🌈 🚴🏻‍♂️ vol. 20 / living in dreams productively /

The best talent needs a new way to be discovered, validated, and utilized in a way that's not simply centered around brand signals and numeric metrics used by corporate employment.

"Possibilities is the only truth of this universe.”

- A SoulCycle Instructor @ Hollywood, CA

Hello beautiful people —

I was almost out of breath.

But the woman next to me was knocking ferociously on the bike's handlebar, matching the beats of Kanye's Runaway, while the six-packed spinning instructor with glittering skin screamed at us in the dark:

"Remember how you feel right now, and ask yourself if you wanna feel this way for the rest of the day?"

"Why are you thinking about who you'd become in five years? Why are you waiting to become who you wanna be right now?"

"Are you lying to yourself right now? Are you absolutely giving it your all?"

The questions would've been cliché but they felt valid at the moment, and I answered by peddling harder and faster and dialing up the resistance. Then something peculiar happened. As my thighs turned numb from the pain and my vision blurred by the sweat, my mind started to respond to those questions instinctually, as if a state of the unconscious was activated.

At the moment, I felt enabled, inspired, and could visually see how to move forward towards my bolder vision. I started to see clearly that worrying about the outcome is a form of self-deception that immobilizes me, envisioning scenarios that haven't yet happened. While having a bold vision, is another form of self-deception that propels me to take actions. Creating things is shifting mindfully and constantly between these states of self-deceptions. I peddled harder.

The whole experience felt like a therapy session without the need to converse; all of the dialogues happened somewhere within me, guided by the abrasively intense interrogations piercing straight through my mind at its rawest. My inner voice felt safe, lost in the sound of dripping beats and sweat of the strong-willed sprinters around me. It's usually through solitude that I was able to reconnect with myself, but I've underestimated the effect of seeing pieces of myself in others.

They called me an athlete, a warrior, a fighter. On a good day I believe in everything they tell me, and my performance in all other areas in life would improve. These fitness classes make me believe I’m someone that I may not yet be. They built me a new identity that feels so real until it actually becomes real. I thought to myself this is what leadership is. Leaders delineate artificial boundaries of "us" and elevate the identity of each individual in a group by blatantly and proudly enunciating your values. Leaders come from every corner.

I hated sports all my life, and two years ago I became a fitness fanatics thanks to the brands' abilities to create leaders to tell great stories. The innovations happening in the consumer space are showing glimpses into how they leverage tech to vertically integrate storytelling and tribe building in every step of the value chain, from the production of the outfits you wear (Nike collaborating with Barry’s) to the content you read (Glossier monetizing their readership).

While physical health and fitness is easier to quantify, measure, and monetize, there's still a lot to be explored when it comes to one's intellectual and spiritual strength. What if we can also make everyone believe that they’re gifted students, creative makers, compelling storytellers, and impactful leaders? Everyone wants to live a life bigger than oneself, and one can do that the best when their natural strengths align with what the world needs the most. The best talent needs a new way to be discovered, validated, and utilized in a way that's not simply centered around brand signals and numeric metrics used by corporate employment.

It will take a lot of explorations — exposure to the right tools to use, the right people to be with, and shared stories of what the best outcome could look like. An artist could feel satisfied making a beautiful painting until they see that their honest expression can alleviate pain for millions.

I've been working on a few side projects with some friends to create safe spaces for self-actualization through creating and reflecting. I will keep you guys updated on our progress. Meanwhile, try out a fitness class if you haven't (most of my male friends never tried one before). For those based in NYC, there's a website dedicated to giving classes reviews, and it's appropriately named The Class Cult.

Stay fit and stay real,


Image source: Announcing Glide — Amazing apps from Google Sheets

Speaking of making something bigger than yourself, I’ve been a huge fan of the recent wave of apps that make making apps code-free and easy.

Glide App is one of my favorite YC startups lately that turns Google Sheets into an app. You can try right now.

The company has a simple but exciting vision:

Glide makes app development web-based, collaborative, and fun by combining data-bound components with a familiar spreadsheet model. Spreadsheets are the most successful programming model of all time, and smartphones are the most successful computer, so we’re bringing them together to enable anyone to create amazing apps without code.

