Chris

All articles by Chris

 

How Far Can Genius Take You?

  I once had a family friend named Andrew. He introduced me to Puff Daddy, Usher, and Triple Five Soul apparel. He also had a brilliant mind for medicine. Rutgers University literally created an award in chemistry, so they could give it to him. While he was in medical school, I asked him how he did so well in his studies. His answer was simple: “I learn things faster than other people.” He went on: “I see these other people in medical school, they’re studying as much as they can, as fast as they can. But in the beginning, it’s
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My Brutally Honest StashWealth Review

  When I was 14, I started packing take-out orders at a Chinese restaurant. I’d stand in the oppressive kitchen in poorly fitted dress shirt from TJ Maxx for 7 hours and box ubiquitous white boxes of Chinese food. I’d put an X on the check, then sort and drop different sized boxes into a brown paper bag, like Tetris. When I got home, I’d take my pay — $20 — and stuff it into a brown wallet, tucked in my sock drawer. I asked my parents what I should do with my money. “Save it,” they said. Months later,
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The Millennial’s Guide To Doing Your Taxes

  When I worked in literary management, our writer clients would call me looking for tax advice. “What can I write off as an expense?” and “Can I write off my rent if I work from home?” I loved most of the clients. These were amazing people, who cracked the code on getting paid to write books. Unfortunately, in most cases, their personal finance acumen was inversely proportional to their writing talent — the most talented were the most financially illiterate. I think they assumed that because I was a millennial, I’d know more about this “TurboTax” thing. But back
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How Zuckerberg Fixes Facebook in 2018

  For his 2018 New Year’s resolution, Mark Zuckerberg vowed to fix Facebook. From his post: “Today feels a lot like that first year. The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent. “My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse
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Restaurant Reservations: Returning to the Family Business

  In my favorite half-hour comedy, How I Met Your Mother, the characters Lily and Marshall had a series of long-term bets about the future. “Barney will watch the sex tape.” “Marshall will go bald.” “Ted and Robin will end up together.” This inspired me to keep track of my own bets for certain decisions in my life. I’d record the decision, write down a few sentences about my reasoning, and revisit it a year (or more) later.
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Thoughts on Moving Back to Albany

  When I was in middle school I had three key beliefs about my future: 1. I wouldn’t buy a house. Instead, I’d live in a RV. I’d drive around the United States and park on residential sidewalks and in Walmart parking lots. My cousins teased they’d let me park my RV in their four-car garages in the winter so I wouldn’t freeze.
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Taylor Swift’s Marketing Machine: Brand and Marketing Lessons from Reputation

  I can’t say Taylor Swift is my favorite songwriter. When it comes to conveying complex emotions, she doesn’t hold the beer of contemporaries like Sara Bareilles or Lorde. Take Red, where she uses colors to describe a former relationship. The color blue represents sadness. Red? You guessed it: love. And “fighting with him was like trying to solve a crossword and realizing there’s no right answer,” where she jams four additional syllables into a convoluted line. Or Gorgeous, the third single off Reputation. As one Swiftie (aka a diehard Taylor Swift fan) lamented, “she rhymes ‘face’ with ‘face.’” But
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How Did You Do In 2017?

  The first musical I remember listening to was Miss Saigon. My mother played the cassette on weekends, and we listened to it dozens of times. As a boy, I tried assembling the story by the songs alone: Why did Chris leave Kim so suddenly? Why did he marry Ellen? For years, for some reason, I thought she was stuck in a Vietnamese jail with her son Tam, not hiding in a village. A post shared by Christopher Ming (@christopherming) on Dec 8, 2017 at 11:06am PST A couple weeks ago, I saw the musical for the first time, and
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How I Would Learn Marketing If I Started Over Today

  My friend landed his first job in the marketing field. “Any books or resources or tips you’d recommend for marketing?” he asked. There are so many different philosophical approaches (e.g. direct sales vs. permission marketing), digital vs. traditional (email vs. direct mail), parts of the funnel (acquisition vs. retention), and channels (e.g. social vs. SEO)… Where should you start? Or, if I had to learn marketing from scratch, what would I do? I’d start with foundational material first.
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What Nonresidents Should Know About Buying Your First Home in Ireland

