Full Speed Ahead

Class instruction hasn’t officially started, but the MBA program is definitely in full swing. I have a feeling this short block style is gonna be the norm for my posts now as I don’t have the time to dig deeper into each topic. Instead of my regular stream of consciousness style now it will be a flash of consciousness.

Career Services did a session on social media. I don’t like censoring myself and giving people half-realities. I think what I’ll do from now on is focus on the Dale Carnegie principles, especially the ones on not criticizing, condemning and complaining.

I’m really happy to move past the stage with some classmates of asking “where are you from?” “what did you do before the program” kind of questions and get to know to the person better.

Even if it’s not right, I do view having an undergrad degree in business as an advantage. I’m also very paranoid about losing that edge. I worry that I’ll become disengaged in class when it repeats too much of the same topics we covered before. I don’t consider myself smarter than everybody else. It’s only a timing issue. I just learned it earlier than other people, that’s all. I do bite my lips a lot lest I come across as cocky or arrogant when it comes to marketing, some of the basic quant classes, and career development. Hopefully there’s a way to leverage my experience.

This two years is going to be like an economics experiment. I do find myself looking at different aspects of life as a game sometimes. You can treat the whole MBA experience as a game of Settlers of Catan or some other game where you have limited resources. Obviously your biggest resources is time. You have to evenly distribute it to: sleep, academics, career, organizations, and personal (work out, friends, family, significant other, etc).

Just the other day when I was signing up for MBA clubs it was painful to narrow it down to only 5. I told myself that I want to focus on quality instead of quantity in this phase of my life. I literally feel my stomach turn as I only sign up for 3 clubs. Who knows what it is w/ us overachieving kids. We never learn. We always want to suck on the marrow of life and choke on the bone as well.


30 Before 30

I’ve been in a list making mood lately.

Another friend of mine made her 30 before 30 list the other day. She turned 29, I have yet to turn 28. I figure I get a little unfair advantage here, but I am actually having a little problem coming up w/ 30 things I want to do… am I that boring? I scanned around the internet for other people’s lists and the impression I get is that 1) This whole 30 for 30 thing is kind of chick thing… 2) There’s awful lot of the usual suspects like “sky diving” and “take ballroom”, which I have already done, and of course there’s also the lovey dovey crap like “fall in love” and “get married” which is all good, just not for me…. right now (HIMYM reference)

Well, here it is anyway. Some are pretty easy to do, but the one about giving a TED talk I think would probably be the most difficult one.

1. Start a non-profit foundation –  still working on how to best invest my time to make the most impact

2. Fly in at least a G4 – I don’t have to buy a private plane by any means, I just have to fly in one either out of my own bank acct or invited by someone

3. Scuba certified

4. Bungee jump – already done sky diving, logical next option

5. Argentina – love, love Argentina

6. Machu Picchu – I hear they’re considering closing it permanently due to conservation reasons… better make it happen soon

7. Learn how to drive a stick – surprisingly important survival skill when renting cars in Europe

8. Get a meaningful tattoo –  somewhat discreet, corporate friendly of course

9. Own a tuxedo – when you turn 30, you own instead of rent

10. Read 30 new books

11. Oktoberfest – very feasible before school starts next fall

12. Do a stand up open mic

13. Brew my own beer

14. Learn how to fillet a fish

15. Learn to tie a bow tie – see #9

16. Touch rim – this is my way of saying lose weight, something more tangible, measurable

17. Northern lights – might be easier than originally planned considering Seattle’s proximity to Alaska

18. Learn how to break down a chicken

19. Speak at a TED conference

20. Fluent in Spanish
– Rosetta Stone’s progress is painfully slow…

21. Burning Man

22. Turn tables
– I will also accept vinyl player instead of regular DJ turn tables

23. Shooting range

24. Shoot under 100 in a round of golf

25. Play in a WSOP tournament

26. Catch a fish
– believe it or not in the handful of fishing outings I’ve gone on I’ve never ever caught a fish…

27. Live in a house boat
– even if it’s for a day

28. Interview someone really really really ridiculously successful and I admire greatly
– like Guy Kawasaki for example

29. Throw out the first pitch
– at a game of any level

30. Catch a fish w/ the Pike Place Market guys

and two more just for fun…

31. Get an A in Accounting – although I started out as an accounting major in undergrad, my grades in that certain subject had not been stellar… consider this a redemption)

32. Eat at a Top Chef contestant’s restaurant

Back to school

Well, the day is here… officially starting the program at Foster now. You know it was coming. For months I felt the vibration on the rail track, the jet of air shooting out of the tunnel along w/ blinding headlights and deafening horns. Yet, I still felt like I got steamrolled into a pancake as I walked into the auditorium this morning.

