It’s now been a week since I left Redding. While I moved there almost 2 years ago with lots of optimism and enthusiasm, the move to LA didn’t have the same feeling. I really enjoyed my time there. I had friends who were like family to me. They saw me at my best and at my worst.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
Redding had the feel of a startup city. Everywhere you look, there was something growing. I remember one of the first nights I was in Redding. I was at a hilltop overlooking the city. It was dark and all I could see were lights. They were just lights from residential homes, but I pictured lights coming from skyscrapers. I saw the city for what it will be, not for what it was currently. To me, Redding was a place of optimism.
During my time there, I grew a lot and accomplished a good amount of goals. I did a one mile open water swim at Whiskeytown, established a good habit of prepping food every week, cut out sugar almost entirely, waking up before 7 everyday, and going to the gym 3-4x per week. I had a great routine already. I went to work basically doing whatever I want. I went snowboarding on the weekdays in the winter and had the entire mountain to myself. I went swimming in the lake in summer. I was basically doing the 4-Hour Work Week. Everyday was the same to me- whether it was a day or not. I was looking forward to getting up everyday. I just always thought I would stay, plant roots and contribute to prosper the city.
The choice was leave Redding was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. I remember being in the prayer room for a good 10 hours the week of Christmas and New Years. I would ask God what my life would look like if I stayed and if I went. Before he told me, he answered with this, “These things aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive”. I was picturing two different routes in my life but God was looking at it from a completely different perspective.
Had I stayed, I would have had a family, a very carefree life, and a success at what I was doing. If I left, I was going to be admired and appreciated at work, and I was going to grow as a person. Having a family is important to me and I believe that’s why God said “these things aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive”.
I did get a word however. I heard God’s voice say “You should go”. It was more like a suggestion than a command. I still had the final choice but knowing that one was better from God’s perspective, there was no way I was going to turn it down. But I didn’t want an easy life and I didn’t want to be comfortable. I wanted to keep growing. But still, it was hard. I felt like I was already planted.
“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.”
I didn’t see how anything was better than what I already had but I just believed it was true. This decision was like choosing between Good vs Better. My previous big decision was a simple one- it was Good vs Bad, though it still required faith to see one option was indeed bad. I do appreciate that I can make tougher decision now. The next one might be even harder- Best vs Best. It’ll take even more faith than what I currently have. But I want to get there.
In the last week or so before I left, I was procrastinating with everything- cleaning, selling furniture. I really did not want to leave. I was reading a book one day and it hit me how I had made mistakes in areas where I thought I had done everything right. At that point, I realized that not reading (being ignorant) cost me many years in life. In this particular instance, it cost me what I think was 2 years.
I heard somewhere that the average CEO reads 1 book a week, or 52 books in a year. I actually want to do more- because I don’t want to be average. I’m committing to reading 30 minutes a day and progressively get to 2 hours. So far in 2016, I’ve already read 6 books, more than what I did in 2015.
On the night I was going to start driving to LA, I checked my mailbox for one last time. And there it was- a Rhema Word from God. Even at that point, I was still unsure about leaving. Then I see this mail that is from a credit card company with a message on the front that says “Depart from Redding and explore the world”. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Redding is not a big city with an international airport so it’s really strange to get a message from an airline company that would indicate someone can travel internationally from one airport alone. Of course, you’ll need to transfer but still, I’ve never gotten any message like this before.
I left assured then that I had already made the right decision. Having a confirmation of that decision after only making it a few weeks ago felt really good too. I’m really confident now that God has already gone ahead of me. As for Redding, I already told God I want to be back. And the times I’ve said I’m going to do something, I end up making it happen. It’s just the way I am.
So Redding… I’ll be back..]]>
On the first night during the meet and greet, I met two girls who were 2nd year students in their School of Supernatural Ministry (spiritual X-Men’s). Immediately, they gave me a prophetic word. She told me that when I first walked in, she saw a picture of the game Tetris with blocks falling. I had already told her what I did before telling me that. I find it interesting that she got a picture of Tetris as that’s probably what everyone would understand as a game.
