What is humanity?

“Every five seconds a child dies of hunger.
Let that sink in. Every time you slowly count to 5, a small human being dies a horrendous death. Death by hunger. Their bellies squeal. Their tongue ask for water, but no food nor water come. Death comes. Comes and takes away one’s life. Forever.
How is this alright?
Humanity makes see-through phones:
8k computer monitors:
We make cars that run on air:
We make these giant planes:
Humanity makes tiny drones:
Yet every 5 seconds a child dies a hungry death. Why is that okay? Why do people spend millions on cool cars, houses, airplanes, computers, phones? Why do we dream of getting an iPhone 7 for our birthday, while some 5 year old dreams of food. Just food. The most important thing humans need to survive. We advance in technology and other things and we forget that such evil is happening. Why? Isn’t this fucked up? Every-time I remind myself what is happening, I lose hope in humanity.”

Eastern European look

“Eastern Europeans don’t have a universal look. We come in different shapes, with different hair, eye colour more or less similar facial features and so on.
Here are some examples:
Russian singer Elena Sergeevna Katina
Russian actor Andrei Chadov
Bulgarian singer Emilia Valeva
Bulgarian singer Krum
Romanian ex-model/TV moderator Andreea Raicu
Member of the Romanian group “Akcent” Adrian Sina
Serbian ex-model and TV hostess Nina Radulović Lečić
Serbian actor Miloš Biković
Polish actress Joanna Kulig
Polish singer Michał Kwiatkowski
Hungarian singer Laura Cserpes
As you can see, we can be both very different from each other and yet very similar in some parts.”

What is Chinese competition?

In China we say “appearance was given by parents before thirty, shaped by self after thirty”. Let’s be realistic, regardless of race and nationality, staying in shape and looking youthful after a certain age takes knowledge, discipline and dedication.
Being Chinese lived and worked in a city of fourteen million people for years, I have been told, by people OUTSIDE of the city that I looked youthful for my age. However IN cities all people, men and women, looked good for their ages.
In China when a person chose a life and career in a large city, this person signed up to compete with unlimited supply of ambitious young men and women. I knew regardless of my aging, the city is forever young. I would always be competing with twenty five years olds for opportunities. Consciously and subconsciously, I know I cannot afford to look older than my age. All my city friends know it too and they take care of their appearances, regardless of age and gender.
This is my personal opinion yet it is supported by comparing relatives and classmates who chose to work and live in large cities to those who stayed in my hometown, population of three million, small city by Chinese standard. My peers at home are balding, fat, poorly dressed and appear less youthful, as a result of a more comfortable lifestyle.
(Tempted but I decided not to post my picture with old classmates at reunion. Instead I found these widely circulated “before returning to hometown for Spring Festival VS at hometown for Spring Festival” photos. They illustrate my point even better: the hilarious contrast between how the same person present him/herself in cities where they work and live, compare with what is it like when they “let it go” in hometowns during a family holiday. Chilling, if your think about it.)
Now I am in US. I am happy to be “young” and “slender” in an aging society where I am not judged as much for my age and appearance. However I am also quietly freaking out: would I advance enough career wise and financially in five to ten years to be able to compare with my peers in China? How about those then twenty five years olds?
Keeping up with the shape of my body is just another aspect of staying competitive. Competitiveness , or insecurity, is programmed into me and it is for better or worse, part of being Chinese.
I have only been Asian and Chinese so I cannot say if people of difference race and culture are as intense. If I have to guess I would say it was less brutal…”

Yoga at its best!

“I am wondering, what are you doing now to care for yourself?
And, is there a particular reason why you wish to improve your looks and feel better and fresh and be healthier within 10 days?
And after the ten days, will you continue with the healthy habits suggested?
Depending on how much time you have available, here are 7 self-care tips I currently do, which if you practice at least once a day, you will feel better and notice an improvement in your health within 10 days.
Have fun and enjoy the practices. Remember to listen to your body and take care.
Here are seven simple steps you can follow to care and nurture yourself
1. Breathe: In yoga and meditation we are taught to live in the present, to focus on a single thought, mantra or posture. If you apply this to your daily life, when you feel stuck, tired, overwhelmed and tired, stop what you are doing, take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly breathe out. Do this 3-5 times and you will instantly feel calmer, clearer and more able to refocus and complete the task in hand.
2. Rest: Rest is vital to your health and wellbeing. Learn to incorporate a few simple relaxation techniques, such as self massage into your daily routine. For instance, give yourself a hand massage at lunch time or a simple facial massage before you go to bed.
3. Exercise: A few gentle yoga stretches at the beginning of your day helps to energise and awaken your body. During the day practice chair yoga stretches to ease tension from your neck and shoulders, especially if you spend a lot of your day sitting down working on a computer.
4. Attitude: Your attitude, way you respond or react to certain situations makes a difference. Aim to develop a positive attitude, to see the glass as half full and recognise the good in all situations.
5. Take Time-Out: Give yourself permission to take time-out during your day. Take a day-off. Book a massage, have a private yoga lesson, meditate or just unplug everything for 10 minutes and sit quietly focusing on your breath.
6. Healthier Options. Learn to choose healthier options when doing things. For example, where possible walk instead of taking the car or bus, make healthier snack time choices; substitute your early morning doughnut and coffee with a packet of raw nuts and raisins and herbal tea; sip water instead of fizzy drinks; try to go to bed 20 minutes earlier and wake up 10 minutes earlier to stretch and ease yourself into your day.
7. Embrace Life. This is essential. Life is for living. Even on days when all hell breaks loose and everything feels out of control and out of alignment, find something good in the madness and celebrate that moment. Without simple enjoyment life is harder and the journey long.
So there you have it, seven simple self care tips you can squeeze into your day to help you feel better, look better, feel fresh and healthy, all within 10 days.
And if you want more tips, check out my Kindle eBook, Work Happy!: 26 Quick And Easy Relaxation Tips To Help You Breeze Through Your Day
Aim to do at least 3 of the above tips every day.


