Author: Thoughts of Tim Chen

Everyday I try to learn one new thing, small or large. This page is an expression of those things.

I fail therefore I am (not)


Scientists look at failure and success as a data point; with each failure or success, they take assess the situation and take new action towards moving towards getting their end result. Failures are essentially celebrated because it helps move these scientists in the right direction. This is how we should look at success and failures in our own life. When you go to a restaurant and order something and the food sucks, you don’t look at it and say, “Oh wow I fail at eating”, it simply becomes another data point for you and you make a mental note not to order it again next time. Don’t see failure as a reflection of who you are but rather, treat failures as opportunities for growth and suddenly, the impossible seems possible.


I appreciate you…

I have two partners in work, but really, they’re my superiors and my mentors. Both are named Kevin, they are the complete opposite of each other yet both are very successful. The differences in their techniques go to show that it doesn’t matter what your personality type is, you just need to find your style that corresponds with it.

We went on an appointment today to meet a contractor who specializes in structural engineering for buildings and my partner’s time is extremely valuable and I know he values his own time; however, before the meeting, during the meeting and after the meeting, Kevin said something that I was surprised to hear: “I really appreciate you… coming out to meet me because…” He made the contractor feel important and it reminds me that a small word of appreciation and go a long way with others. In the book The Five Love Languages, one of the ways in which people receive and give love is through words of affirmation. Although it may not appeal to everyone, it is easy to say something kind and these small words can potentially benefit you. My guess is that this engineer will hold my partner in a positive light when it comes time to give him the quote for the job.

Know yourself to know others

Only when you know and understand yourself can you begin to do things that would be more beneficial. Do you know your personality type? If not, you should go find out. Why is this important? It allows you to know what your strengths are and where you can best utilize your time. More importantly it shows you your weaknesses and places where it might be constructive to outsource tasks.

Next, once you understand yourself, you can control yourself and dedicate time into understanding another person. People are complex and sadly there is no singular answer that applies to every person.


What Makes a good Leader?

  • Self awareness – ability to recognize moods emotions and drives and how it impacts others – if you’re self aware you’ll have self deprecating humor. You’ll have greater self confidence. You’ll have a realistic view of yourself.
  • Self regulation – ability to control or redirect impulses and moods. To control your emotions and think before acting. If you’re strong in this you’ll display trustworthiness and integrity because you’re not all over the map. You’ll also be more comfortable with uncertainty and open to change.
  • Motivation – A passion to work for reason beyond money and status. Goals and persistence. The following qualities will show, strong drive to achieve, optimistic in the face of failure and you’ll have a strong organizational commitment.
  • Empathy – Being able to understand emotions of others and treating others emotions accordingly. You’ll be very service oriented with your clients and customers. You’ll have very strong cross cultural sensitivity. And you’ll be an expert in building and retaining talent.
  • Social Skills – Building relationships, networks and rapport with people. If you have social skills, you are an expert in building and leading teams and in persuasiveness.

Know your own personality and traits so you know where you excel and where you need improvement on.


The underappreciated skill of networking.

Yesterday I had a conversation where someone said, “I heard all Donald Trump does is talk on the phone all day.” And the underlying tone was that he wastes his time and is an insufficient president. And although this may be true and keeping any personal judgement about Donald Trump aside, I thought this statement was very interesting because I had the opposite reaction to the idea. I feel that most successful and powerful people, are first class networkers. They got to where they are because of their levels of connection which boosted their social and professional potential to another level. Dwindling 6 degrees of separation down to 5 to 4… How many times have you heard or felt the following way, “That person doesn’t deserve that position and he’s only there because he knows xxx.” If he was able to connect with the right person, why doesn’t he deserve it? Networking seems to be a down played skill. People focus on acquiring knowledge, using their time to grind and little to nothing on networking. Like they say, your network is your net worth, get out and meet some people and add value to their life and they will want to help you in the future. Who knows, maybe one day someone will talk trash about you behind your back and you’ll snicker and laugh at their puny network.


Food for Thought

“Oh, no no no. Don’t eat Chinese food here [in Los Angeles,] The Chinese food will kill you! If I really want good Chinese food, I go to Mexico!” -Random Mexican lady talking to random black man

This is a conversation I overheard at 24 hour fitness. At first I thought it was such a cultural failure and wanted to respond with “Lady, there’s this place where you can get the best carne asada, it’s in China town! The secret to a proper carne asade is that it must be made in a wok!” But I refranied. But this really got me to thinking. Isn’t it crazy how globalized we are as a nation that Chinese food in Mexico is now seen as something that is normal There was a time when “ethnic foods” were only eaten by people of that ethnicity. Not only that, those ethnic foods weren’t available to the general public. There was no 99 ranch market, no Cardenas, no Hoa Binh, no Seafood City. In fact, Did you know just 100 years ago, a common present given to each other by people in New York was an orange? This gift was exotic because it came all the way from Florida. Now you can get THE BEST Chinese food in Mexico, you can get pho in Germany. (I have personally verified this on my last trip to Germany. Also, pretty bomb.) You can get KFC in Japan. Did you kno that in Japan, there is a tradition of getting KFC on Christmas? It’s so popular, you have to make a reservation in advance to be able to get a meal. Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakki!!!!! aka, Kentucky for Christmas! The world merging into a huge melting pot. Options are everywhere! But with this increase in options, comes a decrease in health.

Webster’s dictionary defines Food -(Noun) any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth. In this sense, with all the processed foods and toxic repercussions, is much of what we eat really food? According to the dictionary, the answer would be no because food is something that “maintain’s life and growth” whereas what we put in our bodies nowadays are definitely driving us towards an early grave. Education won’t do much because we are a slave to our own genes. Our bodies are geared towards survival in the wild where we are not so readily susceptible to sugars and fats. Back in te day, when we had the opportunity to consume sugars and fats, we would eat as much of it in order to survive. Our bodies made it taste delicious so we can intake as much of these scarce resource as possible. Nowadays, one soda contains as much sugar as we used to eat in a week. Just some food for thought


What’s the problem?

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” -Albert Einstein

It is questioned if Einstein actually said this. I have some doubts about many question like this and the famous Thomas Jefferson quote “How the heck does twitter expect me to fit the declaration of independence in 140 characters? #FoundingFatherProblems”

Though Einstein may not have said the quote, the idea is interesting. If you take the majority of the time to define what the problem is, then you can begin to spend time solving the problem. You cannot know the solution without first understanding the problem. Today I had a communication issue with someone. I thought the problem was odd so I asked about it and received backlash. I worded my question incorrectly to make that person feel like I was questioning them. Going forward, I will ask questions accordingly. Always remember, what result you want from the situation. Is it better to be right or is it better to be happy? Even if it means being wrong, being happy is better than dealing with an unpleasant situation. The majority of people are stubborn, they will usually stick to their guns even after realizing they are wrong. Find the problem, find an appropriate solution, move on.