Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

TAG: family

Who do you work for?

Work team meeting

Who do you work for?

I’m not talking about the company you work for, or the guy or gal to whom you report.

I’m talking about who the people are that inspire you to work harder and get better.

Everyone works for themselves to a certain extent. Maybe you work to live, and have that job simply to allow you to eat good food, go on vacation, and enjoy your life outside of the office. That’s a good thing.

Or maybe you live to work, and work for yourself in the sense that you want to enjoy the 8-12 hours a day you spend at your job, so you pursue a career in an industry that you love, or run your own business. Pretty good, too.

But when you truly work for someone else besides yourself, that can lead to real inspiration.

Maybe it’s your family who you work for. You work to put food on the table, buy a home, save for your kids’ education, and more. That’s plenty of motivation to work hard and make more money.

Maybe it’s your employees who you work for. If you’re an entrepreneur, your employees need to be the best they can be in order for your company to be successful, so you’re really working for them. If you’re in the corporate world, many times your success hinges on the success of your teammates, so you’re all in it together.

Or maybe it’s your customers who you work for. Customers are the lifeblood of a company, so if you work for them, you’ll super-serve them to the best of your ability, and everyone wins.

Who you work for can certainly be and many times is a combination of the above, as well as others I haven’t mentioned.

Think about who you work for. Are these the right people to work for and do you enjoy working for them? Are you serving them to the best of your abilities?

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

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Photo courtesy of Link Humans on Flickr

Remembering the ones that inspired you

Today, February 22, 2016, would have been my Dad’s 68th birthday. He passed away from nasopharyngeal cancer in 2005.

I owe a lot of my life and career to my Dad’s wisdom and the path that he took through life.

He was an entrepreneur by necessity, not really by choice. And I believe his words and actions led me to become an entrepreneur.

My parents had a great life in Malaysia but moved to the US to provide a better life for my sister and me. When they moved to America, my Dad worked in various restaurants and fast-food joints. He learned a lot about the business and eventually opened a few restaurants of his own.

But because being an entrepreneur was really tough, he didn’t always sing its praises, and actually sometimes gave me conflicting advice about where I should take my career.

“It’s tough working for other people” would sometimes be followed by “but a stable job with a big company that pays you a lot is good.”

“The only way to be happy is to work for yourself” would be accompanied by “but running your own business is really hard.”

I didn’t quite understand what he meant until now, because I’ve experienced those feelings the last 3.5 years I’ve been an entrepreneur.

I’ve found out about the ups and downs of being on your own. So I totally get where my Dad was coming from, even though it confused the hell out of me when I was younger.

And I actually pass on this conflicting advice to those who ask me about becoming an entrepreneur, because it’s totally spot on.

Today, I think my Dad would be proud of the path I chose, but he’d still ask why I don’t have a corporate job that pays a lot. 🙂

Miss you and love you everyday, Dad.

This is day 8 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

Guest Post for The Good Men Project – I’m a Husband, Father, and Entrepreneur, Thanks to My Wife

Good men project image

Check out my guest post on The Good Men Project titled “I’m a Husband, Father, and Entrepreneur, Thanks to My Wife.

I’ve been a husband for over three years, and a father to my beautiful baby girl Maya for just over six months. Of course, I couldn’t be a husband and father without Vicky.

I’ve also been an entrepreneur since July 2012. I owe that to Vicky as well.

Being a husband and a father were inevitable. Being an entrepreneur didn’t have to happen. But it did, and I couldn’t be an entrepreneur without the financial and emotional support from my wife.

Being a husband, father, and entrepreneur all at once takes a lot of sacrifice and compromise, and of course, not only on my part. Vicky arguably has sacrificed more than I have, and I owe everything to her.

Read our full story on The Good Men Project.

Photo courtesy of Junichi Ishito on Flickr

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!

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.

Lessons Learned From My Late Dad

Today is the seven-year anniversary of the passing away of my Dad, Yew Khen Chan. He battled naso-pharyngeal (nose/throat) cancer for nearly six years, going into remission twice, before succumbing to the disease on December 9, 2005. Through his actions, my father taught me so many lessons about hard work and perseverance, and my life has been positively impacted as a result. Here is what I’ve learned from this great man.

