Make More Than You Take

I don’t know the secret to becoming rich, successful, or happy– but I do know that for myself, giving more than I take has helped me tremendously.

The virtue of growing up poor.

Saigon, 2017

I grew up poor. I remember saving my $2 a day lunch money (subsidized school lunch money) for 10 days, so I could buy that cool new Adidas T-Shirt.

Growing up poor was good. I never took shit for granted. I also knew I had to work to get whatever I wanted.

I also learned that if I wanted anything, I needed to produce value. “Value” as being useful to others.

For example, I could be more valuable by tutoring more students, for more time. I could build my reputation by working really hard in my tutoring, to get more recommendations, and thus earn more money.

I also learned that the most useful, virtuous, and inspiring people were those who:

  1. Led by example and
  2. Gave more than they took

For example, I tend to trust people who give more than they take.

For example, I trust a lot of bloggers who give away a lot of free information (James Altucher), but occasionally asks you to buy his ebooks (I have bought 4 of his ebooks).

Saigon, 2017

I also generally tend to like my friends who share. I trust my friend Justin Lee, who shared his hip hop cd collection with me, when we were 16. When he asked anything from me, I would give it to him without even thinking. His generosity inspired me so much, that I thought to myself:

When I’m helping Justin, I’m actually helping myself.

For example, when he needed help in Spanish class, and I tutored him, it helped improve my Spanish. Same happened when I helped any of my friends with anything.

The more I taught others, the more I learned myself.

In my personal life in recent years, I’ve found this with business and economics:

The more value I give others the more I receive in return.

For example, the average person who attends my workshop or buys my products has followed me for a very long time (usually at least 2 years). They feel so much gratitude from all this free information I give them (via books, presets, videos, articles), that they want to repay me, by somehow offering me money.

I’ve had students attend my workshops and tell me:

To be honest Eric, I knew I probably would not learn much in this workshop. But I attended to meet you in person, but also to help support you financially, by paying for the workshop.

Very humbling.

Too much self-reliance is bad

To be honest, my biggest stumbling block was that I wasn’t very good at taking.

For example, I’d always offer my help to my friends, but I felt shame or weaknesses by asking for help.

I wanted to be 100% self-reliant. It was a point of pride for myself.

For example, I paid myself through college. I got student scholarships from UCLA, the US government, and I took out a few loans (to travel abroad). I did “work study” and got paid $12.50 an hour at UCLA Undergraduate Admissions, working in tech support (thanks John Talbert for giving me a job). I never asked my mom for money in school, because I knew that she didn’t have money, but also I wanted to proudly say that I paid through college by myself.

Learning to value your self-worth.

Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

Anyways, one of the hardest things if you’re an entrepreneur is to ask for money.

It isn’t so much asking for money like begging. Rather, it is asserting your value. And having the courage to request money for your services.

I was inspired by an essay that Cindy wrote titled, “My labor is not free.” We both grew up similar– working class, poor, immigrant families. We don’t know how to value our time, ourselves and our lives.

Produce more than you consume.

Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

In today’s world though, it seems like we take more than we give.

For example, we are consumers, not producers.

We consume more YouTube than creating YouTube videos.

We consume more photos than making photos.

We consume more blog posts than making blog posts.

Saigon, 2017. Photo by Cindy.

Which made me wonder,

What if we produced more than we consumed?

To me, that is the secret of entrepreneurial or business success. Or life success.

Why I like to make.

Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

I like building, making, and innovating. I have more fun and excitement when creating new things, when just consuming.

Kids do this well. They prefer to paint instead of looking at paintings. They prefer to play Minecraft and make their own virtual worlds, rather than exploring the worlds of their friends.

But a sad shift: I see a lot of kids watching YouTube videos of other kids playing. I saw a child in Vietnam, around 3 years old, watch a YouTube video on her moms phone of another white girl, 3 year old kid riding a pink tricycle around a green park. Very sad.

I don’t understand why people watch sports.

Saigon selfie, 2017

In many ways, I see that we are a spectator society. We like to watch instead of do. Why? Doing is scary, and takes more risk.

For example, I remember when I played high school American football. I enjoyed playing linebacker and tackling other kids. I actually never watched Football on tv. My friends were masters on statistics, and knowing what was going on. But as a (real) football player, I had no idea what was happening on tv football. Why not? I only knew how to play defense, and my “POV” (point of view) was from my helmet, with obscured vision. I didn’t have the “god view” that spectators have on tv, looking from the “birds eye view.”

I personally have nothing against porn. But the problem is that we probably spend more time watching other people have sex, than have sex ourselves. Also watching porn gives you a false sense of what “real life” sex is. For me, real life sex is more about emotional intimacy, and love– not just fucking like a pornstar.

Don’t criticize other risk-takers

Saigon, 2017 #cindyproject

In business, we idolize Elon Musk, and watch on the sidelines. It is easier to watch him take risks, and potentially fail, rather than us to take a risk.

It is easier for us to criticize basketball players than learn how to do a lay-up with our own left hand.

Happiness is creation

Sorry I’m rambling all over the place, but my thesis is this:

To be happier, spectate less. Be more active, and make more.

So some distilled ideas:

  1. Make more art than you passively consume
  2. Design and sew your own clothes or print it, instead of buying stuff in stores
  3. Play sports, don’t watch it on tv.
  4. Make movies, don’t just constantly stream Netflix
  5. Make photos, and limit looking at other people’s photos on Instagram or Facebook
  6. More sex in real life, less porn.

So how does ERIC KIM live his life?

For me,
– I write more than I read. But I like doing both.
– I make more YouTube videos than I watch.
– I try to make my own raps, rather than just idolize other rappers.
– I publish more blog posts, than read other blog posts.

Ultimate, focus on being active and do more.

Eric kim Cindy photo journal
Cindy and Eric x PHOTO JOURNAL

To be happier,

Make more stuff.



eric kim photography black and white leaves flash

Re-discover you inner-child and feel like PABLO PICASSO:

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