blog, life updates, uxdesign

what kind of designer do i want to be?

designers are human to the core. using empathy as their guiding principle, designers take the seat of their users and design products, services, and solutions that best serve their needs. as i learn about disciplines i have never been exposed to, such as usage of personal data, global health, cooking, and other fascinating topics, i am beginning to sculpt my vision for my future in this field.

i ask myself difficult questions such as,

what kind of designer do i want to be?

what skills do i need to equip that vision?

what problems are most intriguing?

then the question of,

how can i take action and get involved?

eventually loops in my brain.

this jump from thought to action feels like a dive into an ocean of uncertainty. growing up in an immigrant household, i wasn’t encouraged to form opinions. it was quite opposite. instead, i was encouraged to stay neutral and to make sure i don’t step on people’s toes or rub them the wrong way. if something was doing something wrong, i had to decide if it was worth examining or writing off as a negligible event that doesn’t concern me. after all, that’s often the perspective immigrants take, as “getting involved” could lead to detrimental consequences such as deportation or maltreatment.

now, i am independent, living and thriving on my own, but it is still difficult for me to unlearn these old lessons. i now have a paycheck, savings, and everything i could ever need to meet my basic needs of survival. i have nothing to lose by establishing my voice and sharing my opinions with the world, but even still – i am hesitant to share anything more than observations, banking on the notion of “first i need more information”.

i hope to continue to immerse myself and learn about the world around me. i hope this fear will wane as i strengthen more conviction in my general knowledge. it is only then can i form a clearer idea of the kind of designer i want to become, the important problems i want to work on, and the overall impact i want to leave in my absence on this earth.

it is through the iterative process of gathering, connecting, and synthesizing knowledge about the world around me that i better define my purpose as a developing designer and mere human being.

blog, life updates

deep in the arena / sept 2019

it’s already been a month since my last conversation with my work best friend Ilya. september was quick yet i learned many key lessons. i am progressing quickly because of the people i’ve met, bootcamp i started, and the experiences i’ve had this month. thus, it is time for another inventory check.

tl;dr headspace: “i am in the game. i built my character. chose my arena. now i am deep in it. past lvl 1: getting used to the flow, the controls. seeing who the key players are. now i am figuring out how to play the game while also building my arsenal of weapons + potions. bring it on.”

taking inventory


challenge: learning to be with a partner again

my relationship with my significant other has been unfolding beautifully and organically. our thoughts, actions, and emotions mirror and complement each other in a way that makes things easy. there can be strong enthusiasm and passion, but also a comforting silence when we are together. the support and insight we provide for each other propels our individual goals symbiotically. it still baffles me that this huge shift in my life stemmed from a simple dinner party back in july. i am learning more about various cultures, worldly knowledge, and new ways of thinking by being with him – just what i needed as i was embarking in a new chapter in my career.


challenge: learning to balance a day job and a bootcamp that requires 20+ hours a week

my day job has become a back burner initiative as i started my bootcamp. i experimented this month to define the lowest energy output i can give also providing a net positive value. today i found the answer and will start using that as a boundary for how much energy i exert at work. my current job will always be easier than the startup job that started my career. the difficult part is balancing this job amongst my higher priorities, but i believe i am on course towards perfecting this code.


challenge: lowering contact frequency while also ensuring that i showed my love

i didn’t get to see my immediate family this month, since Paris, but i’ve kept up with the weekly texts, phone calls, and facetimes. my brothers are growing, and i feel the urge to guide them. however, i’ve taken the backseat approach and wait for them to come to me for help. it’s fascinating to see what conclusions they draw and what experiments they perform as they navigate their worlds.

other family: my cousin Patrick moved up to SF, and i couldn’t be happier. i grew up very closely with Patrick as we went to the same schools, played together, and shared birthday parties. my significant other and i went on a double date with Patrick and his girlfriend Sophia – the first time i’ve brought anyone “home” since Mike. i am so grateful for how well everyone got along. Patrick agreed to have a joint-birthday party like old times. we’ll find out next month how well it turns out.

i’ve also kept up with my cousin Jaime who i used to work with. i love hearing updates on her growing business and baby Mila. next month is also her birthday month (like Patrick and me). time moves quickly when you’re on your grind, but it’s always nice to take a breath and reconnect with the ones who’ve helped you on your journey.


challenge: lowering contact frequency of play while also building / improving quality of relationships

my dream of having a local, solid friend group is coming true. i’ve gotten closer to some people i box with who live very close to me. i spend last sunday night exploring a neighborhood soba spot and brewery with them, then spent the next night eating a home-cooked meal (an eel they caught while fishing!) in a starry-lit backyard. we planned a trip to Half Moon Bay to go poke pulling in November. they’re helping me renovate my backyard for this CRAZY RAGER (just kidding, just a kickback) i am throwing for my birthday.

this birthday party has been a long-lived dream of mine: all my favorite people in one place, people who represent different sides of me / different chapters of my life, all meeting and enjoying each other’s company. i’ve always been hushed about my birthday, but this year i have a place, i have solid friends from all over – why not live it up? i cannot wait.

another friend group i’m getting close with is my significant other’s close friends. i went on a Big Sur camping trip with them: driving along the coast, relaxing at this obscure hot spring at 2 AM, and inebriated around a campfire, eating the blandest meal i have ever eaten. it was SURreal (ah ha ha). they are the ones i mentioned last month – the ones i said would help me level up.

i know who my friends are. opting out social media always emphasizes who i should invest in. i like that i can go super deep with all of my friends, sharing my most personal problems with great ease and trust. many of my friends have helped me scheme which i find incredibly valuable at this stage in my life. i know who my tribe is, and i try to make it as apparent as possible my affections for them.


mental health: 

challenge: lowering anxiety / overwhelm / reactiveness

i was definitely tested this month while juggling the demands of a full-time job and bootcamp. i relinquished self-imposed pressure and adopted / experimented with new models of productivity. i am still tweaking this area, but i can confidently say that my mental health has significantly improved this past month.

why? the social media tick has completely left my system, leaving me with more headspace to focus on more valuable ideas. also, i hit my three-plus week mark for my meditation habit. i’ve been on and off with meditation for years – previously having a multi-month habit that later slipped when i ended my Headspace subscription. nonetheless, i am back on it, meditating multiple times a day, and boy does it make a difference. i am sharper. i am calmer. i am happier. i am more proactive versus reactive to my environment. i am juiced to see its compound effect over the next couple of weeks.

physical health:

challenge: getting back into the shape before Paris, maintaining physique and overall health with less commitment and time = basically, more efficiency

this has been put on the backburner, but i still have maintained my shape. i lowered my frequency at the gym from four to a minimum of two. at the beginning of the month, i knew that i had to bring fitness down a few notches as i added more study time. i’m taking it well, but i still am very aware of my muscle loss.

after a long-winded internal debate, i decided to continue my gym pass. 1) boxing will keep my sharp, grounded, and empowered. 2) i realized that the community i’ve built there has a great positive impact on my mental and emotional health. and 3) i realized that fitness, particularly boxing, is a part of my identity. though i am diverting my time more to this bootcamp, i realized that i cannot CANNOT lose my sense of self throughout this process. my things that contribute to my identity is paramount and must continue to be nurtured. i am NOT trying to go insane any time soon.

emotional health: 

challenge: asking for help, managing my emotions independently, acting less impulsively so i can be more mentally focused

i have been training myself to reach out for help more often, as it is a weakness of mine (which stems from my immigrant childhood). most of the times i had a problem i was trying to work out, or there was a concept i couldn’t quite wrap my head around, i asked those around to teach me, brainstorm with me, or share their tips and experiences. examples include: context on cultural differences, optimizing my weekly calendar, renovating my backyard, and strategizing next career moves. i was inspired to adopt this method of sharing brains from my best friend Wally, and it is working wonders. not only does it save me from a preventable failure, but it also strengthens the bonds i have with my friends and family.

experiments conducted this month:

love challenge: learning to have a partner again

  • communicating more frequently and in real time – voicing my thoughts even when they were not finalized / polished and even when i don’t feel like sharing

career challenge: learning to balance a day job and a bootcamp that requires 20+ hours a week

  • energy conservation: finding the sweet spot between lowest viable input and positive net value to conserve energy for bootcamp
  • timing: arriving + leaving work / sleeping + waking up at the same time every day
  • procrastination: time-boxing difficult / less interesting projects, using my calendar religiously

family challenge: lowering contact frequency of play while also building / improving quality of relationships

  • frequently communicating my thinking, challenges, and priorities during check-ins

friends challenge: lowering contact frequency of play while also building / improving quality of relationships

  • respond quicker to text messages
  • organize hangouts right away in the moment so there are less residual thoughts / interactions for planning and so it is based on my timeline
  • saying no explicitly and in the moment
  • being more present / focused on others during hangouts

mental health challenge: lowering anxiety / overwhelm / reactiveness

  • tea as an afternoon pick-me-up / stress reliever instead of coffee
  • headspace meditation habit: at least once a day
  • acting less from a need to explain myself and feel understood, focusing more on fueling the idea that only those who matter will try to understand you
  • bravery practice: focusing more on sharing unfinished thoughts in real time

physical health challenge: getting back into the shape before Paris, maintaining physique and overall health with less commitment and time

