Raoul Pal Yu-kai Chou

Yu-kai Chou Personal Update 2021

It’s been a long two years since I’ve written my last update. Things have been pretty crazy.

At first I thought no one would have noticed as who cares about a random person’s yearly update, but I started getting repeated messages from distant friends on how they haven’t received my update emails for a long time and asked if they have been removed from the list somehow.

I guess people do notice when I slack off on stuff like this.

The past two years have been pretty wild (it’s long but hey – two years of updates!).

Here’s the tl;dr

  1. moved my entire family back to Taiwan March of 2020
  2. Twin daughters Symphony & Harmony Chou are almost 4
  3. Consulting Company (Octalysis Group) and Education Platform (Octalysis Prime) growing and doing well.
  4. I was fortunate enough to also teach my Octalysis Framework to Yale & Oxford University. Google Scholar shows over 1500 academic journals and PhD thesis
  5. My book has sold more than 100,000 copies
  6. I spent some time as Head of Creative Labs and Head of Digital Labs at HTC, contributing to the future of AR/VR and the Metaverse
  7. I started my own NFT project called Metablox with my 16 year work partner Jun Loayza who is from Google/Youtube. Was self-funding but recently a friend convinced us to take his $100K investment so thought might as well open a round of investments.

1. My move to Taiwan

March of 2020, my entire family of 5 moved from California back to Taiwan due to COVID-19. It was a surreal experience…we heard that San Francisco would be on lockdown that very midnight. The first thing we did that morning was to buy an extra freezer and stash all the fridge and freezers with extra food in order to bunker down.

Then in the early afternoon, we wondered, “why not just fly back to Taiwan?” So we found a one way ticket for the 5 of us that flew out that same evening. We had two hours to pack for an indefinite trip to Asia without a place to stay yet. It was like running away from militant invaders – we just grabbed all we could to survive the trip and didn’t even have room to grab some precious heirlooms we left in California. 

I was quite impressed with my family, because previously even for a three-week trip to Taiwan, they required a whole month to pack. This time everything was done in two hours and before we knew it, we were on a plane.

Taiwan has been great. It has remained COVID-free for most of the time and barely did any lockdowns. It gave me a lot of freedom and since all my work was done online pre-COVID anyway, it didn’t affect me that much.

Just the hours were hard. I had meetings with Asia clients starting at 9AM, and I would also have meetings with clients in the US starting at 3AM. I’ve now learned to appreciate the value of sleep more and more (maybe because I’m getting old too into my mid 30s haha…)

For those who ask, I think I’ll stay here in Taiwan for the next few years as I really enjoy it here. Later on, I think it might be better that I bring my daughters back to the States for their education – who knows what the world will look like at that point.

2. Twin Daughters becoming 4

My twin daughters Symphony and Harmony are turning 4 years old (on Dec 31). Even though they were only born 20 seconds apart, it’s incredible how their personalities were so different ever since the first 10 minutes in the hospital.

Symphony is quick on her feet and requires a lot of emotional attention. She is an avid communicator and has a high sense of justice in her.

Harmony kind of lives in her own world and likes to daydream a lot. She doesn’t need too much affection and would often push us away to do other things if we hug her for more than 3-4 seconds. She cares about being pretty A LOT, and often will tell you the opposite of what she wants but still hope you figure it out and give it to her anyway.

I’m definitely using my gamification knowledge on parenting them, and I’ve taught them many principles such as Choice and Consequences (they have a sense of agency), doing useful things (communicate) instead of useless things (crying), being sacrificial to others which is aligned with our religious beliefs, eating healthily (they now regularly use sentences like, “That’s a donut! Which is unhealthy, so I will only eat one occasionally!”), expectation management (you don’t get everything you want), amongst many other principles.

I hope I’m nurturing proper humans that would have a net positive in the future world.

Pro Tip to parents: most people know counting to 3 has immense power to get kids to do things (because of the emotional tension that gets built up over those few seconds), but I’ve learned that counting down from 10 before they stop something relatively addictive is very helpful.

If you just shut down the iPad before they agree to it, my twins would throw a tantrum for possibly the next hour, crying and screaming due to this sudden cut off of dopamine. But if I tell them, “Alright, I’ll give you 10 more seconds. 10, 9 ,8 ,7….” by the time I count to 2 they are all mentally prepared so when I turn it off they just stand up and go to bed.

It might not work for every child, but why don’t you try it out  sometime? (if you have young kids)

Overall we are quite happy as a family.

3. Consulting and Education Platform doing well

My consulting/design company The Octalysis Group has been doing well and growing. We have been helping a variety of projects in traditional industries (manufacturing, retail) to Metaverse companies, to projects like Microsoft Edge.