Somehow, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m suppose to be. All the pieces are falling into place, like a well played game of Tetris. Part of me still wants to yell out to the conductor: “stop this train! I wish to get off!!”

(That concludes the train metaphors for this post)

I’d like to thank my alma mater McCombs for preparing me for this.

The lack of good Mexican food is killing me. And chips and salsa should be complimentary, not extra $2.

It’s really funny people in Seattle complaining how hot it is when it’s barely 80 degrees… Texas is so hot it’s on fire, literally (prayer goes out to Timmy and his family that evacuated from Bastrop, and everybody else that were affected)

180 Hours Later

I still refuse to acknowledge that I’ve moved away from Austin. I think deep down I know one day I will be back. I’ve been telling Austin and I are just taking a break, a la Rachel and Ross on Friends. If I had to move anywhere though I am at least glad it’s Seattle. Music is an important part of that decision. Obviously I could’ve moved to New York or Los Angeles but I don’t really want to live in neither of those cities. And you can just shut up about the rain and suicide thing right now. It’s not really rain in Seattle… it like, mists. Like at the produce aisle. Also, the city w/ the highest suicide rate is actually Las Vegas.

Moving has been absolutely crazy. I was up until 5am the night/morning before departure packing and I even skipped my last golf lesson (the only pre-MBA preparation I did). I actually left my Seattle key on a different key chain… so stupid. I also forgot my phone and laptop charger somewhere. We left 2 hours later than originally scheduled. Between the time I left my house in Austin and the time I get to my new apt in Seattle 180 hours had passed. In between we stopped at:

1. McDonald Observatory in West Texas for the Star Party. I had taken a Freshman Seminar 9 years ago called Galileo Scandal under the Astronomy Department and they had mentioned about the place. Technically it’s UT campus, so if you’re hard core A&M fan or goes to that other school north of the Red River you might want to reconsider visiting. Without the light pollution the stars almost look unreal. The way they are up in the sky almost looks like someone projected them up there. It was also very educational.

2. White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Our GPS accidentally directed us to this military base at first. After some questioning from the officer on duty, he decided to let us on base and cut through instead of going all the way back to El Paso and take a different highway. He made me pop my hood, checked if there were drugs in between the car panels and the whole enchilada. When we got to White Sands we didn’t stop by the visitor center, where we probably could’ve rented or purchased a sled, instead we just paid and went straight in. Fortunately I decided to bring my snowboard up to Seattle so we just took that out and gone down the dunes on that instead.

3. Tucson for a quick Sonoran dog. I still don’t if this is just a Hispanic thing or what’s going on because my Tucson friends never mentioned anything about it when I visited before and when I asked again this time around they still are not quite sure what I’m talking about. Basically it’s like your regular hot dog except they put beans on it and some other toppings. It wasn’t that special…

4. Since my friend Vivek, who’s driving up w/ me, has not seen SoCal before and it’s been ages since I seen Vicki we decided to stop in San Diego. We went to Lucha Libre for lunch. They put fries in the burrito I ordered instead of rice, which had no taste… it was just filler. I would’ve preferred having rice. The whole place is decked out in Mexican wrestling trinkets. There’s a microphone like the one they lower down into the ring for the announcer when they call for you to pick up your food. Giant gold championship belt. Warhol style luchador painting. You name it.

I went to Sea World when I was a kid, but I didn’t go to the zoo. At least I don’t remember going. Not only are there’s no ligres and trouser snakes, the panda and elephant sections were also pretty boring. Pandas and elephants are my two favorite animals. If only there’s a way I can mate the two of them. I remember visiting the zoo in Washington DC and their panda section was awesome, filled w/ facts about panda, how they breed them there in DC, stories about where each of the pandas came from. There’s a lot of breadth at the San Diego zoo in regards to the variety of animals they have, but really not much depth.

By the way, La Jolla is pronounced “la hoya” not “la jola”…

5. I didn’t even want to stop in LA other than get a bowl of ramen for lunch, but for Vivek’s benefit we stopped. Coincidentally, one of my favorite volleyball players from college days was playing in the Manhattan Beach Open, the Wimbledon of beach volleyball. I said hi to her before the match and actually got to chatting w/ her mother. I learned that Michelle was supposed to play in Virginia Beach that weekend but because of Hurricane Irene she played in LA instead. Works out well for me!

