The Philosophy of Success

Christian Ziege is a retired German football legend and is currently the Head Coach for FC Pinzgau Saalfelden. He started his playing career at Bayern Munich, where he won two Bundesliga titles and a UEFA Cup before moving to A.C. Milan, winning an Italian Scudetto.

His career as a professional footballer went through Bayern Munich (1990-1997), A.C. Milan (1997-1999), Middlesbrough (1999-2000), Liverpool F.C. (2000-2001), Tottenham Hotspur (2001-2004) and returned to Germany with Borussia Mönchengladbach in June 2004 before announcing his retirement in October 2005. I had the privilege to watch Christian Ziege play during the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea. Aside from his play on the field, his mohawk was one of the most memorable World Cup haircuts of all time.

The audio recording is from a recent call with coach Christian Ziege. He spoke about his philosophy of success, which I believe applies to sports and beyond. In a similar case, I think many startups fail due to lack of teamwork and lack of transparency more so than due to lack of financial capital—something to remind ourselves as entrepreneurs.

"I'm talking about the greenkeeper, the owners, about the board, about the coach, the assistant coach, the players, the guy who's washing the clothes. If you want to reach something, if you want to have success in this club, and this is all we want to have. We all have to stick together and go in the same direction."

Stay in the deep end.

Taekwondo and me

I started learning Taekwondo (a Korean martial art) at an early age. Taekwondo had taught me numerous amount of lessons as a competitive athlete but also those applicable to my life in general. And now that I look back - as I celebrated my 40th last week - it wasn't the gold medals that helped mold and shape me into the person I am today.

In 1992, I received an invitation to the USA Taekwondo Junior State Championship held in Ohio. Even before arriving at the arena, I felt confident that my competitions were no match for me. My games were in Sparring and Poomsae (also referred to as "forms") during the event. Without a doubt, Sparring was my thing even though I was a light kid back then. So I competed in the FIN weight class, which is for those not exceeding 54kg. As one can imagine, height and reach are crucial in Sparring matches. Unfortunately, I was not only light but also very small in stature. That didn't bother me because I knew I had speed. 

Then came the gold medal match. My final opponent was a tall skinny white kid. From the beginning of the gold medal match, my opponent was utilizing his long legs to block and cut away most of my attacks. I was frustrated and felt the opponent was playing dirty. I eventually lost the match due to the mercy rule. I cried my way home and cried even more after returning. I ended up taking two silver medals that year, but I was neither satisfied nor happy with my results. What made it even sadder was the fact that I didn't realize who my real opponent was.

The following year, I was fortunate enough to receive yet another invitation to the same event. Long story short - I took home two gold medals during the 1993 USA Taekwondo Junior State Championship. What was the difference? Ego. I destroyed my ego before getting killed by my opponent on the other side of the floor. I was more self-aware. I knew what I was able to do, but more importantly, I didn't guess what I did not know.


Most of my repeated mistakes or failures probably occurred due to my ego and lack of self-awareness, which applies to my entrepreneurial journey. In 2013, when I moved to Austin Texas to start my next startup company, a mentor and now a good friend had asked me an important question which I will carry with me for the rest of my life on this planet.

"Why are you here?"

I ask myself this question even today. Do I know why I am doing the thing that I am about to do? Am I going to regret my decision today when I look back after another 40 years?

Keeping myself self-aware has brought me more joy, happiness, and satisfaction than any success on the surface. And I believe as long as I can continue to ask myself that simple question, I should be good to go.

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art, a competitive sport, and a method of maintaining all-around fitness, including mental well-being. And this sport has not only disciplined me physically but also brought me down to earth to keep my ego at bay.

Be the humble beast.

Data visualization of the Austrian Regionalliga

The Austrian Regionalliga (which means Regional League) is the third-highest division in Austrian football, after the Austrian Bundesliga and the Second League. It is divided into three groups: East (Ost), covering the states of Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland; Central (Mitte), covering the states of Styria, Carinthia, Upper Austria and the exclave of East Tyrol; and Eliteliga West, covering the states of Salzburg, Tyrol (with the exception of East Tyrol) and Vorarlberg.

--from Wikipedia

Here's a data visualization demo of Regionalliga division leaders from 2019/2020 season.

초라한 일상

In 2004, 2XJC the indie rap group from South Korea was invited to perform during the Autumn Hi Seoul Festival. After 16 years, the song 초라한 일상 which was showcased in front of a live audience has been released via several popular music streaming services. This version of 초라한 일상 was the first take from a home studio recording using a single Shure SM58 microphone.


Here are the lyrics to 초라한 일상.

