Lessons I learned from my mother

Those of you who know me really well know that I am extremely close with my mother. I call her ever day still and she is still one of my best friends. Just for the record, yes, I have a father as well and love him very much. However, Dad's role is different than Mom's in my family.

My mom was born in Saigon, Vietnam and moved to the United States in 1980 after the Vietnam War. They immigrated here by a boat, and my brother was born on the way. My mom never went to school and didn't work until my brother and I were teenagers. Her job was to raise the kids and make sure we didn't become spoiled douchebags. I think that's why I get a bit offended when people say bad things about homemakers. It is the most important job ever, not to say one shouldn't have the opportunity to do something else. I'm sure if I had a sister, my mom would have made her go to college too.

Here are some lessons I have learned from my mom.

Stay humble

Always stay humble, regardless of what successes you achieve. Remember to thank the people who help you get there and never forget about them. Don't act like you are entitled to anything.

Do not be afraid of death

I've always had a very open conversation with my mom about death. We both know that it will happen, and not know when. However, we believe that death is just a part of life, and that's why life is so precious. I remember talking to her about this a lot when I lost my best friend suddenly at the age of 26. She told me that the only way you can keep people alive is through your spirit and in the way you live your life. Honor those you have lost with your life. I often think she is prepping me for the time it is for her to pass (or if I die suddenly before her, the other way around).

I am not afraid of death, but it motivates me to live.

Love animals

Our family has always owned animals and if I ever have kids (probably not though) I would raise them with pets. Animals teach us to show love and be responsible for someone else other than us. This is a photo of my mom with my brother's two cats. No pictured: her two kids! Every time Mom visits, she says hi to the pets first, or as we call, the grandcats.



Live a simple life. Materialistic things go away in the end, so don't hold on to them or be controlled by them.

Believe in something. Anything.

I was raised Roman Catholic, but I don't think this has to apply to religion. My mom always taught us to believe in something and have a devotion to it. It is something I think about when designing—to give one's self up to crafting the best thing possible. Whether you get ethics and morals from an organized religion, Star Wars, or any other source, believe in something.

You can do anything if you put the work into it

For the 29 years of existence on this Earth, I don't think I've ever heard my mom tell me I couldn't do something. Now, she definitely told me that if I wanted something, I'd have to work my ass off to get it, and nothing would be handed to me. However, the point hit home, that I could achieve or live my life any way I want if I put my mind to it and committed to the work.

Thank you, Mom.

Try the Free Tier

If you want to try ADN without having to read this blog, here you go!

I'm a huge fan of (ADN) and a big believer of what they are doing. What is ADN? It is an ad-free social network. Some of you may be familiar with the Alpha, which is a timeline of posts. Sound familiar? However, that's really not what ADN is at all. With ADN, you get access to a network of apps that include file storage, private and public chats, file, photo and video sharing -- and there's more to come.

What I love about ADN is the community. It is a very supportive and open community and reminds me of what Twitter used to be in the early days. You will see more signal vs. noise, as there are no promoted tweets, and the content users generate seem to be more conversation as opposed to promotion.

My belief is when something is free, YOU are the product. I like that ADN is selling a product, and not you.

I'd like to invite you to try for free! If you sign up here, you will receive the free tier account, and you will not be charged. I do hope you'll love it and see the value of an open API and the respect of your content.

Here are a list of the ADN apps available, but a few of my favorites are:

  • Orbit: File storage system similar to Droplr for ADN
  • Patter for iOS: Remember chatrooms?!
  • Netbot: Tapbot's brings ADN to iOS
  • Kiwi: A great ADN client for the Mac
  • Riposte: A really slick iOS app

Some people I often talk to on ADN, and who you should follow:

Give ADN a try now and I hope to see you on there! Please let the ADN Team know what you think.

[button color=green url=]Try It Now![/button]


What surfing can teach you about life

I am no beach bum, but aspire to be one. Last summer I went to Lisbon with my co-founder and some of our friends from Paris—beautiful city with perfect weather, really nice people and great food. We went to the beach to go surfing. It was my first time and didn't know what to expect. All I knew is that it was probably going to be more difficult than I remembered.

It proved to be as difficult as I anticipated but I loved every second of it. I probably got on my board about 3 out of 25 times. However, it becomes addicting to keep trying. It made me think…surfing is a great life analogy. You could probably relate this to personal life but I'll focus on decision-making as it relates to work (mainly).

What does surfing teach you about life?

Choosing the right wave

The first thing I had to learn was to choose the right wave. I can't tell you how many times I got on a wave that seemed good from a distance, and was too small to even go anywhere. On the flip side, I passed on a lot of waves which turned out to be great ones I should have jumped on. The perception of something from the distance skewed what it actually was as it approached closer. As I got more experience observing waves, I was able to make more confident judgments.


One thing is certain: You cannot half-commit on a wave. When you see a wave you want to take, you have to start paddling with your arms full speed and go 100% even if it is not the ideal wave. I think this is often true when it comes to life. When you decide on something, you need to see it through with no regrets, because hesitation can often be the first step to failure. At the same time, you can decide on pass on something, but you felt it was the right decision at the time.

Going full force until success or failure

They say in the startup world, that you want to fail quickly. Why? Because you want to get to the point where you realize if something is worth doing or not without wasting too much time or money. The results were really apparent for me; either I get on the board or fall off immediately.