The two said they both saw different things so I wanted to know what it was. Here goes:
Prophecy: One girl said that the creative ideas I had would go across all borders. “There’s no restriction to where my ideas would go”.
Reality: My idea (apps) are put on iTunes and are downloaded everywhere in the world. She had no idea it worked like that.
Prophecy: That I am someone who God spoken to many times through dreams.
Reality: Correct. Many, many times.
Prophecy: That I am a man of revelations.
Reality: This one is really interesting. I have it in my journal that for 2014, I want to “Write down revelations from God”. With that prophecy, it’s like God is saying, “If you are ready, it’s going to start pouring”.
There were a few more but those themselves are pretty good.
Many people (90%) who attended the conference all spoke Bethel lingo (or charismatic lingo). For example, a “download” is a thought from God when he gives someone a creative idea or a blueprint on how to do something. What comes to mind is when RG LeTournae got an idea from God to design a circuit that stood for 50 years. All the lingo however made me feel like it was mystical and sort of made me feel like an outsider. But I kept an open mind.
One of the things I wanted to see was how Bethel believed money is used. In a conference where EVERYONE is an entrepreneur, there’s no denying that we were also looking for ways to increase our business. So the issue of having an increase in business (money) needed to be handled Biblically. I was pleasantly surprised to hear all the testimonies where God increased someone’s business and what the ultimate outcome was.
One person started a ministry where instead of going out on the street to evangelize, they go to different businesses and ask what their needs are, and start praying. Through some supernatural prayers answer, these people gave God glory. Instead of going to a “church” for healing, these people brought the healing to businesses. Why, afterall should healing be limited to a building right? If we are Christ’s church (and we are), then we can bring healing everywhere we go. And it was testimony after testimony. One of the things I really needed to hear was that
“the value of a businessman is more than just their checkbook“.
There was another concept- that we should ask what God’s dreams are for our business. Never thought of it like that. I always just thought if my dreams are “ok” with God. Kind of dumb now that I think about it. The example was this. God, I have a dream to send my son to college. God’s dream could be to fund the son’s different business ideas because they are going to touch a lot of people and bring glory to him. So in that example, our dream looks SO small. The point is that we have our dreams but we should ask what God’s dream is. Very likely, they are much much bigger than ours.
I also tried prophesying also. It’s really just praying, but Christians in the charismatic circle use a different lingo. We forget what Paul says a prophetic word is- to empower, encourage and strengthen. On the last day, we had an exercise. I wanted to see how it worked so I volunteered. I first closed my eyes and prayed for who God wanted me to pray for. I got a picture of a large guy in a flannel shirt and I was supposed to pray for his health. Opened my eyes and scanned the audience. I indeed did find that person. But praying for someone’s health was a bit too personal so I went up to him and asked if I could pray for him. Before I did, I asked if there was anything wrong.
BAM! He told me he woke up with a headache and was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Could it be that simple? Maybe the better question is, could I just be so logical that I forget God is speaking all the time.
And right before leaving that day, that same person had a prophetic word for me. He said that God wants me to have “complete confidence” in him that he is working through things. He didn’t say what those “things” they were but I knew. What he didn’t know was that the night before, I had prayed to God for something that I needed affirmation for. Even though he had no idea what the matter was, I got really emotional because God of the Universe had heard me and spoke to me through someone.
Going forward, I’m going to be much more aware of the spirit world. Afterall, my fight is in the spiritual realms. I want to understand more what that feels like. I’m going to dream bigger. Better, yet I’m going to ask God what his dream for my business is..]]>
Back on 11/9/12, I left the company I was at because they were behind payroll. At the time, I was getting paid every 3 weeks my 2-week salary. So it really felt like I got half my pay. I was at the point where the longer I stayed, the more behind they were going to be. And because I was getting paid every 3 weeks, I had to make the decision to leave or not the day I got paid. There was not going to be a 2-week notice because that would put me on an odd week where I didn’t get paid. The company won’t be named and I have no negative feelings towards them. It is what it is.