--

늘 그렇듯 하루를 마칠 이런 시간되면 마치 만신창이
꼴로 꿀을 찾아 헤매다 보면

어느 새 저기 날아가는 쪽 새 어느 세월 따라잡지라는 생각 
날 조여와 족쇄 채워진 난 벙어리가 돼

이렇게 한참을 쫓다 지붕만 쳐다 봐 닭 쫓던 강아지의 심정
이젠 정말 내 심정 쉴새없이 날아드는 총알 견제구를 피해 

2루 넘 봐 쉽지 않아 가끔 난 run down 걸리기도 해
그래도 결코 포기할 순 없는 나만의 것 위해 기도해

나만의 삶이란 단지 생존 게임 너머 어떤 의미 찾아 달려
오르막에선 힘이 딸려 허나 쉬고 다시 뛰려면 다리가 풀려!

내 머릿 속 난 이미 저만치갔어 home steal 노리네
허나 몸에선 노린내 털어내려 애써 땀내
사람들의 오감의 정의 나는 한낱 주정뱅이 노숙자!

물에 빠진 생쥐 마냥 그게 모냐 대체 모냐
너희 부모님이 너 그러고 다니는 거 아시냐 모르시냐

표정과 시선으로 내게 말해- 사람들 가득찬 도시의 거린 미어터져
무작정 달리고 싶은 나는 속이 터져 목이 터져라 외쳐
내가 만든 rhyme 과 flow는 내 삶의 탈출구

그러므로 너희는 쉬지말고 랩하라 rhyme이 끊기는 순간
초라한 일상으로의 다시 회귀 허나 너무 슬퍼 하지마 누구도 예외일 순 없지

일상이란 신이 아닌 우리 인간 존재가 짊어진 업보 어쩌면 선물
앞과 뒤가 다른 우리 삶의 음과 양 이 모든 진리 함축한
동전 한 닢 위에 웃고 계신 충무공의 백원짜리 힘껏 집어 던져

아프리카에선 열 개 사네 축구공 내 주머닛 속 충무공
모두 모아 떨이 지하철에 아주머니 겸손하게 내민 주머니

작은 동전 한 닢에 웃고 우는 세상이란 희극일지 비극일까 아님 복걸복일까
생각하며 걸어가다 뛰어가 날 순 없을까

지난밤 꿈 처럼 세상에 모든 코흘리개들의 꿈처럼
그 철없던 시절 꿈이 나를 만들어

이렇게 마음대로 freestyle rap을 하면서 
머릿 속에 한껏 활개치는 망상의 날개를 그대로 읊어 대면서

초라한 일상에 한편에 단편의 단상을 마치네

Hyun-Jin Ryu's contract is one of the biggest ever inked by the Toronto Blue Jays

For those who follow Major League Baseball, some of you might have heard the news that the Toronto Blue Jays have signed left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu to a four-year, $80 million contract. This contract is one of the biggest ever inked by the organization.

Back in March 2019, there was an article on bleacherreport.com ranking the top starting pitchers. However, Hyun-Jin Ryu was not mentioned in this article amongst the top 25 pitchers heading into the 2019 season.

  • Patrick Corbin 
  • Zack Greinke 
  • Chris Sale 
  • Kyle Hendricks 
  • Trevor Bauer 
  • Carlos Carrasco 
  • Mike Clevinger 
  • Corey Kluber 
  • Kyle Freeland 
  • German Marquez 
  • Gerrit Cole 
  • Justin Verlander 
  • Walker Buehler 
  • Clayton Kershaw 
  • Jose Berrios 
  • Jacob deGrom 
  • Noah Syndergaard 
  • Zack Wheeler 
  • Luis Severino 
  • Aaron Nola 
  • Jameson Taillon 
  • Madison Bumgarner 
  • Miles Mikolas 
  • Blake Snell 
  • Max Scherzer

So... I wanted to visualize the outcome of 2019 season and see if the data could possibly tell us a different story. This blog post is by-no-means an attempt to prove a point or to defend the quality of Hyun-Jin Ryu's contract.

Hyun-Jin Ryu's 2019 season data was added to a graphical chart along with the other top 25 pitchers mentioned from the bleacherreport.com article.


My reading list for 2020

That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea by Marc Randolph

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson

The Manual: A Philosopher's Guide to Life by Epictetus

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know by Malcolm Gladwell

What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz

Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis

Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense by Rory Sutherland

The Future of Management by Gary Hamel

Do Better Work: Finding Clarity, Camaraderie, and Progress in Work and Life by Max Yoder

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

My reading list for 2019

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, Kevin Maney

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most by Hendrie Weisinger

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey B. West

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team A Leadership by Patrick M. Lencioni

The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture by Scott Belsky

Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa Van Edwards

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions . . . and Created Plenty of Controversy by Leigh Gallagher

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou