🌈 ✨ vol.28 / recalibrate success /

Our society isn’t set up to reward the slow, thoughtful, and meaningful strides towards a better solution.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.

—Marcel Proust

Hello, beautiful people —

There’s a drastic difference between working really hard and working on the right thing. There’s also a huge difference between creating outcome and creating value. The most impressive people do both, but the working on the right thing and creating value are way more important. If you are a somewhat ambitious person, it’s not hard to push yourself to do a lot of stuff, while it’s a lot more challenging to be confronting the burning issues in the world.

I’m hyper-aware of my addiction to “getting shit done”. Usually, those actions provide immediate gratification for me to feel good and productive, while the other voice in my head whispers: “stop lying to yourself.” I used to leave virtually no space in my calendar like a real hustler. They say hard work compounds, but without intentionality, reflections, and learnings from those hard work, the only thing that still is my carpal tunnel syndrome. It doesn’t help that our society (or our media) isn’t set up to reward the slow, thoughtful, and meaningful strides towards a better solution.

I’ve recently found some peace in mind, however, knowing that it’s in fact entirely up to me to build an internal reward system that measures success not by quantity but by the quality of my actions, more specifically, by how well they align with my purpose.

Instead of asking what to do next to get closer towards my goal? I changed the question to how is what I do right now shedding light on the bigger problem that I want to solve? Instead of trying to stay relevant in every way possible, I become hyper-selective of only following the things and the people that further my intellectual or personal interests.

Here’s an example of what I’d jot down on my notebook for 10 minutes at the beginning of each day. Each dream is something farfetched that I want to attain throughout my career, and the size of the bubble represents its priority at the moment. For example, writing this newsletter always inspires me new ideas to put into a series of books, both fiction and non-fiction, on understanding the secret of fulfillment in the fast-changing world through living, working, and learning creatively. Throughout the day, I try to do things that map to those bubbles. The dump on the bottom with checkboxes “thing to do #1” and “thing to do #2” are the things that I have to do but not excited about (like running errands). I think doing two of them each day isn’t too bad, and it prevents me from procrastinating.

One of my primary goals as I settle in my adult life is to minimize unintentionally and increase dialogues on the subject. I was at a party where people share their creative ideas that they couldn’t usually share at work. One of my friends told me some of her inquiries into the world receive responses like “why bother asking so many questions? It’s so hard to live that way.” But instead, if she was received with “what made you say that?”, it’s more likely that she will continue to explore an idea instead of tossing it aside.

There has been plenty of serendipitous discoveries coming from people with the dramatically different background just from publishing my writings/designs out there. I made deep connections with those, despite where they come from, are thinking about similar things. I had a great discussion with an industrial designer making shoes for a major athletic brand about how creativity in so much more science than art, and so much more methodological than spontaneous. It feels like stumbling into a bookstore in a foreign country that carries the same book that you are reading right now. It’s wonderful.

Stay real,


Central Question: How does a person write (about writing)?

On December 3, 1961, Susan Sontag wrote the following in her journal:

The writer must be four people:

1. The nut, the obsédé

2. The moron

3. The stylist

4. The critic

1 supplies the material; 2 lets it come out; 3 is taste; 4 is intelligence.

A great writer has all 4—but you can still be a good writer with only 1 and 2; they’re most important.

Source: https://believermag.com/logger/a-review-of-loudermilk-or-the-real-poet-or-the-origin-of-the-world-by-lucy-ives/

Misfits Market: Make the Ugly Beautiful

Humans have been defining what is beautiful for centuries, and we’ve been doing damage to ourselves and to the environment for a presumptuous pursuit for beauty. I was a bit shocked to find out that “almost half of what our nation’s farms grow is never eaten. Much of this is due to modern-day beauty standards for food.”

What Misfits Market does is inspiring not just for the food industry, but for every other consumer sectors where the ideal of beauty has been defined by the taste of a few. Recent innovations in the consumer sector have a limited set of target zip code, but Misfits decided to ship everywhere since the beginning, to provide access to those who need affordable produce the most.

Another element that ironically also caught my attention is the playful brand and design reminiscent of Hims’ campaign. The creative team not only brought out the beauty of the ugly produce, but give them personality that you cannot ignore. In our time where a voice is almost required for a consumer brand to stand out, Misfits scores. Aren’t we all misfits in our own way?

It’s been a good week for content.

Mary Meeker produces her 22nd Internet Trends report

This is what the entire newsletter community is sharing and lives up to the hype. Here are some highlights that caught me attention :

  • Mobile advertising now accounts for 33% of advertisers’ ad purchases, up from 0.5% in 2010.

  • Google and Facebook still account for the majority of online ad revenue, but the growth of US advertising platforms like Amazon, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest is outstripping the big players (Google’s ad revenue grew 1.4 times over the past nine quarters and Facebook’s grew 1.9 times, while the combined group of new players grew 2.6 times).

  • Roughly 70 million people globally listen to podcasts in the US, a figure that’s doubled in about four years!!!

  • 47 million people have installed Amazon Echoes, which has doubled in the last year. I bought a Google Home though.

  • Cloud services revenues of Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are collectively closing in on $14 billion, a jump of about 58% year-over-year. Head in the clouds. Literally.

  • There are now about 2.4 billion interactive game players in the world, a jump of about 6% over the prior year. Fortnite alone has 250 million users, as does the gaming social network Discord.

Check it out yourself.

The Sweetgreen-ification of Society

One of the best reads of the month. The author Ranjan dives into the social implication of every company turning into a “tech company” and every transactions turning into a showcase of our values. He writes:

Technology optimizes how we discover a place, how we’re nudged to go there, and how we’re encouraged to go back. And our masters of startup retail have certainly understood the power of social signaling in optimizing every step of that funnel. Creating Instagrammable food is your earned media strategy, while beautiful packaging is your built-in brand ambassador strategy.

It's yet another area where technological know-how amplifies existing behaviors and practices. We've always signaled status with things like the little horse on your shirt or the expensive watch on your wrist (can you tell I worked in finance?) or the bag you carry or the shoes you wear. Those were social signaling table stakes.

But now it's our lunch too. It's all around us, in everything we do. While the colorful grain bowl you bought makes for a great Instagram post, that paper bag holding your local goat cheese salad now also proudly displays a WeWorkian word salad. It’s like the physical manifestation of that Instagram post. It’s how you tell the world how good you are.

To be honest, I love Sweetgreens and its salads, but I also understand that doing good to the world is becoming an exclusive activity to a hyper-stratified class who have the power to showcase it. That’s why there’s something so precious about a platform like Daisie, where young people around the world trying to empower each other through art. I wrote about it in my last newsletter.

Wish You Had More Time? What You Really Want is More Memories

This is related to my letter above and inspired me to write that letter. People typically tell you they're very busy and don't have enough time. Yet when they're actually asked to track their time, it turns out that they work less than they realize. She laid out many points that validates a lot of my personal experience, that time can be warped to our own perception. She outlines characteristics of people who feel like they have more time:

#1: they are mindful for their time.

#2: they do more things that are interesting and make memories, like salsa dancing or taking a cooking class.

#3: they spend leisure time with friends and others and they are less likely to spend leisure time watching tv/social media.

Cyber Silver is back, and I’m into it.

This newsletter has serendipitously become a community that discovers and connects impact-driven thinkers and makers.

Reply if you want contribute to this or just want to be friends. I’m looking for individuals who are passionate about defining what the future of this community could look like.

That’s it. I love you. 💙

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