Learn from successes and failures, and try again

After each attempt, I thought to myself, "What did I do wrong? Did I try to stand up too soon (or late)? Was the wave not good enough?" I take each experience and remember it for my next attempt. I think about this when our Xhatch team works on client projects. We talk about what we did well, and what we could do better. Even in the most successful projects, there are always things we could have done better.

If I were to ever plan a team-building retreat, it would be taking the whole team surfing.

Come join me on

I've actually been tweeting less (yes, THAT is me tweeting less) and seem to be spending more time on, or ADN.

" is an ad-free, subscription-based social feed and API. aims to be the backbone of the social web through infrastructure that developers can use to build applications and that members can use for meaningful interactions. launched in August of 2012. It's owned and operated by Mixed Media Labs, founded by CEO Dalton Caldwell and CTO Bryan Berg."

I have some invites if you want to give it a try.

Also, don't forget to follow me @davidhoang.

The Day Seattle Died

As a Seattleite, one of the things I am most proud of are the musicians that have come from the Emerald City. On April 5 of 1994 and 2002, we lost Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains. Quick note: Staley's body was actually found on April 19 but his autopsy concluded that he had been dead for two weeks.

I was 11 years old when Cobain died and 18 years old when Staley died, so I remember Staley's death more vividly.

It often bothers me when people pay tribute to Cobain and often forget about Staley on this day. However, the way they died was pretty different. Cobain's death was a suicide at the age of 27 that happened suddenly, while Staley seemed to fade away from existence with his drug addiction.

You two will always be remembered, and I hope you are at peace.

One of the few photos I've seen of Cobain and Staley together.


San Francisco + Launch 2013

The Launch Festival is one of my favorite events of the year. I got the opportunity to go last year because one of our apps was accepted into it. This year MailChimp sent me (thank you so much) so my co-founder and I planned a trip to meet up in San Francisco. This was definitely one of the best San Francisco trips I've been to in a long time. We usually stay in Haight-Asbury, but I wanted to mix it up a bit and stay at one of my favorite neighborhoods: The Mission.


The Mission reminds me a lot of Brooklyn. I still want to keep the dream alive of living in San Francisco and New York and be bi-coastal. Without a doubt, I'd live in The Mission...maybe Oakland too.

The weekend was freaking amazing. I took a nap outside at Dolores Park—definitely a nice change from the New York weather recently. Everyone was out, talking, laughing, and just having fun. It was like a modern-day Seurat painting.


No San Francisco trip is complete without getting a pour over at Ritual Coffee. I haven't tried Four Barrel yet, but so far Ritual is my favorite coffee shop in the city. The wifi is good and they don't mind if you hang and do some work or read. You meet great people there too. Contraband coffee is also great, but I didn't make it over there this time.

On Saturday we went to meet up with my friend Joe and his girlfriend Alissa at South Pacific Brewing. Some of their friends, Andrea, Trevor, and Sandy came with. It was the first  time I met them, but funny enough, they all knew my friend Sherry through work. The world is truly a small place. I advice you try to be nice to everyone...unless they are a dick, of course.


Speaking of small worlds, we went to The Monk's Kettle to have some beers. Oh man, do they have beers. We sat down next to this girl. She saw me texting my friend Jen. Turns out they know each other and she lives in Seattle. Her name is Caylee and we have about 5,000 mutual friends.IMG_6792

Again, the world is small.

On Tuesday, we we went somewhere for the day that I can't tell you. It was awesome though.

After that, I walked by and texted my buddy Rich a photo of his office building to creep him out. He stepped out for about 10 minutes so we could grab a photo and chat. I wish I had 20 hours to talk to him, but it was so nice just to see him.


We headed back to The City and had a chance to get dinner with my aunt. She is definitely one of my closest family members now. She has a passion for traveling and working hard, and I've always looked up to her. Now that I'm older, I can go travel and she lives through me. However, we're planning a trip to Spain to go on a hiking trip. I am so excited about that. It would be a dream to travel with her.


Oh yeah, we went to a conference too. The Launch Festival is the best event ever. It is essentially a celebration (like Sundance) of startups launching their products. The energy is great and everyone is supportive. Jason creates an environment where it is supportive, helpful, and encouraging.


I ran into one of the co-founders of Space Monkey, Clint, and we got to catch up too. Last year we were in the same rehearsal together. This year, Clint returned as a panel judge because Space Monkey won the competition last year. Seriously, watch out for  them. Amazing product.

Now I'm on the plane back to New York City. I can't wait to go home and see my cat and get back to working at the workspace. However, San Francisco always gives me good energy and the city is great to me. I need to keep focused so I can spend time in both cities.

I'll be doing a separate blog post for startups that really caught my attention. Stay tuned.

My cat playing iPad Games for Cats

My cat Wilson playing iPad Games for Cats. It took him a few tries to get it, but now he's hooked. We often forget how mobile devices can benefits animals. Wilson now plays (real exercise) but also gets to play on the iPad. If he does good, he gets a treat.

Nice work, Wilson!

Download it for your cat here!

Coffee and code in Seattle, like the old days

When I used to live in Seattle, Damon, Colin, Ryan, Aviel (not pictured), and myself would often get together and drink coffee and work on projects. It was nice to have close friends who work hard. We often were able to shoot the shit together while getting stuff done. Last week I was in Seattle for (literally) 26 hours for a meeting.

Fortunately, there was time for the gang to get together. It felt really good—as if nothing really changed. You can tell you have close friends when 1) The quality of the time you spend is more valuable than the quantity of time 2) When your friendship doesn't skip a beat.

So glad to see these guys. It was really one of the highlights of my trip.