Monthly Archives: May 2015

Five Years Old

We’ve somehow made it to 5 years. Thanks to those who helped the business make it this far. I can’t believe some of you have put up with me for this long.  Thank you.

The Alive Juice Bar brand — its reputation, message, and style — is becoming better understood. But there’s still a lot of work to do.  We’re moving to a more spacious and sensible location. We’re continuing to evangelize the brand by adding two new businesses that will open this summer, a dance studio and a vintage clothing store.

The move and the two new businesses will mean some initial hardship, financially and emotionally.  My leadership skills will be tested and the financial stability of the businesses may be rocky at first. If we can get it done right, we can build a lifestyle company that’ll help us live more fulfilling and meaningful lives.

New projects for 2016 have been considered.  If all goes well, we can pursue them.  In the meantime, I ask for your prayers and patience as we begin new ventures.




Job Application for Manager vs. 1.0

Alive Juice Bar is expanding, moving to a new location and adding a dance studio and a vintage clothing store. Seeking lead manager — for the juice bar business — who understands human nature, can set tone and contexts, and change people’s attitudes and behaviors. Someone who sees the world for what it is, and not as what he or she prefers it to be. Put simply, someone who isn’t delusional. Help make us better as we adapt to a new environment.

This is America, so most people are delusional, it’s the new normal. Every FBI agent knows this to be true.   Some clues that you might be delusional:

* You enjoy sentimental and contrived novels like “Art of Racing in the Rain,” films like “Good Will Hunting.”

* You start sentences with, “I’m NOT angry,” “I’m NOT jealous,” “I’m NOT _____”.

* You frontload on social media, posting to convince yourself that nobody knows the miserable truths about your life that you’d rather not confront and fix.

* You realize that the more you post those fake smiles, the more people see the cracks.  But it’s like being addicted to heroin, you can’t stop.

* You mistake your kid’s need for your affirmation as love.

* You think of yourself as a loving person because you feel so much love for everyone

* You stop reading any material that challenges your beliefs and sense of self.

* You love reading anything that affirms and legitimizes your beliefs and sense of self.

* You attend church because you’re insecure and/or frontloading, not because you recognize your own depravity and seek a community that will help you resist temptations.

* You’ve tried to convince people that you love someone you can’t stand.

It’s ok if you’ve committed any of the above. Life is about learning from our mistakes. To apply, take our psychological assessment and social skills test.


Earthquake during math class! Big enough to topple bookshelves. Nobody is hurt, everyone is okay, just jittery. What do you, as teacher, do?
a) Stop class, act jittery and anxious because that’s how you feel.
b) Have students clean up mess and continue class as if nothing happened. Assign double amount of homework and quizzes for rest of the week.
c) Stop class, bring in school psychologist to discuss how everyone is handling the event and “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Your kid brings home a B on a math test. What do you do?
a) congratulate him for the B
b) bitch slap him for getting a B because B is for Bitch
c) act quietly disappointed

What makes people change?
a) Fear
b) Love
c) Hate

Why don’t people change?
a) Fear
b) Love
c) Hate

Efficiency or creativity?
a) Efficiency
b) Creativity
c) Can I pick both?

What do you do when a customer’s kid is throwing things at other customers?
a) Nicely ask customer to stop.
b) Tell customer to get the fuck out
c) Ask customer if she has a big dick as you pour coffee on her crotch.

Some dude is pissed off about something. What should you do to calm him down?
a) Gently and sweetly ask him if there’s anything you can do for him to make him feel better.
b) Act just as pissed off when asking him what the fuck happened. Act even more pissed off after he tells you.
c) Show him your tits if you have some fun ones. If you don’t, make a funny face and tell him a joke.

Fight between a couple. He calls her lazy. How should she respond?
a) I’m not lazy. I do all these things you never see or acknowledge.
b) Why do you think I’m lazy?
c) You’re the one who is lazy. Takes one to know one, asshole.

When you’re angry, what sort of music makes you feel better?
a) Loud angry music
b) Soft, soothing music
c) Funny funky music.

a) Love, Goose, Love
b) Love, Respect, Love
c) Fear, Respect, Love

When was the last time someone called you a bitch or asshole?
a) Last 5 days
b) Past month
c) Never

How do you feel when someone calls you stupid/lazy/bitch/asshole?
a) Hurt
b) Happy
c) Indifferent

How do you feel when someone compliments you?
a) Happy
b) Confused, uncomfortable, and bewildered
c) Indifferent

Send resume and cover letter with responses to questions. Boldface response, example:

What’s the best way to get rid of an employee?
a) Fire him
b) Make employee miserable so she quits
c) Trip employee so she breaks her legs.