  Note: We didn’t end up buying this property, but we learned a lot in a short time. I wanted to keep a record of lessons learned, as buying a house in Ireland is still something I’d like to do in the future. My in-laws have a family home they’re looking to sell, in Cork, Ireland. It’s a 3 bed, 1 bath in Douglas, Co Cork, minutes away from University of Cork College. It’s a rental home that brings in €1,200 per month. They wanted to sell for €250,000.
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What I Learned After 7 Years Of Working For Free

  “Can you endorse some of my skills on LinkedIn?” my friend texted me. “I’d be happy to do the same for you. Just let me know.” LinkedIn endorsements? I wondered. Do people look at those? A couple weeks later, I met this friend over breakfast, and he explained, “I’m having a hard time landing full-time work, so I’m trying to boost my LinkedIn profile.”
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How I Taught Myself to Bartend

  I saved the empty liquor bottles and filled them with water. When the restaurant was quiet (we opened winter of ’08), the start of the Recession — it was quiet often) I took the rail liquors out. Placed them on the ground. Replaced them with the dummy bottles. Then I practiced making cocktails. Over and over again. For hours, six days a week. That first week, I only made 4 cocktails, our most popular ones (Raspberry Saketini (it was a Japanese restaurant), Dirty Martini (for Tom, that’s all he drank), Cosmo, Mai Tai). I learned with the jigger pour
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Cool Things You Should Do in Mexico City

A few months ago, my wife and I took our first proper holiday together in over 5 years. It was the first time going away for longer than a weekend that it was just us (no other family members). We went to Mexico City, then Puerto Vallarta. Two days after we left, the earthquakes hit Mexico City. International tourism is a $13.3b industry in Mexico. I hope sharing these recommendations encourages people to continue traveling to Mexico City and discovering what an amazing city it is. Here’s what we did in Mexico City and my recommendations. Where To Stay in
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Ed Latimore’s Secret to a Happy Life

  My friend Susan introduced me to an interview with Ed Latimore on the Farnam Street’s Knowledge podcast. I finished listening to it while biking down 31st street in Astoria. I got off my bike, started the podcast over, and immediately listened to it again. Ed Latimore is a professional boxer with a 13-1-1 record, a chess player, author, and self-improvement blogger. His two books are The Four Confidences and Not Caring About What Other People Think is a Superpower. He dropped a lot of knowledge in this hour-long interview, but four of his principles really stuck with me, and
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How to Transform Your Body

  It’s hard to believe Conor McGregor’s physical transformation. The first picture is after winning the Cage Warriors Lightweight title in 2012. He’s 23 years old. Been boxing since 12, training MMA since 17. His body is already the product of more physical training than most people put in in a lifetime. The second picture is before fighting and winning the UFC Lightweight title. McGregor is the same weight in both pictures, around 155 pounds, but obviously he’s put on muscle. He looks more dominating. In short, he looks even more powerful. What if I told you this transformation cost
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Your Visit to Val-Kill, the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

  Today, I took a day trip to the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, the Val-Kill Cottage near Poughkeepsie, NY. Eleanor Roosevelt said about the Val-Kill cottage: “[This] is where I used to find myself and grow. At Val-Kill I emerged as an individual.” Here’s a quick video I shot and cut of the trip: I went to Val-Kill knowing nothing about Eleanor Roosevelt. As I drove home, winding around the Taconic Parkway, I couldn’t stop thinking about her prolific body of work. Eleanor Roosevelt was a global media company of one, and in a class of her own. She
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How to Position Your Expertise in Online Education: The “Us vs. Them” Technique)

  I was talking to Brian Balfour about retention and engagement, and asked him this question: You see, I’ve heard arguments for both sides, but when I told Brian this, here’s his response: Later he explained:
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Learning the Language of Growth

