Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

CATEGORY: Life

How does other people’s success make you feel?

Unless you’re Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or some other ridiculously wealthy person, there is always going to be someone who is more successful than you are, at least financially.

How does that make you feel?

I think other people’s success can bring out a spectrum of feelings.

Starting from the crappy end, you can be jealous and hateful.

You can complain that the 1%-ers get preferential treatment, claim that these people were raised with a silver spoon in their mouths, and say that they don’t deserve what they have. You can spew hate on social media or any other channel. That’s pure negativity.

Moving up the spectrum one step, you can be envious.

You don’t have what other successful people have, but you want it. There is definitely less outward hating going on, but inside you stew a little bit that others are further along than you are.

Next on the scale is indifference. Maybe you don’t really care about other people’s success and you’re cool with your current situation.

Finally, there is inspiration. Seeing others’ success motivates you to work harder, continue to learn, and achieve more. Witnessing how others have found their path in life makes you believe you can do the same and attain those levels of happiness, wealth, and satisfaction.

It doesn’t always have to be about the money, either. Success can be defined by your personal and social life, fitness and health, career, or some combination of those and other factors.

For me, in terms of my personal life, I’m indifferent and content. I have an amazing family, great friends, and a beautiful home in a great city. I’m healthy and happy.

Regarding my career, I feel a mixture of envy and inspiration.

I can’t help but be envious of other people’s career success, primarily because I haven’t quite found where I want to be and thus I haven’t gotten there yet. I haven’t made the impact that I’d like to as an entrepreneur, so I’m naturally envious of those who have.

But I do think it’s a healthy envy that inspires me to work harder, get smarter, and keep grinding. I want what others have, and I’m not talking about money. I want to launch and grow a company and have a positive impact on people’s lives, like many other entrepreneurs have done.

So how does other people’s success make you feel?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left.

Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

How more empathy can improve our f*cked up world

I haven’t blogged in a bit, and it’s sad that this is the type of post that I felt compelled to write. Regardless, I have something to get off my chest.

I want to talk about how fucked up our world is right now.

Terrorist attacks. Racist shootings. Mass shootingsCampus rapes. And so many other horrible things are going on this minute.

Discrimination, disagreement, dissent, and disharmony is all around us. There’s so much angst everywhere. The tension is palpable.

While it can’t be boiled down to a single factor, I think a lot of the hatred in our world stems from a lack of empathy.

A prime cause of terrorism is the fact that some people so radically believe in their religion that any other faith or way of life is unacceptable. So attacks are planned and executed. Then bombs are dropped to retaliate against terrorists organizations, and civilian casualties happen (oh well!). Then the terrorist reciprocate, and a vicious cycle starts and continues.

Racist people don’t understand what others go through day in, day out, simply for having different colored skin, and they don’t care. That person of a different ethnicity can be super educated, extremely friendly, and very helpful, but the racist person doesn’t give a shit.

The NRA can’t fathom how the families of victims of mass shootings feel and won’t do a damn thing about it. And the people who execute these mass shootings do it from a place of hatred for another way of life that’s different from their own.

While alcohol many times muddies the true story of campus sexual assault, there is a fundamental absence of empathy in many of the parties involved. Drunk students take advantage of other drunk students with little regard of how the victim may feel or the consequences of their actions. The victim may accuse someone of rape even though the story is unclear, not thinking about how a simple accusation can significantly alter that person’s life for the worse. And the parents of the accused or accuser many times don’t understand (or care to understand) what the other family is going through. I have a 14-month old daughter and I am terrified to send her to college 17 years from now. If I had a son, I’d still be extremely nervous about what can potentially happen on campus.

Truthfully, I don’t know if any protest we take part in, petition that we sign, or letter to our senator that we write will change anything.

I don’t think our government is capable of making things right.

But I think we can do our part everyday to better this world by being more empathetic.

It can be simple as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes when you’re in an argument to help see the other side of things.

Or you can be a little nicer to that person who isn’t like you.

And even when a terrorist or mass murderer performs a horrific act of violence, understanding why they did so and attempting to address the underlying problem, instead of simply calling for vengeance, can help avoid future catastrophes.

I believe that empathy is one of the most important characteristics that someone can have, and it is something that can be learned.

And I believe that if more people were more empathetic of others’ situations, we can avoid a lot of the conflict that is occurring today.

And I believe that we can all do our part to make the world a more empathetic place right now, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and for the rest of our lives.

Sorry for the rant.

Reflecting on my life and career paths on my 38th birthday

the thinker

It’s my 38th birthday today. Happy birthday to me.

