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Desmond's Blog Posts

The cost of being a rebel

I come to realize that I have been a rebel my entire life.

I don’t like to follow others.

I don’t like to obey to authorities and seniority.

I have the natural tendency to challenge authorities and the status quote.

In general, I don’t like to be told what to do and how to think.

The cost of that is

I am usually alone, at the beginning.

I feel uncomfortable around the pretentious ones.

I often find out the hard way that some people and systems can’t be changed. It is better to leave them alone.

I often face uphill battles.

Lucky Days

I got very lucky the last two days.

First, I was trying to collect Daiso stamps for the Peter rabbit. After I checked out, I found a bunch of stickers left by people who don’t want them in the recycled receipts box. I spent nothing, and I got enough stickers to get Kenji a rabbit.

On Monday, I was hoping to see Kate at work because I wanted to buy xmas wrapping papers from upstairs. I was trying to prepare myself by scouting on the items I want in the morning. While I was doing that, I ran into Kathy and she did the shopping for me.

I have been lucky, but have I?

The truth is the more I think, the more I focus on my target and the luckier I get.

If I were to do Art Plaza all over again

Make events and workshops as part of the business plan.

Make contests like Draw2Win part of the business plan.

Hire a store manager.

Set up routine tasks from day one.

Import products from China. If that can’t be done. Don’t open.

我過去17年努力的意義

自從那天我離開家門獨自到加拿大去闖蕩,我就一直懷著一個信念 – 我一定要成功。

成功的定義在過去的17年裡一直在改變。當我還在加國留學的時候,成功的定義是用最短的時間考過ESL 5, 順利畢業,找到工作,移民,最後拿到加拿大國籍。八年之後,這個目標實現了。在2013年我拿到加拿大國籍的那一刻,成功的定義變成了要成為那個改變世界的人。當我正在努力要成為那個改變世界的人的時候,成功的定義變成了 escape the rat race。終於在2016年成功脫離了那個該死的 rat race,成功的定義變成了要比父輩更成功的創業者。在這些大的 milestones 之間,也有很多微成功。例如我曾經幻想有一天要 editorial cover by Okinawa Living Mag,,實現一個月20000 cashflow 等。這些我都做到了。

但是,我到底為什麼那麼努力呢?

我總是覺得自己身邊缺少朋友和興趣。後來意識到我是在走得太快了,一年半載就把一時的朋友甩在後面,繼而沒有了共同語言,見面自然就少了。Hajime, Paul, Chi 這些都是最好的例子。

最近在一個 podcast 中聽到一個比較合理的解釋 – the struggle between meaning and stability. 我感覺自己是一直為stability而努力。總是要把冰箱囤的滿滿的,生怕沒有食物就是世界末日。總是要在銀行裡有點存款,因為真的很害怕沒有錢的日子。為stability的努力有時會讓我變得很盲目,永無止境地工作。工作久了,就會想我到底這麼努力幹嘛?有些人看上去不努力,還是活得好好的。這是我正在想努力工作的意義。

為的是不讓父母妻兒擔心。

為的是不讓小看我的人得逞。

為的是不在自己老的時候後悔。

現在發現這些都很傻。

不讓父母妻兒擔心 – 這些愛我的人從來都不是因為我有錢了才愛我。

不讓小看我的人得逞 – 如果我失敗了,這些人又得到了什麼?如果我累了,這些人也不會在意。不要讓自己為這些人操心,沒意義。

不讓老了之後的自己後悔 – 無論我現在如何努力,按我這種性格老了只有肯定也有後悔的事情。現在40歲的我也有很多後悔的事情,60,80歲的時候還會少嗎?活好現在就好了。

40年過去了,每次我遇到再大的困難,都是這樣挺過去了,還有什麼好怕的呢?每次我覺得需要為stability擔心的時候,想想在加拿大那些孤獨的日子,想想那些在中國因為年少無知而做的錯事,想想2021年夏天那場財政危機,我都是怎樣挺過去的。這就是我過去17年努力的意義 the meaning of all my struggles in the past 17 years since that day I left home to Canada.

建立現在我擁有的那份自信,無論走到哪裡,無論什麼困難,我都會勇敢地面對,積極地尋找答案,默默地幹直到我達到更高層次的 stability.

A new journey

It has been six years since Ai and I moved to Okinawa in January 2016. We came here with two backpacks and now we have an apartment full of stuff plus two kids.

