Episode 14 - Hong Quan - Conscious Decision Making

Hong Quan (00:00):
Long nights, short years, there's no benefit in kind of withholding information. When you're dealing with intelligent people. Success is being able to choose who I work with is your success become a burden for the children.

Young Han (00:21):
Hey guys, I'm young, a full-time dad and a full-time professional with the goal to become the best parent possible. The girl dad show is my journey interviewing fellow working parents aspiring to be both good at work and parenting. I'm gonna do this by gathering and sharing unfiltered perspectives from my guest to join me. As I research parenthood will one interview at a time today's episode of the grilled ad show is sponsored by something I'm very passionate about coffee, blue Jean coffee brings sophisticated coffee brewing straight into your home. Delivering an elevated coffee experience all without having to make a trip to a cafe. They source their specialty beans directly from farmers all around the world, old and roast them in small batches. Just for your order. Are you ready to upgrade your home brewing experience? Bluejean coffee is offering a special deal just for my listeners. Really good. Visit BlueJean coffee.com forge slash TGDS to get 10% off your first order of BlueJean coffee. Oh yeah, that's good coffee. Awesome. Love it. Hung. Welcome to the girl dad show. Thank you for joining me today. Thanks for having me, man. I am so excited to talk to you and share with all the listeners, your professional journey and your parenting journey. I feel like I'm always learning from you and I can't wait to share those learnings with everyone else.

Hong Quan (01:47):
Thanks for mean, I think they're kind of one of the same professional and parenting. It's two, two jobs.

Young Han (01:52):
I love that let's get right into it if you don't mind. So why don't you tell all the listeners what you do for a living?

Hong Quan (01:57):
What I do for a living? I like to say that, well, if people ask you like in the valley least, everybody's like, what do you do? What do, and I actually say the first thing is, I'm a dad. That's that's my job. I take it very seriously. That's awesome. It's probably the, the most serious job I take. And secondly, I build bikes and startups. So people go, what does that mean? So I build bikes, obviously I have a lot of bikes, but I build startups. I build startups for people. So I am usually the person you call when you raise a little bit of money and you need to hire a team, well, either you call me or your investors tell you to call me. But I build companies for people and I've had, you know, some really big companies that came out of that, cuz I've had a ton of clients over the last 10 to 12 years, but I've also had a ton of small startups that never really kind of got to the next level. So I've seen a lot.

Young Han (02:45):
Yeah. You're like definitely something that I connotate with Silicon valley. I feel like you're like part of Silicon, Valley's like fabric and ecosystem. I'd love for you to, if you don't mind just kind of sharing with us how you got to this point where you are a dad first, but also into bikes and building companies. Like how, what does your professional journey look like?

Hong Quan (03:05):
Yeah, like I said, it's kind of the same, it's intertwined and there's no way to kind of separate the two. So I was, you know, kind of a young or not young, but I would say professional tech person. And then I started working 500 sharps with Christine because you know, she had heard of me because my recruiting work. So when 500 startups started, which was around the time that max was maybe one, no, he was a couple years old at that point, but I still remember him walking around the 500 office before it was anything. It was like, you know, a empty space on the top floor, on Castro, street and Mountainview. So I started doing more like advising and kind of mentor. I was a 500 star mentor. Right. So I started talking to even more founders and I kept making like these analogies to parenting and it's, it kind of sucked cuz a lot of the founders were like young guys.

Hong Quan (03:59):
Like you were like, I don't know what that means. And I was like, you know, I don't know who gave me the moniker. Somebody said, oh you're like the startup dad. That's awesome. Cause, cause like my advice was always something to do with like family and kids and I don't use family and company interchangeably. I think I keep the two very separated. But you know, when max was one years old, I think is I was head of recruiting at or director of recruiting, whatever you wanna call it at a game company. And I hired like 120 people, 130 people in like two years. So like massive, massive recruiting effort by myself, mostly cuz I only had one person to help me. And then I was like, oh and I was let go. As I was driving to work, like on my way to, to the office, my manager calls. He's like, Hey, where are you? And I was like, I'm always at the office. What do you need? And he goes, oh you don't have to come in. I was like, oh really? That's interesting. So I like literally turned off the side of one oh one, took the call and then got off the highway and got back on going south to go. What the yeah, yeah. Like I don't, I don't even tell the story to people, but the reason it's tied in is like at that point I was like, okay, these companies, like they don't actually care about you and I'm gonna start my own company. Cuz I think that's what is the best thing for my family?

Young Han (05:18):
Wait, it was just that nonchalant. Like was it a hyper growth

Hong Quan (05:21):
Startup next day? No, it was next day. I was like, I'm gonna start my first startup, which was prong motors, which I built a car back in 2000, 2009. Right? Like this is max was two or three years old. But at that time my wife was pregnant. So that's me. I was in the belly when I started that company and I do not recommend doing that. But she's the reason why I'm a girl, girl, dad. Right. And she, and like I love my kids. I love them both, but they they're very different. And I think as a parent you can tell that almost right away,

Young Han (05:57):
I'm probably like butchering this, but I do. I gotta get the timeline down here because I'm like getting a little bit confused. So you started off in the tech space as a recruiter, did a, like a hypergrowth kind of project hired 120 people in two years, the gaming company, they callously fairly callously. Let you go. I mean, that sounds like you did your job. They, it sounds like the manager didn't even realize that that was a negative thing. They probably were just like, Hey, you did your thing and now we need to move to the next thing. It wasn't even like personal. They just like, that's it. No. Wow.

Hong Quan (06:25):
I finished my gig. So I was like, oh, okay. I thought I was an employee, but yeah. So then since then I've been kind of contract recruiter. Yeah. Like tell me what you need. I'll come in and I'll get you those people. But you know, I have my own companies, I have my own stuff that I'm working on. And most importantly I have my family to take care of. 

Young Han (06:44):
And then, so you started your first company and you dabbled in entrepreneurship building a car while you had your first kid.