38 isn’t a nice round age like 30 or 40, where most people reflect on and ponder about their lives. But I’ll do it anyway because I have a lot to reflect on.

15 years ago, I was a consultant in San Francisco. I traveled a lot for work, made some decent coin out of grad school, and lived a single guy’s life. I had a great group of friends, got drunk at least 3 times a week, and pretty much did whatever the hell I wanted to do at any time I wanted to do it.

10 years ago, I was in business school in NYC pursuing a career in sports marketing. I was learning a lot and making some great connections. I was also having a lot of fun with my b-school friends as well as my childhood buddies, whom I hadn’t lived close to in a long time.

My head was kind of fucked up though. I lost my Dad to cancer a few months prior, and wasn’t sure how to deal with that loss (I drank a lot). And I was pursuing a non-traditional, low-paying career while many of my friends expected to make loot pursuing their banking and consulting jobs. This was difficult to deal with and I many times doubted my choices.

5 years ago, I had my dream job in sports marketing, working for the Washington Capitals. It was right where I wanted to be and I was doing really well. I was fully settled in to DC (it took a while after living in San Francisco and NYC) and started to really dig the city and what it had to offer. I wasn’t quite married yet, but was well on my way.

Now, I’m married to my soulmate, have a wonderful daughter, and own a beautiful home. It’s a lot of fun seeing my daughter grow up, but it’s still odd to me that I’m responsible for this little person’s life. It’s really awesome and rewarding, though.

Career-wise, I’m kind of this hybrid employee / entrepreneur. I work for a software development firm, but the CEO is my co-founder in our startup ribl, which we’re barely working on nowadays. I host my own podcast. I volunteer my time organizing Startup Weekend DC events. I’m not exactly where I want to be, which is working on our startup (whatever the product may be) full-time, but we’ll get there. I think.

Except for my Dad’s passing, my life arc is going pretty much as planned, and I am exactly where I want to and should be.

What does my career arc tell me? It either tells me that 1) I like change, or 2) I have no idea what the fuck I am doing with my career, or 3) both.

I’ve been open to taking the road less traveled with my career; it keeps things fresh and exciting.

But there are still so many things that I want to do.

And there’s a lot of doubt about whether I’m making the right choices and going down the right path. One day I’m confident, other days less so.

I’ve had 38 years to figure it out, but I guess I need more time.

It only takes one

one championship

There are a few things in life where it only takes one, and then you’re pretty much set.

But these things are really hard to achieve.

A sports championship. A strong marriage. A successful startup exit.

So many things have to go right in order to attain these accomplishments.

There are so many great pro athletes who haven’t won championships. Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins was one of the most prolific QBs of all time and couldn’t win a Super Bowl. Patrick Ewing of the NY Knicks is one of the all-time great centers, and he never won an NBA title. Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has been the NHL’s best scorer since he’s been in the league and hasn’t yet raised the Stanley Cup. Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox may be the best MLB hitter ever and never captured a World Series.

Getting a date is pretty easy, finding the right spouse is hard. You need to be able to connect with someone on multiple levels, and the other person needs to be able to connect with you. You have to be attracted to each other, physically and emotionally. And your lives have to be in the same stage, or it won’t work.

It is so hard to build a successful business and sell it or go public. Over 90% of startups fail, and many more won’t ever see an exit. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

All of these are so difficult to achieve because they require hard work, a great team (yes, you and your spouse should be a team), and good timing. If one of these factors are off, it will be tough to find success.

But because it’s so hard to obtain these accomplishments, it may only take one to be happy and satisfied.

And that makes them worth fighting for.

What are your thoughts about these “only one” accomplishments? I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

I wrote an e-book! Is a full-length book next?

Books

Yay! I wrote and launched my first e-book!

It’s called “10 Apps You Can Use to Maximize Your Productivity.” Click here to learn more and download it, I’d appreciate it! I hope it helps you become more productive.

While the e-book is pretty simple, it took a long time for me to write it and have it designed, so I’m pretty proud of it.

Writing that e-book got me thinking about whether I should write a full-length book.

I’ve blogged a lot and think often about my career, and careers in general. I actually have a few long essays about careers that I haven’t yet published, which might be the foundation of the book.

This wouldn’t be a “how to become a millionaire” book –  I don’t know sh*t about that.

Nor will this be a “find your dream job” book – I haven’t found mine, so I’m no expert there.

It might be something along the lines of “how not to f*ck up your career.”

I don’t really think I’ve (totally) f*cked up my career. But I’ve already had three or four careers in my life, so I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. And I think I could write both an entertaining and educational story based on my experiences.