“Practicing the little soft skills below will bring tremendous benefits to people around you.
  1. Respect everyone equally. As humans, we’re all the same. We eat, drink and sleep just like everybody else. A reputable CEO and an unknown janitor deserve the same level of respect. Treating everyone equally shows that you’re a real gentleman/woman.
  2. Greet people before they greet you. Greeting people is considered as a good deed because it can really lift someone up, especially the shy or lonely ones.
  3. Remembering people’s name. “Thank you.” and “Thank You, Ben.” – Which is better and warmer?
  4. Thank people genuinely for their help, no matter how small it is. No help should be taken for granted. No amount of soft skills can support a person without gratitude.
  5. Never curse people however angry you get. Instead, communicate your problems constructively. Seek to understand, then to be understood.
  1. Smile at people. Smiling is contagious. You won’t run out of smiles, so why keep it to yourself?
These six simple soft skills are easy yet powerful. I’m sure you can implement them. 🙂

If you know only 1000 words in English today, you will know 38000 words next year. As long as you strive to know 1% more English words everyday.

You want to be great. That’s great.
Everyone wants to be great in certain ways.
Maybe you want to establish a successful business.
Maybe you want to be the best doctor in your city.
Maybe you want to buy that luxurious bungalow beside the beach.
Maybe you want to be the best husband/father in the world.
Or maybe you simply want to be yourself, enjoying your ordinary but contented life.
(That actually means you want to be GREAT at living your life, without being swayed by judgment of others. And that’s a huge point to be discussed in future.)
The problem is, many people (myself included) have the wrong understanding about being great.
Yes, being great means you’re going to be 1000% to 2000% better after some time.
For example, a doctor who barely understands human biology during his first year of medicine study becomes a specialist at human heart after 15 years of medicine practice.
That’s at least 1000% to 2000% of improvement.
Or take a toddler (i.e the early YOU) who cannot speak at all (0 vocabulary) and becomes fluent in English or Mandarin (thousands of vocabulary) when he’s 12.
That’s definitely more than 1000% to 2000% of improvement.
But the way to achieve that kind of improvement may be counter-intuitive to many people.
Being great does mean being many times better, but the improvement actually happens INCREMENTALLY AND CONSISTENTLY, not explosively.

1% better EVERYDAY is what we should be aiming for.

What we usually see as explosive growth on the media, is in fact, the compounding effect produced by consistent and incremental improvement.
You don’t have to be 200%, 150% or even 20% better today.
Because even if you achieve that, chances are your growth won’t last. Your willpower will be drained and soon you will fall back to your starting point.
I’ve been there.

Humans are creatures of habit. 

It’s much better to cultivate habits that make you 1% better, EVERYDAY.
The 1%-better growth curve may seem insignificant at first, but it quickly snowballs into strong momentum.
Here’s the math…
Day 1: 1. (Your current state)
Day 2: 1.01. (You’re 1.01% better than day 1)
Day 3: 1.0201 (1.02% better than day 2)
Day 4: 1.0303 (1.03% better than day 3)
Day 5: 1.0406 (1.04% better than day 3)
The first 5 days of improvement may seem negligible. But if you persist…
Day 30: 1.3613 (After 1 month, you’re 36% better than your initial state.)
Day 60: 1.8349
Day 90: 2.4731
Day 180: 5.9958
Day 365: 38.1613 (After just 1 year, you become 3800%, or 38 times better.)
38 times better in a year! Think about what you can achieve in  2, 5 or 10 years…
If you know only 1000 words in English today, you will know 38000 words next year! As long as you strive to know 1% more English words everyday.
That’s the power of 1% better everyday.
Now think about what can you achieve if you apply the same principle in areas you want to be great at – Career, health, relationships, personal development, productivity and living.
Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy to practice? No at all.
But it’s worth-practicing.
Be 1% better, everyday.”


“I assume that you are using Google as a symbol for getting into the Big 4 (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon).
Companies evaluate you on the following 5 factors during their interviews
  1. Coding skills.
  2. Knowledge and understanding of fundamental Data Structures and Algorithms.
  3. Problem solving skills (and whiteboard practice).
  4. Ability to design large scale distributed systems.
  5. Cultural fit and interpersonal skills
You can vastly improve your chances of getting hired by Google by consciously working on your improving yourself in all of the above categories. Let’s look at each of these factors in detail
1. Coding Skills:
You have to be proficient in coding. The easiest way to get better at coding is to just code. Code a lot in your favorite programming language. Your comfort level in a programming language helps you focus on other parts of the interview. Interviewers can quickly figure out your proficiency in a certain programming language. There are small nuanced things about every language that are known to you if you code a lot. Here are a few examples
  1. Declaring and passing 2-D arrays.
  2. String manipulation functions e.g. Splice, Substring etc.
  3. Math functions e.g. Math.floor, Math.round etc.
It doesn’t mean that you should remember all library functions. I’m just saying that when you code a lot, most of these things come naturally to you. You don’t have to pause at each step.
2. Knowledge and Understanding of fundamental Data Structures and Algorithms:
Brush up on data structures and algorithms. Revise Big-O for most commonly used algorithms. No one is going to ask you to implement an algorithm verbatim but it’s better to remember things like
  1. What’s the difference between Merge Sort and Quicksort. Which one is better in what case?
  2. What’s a stable sort?
  3. What’s a Heap?
  4. What’s a HashTable and what are the common collision resolution techniques?
  5. What’s is a PreOrder, InOrder, PreOrder, LevelOrder traversal?
  6. What’s Breadth First Traversal and Depth First Traversal?
This is not a comprehensive list but if you are struggling in answering questions like the above, you need to learn or revise data structure and algorithms.
If you are looking for a resource to learn Data Structures (especially for Javascript), take a look at Data Structures in Javascript with Visualizations & Hands-on Exercises.
3. Problem Solving Skills (and whiteboard practice):
Start practicing and solving coding problems. Start from the basic ones but then progressively solve more advanced problems. You shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to solve any problem. Better yet, practice solving problems on a whiteboard.
As a resource, I would recommend Coderust 2.0: Faster Coding Interview Preparation using Interactive Visualizations to prepare for programming interviews. It has 80 problems with source code in Java, Python, C++, Javascript and Ruby.
4. Ability to design large scale distributed systems:
If coding helps you in getting selected, your design skills decide your salary and level. It’s very important to focus on learning the basics of distributed systems and then learn how to design large scale distributed systems based on the constraints provided to you. If following topics seem alien to you, you have to learn and practice
  1. Capacity planning,
  2. Stateless servers,
  3. SQL vs. NO-SQL
  4. Distributed Queues
  5. Blob Storage
  6. Consistency models (Strong consistency vs. Eventual Consistency).
Again, it’s not a comprehensive list but if you are struggling with topics like these, you would struggle in your interviews. I would recommend looking at Grokking the System Design Interview to get a detailed overview of System Design fundamentals and problems like Design InstagramDesign YoutubeDesign Uber etc.
5. Cultural fit and Interpersonal skills:
You have to work in a team. Companies want to hire engineers who are team players. They will ask you questions about tricky situations where you and your team or your manager had a disagreement. Your answer to how you handled such situations give an indication about your personality. Try to remember a few situations like these before your interview.
Best way to improve on this is to be a good team player. You would not only have great stories to tell but your current colleagues would happily write a recommendation for you (which is required by many of the top companies).
Good luck with your interviews.”

