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Showing posts from August, 2019

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…

Ringo knows peace ☮ and love ❤

Have you heard of The Beatles? You probably have. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

First on my mind today is Ringo Starr. He's my kind of guy. ☮

Ringo looks great. I can't believe he's 79 years old. He remains dedicated to his work, and more importantly, consistently spreads the message of peace and love all around the world. Each year during his birthday (July 7) he has a simple request for everyone anywhere on earth to say "peace and love" to one another at noon. He said it would make his heart sing:

How cool is that. Ringo's a music legend. He's been knighted. He has over £150 million. Yet he has settled upon an idea that transcends himself and would positively affect countless people.

Is all this peace and love talk superficial? No. As a student of war most of my life, I firmly believe spreading the message of peace and love is a far-reaching reminder we all need during this time of social and political division.
That sounds l…

When do you quit?

So when do you quit?

It's not when you're tired. It's not when you've failed and are failing. It's not even when you realize the goal is impossible.

You should quit when you have become someone you don't want to be.

But if you are who you want to be, then don't quit, because success and failure are irrelevant. No matter what happens, making decisions and taking actions centered on the type of person you wish to be is exactly what you need to continue doing.

Being different

I wanted to be different, just like all of my friends.

It's been a long time since I feel the need to be like everyone else. But there was a time when I was younger it was an obsession. I thought belonging means looking and behaving like the rest. That was until I realized being different, ironically, made me fit in better.

If I were an extra copy of someone else, I'm not all that helpful. In fact, I'm easily replaceable and not valuable because I can be left out without affecting the overall result. However, if I can serve a function that nobody else can, then I'm a special feature, even a critical part of success.

Celebrating our differences isn't simply a feel-good slogan -- it makes a team more flexible and effective. Therefore, be a genius of love and include people who bring value, regardless of their background or what they look like.

What made me want to wake up early today

Today I woke up thinking about the Genius of Love blog and it perked me up. There was no morning sun like in the picture above. Outside was dark and much too early. Thus, my sunshine is this blog and it makes me happy writing on it each and every day. Thank you for making the Genius of Love blog a part of your day.

A tiger goes down the mountain

Why does a tiger go down the mountain? Because it wants to.

The concept of winning is currently in a sad state in the world. It seems everybody wants to be right. People try to enrich themselves despite the expense of so many. Nobody is open to anything, not even an inch. They say it's a sign of weakness. They say others would take advantage of them if they give in.

However, winning isn't just about being right. Winning isn't about beating the competition. Winning is being a net positive in the world, an accomplishment that moves humanity forward, even if it were only an inch.

In other words, winning is about upholding decency and eliminating regret. Let your conscience be an indicator. I don't want to be petty, dishonest, or groveling. I don't want unhappy faces. Instead, I want to accomplish something that cannot be counted or measured. I want to promote peace and love daily within me and with those around me.

Ultimately everything in the world is ephemeral. People c…

Reward and recognition

Much of what we do in life goes without recognition. But there are times it would be nice to be rewarded or recognized. Reality, however, tells us no.

Since our youth many of us have been taught to strive for a medal or trophy but perhaps that might not be a path to fulfillment. You would know the moment you achieve that medal or trophy.

Therefore, it would be good that we go about our business where the actions and decisions themselves are rewarding. Go direct and strive for the real thing instead of its representation.

Make actions matter

I don't see why I need to settle when it comes to important decisions. Settling is a cause of procrastination. It's not bold and exciting enough. So if I'm going to do something, I want it to be worthwhile, because ultimately anything I do is rather forgettable by default.

More specifically, I make decisions based on who I want to be, not necessarily whether it is the "correct" decision. Because sometimes trying to be correct is usually a conservative path that makes little difference in my world.

Therefore, since I want to be a genius of love, I want to do all things throughout the day with lots of love. Should I fail at least I know where I stood when I do. It's no good succeeding at something I don't care much about.

Planting hope

As a student of war and peace, I believe there is always common ground, a starting point, no matter how vastly different the sides are. The reason is we are all human and relatively predictable.

Perhaps a good illustration of this is in Ethiopia where recently its citizens have reportedly planted 350 million trees in one day. Like any nation, Ethiopia isn't without its troubles and differences but the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has somehow managed to unite people together in this simple initiative. From many accounts, the heavily advertised tree-planting effort has given Ethiopians hope.

The news seems to focus on the environmental benefits but I also see the social benefits.

I never underestimate acts of kindness throughout the day. As a genius of love, you would want to plant them anywhere you go each and every day. It might not take root everywhere but the ones that do will be the ones that matter.

Knowing my blind spots

The aim of being a genius of love is rife and riddled with missteps and mistakes. It's a high bar and a narrow path. What's unhelpful isn't so much I fell short of my goal but that I don't even know I fell short at all. So I need to know for sure whether I'm ascending the mountain or in reality descending it.

It's often better to know I suck than to know I'm doing good. The reason why it's better is the natural world demands refinement for something to work well. Whether it's a tiger catching its prey or a human playing the violin, nothing arrives perfect. Thus, I know I will need to adjust and make improvements. If somehow I'm doing everything right and everyone tells me I'm doing right, then I must be wary. Such perfection only exists in a vacuum or a bubble.

I feel good when I'm able to revisit a similar situation later on and respond differently -- in a kinder, more effective manner. But if I think I'm always right and others are w…

Genius of Love Award #2 - Tim's parents

Just a couple of days ago I chose the winner of our Genius of Love Award #1 but the following is too good to wait. When it rains love, it pours. Below is Genius of Love Award #2, which goes to Tim's parents:

No amount of money can get you seats to this baseball game.

Do what you can, parents. It doesn't take much more than time and creativity to be geniuses of love to your children.

Comparing myself to others

Earlier today I was checking out the traffic stats of the top blogs. Frankly it was rather daunting and discouraging. I thought there was no way I would get over a million page views in a month. But I was erroneously comparing myself to others by using the wrong measurement. My concern shouldn't be about page views but about whether I am actually helping someone today.

Sharing my knowledge so you might find it useful was why I started the Genius of Love blog in the first place. Even if it were only one person and nobody else, I feel my effort would be worth it. Outside of this blog, I often can only help one person at a time anyway and I find it worthwhile nonetheless.

After all, who am I trying to compete with? Nobody. The only race I'm trying to advance is the human race. So let's ride and have fun together.

Genius of Love Award #1 - Carrie Jernigan

The very first Genius of Love Award goes to Carrie Jernigan, a mother from Arkansas, because according to ABC News 11 she bought out all 1500 shoes at a bankrupt Payless shoe store so she can donate them to disadvantaged kids when they go back to school.
I really like Carrie's act of genius because she listened to her daughter who asked if she can buy one pair of shoes for her classmate. One thing led to another and they ended up buying out the entire store. The size of their hearts is larger than the room storing those 1500 shoes.
Brava, Carrie Jernigan! You are #1!