Hong Quan (06:52):
Yeah. Second kid. Cause max is already, yeah. Max is already like two or three years old, but Mio was gonna be that's wild. So I thought like the only way to ensure our own security, to like do our own business.

Young Han (07:04):
And how old were you? Because that doesn't sound like a secure thing to do to start a car company.

Hong Quan (07:09):
Yeah, no, it's definitely. I, like I said, it was not, it was not the best idea I've had, but I was really like, I was really emotional and frustrated certain that this in the yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I was just like done with done with companies, but I thought I'm gonna have my own company cuz I have my own kind of destiny in my hands. Right. Anyways, that's that's silliness. But at that time it's 2009. So I was like 28, 29, no wait, sorry. 2009. I don't know. Yeah. It's ok.

Young Han (07:37):
You'll have to yourself, but yeah you were, you were younger.

Hong Quan (07:40):
No, no. I was born at 75, so I was like almost 30 or I was past 30. I was 32, 30, 2 years old. So not quite young, but also not that old.

Young Han (07:51):
That's awesome. And so you embarked on starting a car company and did you just like, like, did you like love cars and like why were you start a car company? It's like the most random thing

Hong Quan (08:01):
In the world. So that's the thing. Everybody thinks of me as like the bike and startup guy, but I was actually a car guy. Like I love cars. I think cars was like the best thing. And at that time, the companies that were started around the same time that we started, there was four companies in California. There's a bunch of others in the, in across the us. But like none of did anything. So the four companies in California were prong Tesla, Fisker and appera holy cow. And out of the four only Tesla survived right only Tesla's the one that's left and they all had, you know, various levels of funding. We did not have anything close to that funding. So it was very a boots shop effort. It was like me and a couple engineers and we built a car in nine months, like from scratch.

Young Han (08:49):
That's awesome. And what were the specs and stats on it?

Hong Quan (08:53):
Oh God, it was super light. It was a three Wheeler. So it was kind of surf like a weird hybrid between a Mo a motorcycle and a car. We use a V twin Rotax motor from a motorcycle and we use a stability system from an Audi six and we use like a wire harness. Like I just met with engineer who worked on the project with me and I told him it's been like 10 years. So he's got a kid know and we were just joking. I was like, that car never would've ran without you. Like, I don't even know. I don't even know what he did, but he's a mechanical engineer, Stanford or MIT, something like that. It was one guy from Stanford, one guy from MIT and me like the non-technical idiot. But with like this crazy idea of like, I wanna build a car, like why not? Let's let's build a car. So we did and we drove it around and you know, famously Jay Leno drove it. We were on the local news. We were on NBC news. We did all the press and meetings. Did you get to meet him? But we never had. Yeah. Yeah. Did you get to go to his garage? He made lunch. Yeah. He made us lunch.

Young Han (09:50):
Did he make you? That's amazing.

Hong Quan (09:51):
He made, he made sausages. Italian sausage.

Young Han (09:54):
Oh my gosh.

Hong Quan (09:56):
That's for lunch with like, they were like, I mean like you go go to barbecue. People make hot talk. Like no Jaylen, Macy, Italian sausages in the garage.

Young Han (10:04):
Legit one. Yeah. That's amazing. So you got to see his garage with all of his like 400 like fancy, like exotic cars.

Hong Quan (10:11):
He gave me a tour cause I came back Sunday. I came back Sunday to pick up my car cuz I was driving to the bay area and I was like, Hey, I called the producer, Hey, I gotta go get my card's stuck in the, in your garage. And he's like, oh don't worry. I'll call somebody and have somebody come by and open it for you. So I figured some other mechanic was gonna come by and open it up. Jaylen rolls up in his brand, new Ferrari, not, not Ferrari Corvette, C7, I think. Or C6, whatever was. And I was like, wait, they called you to come back to open the he's like, no, no I was just driving. You know, Sunday morning I was doing my drive. I was just gonna come back anyway. So I let you in. And then I helped him park this like 25 foot shell tanker. It has no mirrors. So I stood on it while he backed into this garage. And then since we were in the back of the garage, we walked out, he's like pointing out everything. And this guy's like, he knows everything about all the cars he has and he has like 200 motorcycles. Oh wow. And he's just giving me the tour. He's like, I'm like, wait, is that a Cosmo? He's like, yeah. It's like one of five in the world or something like that. Right. And it's like some old steam cars or some old Bugattis there's Adela like, like mind blown. But the thing is because I started the car company. I kind of hate cars now. Are you serious? Yeah. Yeah. I'm not, I'm not much of a car. Well, that's what I've heard though. Like that's why people say that if you really love a type of food, don't start a restaurant in it because you end up hat, that type of food and like your love for it dissipates because it becomes work and redundant. You end up like living and breathing it. Right. And so, so it's, it's kinda the same thing with carmic with the EEX like after six years, I'm like, I'm kind of sick of this cuz that's what you do every single day. Yeah. Whether you want to, or not, whether you love it or not every day you wake up and you do the same thing. And so I had, you know, a couple months off and then Monday day after July 4th, I was like, I have a free day. So what do I do? I go in the garage and I start working on bikes. I'm like, but that's what I like to do. Like when I don't have to do it for work, that's what I actually enjoy doing. I like spending time in the garage and like being by myself and wrenching on stuff.

Young Han (12:12):
So it's like, it's kind of like a delicate balance when you're like an entrepreneur. Right. It's like trying to find that balance of like what doing, what you're passionate about, but also like not overdoing it necessarily because you may end up like, like needing a break from it. But maybe that's what it is. Maybe it's just like taking a break from it. Right. It's like gaming. Right. You have a main character and sometimes you need an alt character, you know, to like, you know, satiate your needs. Exactly. That's right. So you could like stay engaged in the game, in your character.

Hong Quan (12:36):
Right. It also helps me cuz like we sort of pause the business due to like supply chain issues around the world, but going back and working other startups gives me a bit of a reset. I'm like, oh here's another problem I can work on. And like get really kind of deep into and then like fix that that's right. And then I can move on to the next thing and do that. And then like over time, my passion, I hate that word. But like over time, my enthusiasm for car spikes, whatever does come back, I think.

