This story will be a little different-- it's about how my father made his exceptional journey from wartorn Vietnam to raise me to become the man that I am.
In many ways, my relationship with my father (as I’m sure with many folks here) is complicated. However, his sacrifices for our family and love for my mother outweighed his flaws by a mile.
His story is an interesting one— his father was a soon to be priest who had an affair with a student, which led to him to leave the seminary. He [my grandfather] later became a translator for south Vietnam in conjunction with the US military. After the war, my grandfath er changed his identity and depleted his savings to get my dad out of the country.
Dad’s life was never easy. He tried to escape the country NINE times. He ended up being on a remote island for 3 months off the coast of Malaysia and had no idea where he was going to go. Islamic rule dictated that pork was forbidden to eat, and this man smuggled it for himself and his friends. A soldier caught him in the act and shaved his head as an example.
My dad smuggled pork AGAIN the next week, but I guess the spirit of not giving up really ran in our family haha. Anyways, within 6 months time, he was retrieved by the US navy. During this period, he was making a multi-thousand mile journey hidden inside of a fishing boat. Again, I can’t begin to fathom this. I complain when it’s 95 degrees (35-38C?)
Never once did he complain about these hardships. He talked about these stories in passing. I would have to pry them out because I was so fascinated and admired his resilience. Making it to the US wasn’t the end of his troubles, though.
The KKK (Ku Klux Klan) are historically anti-immigrant and ESPECIALLY towards the Vietnamese that were flooding into the gulf coast. White fishermen feared for their jobs and didn’t want any new competition, so the Klan were ordered to drive the Vietnamese out of Galveston, TX. They even blew up a boat to intimidate them.
I’m sure they (the Vietnamese) were scared on some human level, but my dad told me after seeing the Viet Cong, pirates, and people dying from starvation, the “men dressed up in bedsheets” weren’t exactly at the top of his list. The Vietnamese prevailed and fought back. The Klan left as soon as they came and my dad wears the badge of honor being a victim of two wars against our people.
Throughout all of this, he was out here paving the way for the modern day K-Pop Star. He had fashion sense, confidence, patience, and is one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet. He still thinks fart jokes are REALLY funny and he brags about calling my mother his wife. I think as an Asian American, many of us felt like outsiders, but my father always reminded us to never be ashamed of who we are. My story isn’t as cool— I run a music academy and compose in an indie rock band. I live in a significantly more comfortable life than my dad ever did.
He reminds me, “that’s why I did all of that. So you can be who you were always meant to be.” I'd never be half of the business owner and human being today without the selflessness of my parents. If you've got good ones, then remember to honor them, cherish them, and remind them that you appreciate their presense.
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Greetings Marco, My name is Vaughn and I’ve been a Thumbtack pro since 2013. Thumbtack has made many changes to the way pros interact with potential leads, with some being improvements and others making us feel isolated and less personal. How will y’all plan to balance this as the company grows as well as markets shifting?
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Having a profile intro video or video being played in the background as a cover would look more attractive. It’s essentially taking facebook’s profile cover video multiple steps further to make profiles a little bit more unique. I also think the videos should also be native to the site rather than outsourcing Vimeo or YouTube to make the experience more seamless.
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First of all, that is a gorgeous piece of art. I completely see that you were not only motivated for the end goal, but extremely disciplined in the process. Going above and beyond is just one of those little things that you need in order to have any longevity in business— and— in life as well. Here’s an excerpt from a favorite review of mines: “Not only is Vaughn approachable and humorous, but he genuinely wants to see his students succeed.” There are few simple things that can describe complex motivations so well, but ultimately this is who I am. I want to be independent and be kind to people while they’re spending their hard earned money and time to learn something from me. It’s a discipline thing for me to wake up early in the morning, but I am plenty motivated to deliver an exceptional product while building and maintaining relationships with my students.
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I was working at a big retailer and on my way to climbing across the corporate ladder, but even when I succeeded at my job, I never once felt fulfilled. I’d come home often and realized playing music was the only thing that kept me happy and learning kept me on a constant path for growth. While I was in college, I had the idea of becoming a guitar instructor when I friend of mine commented on my teaching skills during a calculus tutorial session. I never once acknowledged teaching as a skill because I always viewed it from a lens of authority vs subordinate (perhaps a victim of our not so perfect public school system like some of y’all). Regardless, I took what was said to heart and realized I needed to change many things in order to be at peace. I left my corporate job with not much in savings and worked 2 jobs through other digital apps while I built my roster through thumbtack. When I started 4 years ago, I had 3 students during my first two months. Today I am teaching anywhere from 48 to 60 per week while managing talented employees. It was incredibly difficult to convince my parents I wanted a music career when A.) they’re not a native to the country I was born in B.) they’ve sacrificed everything they could to be here But we all make sacrifices. They too needed to understand that in order for me to be the man I want to become, they had to let me take the measured risks. Never forget where you came from, but don’t lose sight of the big picture either! It’s all about today and right now because that’s how bright futures are cultivated.
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