During the months of November, December and January, I had no revenue coming in. I had interviews lined up- 2 that were direct referrals. There was one that I interviewed with prior to Christmas which I thought for sure was a done-deal. But because of the holidays, I basically lost 3 weeks of job-hunting. During this time, I had to ask my parents for money, twice. (Mom, if you’re reading this, thanks. I will pay you back as soon as I can! Love you!).
That was a humbling moment to say the least. In my culture, that is the ultimate failure because I had come out of college and got very good paying jobs. And now I’m asking for money? What the hell did I do? But they understood where I was and did their best. To make the request even worst, they had to take out a line of credit to give it to me.
Fast forward to January. I am in full-hustle mode trying to find clients to build websites for. I brought in really small amounts. I should have charged twice as much but where I was, I had to take anything. By mid January, I was thinking for sure I was going to land a job. By now, I had 3 solid interviews that I know I crushed. But nothing had come through and my finances was coming to complete ZERO.
In 3 short months, I racked up more credit card debt than the average American. Prior to this, I had 0 credit card debt. It’s not a small number and when I look at that, I’m thinking how deep am I. I had no other choice but to charge everything on credit because I was thinking that I could pay it back once I landed a job. To make matters worst, the 0% interest rate was ending that week and I was facing a 17% interest rate each month for the balance I carried.
This was one of the first times where I had serious negative thoughts about who I am, and how I have failed. And I would have days where I could not stay positive. The raining days did not help either. After lots of prayer, I came to the conclusion that I had gotten myself into the debt and I can get myself out.
This may have been one of the first times that I realize how much a person’s mindset affects their situation. The credit card debt is real and the fact that I have a lot to lose materially is absolutely real. But the mindset of “I can overcome it” will help you come up of ways to get out of the situation. I know that God gives us confidence in him that he will provide. But he won’t do the thinking for us. He can tell us all about how great he is but we still need to make the choice to believe that it’s true. So this is what I’ve come to understand- that God and us individually work together. There are things God does and there are things we do. It’s a cooperation between his guidance and our doing.
I needed a way to solve my credit limit right away, because I had absolutely nothing in my accounts. I learned from my mom years ago about transferring balances to other credit cards. And I did just that. I applied for two. The first one declined my request to raise my credit limit. So for that card that I already had, I could only transfer half the amount. Right around this time, a friend who knew of my situation suggested that I look for help financially from the church. I don’t know what’s worst- asking your parents for money or asking the church.
I had no choice so I went through with it. And how ever much pride I had, it was down to 5% of it when I got on the call with the church and said exactly how much I needed. To make things worst, I had to meet with someone to go over my finances. I was already spending nothing and so to have someone look through every penny I spent was humiliating. But I understood the protocol and didn’t complain. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worst, he suggested I should buy groceries from the church’s food pantry. I knew if my mom found out I was doing that, she would make the food herself and drive down to DC and bring it to me. She would never let me get to that point.
I had to ask the church for support because I had bills I could not pay. I had medical bills that I asked to have payment plans on. And yet I was laughing at the situation. Up to this point, I thought my trial was about finances. And it is. But the real trial was about my pride- and I had lots of it. When I realized this, I just laughed because I wasn’t aware what the trials were about. So now I knew that the things to come were going to be about my pride first and foremost.
Around the same time, I was working with a client to build his website. We had talked a few times but I never closed the deal. This was when I still haven’t heard regarding follow-up interviews. He called me to have dinner at his house and to talk about the website again. When I was driving there, I knew I could not leave without an upfront payment. By now, it was the middle of January and there was no way I could pay my mortgage for the coming month. I called my mom on the way there and asked if she could lend me money again. When she told me she couldn’t, I knew it was on me. I would have to deal with whatever the circumstances. So the thing that was most uncomfortable to me- asking for money, I had to do it.
I did come away with a check. And yeah, I was both relieved and proud a bit. It wasn’t proud in the sense of my puffing up. But it was more a lesson in entrepreneurship. In making the ask, I knew I had overcome something that was blocking my growth.
But things were still really so bad. I couldn’t even fill up the entire tank of gas. I had to come to grips with what would happen if I couldn’t make the mortgage payment. What’s the worst that could happen? I would not be able to pay on time. I would maybe have to take a late payment charge. Maybe I would need to foreclose. But if that’s the worst, so what? It’s just stuff.
