There is a fundamental tension in being Asian and American. And it’s revealing itself during these tumultuous times when incidents of racial hatred — spurred by the former Bully-In-Chief — are being directed at Asian-Americans.

Asian cultures preach obedience. Americans declare independence.

Asians bow their heads. Americans throw theirs back.

Asians practice decorum. Americans rabble-rouse.

The Asian-American is the ultimate hybrid of these two cultures, but stands at an unstable point of equilibrium. In our polarized world, it is hard to be a centrist, politically, culturally and ethnically.

As Asian-Americans, how are we to act when threatened? Take the high…


The IPOs of DoorDash and AirBnb this week can leave many with a natural sense of SOMO — Sadness Of Missing Out.

It is, I think, quite possible to feel both happiness for the teams at AirBnb and DoorDash (and Y Combinator) and sadness for oneself.

The sadness comes from comparing. It comes from What If scenarios. What if I had gotten the VC funding I deserved? What if I had found a capable Co-Founder? What if I had moved to the Bay Area?

Those who have succeeded can only offer pity and the cold comfort of saying, “We were…


When my kids asked me over the weekend how much work I had to do, I answered: “Infinite. I have an infinite number of things to do.”

That is in direct contrast to their homework, which is very much finite.

Unsatisfied, my kids followed up with: “But how many hours total will it require?”

My answer: “Still infinite.”

No wonder I get lazy over the weekends and end up sitting at my desk, consuming news over the internet, but somehow steadfastly refusing to make any progress on my work.

This is the plight of the modern day knowledge worker. Whether…


Ah, 5th grade. I was a beast in 5th grade, completing homework assignments like it was the most natural thing in the world.

I remember sitting down at the time with one of my good friends, Henning, who struggled to complete his schoolwork and wasn’t performing too well on tests. I naively offered my foolproof advice to him: “School is easy. Just do the homework, study for the tests, and you’re good!”

Now decades into a career as a knowledge worker, I feel like I’m in Henning’s shoes. Work is laborious! How do people stay so focused and productive all…


Are your To-Do’s stale?

Do you stare at items on your To-Do list as if they’re old vegetables in the fridge?

Then it’s time to inject some freshness into them! You need to mix up your To-Do list and give it some new life!

One hack I use to keep up my To-Do freshness is to use new ways to write them down.

Originally, I wrote my To-Do list in Word documents. But the documents started to propagate meaninglessly. I named them: to-do_1; to_do_2; to_do_today; to_do_6; to_do_all. What a mess!

I then switched to writing these lists on scraps of…


A little bit of stress can expose many cracks.

What is the tensile strength of our society? How much duress can our community endure before we fracture and turn upon each other?

The greatest betrayals in life are never physical — as when our body buckles under the force of an attack — but psychogenic — as when we realize our beliefs never had a basis. Do we rightfully believe that society has our back?

The current state of panic concerning the Coronavirus is at an inflection point. From here, do we as a collective diverge or do we converge?


One of my favorite TV shows for a while was The Walking Dead.

The zombie apocalypse premise makes for such good drama because it poses the question, “What would humanity look like if civilization were to crumble to nothing?”

In times of crisis, some people might rise to extraordinary levels of virtue. Many others may descend to the darkest depths of depravity.

The Coronavirus pandemic we are currently experiencing gives us a real taste of that dystopia. …


Taking forcing functions literally (primitive code written by Hamilton)

The zeitgeist of Silicon Valley can be sampled at any time by dipping into the phrases-du-jour and examining one like a novel specimen.

One such phrase is “forcing function.” A forcing function is simply an event that virtually guarantees another event to occur.

An example would be me declaring that I will write at least one blog post per week (which I am absolutely disavowing) to all of my coachees and friends. Another example would be me rendering my pantry devoid of all potato chips so as to “force” myself into eating healthy.

Forcing functions work.

For that reason, I…


Still image from the movie “Parasite”

As the credits to the movie “Parasite” rolled, I wondered, “How did the writer, Bong Joon-Ho, compose such a grand masterpiece?”

I conducted some quick research and learned that the movie was at least several years in the making. In 2013, while working on a similar-themed movie titled “Snowpiercer,” Bong Joon-Ho was encouraged by a theater friend to write a play version that also centered on class conflict.

Bong then proceeded to write a 15-page treatment that became the basis for Parasite. His production assistant then turned that treatment into three drafts of a screenplay. …


In all likelihood, you are a mental laborer.

Like a manual laborer — say, a mason mortaring and laying bricks — you are tasked every day with laying mental brick upon mental brick, applying adhesive, and building something of substance.

Frankly, if I were a mental bricklayer, I’m not sure I’d hire myself to build a 2-foot wall.

My daily “job site” probably looks like 3 or 4 bricks half-heartedly tossed about, with the mental laborer almost always out on a really long snack break.

Now, ask me to build a physical wall, and I’m champing at the bit.

I…

Hamilton Chan

Entrepreneur, thinker, coach, professor. http://www.coachingforstartups.com

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