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Desmond's Blog Posts

The three elements that made Oki Social successful

Find a Group of People

Before you can build a successful business, you need to identify your target audience. And not just any audience, but a group of people who are your biggest fans – your “superfans.” These are the people who are so passionate about your brand that they have made it a part of their identity and daily life. They will not only buy your product or service, but they will also talk about you online and offline, recommend you to their friends and family, and participate in a community of like-minded enthusiasts.

One of the best ways to identify your superfans is to focus on a niche market. Find a group of people with a common interest, need, or problem that your business can solve. Kevin Kelly, a technology writer and founder of Wired magazine, calls this group your “1000 true fans.” Pat Flynn, an entrepreneur and author, calls them your “superfans.” Whatever you call them, these are the people who will be your most loyal customers and your best marketing tool. They will talk about you and your products in your vocabulary, online and offline.

Oki Social has a strong focus on building a strong community. We don’t brag about our designs and products. Instead, we focus on bringing people together around the business by hosting events and creating opportunities for local artists on Okinawa. As a result, we have built a group of superfans who love to support local businesses speically artists in their community.

Lock on to a phrase

Once you’ve identified your superfans, it’s time to lock on to a word or phrase encapsulating your business. This could be a problem you solve, a benefit you provide, or a unique selling proposition that sets you apart from the competition. For example, if your business is about helping people quit smoking, you might focus on the phrase “quit smoking” until it becomes synonymous with your brand.

The idea is to keep repeating your keyword or phrase until it becomes ingrained in people’s minds. This is how brands like Kleenex and Band-Aid have become so ubiquitous – they have become the go-to word for a specific product or service.

Oki Social delivers a unique value, and I have been repeating that since the beginning – Okinawa Focused Arts & Gifts. I am happy to see that within our fan base when they think Okinawa art, they think Oki Social. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. The key for business owners is to show up. You don’t have to make a big impact each time, but you gonna show up. The more frequently you appear and repeat what you do in every appearance, the more likely you will be remembered. YouTubers understand that their focus should be publishing consistently instead of aiming for that million-view video. You can’t engineer a hit video. It is must easier you show up consistently so one of your videos may become the next million-views video.

Set the Right Price

Finally, you need to set the right price for your product or service. This is where you need to consider what you make, who it’s for, and how desperately those people want to solve the problem you offer to solve for them. If you’ve identified your superfans correctly, they should be willing to pay a premium for your product or service.

On the other hand, if you set the price too high, you risk alienating your target audience. If your target audience is between 20 and 35, for example, you need to be careful. A fifteen-year gap could be the distance betweent two generations.

Dealing with Unreasonable Customers for Freelance Artists

As an artist, when doing freelance work, dealing with unreasonable customers can be one of the most challenging aspects of your job. While it’s natural to feel frustrated or upset when faced with these types of clients, it’s important to remember that there are ways to manage the situation and come to a mutually beneficial resolution. In this blog post, we’ll explore why unreasonable customers exist and provide you with a step-by-step guide for dealing with them.

Why Do Unreasonable Customers Exist?

There are a few common reasons why customers might act in an unreasonable manner:

  1. Fairness and Professionalism: Sometimes, customers feel that they are not being treated fairly or professionally by you or your business. They may feel like their needs and concerns are not being taken into account.
  2. Self-Centered Thinking: Some customers have a self-centered approach to business dealings, focusing solely on their own benefits and disregarding the professional process you have in place.
  3. Unfulfilled Desires: Sometimes, customers may not be able to get what they want, even if they know that they are in the wrong. They may still try to push for what they want in order to see what they can get out of the situation.

What To Do When Dealing with Unreasonable Customers

  1. Listen First: The first step in dealing with unreasonable customers is to let them talk. Try to understand where they are coming from and what motivated their unreasonable request. Show that you are listening by repeating back to them what you have heard in your own words.
  2. Show Empathy: Next, show the customer that you are on their side by expressing empathy. Explain their motivation in your own words until they agree with your explanation.
  3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Try to see the situation from the customer’s perspective by putting yourself in their shoes. Make a few compliments about the customer, showing them that you understand and appreciate their point of view.
  4. Establish Your Position: Once you have listened and shown empathy, it’s important to establish your position. Make it clear to the customer what you can and cannot do to meet their needs.
  5. Negotiate Humanly: Finally, negotiate with the customer as humanly as possible. Focus on finding a solution that works for both parties, rather than simply trying to win the argument.
  6. Dealing with unreasonable customers can be a challenging aspect of freelancing, but it’s also an opportunity to showcase your professionalism and your ability to find mutually beneficial solutions. By following the steps outlined above, you can manage these situations effectively and come to a resolution that works for both you and the customer.