  • de-prioritizing gym from my top three priorities which deflated the pressure i placed on myself
  • eating high-nutrient food less frequently, in smaller quantities
  • cooking from a cookbook and using grocery shopping as a reward to keep myself motivated to fill my body with the right energy

emotional challenge: asking for help, managing my emotions independently, acting less impulsively so i can be more mentally focused

  • asking for help as often as possible
  • being more expressive of my woes with trusted souls
  • meditation helps with impulse and emotional control
  • integrating a consistent “save for later” list for thoughts, links, media


i am more efficient and realistic with managing time and responsibilities. i am more action-oriented as it also saves time. i manage my thoughts and emotions more effectively because of my improved habits around sleep, meditation, and food/media consumption.

overall, i am much more balanced, thus my capacity for workload volume and complexity has improve. perfect as it is on track for my vision for myself at the end of 2019.

next steps

more disciplined studying hours, deep work, and timeboxing

last quarter. let’s kick it in.

blog, life updates

be proud of yourself / aug 2019

surreal. life is so incredibly surreal.

i often have this feeling, but the magnitude this time is monumental. i caught up with a friend today for a couple hours, thinking out loud and taking inventory of my life. i told him how wild it is – where i am right now, the things that fill my headspace now, how my old problems and mental challenges are resolved, allowing me to graduate to higher level things. he told me how exciting it was for him to see since he has been with me throughout much of this year’s journey. here are the things we talked about:

taking inventory:


i have a significant other who supports me in an all-encompassing way that i’ve never experienced before. for example, i’ve never had someone who could catch my anxiousness in real time and deescalate it so quickly, or who could think through mental rabbit holes, analyze problems, and help me reach resolutions with me. i don’t feel the need to date anyone else.

  • before this month: i was sorting through multiple cases of heartbreak. i revisited an old flame to see if there was anything there, didn’t find anything of relationship value, and healed from that. i was finding love and validation in the wrong places.


i am pursuing Product Design. i’m in a bootcamp, immersing myself in the learning process. i am connecting with more people related to the field. in my current marketing role, my managers are setting me up to be Assistant Manager. i was on PTO for two weeks, and my team deeply felt the effect of it. they greatly appreciate my work, understand my value, and treat me accordingly.

  • before this month: i was in dissonance of what i wanted and where i was. i was not in love with my job and did not feel as valued as i do now. i wasn’t formally told that i was the clear successor for my manager’s role.


i am closer to my family after our long two week trip. with numerous vulnerable talks as a unit and one-on-one, we are learning to be more transparent and understanding of each other. they know how much i love them, especially now.

  • before this month: we did not talk as deeply. we didn’t speak our minds or express our gripes with each other, allowing our frustrations to build and persist.


i hang out with a different friend group now. they have expansive, competent, and complex minds, support me, and push my limits…push what i think is possible which is a huge deal – exactly what i’ve been looking for in a friend group. as a result, my mind continues to expand but at a higher, more exponential rate now. i am definitely not the smartest person in the room anymore. i am humbled, inspired, and smarter because of it. thank. god.

  • before this month: i was the smartest person in the room many times over. the people i spent time with wasn’t thinking about what i was thinking about, so we couldn’t scheme and help each other out. it was mere incompatibility. they were complacent, and that left me trapped in my own head as i didn’t feel i could disclose my thoughts to them.


mental health

i’ve solved through many challenges. i overcame the following things:

  • 1) scarcity mindset: i can fully support myself in all areas now. fully independent. if i depend on others, it’s because i chose it – not because i need it.
  • 2) power complex: i allow people to gift me, pay for me, and be superior to me. i let people give to me, and do not associate it was a sign of weakness anymore. as a result, i am happier, people around me feel good that they can give to me, and i ask more questions with much less fear of looking a fool. oddly enough, acting as a novice makes me appear more intelligent and capable as when i acted like an expert.
  • 3) clout for the sake of clout: i don’t feel the need to prove myself anymore, telling people what i used to do / what i’ve accomplished to show how cool and competent i am. i don’t feel the need to prove myself anymore. i give myself validation now, and it is more than enough. as a result, i can just focus on being present, focus more on others, and be more strategic in real time. i garner more respect for it.
  • 4) accepting the fact that i really can have everything i dream of: i had to convince myself that my dreams could be accomplished. now i know for a fact that i can get anything i want in life. it was a process of acting until i convinced myself, teaching people to treat me as my ideal self, and doing it all repeatedly until i was impressed by myself and people began to treat me like i was on another level. now i am in the process of accepting this new identity: someone who is focused, able to finesse any situation, navigate uncertainty with skill and strategy, someone who doesn’t go on social media and do what normal people do, someone is rare commodity that can create and supply demand.
  • 5) relinquishing the concept of rules: i now believe that rules are for people who cannot create their own rules and finesse systems to get what they want. i am realizing this more and more. rules are for the norm. if you have unparalleled skill, preparation, and strategy, you can be the one exception to each rule you encounter. 

