My life from birth to 23

It’s been my goal to publish something everyday.

I like the idea of using a blog as a self-invention tool. But I’m so stuck on the mindset that it’s a self-promotion tool… That I never publish anything I don’t think be useful to you.

But I don’t think it’s possible to do that every single day. Unless I just regurgitate things I learn from books. I don’t want to do that. I’d rather link to them.

But I gotta publish something. Just because I want to. To start, here’s my life from birth to today, at 23 years old. It’s not written to help you accomplish specific things.

I hope you enjoy this piece anyway. And maybe even learn a few things.


  • I was born.


  • Mastered the multiplication table at 4 years old. Because my mom was rewarding my 7-year old sister every time she memorizes one table. I wanted ice cream too.


  • Got zero items right on an achievement test on addition. Because I multiplied everything. Teacher let me pass anyway.


  • Discovered Archie comics. The foundation of my reading and writing English.


  • Started competing in interschool Math competitions. Wow, I enjoy hanging out with people smarter than me.


  • Read Harry Potter. Fell in love with reading.


  • Spent most of grade school reading Judith McNaught novels.
  • I theorize this shaped my character forever: I wanted to be like the heroines in the novels. A woman who was fiercely independent. Guarded to most, except for very few, special people. Defies expectations.


  • Cried out of joy in an airplane. I qualified to compete in international math competitions. Something I’ve been failing to do for 5 years.
  • Realized being the dumbest person in the room is a good thing.


  • Spent the summer training with the smartest Math geniuses in the Philippines
  • First international math competition in China. Only award my team won was “most friendly.” Oh well.


  • College.
  • Got fat.


  • Getting fatter.
  • Tried jogging. It sucked.


  • Ran for student politics. Got cold feet.
  • Lobbied for everyone NOT to vote for me. Did not vote for myself. Won anyway.
  • Did not enjoy it.
  • Tried vegetarian diet. Fruits diet. Boxing. P90X. Insanity. Zumba. TRX. Other things I’m forgetting. Nothing fucking works.


  • Almost gave in again to peer pressure. This time, for student council president. Filed for candidacy.
  • Made a very public withdrawal.
  • Learned you shouldn’t do things just because people want you to. It’s OK to disappoint people. It’s OK to change your mind. One year later, you’ll see it’s not a big deal. You don’t have to do stuff, especially if they make you miserable.
  • Discovered NerdFitness and Paleo. It works!

March 2012

  • Graduated magna cum laude, a hard-won achievement.
  • I needed a perfect grade in all my subjects. And all my professors historically do not give out perfect grades. At the beginning of the semester, I told them the grade I need. I asked what I had to do to get it. Throughout the semester, I checked in with them on my progress.
  • Discovered the recipe for doing anything you want.
    • Be very clear about what you want.
    • Let stakeholders know you want it. Ask what you need to do to get it.
    • Do the work.
    • Follow up on your progress regularly.
    • Win.
  • Communication is equally (if not more) important than being able and doing the work. Set and manage expectations.

May 2012

  • Got my first job as an international management consultant. Without applying.
  • Got my first moneyz.

August-October 2012

  • As a benefit of my job, I got to travel around the United States (Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, California, New York, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Minnesota, Florida)
  • Monday morning flights with consultants and investment bankers. I see most of them are rich, fat, and miserable.
  • This is not who I want to be when I grow up.

May 2013

  • Quit my comfy job with a vague plan to be a freelance copywriter, a job I could do from anywhere in the world.
  • Got a lot of crap for trying to do my own thing without any experience. Tried not to care.
  • Joined Location Rebel.

June 2013

  • I will spend 3 months studying copywriting (i.e. reading about it)
  • Everything I knew about learning was wrong. I’d always thought I would do excellently in life because I was smart. But you learn and achieve by doing, not by reading. Being able to comprehend is not enough.
  • If you’re intelligent, beware the cleverness disease.

July 2013

  • Feeling stressed out about money not coming in.
  • Started SEO writing. Got my first $ online: $7/article. I loved it.
  • Quit after 1 month. I needed to experience earning money online… But I could do better than this.

Aug 2013

  • Emailed Sebastian Marshall, my biggest online hero.
  • He offered to get on the phone. Felt TERRIFIED and almost didn’t follow through.
  • I followed through anyway. Life has not been the same ever since.
  • Writing for $45/article now.