Take Risks

My Dad immigrated to the US from Malaysia with my mother in 1976. While in Malaysia, he had a lot of success as a salesman for huge companies, but he and my mother decided to move to the US so my then-one-year-old sister and I (unborn at the time) could have a better education and brighter future. He and my mother sacrificed a comfortable life and took on a lot of risk in an unknown world so their children can have a better life.

I definitely got my risk tolerance from my Dad and he’s a huge reason why I’m an entrepreneur today.

Be Resourceful

My parents didn’t have college educations, which obviously makes finding jobs in a foreign land even more difficult than it already is. But that never stopped my Dad from achieving success. He used his work ethic and people skills to own and operate four restaurants over his career, and actually served lunch to Russell Simmons many times! After his restaurant career was over, he was able to apply his management and sales skills to other businesses in the self storage and software industries. He wasn’t the most classically educated man, but he used his street smarts and ability to learn to be successful.

Correct Failure and Reward Success

Because my Dad wanted my sister and me to always do the right thing, he was quick to punish us when we didn’t. But he would always follow up by thoroughly explaining why we were wrong and how we could improve. I remember the time when I left a waffle cooking in our broken toaster; the toaster didn’t pop up and this set our kitchen cabinet on fire. My Dad was absolutely livid for days but then when things calmed down, he sat me down and told me everything that I did wrong (some of which wasn’t totally obvious at the time). Then he grounded me for a long time. I got the point.

But when we exceeded expectations and did really well, he was quick to reward. Many times, my Dad would make me a deal – if I got straight A’s, he would buy me the shiny new toy I wanted. I didn’t always get that toy, but God knows I tried hard every time.

I apply how my Dad treated me as a son to how I treat the people who I manage – correct issues as soon as they arise and reward excellent work.

Live to Eat, Don’t Eat to Live

My Dad loved to eat, and this apple didn’t fall far from the tree, as anyone who knows me knows I love food. He always told me that you should be alive to eat and enjoy your food, and not eat just to stay alive. But his philosophy didn’t apply just to food. Basically, his mindset was that if you wanted something, work hard and reward yourself, because you only live once. My Dad wasn’t a superficial man, but he liked and wanted nice things. So he worked really hard and treated himself to delicious food, a Rolex, a big beautiful house, and his prize possession, a Lexus LS400.


My Dad’s battle with cancer is where I learned the most about the perseverance of my parents. He was first diagnosed with cancer in 1999 and as you would expect, this absolutely rocked my family’s world.

Before my Dad went through chemotherapy and radiation, my Mom researched everything she could do keep my Dad as healthy as possible throughout the process. She bought a ton of vitamins and supplements and adamantly fed them to him, regardless of how much he complained about how many massive pills he had to take. End result – my Dad made it through the treatment without losing another hair on his head (he was already balding, though) and his cancer went into remission.

Four years later, the cancer inevitably returned. This time, the situation would be much more trying. My Dad had to go through chemo, radiation, and surgery. He lost a bunch of hair and a lot of weight and was frequently irritable and stubborn. A lot of arguments occurred; the family dynamic really changed. Regardless, the cancer went into remission for the second time, which is basically unheard of.

Unfortunately, the cancer again returned in 2005. At this point, my Dad was six years older than when he first contracted the disease and his body had taken a lot of punishment. Treatment really left a mark on him and the cancer just wasn’t going away. The writing was on the wall; he was moved out of the hospital back home and we employed hospice care to make him as comfortable as possible during his remaining time. I was set to visit my family one weekend, when my sister told me early in the week that Dad didn’t have much time left. So I rushed home the next day to see him and he wound up passing away that night; basically, he stayed alive until I got home so he could see me one last time.

Every time I think that I can’t achieve something, I remember how my Dad persevered to beat cancer twice, and held on to life to say goodbye to me in person.

It’s clear that my Dad has been with me and my family in spirit even if he’s not with us physically. His lessons impact my life every day and I hope that he’s reading this from above. We all miss and love you, Dad.

There are no more results.