Thoai Nguyen

Nice guy, Bookworm, Hacker, Bootstrapper

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Thinking in causal chains

One of the concepts that I’ve been obsessed with lately was that of the causal chains.

Systems follow a series of causes and effects where each event is merely a link on the chain, i.e. an effect on earlier causes and one of the causes of a later effect.

I first came across this concept while studying Hermetics material. However, the idea is so pervasive that it applies to practically any facet of life.

Nowadays, whenever I contemplate a desirable outcome, I start with building causal chains in my mind and map it out on paper. This process forces me to think deeply about the genesis, or seed, of what I want to attain and to question whether such desires are intrinsic or programmed by society at large.

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Be unreasonable

I don’t think we should be reasonable when it comes to things that matter. Most things in life are not set in stone. Of course there are laws of physics but this is not about that.

When it comes to what you truly want in life. Be brave and figure out what it is that you want. Then work backward and figure out what kind of person you need in order for what you want to manifest naturally in your life.

Then go on and be that person.

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I’ve been writing long form lately.

However, it’s still a struggle to press the publish button.

Then I read The Cult of Done,

and thought about how often we developers push wip commits.

Yeah. It’s time to reveal that first draft.

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Create with Magic

You may, or may not, know that I love to tinker with AV equipment. Making private mix tape recording, writing screenplays, filming my own silly videos.

Out of all the products and brands that I have worked with over the years. Two brands that brought me the most joy are Blackmagic Design and DJI, because their products are created with magic (examples: 1, 2, 3).

The same creative magic that happened at Apple, especially during Steve Jobs’ years.

When a product is created with magic, it makes the end users ask themselves “why haven’t anyone thought of this before?”.

Now, I want you to think about this for a moment.

What would you create/write/build in your daily life (at work or otherwise) that make people wonder:

  • Why haven’t anyone thought of this before?

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People and Metrics

While watching an episode of Suits (a TV series), I came to realize (or deepen my realization on) a matter of human nature.

In case you do not watch the show yourself, Suits is a series about the law profession, albeit not a very good depiction of the real thing, from what I heard. Two law firms were merging, and the lowest performing associates were to be let go. Katrina, one of the partners, ran all the names through a computer system that was supposed to track employee performances and came up with a “fire” list.

Brian was on that list.

He was also the dad of a new born, which explained his performance drop.

To the untrained eyes of the partner, it was justified to fire Brian because his stats does not stack up against his peer. However, as Donna, the EQ-genius (if that’s even a thing) COO, pointed out, Brian’s performance was not just about the computer generated numbers. She...

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I am admitted!

I’ve got the job!

My business just broke even!

Times and times again, we think of the events as great successes. Looking back, however, we see them as mere beginnings for the next chapters in our books, as initiations.

When was your last one?

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Don’t (just) follow your passion

Nowadays, follow your passion has become a motto.

I believe it is overrated.

Passion can come and go in the blink of an eye. Because of its intensity, people sometimes mistake it as the substance although it is, in truth, nothing more than the heat of a moment.

I do not deny the importance of a spark. We all need to start somewhere, and passion can be a signal that this may be a Path worth travelling. However, as we progress further, obstacles reveal, the initial feeling is buried under layers of doubts. “Am I going to make it?” “Is this for me?”

Eventually, the flame wears out, completely shut.

We celebrate victors, those with the will and courage to carry on until the end. We look up in admiration without realising all the dark time that forged their spirits. It is less known that winners care little for the fame at the end. After all the trials, pain, sweats and tears, to be...

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Human Interaction, The Next Scarcity

Every abundance creates a new scarcity1.

In high school, I used to write notes and letters to a girl who shared the same desk. That was a sweet piece of memory, maybe not at the time, but now.

Then the Internet came, and we all got excited.

This domain name was registered over a decade ago, marking the birth of my digital self. It has been a long journey ever since.

With the passage of time, I found that the Grid not only brought us closer physically, it also pushed us further emotionally.

One day, mankind will realise how the machines have separated us, and once again long for that human touch.

I hope.


[1] Anderson, Chris. Free. New York: Hyperion, 2009. Print.

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Show, not tell

I have a special skill sets that could be very valuable to your business. I think we could work together. Though we have never worked together before, I am confident that we would be a good match and my service will bring value to your business…

Sounds familiar?

One of the flaws of human (ir)rationality is our tendency to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.

If you want to prove your worth, take small, iterative steps. However, also remember that to grow, you need to be on the edge.

First, show it to yourself.

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Don’t follow the crowd

It is always easy to follow the crowd. Almost everyone wants a better job, house, car, partner.

Yet in the crowd, you can also find the most foolish spirits of all. Because the collective wisdom can not go beyond the average.

To be extraordinary, you need to listen to your heart. If you want to build businesses and change the world, a bigger paycheck is almost irrelevant without the learning.

Ignore the crowd. Have faith. Make plan. Take action.

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