Dear friend,

I think what holds us back in life is that we compromise. We don’t go all in.

I. BURN THE BOATS

If we went 100% in anything we did, imagine all the noble and epic shit we could accomplish in life.

For example, we need to burn the bridges behind us. We need to burn the boats behind us. If we know we have no backups or other options, we truly become resourceful.

For example, I remember I did something risky when doing Squats. I usually use a power rack to spot me, in case I squat (ass to ground) and cannot get up. I tried a new personal record (315 pounds) for the squat, and I took off the guards on the power rack. It meant, if I squatted and couldn’t stand up, I’d be fucked.

Anyways, I pump myself up, blast my eardrums with spirited beats from my headphones, and then focus. My mind goes blank. I squat down, and then on the rise up, I yell out a tribal scream. I push up with every fiber of my being. I barely make it up. I feel like a fucking beast.

I think the only reason I was able to do that was I had no backup.

II. SELF-RELIANCE.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t depend on nobody but myself. My mom was broke, barely paying the rent. My dad didn’t have a job since I was 2 years old. I knew if I wanted to make money and buy stuff I wanted, I could only rely on myself.

I hustled. I tutored, and made $10 an hour. My friend Eric Moon taught me how to build computers. I built my own custom desktop computers with parts from Newegg.com for around $400, and sold them to kids at school for $600. I used the profits from my random side jobs to buy my first car: a 1991 Nissan Sentra XE (four door sedan, 5 speed manual) for $1200 USD. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

III. THANK YOU.

Even with entrepreneurship, I knew I has to go all in. No backups.

When I got made redundant from my old job, and decided to pursue photography and blogging full time, I didn’t want to move back with my mom (although this was an option). I knew I had to grind 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, to somehow make money. My friend Todd Hatakeyama helped me, giving me confidence, and helping me figure out how to monetize with workshops and selling shirts. My manager and friend (he shot my wedding) Neil Ta guided me in business too. And of course, Cindy was my first manager.

I also am grateful to Christian and JJ and Ebhi from Leica, who helped me build my name. And to Charlie Kirk, Bellamy Hunt, Josh White, and Kaiman Wong for featuring me on Digital Rev. And Darren Rowse from Digital Photography School for helping me build traffic by letting me do guest blog posts for him.

I had a lot of help, and the right opportunities. And I hustled, hard. I had no other options, I had to.

I innovated out of necessity.

IV. HUSTLE LIKE YOU’RE BROKE.

Now, I’ve gone soft. I have become not as sharp or focused, because I am cursed with having a cozy financial cushion.

But like Kendrick Lamar, I’m still trying to “hustle like I’m broke.” Cindy and I recently invested around $150,000 USD in some real estate with Cindy’s mom, so we actually have very little money in our checking and savings in cash.

This is good. I’m hungry again.

I recently bought a $1900 MacBook laptop. I just returned it, I wanted to save money. I’m actually typing these words on an old Android smartphone, with IA writer.

V. JUST DO IT.

I complain a lot about my tools. I feel my creativity and innovation is being held back, because I don’t have the most powerful laptop, camera, or phone.

But no more excuses. Imma just use whatever, and intentionally try to use slightly worse equipment, to make a point that you can make dope shit without having the best gear.

I’ll never forget my coach Greg Lowe, who only played with an old and heavy wooden tennis racket, and whooped all of us. He taught me, never blame the equipment.

I’ll still seek to own the best gear. I’m a sucker consumerist American. It’s kind my cultural DNA, and wanting the best and to be the best is what drives me. Regardless of what tools I have, I’ll always be dissatisfied. But whatever, I’m gonna still hustle regardless.

No more excuses Eric.

Be strong, and go all in.

Always,
Eric


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