Family Backbone

The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.  ~Erma Bombeck

Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.  ~Author Unknown


Ah Family. What a word. It’s rich and sometimes bitter and spicy, but where would one be without this concept? 

Yet family is such a wonderful feeling at times but so damn frustrating all the same! Family is the only group of people who will support you when you’re trying to build a startup but at same time lecture you on how crazy and dumb it is to build a startup. 

I very much believe that my family is the best, it’s large and full of crazy people. Our family gatherings are fun (at the last one we had, I counted 65 people). We are very family oriented but that may be because we are from a Chinese group that believes in family for everything. We are teochiu/chaozhou people. The family aspect is important both at home and in business. 

My family is that of enterpreneurs. Just a different kind from today’s sense. Our family first escaped China during the China-Japan war and migrated over to Cambodia because there was a TeoChiu community there. Well…Cambodia had a genocide afterwards and my family was forced to live in terrible conditions (my grandma had 8 kids), so they decided to walk through a field of mines to Thailand in order to escape the killings. However because of the chaos, my parents and grandparents got separated from my uncles and aunts. We were transported to France while the others to Canada and the US. It was years later that they somehow were about to find each other again and join up. 

I was born in France and grew up there. My family decided to move to the US to rejoin the main family (actually my dad’s side of the family still lives in France.)

The family then quickly learned and took over the donut shop and bagel business in the bay area. We own several chains and are experts in the bakery department (lol). It was and is still hard work, working 7 days a week, 365 days a year but they have managed it this far coming here with nothing in their pockets. So in a sense, they are enterpreneurs. 

However the technology field is not something they understand and know about so they are cautious of my undertaking, warning me that it is not as easy as it sounds. Of course its not easy! But still i know they are only doing so because they care about my well being. Some of my more modern/tech savy cousins have been pushing me to go out there and explore (they warn me to do this before getting married and having kids lol!) Life is an experience. Go live it. 


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10 Must Have Iphone Apps

My top 10 list that i use almost everyday. 

1. Whatsapp: I use this app every single day. Basically its a messaging app but what it offers is so much more then basic messaging. I use it to plan group events, talk to friends/families overseas and send my location and pictures. Its great to stay connected as it uses data to send the messages over and its fast!

2. Pulse News: Who knew looking at news could be this pretty? Pulse news makes reading news, blogs, articles look so nice and neat. Great if you’re the kind to read alot of different outlet. Oh its free too. 

3. Tweetbot: My fave twitter client. It just sounds and looks so cool when using it. 

4. Amazon Price Check: Check everything you buy at retail stores to see if its cheaper! Plus you can read product reviews as well. Free. 

5. Dropbox: This app is fantastic. It works great and allows me to show people my designs, photos etc.. on the fly without having to manually download them everyday. 

6. Viber: This beats skype! Free and the quality are good too. The good thing is that it finds your contacts in your address book to see who has viber. I use it when I’m at home cuz i get no signal from AT&T at my house. (dont get me started on their crappy service…) But i use Viber to call my HK/France ppl. 

7. Street Fighter IV Volt: A great time passer app! When waiting for someone or just have 5 mins to kill, you can play a quick match to make the time pass by. 

8. Yelp: This is a great app to find places to eat, their numbers, reviews, and even intergrates with google map to give you directions! I could not live without this app. 

9. Google Translate: The world is going international. I use this app regularly to write to my friends/families overseas in Asia and France. Its great to find a quick word that you have forgotten. 

10. Sleep Cycle: Best Alarm Clock. But you have to keep it on all night. It does track your sleeping patterns though so you can see when you are awake most at night. 

Has anyone else tried these apps? 

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Working for Someone vs. Working for Youself

“The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” – Carlos Castaneda

This week, i had the opportunity to work at Telenav on contract basis as a QA Analyst testing their Android App for bugs and french translation mistakes. The usualy hours are from 10am to 7pm. One thing i’ve learned after working on this; its hard to work both a full time job and do a startup!

Here’s an analogy to compare the two. Working for someone else is like riding a bicycle with training wheels and getting a pushing hand while working for youself, you’re just riding the bycle by yourself. A single speed bike. On both scenario, you are riding the same path with uphills and downhills. For those of you who are not into the biking scene, a single speed is very inefficient at climbing uphills…cuz you cant shift gears!!

Now as you ride the uphill part of the ride, when you work for someone else, you get a pushing hand to make it easier. It still is hard but you have balance from the training wheels, a speed boost, and riding amongst other riders. Such in a real life job, you get job training, support, peer collaboration, benefits and the mentality that comes with working a stable job. Reassurance, safety, belonging to a group/organization with a higher purpose, coworker support etc… And of course, the feeling that damn, ill get a paycheck at the end of the week! That mentality state of mind is something that is barely there when you do a startup. Its kind of comforting to experience it again. 

When one does a startup, it feels like its always an uphill ride with very few straights or downhill. As you all know, the best way to tackle a long uphill ride for non-pros is to ride in a zig-zag fashion. Its more energy consuming but makes ride up much easier. The only downside, you take longer going up. Now imagine doing that with a single speed where you cant shift gear and carrying a heavy backpack. Thats what it feels like doing a start up. You get stressed out, burned out, exhausted, thirsty, lonely and often ask yourself “What did i get myself into?” or “What the hell am i doing?” Yup, you’re a lone rider. 

Doing both at the same time is pratically riding an unicycle. Almost impossible to climb up and more likely to fall back down. Almost impossible. The few who can, you guys are amazing. 

As much enticing it was working for someone else…actually its very tempting. You go to work with a direction, knowing what to do, what needs to be done or if you dont; you can ask! But i still wouldnt give up on the dream yet. Creating something you love and watch others use it is something you cant get working for someone else. Yes you make something too but the feeling isnt the same. Its more personal when you do it yourself. Its something you can be proud of and realized you-did-it. That feeling is worth all the sacrifice and pain in the end. People live their life however they want but its takes more to differentialte yourself from the pack. So ride that uphill battle with whatever means you have. Dont give up. Riding an uphill path is all about mentality. Psych yourself to make it up that hill or surround yourselves with friends/family that will shout it “You can make it! Just a little bit more!” (Thats usually how i am able to ride the uphill parts on the bike rides we go with my family)

They say the grass is always greener on the other side. I say plant some fake grass on your side! They’ll never wilt away… 

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