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I usually write a long post every year on my birthday to reflect (past editions here: 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015). But I’m going to keep this one short.

  • I finished up my chess sabbatical and after seven exciting months of training, I defeated a national chess master in a rated tournament. The entire journey was awesome.♟
  • After many stressful weeks of job hunting, I moved to Toronto in April 2019 to accept a dream job!! To build and lead a highly curated community of fascinating entrepreneurs with Jayson Gaignard. It was a big risk for both of us to say yes to each other. But here I am, 7 months later, feeling grateful + focused + and excited about the big year ahead of us. …

The lessons learned from 57 tournament rated games, 200+ hours of deliberate practice, and finding out who I really am in the process.

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Playing against 2150 rated chess hustler in Washington Square Park

I had everything going for me in the summer of 2018.

I was on track to hit $100,000 in business for the first time ever as a digital marketing consultant, the largest amount of money I had ever made as a young professional. I had just signed a contract to work with a New York Times bestselling author, someone that I’ve dreamed about collaborating with ever since I dropped out of college at 18. I was living the “digital nomad” life working remotely and adventuring around South Africa, Mexico, Thailand, and more places.

But on August 11, 2018, I quit everything, moved back home to San Francisco with no stable income, and devoted the next chapter of my life to chess. …

From pole dancing, standup comedy, basketball, badminton, chess, and more… here’s what sticks and what didn’t.

I’ve tried so many hobbies in the past like pole dancing, stand up comedy, basketball, badminton, table tennis, tennis, cross country, swimming, chess, Yu-Gi-Oh, volleyball, acro yoga, bouldering, you name it. Some lasted for years and others for a few weeks.

I knew intuitively why I didn’t go deeper in some hobbies but never put it into words until now. Why did I quit basketball after devoting my life to it my entire childhood? This is what I realized about myself.

The hobby must have unlimited potential to grow

I pole danced for a year and a half. It was very fun in the beginning, as with most hobbies, but there came a point where my body’s limitations started to show. My flexibility was nowhere near where it needed to be. It hurt to simply sit straight up with my legs spread out, my weight made me lean back because my inner hip is just not built for that. …

I attended the Forefront Conference in October 2017. Below are my unedited notes.

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It’s a biz conference that included ambitious, weird, business-minded top performers interested in living a “Rich Life”

Much different from your typical growth marketing/artificial intelligence/crypto/entrepreneurship conferences.

Below are some of my notes with my own commentary.

— -

Ramit Sethi’s Keynote

Main message: You can rewrite your story and you should rewrite your story.

There are 3 main stories in our lives

1) Stories we’re told

2) Stories we believe

3) Stories we change

Re 1: we’re told that it’s normal to graduate college, get a 9–5 corporate job, take vaca once a year, and retire at 65. …

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I ship out to Toronto, Canada in 3 days. Well, “move” there. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I am… captain of a random ship.

*pause for the facepalm*

I’m excited. Nervous. Bittersweet. [insert all of the emotions]

I usually write long-form blog posts helping people with a specific thing… but this piece feels more like a journal. No real points. No conclusion. No substance, really. Just some random, unfiltered things that have been bouncing in my head.

Explore if you’d like.

Moving across the country feels so normal

Pack up my bags, leave everyone I know, to go to a city that I’ve only visited a few times for a killer opportunity? …

I accidentally joined a little cult called BAMBU that has let me experience some of the most meaningful relationships I have ever had.

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Before I brag about my friends, I want to first share that I have never felt a strong sense of community after I first dropped out of college at 18.

Most people my age couldn’t relate to me and vice versa.I didn’t drink or smoke (often). I cared very little about dating. I had no interest in going to raves (anymore). I had no midterms or homework since I wasn’t in school. …

I’m moving out of the Bay Area after spending my entire life there to settle down in Toronto, Canada. This is my plan to make friends.

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I know a few people in Toronto, but not many. It’s going to feel like moving as a kid and enrolling into a new school. How do I make friends again???

I feel like I’ve been in numerous “new” situations and found great success meeting amazing people. …

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I learned how to give up my dreams, lower my expectations, and treat love as a skill through the School of Life.

The School of Life is a media company, most famously known for their YouTube channel, that teaches emotional intelligence. The 3-day event went deep on topics like meaning, happiness, work, calm, and love.

They have a pessimistic view on how to approach life which I actually appreciated. Very Anti Tony Robbins. Below are my notes that I stood out to me the most.


For most of history, the real point of relationships were: children, transfer of property, social status. …

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I hired a “life coach” two years ago.

This unexpected investment has undoubtedly been the best decision I have ever made for my personal growth. I feel exponentially more confident in the major areas of my life including my career, health, romantic relationships.

It felt embarrassing to admit because life coaches are notorious for being scam artists. I’d imagine themselves posting motivational quotes on Instagram and not even having their life in order. …

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2018 for me has been full of excitement, adventure, and peace in that order. A good friend of mine described me as transitioning from a naive and wide-eyed boy to an old Asian dad. I agree with her.

Every year on my birthday, I look back and reflect on how much I’ve changed (past editions here: 22, 21, 20). Where to start this year?

Digital Nomad life

I packed a small suitcase and bought a one-way ticket to South Africa to test out the “digital nomad” lifestyle I’ve been reading all about.

My trip included 30 days in Cape Town, two separate trips to Mexico, 14 days to Atlanta, 1 week in Austin, 6 weeks in Thailand, 2 weeks in Vietnam, 2 weeks in Toronto, and two trips to SoCal to spend time with family. …


Tam Pham

I value kindness, growth, and curiosity.

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