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Training Makes it Possible

Have you ever looked at someone who was really good at what they did and felt a little daunted?

Maybe it’s how they seem to easily make connections with new people, or design an amazing-looking web page over a weekend, or how they casually mention the 6 miles they ran before breakfast today.

It’s natural to feel intimidated by someone who’s really good at what they do and get a little insecure about yourself. It happens to me on occasion. But whenever I find myself falling into that trap,  I remember something I learned from 16 years of gymnastics: Continue reading…

One Woman’s Incredible Startup Journey in Peru

The other night, while wandering the bustling streets of Barranco, my adopted neighborhood in Lima, Peru, I walked into a Chinese restaurant called Chifa Hong Fu. [1]

I was struggling with the Spanish-only menu and was attempting to ask the waitress what was in the various dishes, when this woman popped out from the back and asked me

Ni hui shou zhong wen ma?” (Can you speak Chinese?) My Mandarin is passable so I said I could.

She started explaining the menu to me and I asked her if this was her restaurant. She said it was. And thus began one of the most fascinating and inspiring stories of entrepreneurship I’ve learned in a long time.

Huang: The Relentless Chinese-Peruvian Restaurant Entrepreneur

Jason and Huang

(Huang and Me in her restaurant)

Chifa Hong Fu was founded in 2009 by Huang’s nephew [1] and she bought him out in 2012 to become the sole proprietor when her nephew decided to move back to China. Before that, she was helping her younger brother run another restaurant for about eight years. Chifa Hong Fu has about 15 tables and I’d guess her dishes average out to about 14 Peruvian soles (equivalent to $5.2 USD) a plate. Continue reading…

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A Year in the Life of a Founder After Shutting Down His Startup

I don’t know if this has always been happening but I noticed this year that a lot of people were sharing a summary of 2013 on Facebook around New Years. They’re usually a little “braggy” but honestly, I don’t mind that at all. I’m happy to celebrate all the wonderful things my friends have done or experienced this year and don’t feel particularly envious or annoyed. We are all on different paths.

I very much enjoyed reading a recap of 2013 through my friends’ eyes  and decided it would be a good exercise to reflect back on the last 365 days myself.

As you might know, Ridejoy announced that it was no longer being supported – a decision that my cofounders and I made this spring, after months testing new ideas and soul-searching. It was a hard decision and marked the psychic end of my first startup.

But life goes on and I went on to have a wonderful year in 2013, which I shared on Facebook. Continue reading…

How many people do you know who are 5’5″ and can dunk a basketball?

Brandon Todd Dunking

Brandon Todd is 5’5″ and can dunk a basketball. At that height, you need a 42+ in vertical leap to have a chance of putting the ball in the hoop. This is pretty insane. Todd trained for three years, putting on 85 lbs of muscle to gain the power needed to dunk.

I was enthralled by the short film on Todd I found via Garry Tan’s Posthaven.

In it he says:

I used to look like I wasn’t even on the [basketball] team. 5’5″ 117 lbs. I didn’t want people to count me out because my height. I was reading an article about russian powerlifitng and I saw this fat russian powerlifter celebrating at the end of competition and he’s like three or four feet in the air.

That’s when I started really studying how they develop explosiveness. I had to do so much ridiculous training. Running and lifting and throwing stuff. just to put a little basketball through a 10 ft cylinder.

People ask me – why do you train so hard? And I say ‘how many people do you know who are 5’5″ and can dunk a basketball?’

Because that’s what it took. Because it’s not normal to jump that high off the ground and take a basketball with you, and then land safely. It’s not normal. It’s not something everyone is doing. But now, some kid somewhere might hear about my story and think ‘Oh, he’s as tall as me! If he can do it, maybe someday I can do too.”

As I prepare to launch my book, Winning Isn’t Normal, I felt this story really struck me as a great example of the W.I.N. philosophy. Todd wanted to do something audacious. Continue reading…

There’s Nothing to Complain About

My first and only post on Storylane was responding to the prompt: One thing my father always said was…

Since the company was acquired earlier this year, I’ve decided to port this post over and share it with you guys. Hope you enjoy it!

There's Nothing to Complain About

Photo: My father reunited with some of his old friends

My father was born in China as the middle of three brothers. His father rose through the ranks in the local college to become the Dean of Foreign Languages – the only one without a PhD. When he was 16, the Cultural Revolution occurred and young people everywhere were sent to be “re-educated” in rural China.

My father spent his later youth and early adulthood living and working on essentially a rice farm with his brothers. They woke up at dawn, worked in the fields, ate giant bowls of white rice and slept in shacks. Sometimes they would man a concrete boat that carried a massive load of manure on a two-day trip down the river to sell in the market. My father and his brothers would eat and sleep on literally a floating pile of cow dung.
Continue reading…