Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Keep Learning

Tuesday 14th June 2011,

Dear brother,

Congratulations on surviving the exams! I am so proud of you. I don't know the result yet, but it doesn't matter. I am just very proud of you for being the amazing kid that you are.

I just wanted to share with you about Learning.

Today, my boss handed me a box. Turns out it's a Mac computer (and I made a fool out of myself on Facebook cos I didn't even know the "box" is a Max. LOL). Now I have 2 weeks to master how to make an iPad/iPhone app on a Mac so I can lead the company's future project. I know, right. Somehow I was always handed mission impossible during the course of my work life so far, but I definitely will rise to the challenge and deliver it. (On the other hand getting a free "box" from the company might not be that bad.

And I thought of this. As mediocre as I am (refer to last letter), the thing that sets me apart in my career was my ability to learn and to adapt. And I know you have that too. We might not be smart guys, but we are ultra adaptive, like that flexible dude on Fantastic 4. I am glad and grateful for that.

Got my pay slip (Already got my pay end of last month, but now is the official paper), and felt even better. LOL. I am an incredibly lucky guy. It's not that much in Singapore standard, but hey, it's a shitload in Vietnam. The thing that still amazes me is how lucky I am. I came to the interview not really caring how much salary to negotiate (I just wanted to go back home to Vietnam), gave a random number (like, thought about it for 30 secs), got it, and much more. Didn't realize my company is paying for my personal tax (~33%), my government insurance (~5%) and other crap (didn't know until head of Accounting enlightened me). So in the end it's like a 15% increase from my last (slave) work (which already paid more than Singapore's average). That, and an additional 18% interest from the bank (my company owns the bank, so staff rate for me).

Why am I telling you this? Well, to tell you the benefit of learning. And that because I feel good I just wanted to share. Oh and whatever I save goes to your college fund (mom made that quite clear), so yes, you need to know this. Point is, as long as you are good, even if you cost a lot, people will pay it to get you. And learning (note, it's not studying, it's learning) makes all the differences.

I feel very humble (as I am still an idiot, an idiot who called a Max a box) when I am faced with new things But I feel empowered by my ability to learn, to accept what I do not know and try my best to acquire that knowledge.

So brother, keep learning. Even your grades are shit, it's the things you know that matter.

Now, enough ranting. I need to get back to my "box" and learn how to use it so that I can suppress the desire to smash it. "Once you go Mac, you never go back". Let's see about that

With love

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm just ok

Oklahoma, June 06th 2011

Dear brother,

I realized I have been absent. Not just from you physically cos I am in the US, but also as your mentor, your friend. I apologize. I guess the past month I was so busy adjusting to here, and also, to be... happy. I know. It is stranger coming out of my mouth than for you to hear it. But I am happy. Maybe for the first time in the past 2-4 years.

But this is not about me (Ha, that's news!). It's about you. I spoke with mom and I can understand the tremendous pressure you are in. I mean we were all born in the society and the culture that places so much focus on excellency that it's impossible just to breathe being mediocre.

The shocking truth (maybe to mom) is, my brother, I am a mediocre. I am just ok. It's funny how people gave me those title "At the top of peer group", etc. because I am not. I am just ok.

I like to do things and I am all over the place. I take photographs. I paint. I do programming. I do project management. I do business. And the fact is, I'm not the best at any of those.

The thing is, when I do something, I put my whole heart to it (and then move on to other things). As long as you live in the moment, unapologetic, doing your best, with a little bit of luck, you'll get it.

So yeah, unless you aim to be Mark the Facebook dude, or Steve Jobs, there's no need to be the best. Mediocrity is the best :) Just do what you love, and love what you do. Life is too short to come out on top doing what you hate :p

So brother, this weekend is your big entrance exam, and I wish you luck. However, I wish even more that you get to study and do what you love

I'll be here, every step of the way, distracting you with my PS3, Xbox Kinect, Nintendo 3D, iPad 2 and Android phone (On the side note, you are the luckiest 15-year-old ever :p You have all these toys and still you have love from people around. ;) Ha!)