COVID and the new opportunity with the Kadena BX had me grounded on Okinawa for almost three years. In May 2022, we took the boys to Tokyo Disney for the first time. They loved it. We stayed in the Disney resort hotel for two nights. It cost $500 per night to say there, breakfast not included. But it was worth it. 12 years ago, Ai took me to Tokyo Disney for the first time. That was my first Disney land experience. We were still dating at the time and I was making $50,000 a year before tax. While trying to keep my hotel budget under $80 a night in Tokyo, spending $500 a night at the Disney resort was a dream far from reach. Ai and I walked into the lobby, everything looked amazing. I told her the next time we come back to Disney, we will stay in this resort. We did it, as husband and wife, and the parents of our children.

While we were in Tokyo, we went to Costco. Pretty much the same deal as Costco in the US, but we were shocked to find out we can buy imported fresh fruits for a much lower price than domestic alternatives on Okinawa. We ended up buying over $100 of fresh mangos, blueberry, grapes, kiwi and ate most of them while we stayed in Tokyo. We also went to a fancy shopping mall in Ginza. Showered by the buzz and the lights of the city, we felt overwhelmed but also very excited to be in the city again.

Souta is turning five. We need to decide where to send him to pre-school and elementary school. He had spent the last three years with GMA. If we want him to continue attending International school, the options are limited to international schools in Naha or Urasoe, or the religious schools near our area.

We come to realize the purpose of us coming to Okinawa has been fulfilled, which was to escape from corporate America and took a long vacation by the beautiful tropical ocean. In the past five years, I have learned the skills to stand on my own feet, enjoyed the beautiful island life, and double the size of our family. It is time to move on. It is time to take the boys back to the city where the options and the opportunities are.

Here is to a new journey, from Okinawa to Tokyo.

The 1%+1% rule of social media marketing

Say you have 200 followers on social media. Will the social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, etc) deliver your update to all 200 followers, meaning all 200 followers will see everyone one of your posts on their timeline? Not really.

The truth is no one knows the truth about how many of your followers will your update on social media. If you are an admin of a Facebook page, you get a number on how many people your post has reached. But that doesn’t mean these people see and understand the message in your post. Instagram does a better job with the heart button. When you receive a heart from someone, that means that someone on the receiving end stops looking at your post and then decides to take a small action, which sends a signal that he or she sees your post.

So what should we expect from social media? When you post something on social media and hope people who see your post take action, what is the outcome you should expect?

I use the 1% + 1% rule.

The first 1% is the percentage of your followers who will see, on just receive, but they will see and understand what action you want them to take.

The other 1% is out of the first 1% – the followers who understand your intention, the percentage of people who will take the action you desire.

If you have 10,000 followers on Facebook, for example. You publish a post about your latest product, and you want your followers to click the link in the post to transact with you. 1% of your followers will see and understand what you want them to do, that is 1% of 10,000 = 100. And then 1% of the 1%, which is 1% of 100, would eventually choose to transact with you.

As you already know, the actual result depends on other aspects, but that is how I set the expectation for my social media campaigns.

“That is not enough,” you may say.

Well, it depends. If you have 1 million followers and apply the 1%+1% rule, that is 100 people that will transact with you. If each one pays you $1,000 every time to post something for them to buy, for most creators, that is probably more than enough.

“What if I only have 1,000 fans, or 100 fans, or even less?”

The 1%+1% rule still applies, but you can change it. I will talk about how in another post.

Time Management Is Overrated

My most creative time in the day is in the morning, so I draw or write in the morning. I can’t achieve the same level of productivity at night no matter how much time I spend working.

Time Management is overrated. It has little effect on my personal GDB. I have done time management practices but they end up being distractions. Instead of managing my time, I manage my energy. Energy management has two steps:

  1. Be aware of how my energy level changes during the day. For example, my energy level usually peaks at 10:00 AM followed by a slow decline until I go to bed at round mid night.
  2. Priorities the most important tasks of the day when my energy level is high.

No saying time management is not important. It is overrated and not as effective as energy management. My schedule changes as there are many unexpected events everyday in my business. I can not control the unexpected, but I am fully aware of my energy level and know what is important in moving my business forward.

What is art and when does art becomes a business

Art is communication, just like talking or making a movie. Art is a way for an artist to send a message to the audience. When people say “I don’t understand the art”. That is the same as not getting the joke, though the joke is there.

Art becomes a business when the artist or someone who works with the artist deliberately produces the art in scale. That is step one. Once the art has been produced in scale, then the artist sells the art. After the art is sold, the profit is reinvested to create more new art or increase productivity. Once this cycle is formed and for as long as it continues, making art becomes a business.