Monthly Archives: January 2016


January Update

Thirty-one days have gone by.  We’ve almost completed the first month of 2016.  Here is a list to reflect on how my daily improvement work went this month:

  • Reading every day wasn’t too difficult.  Having the goal of reading a book a month helped, though I didn’t finish reading the Think and Grow Rich book.  The book has a lot of motivational perspectives for getting richer not only just in terms of money, but also living a successful life.  Reading through this 1937 classic feels like going on an inspirational retreat.  I read 23 days out of the 31 days in January.
  • Writing every day was hard.  Sometimes I have topics to write about, sometimes it just seemed like I was digging a lot trying to find topics to write about.  I only wrote 14 days out of the 31 days; didn’t even hit 50% of the days.  Self-criticizing aside, the tracking of writing has made me more aware that this is an area I need to focus on in the subsequent months.
  • Exercising every day was easier compared to reading and writing every day.  Tracking shows I exercised 27 out of the 31 days.  I’m not sure whether the motivation was intrinsic or extrinsic or both.  There is a gym at my work, so I work out at lunch hour on most days when I’m at work.  My workout partner, Brian Westgate, is my fitness accountability buddy.  It’s hard to skip gyms because I know I would have to face his humiliation multiple times via different channels of communication.  I scheduled basketball and arranged family’s help to ensure I play basketball once or twice a week.  I think I did well in this area, so I hope to keep it up.
  • Meditating daily wasn’t easy.  I only meditated 17 days.  I’m familiar with all the benefits of mediation, but it’s not easy to practice the theories you know.  I guess most nights I was just too tired to sit for 10 minutes.  Practicing my breathing has helped my speech and temperament.  I hope to incorporate meditation more in my bed time routines in the coming months.

Sing & Sign with Layla

I took Griffin to his first Sing and Sign class with Layla.  It was a success.  I definitely learned more than Griffin did.  G was a bit fussy because it was during his normal nap time; however, he was still pretty good considering he was really tired.  He slept well on our way home.

Griffin was the youngest kid there.  There were eight kids there, age ranged between six months to 22 months.  Layla was a really good teacher, so all the kids were listening and copying the signs Layla was demonstrating.  An hour went by very quickly.

The signs were a really good review for me.  Anya used to take Serena to the same class with Layla when S was about eight months, and I would learn signs from them when they came back from the class.  It was a big payoff for Serena to communicate with us.  These signs later were useful to transit from gestural to verbal communication when she was ready to speak.  I think she was considered an early talker too.  We are hoping this Sing and Sign class can be helpful to Griffin as well.

I found Layla’s website and she provides some helpful tips here:

Potty Progress

I was not there when the following two incidents happened.  Anya told me about them.  I felt the need to record these.

Sunday, January 24

Serena and Anya met up with some buds at the playground on Cook Street near Dallas Road.  Serena was playing with other kids.  All of a sudden, she stopped and ran to Anya and said, “Mama, I need to go to the potty.”  Anya was surprised, didn’t think Serena was serious, but took her to the bathroom anyway.  Serena peed, in the big girl’s potty.

Monday, January 25

It was after dinner.  My Mom, Griffin and I had left the house to Crownwood.  I have basketball on Monday nights.  Serena and Anya were playing in the living room and just listening to some music.  Suddenly, Serena ran to the bathroom.  A couple of minutes later she came out smiling.  Anya checked and found out S had pooped in the potty.

When Anya told me about these stories, I was overwhelmed with joy and pride.  My little baby girl is growing up.

Attributes of Leadership

According to Napoleon Hill in his book, Think and Grow Rich (1937), there are 11 attributes of leadership:

  1. Unwavering courage.  No follower wishes to be dominated by a leader who lacks self-confidence and courage.  No intelligent follower will be dominated by such a leader very long.
  2. Self-control.  The man who cannot control himself can never control others.  Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s followers, which the more intelligent will emulate.
  3. A keen sense of justice.  Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his followers.
  4. Definiteness of decision.  The man who wavers in his decisions, shows that he is not sure of himself, cannot lead others successfully.
  5. Definiteness of plans.  The successful leader must plan his work, and work his plan.
  6. The habit of doing more than paid for.  One of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness, upon the part of the leader, to do more than he requires of his followers.
  7. A pleasing personality.  Leadership calls for respect.  No slovenly, careless person can become a successful leader.
  8. Sympathy and understanding.  The successful leader must be in sympathy with his followers and understand them as well as their problems.
  9. Mastery of detail.  Successful leadership calls for mastery of the details of the leader’s position.
  10. Willingness to assume full responsibility.  The successful leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his followers.  If one of his followers makes a mistake, and shows himself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is he who failed.
  11. Cooperation.  Leadership calls for power, and power calls for cooperation.

Furthermore, there are two forms of leadership.  The first, and by far the most effective, is leadership by consent of, and with the sympathy of the followers.  The second is leadership by force, without the consent and sympathy of the followers.  History is filled with evidences that leadership by force cannot endure: Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler.  Leadership-by-consent of the followers is the only brand which can endure.

Note to self: how many of the 11 attributes of leadership do you already possess and are actively practicing, and which form of leadership are you aspired to adapt?

Growth V.S. Development

Lately, I’ve been thinking about developing different skills.  To do well in my job, I need to have a good balance between the ongoing practice of soft skills such as communication, delegation, and leadership and the utilization of my hard skills like coding, modeling, and advanced analytics.  I realized that our balance of implementing hard and soft skills varies depending on many factors: age, health, education, profession, and occupation.