Measure your knowledge

“Intelligence has multiple dimensions. Usually following are talked about often.
  • People get this feeling multiple times in their lives to know if they are intelligent. It is a common feeling especially when you are in schools competing against other students, and when you are in corporate world doing about the same things on a daily basis, but basically there is no such thing as a final exam, it is more like everyday is an exam.
  • Some people like to argue that you are born with it. I disagree. You are born with your genes, but you can learn and acquire knowledge and practice and perfect things as you go so as you make a larger impact so as to really come off as intelligent.
  • In simpler words, read it as – your impact created on all those dimensions does not depend on just your genes.
  • The impact depends on your persistence, acquired knowledge, hard work, genes, industriousness, strategy, people around you and so many things that we cannot even count.
  • Here is a caveat though: Your genes contribute significantly to who you are, what you can potentially become, and how much your upper potential is.
  • That said – We can probably attribute Usain Bolt’s superior performance to genes, but if he did not work hard on his running ability, and simply tried to be a salesman, he would not have created the kind of impact we know him for.
  • So we can say – Usain Bolt has one form of intelligence, and he has put enormous amount of work on it, but someone like Leonardo da Vinci had multiple forms of intelligence.
Now, lets talk about how you can test out if you are intelligent in multiple dimensions. Here is a scheme you must try so as to find this out. Pick one to two activities in each of the buckets, and attempt it with an honest attempt putting only 10 hours on it and see how easy it is for you.
  • For example, if you do not know any music, try to pick up drums, and attempt to play them with only 10 hours of efforts. You can learn on Youtube, and see how well you perform. If you wish, you can even join a class to do this and then find out how quickly you are grasping various types of beats. Then calibrate yourself on the following:
    • What you don’t know.
    • How you learn.
    • How quickly you understand.
    • How well you retain the stuff.
    • How well you can apply it.
    • How well can you train others on it.
  • Then repeat the same thing with about 100 hours of honest efforts.
  • If you can give yourself very high scores on all those questions, then consider yourself to be intelligent in that particular item.
  • Same way, pick another and do the same. Eventually when you have tried and tested all the items, you would figure out yourself, that in some of the items, you are able to do way better compared to some other items.
  • If you succeed in all the items, you can call yourself generally intelligent. And this can very much be true.
  • Now, all you need to do is to work systematically on all the forms to enhance the skills, and work consistently to maintain the skills you have acquired.
  • My opinion is that you should be able to figure out stark differences between your intelligence in one form over the other, but this will be dependent on your previous experience.
  • For example, if I was asked to learn a new programming language vs ice-skating, I can guarantee you, that I would pick up the programming language way more easily compared to ice-skating. Perhaps similar might be true for you?
  • But this does not mean, I was born to do programming. It only means I have more confidence and I have acquired knowledge and acumen for it over the years.
  • In fact, let me now admit, that about 15 years back, I had no clue about programming, and if you asked me then, I could have easily said – I am more confidence with ice skating, because at least I had used roller skates.
So did my intelligence or the form of intelligence change over years?
Yes! They did. They are now highly influenced by my work put towards one form.
I hope this 10 hour trial, 100 hour honest trial helps you figure out objectively if you are intelligent. Then when you have found your natural skills, work super hard on them. That is where you will maximize success.”

Billionaire communications

“I have been able to meet with, work with, and “hangout” with quite a few billionaires in my life so far. But only a couple of Tech billionaires.
With all the billionaires I have met (including the tech billionaires), they use the same phones as everyone else – your average iPhone or Samsung. Except for one guy.
I was curious at first. What could it be? There was no Apple logo, but I could see writing. Was it a pre-release Samsung?
As soon as I saw the letter “T” I knew it wasn’t. I asked the man, and he told me all about Turing.
Turing is a Finnish phone manufacturer which is known for creating some of the most powerful and secure mobile devices on the planet.
The company states that the phone is unhackable, everything thing from the physical design (it doesn’t have a headphone jack) to their operating system (they don’t store anything on the cloud, and ensure end-to-end encryption – without a second or third party envolved).
But it doesn’t stop there. Their frame is made from an in-house designed material called liquidmorphium. The phone is not just waterproof from the outside, but the inside components are as well.
4 SIM cards can be carried in the phone (simultaneously), and it has storage capabilities of up to 1 Terabyte! It houses a 20 megapixel front camera and a 60 megapixel 6K rear camera.
You won’t be able to buy it in a store. In fact, you have to apply to even be considered for the opportunity to purchase one.
Their website is incredibly simple, with a single sleek landing page. Turing phones

Billionaires in shows are still just people too!

“It’s interesting that you should pic Gavin, given that he’s 1 of at least 3 billionaires portrayed in the show:
Russ Hanneman:
Peter Gregory:
And Gavin Belson:
To your question, I don’t know that SV has a “typical billionaire”, except for the fact that a large group of them have made their money in tech. At least the ones I’ve had a chance to meet are quite diverse in behavior, as are the three billionaires portrayed on the show.”

A favorite word in any language for you is what?

“Two from German:
  1. Doch, which is a very useful word that negates a negative and states the inverse positive statement. For example, you might say: “Heute haben wir keine Bananen” or “Today we have no Bananas”, to which someone could respond “Doch, wir haben Bananen” or “No, we do have bananas”. Likewise for any statement of a negative: “doch” asserts disagreement and states the reverse, ie. the positive response. “You didn’t lock the door”, “Doch, I did lock it”.
  2. Sehnsucht: superficially translates as nostalgia or longing, but carries deeper connotations of wanderlust, wandering, yearning, desire, craving. The English words that could be used have each lost a lot of their strength, which is why sehnsucht appeals to many.”