Young Han (13:04):
And so then you did the recruiting thing as a consulting consulting business or recruiting business. Sorry. And then you launched Carmack, which is, or I where I know you as in this e-bike and you got a lot of notoriety and really cool design awards and all sorts of fun stuff around that. And then the supply chain thing and then back to consulting for recruiting, for startups. And then as you mm-hmm, get that stuff released from supply chain and COVID and kind of the global logistics. You'll just keep dabbling back and forth. Yeah.

Hong Quan (13:34):
I mean, we made an active decision to pause carmic due to the industry issues, but I thought it would be a year and I'm still keeping tabs on everything. I'm still keep track of like supply chain factories in the parts suppliers and all the partners that we have over at N and now it's looking like two years. So they're saying we, we can't get anything until 2022,

Young Han (13:55):
A combination of a lot of things or what is it?

Hong Quan (13:57):
It's everything. It's just, it's like a perfect storm. Like COVID only accelerated it. Like this is gonna be a reckoning for the bike industry. Anyway, it's a false hope because like sales went up like crazy last year and then like everything dried up. And so are the sales gonna come back this year? Once everything opens up or is it only a one time thing? Like literally a once in a lifetime thing. Cause I know people in the industry for 20, 30, 40 years and they say they've never seen anything

Young Han (14:26):
Like this. You mean like selling bikes?

Hong Quan (14:29):
Yeah. They were like completely sold out. People were back order. Like you can, you know, get full price basically. Cuz the bike industry has a long history of discounting. So now we're selling stuff for full price. And I sold out, you know, we sold out our stuff within months.

Young Han (14:42):
Wow. This is insanity because they're talking about the same things in cars. Like people can't like someone, my dealership here wanted to buy my Prius for more than I paid for it. And I'm like, this is insane. That's crazy. You, you wanna gimme what for this? Yeah. It's crazy. I need something right now, but yeah.

Hong Quan (15:00):
Yeah, that's the problem though. If you sell it, you have to get something that's right.

Young Han (15:03):
Well the new car is so expensive and there's nothing available. And like, so if I wanted to buy a new car, I wanted to buy like an upgrade or get a replacement for it. Like it's impossible. So it's like, I can't even sell this because what am I gonna sell it for?

Hong Quan (15:13):
Yeah. I think the average new car price is over $30,000. Wow. Average like literally every single car.

Young Han (15:21):
So it's the same for the bikes.

Hong Quan (15:23):
Yeah. But the bike supply chain is not as resilient as the car supply chain, like a good example is Toyota. Right? Like they knew that COVID was gonna it globally. And they were able to like adjust within probably a couple weeks. It's wild man. And they can like ramp up and down versus like the bike industries, like all family businesses, all 20, 30 years of relationships. They don't know how to like actually manage inventory, which is a very basic thing. And I'm, I'm putting myself in that category. Like we, we didn't know how to manage inventory cuz we didn't know this was gonna happen. And then even it did happen like now the downstream effects of it's like, can we really afford to keep in business? Like there are bike shops going outta business and you're like, wait, I thought bike sales are booming. It's like, yeah they are. But you have nothing to sell and you still have to make rent.

Young Han (16:09):
It's a tough knot man. That's really, really interesting problem to like be an entrepreneur during this time. Especially like a like entrepreneur during this time. I never even really thought about the supply chain hitting entrepreneurship like that. Cause you typically think of like software and tech, you know, like not really being impacted, but that's really, really interesting.

Hong Quan (16:26):
Yeah. I mean a lot of it is also semi ship, like semiconductor sort shortage, right. Mm-Hmm like they're tiny chips and everything. So we have chips in our controller display motor, and if they can't get those parts to make the motor parts, then we can't build the bikes from those. Right. So there's like a long supply chain that's affected.

Young Han (16:44):
Yeah. And the resiliency use probably also has a lot to do with the fact that like there's a pecking order too, where the supplies go to as well. And I'm sure e-bikes is not on the top yet. Just it's not as mainstream as a, as a car is, you know?

Hong Quan (16:55):
No. And out of all the EBI companies, we're like way down here versus like the big guys. Right. So I think the thing is COVID I think COVID has had massive impacts on society. And I think the most important thing is actually not companies, not businesses, not founders, not entrepreneurs. Most important thing is families. So least have been impacted in many ways that they haven't yet understood. Let's go in that.

Young Han (17:18):
It's a good segue. So I know you mentioned your kids through this kind of professional journey of yours, but like tell us more about your kids. How many do you have? Who are they? How old are they now? And let's start there.

Hong Quan (17:29):
So I have two kids maxilla. So famously we call 'em the M and MSS. Max is I wanna get this right. He's gonna watch this. And he's gonna be like, how do you not know how old I am? Max is 14. So he is going to high school and me is 11. So she's going to middle school. And I think this summer is like a big summer for them cuz it's a transition year, right. They're gonna both go to new schools and you know, we're, we're in a good area. So they like it here obviously. But then, you know, high school it's really challenging. The local high school is like, you know, it's a public school, but it's a very rigorous school. And then kind of the expectations that start to set in for a kid in school, like what, what are you gonna do? What college, what are you gonna do for career? Like all those questions come up naturally. Like we're not trying to push them in any particular direction. And then I think growing up here in the bay area is very unique. I grew up in New York city. So I have that experience. My wife grew up here, but not in like this kind of neighborhood.

Young Han (18:27):
It's like completely different than it used to be 20 ago. I mean it's unbelievable amount of pressure.