  I just finished my second week at Reforge and if I had to sum up the week, it’s this: I’m learning a new language — and it’s hard. Reforge teaches growth professionals how to advance their skills in growth through online education, networking and mentorship. The students are 3 years into their career at companies like Facebook, Google, Dropbox, LinkedIn, etc. aka some damn smart people. And after 5 minutes of talking with them, I realize I don’t have the vocabulary (yet) to talk through the ideas and concepts I’ll eventually teach, things like growth models, churn, and viral
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2 Things About SF Tech Culture

  Last week I learned some interesting things about SF tech culture. For example: Investing in cryptocurrencies is a thing People invest hundreds, even thousands of dollars in “coffee set-ups” — home coffee brewing equipment to make their own personal perfect cup of coffee Everyone loves wearing Patagonia But the biggest mental shifts I’ve had to make is about money. Here are 2 ideas about money I’m trying to hold simultaneously in my mind:
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Thank you, I Will Teach You to be Rich

  5 years ago, I was waiting tables at a Thai restaurant (thanks for the reminder, Facebook). To be honest, it was a low-point: I lost 20lbs on my diet of peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and wonton soup for dinner. I made $35 in tips during my shifts. Everything in my life felt like… you remember that B-movie with Matthew Mcconaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, Failure to Launch? Basically, that. In an act of desperation and tapping into my savings, I bought an online course from this blogger named Ramit Sethi. It was called Find Your Dream Job, and
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Eating at Din Tai Fung

Before going to Taiwan, my friend prepared a document of recommendations. She wrote: “Soup Dumplings: Din Tai Fung is big in Taiwan, but I say it’s overrated. A soup dumpling is a soup dumpling, and we get great ones stateside.” We went to Din Tai Fung, and I couldn’t disagree more. The hype is well-deserved. This was probably my favorite meal (out of many good meals) in Taiwan. Of course, it wasn’t just about the soup dumplings — which were good. Here are some other things I loved about our meal at Din Tai Fung.
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Here’s Why I Clicked on Wilco de Kreij’s Facebook Ad

The first time I visited Times Square in New York City, I spent the entire day enthralled by the city’s lights and 30 foot billboards. Today, it’s just another stop on the subway where I have to dodge tourists and selfie sticks to get where I’m going. This is exactly how I feel about the wave of online courses popping up on my Facebook and Instagram feed this past year. I’ve been playing in the online course sandbox for the last 3 years. 90% of the time, I scroll right past these ads — they’re basically invisible. So, when I
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Lessons from The Founder (aka “that McDonald’s movie”)

On the plane ride back from Taiwan, one of the movies I watched was The Founder (2016), the Ray Kroc and McDonald’s story. I highly recommend it. Here are random lessons I took away from the movie:
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How My 16-Year-Old Cousins Use Instagram

I have a ton of younger cousins and second-cousins (which is what happens when your mom is #7 of 7 children and your dad is #4 of 4). We were talking about how they used social media, and how completely different it was from how I (and my peers) use it. (Mary Choi takes an amazing in-depth look teen behavior on social media here.) Here are my notes on how they use social media: 1. “I don’t have Facebook.” She never got into it. And if she’s not into it, that tells me her friends probably aren’t on there either.
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“They make you adapt for them.”

I caught this absolutely beautiful bit of foreshadowing from Robin Black a few months back. There was something magical about it, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. So I saved the interview and kinda forgot about it. It wasn’t until recently I connected the dots when reading other old interviews. This first interview they recorded a day before Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo in a record 13 seconds. Robin is talking about how certain fighters have learned to adapt to Jose Aldo’s leg kicks. Basically, you have to keep your weight off your front foot. It gets
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Workcation Part 2: March 2017 Session

(If you’re wondering, I didn’t write up Part 1 so you didn’t miss anything.) Brian and I came up with our Workcation Idea while driving back from the Poconos one weekend: What if every 2 months, we booked a weekend someplace without Internet and cranked out a bunch of work? No (or at least, limited) Internet. No distractions. Just work for the weekend. Brian wanted to work on a screenplay. I wanted to work on my online business, ImMovingtoLA.com, and articles and scripts I’m writing for I WIll Teach and GrowthLab.   It seemed like an awesome idea so we
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How a Fortune 100 Company Uses Social Media

