Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Life Lessons #003: People I’ll Stay Away From—Negative Individuals and Salespeople 

Some time ago, a friend tweeted a comment about how people continued to have large gatherings in the midst of a global pandemic. The context was that some people were being selfish and cared only about themselves. 

That was an appropriate tweet because, after all, a global pandemic was going on and people weren’t doing things that were best for others around them. 

But a friend of that particular friend tweeted this doozy of a reply to that original tweet:

Some of these people should ask their grandparents what it was like to shelter in place for 4 or 5 years or risk having a bomb drop on their ass. No internet. No skip the dishes [sic]. No amazon [sic]. No TV. Just a little radio if they were lucky. So spoiled and its [sic] still not enough.

Huh?!? What an irresponsible tweet. This friend of a friend was essentially hating on people who used the products or services offered by SkipTheDishes or Amazon, and also calling people who have the convenience of the Internet being spoiled? Huh?!?

What happens quite often is people (such as the person who posted that response to the original tweet) just have this negativity that sucks the life out of others. The original post was talking about selfish individuals who do irresponsible things in the middle of a global pandemic. Suddenly, according to the second person, using the Internet is being spoiled? Say, ordering food because one doesn’t have time to cook or leave to get food (because he or she is busy with work) is spoiled?? Say, ordering things from Amazon—which I did recently because my manager asked me to pick up SD cards and an SD driver to be able to complete some work-related tasks and the fastest way for me to get those items was through Amazon—makes a person spoiled? 

What also happens quite often is people just label others because of their actions. This second person did that by essentially calling those who use SkipTheDishes, Amazon, and the Internet “spoiled.” 

It’s too bad that it’s so easy to use your thumbs to type garbage on your phone (oh, which, by the way, requires the Internet for that tweet to be sent) without using your brain to realize that such a comment is insulting to those around you. 

(This friend of a friend is someone whom I have interacted with multiple times in person. Although he’s also a sports fan and is aware that I’m an author, he has never once congratulated me about my books or even asked about them. I would avoid people who do not cheer about your successes, too.)

Speaking of having advantages in today’s modern world, I recently took a Lyft because I needed to get to work by 8:00 a.m. and I didn’t want to drive and also transit wasn’t available that early in the day because it was a holiday. I’m guessing that commenter would label me as being “spoiled.” But I digress. 

I’m a busy person with work and other projects going on, and that wasn’t the first time I took a Lyft and it won’t be the last. 

That morning, the driver was particularly chatty—he’s a very charming person and a natural salesperson—and he gave me a card saying he could advise me on certain things because we shared some common interests. I took him up on the offer and reached out later on. 

Of course I should have realized he wanted to pitch me his non-Lyft-related services. I just didn’t realize that before. I don’t necessarily label people and I didn’t think of the Lyft driver as wanting to be a salesperson to me. I thought he just wanted to network for the purposes of making new friends. 

Anyway, to make a long story short, I was making a bid to purchase an item and he wanted to advise me on that. I ultimately ended up losing out on the bid because I didn’t offer a high enough price. That’s life. I accept that. 

The Lyft driver reached back out on an evening when I was having some difficulty related to family issues. I was distracted because of that and I mentioned it. He dismissed what I was saying and trivialized it, saying, “Join the club,” without really listening to what I had to say. He was also being very corporate by pitching me his services. I responded I was “distraught” and he asked why I would be since he would help me through the process of using his services. I explained I was referring to the family situation and he again trivialized it. Very corporate. It was obvious all he cared about was pitching me his services—and not what I was feeling that particular evening.

A few days passed and he asked me if I knew what the winning bid was for the aforementioned failed potential purchase. I responded with the price and added, “I should have bid higher instead.” It was just a comment added on to the question he had asked me. Nothing more. I didn’t dwell on it. I don’t have time to do that. I simply made the comment “I should have bid higher instead” after mentioning the amount of the winning bid. 

However, he then went on a lecture about how we shouldn’t “second guess” ourselves by talking about “should have.” I explained immediately that I wasn’t second guessing myself but just making a comment. Instead of letting it go then, the Lyft driver went on and on about how second guessing yourself is unhealthy (when that wasn’t even what I was doing) and proceeded to give a lecture about “could have” and “should have” over and over again. 

Well, when I was talking about a family issue, he trivialized it. When I was answering his question about the winning bid and I added a personal comment, he took those two words “should have” and became a lawyer and kept talking and talking about the “should have” comment and dissecting it—even though I was not second guessing myself whatsoever. 

Essentially, you can’t have a conversation (not a tweet, but a conversation) without someone picking apart your words and telling you what you’re thinking, the way the Lyft driver was doing with me, even though I specifically told him he had misinterpreted my comment. 

