Picture of Michael Lee

Stupid questions

Written on March 1, 2023

At work I like to encourage my co-workers to ask questions.

But there might be hesitation.

Hesitation that they are a burden to others.

Hesitation that they are going to look stupid.

For this reason, I emphasize that there are no stupid questions to my co-workers.

Why do I like stupid questions?

Because there might be others who could have the same questions, but are also hesitating to ask. Which means it’s a learning opportunity for people.

Because it helps get clarity if there is confusion about something. Being resourceful is great, but if you’re churning for too long, it’s better to just ask someone and get unblocked and move on.

It also shows that their co-workers are accessible and are a resource to help them. In doing so, I hope it shows that they have a team to rely on.

Often when I get questions directly, I will suggest the person asking to ask in a more group setting. For example if you work remotely and a co-worker sends you a direct message—you could say it’s a great question and request that they ask it again in a group channel.

The reason why I do this is because, I want to foster people helping other people, but I truly believe all my teammates are much smarter than myself and want the best answer for the question.

But what if the question is unclear?

You can ask them to elaborate, by simply saying, “tell me more”. Often you’ll get more context to better frame the question or you’ll find that what they are asking for isn’t what they need.

Or, when I find a question is verbose, I’ll often ask “what’s the ask?”. This often leads to a much concise question that I can then respond to.

Whether you work with one person or many people, try encouraging them to ask stupid questions.

Likewise, ask stupid questions yourself. It’ll encourage others and you’re empowering your co-workers.


Written on January 23, 2023

My 4 y.o. tonight as we were driving to run an errand, “Daddy, your tummy is so big and fat”.

Brutal, direct and pure honesty.

Kids have no filter and are just stating the fact according to how they see it.

I love it.

MayTree - Korean acapella group

Written on January 23, 2023

Sometimes, Instagram’s algorithm suggests something truly amazing.

The other day, it did just that, by suggesting a video of a Korean, acapella, group named MayTree.

The video that it showed me was a clip from their reenactment of Street Fighter 2, the arcade game.

It turns out this talented group was also on America’s Got Talent and did quite well with the judges.

It’s been great watching their videos with the kids since they have reenactments of popular video games and movies such as Animal Crossing and Turning Red.

It also brings me joy since I didn’t grow up seeing Asians like this in mainstream media other than those who knew how to do martial arts.

Start anytime

Written on January 1, 2023

One of the things I’ve built into my system for goal-planning is flexibility.

Life is unpredictable.

While it’s fun to forecast and dream about a future state of your life.

The reality is, no one can predict what tomorrow holds. This is especially true when you have kids—vacations, illness, school activities.

It is for this reason, I don’t stress about starting on a particular day of the year.

As I’m writing this post, I’m not quite done on the goals I want to achieve for the first quarter of the new year.

I could of course stress and feel like I’m behind.

Or I can remind myself that life is unpredictable and so my goals should be flexible as well.

One way to reduce the stress of goal planning is to start your goals at any time.

First of the month, middle of the month or somewhere near the endish.

Be flexible with yourself.

Afterall, you’re trying to do something to improve your life.

How to create personal goals

Written on December 22, 2022

As the year comes to an end, I’m excited to take some time off from work, recoup with the family and plan for the upcoming year.

When coming up with personal goals, I ask myself three questions.

  1. Why do I want to achieve these goals?
  2. What should I focus on?
  3. How do I know I’m making progress towards my goals?

Why do I want to achieve these goals?

Creating change is hard and there will be times when you hit slumps.

During these times it’s good to remind yourself of the why you’re working on the goals to help you get unstuck.

Your why could be as simple as a list of things that matter to you such as health or family members.

A good exercise in capturing your why is doing a little imaginary exercise.

Imagine you’re at the airport a year from now and you run into an old friend of yours. You and this friend have a little time before catching your flight so you hit up the cafe to catch up over coffee.

Your friend asks you, “Tell me, how is it going? How’s life treating you?”

You respond with, “AMAZING! Life couldn’t get any better.” And you really mean it.

What’s happening in your life a year from now that makes you respond like this?

Be specific.

What should I focus on?

I’ve never considered myself much of a goal-oriented person. But I do like making small improvements everyday.

But how do you figure out what you should focus on?

I use something called the Wheel of Life from Zig Ziglar.

The Wheel of Life is like a report card you fill out about different aspects of your life. The result is you get a visual of areas in your life you can decide to focus on.

Wheel of Life in a spreadsheet

The goal of the Wheel of Life is to have a life that is balanced and circular in all areas so that you have a smooth ride.

Here’s what my Wheel of Life looked like when I filled it out back in the fall of 2022.

Visual representation of my Wheel of Life

The cool thing about the Wheel of Life is, it also gives you an indication in a part of your life that you can than focus on as goals.

Looking at this list, I zoned in on the low scores in quiet time and personal affirmation in my personal category of my life. So I decided to work on goals that would help boost those scores up.

Zoomed in version of two categories from Wheel of Life

I personally like doing the Wheel of Life every 3 months and choose 2-3 areas to focus on.

How do I know I’m making progress towards my goals?

I’m a visual person and so, it helps if there is a visual way to track how I’m progressing towards my goals.

To do this I use Objectives and Key Results or OKRs.

You can read more about OKRs in the book Measure What Matters.

But the gist of OKRs is Objectives are your goals and your Key Results are the activities that you do that supports your objectives.

So let’s say one of my goals (objectives) is to become a barista. A key result might be learn how to make 5 drinks by heart within a month. Another one could be apply to 3 barista positions every week.

Example screenshot of becoming a barista as an OKR

As you can see, since there’s a numerical value associated to these key results, it helps visualize progress towards your objective.

I use a spreadsheet to check in with myself and track all this.

Remember to be flexible

While goals are fun and do help you step into the future of who you want to become, I’d also challenge you to be flexible.

Life is unpredictable and so your goals should be flexible to life.

If you stop or get side tracked along the journey of achieving your goals, it’s ok.

Use your why to remind yourself of why achieving these goals is important to you.

Or go through each of the exercises again and choose new goals.

World Cup: A family affair

Written on November 28, 2022

World Cup 2022 is here and it’s been so much fun watching it as a family.

Being a family made up of several cultures means we have multiple teams to root for — United States, Germany and Korea.

It’s also the first time my kids are old enough to be engaged in watching the games. In previous World Cups, the kids could care less.

I’m hoping as the kids grow older we’ll be able to turn this into a tradition of gathering around and rooting for our teams.