So what if I lose my house? So what if I have to live out of my car? It’s just temporary. Things will get better. Throughout this time, I learned to focus all my prayers on who God is, instead of what he can do for me. The need was real and I did not deny it. God is a loving, caring Father. He’s blind to my situation. And what caring Father will not provide for his children?
My prayers were always in this order- 1) seeing who God is, 2) staying positive, and 3) the financial need. There were a lot of times where it was hard to stay positive. I was certainly hopeful that things would improve. I knew that. But being able to stay positive helped me to be productive in doing everything- job searching, doing work for client, and even being able to get up in the morning.
So now the climax of the story. One of the referrals my friend gave me is calling for a 2nd interview. The interview went well. During the discussion, I had mentioned that I was a Christian and he also stated he was. However, at the very end, he asked if I would have any issue with the work due to some of the clients’ ideology. I had know that this company did work for clients that promoted equal rights for gays but I did not know there was continuing work. At first, I thought it was no big deal but the more I thought about it, it just didn’t sit right.
It’s not that I hate gay people because God loves people, and so do I. The founders were actually married partners but working with them did not bother me. But it did bother me that I would potentially be marketing and promoting this client’s message. I couldn’t imagine what I would do if I needed to write blog posts or create twitter messages for them. That didn’t sit right with me.
My choice was basically to uphold God’s moral law or not know how I was going to buy next week’s groceries. I never thought I would have to make this choice. I had nothing else lined up. I had to talk to people I trusted to get counsel. One friend (you know who you are) even offered me $100 cash because he knew I was in deep financial trouble. To tell you the truth, I probably should have taken up the offer but I just couldn’t do it. I also talked to my pastor and asked him to walk through his decision making process on this. During the discussion, I figured out what I was going to do (you can call it a word from God). I was going to explain my stance with truth and love in person before the interview started. And if it was a dealbreaker, then that’s ok.
The day came and I was nervous walking into the office. What made matters worst is that I was meeting with the founder and another employee. This person also turned out to live the same lifestyle. I anticipated that I would have one-on-one interviews but we were going to talk as a group. The thing that went through my mind was that they would think I was spewing hatred. In reality, I knew I was as just sinful as them if not worst.
The words did not come out easy. I explained that God loves people just as I love people. But I could not work on something that would go against what God hated. To my surprise, they took it well and respected the the fact that I stood up for my beliefs. But also to my surprise, they told me instantly that I would not be a good fit because that was one of their top 10 clients and everyone on their team would work with them as some point. So the interview was short- 5 minutes if that.
Walking out, I was back to no options and I was thinking “God, what am I going to do?”. This was the first time that a company had turned me down for something other than my skillset. The next two days were hard.
I got a call on Thursday that another final interview had come through and that brought a bit of relief. Now, the worst that can happen is that I would have to call my bank and tell them in advance that I will take the late payment for the mortgage.
Then a funny thing happened on Friday. I get text notifications from my bank regarding balances. And usually, it’s not good. But this time, I checked it just like any other time thinking yes I know there is very few dollars left. But I saw a number that I can not believe. To put it in perspective, it was enough for me to go on for another month- allowing me to pay for my mortgage, some medical bills and not have to take money from the Church.
I seriously thought God himself direct deposited money into my bank account.
That thought wasn’t that far off. There’s been many times when I look at my account and think there’s no way I have that much left.
I knew my parents didn’t send me money because they had none and they would probably have told me. So I check into it further and saw that the previous company that I worked for had paid my 2-weeks salary.
They owed me salary but no way did I think they were going to pay. Remember, 3 months had went by! When I left, I pretty much knew I had left money on the table. To my knowledge, no one who has left the company had ever gotten back-checks. I am thinking that the company got some kind of investment from angels or VC’s and one of the things they wanted is for the company to start paying back employees they owed.
So do I think they will pay me all of it? Don’t know. I wouldn’t count on it. But it did give me more time finding leads for consulting and more time to land a job.
