Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life


Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Your entrepreneurial spirit lives on.

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad and all the Dads out there!

On this Father’s Day, the influence that my Dad has on my family is as evident as ever.

My Dad was an entrepreneur, having owned and operated several Chinese restaurants in New York City. When my sister and I were young, my father always told us that working for ourselves was the best path to both financial success and happiness (or satisfaction), and he instilled in us a mentality of curiosity and continuous learning.

This obviously had an effect on me and my sister. I’ve run my own businesses for almost two years now. And recently, my sister Julia jumped into the world of entrepreneurship by leaving her full-time job to focus on JSC Fitness and other endeavors. My father would be really proud right now.

I think he would be equally proud of the fact that we’ve been able to surround ourselves with amazing family to support us everyday.

My Mom was the bedrock for my Dad, working stable jobs in bookkeeping and accounting to bring in steady income that allowed my father to take on the risk of opening restaurants. My wife Vicky is the same; not only does she have the steady job, but she has to deal with my anxiety and uncertainty on a daily basis. And I know my brother-in-law Manuel is playing a very similar role for my sister. And of course, we all support each other.

Dad, I know you’re looking down on us with a smile on your face. And we hope we’re making you proud.

Happy Father’s Day!

The fear of creating – get over it and just do it!

“Don’t let ‘perfect’ get in the way of ‘good enough.'”


Happy New Year and welcome to my first blog post of 2014. Read on, it’s gonna be glorious!

ren sweating

Writing and creating can be filled with fear and anxiety, but it shouldn’t be. Once you get over that initial hesitation, it’s a really rewarding experience.

My wife Vicky made a New Year’s resolution to write Yelp reviews for the restaurants at which we eat. She’s already written two reviews; check them out here and follow her! When Vicky was writing her first review about our New Year’s Eve dinner at Kapnos, she went through exactly what I experienced when I wrote my first blog post almost three years ago: the strive for perfection, fear of being scrutinized, and overall hesitation to hit “publish.” I’m sure she proofread it many times. She had me read it once and asked me to read it again (I declined). It took her over two hours to write that review. I know how that feels.

Most of us are trained to do things perfectly and thoroughly at our jobs, and if you spoke with people who have worked with me in the past, they might say that I took this to a whole new level. While there are plenty of situations where this mindset is valid, many times it just hampers our ability to get stuff done.

That blog post or restaurant review doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s easy for people to negatively criticize, but who cares what they say. Just get it out there, obtain feedback, learn from it, iterate, and improve. I got over the hump. Vicky got over the hump. And you can too.

It’s already taken me too long to write this post. I’m hitting “publish” right now.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Image courtesy of Giphy

Looking back to 2013 and forward to 2014

Happy New Year! Though I believe we should continuously think about where we are and where we’re going, the new year is always a good time to summarize it all. So here goes!

Recap of 2013

Mike Vicky Vows

This past year was really eventful on a personal level. I attended seven (!) weddings in 2013: two were mine (the Best Wedding Ever in Mexico and an awesome family reception in Queens), my sister got married in September in NYC, and four other friends got married in New Jersey, California, and Florida. Combine those weddings with traveling to New York and New Jersey for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s pretty clear that Vicky and I have been a couple of weary road warriors. But it was a year full of great celebrations.


One of the tougher parts of the year was when our dog, Sweet Dee, was paralyzed in her hind legs by a compressed spine. We had to cut our vacation short to take her to the neurologist, get an MRI, and have her undergo surgery. The aftermath was really difficult, as we had to frequently express her bladder (she didn’t have much control of anything in the back half of her body) and retrain her on how to walk. Regardless, she’s a tough cookie and made a full recovery! She probably has no idea that she was even paralyzed. Silly dog.

Regarding my 2013 New Year’s resolutions, I pretty much shat the bed. While I accomplished not drinking for two weeks, I failed to run at least two Tough Mudders (I only ran one) and didn’t make much progress on launching a startup. While 1 out of 3 makes for a good batting average in baseball, it really sucks for New Year’s resolutions. On the career note, some positives included taking a more active role in Startup Weekend DC (I became an official co-organizer), and blogging for the CEA, which has been fun and has increased my visibility.

Onward to 2014

While 2013 was an amazing year, I’m really looking forward to 2014. There will definitely be fewer weddings, so I’ll travel a bit less this year. This should keep me fresher to accomplish my resolutions, which are:

1) Seriously get my startup going

While I didn’t make much progress launching a startup in 2013, my co-founder and I did narrow our list down to three ideas to potentially pursue. Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to run some experiments to figure out which may be the most viable idea and work towards it. I’m excited!

