Every tale starts with an origin story.
This is mine.
But first, a question (and a few follow-ups): If your life was a movie, would you pay to watch it? What role would you play: Hero, villain, supporting character, or extra? Who wrote the screenplay? Who directed it? Was it you?
I have always been an antihero kinda guy. A good guy trying to be bad or the other way around. Who can remember? My heroes are flawed. Rough around the edges. Survivors. In the arena.
My first baker’s dozen years were in the Big Apple. Our family ran small mom and pop businesses. Lots of them. It’s who we were. A grocery store on the corner of Broadway and 94th was my first playground and I would spend my endless summers playing video games every place I could find them. And you had to look for them back then. In corner groceries. In the back of restaurants and diners. In huge arcades. I would ride the subway and transit buses for miles to search for more adventure, more dangerous missions, and bigger badder bosses to triumph over.
My family toiled to create better for their children. They wanted their children to rise to respected professionals, they wanted us to become doctors or lawyers.
So I did the latter.
But before all that, we moved from NYC to suburbia Michigan when I was barely a teen. I went to college in-state and pursued my love of writing, reading, and philosophy. Doctor Chung was most certainly not in my stars.
Being a young man in a smallish town, I did what young men in smallish towns do:
I left. I went left, too. To the wild, wild, west, where the streets were paved with gold, or at least, silicon. Northern California. The Bay. The Valley.
I reached my legal professional peak in Menlo Park, where my identity was set as counsel for founders of startups seeking venture capital funding. It was exactly what I wanted to be doing. My dream job. But I didn’t love it. It was electric helping entrepreneurs seek the resources they needed to keep their dreams alive, but something was missing. There was this hole.
Is this all there is?
Had I achieved the American Dream? It felt off. Not wrong, off. As if I were wearing another person’s (really nice) shoes.
It became clear I was spiraling, so I went left, again. I crash landed into another dream job as vice president of an international muay thai organization. A huge win, because I loved muay thai, the company’s brand and its incredible tribe. It was the perfect amalgamation of my passions and my profession.
But I didn’t love it. The unquantifiable, intangible it. Getting the it part right, I was learning, is the key.
I left again and did what everyone should do when they are hurting. When they are lost. When they need to heal:
I went right; that is, I went home.
I am a husband and father, now. A family man. How about that.
You’ve discovered me on a quest to help others play the long game of life. To own their names, their identities and their personal brands. To become a champion leader. It’s sort of like the rest of my story, except:
I love it all.
It is vital to venture. To dip your toes (or dive) into the Pacific Ocean. To see what there is to see. To own your hours.
The best part of the journey of infinite progress? You’re among kindred spirits. Always. There are many of us. Searching. Yearning. You, too?
We are all on the way. On the path. Call it what you wish: Enlightenment. Self-Actualization. Eudaemonia. Transcendence. We are walking the earth and getting into (mis)adventures to reveal who we are, what we want, and what the next step is.
Who are you?
I am all American. Just not the kind you might be used to. I am a mixture of organic ingredients: A pound of east coast grit, a pound of midwest values, and a pound of west coast vision. My heartbeat is the American South, I have found. And my tastebuds and tenacity are somewhere in the neighborhood of an old Korean grandmother. I have spent the better part of a decade blending it all together and scratching my own itch.
I am humbled to be called a leader. Called to be a writer. Named over the years as an evocator, entrepreneur, engager, esquire, and encourager. Branded a maverick. A ninja. My favorite titles are Appa (daddy) and husband.
Our stories get told. Whether we pick pens, brushes, cameras, microphones, or just plain silence. They get told. What follows are the scenes from my life. Past, present, and future. In order and out. Like life itself.
This is my story about playing the game of life the right way. And about helping others play it, too.
It’s my it.
It’s also about what happens between:
ONCE UPON A TIME
About living the happily ever after.
About living the ampersand.