Over the last few weeks, my role at I Will Teach has morphed and I’ve been doing a lot more bootstrapped content marketing. In other words, “write more content and find ways to spread it without a budget.” To learn how other people and companies do this, I had a coffee meeting with a social media strategist at a Fortune 100 company. It was really interesting to learn about how “the big boys” do it. 99% of the time I study content or social media marketing, it’s from solopreneurs or small businesses, so it was cool to get insights from
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How to Biz Dev Through Instagram’s Direct Messages with Gary Vaynerchuk – My notes

I love crunchy, tactical how-to articles. We know we SHOULD: Network more Ask for a raise Build our brand Fine… show me “how” to do it. (It’s no wonder I’ve spent 3 years working with Ramit Sethi, who is one of the masters of teaching people the “how.”) So when Gary Vaynerchuk walked through how to do business development on Instagram, I broke down the examples (“the how”) and the principles (“the why”). Then I posted it below. (You can listen to the whole audio here.) Here we go: How to Biz Dev Through Instagram Direct Message Example 1 –
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My Notes from: Gary Vaynerchuk on the State of the Advertising Industry

Damn, Gary Vaynerchuk gets me fired up. Here’s an interview he did about the state of the Advertising Industry. I loved this so much, I asked a VA to transcribe it for me, so I don’t have to relisten for the nuggets. Major theme: Be the one to put yourself out of business. If you don’t someone will do it for you. Business that killed businesses Craigslist killed classifieds Dollar Shave Club should have been done by Gillette Business Insider should have been created by WSJ Sports Illustrated or ESPN should have built Bleacher Report Conde Nast → Refinery29 Marriott
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My notes from Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant

Went to the Museum of Food and Drink in Williamsburg last week! It was awesome! The exhibit was called Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant. At nearly every panel I felt a visceral connection. Here are some of the pieces that resonated, and why: In my opinion, this sums up the Chinese mentality, pride, and way of life: “They did what no one else would do.”   More fun times.  
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How to Persuade People to Work for Free

In the last ten years, I’ve worked for free many times. “Uh, no shit. It’s called an internship.” Not so fast. I’m not just talking about internships (though of course, I did those too). I’m talking about working for free outside the safety umbrella of a university. Without the structure of an internship program. As a grown-ass man with man bills to pay: I worked on sets for indie movies and music videos. I read scripts. I researched for authors. I watched Youtube videos. I did casting. I consulted on marketing plans. All free work. In rare cases, yeah, it
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The Importance of Pre-Meal

On January 13, 2009, we opened our restaurant, Shogun, in Delmar, NY and my father held our first pre-meal inside the kitchen. As the first of the soft-opening customers trickled through the front door, he shared this nugget of instruction: “This is how you pour miso soup.” We were about to open a Japanese restaurant — and we didn’t know how to serve the soup. This is like asking for garlic bread at The Olive Garden and your server saying, “Garlic what?” Case Studies: The Difference Pre-Meal Makes I always thought pre-meal was the best part of a shift. Our pre-meals
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A Million Moments of Serendipity

Couple weeks ago, I was researching charisma, the ability to build rapport, that sort of thing. It led me down the path of the Charismatic Man: the Bill Clinton’s, the Dale Carnegie’s, the Neil Strauss’s… All of which were extremely interesting. But not the right context for me. A familiar voice creeped into my ear as the deadline for this research approached, a voice rooted deep in the lizard brain, strong and powerful — but one of very limited vocabulary: Why did you take on this project? You’re not smart enough to figure it out.  You’re running out of time.
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I Get Anxiety Over This Type of E-mail

There’s one type of email that I loathe above all others. Can you guess what it is? I bet it’s not what you’re thinking. I hate ’em. Seriously, I’d rather read hate mail. I’d rather read Tea Party literature hand-curated by Ted Cruz, or ad-copy from AT&T explaining how bundling my cable, phone and Internet could save me $300. The interesting part? About 75% of the time, what’s inside these emails… Is glowing. Overwhelming positive. Even raving.  Yet the anxiety still seizes me like talons around testicles the moment I see the number (1) in the sub-category I keep for these emails, like a raised
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Trade Up Problems