We did the standard touristy stuff for Vivek, like Getty Center and Santa Monica Pier before driving through Beverly Hills to meet up w/ my good friend’s sister who just moved out here 3 months ago. We took the subway downtown to Little Tokyo for Daikokuya ramen… supposedly the best in LA. I had my doubts about the public transit in LA. It wasn’t completely terrible. There are people riding the subway, but the trains looked like they were on loan from 80’s NYC sometimes and they come way infrequently…

6. You’d have to ask Vivek how Big Sur was b/c I was really tired and hardly remember anything… we drove through the night to get to Big Sur by morning. At 5, 6am I switched over to let Vivek drive and slept. I remember waking up to really heavy fog, walking around a trail amongst the redwoods, and Pfeifer Beach.

7. Part of the reason we wanted to make Big Sur by morning is so we can get into San Francisco in time to go see Ian Axel play at Hotel Utah. I had met Ian couple of years back through a friend. Ian’s got a little Elton John and Ben Folds to him. He’s touring w/ couple of other musicians and unfortunately going the opposite direction we are, otherwise I would’ve come support them in Seattle and at Hotel Cafe in LA.

8. Redwood National Park was gorgeous. I wish we had the time and cargo space to go camping for a bit. The fog makes it mysterious and the early morning peeks through between the trees. This is technically the third national park we’ve been to on this trip and I’ve got to say I’m really impressed w/ the content and organization they have on the website and also at the visitor centers. They make the visit much more enjoyable. You won’t hear me praising about government entities much so this is really something else.

9. Technically we could’ve drove straight through Portland but I wanted to try some of their food carts (they don’t call it food trailers out here) and also Voodoo Donuts. Portland almost puts Austin to shame. Restaurants will list exactly where each ingredient came from, down to the plot of land and longitude/latitude. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to Austin now but I’ve never really consider it to be weird. Portland was weird. Not weirder than Austin. Just different kind of weird. Perhaps this is how people feel when they visit Austin.

It took me almost 2 full days to fully unpack and set up my bed and desk. After multiple trips to places like Bed Bath and Beyond, IKEA, Home Depot I’ve finally got my room up and running fully functional now! Sometimes, the little things still reminds me the pain of leaving Austin, like reprogramming my radio… goodbye KGRS, hello KEXP. Or every time I fill out my address I still instinctively type my Austin address first, only to realize seconds later that I no longer live there.

How to Get Rich

Two separate and independent events prompted me to write this. One was from a friend, E, upset about people telling her she’s lucky to have her new job. Another is from Mark Cuban’s blog post about with the same title as this post. I had just came across an episode of Shark Tank where Mark Cuban was on and another friend, W, highly recommended his blog so I added it to my RSS feed.

People tell me I am lucky all the time. I do feel fortunate and blessed to be doing what I do now at 27. Not a day goes by w/out me being thankful for what life has given me. However, I get the feeling that people tends to credit others’ success to luck b/c they don’t comprehend it. It reminded me of the closing scene of one of my favorite movies of all time: Rounders

If you have not seen this movie, Matt Damon plays a young poker player while going to law school at the same time. His girlfriend makes him quit because she doesn’t understand it. She thinks it’s gambling and well… luck. Speaking as another poker player myself, poker takes an incredible amount of discipline, training, focus, patience, and hard work. It’s actually pretty boring sometimes. You do a lot of folding, waiting for the right opportunity. This was also a common misconception when it comes to trading.

It makes me wonder sometimes, maybe people don’t understand what it takes to be rich. I am not the first to say this, but getting rich is incredibly boring (have you read Mark’s post yet? go read it!). You get there by hard work and saving. I see so many of my friends that clearly do not understand this concept. Believe it or not, I don’t even own a personal credit card(I only have one for business purchases). I hardly ever go out to eat or downtown to drink anymore. I’ve been on a minimalist purge lately and I literally looked at all my expenses and brutally slashed out everything I was not happy about. It’s not about being cheap. It’s about value for me and my opportunity cost is much much higher. People thinks I’m joking when I say this, but this is one of my favorite mantras now:

Jesus saves. So should you.

There’s a saying that “luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” it is so true. If you don’t save and not have the capital when buying opportunities presents themselves, especially during market downturns where there are tons of bargains, how can you take advantage of it? We don’t even have to talk about real estate or stocks, just think about even sales down at your favorite retailer. Assuming credit cards don’t exist, if they’re having their biggest sale ever known to mankind and you can’t take advantage of it if you don’t have the cash, it’s the same thing. If this double-dip recession thing does come true, I hope you’ve saved up some capital to get some real bargains. I hope you’re like me, camouflaged and patiently waiting. Waiting for that big game to come right into your gun sight and ready to pull the trigger.

