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A war by any other name is still ignorant and lazy

When someone promotes "war," we all might as well replace the word with "stupidity" or "cruelty." If you want to be more kind about it, the word might be "ignorance." Like playing with fire, pretty soon you'll get burned. Each side tries to play tough until a bad mistake happens and many people get hurt or killed.
Even the logic behind war is misguided. Instead of ironing things out, let's all make it tougher on ourselves by killing each other to prove to the other side we are right. Let's not only increase the suffering of the other side but also our own. How dumb is that? Life is already hard enough -- there is no need to make it more difficult.

One side is always stronger. Let that side be the one with patience, understanding, creativity, wisdom. They aren't lazy. They know it's possible. They will go out of their way to get it fixed. The gains are immeasurable. They are geniuses of peace.

The importance of design

If something doesn't function well, how it looks is superficial and irrelevant. However, there are times when how something looks makes all the difference.

Take, for example, butterflies and ladybugs. Born in a third world country, I admit I'm not a big fan of insects. But when it comes to butterflies and ladybugs, I will go out of my way to admire them closely. I love them simply because of how they look. Why I don't feel the same way about a fly, mosquito, or cockroach isn't hard to understand.

Therefore, when you are trying to build something, such as a service or product, be sure to splash in some great design. Try to create a "Wow!" factor and make it look nice if you can.

Desktop computers used to come in predominately beige boxes. After all, computers compute. Who cares what they looked like outside. But one particular computer company called Apple took the extra effort to make those boxes look beautiful. They made other beautiful-looking products. Th…

Boat people and immigrants

A few people like to buy boats costing hundreds of millions of dollars. I like to buy memories.

My memories of Saigon are few but vivid and nostalgic. One of those memories was floating a toy boat along a stream. It might have a sail or it might not, but what it surely had was the ability to glide through an expanse of water so effortlessly. I was mesmerized. I was a boat person.

As one of the Vietnamese boat people who arrived in the United States under the Jimmy Carter administration in 1980, I was fortunate to see happy American faces when I landed in Puyallup, Washington, USA. Everyone was so welcoming. It was like Emma Lazarus's poem from the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

My account isn't an exaggeration, in case people today doubt how refugees and immigrants used to be treated.

Show enough love to speak up

As an adviser in a few of the world's most respected organizations, I nonetheless have witnessed countless times individuals being called a "problem" for not following instructions. The real problem, however, were the instructions themselves. They were ineffective, impractical, perhaps even cruel. Everyone who followed those instructions was hurting and struggling but only one or two individuals had the gumption to say there has to be something better.

This is life in a nutshell. From the moment children are able to interact with adults they are told to obediently follow orders. If they don't, they are punished. Then these kids grow up to be adults themselves working in companies that expect them to be equally meek. If they aren't, then they labeled as incorrigible and are reprimanded or fired.

Fact is, leaders in even the best organizations don't know exactly what is best. They try but it's a process filled with inevitable pitfalls. That's the reali…

Busy in business

Seems trite to say that in business, what is talked about is the never-ending effort to grow from the prior quarter, and if not, the prior year in the same quarter. For a stock price to go up, it isn't enough to make a billion dollars again like last year. You must make more.

When is it ever enough? What a hectic and stressful environment. But I am asking the wrong question. The purpose of business isn't to necessarily grow but to benefit society. Many businesses forget that fact. If people's natural demand for a good or service goes down, how in the world can a company's financial numbers improve? No amount of hard work can make them better. Even if the push for more effective marketing or cost cutting can negate the downturn, it would be temporary and ultimately unsustainable.

This is why companies, no matter how large, cannot last. The shift isn't caused by their lack of cunning and diligence as much as their lack of fit within the community, city, country. Unl…


When it was past my son James' bedtime, he and I decided to dog-ear our storybook so we can continue exactly where we left off the next day. Below was our conversation the next day:
James: Where is the cat ear, daddy?
Me: Huh?
James: I mean where is the dog tail?
Me: Oh! You mean dog-eared page.
James: Yes, where is the dog-eared page, daddy?
Me: Somewhere in our Dog in the Hat book. is now

I decided to change and redirect to The new domain name is an even better fit to the mission. ☮❤

Superman's sacrifice

When I was growing up in the early 80s, Superman, Batman, and Ironman dominated my mind. They had everything I didn't: muscles and the confidence to wear underwear outside their pants in public.

One of the interesting aspects of superheroes is how they tend to subordinate themselves to the average person. They sacrifice themselves for the good of humanity. This runs counter to most of the real world. If a nation is a superpower, it tends to invade, influence, and ensure its self-interests are protected. The interests of others aren't as important and certainly not more important.

The greatest contrast between power and sacrifice is Superman. With his power, Superman could have made himself ruler of the world. Nope. Just because he could doesn't mean he did. He instead decides to protect the world from tyranny and save those who are weaker or needed immediate help.

Likewise, as strategic as Sun Tzu was, I have noted in our Art of War book that Sun Tzu was first and foremos…

Everything is easy until you do it

Optimism without experience is wishful thinking. In such a case, you can double the cost than expected.

As anybody who has actually accomplished something great can tell you, it isn't as easy as it seems. If it looks easy, then that's because the person behind it is a maven. An uninitiated person would not be able to pull off such a feat.

Fortunately, the more you do something, the easier it gets. You will first look like fish out of water, flopping to and fro. With time, you will only look clumsy. Then you will just appear unnatural. Eventually you work yourself up to acting normal. People at this point appreciate your expertise and diligence.

Ultimately, you get so good at something that it will seem like you barely did anything at all to accomplish your task. People will doubt the positive result and wonder whether you know what you're doing. But once they confirm the positive result, they might even think it's easy to do. Until they do it.

In such a case, you can charg…

Sonshi's 20th Anniversary and the start of a new adventure ☮❤

The date August 12, 2019 marks the 20th Anniversary of my life's work at Sonshi, a website dedicated to Sun Tzu's Art of War. 
When I first published Sonshi online in 1999, Google was a small search company contracted by Yahoo! to supplement their handpicked search results. When Yahoo! handpicked to be the top result for Sun Tzu's Art of War, I thought I died and went to heaven. However, Google was where we went to 10 years later and the rest is history.

The reason why I started Sonshi was my obsession with Sun Tzu, but the main reason why I continued for another 20 years was because of the friendships I've built. One such friendship is with Trey Davis, someone who has been a supporter of Sonshi virtually since its inception.

As I am starting a brand new chapter in my life with, I feel fortunate for the wonderful successes through the years as well as the lessons learned. Life has cycles of good times and bad times, and so I am most grateful fo…