How to Be a HERO


Dear friend,

You have the power to become a hero.

What is a hero?

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Suicide for the greater good / Suicide Squad

A hero is he (or she) who sacrifices themselves for the collective.

A hero is Jesus, Gandhi, Seneca, Superman, Batman, or you and me.

A hero is someone who devotes their life serving others.

Why be a hero?

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I think the purpose of life is to serve others. The purpose of life isn’t to drown yourself in a life of pleasure. Who cares if you make millions of dollars, when you can’t take those zeros and commas with you? Who cares if you drive a Lamborghini — you’re just a grown child (look at how kids drive those little plastic mini-cars). Who cares if you have a big-ass house — you can only sleep in one bed at a time.

Why be a hero?

Practical purpose: being a hero gives you more purpose in life. You have a reason to wake up in the morning. Your suffering has a greater purpose.

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Teaching my mom how to use her smartphone / Berkeley, 2015 (photo by Cindy A. Nguyen)

My mom is my hero. She suffered a shitload to help me get where I am now. She hustled, 6-7 days a week, 12-16 hour days, getting shit from my dad (physical/mental abuse), getting money stolen from her (by shady folks), and getting taken advantage of.

But she is my hero— because she sacrificed her entire life, to provide for me and my sister. She sacrificed her energy, time— her infinite heart and soul, to empower me and my sister.

And I am here today. It wouldn’t have been possible without my umma (mom).

Thank you so much for all your sacrifices umma.


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I don’t think you can be a hero without sacrifice.

Sacrifice isn’t to kill yourself. Sacrifice is putting yourself at a disadvantage, to help advantage (or benefit) others.

For example, I try to be a hero by offering free and open information. I always get tempted— what if I started to charge a bunch of money for information, and didn’t make it open and free? Sure, I might be able to stuff more pockets with more bundles of paper— but I can’t help those in need.

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For me, information is everything. Information is power. Information is access to a greater life. Information is potential to become the best version of yourself.

The unfortunate truth is that most information is locked behind golden pay walls. I think that is bullshit. To me, I have the radical idea that all information should be open and free. And we are heading in that direction.

How to become a hero

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To become a hero is to just believe in something greater than you — and pursuing your noble task, with all your heart and soul, even though you might be harmed.

For example, I give away my free information — at the expense of potentially making (more) money. But the funny selfish thing is that giving away my information for free brings me more happiness. Not only that, but it is ‘free’ marketing for myself — which actually helps me get more people attending my workshops, buying my products, and building my brand. So it is a bit of a ‘altruistic’ selfishness that I am doing.

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But to be a hero is to have belief and conviction in yourself.

Anyone can be a hero.

If you’re a single mom, struggling to make ends meet— you’re a hero.

If you’re a parent, hustling to support your family — you are a hero.

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If you work in public services, have a shitty wage or salary— to help others, you’re a hero.

If the purpose of your life is directed towards the greater social good— you’re a hero.

Take action

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I think we’re all (already) heroes. But to be a real hero is to show your beliefs through your actions.

A hero needs to take action.

For example, Batman gets beaten up by bad guys, in order to protect and serve Gotham City. The folks of Gotham City are mostly ungrateful, but Batman still gets up every morning to do his work.

Superman is also humanity’s guardian— yet he is exiled by his fellow members of society.

One of the best ways to be inspired to be more heroic— watch more superhero movies.

Practical tips

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If you want to be more of a hero in life, some practical ideas:

1. Sacrifice:

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How can you sacrifice yourself to help another human? Maybe that means giving your mom $2,000 for her dental surgery, instead of using that money to buy a new camera. Maybe that means putting in that extra hour or two at work to earn a bit extra cash to send your kid to art classes. Maybe that means hanging out with your friends less, and spending more time with your sick parents, or with your family.

2. Generosity:

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Generosity is simple. Donate money to a cause you believe in. Donate your time to community centers. Teach a free photography class to some kids in the hood. Become a lecturer, and share your ideas with youth, or the elderly. Teach photography to a old person home.

Be generous with your time, or attention. Talk to a young person, and give them life advice.

Be generous with your love. Give your heart to anybody and everybody who needs it.

Yet, my practical advice is to avoid leeches. Avoid black clouds. Avoid cancerous people. Only give your heart to those who you think will ‘pay it forward.’

Be generous to people who you think will be generous to other people.


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All talk and no action is cheap. Talk is cheap.

Action shows your true morals, ethics, and beliefs.

Put your money where your mouth is. And put your time where you believe.

Philosophy is all useless without making real action in the world.

So ways you can take action:

  • Signup for a 1-hour a week commitment to doing community service
  • Give away some of your stuff for free (maybe donate your old digital camera to a local high school, or community organization, instead of selling it for a few hundred bucks)
  • If your friend is having a hard time in life, call them, have a coffee with them, and give them your heart
  • If you know someone who is lonely, invite them for lunch
  • Smile at an old person, make eye contact, say hello, and give them a firm handshake (and touch their shoulder)
  • Treat everyone like a human being: the barista, waiter, strangers you meet in the streets, cashiers, or anyone else who has a ‘lower’ social status than you.
  • Treat your ‘inferiors’ like your superiors.


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Be a hero. And show it through action.

Be strong,

Stoicism >

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Become invincible against fate: