Doing a startup is hard. Doing a startup in another country is even harder.

I wanted to take the time to write a reflection post today after spending more than a year here in Hong Kong. As many of you know, I came from the Bay Area of Sunny California. The warm weather, the nice drive with a convertible on highway 17 to the beach or the special brewery house and munching on my family’s trade bagels. Boy do I miss these little seemingly nothing moment.

When you’re exposed in the Bay Area to all the happenings, the tech stories, the people changing the world, you feel your life is boring; but a dot in a sea of sand. One wise man once said, “The greatest struggle is to be something different from what the average man is.” And I guess that was my feeling too at that time I decided to embark for Hong Kong. Although the original plan was to come for only three months, it grew to 7 and still until now.

There are times where I wonder if this is the place where I really belong. Life is challenging, cost are high, there is a somewhat language/culture barrier yet Hong Kong has this magical feeling about itself. Although most expat view Hong Kong as a hub where one comes and goes in life, to learn about himself and learn what is most important. There are friends here like my buddy Vladimir, who reminded me to keep going through the tough time, the impact on the community I’ve made, and the important of finding oneself in your own journey of life. “A man can tell another man’s worth just by looking him. Men do not have to speak to each other, it’s a feeling we just get, we just understand. JM, you’re a good man.”

There are days where I just feel the world is a wall too tall to climb. Not enough grip for me to hold on to and one wrong step and everything will come crashing down. These moments are quickly forgotten thanks to my group of supporting friends. These friends who encourage me during the tough times, I cannot never be thankful enough. I’m often reminded of a quote by Will Smith, “If you’re absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.” 

Being in Hong Kong, you never truly feel as if you belong. I did not come here seeking love or here to work at a bank. Hong Kong was never more then just a temporary stop. The fast lifestyle, the distant feeling you get from people and most of all the somewhat fake friendship that seems the common norm especially during networking session. Although these are prevalent throughout the world, you glimpse at it from an outside perspective and cannot help to surprise you. People here are focused and often called rude because they only see themselves and where they should be heading. No fault in that, its normal but I do miss the times when I could go to a bar in California and pick up a chat with the guy next to me with ease. Here people don’t want to be bothered…

Recently I was interviewed in a local newspaper about the lack of funding in Hong Kong, another disadvantage for startups (that and the housing difficulties i’ve had). I’ve pitched publicly so much that an executive assistant who trains executive to give public presentation says I speak like a pro (I’m sure he was exaggerating as its his job) but the hunt is still on with no sight yet of the treasure.

We are having tough times and plenty more to come. I know I will be alright in the end. I’ve always been positive and optimistic. I just need to ride through this wave. Time to go polish my surfboard…

bob marley quote

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My Thoughts: Warren Buffett: The three things I look for in a person

Recently, thanks to my friend Winnie, I came across this article Warren Buffet: The three things i look for in a personI want to highlight a particular section that resonated well with me.

“You’re looking for three things, generally, in a person,” says Buffett. “Intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two.”

I couldn’t agree more. I once met with several owners of factories in Shenzhen and these guys are the rich and powerful. One piece of advice they all agreed on to give me, is to find people you can rely on and trust. Trust can be found and broken anywhere; whether I’m in the US or anywhere else in the world as I’ve recently encountered. My friend Rayfill once told me “at the core of everything business is one thing; TRUST.” Even for our startup Taxiwise, we aim to build one attitude: that we are trustworthy. Trustworthy to both the passengers and the taxi drivers.

Surround yourself with those you trust and know that they will be there for you when you need them. There are times when the trust between a person can be shaky but if they are truly your friends, they will try their best to repair the bond. For me, trust is easy characteristic to earn and also easy to lose and hard to gain back. I recently had a test of trust in regards to a “so-called” friend not being truthful and leaving us in the dust to for monetary gain. Some people show their true colors at one point however its good to remember not everyone is like that and there are a lot of good people out there.

Read the article if you haven’t. It’s a good read for the end of the week.


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