Personal Life

28 May: Facing your shadow side and winning

If you’ve seen Star Wars, you would remember the scene where Luke Skywalker faced Darth Vader during his training with Yoda, only to find out that the slain Vader is actually himself. This scene speaks to how we need to face ourselves, with open arms and with courage to see who we truly are as a person. It is not an exercise for the feeble, as you will be sure to find things you are not proud of. Luke finds his ability to hate, driven by his fear, as Yoda eloquently explains that all these will eventually lead him to the dark side. We all have a shadow side, but seek to understand your shadow and you will come out unscathed on the other side. Seek to destroy, to judge and avoid your shadow side, and it will become more powerful. Inevitably it will someday surface when you least expect…

19 May: How to become whoever you want to be

From the many personal development books I’ve read, there is an exercise that helps you to become whoever you want to be. It’s basically putting down on paper all the roles that you feel you want to hold, but worded in a particular way. For example: I am a fantastic communicator I am a passionate leader I am a formidable home chef The theory is that by reading it frequently and truly believing in these roles, you start to see yourself in that light and it becomes the story you tell yourself. It is slowly ingrained into your narrative and you will in time believe you are such a person, igniting a concrete change in behavior. Sounds simple? Yes. But I’m sorry to say THIS DOES NOT WORK. It turns out that belief is one of the hardest things to change, and the only way to change your beliefs is…


01 Apr: Fresh Start, New City – 5 things in the first 5 weeks

It’s been way too long since I published a post, I am sorry for that. We have been busy moving and settling in to San Francisco. The first impressions are what counts and what lasts: Curious conversations: Conversations about tech and start ups are all around us “I don’t want to deal with Cisco security…” somewhere in the Potrero Hill area “My second job at a start up involves hydroponics…” shuttle bus in Financial district Blended, not stirred: The rich, the homeless, the gay, the hippie, the white collar, the blue collar, they all come together roaming the streets, eating, sleeping, shopping, smoking and mostly enjoying the great weather when they can.  Perfect weather: My idea of perfect weather is cool and sunny. That’s what we experience here. A shirt, a light jacket and you are all set, stand still in the sun and you take off your jacket. Roam…

23 Apr: nikoi island

I have finally put together a video on our 4-day trip to nikoi island off the coast of Singapore. It is a place to relax, recharge and basically do nothing but endulge in some peace and quiet. The private island boasts 14 houses, which, kudos to the owners, manage to give a sense of organic simplicity and luxury at the same time. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, so much so that we may even return! Nikoi Island – 2012 from Howie Chan on Vimeo.


11 Mar: Threes…

I have been working for Philips in the Netherlands for 3 weeks.We live on the 3rd floor in an apartment in the center of Eindhoven.In 3 days, we finally get our brand new bicycles!It is probably going to take 3 weeks for us to receive our things that are still waiting for our city registration.3 days ago, we were at the Eindhoven city hall registering as a resident. We are still in a state of transition, although things are getting better by the day. Hopefully this week will be a productive one in terms of getting settled, but it will still take a few before we finally get our things and have simple pleasures such as a couch! I am actually really looking forward to getting our kitchen ware and cooking again. It has been tough eating out and cooking with our one pan and one pot. I promise I…


31 Jan: Transition period

Between graduation and starting my new gig is a time to relax and spend some time with the family. Alison and I were lucky to ham it up with Grandma Millie, our old neighbor Sonja, Uncle Steve, Aunt Ruth and of course Toby and Dorothy. And on the Asia side, we spent time with my niece and nephew, cousins from Ipoh and Kuantan, and my parents. Our belongings were finally moved from the Roseville residence and on its way to the Netherlands last Friday. We are next! Wish us luck as we will aim to step foot into our new country sometime in February! At the MIA with Grandma! Christmas time with the family At the BOH tea plantation, Cameron Highlands with Mum, Dad and Ipoh crew Aunty Alison with Nephew Jo Jo Some relaxing time at NIKOI island (more to come on this!)


23 Dec: The best spa… ever!

I admit, I am not the guru of spas and I am not one that frequents them either. But this particular bath that is found in the middle of no where in Vals is simply phenomenal. Anyone that visits Switzerland NEEDS to pay a visit to this sanctuary of relaxation and pruney skin. Welcome to the Thermal Baths by Peter Zumthor. The outdoor bath combines breath taking scenery and warm blue waters. Smooth as silk Vals Breathing in peace Good bye luxurious relaxing weekend… till next time!

01 Dec: What business school cannot teach you

During the Thanksgiving holidays last week, I visited my wife’s Grandmother Millie in Chicago. At a young age of 93 years, she is witty, very much mobile and plays a mean game of Scrabble. Throughout the couple of days, I find myself practicing my note taking skills as I scribble down quotes and meaningful advice as she doles them out at random times. Here are the best ones: Grandma says: Personal Development – “laugh out loud and laugh often”(as she points to a plaque on the wall) “that’s the secret to long life!” Facing Adversity – “live your life one day at a time, and be flexible when things happen” Strategy – “do what the kids tell you to do” (she gestures to my mother in-law) “until they are gone” (she grins) Profit through ethics – “I follow the angel in my heart”(she points to her chest) “and the devil…

16 Nov: Tawantinsunyu – The Inca Empire and the Inca Trail

Our trip to Peru was anything short of amazing! Primarily due to our guide Miguel, who is sort of a renaissance man, proud of the Quechua culture and really a great guy. We were fortunate enough to spend a whole lot of quality time with him, since it was only Alison and I in the group during our 4 day hike along the Inca trail. It was a tough hike but it was an experience of a lifetime. Instead of putting all of it down in a long narrative, here are the highlights: Altitude sickness – headaches, fever, elevated heart rates, indigestion Coca leaves – went on a quest for some leaves, drank them in tea, chewed them 25 lbs on our backs? – both of us carried our own packs (~80% of hikers do not!) Highest elevation – dead woman’s pass at 14,000 feet! Microclimates – the mountains presented…

06 Oct: Back in town

Back in the cities and the first article on BusinessWeek is out! The trip out west was fantastic, we drove west from Minnesota through South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, then south through Utah, Arizona and then back east through Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa. The road trip covered 9 states, 6 National parks and we probably collected over a thousand bugs on the windshield. Badlands – South Dakota Yellowstone – Wyoming Grand Tetons – Wyoming Grand Canyon – Arizona Zion – Utah  Arches – Utah