My gamified Education Platform Octalysis Prime has also been growing too. It’s been my passion project with over 900 videos of my latest research and design methodologies. We have a DAU/MAU (Daily Active User over Monthly Active User) of 38%, and 7 out of 8 consultants/designers hired by The Octalysis Group came out of OP. It literally is the best stuff I could offer and people who learn it end up wielding the powers of the Octalysis Framework.

Here is.a podcast interview Professor Game did with me that explains more about what is Octalysis Prime.

I can’t wait for Symphony and Harmony to start digging into all my life’s knowledge via Octalysis Prime.

4. Octalysis Framework in educational institutions

Previously I’ve taught my Octalysis Framework at places like Stanford, Google, Uber, LEGO, TESLA etc. The past two years I was very fortunate to also get invited to teach my framework at Yale University and Oxford University. These are respectable schools my intellect wouldn’t be able to get into as a student. But as I am very blessed to discover the Octalysis Framework, I had the opportunity to share it at these places.

When I published the Octalysis Framework in 2012, I just wanted a good tool to solve problems. I didn’t have any ambitions within academia. But this year I also did a search on Google Scholar and saw that there are over 1600 Ph.D. thesis and/or academic publications creating derivative work of the Octalysis Framework.

I feel extremely blessed that my creation has been recognized and appreciated not only amongst the business world but also the academic world.

5. Book selling over 100K Copies

My book Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards has sold over 100K copies, which is quite good for a “niche” topic book. Some folks in the Blockchain/NFT/Web3 world has even called it a must read.

What’s pretty exciting is that in Q1 2022 I’m scheduled to meet with the President of a country that is known for its software development prowess. No details yet but I am told they are interested in making my book required reading for all school students in the country. That would be wicked cool if my work actually makes that big of an impact.

6. Head of Creative Labs & Digital Commerce for HTC

While I was in Taiwan, through a church connection, I was connected to Cher Wang the Founder and CEO of HTC. It turns out that she has also read my book, so for a time being I became the Head of Creative Labs as well as Head of Digital Commerce for HTC, helping their VIVE brand push the boundaries of VR and AR in the world and prepare for the upcoming Metaverse (or Viverse).

After a while and helping launch some breathtaking VR Headsets such as the VIVE Focus 3 and VIVE Flow, I still wanted to work on some other projects I had in mind such as Metablox, so I transitioned my role to helping their Social Media as an evangelist.

7. My brand new project: Metablox NFT

After seeing the whole NFT movement (as well as advisory projects) and how it could tie into the upcoming Metaverse, I started analyzing what would make an NFT have lasting value (hint: Scarcity, Meaning, and Community).

The Metaverse is particularly interesting to me because it is a unique blend of all my past experiences: gamification (since 2003), virtual worlds (since 2007), AR/VR (HTC VIVE), Blockchain/Crypto (worked with Ethereum Cofounder Anthony Di Iorio), and NFTs.

I wanted to take my past experience and see if I could create unique value and foundational pillars of the upcoming (and I believe inevitable) Metaverse.

Because of that, I started my own NFT project called Metablox with my 16 year work partner Jun Loayza who is from Google/Youtube. Jun and I met at UCLA, and for 16 years we have worked on a variety of companies together, with some modest successes and some memorable failures.

Metablox NFTs are basically real world places powered by real life memories. You own real life addresses (we are starting with San Francisco), and level it up by uploading meaningful memories connected to it (so it can generate higher MetaRent).

The mission is to preserve the most sacred memories of a community, and I believe the longer the project lasts, the more valuable these NFTs would be as they are infused with generations of meaningful memories.

It’s scaling the concept of landmarks and historical sites as I believe every location could become a historical site if people knew about the amazing things that happened there.

Legendary Macro Analyst/Investor (former Goldman) and Crypto believer Raoul Pal also interviewed me about my Metablox project.

If you are curious about what I’m up to or just want to support our efforts, you can check us out at our Metablox Discord Channel (no obligation to get any NFTs)

Earlier, Jun and I were on the course of financing the whole project ourselves since fundraising is very time consuming and distracting (we are fortunate enough to have such capital ourselves).

However, a contact of Jun’s. convinced us to take his $100K as investment, so we thought it would only be fair that we open a round to anyone in our network who might be interested.
I’m not going to use any hype language for this, besides saying that Jun and I wholeheartedly believe in this project in order for us to throw our lives (and savings) into it.

Naturally, IF this becomes a big success, the early participants would reap the most rewards. But of course it could also fail and become zero, like any new innovative endeavor.

Let me know if you might be interested. Our Whitepaper can be found here.

Alright, that’s all! My two years worth of noteworthy updates.

Would love to also hear what you are up to as it’s been hard to keep track of friends, especially when my time spent on FB have decreased quite a bit.

Hope all is well and God Bless!
Yu-kai Chou

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