Serves me right. That person who tweeted that using services that are convenient in your life means you’re “spoiled.” I guess it serves me right for using Lyft.

Anyway, that was one of the last times I communicated with the Lyft driver. I guess I’m not interested in socializing with those who just want to pitch me things instead of developing a genuine friendship. Those who just want to sell me things—I call this being “corporate”—instead of genuinely wanting to be a member of my personal board of directors and give advice without any strings attached.    

The final straw came when Mr. Lyft/Salesman texted me to see how I was and also (once again) about offering his services. I responded immediately with “not well.” There was no follow-up from him for days, which told me all I needed to know.

So, a few days later, I called him out for treating me like I was persona non grata. I explained he was too “corporate” and that, to me, it was obvious he cared about making a sale instead of building a friendship. He said he didn’t understand—and that in his 40+ years of being in the business, he’d never heard of that expression of “being too corporate.” I explained his tactics came across, to me, as something a salesperson would do. 

Just to give an example (which I didn’t provide for Mr. Lyft), I’ve been in contact with an executive at McDonald’s corporate office to give feedback about the McDonald’s app. The exec knows me enough to know what kind of things I like to talk about. In our most recent phone call, he called and began the conversation by telling me an anecdote of how he had been in Utah and came across former baseball star Jose Canseco—and even had a chance to interact with the one-time American League MVP. That sort of small talk warms me up. At least the McDonald’s exec knows me enough to know I enjoy talking about or listening to stories like that. Then, we got to the “shop talk” about the app.

On the other hand, a guy like Mr. Lyft just begins every conversation with pitching his services and not caring that I wasn’t feeling well. At least say something like, “Hey, I see you’re not doing okay. Anything I can do to help you out, like pick up something on the way for you?” I would say “No, thanks,” in that scenario, but Mr. Lyft isn’t even “human” enough to say these things. He’s too corporate. All he cares to talk about is business or “shop talk.” 

Mr. Lyft even said to me that he thought my priority was making a purchase of the aforementioned item. I responded with, “Excuse me? Do you really think that a person who says he’s having some difficulties puts that as a priority?” To me, that shows he’s a salesperson. 

He countered with examples of how he helped me recently—he made a point of stating the three examples one by one—to which I said, “Do you actually keep such detailed scores of times when you help others?” I mean, okay, I don’t go around throwing that into people’s faces, like, “Hey, you know something? *I* helped you do THIS, THIS, and THIS…” You don’t throw that into people’s faces.   

To me, his actions show me Mr. Lyft is a salesperson. I would stay away from such individuals. 

Life Lessons #001: Peers around me care only about celebrities

Well, I’m going to try and write down my thoughts and life lessons learned through interactions with those around me.

In the city where I currently live, the sports radio market has taken a hit over the past few years. It really doesn’t and shouldn’t come as a surprise if you consider how the radio industry has gone — in fact, when I interviewed a radio veteran from Southern California back in 2019, he said the radio market, regardless of what city you’re in, is on the downside and has been for a while. He should know. And I do believe what he said.

Now, when the local sports radio market made massive changes over the past couple of years, radio veterans in the city and listeners all seem to be caught off guard. Well, I don’t think it should come as a surprise if you stop and think about the trends. But I digress. My point is fans were outraged and attacked the corporations which made the decisions — without realizing these types of firings occur in other industries without much fanfare. Without people caring.

Back in 2016, I was teaching mainly in the late afternoons and evenings so that I would have time to write during the daytime. One day, an acquaintance told me that a school downtown was hiring for substitutes and encouraged me to contact the director, Simon. I did. Long story short, Simon hired me that March to be a regular instructor. One month later, he pulled a dick move by hiring a friend’s friend and told me he was firing me, effective that afternoon. It was a Friday afternoon.

I was stunned. Simon then threw in the kicker: Another teacher was taking two weeks off in May and Simon wanted me to cover those two weeks as a substitute. Talk about a dick move. He hired a friend’s friend to take over my position, and then had the audacity to ask me to be a substitute for two weeks for another teacher. Being a gentleman, I accepted (not that I needed that job, but I was being professional and kind).

When I told peers that I had gotten fired, all of my peers virtually acted like they didn’t care. It was all, “Uhm, thanks for sharing that, but I’m actually busy and can’t listen to this story” or “Okay, I’ve heard enough and I know where this story is going…” That’s how peers reacted. What, just because I’m not a radio person with a cool job that people think it’s not outrageous how I was treated? Is it like, say, a radio personality’s job is way more important than a teacher’s?