I blame the media. People see other millionaires driving fancy cars and big houses on TV, soon enough you start believe that it happens all the time. What’s worst is you start believing that’s the norm and now comes the credit cards, car payments, mortgages. Real millionaires don’t live like that. Pick up The Millionaire Next Door at your local library/bookstore/Kindle if you haven’t read this book yet. People read about 100 stories about the success of Google and they start believing entrepreneurship or starting a business is easy. Yes, those are 100 stories, but they’re about ONE company.

It’s the same about travel and crime. One story about mugging and people are so quick to jump to conclusion about the overall safety of a country or city. I can’t even count how many times someone tells me backpacking is dangerous, so and so place has high crime rate. I backpacked around the world for ninety days. I didn’t die. I didn’t get mugged. I didn’t even get pick-pocketed despite not using my money belt (Looking back, I’m almost disappointed and offended… I was basically daring all the gypsies in Europe to come after me and they didn’t). I even went down to exactly where they were protesting in Bangkok on their one year anniversary and the whole safety issue is just totally blown out of proportion. How dangerous is a guy yelling into a bull horn, because that’s all that happened. The only danger you have is if you stand too close to him and it might damage your hearing.

The opposite is also true. Just because people don’t see it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Just because you don’t see me working doesn’t mean I’m not putting in 60, 80, 100 hrs a week working to make my dream come true. Just because you didn’t see it didn’t mean I’ve not been working out on the factory floor everyday after school since I can walk.

So the next time you want to say someone is lucky, think about this: are they lucky, or do they deserve everything they got?

Alright I’m off my High Horse brand soap box now.

I’ve been back home for almost about a month and a half now and I’ve just been so bloody busy. There are so many loose ends that need to be taken care of before I move up to Seattle. Instead of traveling I’ve been:

1. Working: There was about 3 months worth of paperwork that I needed to organized. My father completely ignored my filing and naming convention so nothing is where they need to be. Plus his English is not perfect so there are tons of typo everywhere. We’re also raising our prices for our product for 2012 due to the high oil prices and unfavorable exchange rates. There’s tons of negotiating to do w/ our customers.

2. Research: We’ve exited out of practically every position except for gold and our Aussie Dollar. We’re sitting on the sideline with cash for probably more than we should… tons of reading and digging for buying and short opportunities. There are also couple of ventures I want to finish and hand off that we just don’t have enough information at the moment.

3. Meeting: Meeting up w/ friends for one last time, meeting real estate agents b/c we’ve finally sold the condo on West Campus in Austin and we got a new place in Houston severely under the market price for my sister. At the same time I have to coordinate w/ a future classmate on apartment hunting in Seattle.

Speaking of Seattle, I don’t think the reality has set in until recently when we finally secured a place to live. Definitely past the point of no return now and I’m getting a little cold feet. I’m flying up to Seattle on the 15th to take care of some stuff and then coming back to pack up and make the long drive up there.

Le sigh.

Austin Bucket List

Since I am moving away at the end of August, I wanted to enjoy and appreciate what the best of what Austin has to offer one last time before I won’t have the chance anymore. I am looking for some partners in crime so let me know what sounds interesting to you and we’ll set up the time.

If I had left out anything do let me know!

  • Tubing (6/25)
  • Salt Lick (6/25)
  • Gruene Hall (Two Ton Tuesday and/or Roger Creager’s birthday show)
  • Broken Spoke
  • Lockhart (Black’s, Smitty’s, and Kreuz Market)
  • Snow’s BBQ (7/9)
  • Franklin’s (6/29)
  • Shiner
  • Live Oak Brewery (7/9)
  • 512 Brewery
  • Independence Brewery
  • Actually complete the Trudy’s challenge… and not die
  • Greenbelt
  • Hamilton Pool
  • Barton Springs
  • Sand volleyball at Zilker
  • Kayak on Town Lake
  • SUP
  • Krause Springs
  • Chicken Shit Bingo
  • Blues on the Green (7/6)
  • First Thursday (7/7)
  • See the bats
  • Get a pair of boots
  • Round Rock Express game
  • Juan in a Million, one last time, preferably with a couple to go for the long drive to Seattle
  • Uchi
  • Uchiko
  • TacoDeli
  • Torchy’s
  • East Side King
  • Odd Duck
  • Gordough’s