Having been through the first two years of Serena and now watching baby Griffin become more solid everyday, I’m seeing a lot of growth in my kids.  I’m looking forward to experiencing their continuing growth.  I’m sure the journey will be worthwhile, though interesting…

The curious side of me wonders, what is the difference between growth and development?  I did some poking around on the good old Google, and here is what I found.


  • When something grows, it shows an increase in something we can count and measure.
  • A tree can grow.  A child can grow.  A company can grow.  A bank account can also grow.
  • Growth does not take into account how it grows or what it took to add to its overall sum.
  • Economic growth is typically just a number, often GDP, but it is often the only thing that is touted as a measure of success.
  • Growth by itself cannot measure development.


  • Development encompasses many things, but it is shown by the qualitative improvement of circumstances.  As something develops, the quality of the whole improves.
  • As a tree develops, it will not only grow, but also be able to reproduce, bear fruit, and continue growing.
  • When an economic situation develops, not only can profits increase, but also the working conditions are improved.
  • Economic development in a community or country leads to better overall living standards and opportunities to improve.

Growth v.s. Development

  • Growth and development might affect each other, but they are not dependent on each other.  They are not the same.
  • Growth may happen despite any development.
  • Development can happen but there may be very little growth.
  • Sometimes, if something is not growing, it needs to develop to get to that growth.  If something cannot develop, there may need to be growth in a certain area, like funding, before anything can be done to improve the overall situation.





Almost every Monday night we have dinner at my Mom’s house.  Mom cooks good food for us.  We laugh and tell stories.  Serena has a good time playing with new toys.  Everyone is just generally happy.

Today, my Mom tried to discipline Serena.  S has been a bit loud in her highchair, talking a lot, and not eating her dinner.  In Chinese, Mom yelled, “Serena, you are not being polite.  It is now time to eat your dinner.”  Serena squinted her eyes and softly said, “You are not my Mom.”

Serena did give Nainai a hug later and said she was sorry.  What I was wondering was that at the age of two, how could she come up with such clever response?

Personal Motivational Words

I have a white rubber bracelet that I’ve been wearing for a while now.  It’s one of those power balance like, hologram technology related bracelets that vendors claim you can “walk on water and sit on fire” with it.  It has in it some kind of precious metal from the Japanese mountains that will provide calm and serendipity to your lifestyle.  It also has the word “Life” written on it, and that was the reason I bought it.  I bought it around the time when we knew Griffin was conceived and was actually surviving.  At the time, the word “life” brought dynamic meanings to me.  I’ve been wearing it ever since to symbolize the new meaning of my life: to support and inspire lives that I encounter.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an idea of writing personal and motivational words on this bracelet to constantly remind myself what and how my life can impact others.  I borrowed a permanent marker from my mother-in-law.  I washed the bracelet clean with soap and left it dry for an hour so that the ink could stay on as long as possible.  It took about half an hour to decide which words to use and write them on the bracelet.  I ended up with these 10 words:

Growth.  Hero.  Strong.  Appreciate.  Breath.  Present.  Inspire.  Move.  Faith.  Empower.

After writing, I carefully left the bracelet alone to dry for two hours.  With excitement, I put the bracelet on to show Anya this greatest thing ever.  Unfortunately, it took only 10 minutes that all the words were wiped out by my sleeve.  Sad face!  I need to find a better permanent marker.


Serena is going to see the dentist with Anya tomorrow for a regular checkup.  Anya has been getting S warmed up to the idea of teeth checking.  She’s pretty excited about it when I tucked her in bed.

“I’m going to the dentist tomorrow.”

“That’s good.”

“They will check my teeth and say Open Your Mouth.”

“That’s right.”

“Because I have tiny, teeny, lil teeeeeth.”

“Good night.”

Three seconds of silence later, Serena whispered, “open your mouth.”

She ended up staying up way too late, singing and making excuses to get out of her bed.  I hope it will be a good trip tomorrow at the dentist.

Napoleon Hill

In order to achieve one of my 2016 goals, which is to read a book a month, I started reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.  I bought the book in 2010 when I first started Toastmasters.  I think Leo walked me to Russell Books on Fort street, pulled this book down from the shelf, and said, “here, buy this one. You won’t regret it.”  I bought it, thinking one day when I’m done with grad school, I’ll read it.

I finished the chapter on Desire yesterday, so I was hoping to finish the current chapter, which is about Faith.  I didn’t finish it tonight because I was reading lines and paragraphs over and over again.  Here are some of the good ones:

  • Faith is the head chemist of the mind.  When faith is blended with thought, the subconscious mind instantly picks up the vibration, translates it into its spiritual equivalent, and transmits it to Infinite Intelligence, as in the case of prayer.
  • Not only thought impulses which have been mixed with faith, but those which have been mixed with any of the positive emotions, or any of the negative emotions, may reach, and influence the subconscious mind.
  • I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice; therefore, I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects.  I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use, and the cooperation of other people.  I will induce others to serve me, because of my willingness to serve others.  I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism, by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success.  I will cause others to believe in me, because I will believe in them, and in myself.

Daniel Pink

I recently discovered Daniel Pink’s Office Hours podcast in an attempt to look for more podcasts to listen to while I do housework.  Daniel interviews successful individuals on various topics like success, motivation, and education.  Here are some of the good ones I’ve listened:


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