If you’re proficient in Excel and have built models on Excel, then now you can easily built a mobile app as well. Although responsive web apps are great and they do work, but we all know the clunky feeling of looking at spreadsheets on our phones. Reducing the barrier to make a mobile app also allows small businesses to rely less heavily on Facebook/Yelp’s infrastructure.

Some of the samples that they showed are company directories, HR apps, financial management apps, city guides, and CRM.

The productivity app Notion gives birth to dozens of amazing templates that I now run my life on. I’m excited to play with this one through Glide as well.

Some of the side projects I’ve been playing with:

  • A commitment club for close group of friends to hold each other accountable

  • A directory of interesting people in this community (what qualities and aspects do I want to highlight about these people; what are the opinions they cannot express anywhere else?)

  • A directory of curriculum and syllabus to learn a brand new subject

  • A curation of the most perspective-changing readings in 2019

  • A collection of all my favorite working spot around the world (trying to figure out the elements that make a space feel productive and encouraging)

All of these can be built on Notion, Airtable, or Glide. Reply and let me know if you have any ideas on building one for yourself or your community, or you’re interested in collaborating in one of the above ideas. Get your hands dirty.

Besides going to group fitness classes, another way of getting all my ideas out is through actionable visualization or productive daydreaming. It’s simply a series of questions I write on the margin of a notebook once every month.

There’s nothing too innovative about this, but it’s been working for me to stay focused on the tasks I decide to take on.

⏰ The exercise will take about 20~30 minutes.

  1. First, why are you doing this? How does it align with your values (if you don’t know your values, take some time to think about this…)?

  2. What's your venture going to look like in a year? in 5 years? (be as detailed as possible)

  3. Ventures that you look up to and aspire to become? What have they been doing?

  4. Why does your project matter? What would the world be like with or without this?

  5. Who will be your primary audience? Who will be in this community?

  6. What are the biggest roadblocks to your goal?

  7. What do you plan to do now to overcome these roadblocks?

I’ve hoarded many great reads for the past week. Enjoy with some cold brew.

Image result for the night cafe van gogh

Ugly on purpose

Van Gogh is known for his soothing yet vibrant palette that sits comfortably well in a bedroom. However, in his somewhat lesser-known work The Night Café (1888) – a painting that was, by the artist’s own admission, ‘one of the ugliest I’ve done’. In the video essay, Puschak (a.k.a the nerdwriter) examines how the painter deployed clashing, desolate greens and reds in the work ‘to express the terrible passions of humanity’.

Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires

It’s not that metrics are bad — they have to be used in the right context.

“Compelling people in an organisation to focus their efforts on a narrow range of measurable features degrades the experience of work. Subject to performance metrics, people are forced to focus on limited goals, imposed by others who might not understand the work that they do. Mental stimulation is dulled when people don’t decide the problems to be solved or how to solve them, and there is no excitement of venturing into the unknown because the unknown is beyond the measureable. The entrepreneurial element of human nature is stifled by metric fixation.”

Peter Thiel speaks

Peter Thiel’s predicts that the next Google may not come from Silicon Valley due to its groupthink; and the coming challenge of reconciling identity politics with egalitarian societies. I don’t agree with everything Peter says here, but it’s always interesting to hear what and how he thinks. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this piece.

Landlord 2.0: Tech’s New Rentier Capitalism

If this movement of Landlords 2.0 had a motto, it would be this: Why limit rent collection to real estate when there is a whole world out there waiting to capture rent from, online and off?

Jill the Ripper

Some true crime conspiracy theory. A steadfast minority of Ripperologists have argued that Jack was really Jill…

Someone made this directory called Checklist Design, a collection of the best design patterns out there. For my founder friends who are trying to bootstrap some pages without a designer, you’re welcome. 💙

👋🏻 If you made it this far. Thank you.

After some discussions with friends, I’m making this newsletter a channel to discover and connect creators and thinkers who are navigating the future.

Reply & let me know if you or anyone you know want to be a part of this. I’ll reach out for a short interview.

I love you. 💙

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