The Spiritual and Professional life of Yu-kai Chou


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Yu-kai Chou, renown gamification expert and regular guest lecturer at Stanford University, talks about his upbringing as a Skeptic and how he became a Christian, Entrepreneur, and Gamification Professional.

Published in: Spiritual

The Spiritual and Professional life of Yu-kai Chou

  1. 1. FailingYour Way into God AKA:The Life ofYu-kai Chou
  2. 2. That’s Me:Yu-kai Chou
  3. 3. Serial (but not successful) Entrepreneur Earlier Pioneer in Gamification Since 2003 Partner of Enterprise Gamification Consultancy; President of Chou Force & Octalysis Group Regular Keynote Speaker/Lecturer at Stanford University,Accenture,TEDx, SxSW Rated #1 Gamification Guru in the world by World Gamification Congress (and
  4. 4. Things To Look For • Struggles that led to Strengths • Failures that led to (relative) Humbleness • Journey from Skeptic to Christian • Blessings in Disguise
  5. 5. Born in Taiwan (agnostic parents)
  6. 6. Taiwan has traditional rituals with lots of idols in Taoism
  7. 7. Moved to South Africa from 2-8
  8. 8. I was in schools that required prayers
  9. 9. I was gullible, and It was fun.
  10. 10. I was gullible, and It was fun.
  11. 11. Those were the purest happy days of my life
  12. 12. Moved Back to Taiwan from 8-13
  13. 13. Massively Behind in Everything Struggling Academically and Socially
  14. 14. Was not very confident Always tried to fit in
  15. 15. Often writing punishment assignments till 3AM as 3rd Grader
  16. 16. I caught up to everyone in Middle School N O T E : I A M N O T I N T H I S P I C T U R E
  17. 17. But I also became a Skeptic
  18. 18. Mom would encourage me to visit church to learn about other cultures I thought they were phony and manipulative. People actually believe in this stuff beyond myth???
  19. 19. I would ask tough questions And they couldn’t answer
  20. 20. • God says “Do not get angry/jealous/murderous” but gets angry/jealous/murderous himself. Is God hypocritical? • God is all powerful/knowing and sees the beginning to the end.Why does he create/allow evil? Couldn’t he create Satan a bit differently? Did he screw up? (Also with pre-Noah) • Why would God leave naive infants by themselves at the Garden of Eden with a professional trickster and instead of protecting, hold the infants responsible? • If Jesus is God, what’s the big deal of dying for people? Couldn’t he just die and come back to life 50 times a day if he wanted? Doesn’t seem like a real sacrifice. • Do the Pharisees that killed Jesus have a choice? They were prophesied to do so. Do they have free will?
  21. 21. Worse Circular Logic How is this more believable than Zeus in Greek Mythology?
  22. 22. The churches didn’t like me I didn’t like them either Y O U H AV E N O FA I T H ! !
  23. 23. Lived in Kansas from 13-17
  24. 24. Massively Behind in Everything Struggling Academically and Socially
  25. 25. Was not very confident Always tried to fit in
  26. 26. Took ESL, Honors English, and Joined Debate Team at the same time
  27. 27. (Got Slaughtered)
  28. 28. People said I looked EXACTLY like Jackie Chan & Jet Li!
  29. 29. People said I looked EXACTLY like Jackie Chan & Jet Li!
  30. 30. Started a Chess Club Made Friends
  31. 31. Chris Schedler I said No. WA N T T O G O T O M Y C H U R C H T H I S S U N D AY ?
  32. 32. Asked for 6 weeks in a row WA N T T O G O T O M Y C H U R C H T H I S S U N D AY ? I agreed after rejecting 5 times. Goal: “I didn’t like it. Please stop asking”
  33. 33. Instant in the building - felt touched by Holy Spirit (weird).
 Youth Pastor was Knowledgable Answered many questions with historical records, archaeology, etc.
  34. 34. Epiphany: maybe there are more answers that make sense Started doing my own research and investigation
  35. 35. Eventually, I became convinced that it was true No reason to pretend I was not convince
  36. 36. Received Jesus Christ in 10th Grade
  37. 37. And then I’m like,“Oh crap. If this is true.Then it comes with a hefty package. I’d actually need to change the way I lived, make sacrifices, and compromise.
  38. 38. The path of a Christian is not sweet or easy Many of the best Christians in the Bible lived terrible (but joyful) lives
  39. 39. I caught up to everyone in High School N O T E : I A M N O T I N T H I S P I C T U R E
  40. 40. B Student “Okay” in extracurricular activities Follower Very good at computer games Year I received Christ A+ (98%) 4.0 Student Chess State Champion State Competition Varsity Swimming State Orchestra Competition in Violin Forensics highest rating in State Competition Varsity in Debate Team Wrote string quartet music/novel Confident Leader Discovered Gamification (Note: no empirical proof that this is causal or even correlated)
  41. 41. Last Semester of High School South Pasadena, CA
  42. 42. Massively Behind in School (different graduation requirements) By far hardest academic semester in my life (even today)
  43. 43. Skills so far obtained 
 (order of importance): ! Persistence while struggling Empathy Confidence Worldly Perspective Analytical Skills
  44. 44. UCLA 17-20
