This Week I Learned #56
"I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become." - Carl Jung
"The goal is to buy low and sell high, not buy lowest and sell highest." - Steve Kane's, Founder of Gamesville, father; Whether it's a business or investing decision, people are obsessed with timing things but if only they could understand that the highest and lowest points can't ever be predicted. Merely selling high and buying low to create a profit is what matters. It's repetition of this simple principle that matters.
Consulted with my brother, kinesiologist, on doing yoga for powerlifters. Powerlifting is about maintaining a stiff spine, imagine my spine as being a steel rod. Disc issues and other kinds of lower back injuries result from trauma to the spine (i.e. the spine wasn't stiff enough). This happens when the spine is flexed in various positions whilst also placing load on the spine (i.e. doing intensive yoga + powerlifting is not an ideal match as one requires flexibility and movement of the spine while the other requires stiffness). It cannot be concluded that one is better than the other. Only that for load bearing purposes one would do well to have a stiff spine. So if I want to continue putting 400lbs on my back, then any kind of intensive focus on yoga is ill advised.
Compared the annual GDP of South Korea ($1.5T) vs. Canada ($1.7T) to look at their economic size. Why? I recently spoke with a respected entrepreneur who advised I think about leaving Toronto as the entrepreneur said "You need drive, ambition and capital in your environment and Toronto has none". This was a relative statement made in comparison to NYC and SF. Now, the Vancouverite in me knows Toronto is the best place in Canada for all three conditions. People have different strategies but I'm still a believer in the "niche dominating" strategy and if I can't even dominate Canada... I remain skeptical of the value of "swimming in the sea vs. pond". I compared South Korean and Canada to give me perspective. There are countless entrepreneurs/influencers/voices in South Korea who are extremely dominant and they have the ability to exact change over the entire country and many are wealthier than most SF entrepreneurs (except the billionaires of course). But given what I want to achieve, this was a good exercise of focusing on Canada vs. following the herd to a city I dislike.
An entrepreneur's podcast, I forget who, led to the discovery of the British Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm. She recommended how listening to his lectures had helped with her own radical self-inquiry so it seemed a good opportunity whilst on my own retreat. This particular talk is titled: Discovering and Following Meaning in Your Life. Brahm referenced a specific moment when someone thanked him for changing his life. To which he asked the rhetorical question: Is it not a meaningful life if others thank you for changing their life? It's had a profound impact for me. It's nothing new but it's this repetitive process that allows for such euphoric and 'eureka-like' moments. Another point he made was that the teachings of Buddhism are ideas. Although this could be obvious, I find the Type-A in me loves to take everything verbatim and execute on it. This was a wonderful reminder that it's not. Rather, it's like getting permission/approval to treat them as ideas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nYirce5Un0
Baek Jong-Won is like the Gordon Ramsey of South Korea. This is not his public title but I tell you this to immediately paint a picture that he is one of (maybe even the only) celebrity chef, restaurateur and entrepreneur in the country. His company, Theborn Korea, has 26 restaurant franchises and 1,299 branches. He never learned cooking in any institutional setting. He's written some 10 books, has labeled food products, has his own TV shows and is seen on tons of advertising in the country. I learned that he never wanted to run restaurants. He wanted to be an entrepreneur but his family was very against it but he started a business selling bottle caps as a teen. Then we became a used car dealer while in school and then eventually ran a fried chicken restaurant while in university. But he always thought food business to be a 'uncool' and socially 'looked down upon' profession so he started an interior design firm, and then a construction company that prospered. But with the bankruptcy of South Korea during the Asian Financial Crises he lost it all and was in $millions in debt and had a single restaurant he could think about operating to pay it back. This became the start and he learned to cook for large amounts of people while doing mandatory military service. He became the platoon lead for the kitchen by complaining about how bad the food was and he ran it into a profitable segment and he learned to run a kitchen that served a large number of hungry and agitated males and that became instrumental in the growth of his restaurant career. Funny how life progresses.
This is part 2 of Baek Jong-Won. It was a 2 part interview series and as someone who has operated so many successful businesses, he had some tips to share from his own entrepreneurial experience. We celebrate the successful companies/entrepreneurs, despite the survivorship bias. Baek recommends people go visit the businesses/restaurants that are not thriving. The ones that look like they should shut down because no one goes to them. Most people go to the most successful ones and after seeing the super long line ups they start thinking that it looks easy and that it's a big market that they can enter. They will also start getting critical over the thriving business and only see the negative things that they can fix up for their own business. They will only be hit with the hard truth that their business is no different from the 95% that failed only after they've started and invested heavily into it financially and mentally. On the other hand, if they took the time to see the businesses that were failing then they will start seeing themselves reflected in the owner's eyes and get deterred. Baek believes 80% will deterred and believes this is the right course of action for most because they lack the mental fortitude required to even embark on this tough journey.