Hong Quan (18:32):
It's nice that you said 20 

Young Han (18:35):
I'm just saying, I feel like, I feel like the last five years have been astronomical, but I, I definitely think it really started 20 years ago. Like where you saw this like shift in like pay and, and talent pool and like just the economy and like the expectations put on people. And then it's also like now you're starting to see this tremendous wealth that formed from that last wave and then the kids coming into that wealth. Right? Like this, I remember reading, I remember reading something in like the Palo Alto daily, like 10 years ago and the, it was a front cover article. It was like so funny because it was all these millionaires complaining about these billionaire gentrifying them outta Palo Alto. And I mean, I shouldn't giggle cause it's like, it's not really cool, but it's also really funny. Right. Because it's, it's literally like the most ridiculous thing you could read. It's like, so like typical Silicon valley, what you would watch on that show. But it's like in real life, you're just like, this is actually on their newspaper as the front cover these, these like poor millionaires. You have these poor million.

Hong Quan (19:33):
I remember that article. I remember that article and that, that I think that's actually the start of what I started using this hashtag called Palo Alto, Palo

Young Han (19:40):
Alto problems. Like it's like Aion of first world problems, but PE

Hong Quan (19:44):
Exactly. It's like a, it's like a even higher first world problem, which is like, are you really complaining about this? But yeah. People complain about everything. Yeah.

Young Han (19:52):
Yeah. Poor millionaire. So it's like, it's like them kind of growing up in this like new kind of world essentially, because it's really kind of a new frontier with Silicon valley kind of exploding the way it has. And then this wealth trans wealth and success in notoriety, like transferring down to this new generation of kids. This is like really the first generation kids are kind of growing up in this like shadow of all these like tech Titans really? In my opinion, it's kind of a weird time.

Hong Quan (20:18):
Yeah. I wouldn't say it's the first generation, but it's definitely early days of it. And I think as parents, like the biggest question we have is like, my wife and I both grew up in kind of less, you know, fortunate situations. But then you wonder like, does your success become a burden for the children?

Young Han (20:39):
Like expectations wise,

Hong Quan (20:40):
The expectations higher for them, which they are for sure. And or are they like essentially spoiled and they can't actually do the work that you know, that we had done to get to where we are.

Young Han (20:51):
Can we, can we talk about that? Like I'd love to know about your childhood actually, if you don't mind. Yeah. If you don't mind sharing a little bit about your childhood, like how did you grow up? What was that?

Hong Quan (20:59):
Like? I grew up poor and it sucked and it was terrible. Like I joke with my kids. Like if you have a choice, don't choose that it was a rough life where refugees from Vietnam arrived in Brooklyn in the early well 79. So before the eighties, but growing up in the eighties in New York was not a very pleasant experience. And there was a lot of us cuz we were Vietnamese in and I think we had a tiny little, like two bedroom. I wouldn't even say an apartment. It was kind of like in the, not the projects of course, but in the tenement housing is how I describe it. And my brother and I actually went back with our kids like a couple years ago and we were like, oh my God. Imagine like, remember we were all in this tiny little apartment. We didn't go in. We just saw the outside. Yeah.

Young Han (21:48):
Did you go with your kids?

Hong Quan (21:50):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I have a picture of 'em with like my two kids, his two kids and we were just like laughing cuz you know, it's good to look back and see how far we've come. But it's also hard for them to understand that situation. Cause there's no way they would experience it. Like we can tell them stories and we should, but there's no way they live. They experience that we had and I wouldn't want them to, that's the thing. I, I do not want them to have that life at all. It was not easy. But I think out of what, I mean six kids, seven kids now cuz my little sister was born in Brooklyn or she was born in Queens, seven kids like five of us, six of us went to Ivy leagues. By all measures, like that's the American dream right. Grew up, you know, on welfare poor. And we all ended up in like the highest institutions in the land, but then what do you do with that? Like where do you go from there? And so that's the bigger question it's like, I think at the end of the day, what I tell you and what I tell all the other parents is like every single parent bar, none except for maybe terrible parents, but every parent wants a better life for their kids.

Young Han (22:52):
That's it? Well, and that's what I mean. That's what your parents wanted for you, which is why I'm sure why they came here. Right. Mm-hmm and you were able to leverage that and do good for yourself and yeah. And now you just gotta figure out what that means for your kids in?

Hong Quan (23:06):
well they have to figure it out. Oh, what

Young Han (23:08):
Do you mean?

Hong Quan (23:10):
Explain. They decide what they do. I'm I'm not the one who's gonna figure it out for them.

Young Han (23:15):
So you're not, you're not pushing them into anything.

Hong Quan (23:17):
No, because like they sort of decided that they're gonna do these two things and I'm like, well that's a result of growing up here. Right. So the joke is that Mia's gonna start a company. So she wants to be an engineer. She wants to do something in mechanic, like hardware, hardware mechanical. And then like, because of my last client, she's like, oh, can I be environmental sciences? And I was like, you can do whatever you want, but she wants to do something like impactful, meaningful. Right. And again, she's 10 or 11 now. But she had been talking about this for a while and max is like, I wanna be a VC. Nice.

Young Han (23:46):
That's amazing.

Hong Quan (23:49):
And I'm like, do you know how VCs get started? And he's like, no, how? I was like, they, they all come from rich families. That's why but like, if you think about it, if you understand what VCs do, like that sounds like a great job, right? Yeah. So they're like on the two, two sides of the same coin, like he wants to be a VC. She wants to be a founder. And I was like, just make sure that you let him invest in your company.

Young Han (24:11):
That's right.

Hong Quan (24:12):
Cause that's the only way he's gonna make it.

Young Han (24:13):
That's amazing. I love that. That's so that, that's what they want to do. I mean that's

Hong Quan (24:18):
No, I mean, it's just a, it's a, a very PE so thing. Right? Like I don't think most kids even think about this stuff and I'm not saying this is what they're gonna do. You I'm saying, this is what they're saying that they're doing. 

Young Han (24:27):
Of course. I mean, I feel like I changed what I wanted to do like 40 times before, like, you know, I turned even like 40 really last year. Yeah. 

Hong Quan (24:35):
I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. You might, you might change it end of this week too. 

Young Han (24:38):
Keep changing it all the time actually, even now. So I mean, yeah, we can't hold them to that, but I think it's really cool that they can even articulate that. That's amazing you. Yeah. That's fantastic, man. And so I, I also think that it's really cool that you're not like pushing them to anything. So you're allowing some of the environment to come to that, but you're just kind of having a conversation. Were you always like that or did you make like a tactical switch as they got older?

Hong Quan (25:01):
No, I, I definitely switched because I had a bit of realization myself like three or four years ago and it was sort of a traumatic thing. Like my sister passed from cancer and I don't talk about it because it's a very personal and I'm not sure that I'm quite over it. I don't think you ever get over it quite honestly. But at that point in my life, that's when I was like, yeah, we really need to be like more I'm I've always, always a strict parent, but I said, we have to be more clear on like what we're doing, why we're doing it, explain stuff to the kids. And they were very young. Well, it was three, three years ago. So they were a little bit younger, but I had to be more intentional about how I parent, because a lot of parents, we kind of just let stuff happen and the kids learned whether we want them to, or not. Like they're learning all the time. They're seeing everything we do. They're seeing everything we say, they're seeing how we live and how we act and how we carry ourselves. And so I just decided like on a flight back from New York, that I'm just gonna be more intentional about how I do what I do. And that's when I made the switch to say, my number one job is to be a dad. Everything else is in support of that.

Young Han (26:06):
I'm really sorry to, to hear about your loss and thank you for sharing that. I, we, you know, take so much of this stuff for granted. Right? And like, and sometimes it does, like, you need that, that like nudge to like take things more seriously. But I'm glad that in, in some small way that your sister's passing was able to who change that in you and it give you that hyper focus in how you wanted to like prioritize your life. Cause, cause now it makes a lot more sense how you started this interview, right. Where you're saying like you're dad first. Cause I actually, I think that's really interesting cuz when people ask me like, oh, what do you do? You know? It's like a casual conversation. I think the first thing that comes to mind is like, I'm a consultant, I'm a entrepreneur, you know like I'm you know, like I'm an ops guy. Like, and it's usually not that first. Right. And so that's really

Hong Quan (26:57):
No mean that's in like the context of like a, like a social meeting, like a work meeting. You usually do what we do. Like that's a very American thing to say, like I'm a, I'm a recruiter. That's what I do. But that's not who I am. Right. That's just my job. That's what I'm good at.

Young Han (27:10):
Oh, I see what you're saying. So it's not like you answer like that. Even in the job format. You're saying that when you think about yourself, you qualified as a dad first, that's your number one priority. Yep. That's amazing, man. I love that. And so how do you, you like think about being a good dad? Like what does that mean to you?

Hong Quan (27:26):
Yeah. That's a great question. I actually ask my kids all the time. I'm like, am I, am I a good dad? I ask them. Cause do you get feedback from your kids?

Young Han (27:33):
Yeah, dude. That's dope. I love that. You do that. That's awesome

Hong Quan (27:39):
Why, why wouldn't you? I mean, you should too. What? I mean, your daughter are younger, but like you should too. Why? Wouldn't you's a great point. Right? Think about it. If it's a job, do you wanna know how well you're doing? Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. So like ask your kids, ask your wife. And my wife would probably say I'm terrible, but like I ask, because I need to know it's not how I think I'm doing. It's how they think I'm doing.

Young Han (28:02):
Yeah. It's like the whole mantra of like, even if it's not important to me, if it's important to you and I care about you now it's important to me. Right. It's like that kind of, I'm saying it wrong, but there's like this adage that goes along that theme and I think you're, I think you're absolutely right. That's amazing. So what does that look like? Is it, is it fairly organic or is it like, do you actually structure it? Like some sort of like templated thing?

Hong Quan (28:22):
No, it's, it's organic to be quite honest. It's when I'm feeling down, I'll ask them.

Young Han (28:26):
Yeah. What do they say?

Hong Quan (28:27):
They say, yeah. I mean, like my daughter's like, you're a great dad and my son's like, yeah, you're pretty good. Right? Like, I mean that's high praise from him, so I'll take it. I'll take it. Right. Cuz he's a teenager. And you know, like at that age, when I was his age, oh man, I hated my dad. I'll be honest. I, I did not like 'em at all.

Young Han (28:48):
I'm assuming they were so much stricter. If their typical immigrant, Asian, Asian parents, I mean they, you know, they're super, super strict and rigid. Right.

Hong Quan (28:55):
I'm that was the environment. That was the culture. If they weren't, we never would've done what we did. Right. Like there's lots of this. You can't, you can't look at any one thing and say right or wrong, it's all interrelated. So I'm intentional about what I do. I try to be as intentional as what I do. I, I have my moments. I yell at my kids too when I like, I'm not perfect obviously, but you know, afterwards I'll, I'll go back and be like, Hey, do you know why I yelled at you? And do you think it was fair? And we can talk about it. Hmm. Because in his mind he's like, that's stupid. Like you're just an angry dude. Right? Like how I think of my dad and in my mind, I'm like, look, I'm trying to do something and teach you kind of right and wrong and what's good and what's not, and like, you know, you ultimately have to decide that for yourself as an adult, but for now, until then, I'm trying to guide you. I'm trying to just basically give you advice. And I'm very upfront and open with my kids about how things are going. And like, I talk about work and all this stuff at dinner. And my wife's like, why do you tell 'em all this stuff? And I was like, cause they're smart enough to understand. And there's no benefit in kind of withholding information when you're dealing with intelligent people, right? Intelligent people will always make up their own decisions and, and come up with their own understanding. But the best thing you can do is provide as much information as possible versus typical parenting is like, we're we know what's good for you. We're gonna tell you what's right and what's wrong. 