physical health

boxing made me more confident and stronger. it grounds me. it allows me to walk anywhere with less fear and feelings of powerlessness. my body is very much my ideal dimensions with the flexibility to indulge with less guilt. still working on feeling guiltless in indulgence instead of resolving it with self grace and forgiveness. why not feel guiltless in the first place? i have becoming more masterful with portion size and conscious eating. i have a tendency to make healthier food decisions. i get more quality sleep now and finally came around to prioritizing it.

emotional health

i don’t have burnouts like i used to. i know where i can find help. i can ask for help more consistently now. i don’t need to journal or have breaks as often anymore. i can recognize anxiety on the onset and quickly conjure solutions, aka my turn around from realization to resolution is much quicker now. i show affection more easily and fearlessly. i care much less about the opinions of others, thus feeling more free.

  • big lesson: i accepted the fact that only i know the full scope of my experiences, and am less frustrated in people’s inability to fully understand me (a fact of life). as a result, i do not operate from the need to be understood as much anymore; i fulfill that need more internally now. i am my own best friend through and through, and i love it. another result of this, i don’t fear losing people from my lives and therefore, do not act to impress. i act authentically and operate from an abundant mindset (if people like me, cool. if not, then fuck off. i am my own and can fulfill myself.). ironically, this is a more alluring behavior to people. people are much more attracted to me because of my authenticity and i don’t give a fuck about their opinions of me.


there is still a lot of work to do, but i realized that i am much closer to my goals than i think. my growth in the next couple years will be huge leaps. those who stick with me and help support me, i will definitely treat them. i understand now that i am a different breed of person, and my capabilities continue to grow with each passing day because of my insatiable hunger for growth, curious tendencies, intense work ethic, and strong emotional intelligence. direct results of this include better conversations with powerful people, creating better opportunities for myself through strategic planning, and ability to attract people.

i am currently on this launchpad to the moon. i don’t know how high it’ll shoot me, but i do know that it will shoot me higher than the stars, aka higher than i ever imagined was possible.

i am so juiced for life.

blog, life updates

goals of UX design bootcamp

i am starting UX Academy with Design Lab this month. it’ll officially last from August 19th to March 2nd, 2020. there are already a few units of pre-course work i can start on primarily focused on goal-setting and setting expectations. i know that i am supposed to be vacationing but i couldn’t help starting. 5 am in Paris and i was already wide awake, so why not?

below is a copy-paste of my notes this morning:

“Goals for UXA:
  1. Build a robust portfolio.
  2. Network: build strong connections with mentors and community, expose myself to industry experts and leaders.
  3. New job as a designer; what kind is currently undefined.
  4. Lay a strong foundation for UX: understanding my pitfalls and what questions I need to ask to drive growth.
  5. Understand what my strengths fall in UX and scheme a loose, multi-year path of growth.
Why am I doing this?

This field is the marriage between my innate strengths, fascinations, and capability to create the lifestyle I want to live. I want to live a life where I can easily take myself and my loved ones traveling / explore the world, where I can have frequent dinner parties and cooking nights with my best friends, where I derive fulfillment from my work as I am challenged / valued / and expanding in a stimulating space, where I am compensated well and can aggressively invest in my financial future, where my creativity and other favorite parts of myself shine and are rewarded, where I can constantly work with people I can learn from.”

i am beaming with enthusiasm and anticipation as i craft this new stage in life. i can feel the needle move as i continue to act on these growing dreams of mine.

crazy fulfilling.

big mood.

blog, life updates

aug 9 – 10: day 1 in Paris

it feels like we teleported into Paris. boarded at 8:40 pm. read. knocked out. landed at 4 pm the next day. the excitement my father’s cousin and friends showed when they saw him was utterly priceless. they’ve been waiting 25 years to see each other again. i am so happy that i was able to capture it.

we are staying at his friend’s home, visiting Belgium and possibly Holland next weekend, then returning back to this huge home. i’ve already consumed my fair share of wine and champagne (my pops as well considering the time he returned back to his room and how he needed extra assistance – wildin). my brother Chris and Mom did not want to drink their glass so they poured all their glasses into mine. tomorrow, we are going out with our cousin Sophie who will take us out while the parents continue their drinking and cigarette party.

