I had this mode where I met with BV guys I expected them to treat me with respect. Truth is why should they; they barely know me.

Spending time on the road for too long, you feel like wasting time not doing anything useful. After all, you haven’t got over the learning vs doing uncomfortable yet.

Mai never responsed to phone/email. I guess she’s in ‘busy’ mode. I was annoyed at first but then found it fsacinating. There are so many meetings in this life that’s useless though at the time you thought it’s important.

I’m too caught-up in this little NOC community finding myself comfort and respect without having to earn it.

Dec 14

You already take your parents’ money since birth. Why are you haggling over the price now.

I don’t like to travel. i feel like wasting a lot of time. this time I travel for 3 weeks, a really long period of time.

Dec 15
Left Philly for Lehigh Valley. Didn’t really meet Mai.

First time having a conversation with a theist. I realize subconsciously I’m sort of a theist, either that or I havent thought about it clearly yet.

I hate to travel. I don’t really enjoy going to new places doing nothing. I only enjoy meeting people. I’m so miserable. Trying to live by until I get back to SF and get to do what I want. I don’t even think I’ll enjoy going to NY. Yes I indeed enjoyed it. Felt a complete sense of self-control during the NY trip. It’s insecurity. I don’t enjoy if I’m not doing anything.

Dec 16
Went to Crayola Museum didn’t really feel it’s worth it. went to car museum, lucky it’s closed.

Went for chau’s community college party. Felt totally refreshed again. Realized I didn’t know as much dancing music as I should, since this is social skills to bring people together.

During the event i feel like wanting to do events (party) as it brings happiness to people.

Told myself ‘fuck it’ when deciding to go for fortune telling:
– pregnancy card
– Whatever your options, make the choice
– You are going to succeed
– I know how to surround myself with friends/people of my choice
– I don’t settle for the mediocre things that come to me.
– Whatever things I want to get with friends/family, it’s a little bit tougher than for other people.
Fortune telling is about reaffirming psychology. It tells you things you want to hear.

If you make yourself useful during anything, you enjoy it more. Today I tried to help out during Chau’s party and I just felt so much better.

Felt tired and high body-temperature lately sitting in the car.

Dec 18

I want to go home badly to start doing all the things I plan, want to do. I imagine i’ll be doing it very productively. Then I have epiphanies.

1/ even if i get home, i’ll be in a totally different frame of mind. will take breaks occasionally. will not have a clear passionate drive to pursue. Fall into these modes over and over and over again.

2/ This is insecure. You rely on working to make yourself feel better. You can’t ‘leave them behind’. You can’t “stone” and do nothing.

This seems to be the longest 3 weeks of my life. It’s better to take occasional traveling than to just go for a long shot. The price to pay for this is just too high, it seems.

I think counseling seems to be difficult. They won’t just be in the right frame of mind. I don’t have specific tangible things to talk about.

Dec 22

You’re using a reasoning thing for an emotion thing, while using emotion to justify for others’ actions. You just mixed them up and manuover the situation to make it better.

I’m so insecure and being defined by the “work” I’m going to produce. It should come from the genuine belief in the idea, not the self sense of insecurity itself. And then when I look around I see peers who do things like VYE, Star-EX, I feel envious because those are things that I wnat to do, and you guys are no where better than me. Remind me of Andrew from Anideo visiting Facebook and observing his reactions, since he went to college with zuck.

Care and appreciate more about the people around you.

Ôn Huệ Minh (Phước) xem tướng:
– trán cao mũi tốt
– tai tốt (có hạt)
– mắt nhỏ –> nên đọc sách nhiều
– mũi chuẩn
– gan thận tốt
– trục cổ tốt, nên học võ
– có sự cố in 20s.
– tỉnh táo trong ái tình.

! Having a personal trainer/teacher is much more better than learning stuff yourself. Time is what you don’t have.

? How to be mindful yet not judgemental

Some people want to travel not merely because they want to see things, but to see things and tell others about them having been there, having seen it (i.e putting pictures on Facebook). Think back about all your tourist/travel trips, all the sights you have seen. Those places that gave you that emotional sense of humility are truly worth the visit. I felt a complete sense of humbleness when I saw Cirque du Soleil Totem in San Francisco; I cried when watching a documentary about Chile mining accident in Natural Museum in DC; and I felt completely grateful after getting into to my friend’s place after hours of freeeezing in Virginia. That’s when the trip is worth the money.

Dec 23 & 24

Went to mall for Arcade. When you dance & feel like s/o is watching you, you don’t dare to make mistakes. When the person is pro you don’t want to be laughed at. When the person is noob you want to stay cool. You end up feeling miserable.

Car crash accident. Got hit by 2 17-yrs old girls while backing cars out of parking lots. DK showed a very cold face when dealing with the situation. Throughout I trying to think of anything good to console the girls while trying to settle this mindfully.