What do you think? Should I write a book? And would you read it? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me onTwitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

Why you should always work to build equity

equity

Equity is a word that has many meanings in different contexts.

In its truest form, equity means fairness and impartiality.

In startups, equity is how much of a company you own.

In finance and accounting, equity is the difference between the value of your assets and the cost of your liabilities.

In marketing, brand equity is the value of having a well-known brand name, which allows you to beat your lesser-known competitors.

In real estate, owning a home gives you equity, as opposed to renting.

Equity is an extremely important and beneficial thing to acquire, which is why you should always look to build equity regardless of the context.

Equity requires a longer-term mindset, rather than seeking short-term wins.

In your career, your salary isn’t likely going to make you rich. Ownership in a successful business will.

In marketing and business, companies who seek to maximize short-term profit instead of building long-term customer loyalty will always lose. If you take care of your customers, you will build brand equity with them, and they’ll become repeat buyers as well as advocates. Zappos is a great example of this.

On the personal side, being fair with family, friends, and other people in your life will help you have lasting, more fruitful relationships.

No matter what the situation, whether it’s your career or personal life, building equity will always leave you better off in the long run.

What do you think about building equity? In what ways have you sacrificed short-term wins for long-term gain?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

Photo courtesy of The Blue Diamond Gallery

 

Finite vs. infinite resources

infinite resources

Finite resources are found in limited amounts and can’t be renewed at a rate that keeps up with consumption.

The more you use finite resources, the less you have. Fossil fuels and water are prime examples.

These are such important resources, and one day we’re going to run out of them.

But I think infinite resources are more important.

Knowledge and creativity are infinite resources.

The more knowledge you apply, the more knowledge you’ll gain.

Creativity is a muscle that when used over and over again will make you more creative.

These infinite resources can help solve many problems, include those that we face with finite resources.

How are you using the infinite resources at your disposal?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

Photo courtesy of Sliderbase on YouTube

How do you make your stars align?

Stars align

I was just thinking about how lucky my family and I are to have found our new home.

During our home search, we had viewed many homes online and in person, but we weren’t really looking in the area where we now live. The list price was a bit out of our budget. And when we performed our comparative analysis, we were totally unsure about whether we were getting duped by the price, and we were very unsure about our offer.

Things worked out really well and we now live in this amazing home.

A similar thing happened when I got my job at the Washington Capitals.

While I was at business school, I met my future boss at a marketing conference. I kept in touch with him via email and phone calls, even though he wasn’t recruiting at all (and he wasn’t at the Capitals yet) and I was still over a year away from graduating. When he moved to the Caps and started building his marketing team, he had lost my email but found me on LinkedIn. I interviewed with him and his boss and got the job.

When good things happen, sometimes it seems like the stars align. And that’s a great thing.

But most of the time, you have control over the stars aligning.

You can take the time to look at one more home and do more research on your house hunt. You can take the time to keep in touch with industry contacts, instead of only reaching out when you need a job.

You can take initiative, work harder, and create your own luck.

You can make the stars align, instead of waiting for them to align for you.

When was the last time the “stars aligned” for you, and what did you do to make them align?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

It’s all about the people

In any situation, it’s the people that matter.

At work, if you surround yourself with the best and brightest, you’ll learn from them and continue to get better. The best team always find the way to win.

If you surround yourself with high-caliber friends and family (though you can’t choose your family), you’ll grow as a person and have a great personal and social life.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

I am amazed at the people I work with. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by really smart, driven, and well-rounded co-workers.

And I love my friends and family, and all of them are just as smart, driven, and well-rounded as my co-workers.

I’m very appreciative of everyone I interact with and owe a lot to all of them.

If you feel that you’re not getting enough out of your career or personal life, look around at the people you spend the most time with to see if a change is needed.

Because it really is all about the people.

What do you think about the people that surround you, and how do they affect you?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me@mikewchan, or email me at mike@mikewchan.com.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left. Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

 

 

Good things come to those who sweat

Sweat

I saw a bumper sticker that said “Good things come to those who sweat.”

I like that. And not only because I sweat profusely. Seriously, my forehead is like Niagara Falls.

Anyway, if you’re physically sweating, you are likely doing some sort exercise (or are in a warm place, which usually isn’t so bad). Good things like health and higher levels of energy come with that.

In your career, you may be working hard and sweating at your job. If you work smart, keep grinding, and continue to learn, you’ll increase that “sweat equity.”

Good things come to those who sweat, both literally and figuratively.

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please share this article with the share buttons on the left.

Then sign up for my email list below and connect with me on Twitter for future updates. And check out my podcast at GoandGrowPodcast.com!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons