Eugene Chan Talks Human About Being a Parent

Show up, and be your best self.
— Eugene Chan

Eugene Chan sits down to talk human to me about family, technology, happiness, art, kindness, and duty.

Our Conversation with Eugene Chan

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:02:58] Hi Eugene. How are you? 

Eugene Chan: [00:03:01] I'm great. How are you, Jeff? 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:03:02] I'm awesome. I'm really excited to talk to you. Let's go ahead and get started. I start this question with everybody. And that is, what about humans strikes you the most? 

Eugene Chan: [00:03:20] Good question. Humans, I think, what's interesting to me is that, depending on how you look at it, we're either the most successful species or the most not so successful species because we are the one species that is capable of actually destroying the earth. And depending on how you want to look at it, you know, we're in the process of doing that. We also have it within ourselves to be conscious of things, and I think that's a really important ability that we don't stop and pause and think about our own self-awareness, not as people, not as individual people, but as sort of a race and species like you we're talking about and what that means for the rest of the earth. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:04:22] I love that division. I've never heard of that dichotomy before of humans being destruction and consciousness. Right? Why was that the overarching observation that you see? What about humans or just your personal experience led you to that belief? 

Eugene Chan: [00:04:55] You know, human -- I mean, essentially we're evolved primates. Right? Or I don't even know if I would even say we're evolved primates, we're primates right? We're primates that can do some things that are different than other primates and other animals. One of the things that humans can do is they have this great facility for language, for patterns, for looking for patterns, sometimes seeing patterns when no patterns exist. And that ability, this idea of language, being able to communicate from one person to another person, is actually what allows humans to create society. If you can communicate, you can you can talk to someone else in real time. You can actually talk to someone else not in real time. So, we know what Shakespeare said because we can read what he wrote. We know what was Laotzu said because we can read what he wrote or someone has read what he wrote. We know about religion because religion essentially is a codified way to communicate across generations. And so, if there is a distinction or if I've been thinking about it, it really comes from this idea that we're sort of the animal that can spread and share ideas and language and words and concepts across people, across societies, across generations. And most of the time, that's a wonderful, awesome thing. I mean, we benefit from, you know, knowing about poetry and music and all these things which, you know, and I'm lumping not just words and language, but things like music, things that, you know, share value and communicate value across from you to someone else. And then, you know, and then the downside of it is that you know hate and ideology and narrowness and prejudice and bias can also be shared because language doesn't have any value in itself. It's like we have to put a value on it. So that's really sort of the good and bad of it. And you know, you know, sort of with the Internet there is, there is no place where you can't get information, which is pretty deep an amazing concept if you want to think about it that way. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:07:44] Right. So there's actually this book called Sapiens, and all listeners right now, I really encourage you to go ahead and grab this book, whether it's audio or you actually read it. The reason I bring this book up is because you're bringing up these concepts and mechanics that humans have developed since humans arose as homosapiens, right? And one of the main points that Sapien's poses right in the beginning is, the observation that almost everything that exists in the human world today is based on fantasy, and codification of that fantasy. Like beliefs, religions, money. 

Eugene Chan: [00:08:52] Theories, money, capitalism. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:08:52] Exactly like -- and as you're observing, some lead to destruction and some lead to positive pathways. I just wanted to see what your opinion is on that notion that -- do you think this ability for humans to create fantasy and codify it -- do you think that has been a good thing or do you still observe it as it's one or two. It either leads to good or bad? 