Young Han (30:14):
It's also like you're not putting any kind of constraints on their intelligence or their comprehension either. You're literally saying I'm expecting you to be smart enough to understand what I'm saying. And

Hong Quan (30:24):
I, I think they're smarter than me

Young Han (30:25):
Well, even if they're not, you're expecting it. And so by, by just form of nature, they will like start either filling into those roles or they'll start like thinking about things in a much broader, bigger scope. Right. That's a very unique unique tactic. I should definitely employ that. Yeah. It is. Because psychologically, like if you keep telling someone that you know, that there's like, you know, there's like this thing that they can or can't do and here's how to do it, then they're gonna automatically over time follow into a rut. Right. They're gonna fall into this kind of container. Yep. Where you constantly tell someone like, Hey, like, like you talk about it. Like everything is possible or like anything is doable. Then they, they think that it's like, it's just, our human brains are wired to a certain degree to be malleable and, and, and kind of constrained to whatever boundaries you put on it. I'm not saying it's perfect science, but there is some, some level of malleability that we have as human beings. And I think that the fact that you just expect them to comprehend above, you know, what normal people would expect is great. It's a great tactic.

Hong Quan (31:24):
And we're talking about something like super complicated, like I'm trying to explain like AI or something. Like I tried to explain it where they do understand it. I'm not gonna use like the most technical terminology. I'm not gonna like have 'em read a white paper or anything. But like, I think most people can understand how things work.

Young Han (31:40):
Yeah. So if you qualify your as a dad first and then in business as kind of like this per Perme permeation of you needing to be a good dad, like how do you qualify success in business and, and in your working life.

Hong Quan (31:56):
So most people would say success is like, if you have a good job and you have a good salary and you, whatever, whatever, right. Those are kind of like signs of success. And I think it's very UN well understood in the us system. Yeah. Like you work hard and you get these, you know, promotions and you end up as one day whatever's, I'm a recruiter. I don't really care about titles. I care about helping people find the right job for them. And in turn I get paid by the companies that I help built. How I think about success. I think we've talked about this in the past, which is for me, success is really simple success. I don't think I'll ever stop working. Cause it's just the way I'm wired, but success is being able to choose who I work with.

Young Han (32:39):
That's actually pretty deep cuz you're, you're talking about a lot of things. You're talking about the ability to choose who you work with. So that also means that you have some level of like security in finding money and procuring the basics. You have some security in the ability to get some of the more intangible things that you would want to the point where you can actually choose who you work with. That's yeah. That's amazing.

Hong Quan (33:03):
I have enough bikes. I don't need any more bikes. So I have everything I need, but I do wanna provide, you know, a certain standard for my kids and to stay in this area and like, you know, it's obviously very expensive, but it, I think it's important for them to be here, cuz this is where they were born. It literally and where they most, they feel most comfortable. So it's an investment in their future for us to do what we do today. Just like my parents made an investment in our futures by leaving the country and like coming to the us with nothing in their pockets. That was an investment that was an investment of their life and their time. So I'm doing the same for my children and to help they do the same for their children, but back to about the business. Yeah, of course, that's a very privileged statement to say that I can choose who I work with. Yeah. But I can, because I'm really good at what I do. So if I'm good at what I do, then there's gonna be more than enough opportunity for me. And then by default, I get to choose who I work with. Right. I'm not saying I don't work. Like I don't have to work. Like I'm not that rich. I enjoy the work that I do. And I enjoy working with the people that I work with. So that is much more rewarding than like the actual paycheck. Right. And yeah, I think that's how I think about it.

Young Han (34:11):
Yeah. No, that's awesome. And I, I, I think that's a really interesting way of thinking about success and, and qualifying it and you're right. Like typically, you know, especially in American society, definitely in Silicon valley, it's like the, the trifecta, right. It's usually just like title pay company, like logo. Right. That's really the, the three things. Right. And it's like so funny because like, as I, as I get older and older, I realize that I care about those three things less and less and less. And, and then maybe it's cuz I'm getting older. Maybe it's cause I have kids, I'm not entirely sure. But those things like every year, like I just care about 'em less and less and they just keep moving down my list of values, you know, things that are important to me. Yeah.

Hong Quan (34:48):
Yeah. And I'm a lot older than you

Young Han (34:50):
That's awesome. Good to know. Yeah. It's just a really interesting, interesting way to like point that out because maybe that's actually actually where I'm headed as well too. And maybe I could just like skip a couple chapters and just skip to it.  that's awesome, man. So I do wanna just pick on that one thing though, that you just said about staying in Palo Alto. Cause you know, I moved to, I, I don't know if you know this, but you do. You do know I moved to Austin. So now I'm in Texas and I, I literally was born and raised in the bay area, born in Oakland, lived there my entire life outta nowhere. I have no family, no friends. Oh. I have friends, some friends that are already here. That was very surprising. How many people were already here, but <laugh> learned a lot. I thought I was being special. I'm like, Hey, I'm moving Austin. Everyone's like welcome. And I'm like, oh crap. There's a lot of us here already.

Hong Quan (35:37):
Yeah. But

Young Han (35:39):
Yeah. So I moved here eight months ago and just like, like kind of like intentionally moved away from the bay area because of like mm-hmm, really my kids. So it's kind of funny that we did the, we're doing the opposite route for our kids. Cuz it sounds like you're staying intentionally for your kids and I'm staying in. I moved away intentionally for kids. That's really interesting. Can you talk to me about that? Like what, what about Palo Alto? Are you staying for? What do you, what do you mean by saying like you, you need to invest in them to do this.

