Grand Uncle's Advice

I went on a run across the Brooklyn waterfront and it was really nice. The quality of the air was fantastic, and I loved the sun gently skimming pass by skin and soft waves gently touching the shore.

I have a favorite spot where I glaze at the Statue of Liberty. I relax my eyes staring at it from the water(staring at objects far away is supposed to relax your eyes - try it!). I drown out the noise in my head and listen to the whispers of the heart. I know it sounds stupid…

All this brought back a flurry of emotions and thoughts about my grand uncle from Korea. I met him when I went to Korea in August. He gave me a deep warm hug when he saw me. During my time in Korea, he took me across his home providence of Gochang and we had a nice drive across the shores of Youngwang. During my time there, he gave me a lot of sage advice.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal in August last year from my grand uncle:

  • Kindness(친절함) and Humility(겸손함). “The two most important principles in life are being kind to others and being humble. Don’t ever forget that.”
  • Consistency is the key to success. You have to start this today, and do what you’re supposed to be doing right now. Today becomes tomorrow, tomorrow becomes 2 days from now, 3 days from now, until it becomes an entire year. You got to start today.
  • If you want to become the 10%, you gotta put in the work and effort. There is no easy path. You have to work your ass off, or do something different, whether that be thinking or hard work relative to other people. Not everyone can be well off. It’s not how the universe works.
  • People cannot see long term. If you give 100k to everyone today, not everyone will have it by the end of next year.
  • Don’t think too deeply. He had a conversation with my dad. It went something like this in Korean:

    삼촌: (아빠 이름)아 넌 너무 깊이 생각해. 어떨땐 그게 좋으지만, 너무 깊이 생각하면 안좋은 점도 충분이 많아. 좀 덜 생각하면 좋지 안을가?

    Grand Uncle: (To my dad) You think too much. Sometimes it’s good, but there are plenty of bad points as well. Wouldn’t it be good if you thought a little less?

    Thinking deeply is useful for solving problems, and preparing meetings. At work, the way he does this is he looks up every single possible term that could be used during a meeting, and he prepares for every counterattack. He pretty much treats every teller and representative as an enemy, and prepares for the utmost for any situation.

    I reflected a lot about this today, which that itself is hypocritical and thinking too much. Funny enough, a friend told me the exact same thing that my grand uncle told my dad - you think too much. Whatever it is, me, my dad, and my brother just get way too absorbed into the simplest things and just go down a vicious cycle of thought holes and think excessively. Must run in the family.

    Sometimes we need to drag ourselves out and do a reboot.

  • Long term thinking. Think long term.
  • Children > wealth. People don’t really care about your wealth, but they consider how well your children are doing.
  • Start small, learn from mistakes, then scale as you acquire knowledge. He warned me that one of the biggest mistakes you can do is building complex systems without taking little steps. He gave the example of raising cattle. You don’t want to build a big cattle ranch, then buy the cattle. You want to acquire one cattle, iterate and learn the fine details of raising just one. Then scale to two. Then two to four. And so on.

    Unrelated - if I were to raise kids or teach, I would just let them make a ton of mistakes while they’re growing up. Then they learn from the mistakes and scale. It’s so much better that way than make high stakes mistakes when they’re a full blown adult.

  • If you want the scale, you need details.
  • Passing of time. I had to come to Korea because my grandmother passed away. His thoughts: “Don’t be too sad about grandma dying, as it is a passage of time. It is moving from one person to another, and it’s the natural way of things.”
  • Be wary of too good to be true. Usually the scammers that come to his company seem to have everything figured out and look perfect. Watch out for that.
  • Travel a lot while you’re young. “When Korean guys meet up for reunion, all they talk about is their two year mandatory stints in the army. Why do they always talk about this? Because that’s the most interesting thing they’ve done in their lives. Make sure you travel as much as you can while you’re young.”

What’s on my thoughts as of Tuesday, May 7th, 2019.

  • What I want to next. Do I get another job and play it safe? Or should I try to build something? Can I even build something?
  • Should I stay in New York City? I love how there’s always something to do here, the diverse group of people to learn from, but it’s noisy and some people are complicated. It’s just so tightly packed, cramped, and the air sucks. Public transportation is nice though.
  • Reflecting on my dumb mistakes I made and missed opportunities in the past few months. Well, it would have been nice if I knew a key piece of information or didn’t assume that information. If I knew that piece of information I may have changed my entire approach in dealing with something in the past few months.

    I also thought too much about the people’s intentions. But basically, it boils down to this: the intent could be anything. Spending too much time trying to think about things from another points of view or if any actions make any sense with a hypothesis. I heard it’s helpful in poker though. Again, this is overthinking. Ugh.