Perks: Free drinks and food, free dance classes, and a lot of good looking customers.
Shift: 10-6, negotiable
Compensation: Full health benefits after 60 days; 40k-50k per year, when salary plus tips are combined.  Salary review every 6 months.

Thirty Rules I’ve Learned About Building an Unbranded Business

List revised.

1. It’s not fun.  Nobody, nothing cooperates.  Things break, people are whimsical, weird shit happens all the time.

2. It’s a lot of fun. It’s fun when you figure out how to cooperate with an unpredictable world.   You’ll realize the fun is the chase, and the work is in maintaining the relationship.

3. You’re a stupid useless cunt every time you fuck up an order.  Doesn’t matter if this is true or not.  You have to believe it’s true.

4.  Don’t hire when you start.  I learned this one the hard way and it nearly left me destitute and homeless.  It takes time to build a competent army.  Hire because you’ve found the right person, not because you want a break.

5. People don’t change, they just become clearer versions of who they really are.    Don’t expect to change the person you hire into the person you want them to be, even if they want to be that. Our habits are addictions, we relapse when we think we can get away with it.

6. People change only when there’s enough peer pressure to do so.  That’s why she won’t lose weight until the flow of compliments about her appearance ends.  Until then, she’ll see what she can get away with.

7. Never say “no” to a customer.  It creates a communication barrier, such that they tune out everything else you say to them.  Create a place where customers don’t have to hear “no.”  They already hear “no” all day long, from their boss, their kids, spouse, bureaucrats.

8. If you have to say “no” to a customer, say it without saying “no.”  For instance, say “Fuck Off.”  Much more effective than “no.”

9. Never make excuses to a customer.  Assume that the customer doesn’t care if you’re late opening the store because your grandmother slipped and broke her hip and you had to take her to the hospital.  Just apologize for being late and continue work.

10. Never play victim. Once you start blaming the world for your problems is when it’ll soon be over. It’s especially important to blame yourself when it’s not your fault.  Learn to blame yourself when it’s not your fault. Only then will you figure out why IT IS your fault.

11. Don’t allow employees to play victim.  Once they do, it will become a part of the work culture.  Making excuses and playing victim are contagious behaviors.   We have a policy — three excuses per month and you’re fired.  Employees can make up for each excuse by writing an essay on why excuse was made, what will be done to ensure it’s never made again, and how making excuses prevents one from learning.

12. “If you are going to kill, kill 20, not just one,” someone once told Bandit Queen, Phoolan Devi. “If you kill 20 your fame will spread; if you kill only one, they will hang you.” And that’s exactly what she did — massacred 22 upper-caste villagers — and that’s exactly what happened — pardoned of all crimes after 11 years in jail, elected to office, and immortalized in books and film as a lower-caste gang leader.  Don’t just piss off a few people.  That’s going to happen, unintentionally, anyway.  Piss off a lot of people, INTENTIONALLY.  Don’t piss people off for the sake of pissing them off.  That’s just douchebag behavior.  Piss people off because you truly believe that there’s no other option, that they need to be pissed off, that they need a good shake to wake up.

13. It’s ok to fail.  Most of life is failure.  Failure is good as long as you learn from it, take responsibility for your failure. I fail several times a day.

14. Follow the Pareto principle, the 80-20 rule.  I had never heard of it until someone mentioned it after noticing that I kept describing the world in 80/20 ratios. This ratio seems to be found throughout nature.  Like 20 percent of people own 80 percent of wealth.  Or 80 percent of people use 20 percent of software features, while 20 percent use 80 percent of them; 20 percent of agricultural land produces 80 percent of bounty, 20 percent of employees produce 80 percent of value. Fascinating.

15. Hang out with your customers and employees.  They’re the most important people in your life, they support you even though you’re a stupid, useless, cunt.  Treat them like family, know them better than anyone else in their life.  Don’t waste time on those  who can’t help you reach your goal.  There’s no time to hang out with college drinking buddies and reminisce about the time the two of you had sex with twins in a bathroom stall while…GROW UP!

16. Operate your business as stereotypical East Asian family operates.  If you have no idea what goes on in many East Asian families, read Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  It’s an extreme example, but it captures the essence of Asian identity and worldview AND how visionaries like Steve Jobs ran their businesses. She provides general framework on how to run a business and treat employees.  I’ve tried the standard middle-class White American way of parenting and it doesn’t work.  It’s like they’re in competition to see who can be nicer to their kids and assume their kids are narcissistic, manipulative, and have strong sense of entitlement because they weren’t nice enough to them.  It’s fucking madness!