  45. 45. I was NOT behind in anything But, I was bored of not struggling, so…
  46. 46. I started a company first year of college
  47. 47. REWARDME.COM Eventually led to bigger things • FDWorld -> • FDCareer -> • Viralogy: Social Media Ranking -> • Viralogy: Recommendation Engine -> • RewardMe: QR Code Loyalty -> • RewardMe: Gamified CRM Platform -> • Gamification/Octalysis Consulting
  48. 48. REWARDME.COM Our Startup Team
  49. 49. REWARDME.COM Very smart people
  50. 50. Future Delivery • First gamified platform for career development & recruitment • Partnership with Disney Interactive Media Group, Bed Bath & Beyond etc. • Rated a “Top 10 Social Network for Gen-Ys” by • But…
  51. 51. Failure • We were inexperienced • We were young and couldn’t raise money • The economic crisis of 2007-2008 • Companies are laying off.Tool to help hiring = not useful • We switched directions
  52. 52. Viralogy • One of the earliest Social Media Ranking Sites • Popular among bloggers • Our code embedded on hundreds of blog websites • Over 200,000Visitors • But…couldn’t monetize in bad economy • We needed to live.We switched directions
  53. 53. Key Observation • Most of my brilliant teammates never struggled growing up • Did not know how to cope with failure and stay persistent • Did not need to acquire upgraded social skills and empathy • Had harder time seeings new creative visions • My struggles growing up were blessings in disguise
  54. 54. Viralogy II • Social Recommendation Engine that made eCommerce sites smarter • One of the best technologies in the industry • We raised $75K over 8 months • Generated some revenue • But…we weren’t passionate about it • Couldn’t raise more money
  55. 55. Legal Status Issues • Didn’t have legal status after graduating UCLA • Went back to community college - Full Time, International Tuition, Illegal to make income • I could pay employees, but couldn’t pay myself • Couldn’t raise funding due to deportation risk
  56. 56. Legal Status Issues • Was interviewed by NewYork Mayor Office, PBS, documentaries on why US needs a StartupVisa • Community College Student for 4Years! • Eventually savings ran out • Moved toVancouver, CA, where parents lived • Fairly depressed
  57. 57. The Right Prayer • Never prayed “Keep me in the US” but “Wherever you know is best.” • Established a bond with my father first time in my life • Possibly prevented a divorce between parents • Became easier to raise money • Being forced out of the US was a blessing in disguise!
  58. 58. RewardMe
  59. 59. RewardMe
  60. 60. RewardMe • First digital loyalty program (not counting FourSquare’s Mayor System) • Raised $1,100,000 • Product performed 11x better than competitors • Rated a Top 10 Companies to Watch (AlwaysOn) • Closed a $1.5M deal with national chain.
  61. 61. Fasting to Funding!? • Previously did everything I could to raise $75K over a year. Extremely difficult. • Fiancee proposed to fast for this issue, so did 40 Day one-meal vegetarian fast. • Random people showed up and wrote checks for $200K, $200K, $250K! Helped close the round (before traction). • Completely humbled…nothing I can do can compare to money just showing up
  62. 62. RewardMe Failure • Personnel/Cash Issues • Ethical judgement: Protect Investors • Stepped down as CEO • Acquisition offers on the table - ethical judgements • Dark dark days - Depleted my spirited • Soul Searched
  63. 63. Kevon Saber: In all trials and failures, ask:
 1. Does this increase my maturity 2. Does it bring me closer to God 3. Does it increase in my fruitfulness
  64. 64. Octalysis Avoidance Ownership Empowerment Meaning Unpredictability Accomplishment Scarcity Social Influence -Narrative
 -Humanity Hero -Higher Meaning -Beginners Luck -Free Lunch -Destiny Child -CoCreator -Points
 -Badges (Achievement Symbols)
 -Fixed Action Rewards
 -Progress Bar -Quest Lists -Win Prize -High-Five
 -Crowning -LevelUp Symphony -Aura Effect -Step-by-Step Tutorial -Boss Fights -Milestone Unlock -Evergreen Mechanics -General’s Carrot -Real-Time Control -Chain Combos -Instant feedback -Boosters -Blank Fills
 -Voluntary Autonomy -Choice Perception -Virtual Goods -Build from Scratch
 -Collection Set -Avatar
 -Earned Lunch
 -Learning Curve -Protection -Recruitment -Monitoring -Bragging -Water Cooler -Thank-You Economy -Mentorship -Social Prod -Friending -Social Treasure/Gifting -SeeSaw Bump -Group Quest -Touting -Appointment Dynamics -Fixed Intervals -Dangling -Prize Pacing -Options Pacing -Patient Feedback -Count Down -Throttles -Moats -Glowing Choice -MiniQuests
 -Visual Storytelling -Easter Eggs -Random Rewards -Obvious Wonder -Rolling Rewards -Mischief -Sudden Rewards -Oracle Effect -Sunk-Cost Tragedy -Progress Loss -FOMO -Evanescence Opportunity -Status Quo Sloth -Scarlet Letter -Visual Grave -Weep Tune
  65. 65. Silver Lining • Started writing on Gamification - became really famous/successful in industry • Started teaching chess to a bunch of kids in school • Extremely happy these days • Still resolving RewardMe • Blessing in Disguise? I don’t know. But so far EVERY worst occurrence in my life turned out to be a blessing in disguise.Time will tell.
  66. 66. ThankYou. Truly.