I stress out everyday about the lack of movement on my startup, but making a little bit of progress everyday will help, and that’s what I intend to do.

2) Drop five pounds

I’m blessed with the high metabolism that many Asians have, so I haven’t had to worry too much about my weight. I work out a good amount but I think being more disciplined with my diet, which I’m pretty horrible at, will help me stay healthier and keep my energy up. Dropping five pounds will be the result of this discipline.

3) Avoid alcohol for two weeks every quarter

While it was tough (for me) to not drink for 14 days straight, I’m going to do it 4 times this year. This should also help me achieve resolution #2.

4) Start a family

Whoa! This is a big one that may have a detrimental impact on all of the above resolutions, but it will be totally worth it. I should let Vicky know about this one. 🙂

If all goes well, 2014 will be an unbelievable year in both my personal and professional lives, and I can’t wait.

How did your 2013 go, and what are your resolutions for 2014? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

If you found this interesting, please connect with me on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

My First Year of Entrepreneurship – What I Think and What I’ve Learned


Just over a year ago, I left my job at the Washington Capitals to become an entrepreneur. It’s been a valuable learning experience and a great ride, but like any other job, there have been ups and downs. I wrote a post last August about what I learned after one month on my own, and this article augments those thoughts.

While I’ve learned a ton over the past year, I think I’ve broken even in terms of progress. In the corporate world, that’s unacceptable. In the entrepreneurship and startup worlds, depending on the situation, it may be a bit more common. Regardless, it’s kinda depressing.


On one hand, the independent consulting work I’ve been doing has been going really well. I currently have three core, long-term clients for which I hope I’m doing a good job and we’re making solid progress toward our goals. I’ve also successfully executed two other short-term projects. Additionally, I have a couple of other potential clients in the pipeline. The best part is that all of these clients and projects have come through referrals, with no formal sales or business development processes. I can’t complain one bit about my consulting work.

Startup Stuff

But consulting is not why I became an entrepreneur. I want to build a technology startup, and on that front, I haven’t done much at all.

I wrote about what happened with my first startup, Dokkit. Since then, I’ve made only a little progress in my second at-bat. But a big takeaway I learned was that ideally, the startup team should come first, then the idea (for other opinions on this, see here and here). I am working with a couple of developers on a startup, and one of the team members is a consulting client of mine, so we know how each other functions and work really well together. We’ve thrown around a ton of ideas but haven’t been able to agree with one that we all want to execute. This process can be really frustrating, but I think the hardest part, assembling a founding team that you know you can work well with, is out of the way. We’re taking our time with developing the concept and being really diligent about pursuing an idea that we’re all passionate about and has the potential to be a real business. Though it’s moving slowly, I think we’re going about it the right way.

An exciting endeavor I’m involved in is volunteering as an Up Global (formerly Startup Weekend) DC Organizer, where I coordinate events and workshops that help entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground, learn about startup frameworks and resources, and connect with fellow entrepreneurs. I’ve only been doing this for a few months but it has allowed me to give back to the DC entrepreneurship community and meet many smart, talented, and driven entrepreneurs who may build the next great company.

Overall, there’s been a lot of activity but not so much progress. I’m working to change that.

The Struggle

Yeah, I’m going through ups and downs, but I’m not yet going through The Struggle. The Struggle sounds horrendous, but part of me wants to feel that stress and have that kind of responsibility. I am lucky to be in the situation I’m in – I have a really supportive wife, family, and friends and stable consulting work – but those blessings may be hiding the urgency that many startup entrepreneurs face that forces them to move at 100 miles per hour and really get shit done. Don’t get me wrong, I count my blessings everyday, but sometimes wonder about the other ways they impact my work.

One year in, it’s been an amazing ride so far. But I stress out everyday thinking that I’m not moving fast enough, learning enough, or making enough progress. Regardless, I wouldn’t change a thing. And when I write another post like this in a year, hopefully I’ll have a lot more to say about the technology company I’m building.

Best Wedding Ever!

I got married to Vicky Huang twelve days ago, on May 11, 2013. And I might be biased, but I think it was the BEST WEDDING EVER!