Below is the transcription of the best three-minute segment of an interview I’ve heard in a long time. And I listen to a lot of interviews. [01:37:53] It’s not like you read one book and do one thing, and it’s figured out, and you’re done. it’s a constant course correction. You need to have those rituals to go back to. [01:38:29] People don’t get it. It’s messy. Life is messy. [01:38:45] It’s messy. Life is always going to be messy. It’s in figuring out how to manage that mess, and planning, “what am I going to do with this?” [01:39:30] Life is suffering. If you
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What Makes Me Valuable

To others? If I did this task better, how will it affect my career five years from now? How will it make me more valuable five years from now? I think it’s important to step back and ask ourselves that on occasion. If I schedule all these lunches today, will it make more valuable to others? If I send out all these rejection letters? If I mail out all these check letters? If I connect every call that comes through? If I indiscriminately do drinks five nights a week? If I book this travel? If I move widget A into the
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What I’m Reading: 3/30/2014

These are the highlights of what I read, watched, and listened to this past week: For Pleasure Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard (book) 60% of the way through Can You Hack Charisma? by Teresa Chin (article) When she was working on a story for Forbes and felt she had a reason for introducing herself to people, for example, she noticed she would hold an upright stance—more so than when she approached someone at a party. Her personality didn’t change, just her internal sense of comfort, and the way her actions appeared to others. change the exterior first, which will affect the interior. 
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Multiply Strengths vs. Improve Weaknesses

The school of thought goes like this: “Focus on your strengths to see exponential growth. At best, improving your weaknesses leads to marginal growth.” The idea’s touted all over the internet. Here’s one or two places. Check your Google for others. In theory this sounds fine. By sticking to your strengths, you’ll “produce” (in the broadest definition of the word) more for the world, at a higher quality, with greater satisfaction. Versus struggling through tasks which require a disposition you don’t have, or skill sets you haven’t acquired. For example, in all likelihood I will never become a terrific programmer
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What I’m Reading: 3/23/2014

Highlights of my reading, listening, watching this past week: For Pleasure Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane The last Lehane book on my list to read. 12 Rules for Learning Foreign Languages in Record Time — The Only Post You’ll Ever Need by Benny Lewis Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem by Yiren Lu In a follow-up interview: “Can you tell me more about the angst you describe in Silicon Valley? Those of us on the outside might think that angst does not belong in the same sentence as, say, $100,000 starting salaries. The angst I’m describing has nothing to do with money in
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First Impressions Stick

It’s human nature, I think, to believe your first impression. The one made the second someone walks through your door, and puts their hand into yours. Humans are predisposed to look for evidence that corroborates what we already believe, not find reasons why we may be wrong. So if you come into your first Hollywood production company as a intern, big-eyed and cash-money green, that’s how people will see you. For a long time. If you come into a studio as an assistant, they may never see you as executive material. Not that it doesn’t happen — of course it
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What I’m Reading: 3/16/2014

These are the highlights of what I read, watched, and listened to this past week: Books Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard I’m only about 50 pages in.I’ve been stymied by recent script reading/work, so haven’t contributed enough time between work tasks and at night as I’d like. It was tough digging into Leonard’s writing at first, but since so many crime novelists attribute him for their style, I’ve stuck it out and think I’m over the hump. Will probably need another two weeks to finish.  Articles The Math of Hit TV Shows by Amy Chozick Why a Failed Pilot Actually
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When It Was Time to Stop Working for My Father

Last week, I talked about how to recognize when it’s time to leave your organization. If they’re telling you: “Don’t try new things.” “Toe the line.” “Do what worked before.” Then it’s time to go. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Of course, quitting your job never is. This is the story of quitting my first job after college… working for my father. I worked for my father for about two years, starting in the winter of 2008. It was one of the best learning and life experiences I could ask for. In hindsight, we opened the first restaurant, Shogun
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If You’re Looking for Permission You’ve Come to the Wrong Place