When I turned down the interview, I didn’t think “God, you better hook me up because I did this for you”. No, I just knew that was the right thing to do whether or not God did something. I didn’t expect anything from him. I didn’t tie my decision to some kind of material reward. I knew God didn’t work like that. But he did bless my decision to uphold his law. And he’s worthy of all praise.
I think about the story of Job, and how he lost everything. But he still didn’t curse God. He said that when God made him, he was naked and and naked when he’s die. And at the end, God blessed up. But he didn’t say that because he’ll think God will bless him. He said it because that’s how he viewed God. And that was what I felt. I started with nothing and if I end with nothing, then I’m ok with that also. A
There was another thing that was significant. I was still tithing the months of November, December and now January. And the amount I was tithing was the same when I was bringing in my full month of salary. I had someone tell me that wasn’t the right decision because I was borrowing money to pay for things and I wasn’t doing the right thing by using some of that borrowed money to tithe. That’s probably right but what’s done is done. But at the end of this month, it will come out of the money I did receive.
To end this, I hope this provides encouragement for any believer in difficult times. I finally see the corner turning in my situation and so can share my experience freely. The same friend who offered me $100 asked me for a word of faith before leaving his place. And I said I know this will be a testimony when it’s all over. And that will come true because our pastor after hearing about this said he would like to share it with his leadership team.
I want to thank all my friends that went through this with me. You guys were there for the support and the company, which was what I needed most. Thanks for praying for me and seeing me through this. This trial is over.
God is good. Amen. Ahoot..]]>
But then I thought about it. If I had 10 minutes with God where my life is suspended, then came back, what would I asked and how would I be changed?
I think I would ask the following:
- When were some times you answered my prayer but I was too blind to see it?
- Why did some events in my past go the way it did?
- How do I implement having faith that you are sovereign?.
This year alone, I’m dealing with 2 broken bones. 2 more than I ever had the first 28 years of my life. Other than that, I’m in better shape this year than last. I was hitting the gym consistently 3 times a week before I broke a bone in my finger. That itself was an experience, having to get surgery and being completely under. Then waking up and being told not to make any big decisions because I’m coming off anesthesia.
I’m thankful for the friends who took care of me coming out of surgery.
I went to Peru in December of 2011. Again, learned so much about what it means to be a Christian and being a follower of Christ. The biggest lesson from the trip is that my role on the trip as an apprentice is what God had in store for me, even though I wanted to lead a trip. My pride had gotten in the way big time and it took God to let me know it in the right way and time.
I remember a few times when God spoke to me directly. One time was when I was at church. I had come in and did not see any of my friends. Church to me was always about fellowship with other believers and less with God, although that is part of it. And I felt very frustrated and angry that I didn’t have that fellowship. So much to the point where I wanted to walk on during service. But that’s when I very clearly heard the words “I am here with you. Everything else is just gravy”. After hearing that, I knew God was saying he was with me as if he was standing right next to me. And I not only knew it to be true, I felt and understood it to be true. I literally went from angry to content (in peace) in a matter of seconds.
The other time is when I felt at an extreme low point and I had nowhere to go with the feeling except to God and asking him for help.
That was Friday. On Monday, God answered. I was at Starbucks when I met someone who was in a MLM. At first, it seemed like be wanted to recruit me, but I quickly shot it down knowing it was a MLM. Then after he found out that I can drive traffic online, he got very interested in learning what I can do for his business. We talked for a hour and half in Starbucks. He seemed very interested in hiring me as a consultant to drive leads for his business. And he also invited me over to his house for dinner with his wife and 3 daughters. On Sunday, I went over and had dinner with them and then also talked business. What I learned from this is being confident of the value I can provide with my skills and that by providing value, people will gladly pay.
This last year, I launched and idea from beginning to end, made coffee money before stopping it. I’m still learning how to put it all together for a profitable venture.
I outsourced very well and it’s something I started to get really good at. I had designs created by someone in Argentina, videos created by someone there also, coding done as far as Sri Lanka and even Vietnam.
Paul and I finally go recognized for what we did with the Teen Business Summit last year. Man we should have won but that’s ok.
His year may be the year for TBF. I either blow it up or drop it completely. But this will be the year for it, to see how much impact we will really have for young entrepreneurs.