17. Don’t waste time.  Use off hours to identify all the mistakes you made during the day and figure out how to correct them.  The mistake could be a posture, choice of words, failure to spot a detail, possibilities are endless.  Spend leisure time only on activities related to business.  Don’t spend time talking to those who don’t add value to your life and business.  Again, don’t waste time. So obvious, but difficult to follow.

18. Be grateful.  Thank your customers for putting up with you being a stupid, useless, cunt, for actually paying money for your products and services.  Thank your employees for tolerating you. Treat them to lunch and dinner.

19. Don’t let customers control the business.  It’s your business, not theirs.  Don’t be scared of them.  The moment you let them run your business is when you lose passion for whatever it is you want to do.

20. Burn all business textbooks.  Some of the stuff you find in textbooks may work for Fortune 500 companies, but not for a start-up. Rely on street-smarts, not books that’ll be out of date within 10 years of publication.

21. Ignore consultants.  They’re mostly talking business textbooks.  Their advice is either obvious, asinine, or impractical at the moment.  Most of them don’t know your motivations.  You can learn a lot more from industry veterans.

22. Listen to Tupac, let him guide you, because you will be shot by someone five times and you better “take it and smile.”  When you recover, find the motherfucker who shot you and destroy him and everyone associated with him. It’s better to be feared than loved.

23. Always compare yourself to the best.  Not saying you need to aim to be the best.  You don’t need to be ambitious (I’m not).  But you need to grade yourself fairly.  (You need to recognize reality).  If you don’t like being compared — and we’re always being compared, like it or not — find a low stress, low profile, low standards job where comparisons will be implicit, not explicit.

24. Don’t get greedy.  Realize expansion is a slow process.  I’ve been by tempted to accept free rent to open a second store here and there even though I can barely run one store.  A lot of people lose everything when they open a second store or expand.  I remember Asteroid Cafe, a little hole in wall in Wallingford, owner was passionate about politics.  Great reviews, good prices, successful operation for nearly a decade, bursting at seams.  Decided to expand, moved to a fancy location in Fremont, tripling seating.  Lasted less than two years.  Owner crushed, has never recovered.  Sad story.

25. Don’t be lazy.  This is obvious, but it’s so tempting to slip up.  It’s Friday 7pm and you want to go home so you do a sloppy job of interviewing an applicant, cut it short.  Her incompetence ends up costing you thousands.  Or I once lost a bid for a large catering event because I didn’t respond to an e-mail a day earlier. (And even if my late response isn’t the reason for rejection, I have to believe that it is.  Create a reality that will encourage you to not be lazy).

26. Ignore focus groups.  Steve Jobs ignored them.  Focus groups are methodologically problematic and people don’t know what they want when they’re in a contextless environment. They also give you yet another excuse when something doesn’t sell.  Good sellers can sell anything, even bottled fart.  Ann Wigamore convinced people to pay a lot of money for something as useless as wheatgrass.

27. Exercise.  You need to be healthy to maximize productivity.  You can find the time for it.

28.  Don’t try to save the world. If your product sounds too good to be true — spirulina, wheatgrass, ionized water — then you are a liar.  Stay away from anyone who tells you buying their product will save the world (empower the peasants, save them from greedy capitalists!) and instantly bring you eternal life (wheatgrass).  There’s no such thing as an elixir.  Living well requires hard work.  Even then, shit happens.  We’re no longer in the Garden of Eden.

29. Believe in Original Sin.  Especially the Calvinist/Puritan version, where we are born responsible for and tainted by the sins of our ancestors.  If you don’t believe you’re depraved and deserve to burn in Hell, you’ll never be truly grateful for life and whatever else you have.  You’ll feel entitled to a place in the Kingdom of Heaven.  You won’t have the drive to keep going during the tough times.  You won’t be able to survive a day where you lose money despite working 16 hours. You have to see the tough days as penance for your sins, not as unfair.

30. Flattery is the sound of the Devil’s laughter. Flattery distorts reality, makes us blind to our total depravity.   Ignore salespeople who flatter you, they’re like the men who flatter women so they can fuck them.  Addiction to flattery feeds our narcissism and lowers standards.  That’s why those at the top rarely praise themselves and other people.  Flattery has ruined many promising careers and businesses. Low caliber people work for praise. High caliber people work for achievement. God’s people work to express God’s grace.


Next 30 Rules