Raymond on Rails

Journey from Spinal Surgery in LA to Software Development in Manhattan

Nobody Ever Says ‘You Only Got Into MIT Because You’re an Asian Man’

I’ve noticed, as a tutor, that people are more willing to hire me to teach math and science, vs. teach English and writing. They often will hire a girl to teach their kid English and me to teach them math, even though I also am passionate about English and can teach writing well. Do I have an unspoken advantage in this (plus a disadvantage on the humanities side), as an Asian guy?

I also got into MIT and perhaps more easily get chosen for technical opportunities. When I worked in surgery, people would often think I was a doctor or tell me, “Are you my mom’s anesthesiologist? You look like Dr. So-and-So.” Again, is this partially because I look the part, as an Asian guy?

At the same time, it would probably be harder for me to get selected as the romantic lead in an American movie, picked to be on “The Bachelor” (how many Asian guys are ever on that show?), become a rock star, chosen to be the head sales or marketing guy or CEO in a business, or asked to run for political office….because I’m an Asian guy. Who knows?

This article resonated with me. Ironically, Justin (our CTO) was just teaching me about compilers at work today. He has very high and challenging expectations for us, asking us to write a client and server in network socket TCP/IP code, telling us “You should try to write your own computer language and parser,” saying “You should understand how both operating systems and networking bit protocols work” and “Learn the data structures behind the surface of Git,” and “How about trying to code our entire company website in Haskell?” I feel very lucky to have the chance to think about and work on these challenging, deep, and technically meaty tasks. Is it partly because I’m Asian that I’m getting this wonderful opportunity?

What if I were a black or Latina woman? Actually, I deliberately did NOT major in computer science in college, even though I grew up in Silicon Valley and many of my classmates did so, BECAUSE I wanted to avoid becoming that socially awkward, geeky nerd stereotype who can’t talk to women or communicate with human beings. Ugh. I’ve hated that image my whole life. One of my high school friends was a very wimpy, meek, geeky Asian guy with glasses who fit the stereotype perfectly. He ended up studying CS at Berkeley, while I went to Berkeley but avoided CS, thinking “I am too sexy, extroverted, and artistic for that.”

Of course, years too late, I’ve realized that CS is very sexy, fun, artistic, creative, challenging, and CAN BE done by athletic, fashionable, socially smooth, extroverted, attractive people (men and women). It’s a field where you can use many sides of yourself—-extroverted, artistic, intellectual, whimsical, comedic—-and still be in the same job! You can be the frat boy, seductive, life-of-the-party sales guy while you also code up a storm. There is no one type of person who can’t enjoy, love, or achieve some skill in computer programming. Because it’s a field where I can finally be the hard core math/science nerd, the seductive sales guy, the sensitive artist—-all in the same job, I love it!

Nobody Ever Says “You Only Got into MIT Because You’re An Asian Man”

“For every white or Asian male expert programmer you know, imagine a parallel universe where they were of another ethnicity and/or gender but had the exact same initial interest and aptitude levels. Would they still have been willing to devote the 10,000-plus hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery in the face of dozens or hundreds of instances of implicit discouragement they would inevitably encounter over the years? Sure, some super-resilient outliers would, but many wouldn’t. Many of us would quit, even though we had the potential and interest to thrive in this field.

I hope to live in a future where people who already have the interest to pursue CS or programming don’t self-select themselves out of the field. I want those people to experience what I was privileged enough to have gotten in college and beyond: unimpeded opportunities to develop expertise in something that they find beautiful, practical, and fulfilling.”

The Inner Game: Learning Faster by Ignoring Your Inner Critic

Watch this tennis/performance expert, Tim Gallwey, teach a 55 year-old lady, 40 lbs overweight, 5’ 2”, who had NEVER EXERCISED in 20 years, how to play ok tennis, in just 20 MINUTES. Incredible!!!

I used to play on my high school tennis team and am blown away by how easy he made it for her! The video shows the power we all have to learn things faster than we imagined, if we ignore our inner critic, stop thinking/trying too hard, and focus on going with the flow. Tennis is a very mental/psychological game, and seeing how Tim taught this 55-year-old woman is such a revelation to me, as a teacher. I must apply these techniques to both myself and my students!

I’ve definitely seen the difference in not thinking too much, when I learn foreign languages, ballroom/salsa dancing, tennis, or get in this joyful “flow state” in computer programming. Removing anxiety is key!

The last two weeks, several students in our Flatiron School talked about how anxious, inadequate, and worried they felt about being able to keep up with the intensity and speed of our program. Perhaps following some of the wisdom from Tim Gallwey’s techniques of controlling our inner psyche can help!


When first published in 1974, the Inner Game (http://theinnergame.com/) was a real revelation. Instead of serving up technique, it concentrated on the fact that, as Gallwey wrote, “Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game.” The former is played against opponents, and is filled with lots of contradictory advice; the latter is played not against, but within the mind of the player, and its principal obstacles are self-doubt and anxiety. Gallwey’s revolutionary thinking, built on a foundation of Zen thinking and humanistic psychology, was really a primer on how to get out of your own way to let your best game emerge. It was sports psychology before the two words were pressed against each other and codified into an accepted discipline.


As a boy, Tim Gallwey was nationally ranked tennis player in his division and later captained his Harvard University team.

On what was meant to be a sabbatical from a career in college administration, Gallwey worked as a tennis instructor in Monterey, CA. Initially, he focused his efforts on giving traditional instructions with mixed results. He soon discovered that if he simply invited his students to focus their awareness on their strokes as they were, technique evolved naturally and seemed to self correct. Players using Gallwey’s methods improved far more rapidly than usual, and without self-criticism or trying so hard to “do it right.” By quieting self-interference, they were more able to tap into their natural abilities with greater ease.

From this discovery came Gallwey’s first book, “The Inner Game of Tennis,” which has sold over two million copies. Other books in the Inner Game series include applications to Golf, Music, Work and Stress.

In the years after his first book’s release, readers even began to employ the Inner Game methods to their lives off court, and Tim moved into applying The Inner Game methods of change to corporate work. His long term clients included Apple, AT&T, The Coca Cola Company, and Rolls Royce where he applied The Inner Game of coaching for Leadership, Sales, Change management and Teamwork, Gallwey’s work has often been credited as the foundation of the new fields of corporate and life coaching.

Tim’s newest focus lies in using modern communication technology, webcasts, and online tools to make his methodology available globally. His newly released Inner Game eCoach is a tool designed to aid individuals of any age or background in achieving their goals anywhere, anytime and at low cost.

We Get Free Beer at the Flatiron School. KegKong.

I’m the last one here near Wall Street, staying late to finish homework. Just discovered we have free cold beer! It’s delicious!


-You might have seen that black fridge in the back by the couches…that’s our campus mascot, the kegerator! The keg is open for you to have a beer if you’re working late or we have an event that night.

-We have it hooked up to the infamous KegKong, which was built by 3 students in the 002 class. KegKong measures how much beer is remaining in the keg and lets us monitor it online. It emails me when it’s close to empty so I can order a new one.

-We will always have beer.”

Here are the technical details behind Smart Kegs!