I’m also starting to pick up the skill of being able to find pain points in a business and developing solutions to solve it.
Going from a scarcity mindset to one of abundance mindset.
Going from thinking God’s will is a tightrope to thinking its a blank canvas where I’m the painter and he is the mentor helping me create a masterpiece..]]>
I’ve already told my mom that there’s a bi possibility that I’ll need to borrow money for a month or so. That’s not even the worst part of it. I have this belief that my dad would tell me something to the effect of “I told you so” about something- about that I should have picked a stable job, or that I should work in the financial sector, whatever it is. I thought he would say something to the effect of “I am right and you are wrong”. And thinking that just made me even more angry and depressed. And adding even more to this, I’m enrolled in an online entrepreneurship program where I am paying heavily for each month. Up until Wednesday, I was not moving along in the program. I wasn’t making progress. All this added up to tremendous pressure. The thoughts that ran through my mind were: I’m going to lose my place, I’ll have to admit to my parents I failed, I would go into further debt. And all of it seemed completely out if my control. So I just laid everything before The Lord and asked him for help. I just told him exactly how is felt. I asked for further assurance that I can get through it and comfort that the storm will pass. After I prayed, there was peace inky heart. Before that, I can see how people would think to commit suicide if they felt what I did. But I had Jesus and knew I would be ok no matter the circumstances. He promised that. And so what if my parents thought I was a failure, my perfect Father in heaven doesn’t think that of me.
I remember in the Foundation program recently that an entrepreneur will experience the full spectrum of emotions, from absolute lows to absolute highs. I had definitely experienced the absolute low.
Friday came and I just took the day off from work to work on progressing through he Foundation program. I had great calls with people in their industry about their pain points. One lady was really excited that I had connected with her. In describing her pain point, she mentioned she would like to possibly form a partnership with me. That was just great validation that there was great pain in the business and that a software solution can solve it. Whether we form a partnership or not, I see that the things taught in he Foundation is working and worth the money. The skill I’ll gain in finding pain points will be exponential valuable as I get older. I experienced a great high on Friday. It wasn’t an absolute high but I’m hoping I’ll get there soon..]]>
In the past, I usually skip over it. But now that I am forced to extract ideas instead of bringing my own, I have to listen much more. I can see how honing the skill of idea extraction will be very useful in the years to come. It’s a skill that has exponential effect. The earlier someone learns it and applies it, the better the skill becomes and the better at solving problems the person becomes.
I’m definitely crushing it at the moment..]]>
Now the belief’s changed. Just because something is innovative does not mean the news will cover it. Likewise, just because the news cover it does not make it innovative or newsworthy. Instead, if something is indeed newsworthy, AND if the media is told about it, then there will be a higher chance of them covering it.
We finally got recognized for Teen Business Summit. I filled out an application for a social media leadership award a month back. My expectation was not that they would definitely cover us. Instead, I had the thought going in that we had made a big impact and that the media should know about it. Contrast this with my previous thought that they should cover it because we’re so great. And if they don’t, then their idiots.
Well, we became a finalist for their media category. Pretty cool. Whether we win or not isn’t a big deal. Don’t get me wrong, I want us to win. But it’s not a make or break for me anymore.
The first month has all about mindset so far, specially how certain limiting beliefs hinder us from being successful entrepreneurs. I’ve already reversed some but there’s still so many. Because of this, it’s really kicking my ass. It’s so difficult emotionally when I realized certain beliefs in me and how it affected all areas of my life.
To give an example, I realized I had a scarcity mindset. Basically, I saw the world from a limited point of view instead of from abundance. Today, a brother in Christ asked me how I pictured the will of God. I knew the right Sunday school answer but picturing it for myself was completely different. I saw it as someone trying to walk on a tight rope fearing that one wrong step will cause the entire person to fall. But that’s not how it is. God’s will for us is to have life and have it abundantly. I then pictured God’s will as a white canvas and the mentor is telling his apprentice to “go ahead, create it”. And he’s there to provide direction if something goes wrong.
From that perspective, it’s so freeing. I can keep going doing what I love, what gets me up in he morning..]]>