I soon realized why Simon did this. I was called in virtually every week after those two weeks filling in. One Thursday it would be a different teacher having a dentist appointment and I would be called in. The next Monday it was someone else who had a doctor’s appointment. The next Wednesday it was something else. I literally filled in every week from May to the end of August.

So that’s why Simon fired me — he knew I didn’t need the job and that I would be reliable to come in as a substitute on short notice. But I wasn’t prepared for the next incident.

He called me into his office on one of the days I was substituting. He said they were having a TYCP course starting the next month, and he needed me. I made the arrangements to have time off and be ready for that course. All along, he assured me the class was happening. Then, the Friday before the class was to begin, he texted me to say the class was cancelled. They originally had four students signed up, according to Simon, but now it was zero because everyone dropped out.

No big deal. The funny thing was that the following Tuesday, another teacher was sick and I was asked to fill in. I came in and looked at the noticeboard. I was filling in for Riley’s class. Then my eyes suddenly noticed a TYCP course on the noticeboard, with the names of four students and the assigned teacher, Monica, someone they had just hired. (Obviously, having been there every week as a substitute, I knew everyone there, and when I saw this new face, I went up to introduce myself — and Monica acknowledged she’d just been hired.)

So, Simon was a liar. That’s, again, something I would tell my peers … but then again, since I’m no radio personality or famous person, my peers wouldn’t care. So I didn’t bother sharing this incident with them.

But c’mon. What kind of boss does that? If he had been man enough to say, “Okay, I actually decided to hire someone else to take that class, so, sorry I have to say I can’t use you,” then it would have been fine. But to lie to me and say there was suddenly zero enrollment. What a gutless dick.

I would think these things happen in other industries. They happen without much fanfare. And, of course, if I discuss this, peers would think I’m bitter (I’m not). Or that I’m disgruntled, etc. etc. Of course, when these things happen in the radio industry, people are ready to attack those corporations.

Go figure. Lesson here? People around me — my peers, that is — don’t care about me. They care about celebrities and others in high-profile occupations. My job, in their eyes, is nothing. My story, for them, is not worth hearing about.

I get it. And I accept it.

Today in Knuckleball History: June 21, 1997

Candiotti Throws Seven Shutout Innings as Emergency Replacement

June 21, 1997

Los Angeles Dodgers 11, San Francisco Giants 0 At 3Com Park

Tom Candiotti:  7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO.

So that’s why the Dodgers kept Tom Candiotti around. As insurance, just in case one of their starters went down.

Sent to the bullpen to begin the season, Candiotti finally made his first start of the year, filling in for injured starter Ramon Martinez, who’d complained the night before about a sore right shoulder. The knuckleballer responded by flummoxing the San Francisco Giants for seven shutout innings, lifting the Dodgers to an 11-0 victory over their arch rivals.

Candiotti had been sent to the bullpen because of the emergence of right-hander Chan Ho Park, who joined a Los Angeles rotation which already included Martinez, Hideo Nomo, Ismael Valdez, and Pedro Astacio—a pitching staff that was second in the majors only to the Atlanta Braves’ staff headed by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. 

Although Candiotti, with 126 wins and a 3.53 ERA in his 13 big-league seasons entering 1997, was rumored to be traded all spring, Dodger general manager Fred Claire hung on to the knuckleballer, and it proved to be the right decision. 

Through June 10, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, Candiotti had three wins and a 2.03 ERA in 22 games, with five walks and 18 strikeouts, holding opposing hitters to a .212 average. 

Then, on this Saturday afternoon, he held the Giants to just four hits in seven innings as the Dodgers bounced back from a 5-2 loss in the series opener on Thursday and a blown 7-0 lead on Friday night—a game which saw L.A. use six pitchers. Candiotti even delivered at the plate, driving in the Dodgers’ sixth run on a squeeze bunt. The other Dodger heroes offensively were Raul Mondesi, who smacked an RBI triple and two-run single, and Tripp Cromer, who had three hits and three RBIs.

Candiotti and the Dodgers expected this would be his only start, as Ramon Martinez was expected to return after skipping just this start. As it turned out, though, Martinez’s injury was revealed to be a torn rotator cuff, and the Dodger ace would be sidelined for two months.   

Although the Dodgers did not win the division in 1997, losing out to the Giants by two games, Candiotti did do the job for L.A., going 6-2 with a 3.62 ERA in 11 starts during Martinez’s absence. It should have been at least seven wins; he nearly beat San Francisco again on July 12, handing the bullpen a 2-1 lead only to see the Giants rip two relievers for seven runs in the ninth. 