We had an amazing destination wedding at the all-inclusive Azul Sensatori resort in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, which is about 20 minutes south of Cancun in the Riviera Maya. The resort was beautiful and had everything we imagined – great accommodations, delicious and abundant food and drink (which we took full advantage of), plenty of entertainment options, and excellent customer service. The weather was perfect and the ceremony and reception went off without a hitch. Everyone had a great time, so much so that last night, our friends were still talking about what went down!

Here’s a quick recap of the highlights:

  • A typical day consisted of:
    • Getting breakfast at one of the excellent resort restaurants
    • Swimming, tanning, and drinking by the pool or beach
    • Grabbing lunch at the beach BBQ or another restaurant
    • More swimming, tanning, and drinking by the pool or beach
    • Dinner at one of the restaurants
    • More drinking and hanging out at one of the bars
    • Winding up at the Mojito Lounge for drinking and dancing
  • The ceremony was perfect. Vicky looked stunning. And yes, I cried.

Mike and Vicky at altar

Chan crying

  • The reception was great. The bridesmaids and my best man performed excellent speeches. Vicky’s brother and my sister commemorated our fathers, both who have passed away and couldn’t be there with us. Delicious food was eaten, drinks were drank, shots of tequila were shot, dances were danced, and great times were had. I got thrown in the pool, my groomsmen and others joined me (see our wetness below), and Vicky even jumped in too!

Groomsmen after pool

  • Vicky, my mom, my mom’s friend, my cousin, and I had dinner at an awesome tasting menu restaurant called Le Chique, which Vicky and I agree is second only to Komi on our tasting-menu restaurant rankings. Delicious.
  • Vicky and I swam with dolphins.



  • Vicky and I doubled up on our last two meals. Right after we had a romantic dinner on the beach, we went to have tapas. The next morning, after a special couples breakfast in our room, we hit up Spoon for breakfast part dos.

My words can’t fully express how awesome this trip was.

But the best part (besides getting married, of course) was that 75 of our closest family members and friends joined us in celebrating. People traveled from DC, New York, New Jersey, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Philly, Minnesota, Texas, and even Taiwan to be with us on our big day. Better yet, they all made friends and had a great time with each other. Vicky and I are so lucky to have such supportive friends and family.

I wrote a post a year and a half ago about Happiness vs. Satisfaction, and how I was happy but not yet fully satisfied with life. This is one big step towards satisfaction in my personal life and I have my family, friends, and most importantly Vicky to thank for it.

If you’d like to see more pictures, drop me a line and I’ll send you a link to our Box account.

Like this post? Then follow me on Twitter – @mikewchan – for future updates.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

You would have been 65 years old today. If you were still with us, we probably would have had our family and friends over to our house in Old Bridge, NJ, to have a BBQ, like we’ve done so many times. After eating, you would have had a few glasses of Remy Martin XO and played Mahjong into the wee hours of the night. You and Mom were great hosts, so everyone would have had an awesome time.

I’ve already blogged about how you’ve impacted my life and career, but I don’t think you knew how much you influenced and affected our family and friends. You knew how to be successful and enjoy life and always wanted to spread your knowledge about how to do both.

I wear your Rolex every now and then, so I have you on my wrist on some days, if not on my mind everyday.

I speak on behalf of everyone we know when I say Happy Birthday and we miss and love you dearly.

It’s All Relative, I Guess

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is one of the most important concepts in the history of man. Though it spawned from physics, relativity can be applied to any situation where there is some kind of comparison. But it’s taken to a whole new level on this forum about household income (HHI) that I came across on

As you can see, someone posted on this site a forum topic that asked – “What’s your HHI and do you FEEL poor, middle class, upper middle class or rich where you live? No judging.”

The responses here range from honest to fake and hilarious to sad. Here is what I’ve learned from this:

  1. Rich, Upper Middle Class, Middle Class, and Poor seem to be relative terms that are functions of where you live, the lifestyle to which you’re accustomed, and with whom you associate and not just absolutely based on income alone.
  2. People in NYC are either totally delusional, completely disconnected from the real world, or just have no idea how to balance their checkbooks.  There’s no doubt that the cost of living in NYC is astronomical but if a family makes “about $3m this year…been $1-6 the last 10 years” and “feels very middle class,” or a household makes “$300K per year and feels so, so, so poor,” then there is something so, so, so wrong on some level. By the way, I ignored the “no judging” request here.

What are your thoughts? Do you find yourself thinking about things (social status or anything else) in relative or absolute terms? My NYC friends – is it really THAT bad living in the city with your paycheck or are NYC residents’ views totally skewed? Let me know!