How to move from Okinawa to Tokyo as suggested by ChatGPT

My family will be moving from Okinawa to Tokyo at the end of 2023. We are two adults plus two toddlers, a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. It is an overwhelming project with a lot of moving parts. At the time this is written, ChatGPT has just come out for about three months, and it is the talk of the town. I have been playing with it for a while.

I use ChatGPT mainly for content generation, finding books, and coding. I want to see if ChatGPT can be my assistant in moving my family to Tokyo.

I tell ChatGPT about myself and my family, and then I ask ChatGPT to give me suggestions on moving my family to Tokyo. Here is what I get.

Sure, here’s a more detailed explanation of each suggestion:

  1. Research schools in Tokyo: Look into the different schools in the areas where you are considering living. Consider factors such as location, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and school culture. Schedule visits to prospective schools to get a sense of the environment and talk to teachers and staff.
  2. Hire a real estate agent: A real estate agent can help you find a suitable place to live in Tokyo. They can assist you with searching for rental properties that meet your needs, budget, and preferred location.
  3. Plan for the transfer of your small business: Consider the logistics of transferring your business from Okinawa to Tokyo. Research the business climate and regulations in Tokyo, and look into any necessary permits or licenses. You may also want to network with other small business owners in Tokyo for advice and support.
  4. Start packing early: Start packing your belongings several weeks before the move. Make a list of items that you need to take with you and prioritize which items to pack first. Consider what items can be left behind and which items you might need to purchase when you arrive in Tokyo.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the local customs, culture, and laws: Do some research on the local customs, culture, and laws in Tokyo. This can help you adjust to your new environment and avoid any cultural miscommunications.
  6. Plan transportation: Make arrangements for transportation to and from work, school, and other activities. Consider the cost and convenience of different transportation options, such as public transit, biking, or driving.
  7. Join local community groups: Joining local community groups and activities can help you and your family make new friends and adjust to your new environment. Consider joining clubs, sports teams, or taking classes in a subject that interests you.
  8. Update important documents: Make sure to update important documents such as driver’s licenses, insurance, and bank information. Notify relevant parties of your move, including your employer, insurance company, bank, and any other relevant organizations.

It gives me a pretty good framework to start with. In the following days, I will use ChatGPT to assist me in each of these areas.

It is the beginning of 2023

2023 is a special year for me. I suppose my life is 70 years long.

I’ve looked to my family’s history as a reference, my grandpa passed away before turning 80 and my dad is in his seventies. Based on this, I’ve made a conservative estimate that my life will be 70 years long. If that’s the case, on May 15, 2023, I will have only 10,000 days left to live in this world.

Have you ever thought about how many days you may have left in your life? It’s a sobering thought, but one that can help us make the most of the time we have.

In a Youtube video, I heard a story about Kevin Kelly, a wise man in his 69th, share an advice that really resonated with me. He has a countdown timer on his computer screen to remind him how many days he has left in his life. This made me think: if we knew exactly how many days we had left, we wouldn’t waste a second. We would live every day to the fullest.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized the importance of seeking advice from those who have gone before us. I wish I could have let go of my ego and talked to my dad more when I was younger. Although my dad is a quiet man, I’ve learned so much from him.

In my 11,813 days of life, I’ve learned valuable lessons that I want to pass on to my children. Suppose I have learned on valuable lesson each day in my life, and if I can only each one valuable lesson to my children everyday for the rest of my life, I have more lessons I need to tech them than the days I have left in this world. That’s why I’ve decided to start a series of articles called “Advice for My Children.” In these articles, I’ll share some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in life and how I’ve dealt with them. I hope that my children and anyone who reads these articles can gain wisdom from my experiences.

I hope, one day with AI tech, my children can feed these articles to a bot. They can ask for advice from the bot as if they are talking to me, long after I am gone.

Advice for My Children #1

If you’re worried, write it down.

We all worry about things from time to time. Some worries can be ignored, while others keep us up at night. If you can’t shake a worry, write it down. Be specific about what’s worrying you and why. By writing it down, you may find the solution comes to you. If not, put your writing away and come back to it in a couple of weeks. You’ll be surprised at how much things can change in just a short period of time. I learned this technique from the book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie and it has helped me a lot when I faced responsibilities that seem unbearable in my 20s, personal failure that could ruin the rest of my life in my 30s, and financial hardship in my 40s.

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.


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。


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。





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.