Candiotti pitched well enough as a starter that when Martinez did return in August, the Dodgers dealt fourth starter Astacio (4-8 with a 5.19 ERA over a three-month stretch) to Colorado for second baseman Eric Young while keeping the knuckleballer in the rotation for the rest of the 1997 season.

A free agent after the season—he signed with the Oakland Athletics in the off-season—Candiotti would finish his six-year Dodger career with a 3.57 ERA but just a 52-64 record, thanks primarily to a paucity of run support. No Los Angeles pitcher with an ERA as low as Candiotti’s had a lower winning percentage than his .448 in a Dodger uniform. (It should be noted that Ramon Martinez, who received much better support from the Dodgers, was 72-48 with a 3.67 ERA during that same stretch. In 1995, for instance, Martinez was 17-7 with a 3.66 ERA and a league-leading 81 walks and 138 strikeouts over 206.1 innings. Candiotti, perhaps L.A.’s unluckiest pitcher ever, was 7-14 with a 3.50 ERA in 190.1 innings with 58 walks and 141 strikeouts.)

But, as Charlie Hough often told other knuckleballers, “When the other guys get hurt or don’t pitch well, be there when they need someone.” And that’s exactly what Candiotti did for the Dodgers in 1997.

So they say, “Go Google that #@!”

In the latest episode of the podcast, I shared with the guest host a story about the time when I interviewed a former athlete who told me to “go Google that @#!#” in response to a question about a game in which his team won.

This reminds me of a recent incident when I expressed frustration in using a new system to a colleague. This was a fellow whom I respected — and, in fact, I had written two glowing recommendation letters for him for professional reference purposes recently — but what did he do?* No, he didn’t say “go Google that @#!#!”

He came close, though. He essentially told me off — in a condescending manner — commenting that the system was “pretty easy.” But the tone was definitely condescending. I was disappointed that he would react that way, especially since I had just written those letters for him. I guess you just never know.

*I even personally spoke to the two places about him, giving glowing verbal recommendations. Both places were extremely interested in his services, but he decided to brush them off — despite the fact he had asked me to get in touch with them in the first place. I’d even shared teaching resources with him umpteen times. Never again. But come to think of it, I should have known better. When I told him a couple of times about my podcast, he didn’t show any interest or give any words of congratulations or encouragement. His only response was succinct: “I only listen to Tim and Sid.” Okay, whatever.

The K.P. Wee Podcast, Episode 6: Profusa CEO Ben Hwang

The K.P. Wee Podcast, Episode 6: Profusa CEO Ben Hwang

Ben Hwang is a former Los Angeles Dodger batboy and for the past nine years has been the Chairman and CEO of Profusa, a biotech company based in Northern California.

His career in the science and technology space spans over 15 years, and has served a number of leadership positions such as Head of qPCR Platform and President of Asia Pacific at Life Technologies, and Vice President and General Manager of the Asia Pacific Region at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

From 1984 to 1990, he was the Marketing and Promotions Manager for the Dodgers.

Ben discusses his time in baseball and shares the lessons that he learned while in the Dodger organization as well as tips for those who would like to get into the game. He also discusses how the lessons learned in baseball are applicable to life outside of sport.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [2:10] An introduction to Ben Hwang
  • [6:28] Ben’s experience working for the Dodgers
  • [11:53] Profusa’s mission
  • [16:14] Three key lessons Ben learned in baseball that are applicable to life in general
  • [22:07] Ben explains his motto: “Don’t be afraid to put your name in the hat.”
  • [26:04] Ben on his attempted bid to purchase the Dodgers in 2012

Key Quotes by Ben:

  • “Those years were so much fun that my biggest fear in my teens and late 20s was that my life would have peaked by then. How much greater could your life be as a baseball fan to actually be on the field playing catch with your heroes and putting on a Dodgers uniform?”
  • “We are the sum of all our experiences, and I don’t think a day goes by without me being grateful for the experience that I had in baseball and at Dodger Stadium.”
  • “Professional sports creates a work ethic that is second to none.”
  • “The advice I would give to anybody who is considering a career in any industry, or any discipline, quite frankly, is: Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. The worst thing that could happen is that they say ‘no’. The best thing that could happen is that you get the chance to prove yourself. The most likely thing that would happen is, you just earned the opportunity to articulate your passion and your ambition to somebody who may not be able to help you immediately, but may help you in the future. So, yep, throw your name in the hat every chance you get.”

For more information about Profusa, please check out the company’s website: https://profusa.com/

If you enjoyed the intro music, please follow Roger Chong on Twitter/Instagram: @chongrong 

For the book referenced in the podcast, Tim Madigan and Fred Claire’s “Extra Innings,” please visit https://www.tinyurl.com/FredClaireExtraInnings