Sept 2013

  • Entered Damn Fine Words (business copywriting course worth $1400) scholarship contest. With her big audience on Men With Pens, I doubt I’d win.
  • I won.
  • Freelance copywriter now.

October 2013

  • Now I’m an online direct marketing consultant.
  • Got a $1000 email autoresponder project.

December 2013

  • Read Running Lean and discovered Lean Startup.
  • I was spending too much time (months) studying marketing and copywriting, before selling my services. How do I apply Lean methodology to services?

March 2014

  • Realized I didn’t enjoy working with clients as a freelancer.

April 2014

  • Started a “Cambodia Cash” business, Location Asia.
  • Even though I didn’t know shit about booking flights, lifestyle, or traveling in Asia. Thinking Lean now.

May 2014

  • Pitched Kevin Dewalt, founder of SoHelpful, on “analytics services” to test a business idea. Didn’t know crap about analytics, but also didn’t want to waste time studying something I can’t sell.
  • Copied and pasted sales copy from an analytics book, emailed him “I’ll do this for you, will you hire me?”
  • He said yes.

June 2014

  • Location Asia on track to do five figures.
  • Saw SoHelpful as a rocket ship. I fired my clients and joined SoHelpful full-time as a marketer.
  • Got a lot of crap from entrepreneurs because I “quit” my business.

August 2014

  • Today.

Life is good. I have never felt more sure that my life is on track.

If you have any thoughts and questions (i.e. be more specific about how I did certain things), I’d love if you leave a comment :)

  • Wildcat.

    Bravo for opening the kimono a bit, it’s one of the hardest things to do as an entrepreneur. So damn easy to write and talk about or FOR other people, but when we have to write about ourselves, our desires, our failures and our humanness…it gets murky.

    “Learned you shouldn’t do things just because people want you to. It’s OK to disappoint people. It’s OK to change your mind. One year later, you’ll see it’s not a big deal. You don’t have to do stuff, especially if they make you miserable.”

    This is so huge. How many people do I know that are staying in miserable situations (bad job, shitty place to live, toxic relationships) because they’re scared shitless of disappointing people? A lot.

    I should know, I was one of them until just last year. Hell, I even had to seek therapy to get me to take action to get out of what I had built for myself. Something that was built on a shaky foundation of other people’s expectations.

    Keep em coming. I’ll keep reading.

    • Fear of loss of prestige.

      Wow, didn’t know about the therapy.

      As always, thanks for your attention. I don’t take it for granted.

  • Love this timeline. Easy to follow and shows the path you lead up to where you are now. Glad to hear you feel on track… for now, right?! ;)

    I’m curious… did Kevin know you copied and pasted sales copy from an analytics book?

  • Amazing. Glad you’re finding happiness on a different path. :)

  • Daniel16056049

    Thanks for sharing – this is really interesting to read :) I followed you here from Sebastian Marshall’s site where you wrote some good stuff. The biggest theme I see here is that much of the big wins in your life have been from giving things your best shot even without any real confidence of success. Most people won’t even try, as they are more scared of the risk of losing than the benefits of possible success or of learning from trying something new.

    I see you’ve competed at mental arithmetic? Is it a big thing where you grew up? I ask, because I was actually a competitor on the British team in the 2012 Mental Calculation World Cup and it’s nice to notice other people doing (or having done) similar stuff!

    • Hey Daniel, thanks for visiting my little corner of the internet :)

      Re: best shot without confidence. Wow, yeah, I didn’t think of it like that. I’d add “burning desire” to that. The things I did, I couldn’t NOT do…

      Re: mental arithmetic — wow, oh hey! I don’t see a lot of math people in this space. Unfortunately, no not mental arithmetic. Competitions I’m familiar with are the International Math Olympiad, the one I joined was IWYMIC … The International World Youth Mathematics Competetion

      • Daniel16056049

        Ah yes, I got through some of the qualifying rounds for the IMO back in high school, but never was going to be good enough to compete at the top level. Funny that now, neither of us are doing anything mathematical at all, given how the real world works outside of school. Nevertheless, stuff like this is probably really valuable experience for general skills like applying one’s mind and solving problems. And probably gets you into the habit of assuming that all real-life problems have solutions, rather than giving up on anything that seems hard!

        And good to see you discovered NerdFitness, I was a bit later to the party, but there’s a really good community going on back there.

        You’re in my favourites bar so I’ll pop by every now and again :)

        • Yeah, me too (re: IMO)

          Thanks Daniel, means a lot to me. I’m honored.

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