i still can’t believe we’re in Paris.

au revoir.

note: the photos i will be sharing are in low quality due to weak wifi, and unedited due to my lack of fecks. ask me to show you better versions when we next meet!


both wine glasses are mine

gatsby livin

blog, life updates

now onto Paris / aug 9 2019

it’s august 9th, and we flying out to paris today.

it has been a wild couple of weeks leading up to this day. this day alone was a whirlwind: 10 hours of work, 2 hours of prep, 6 hours of driving, and now here we are: 3:30 AM at my parents’ home. other events this week: my brother Chris flew up to visit for the first time alone / first time flying solo. i took him to see FKJ, boxing class, Super Duper burgers, and my work building’s rooftop.

lately, i have been on my grind delivering on many fronts (and even more so MIA than i normally am). and quite frankly, i am extremely proud of my growth this month. i’ve got to say, it has been one of my most productive months this year. every day was eventful and jam-packed with progress. couldn’t have asked for a better July.

wins include:

  • left instagram.
  • finished my month-long design 101 prerequisite course (screenshot of my final project down below).
  • accepted into the august – march cohort for UX design bootcamp.
  • found a killer group of friends (tfw you meet someone(s), and you think “wow, these people are going to get me to where i wanna go”).
  • managers lining me up to get promoted. synchronicity with coworkers (what a feeling when people superior and more experienced than you give you real love and respect).
  • found myself a real best friend.
HiFi Mockup: Collab Final Submission.png

Collab, a Mobile Music App focused on Community

i am ready to eat, read, and explore Paris / Belgium / Holland. it’s going to be my and my brothers’ first real trip out of the States, my dad’s first time visiting since the ’80s, and our family’s first trip abroad. the anticipation has been building for months now for these reasons, but also because of its sentimental ties to my father’s past life as a Parisian young man and orphan. there is so much of my father’s history engrained in the streets of France. we will be meeting many of his cousins and friends who have graciously saved him in grave plights during the Vietnam War and paved the way for his current success. two weeks just doesn’t seem enough to fully understand how Paris relates to my father’s narrative. nonetheless, i plan on absorbing as much of these moments as possible and capturing his nostalgia while also scheming residence in the beautiful city.

it is now way past my bedtime: 4:06 AM.

au revoir.

blog, personal development

leveling up / jul 2019

the feeling of leveling up is a surreal experience. it happens when many facets of your life are going well simultaneously, better than you had imagined. you may have stumbled onto a situation that led to other positive downstream effects. you may be in situations thinking “This is too good to be true.” you may even be in situations you never believed would happen, but did anyway in the best and healthiest possible way.

knowing that you are in the midst of leveling up is like how a historian knows when history is unfolding in real time. you just feel it – perhaps so viscerally that you cannot stop smiling when you sit down and think about what is happening in your life right now. fucks given and authenticity over timethis is how i have been feeling. i stumbled onto a new set of friends who are on that next stage in life: kind, smart, ambitious, profoundly successful already, and masterminds of career positioning people. some of these people are definitely lifelong friends i can grow with. i also joined a new group of friends from my climbing / boxing gym who will be perfect for hanging locally in Oakland. i have been intentional about health and fitness – working out 5x a week and eating just enough. i also am working on my prerequisite course for a UX bootcamp which will start mid-August. dating is going well (but i won’t get into specifics here). my relationship with my immediate family is evolving as time progresses. i’ve healed from a few heartbreaking events and am now more resilient and sharper because of it. life is good.

in light of all the good that keeps coming, i decided to make the final sacrifice of deleting Instagram from my phone and remaining offline for a long time (possibly indefinitely). it is a wild and challenging experience for me being that it serves as a prime creative outlet, however i believe that it is precisely what needs to happen so i go deeper into my more useful and fulfilling ventures. after all, if you want massive change, you have to leave behind those habits that no longer serve you. a friend reminded me to keep a regular input of news and culture, so i do not become siloed in my own personal development. sound advice.

where do we go from here?

without instagram, i will focus on documenting my journey on this platform, this blog. i will be dipping back into making video content and posting it on youtube. although, these will be my top four priorities in the coming months:

  1. focusing on what work i put in every day rather than what i once was / endured. that doesn’t mean jack shit anymore.
  2. growing an obsession with ux design. i need to be in love with it, foster it, and do what people are not willing to do.
  3. give back to those at home. i can do better in putting in effort to my home loved ones so they know i care.
  4. unlocking subconscious patterns that no longer serve me. renovating my habits to be those of one that succeeds at xyz things.

it’s going to be intense.

thank you for joining me on this journey.