One of my favorite interviews of all time (and thanks to the handcrafted Aux Hook-up in my car, I listen to many) is Bryan Elliot’s interview of Seth Godin, for the Icarus Deception. In the interview, Seth says — and I’m going to paraphrase here: “The excuse that, ‘My boss doesn’t give me permission’ is a bad one. Why should he? You’re not asking for permission, what you’re saying is, ‘Can I go do this thing, and if it works, I’m going to take all the credit, and if it doesn’t, you’ll take all the blame.’ Who would agree to
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This Is What I Accomplished with All The Time in the World

For an extended stretch of time two years ago,  I had A LOT of time to write. It’s called “unemployed.” I had finished a Production Coordinator job. I wasn’t great at being a Production Coordinator — you in fact, need to know things about Production in order to Coordinate — which I did not. Nor did I possess a passion for physical production. So no surprise THERE when I wasn’t asked to join the next project. (The indignation of some interns and temps, when they’re not asked to stay on for full employment, baffles me. If they didn’t try to
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It Took Me 4 Years to Build a Regular Poker Game – And Why That’s Okay

The second time my roommates and I hosted a poker game in Los Angeles, four people showed up to the apartment. Three of them — including myself — lived there. The fourth, he was interning (like us), was car-less, and lived in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Armed with a bag of Doritos and pretzel thins, he took a 45-minute bus ride to arrive at our doorstop… to find that everyone else flaked. An hour later and the Doritos eaten, we gave him a ride back to his hotel. How hard was starting a small poker game? How different
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The ONE Thing My Friend Taught Me… That Changed My Career, Relationships, and Happiness

I keep a mental list of things I’m awful at: Cooking Making the bed Writing long lists Only one thing really held me back, in my career, personal life, and relationships, though. In college, when I saw how my friend used this one strategy, it was like a strong punch of sobriety after a night of too many cheap vodka shots. It’s effect in this year alone: I earned more money (almost a $10,000 yearly increase), created my first Hollywood tracking board, and developed a more valuable network of colleagues. I’ll get to all that. First, though – back to
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Where’d Ming Go?

Hey dudes. I’m still very much here – but have been working on projects that pulled me away from posting on this blog. Will start posting again soon. (If you want to see one of the projects that’s absorbed a lot of my time the last few months, click here to read Fighting Broke, my blog on personal finance and career advice for Hollywood assistants.) Talk soon. Photo Credit: Mti Abhi
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Why We Love Distractions

There was a contract on my desk I could not get through. Every time I sat down, fourth (fifth… sixth…) cup of coffee in hand, armed with a pen and true grit, distractions plagued me from every direction. I felt like Macaulay Culkin in the movie MY GIRL, who gets attacked by the Avenging Bee Hive, stung a million times, and dies. Oh. Spoiler alert. I’d get through three sentences, then someone would ping me on instant messenger, asking if we were having a staff meeting. Or an assistant would make a scheduling snafu, and would urgently need to reschedule —
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My Thoughts on Urgency and The Medicine Ball Session

I imagine most cyclists pump Skrillex or Sevendust through their headphones during their rides. Currently, for me it’s a choice between Katy Perry’s new album PRISM or Seth Godin’s Medicine Ball Sessions. I chose the latter today because I can turn on the former when I get to work. The Medicine Ball Sessions clarified this sense of urgency I’ve been having in the pit of my stomach. At one point, I attributed the urgency to my age and societal pressure and the effects of social media. I thought: At this age I should have more affect on the world I
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The Difference in Small Fears vs Big Fears

I’ve been thinking a lot about small failures lately. In my experience, they’re more difficult to publicly face than large failures.   For example, in 2008, when my father opened the first Shogun, the idea that “this might might work” didn’t cross my mind too often. I felt like: “Of course this might not work!” It’s a big risk. The economy is depressed. One out of 4 restaurants fail in their first year. That number rises, to three in 5, over the next 3 years. We faced plenty of other obstacles: Was there a market for Japanese food in Delmar?
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