On self righteousness

my life changed the day i saw this interview of Derrick Rose, after being named the NBA Rookie of the Year.

why can’t i be MVP of the league? why can’t i be the best player in the league?

the interviewing journalist — God bless him — wasn’t in touch with his audience. so in the nicest way possible, Derrick essentially replied: “what a stupid question.”


on faith

religion aside, we all have faith.

in simple things, like “will this chair hold me.” but also in complex ideas, and our potential for future achievement.

faith is a function of optimism.

faith vs optimism

on purpose

as the story goes, three bricklayers are asked what they’re doing.

bricklayer a –> i’m laying bricks

bricklayer b –> i’m building a church

bricklayer c –> i’m building the house of God

we can find purpose in anything, whether it’s weekend chores or sleeping, picking up kids from school or taking out the office trash.

on talent

i’m scrubbing “talent” from my vernacular.

reading Grit last month formed two conclusions:

  1. the most successful people in the world got there with hard work, not luck or talent
  2. natural talent is an asset in the beginning, but a liability later on

Derrick Rose is talented gritty, purposeful, and believes in himself.

putting it all together

let’s open Ryan’s kimono and explore something i’ve never shared before: my personal life mantra.

it’s not special. it’s not unique. it’s a quote from a Zach Braff movie.

ready? here goes.

all you have to do is whatever it takes.

this is fun to say in the middle of the afternoon, clearing your inbox by a sunny window, iced coffee in hand, Drizzy playing on the radio.

it’s a lot less fun to remind myself when it’s 3am, inbox is full, customers in New Zealand are trying to chat through live support, the un-tested midnight deployment just broke and 152 users are affected, and my eyes are literally trying to shut themselves.

but that’s how 3am goes at Kulp Estates.

my girlfriend gets her beauty sleep, and i’m holding open my eyelids, giving it all i have, shipping and loving customers.

a note to anyone joining or already working on the Fomo team — i can’t promise anything except that i will always work harder than you.

on self righteousness

there are 2 mindsets, growth and fixed. thus, there are 2 types of people.

both humans can be successful, or losers, or somewhere in between.

but those with the growth mindset fundamentally believe everything is fungible, while those with a fixed mindset think everything “is the way it is.”

like it or not, my entire life is a reflection of the Growth Mindset in action.


  • almost got kicked out of high school
  • barely got into college (a year late)
  • was arrested  criminal record (temporary, now expunged)
  • couldn’t get a real job, not even to teach English in Korea
  • learned to code and became the CEO of a successful startup in NYC, also on tour as a musician

this chronology is either jarring or reasonable — just depends on your mindset.

and over the last few weeks it’s occurred to me i can take this a step further…

pushing the limits

part of startup la-la land means being in-the-know of trends in marketing and technology.

it means staying relevant, implementing bleeding edge techniques to solve problems, and thinking differently.

but here’s the truth about how i run my startup:

  • i don’t execute “marketing campaigns”
  • we’ve never A/B tested anything
  • i have no idea how much traffic we get
  • our CRM hasn’t been logged into for 3 months
  • ads work for us, but i turned them off because they’re annoying

even as a “leading marketer” (other peoples’ words, not mine), i’m comfortable admitting this because:

  • we have a vision
  • our team is world-class
  • the competition is weak AF
  • i will always do whatever it takes (see: mantra)

in the last few months we’ve had a few resolves…

no more cold email. no team members who aren’t developers. no meetings. deep work fridays (no live chat, slack, etc). no office.

no worries.

as we approach our next milestones, both as a company and as individuals, i look forward to taking this a step further.

self actualization

in the spirit of Derrick Rose:

why can’t i be the #1 thought leader for social proof? why can’t i be the best CEO in the league?

i used to joke Fomo was a side project that just kept growing.

but dishonest entrepreneurship is at an all-time high.

so today, i admit Fomo may be my life’s most important work. and i’m prepared to dedicate my limited, fixed, non-renewable resource (time) to shepherding Fomo’s vision to fruition.

i hope you’ll join me in applying faith, purpose, and hard work to achieve what you want in life. because no one else will give it to you, and you must never ever ever ask permission on the road there.