Hong Quan (36:06):
I mean, I, I have a very unique view of this and I'm not even saying my wife agrees with me on this, but at the end of the day, what I will say is like, what you and I do is the same thing. We both decision that we believe is the best decision for our children. Right. So there's no difference between you and I, we just end up in different places. So there's a couple things. My wife is bay area born and raised and she, this is home for her. It's it's not gonna change. So we had looked at Austin, Seattle, Boulder. So I went to visit Boulder just to make sure like it was okay. And it was like, no way, it's freaking cold up there. We looked at SoCal, my little sister lives in Irvine. Right? Like we looked at a lot of places, even Vancouver, quite honestly, in, in the, in the beginning of the pandemic. Right. Cause at that time, like her job shifted to full-time remote. I always work remote. I mean, now I can work remote mm-hmm <affirmative>, but I wasn't going to SF anymore. And I was like, we can actually live anywhere. So funny enough, we moved out of the old house in June of last year. So right in the, at the beginning of the pandemic, landlord's like, oh, well we're gonna sell this place. And I was like, okay, great. Gave us 30 days notice. And we had to vacate. So we scrambled and we found another place in Palo. But the reason is like, I didn't wanna change the schools for the kids. They were very comfortable where they are. They had a good like group of friends and these are folks that they're gonna, they're gonna be friends with for the rest of their life. So I just remember as a kid moving schools quite a bit and it was very disruptive and I don't have a lot of like lifelong friendships from people at that time. And part of it's I moved, you know, clear across the country. So I still have a couple high school friends and middle school friends on Facebook, but like we don't really talk anymore. And I think what you'll find is if you do the research and you do reading on this stuff, like the most important thing in your life is actually these long term relationships. So even you and I are in the business of like meeting a lot of people, well it's not all these thousands of people that we know. It's the handful of people that we keep close to us for our lifetimes. So that includes your wife, right? That includes the close friends, probably like the guys from goo, right? Like those are the people that are gonna sustain you. They're gonna keep you happy long term. So it doesn't matter where you are. If they happen to be in the area. Great. But I think COVID has really shifted society. Again, I'll go back to this concept of like everything's changed families, change, work has changed. And our relationships to each other have changed. Our relationships to our children have changed. The kids are going through a tremendous shift because of the pandemic. Moms in particular are under tremendous stress because of this. I just don't think people have really spent a lot of time thinking about what happens next because we're all still in it. Right? Like we're all trying to get out of the pandemic. But once we are out of it, if we ever are out of it, then we have issue. Like we have other big issues to, to deal with. So for me, I think Palo is where they are most comfortable. It's where they'll do the best. It's where they don't lose that sense of possibility. I think that's the, what I talk about the investment, the investment is that their mindset is gonna be very different than most people and they'll be able to do whatever they want.

Young Han (39:19):
I love that, man. That's really great. Yeah. It's really, really great. Cause

Hong Quan (39:23):
There's a cost, right? There's a price. There's a price that we pay. Oh yeah. So as long as you understand, I mean,

Young Han (39:28):
Everyone from California understands the investment you're making, but I mean, you know, like now that I move to Austin, I actually have pretty significant percentage of their listeners from Austin. And it's just like so hard for me to explain like how expensive things are there. Like it's oh, you

Hong Quan (39:43):
Don't have to explain it. Yeah. We have friends in Austin who were there. They moved there, like I wanna say 15 years ago. Yeah. So yeah. I've been Austin a couple times. It's great. Yeah. It's super fun. It's one of the areas, right? Austin, my like there's these second cities that people will migrate to. And I think that's actually, the thing about remote work is like, we can do this without having to sit here at a coffee shop in money. That's right, right. We can do this anywhere. So if that opens up all of these other areas that people can find the ideal balance between cost and you know, cost of living and available amenities, schools, neighborhood it's, excuse me, networks, whatever. But every person needs to make that decision themselves.

Young Han (40:22):
This was really, really great. But I do wanna make sure that I'm, I'm mindful of your time. I know you're very, very busy spinning up businesses and recruiting for the next cool startup in Silicon valley. So I do want to ask you a couple of questions that I'm asking every guest. So that way we kind have some symmetry through the, do the interview. So I wanna fire those off if you're okay with that. All right, here we go. So what advice do you have for other parents and soon to be parents?

Hong Quan (40:47):
What advice do I have for parents? Just general advice. Mm-Hmm just enjoy the time. Like the advice I have for everybody. And this is very, you know, maybe fatalistic because of what happened a few years ago, but just enjoy the time that you have with your kids. It goes, it goes so quick. Like I'm gonna start crying if I think about it. So there's a phrase that I use and I think I might have told you, I, I tell a lot of parents this long nights, short years.

Young Han (41:15):
Mm that's good man. Enjoy it. Yeah. It's very deep. I like it very, very deep. You're like a poet. Thank you.

Hong Quan (41:22):
Stop my phrase. I, I heard it from another.

Young Han (41:25):
Oh really? It's very Good. 

Hong Quan (41:26):
Yeah. I got it from like an old dad actually. Yeah. Oh, he's

Young Han (41:30):
Old now, but is it okay if I used to put on a shirt? That's awesome. I mean, that's a really great parenting point. No it's you knows.

Hong Quan (41:35):
I mean, I don't know where he got it. I don't wanna give him credit either. Cuz he probably got it from somebody else. Yeah. I'll try to figure out where a kid came from, but he he's a, he's like a legendary VC. Oh really? And yeah, both his kids are now VCs. Oh wow.

Young Han (41:47):
That's awesome. Of course they are. All right. If you can go back and tell yourself one before having kids, what would it

Hong Quan (41:53):
Be? Yeah, this is the, the one thing I would say is, and, and it's the same advice I give to founders, right? This is, this is my startup. Dadism

Young Han (42:02):
Start earlier. Huh? Interesting start having kids younger,

Hong Quan (42:06):
Having a family or starting a company. Yeah. Start earlier. Both or kids, particularly in the bay area for, for having a kid door. Starting a company. Really?

Young Han (42:15):
Yeah. Wow. That is really interesting advice. That's awesome. So you would tell yourself your younger self to go start earlier. Both company and kids. Oh, that's wild. I love that. Is it? Is it because like in hindsight you're like it's the experience or why, why would you recommend that, that level of chaos?