Eugene Chan: [00:09:28] I think it's both. It has to be both. You know, I don't know if you heard, someone asked Elon Musk a question about, recently, about whether or not we're actually living in a simulation. And he was like, I've thought about it and the answer is probably. You know, so he actually thinks that. And the net -- you know, I don't know if you've ever had this thing, but if, you know, if you read science fiction and alternative views and alternative world and speculative fiction types of books as kids, you know, everything from like The Matrix to anything like Philip K. Dick or this -- all of the writers who sort of posit different worlds, you quickly as a kid, I was like, "Oh what if none of this is real? What if it's all like, just for my benefit? Like, oh like you know this person just sitting across from me isn't really sitting across from me and it's just, you know, myself thinking imagining that there is Jeff and that there's this podcast." So that's a very I think fantastical but also very like self centric view of the world. What I think is important about what Musk is thinking about and also what what I think I hear you saying, which is that, if we can't imagine, or if we didn't imagine a lot of what humanity has created wouldn't exist. You know, I do go back to the fact that like Arthur C. Clarke and all these science fiction -- they you know imagine all these things that, you know, and wrote about it as fiction but later became real because they actually were able to imagine it. So GPS was something that Arthur C. Clarke like wrote about and then it wasn't until later that the scientists are like, "Oh we could actually do this." And so you know then they created, you know, geosynchronous satellites and all these things and you know -- If you think about the iPod and the iPad essentially being the tri quarters of Star Trek. Right? And that -- you know but that was 40-50 years ago that you know Star Trek was on and so it was because someone imagined it, made this TV series, that it could be acceptable to use something like that in everyday life. Because people could already see a world where this type of thing was commonplace and not weird or abnormal or out of -- you know just, you know, not not possible. And I think that's really what fiction and imagination and fantasy can do. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:12:27] I love what you're bringing up with how humans -- almost everything that you see in the world today comes from an imagination, something that was imagined from fantasy or science fiction. And that has become a reality. So would you say that -- would you agree with the notion that if you can imagine it, it almost for certain, can become a reality based on if humans want to become a reality? 

Eugene Chan: [00:13:07] I would agree with that. I would say, you know, I think a critique -- not critique -- but a depressing thought I've had recently, which is this trend and rise of what they call "dystopian fiction." So that is -- 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:13:27] Yeah what's dystopian? 

Eugene Chan: [00:13:28] So dystopian. So it's the opposite of utopian. Utopia is like this wonderful place where no one -- everyone's happy and no one's hungry so that's utopia. Right. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:13:40] Like brave new world. 

Eugene Chan: [00:13:42] Possibly I've never heard of it. But dystopian is a bleak depressing -- 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:13:47] 1984. 

Eugene Chan: [00:13:49] Exactly. So there is a trend, right? If you think -- if you imagine, you know, Hollywood movies. There's Hunger Games and Maze Runner and The Giver and these were all fundamentally like, the world's sucks, you know, the future world sucks. You know you're going to have to like -- you know you're trapped in this like, bleak society and the only way you get out is if you kill or you know all these other peers and you escape out of this game. That's fundamentally depressing. And that's a very bleak vision of what the future is. And yet it is at the same time being marketed and shown to teenagers and tweens and this is what you know they get to see. Right? And -- and I would contrast this as sort of -- you know and in doing so I'm probably you know dating myself. But if you have the opposite view of like Star Trek, which is you know, this is about science and learning and we're exploring and it's about diversity or even Star Wars where you know you're fighting but you know ultimately you know -- the rebels win. Right? And it shows that imperialism and fascism can be overcome. I think -- I think these are narratives that you know get embedded in people's psyche and what's -- what's important and just to riff off of science fiction again, which is like science fiction actually is -- even though it's fiction -- and I think it's because it's labeled fiction and this is why we're able to do this has some of the most powerful opportunity for social critique and that's because it's not an editorial. It is not a politicians -- it is not and you know -- it is critique masked as fiction but is really about reality. And so when you have depressing science fiction -- when the imagination becomes bleak, it means you are guiding or providing a narrative that really shows that the future world is gonna suck. And I fundamentally don't believe that. I think we have an opportunity to create a world that's -- that's you know really the opposite of that. You know that that -- that a lot of things that are bleak are bleak because of a -- calculus that's that's based on certain assumptions which can easily be changed if we are willing to revisit those fundamental assumptions. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:16:47] So you don't think our next generation or even the current generation is screwed in any way? You do feel hopeful? 

Eugene Chan: [00:16:58] I feel hopeful but I worry. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:17:01] Why? 

Eugene Chan: [00:17:02] I worry because I think old people or the older generation and -- always discount the value of what young people come up with. And it's you know it's just an always -- constant dynamic, I wouldn't say a struggle. There's just a dynamic and you sort of see it now with like baby boomers -- the graying of the baby boomers -- which you know there they were -- you know when they were young they were you know they were the rebels and they were like, "Change the world" and now you know -- now it's completely different. But I do feel like, despite a lot of uphill and headwinds that face younger generations, I think that there is a lot of things to be hopeful for. I think that -- that people can think on their own. They're exposed to much more new and different ideas and have learned how to learn. And that -- you know that they're not necessarily trapped or confined by where they grew up, how they grew up, what they were taught because I think that if you are smart and creative you can come to your own conclusions and see the world for the way you want to see it. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:18:39] Now I'm going to get a little personal here, because when I hear that response right now, I think it's definitely coming from a very high level observatory. I think very possibly theory-based just on your overarching observation. Looking at the fact that you do have a pre-teen and a recent teenager in your family and you also have a lot of really young nieces and nephews, how does it affect you personally knowing and seeing the current activity in the world and what you do foresee in the future based on kind of the paradigm that currently you have? 

Eugene Chan: [00:19:47] Yeah, as a parent. I think that the thing that I struggle and uplift the most... Well let me start with this, which is that my wife and I have conversations about our kids all the time. You know with them and also outside and you know when they're not in the room. And one thing that we've definitely come to the conclusion is that both of our kids are good people, at their sort of core and heart and we know that they're good people and we say that -- I say that with, you know -- you know obviously a bias. I'm their parent and I want them to be good people. But even when I remove myself from that, I can tell that -- you know I hear from other people, I see how they show up in the world. And so that's fundamentally both reassuring and keeps me hopeful. That's number one. Number two. What's important is that as the kids have grown and as they sort of transition from child to adult, the role of parenting -- the role of who you are, has to change as well. And that's something that we've definitely struggled with. Like it's it's hard -- it's hard to change your parenting style because there is no clear demarcation as to you know the things that you do as good parent when your child is six months, three years, six years, and when they are 10-11-12-13-14 is vastly, vastly different. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:21:42] Can you give some examples of what are some of the toughest changes you've had to make? 

Eugene Chan: [00:21:46] So the the biggest thing is that there's -- there's two. First and foremost is that what you say doesn't go. So -- 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:22:02] What you say doesn't go -- 

Eugene Chan: [00:22:04] Meaning like, "We're going to -- we're going to eat salad tonight whether or not you like it." And you know, "And I could tell you all the reasons why salad is good for you. And this is organic you know lettuce that we grew and you really you know -- you don't really want to be eating more butter pasta. You know you really want to be eating a salad." And if I'm just the parent, you know, there are many ways I can make that happen. I can just only cook salad or only make salad for dinner. At some point, you know, I think the dynamic can and should -- and if it doesn't change as a family -- I think that's when you run into issues. At least that is how we've evolved our -- I wouldn't say parenting practice but -- because that implies a dynamic that I don't necessarily want to -- but a family dynamic. And the key is that one: when you first have your kids, right? You are the expert. You run everything, you control everything, you determine everything. And then as -- as the kids grow and they become their own people, then the only way for them to be their own people is to let them be their own people. And if you don't do that, they will never know how to do anything on their own. And so -- the way we've changed is, now I will say to the kids, "Let's do something that I don't know how to do. And I will struggle to learn with you." Or maybe there's actually things where the kids know better and maybe you can teach me. And you know, especially for our son, I think one of the things that we've discovered is that he learns best or he -- he can actually you know understand something better when he is in the position of having to teach someone else that thing. So whether it could be math or writing or leadership you know it's like, when we say to him, "You know you need to act more like a leader." That doesn't work out that way because it's abstract. But when we say, "Hey you know this person needs some tips on how to be a better patrol leader." He jumps right in and he's -- he's right there. And by doing that, he can see -- I think I see in him how he embodies it a little bit better. I don't know if that necessarily answers your question but it's -- it really is about how -- how you can not be in a position where you're controlling everything and you're just gradually yielding that so that -- you have to create the space for other people to grow, and that includes people in your family. And that's true I think at a societal level right? Like if older people dominate politics you know there's going to be a reaction. The reaction can either happen in politics but only if you give them the space. If you don't give people the space, then they're going to circumvent the system that you've set up and either hack the system or develop something else. And then there's going to be some other profound impact that you didn't realize when you try to control things too tightly. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:25:42] So it sounds like, going back to the beginning of our conversation and your observation to surround imagination and the human ability to imagine. It almost sounds like this is something that is also deeply -- deeply seeded in your parenting and that you really want your children to imagine, to think of new things, to adapt to innovate on things. Do you believe that the next generation's ability to think of new things is really important in the grand scheme of things? Or do you think it's not so important and that just being in the present matters more? I'm asking this because -- what I mean by the grand scheme of things is our place and just the whole universe and not just you know the city but the grand scheme of things. Do you believe -- what is your belief around the ability to create and innovate? 

Eugene Chan: [00:26:50] I think it's huge. I think that's the fundamental -- well what I think people -- what I think the next generation or younger folks or whatever however you want to describe them. The key ability is to learn how to learn and to . 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:27:10] Learn how to learn. 

Eugene Chan: [00:27:11] Yeah right. So it's like -- you know these days. So a quick example is, these days you can Google on anything, right? So -- so you're not necessarily required to -- like no one can match the data that is and the knowledge that is embedded in Google or YouTube, right? Let's even just say YouTube, right? You can Google "how to do X" on YouTube and probably find someone who is explaining it to you. So -- and you can't match that, right? Like the smartest person in the world cannot match that. And so really then, it is the ability to kind of put it in a very sort of crass way -- it is the people who can Google better are going to have an advantage because they're learning how to learn. They're faster at picking up the cues about how to do something. And I would go even further and say that's probably like Level 1 you know sort of a yellow belt or whatever you want to say. But if you want to be a black belt, you're not only learning how to Google something but you are publishing or sharing or spreading your ideas or you are putting something out there in a way that's benefiting lots of other people. People that you don't even know, right? If you put up -- for instance this podcast. You have no idea who's listening to this but maybe it'll spark something somewhere down the road for someone else. And I think you know, if I had to guess, that's part of the reason why you're doing this. And that would be true of you know a video series or you know a webinar/blog. But the idea that your -- what folks need to know is not inherent necessarily in a particular task or craft but is actually the art of that craft. You know, I think one of the values of -- as a self-admitted sort of liberal arts major, which is that you know hopefully what you get from a liberal arts major is not really so much knowledge, but it is how to learn how to learn. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:29:35] So your feeling is that the ability to learn, which I think is unique in humans in that, our learning capability isn't simply reactionary. Our learning capability also allows us to further imagine, which is what we've been talking about and I think that's that's unique to humans in that -- let's say your house cat is able to learn and react to situations but your house cat won't be able to learn about how mice maybe move around and then imagine a new mouse trap for the mouse. Right? That's I think the ability to imagine that mouse trap and a contraption is unique to humans, possibly with some other mammals too that I think a lot of scientists are finding more and more hints of imagination. But in addition to this ability to learn, what else helps humans have a more fulfilling life? 

Eugene Chan: [00:30:56] That's a really good question. I would say, two things. Happiness. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:31:09] Love it. 

Eugene Chan: [00:31:10] And art. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:31:14] Happiness and art. So happiness in interaction with humans? What type of happiness? 

Eugene Chan: [00:31:23] So, I think you can be happy in a lot of different ways. I think generally speaking, I think people know when they're happy and when they're not. So it's less of -- it's less of a thing that you achieve and much more of a -- you know I mean I think I've heard others -- people describe it as a flow state or that you get consumed and you get lost in something. And you know what's -- and I've also heard other people describe as you know a life free from worry. I don't -- I think it's sort of all of those things. Fundamentally, happiness is that you can look at your existing life and you can look back at your life and feel that you don't have regrets. Right? You are doing -- you are in the place that you want to be, you are doing the right things. You make the right decisions. You love the right people and they love you back. And generally, you -- they're -- you know you're not struggling for whatever reason. You know and there's lots of there's lots of pain in the world. You know that's -- I think that's a reality of you know I've got friends and family who you know have -- are in physical pain, they're in emotional pain. And so -- not that the pain needs to go away. But I think part of happiness is learning how to deal with it, learning how to come to an understanding of -- whether it's your own pain or someone else's -- how to work with it so that it makes sense for what you need to do and that you don't regret how you deal with it. And that sounds I think like a very simplistic definition of things but in practice it's actually really hard -- it's really hard for me at least because you know when someone hurts, your first reaction is like, "Oh what can I do to make it better?" So it's not as simple as I make it seem. The other thing which I think is -- and I use the word art and I don't necessarily mean Art with a capital A. I mean Art, which is like do something for yourself that is creative and that you can share with the world. And it could be art -- you know for some people it will be Art with a capital A. For many and for most, it might be art with a lowercase a, which is like -- it's like the little part of yourself that you are spreading. And I think, when done right, that also increases happiness, either for yourself in the act of making it but also for others if they can receive it and see it and experience it and get inspired by it and in ways that you want it to happen. In some ways maybe that you don't intend to, but also extend the value of something that you've created for others. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:34:55] Now based on what we think humans need to engage in to really find some meaning and fulfillment in the world -- so the first one was to learn, second one was to find happiness in the various ways, and the third being some participation in art, in whatever form that you want it to, right? Now this is a question I do ask a lot of the folks that I'm having conversations with. It does come off slightly confrontational but do you feel, based on what fulfills humans, that anything you are personally working on right now actually matters in the scheme of these observations? How do you see your purpose in what you do right now? 

Eugene Chan: [00:36:09] I haven't thought about that very much. But as you're asking me the question, it's causing me to reflect. The -- let's say the closest example or the most recent example is yesterday, I just finished my 365 project, which was . 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:36:34] I saw that. Can explain the 365? 

Eugene Chan: [00:36:36] So the 365 is -- so I have a -- I've loved photography. I've loved sharing photographer for a long time and especially since digital pictures have arrived on the scene, where you know the cost of film is no longer an issue. I really have taken to you know taking pictures and sharing pictures. And so a year ago, June 27, 2015, I started a project where I would post a picture of the day and share it. And at the end of the year, you do it for 365 days-- and in this case 366 because it was a leap day -- you end up with a chronicle, a journal of images and in my case, stories -- not all of them had stories but a lot of them did. And you know that was an interesting experience. And I just finished sort of the last photo yesterday, and I sort of wrote you know, at one level taking a picture a day is not difficult. In fact, almost anyone can do it. You have an iPhone, you can do it. You have a camera, you can do it. And what's difficult -- if there's a word that's difficulty -- it is the practice and discipline of doing it every single day, even when you don't want to or even when you don't feel inspired, even when you don't feel happy or when your life -- when the rest of your life is just maxed out and you're just like, "It's 11:50 and I still have to post this photo." 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:38:26] So what drove you to be disciplined to still take the photo when you were in those very bleak, negative moments? 

[00:38:38] So there's a couple of things. One is you set up these simple rules and you make an agreement yourself to follow these rules, which is, "I will post a photo a day." And pretty soon, what happens is that the idea and the discipline and the routine take precedence over perfectionism. So you know whereas at one point, I might say, "Well, I needed to post a photo of a certain quality. Or I need to post a photo of a certain impact on the viewer." If it's 11:50, you go, "I'm just going to post the best photo I've taken and if it's me eating ramen noodles at 11:45, that's the picture you're going to get." And that should be OK. And then that naturally, ultimately is OK, because what matters and I think the lesson here -- and actually it's funny, you know just connected to something we earlier talked about, which is that you know, I used this idea of me purchasing 365 to talk to my kids. Like, hey, look, I don't necessarily want to do this every day. You know I love photography but there are days where I didn't want to show up. And my commitment to myself is, "I'm going to show up. You know we're going to do this and I'm going to take the picture and I'm going to post the picture." And so there is that piece of it. The other piece of it is, which I think is interesting with social media and part of what's wonderful about social media is that you have an audience. You have a community. And people's reaction which is you know all positive -- you know I don't think I got any negative response to the photos -- keeps you going because it's like -- it's a little bit of you know, you're sharing something with friends, family, and even sometimes people you don't know. And so that's really an interesting way to engage in the world and also it does keep you going because you know that there's people who are interested in what you have to create. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:41:04] Now that you're someone that I would say does participate in a lot of the technologies that are provided in the world today, just like how you mentioned you do like sharing your creations via social media and having that conversation and seeing the reaction of other folks. Now, seeing that you do have -- I would say you are an active participant in interacting with other humans and that you try to bridge a relationship or create some sort of dynamic. Is this because you tend to feel that humans do need to take care of each other, we do have to care about our survival together? Or do you think -- is it more of just being present in a moment of -- going back to the three things that you think we should care about, which is 1. let's learn something 2. let's be happy 3. let's participate in art. Where's this coming from in your drive to want to share and care about what other humans think about what you're doing? 

Eugene Chan: [00:42:29] I've been recently struck by a quote which I think is from the Dalai Lama but you know I think this is . 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:42:38] If it sounds sage, say it is. 

Eugene Chan: [00:42:40] Exactly. Which you know he goes and says you know, kindness is my religion. And and I've taken that -- I'm not a Buddhist but I've sort of really taken that to heart, which is that you know like, when you generally default to kindness and caring, you end up making the right decisions. You end up showing up in the world in the right place. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:43:08] Why do you think that is? 

Eugene Chan: [00:43:11] Because kindness assumes that you will care for someone else and not care in a patriarchal sense but care in an empathetic like, "Oh, let me help, and let me be with you, and let me stand next to you, you know, in this moment. And that the paradox I think of tough times is that you know it sucks when you or somebody else is going through them at the time. But it is only through tough times that we can get to really good times. And so you know there's creative destruction, there's other things, but you know I've -- you know it is through the tumultuous times that -- you know that you can clear, clear things and set the stage for something really important and hopefully joyous and happy. So going back to your question, which is that I'm not trying to ignore or say that there shouldn't be any room for tough shit in the world, but it is like how we show up and how you deal with it. And you can deal with it in a kind way, even to your -- especially not even -- but especially for yourself and to yourself so that you know that you have value, and you know it keeps you going. Right? So that to me is super important. If there's one thing that I want my kids to be, it's kind. You know -- we're always like, "OK if we have a mantra in our house, it's like you know, be kind to one another." So -- it doesn't always happen, includes myself you know but if we go back to it and say, "Hey, this is -- this is how we show up." We show up by being kind to one another, then we do all right. And I think at a larger level, we would do alright too more people we're kind. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:45:27] Now I've known your family for about -- almost six years now. I first met you in 2010. And I would say that, at least both yourself and your wife, are definitely wired at an "above average" entrepreneurial level. Everyone that I'm generally having an conversation right now ,is wired at an "above average" level. Do you feel, because of this you know unique wiring that you were born with, that you tend to care about humans being kind to each other more, just how they're interacting? Do you feel a responsibility or is this something where you're just contributing as much as you can and -- but you don't feel like you hold that responsibility? 

Eugene Chan: [00:46:39] I don't know if I would make that connection. Or -- so I appreciate the sentiment that the description of myself and Bonnie being wired more -- more than the average person, and I appreciate that, you know your description of us as, you know someone who's kind and caring or our community minded. I don't think there's an association between the two. I think that -- you know there are overlapping things that you can find in many people but they're not cause and effect in any way. You have entrepreneurs that can be jerks and you can have people who are not entrepreneurs you know. So what I think is interesting and where I do think the connection is, is this, which is that, if you see the status quo and you are not satisfied with the status quo, and you want to make things better for society, for a community that's larger than yourself, you will do a couple of things. One. You will think outside of existing systems and why and how you can rise above these existing systems or what is wrong with existing systems. And that can often lead to being an entrepreneur. And I think the idea of an entrepreneurial mindset is actually super, super important. And I think that goes to the learning how to learn. Because I think that's fundamentally the characteristic that I see among entrepreneurs is like, they can pivot and they're agile and they can learn how to learn and they may not know everything but they know enough to be very smart about the impact they want to make. The second is, if the status quo of the existing society doesn't benefit you or you see it hurting a particular segment that you care about or a particular population, then it is your duty to make things better. It is your duty to change things so that it works for all. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:49:13] Now why do you say it's someone's duty versus someone's interest? 

Eugene Chan: [00:49:22] I mean, I could say those are the same things, right? 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:49:27] Really? I guess I see duty as you -- it's your responsibility to take that person's interest. Versus it's like, it's your interest to do this but if you don't want to, that's fine. 

Eugene Chan: [00:49:42] Yeah ok. I would say duty then. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:49:46] Wow. OK. 

Eugene Chan: [00:49:48] Because -- and here's what I would say. You know, when there's homeless people in the world, even if you have a home, your society is worse for it. When you have elections and there are people who can't vote, you're worse for it, even if you can vote. And because if you don't address these things, you know you're either not in democracy or you are not in a functioning community. And if you can afford to ignore these things and -- so it goes back to, once again, who the status quo is benefiting. So if the status quo is benefiting you and you don't care to change it, that says something about who you are and the world. If the status quo hurts people who are disadvantaged in whatever way and you -- and you don't feel that as an imperative to change things then you have to sort of re-examine your own home life. And you know that's true for a lot of things. And you know like I think the world's challenges are so big in that you can actually -- it's easy to get overwhelmed and say, "Oh, I can't do climate change or you know, what does picking up this you know piece of paper do?" But ultimately, I go back to what I said earlier about like at least 365, which is that like taking a picture day is not hard. Taking a picture a day for a year can be construed as hard. I would say that not many people done it, but it's not hard. And so how you show up in the world, which is that like if you care about things that you care about, which is helping whatever that might be, and you apply some discipline every day, you are going to change things even if it doesn't feel immediately like change is happening. And so, back to your original question, which is that entrepreneurship and caring you know are all rooted in my mind, in my experience, and my belief, which is like you know not accepting a status quo and wanting to say, "OK, there's got to be a better way." And the better way will lead to a better society, a better community, whatever that might be. But if you think about that, there is a better way out there, we just have to discover it. That will be more than likely lead you to be entrepreneurial, more than likely will lead you to think outside the box, more than likely have you talk to people, get them excited and listen to people and get excited. And also you know, work to improve things for the many and not just for the few. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:53:20] So we're going to end with two questions that I like to end the conversation with everybody. The first one is, what does success for humans look like to you? 

Eugene Chan: [00:53:39] I think success for me would be if I could see more kindness and empathy in the world. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:53:50] More than learning. 

Eugene Chan: [00:53:52] Yeah, more than learning. Yeah, I'm sort of walking back on that. You know, I don't know if there's a kindness quotient that you can measure, but I really think that, if there was a way to measure that in the world, we would be more successful as humans. 

Jeffrey Shiau: [00:54:27] So ultimately, what's the point of all this? 

Eugene Chan: [00:54:39] The point of all of this is to show up and -- and be your best self. And you know not have any regrets. I think everyone has their own different way to show up in the world. And I think when people can't show up and you know whether -- whatever that is. You know whether as, someone is a person of color or if you're in a different sexual orientation or whatever it is that makes you not be able to show up in the world and be your best self, I think that's a problem. And I think the point of it really is to create a place, create a world where we can all you know show up and have our best selves be visible to everybody. And that's -- that's really what we want the world to be. That's what I want. That's what I want the world to be. 


Equipment & Software:

Yeti Microphone & Ice Microphone by Blue Microphones

Audacity for Mac

WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB

Macbook Pro Retina 15inch Late 2013



Smile by Daniel Alan Gautreau

Tiny Bits by Felipe Adorno Vassao

Time & Reflection by Bjorn Lynne

Retro Video Game Hotseat by Bjorn Lynne