Xmas party at DK’s relative. Didn’t walk up to talk to many of them as much as I wanted. Though i already make progress compared to before.

When you take photos, you try to smile but then it’s not a genuine smile. It can be easily seen. Think prof Teo for genuine smile. Most people keep smiling that way.

Trip is over. It’s time to go home. Home is where the heart is. Half in Singapore. Half in Vietnam.

Dec 28

I got interviewed by my old friend about my internship with Facebook. She started an online ICT news site in Vietnam. Felt a sense of over-excitement and started to think about fixing this fixing that of my site. Realized that’s i’m hyper-excited. At the end, all these stuff dont matter. It’s not how you should portray yourself it’s how you use opportunities like this to get what you want.


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Today is My Birthday, Write Me Something

Nov 29 2011

I turned 22 today (November 29).

Every year I try to do something meaningful and different on my birthday. Last year I gave up my birthday for a charity campaign. It ended up raising over $600 and inspired a couple of my friends doing the same thing.

This year, after reading this, I decide to improve myself by asking people I hang around writing something for me. I believe I had been helpful to a great deal of people. If you are one of them, I’d love a ‘thank you’ note from you. On the other hands I think I do have some small bad habits lying around, and sometimes it bothered you without me noticing. It may even disappointed you. Let me know.

Click here to write me something


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Early-life Job

Nov 27 2011

David Ogilvy worked as a chef apprentice before moving into Advertising and became a legend, Dao Hong Tuyen was a homeless shoeshine boy then later became one of the richest Vietnamese businessmen.

Often times we read story about successful figure working as a restaurant waiter in his early life, with the implication of someone who’s less fortunate yet still overcoming hardship to success. While this is true, we failed to realize it’s through those jobs he learnt to overcome his self-esteem, to appreciate the value of hard-earned money and to realize the toughness of life that no formal education would ever come close.

This thought is inspired by my observation of a young Asian waitress around my age working in a nearby Vietnamese restaurant downtown I often frequent.


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I Shaved My Head

Nov 12 2011

I just shaved my head. It looks something like this.

After I shaved, I felt uncomfortable. Why? Cos it looks ugly. I can sense that people think it’s ugly, too.

This wasn’t the first time I shave. I remember the first time I did (2 months ago), I walked around feeling very uncomfortable. Like there’s this feeling of insecurity that keeps haunting you, thinking about how people will look at you and think ‘urhh that doesnt look good on him’. It was uncomfortable. It was hard to get rid of. Then the hair grew, the feeling faded, and I forgot about it. Happy again.

Then I needed another haircut recently. I recalled to that feeling and thought to myself: Hey you haven’t actually defeated that fear yet.

So I shaved my head again. I wanted the feeling back, then I could face it and fight it. I want the internal confidence of the ugly guy, not the external confidence of the good-looking ones.

And you know what, I conquered it. After some struggling, I controlled the feeling! It feels great to gather the courage to face the uncomfortable feelings in your daily life and defeat it. Whether it’s asking someone out, dancing like a kid in public, spakling a random conversation with strangers, or whatever thing that you want to do but get resisted by an unknown force, it feels great to finally do it.

If my hair (or lack thereof) doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, it probably isn’t. I’m probably the only one who makes a big deal out of it. Like what Ted Gonder, one of the guys I humbly admire, wrote in his recently blog post:

“The very actions we think make us look cool or superior or funny or attractive or important usually don’t. Most people are too worried about their own scabs to care about yours.”  – Ted Gonder

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Oct 27 2011

Having a life mentor is not just about someone guiding you to the right direction, but also about getting used to having someone strip off your egoistic, defensive wall so that you can give life a rational examination that it deserves everyday.

I think constant mentorship is the probably the best way to develop any person personally and professionally.

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Over here

Oct 17 2011

Over here people don’t judge you. Whereas in Asia where I live around, I feel that people judge you a lot, and you end up feeling confident because you know that you know something, or feeling insecure with the fear of being looked at. Self-consciousness has played so big a role in without my permission.

That’s partly the reason I don’t blog often these days. I’m scared of falling in the trap of feeling a sense of self-consciousness, and ended up refining every sentence to a point when I think people like it. Although I know it’s just me and a blog, people don’t really give a shit about.

Not until I can learn to control that psychology, every time I start drafting a blog post, I start thinking about how others think of it, and losing track of the main thought. So these days I resort my thoughts to a private diary.

That should explain why I don’t publicize my blog that much either, it’s really not about people reading the blog, rather it’s about me writing. Although once in a while people came and told me they like my blog. I felt flattered every time so.

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Oct 02 2011

“Read, read in large quantity. Doesn’t matter what single book you read. What matters is the total sum of them, in diverse genres.”

– From a friend who changed my life in every possible way, though he might not realize he has.

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