Hong Quan (42:38):
no, it does sound, it does sound chaotic. I'm not saying do both at the same time, I actually advise against doing both at the same time because you can't do a good job with either and you end up doing a poor job with both. And that's what happened to me. And that's just like, learn from me. Don't do that. Don't start a family and start a company at the same time. <Affirmative> but you know, obviously founders don't listen to advice, so they're gonna do it anyway. The, the reason I say start earlier is like a lot of people, particularly in the bay, sort of wait until they're ready. Right? It's this idea of like, wait, I'm not ready. We don't have enough. We don't have a house. We don't have savings. We don't have anything. So it's always wait, wait, wait. And like, you know, whether starting a company or starting a family, you wait until you you're ready. But the problem is no one's ever ready. So you don't like train to become a dad or a mom or be, become a parent. Like you become a parent by being a parent, you become a founder by being a founder, right? Like there's no way to do it without doing it. So the earlier start, the better off you are. And quite honestly, the more time you have to kind of make mistakes, which we all make, you

Young Han (43:40):
Just create the parallel between starting a company and having kids that's amazingly true because like, oh my gosh, that's that's that's that startup dad. Yeah. It's brilliant. Because even like being a founder is like, you know, the vast, I don't know what percentage, but the vast majority of people have ideas. Like the reason why, you know, like people there's so little, like people starting companies because there's so few of people that will actually take that jump. They're not ready. They have something. They, they have to perfect. Or like they have to get that business plan. They have to get a loan. They have to like, there's always a reason why the vast majority of people don't take that jump. And it's literally the same parallels. Just no one ever equates the same things. Like you're never gonna have a business, like that's fully ready to go for you to not fail and mess up. It's the same thing with parenting. There's there's gonna be stuff you cannot plan for.

Hong Quan (44:24):
And as a parent of two, you gotta mess up

Young Han (44:27):
Personally. Oh yeah. Oh, that's amazing. Huh? I love that feedback. That's awesome. That's really great advice. That's great. All right. So what is the most surprising thing that you learned about yourself? Becoming a parent.

Hong Quan (44:39):
If you asked me this a month ago, I would've had a different answer. I think

Young Han (44:42):
tell me that one and tell me this one today.

Hong Quan (44:44):
Yeah. I mean, so the surprising thing back then was I'd really enjoyed being a dad. I really love it. Like it's become like my identity, but I'm okay with that. Like I used to be like, oh, I'm a founder. I started a car company. I built a bike and I designed all this stuff. And like, people ask me that. And like, to me, it's so boring now to talk about that. Yeah.

Young Han (45:05):
I'm sorry. Yeah.

Hong Quan (45:07):
It's so boring to like, especially in the valley, like everybody only talks about what company and what businesses and what, like whatever, I'm a dad. Like I love this job, man. Like I really enjoy it. But I think the surprising thing lately is cuz after father's day, I, you might have seen my Facebook post. I am a lot more like my dad than I admit

Young Han (45:32):
You mean the strictness, the, the drive, the push to like have your kids Excel. Like yeah. Oh cool. That aspect of it. The Asian dad. Yeah.

Hong Quan (45:42):
Yeah, exactly. I'm very Asian dad, but I try not to be overbearing about it. I think

Young Han (45:48):
You're obviously already different because you're asking for feedback. I can't imagine my dad asking for feed. There's no way <laugh>. So just by the sheer fact that you're asking feedback about how you're performing as a dad already makes you a different variation of of your dad.

Hong Quan (46:04):
Well, it's what you do with the feedback, right? Somebody could tell you you're terrible. And you're like, whatever. I'm not gonna change.

Young Han (46:10):
Good point. Very good point.

Hong Quan (46:10):
All right. You actually have to want the feedback.

Young Han (46:12):
It's a good point. Yeah. All right. So what is your all time favorite business book

Hong Quan (46:17):
All time favorite? Like I haven't, I'm not a big business book guy. I buy 'em and they sit in the shelf and don't read a lot of them. I think all time favorite from a business perspective is like the no rule. Cause I go by that rule, like that's my metric of success is I get to choose who I work with. Mainly I don't work with. I never work with also. I don't care how much money you have. But like as far as a fun to read business book, I actually like mark Randolph's new book. And the reason he was, he was on my podcast. Right. So I'm gonna plug it nice. But he is the founder of Netflix, the CEO, original CEO of Netflix. And it was his idea that like re and him used to sit at coffee up in Santa Cruz, cuz they were commuting together across 17 from Santa Cruz down to the valley and they would go through all these business ideas Yeah. Mark Randolph was the original founder of Netflix and his book was called. That'll never work. Oh my it's a great book. Cause it tells you the whole story. And it does talk about the Netflix culture, which is famous here in the valley for building a very like high performance company. And like the woman, I forget her name. I feel terrible. I wanna say Susan, but I might be wrong. But the woman who built the, the HR function there legendary in the valley of like building these big companies that do extremely well, right? Like hugely valuable companies because at the end of the day and mark will say this and I tell you this and you understand this everything's about people at the end of the day. It's all about people, right? No matter what your idea is, no matter how good you are at execution, no matter how good of an operating you are, it's about people. So I choose no. And I like Mark's story, cuz it's a kind of a very gritty story. Like there's lots of failure points. Obviously most companies go through multiple players where like you're either dead or your life. And Netflix had a bunch of those and you know, everybody loves Netflix today or right. But it's a very different company than we started.

Young Han (48:12):
I'm so surprised that there was a backstory like that. That's really, really interesting. I wanna watch your podcast as well with this interview and we'll link it. We'll link it underneath here too. So yeah.

Hong Quan (48:22):
Van will appreciate that. So who can check that out? 

Young Han (48:23):
That's right. Huh? Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today and talk to me about your life, your family, your job, and just like we covered so much ground today, man. I really like love it. I like love it. I'm sorry. I talk a lot. No, it was incredible, man. I felt like it was such a really, really enlightening interview. And I just, I just wanna say thank you for taking the time.

Hong Quan (48:44):
Yeah. Thanks for having me

Young Han (48:45):
Man. All right, I'll talk to you soon. Okay brother.

Hong Quan (48:48):
All right.

Young Han (48:50):
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the girl that show, we hope you enjoyed that interview. If you wanna subscribe to our email list and learn more, you can head over to the girl, dad, show.com. Thank you and see you next time.

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