6 Trips to Get to Gangnam

By: Roger James Hamilton

An aerial view of Gangnam District , Seoul, South Korea.

An aerial view of Gangnam District – an affluent district of Seoul, South Korea.

I was in Korea this week, and looked up Gangnam on the map (Gangnam is an upmarket district of Seoul). I also looked up Gangnam Style’s PSY.

How many trips did it take to get to 1 billion views on Youtube? Wow. It took 6 eventful trips, and here they are –

TRIP 1 – Park Jae-sang was groomed to take over his father’s business, and sent to Boston to get his MBA in 1996. Instead, he blew all his tuition funds on musical instruments after being inspired by Queen’s performance of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody. He dropped out of university, renamed himself ‘PSY’ (after ‘Psycho’) and returned to South Korea as a singer, having failed to get a degree.

TRIP 2 – His first album in 2001, ‘PSY from the PSYcho World!’ led to him being fined by the government for ‘inappropriate content’. With his strange dance moves, he was now in the bad books of his dad, the government, and even the public, who named him ‘The Bizarre Singer.’

TRIP 3 – To make matters worse, he was arrested for possession of marijuana. While in jail, he missed his grandfather’s funeral, leading PSY to say ‘I was not there at the funeral. I will regret this for the rest of my life.

TRIP 4 – His second album in 2002, ‘Sa 2’ earned him a country-wide ban to under 19s for additional inappropriateness. His saving grace was the football World Cup coming to Seoul, which made his ‘appropriate’ song ‘Champion’ his first hit.

TRIP 5 – Off the back of his first success, he was enlisted into the South Korea military (which has mandatory service) in 2003. He snuck out to hold concerts, leading to state prosecutors accusing him of neglecting his work. PSY sued the government but lost, and got re-drafted, having to stay in the army until 2009.

TRIP 6 – PSY entered 2010 broke, with no money to release new songs. With the help of a friend he launched a new single ‘Right Now’ which was promptly banned by the government from under-19s.

In fact, it was only in January 2012, at 35 years old, that PSY had his first foreign TV appearance. While on stage in Japan he put up a sign “I’m a famous singer well-known for driving the audience wild in Korea, but here, today, I’m just a little chubby newcomer“. Fuji TV picked it up, and PSY realised his winning formula to go international would be in making fun of himself.

For a month he worked on the cheesiest dance moves he could come up with, rejecting panda and kangaroo moves for a horse trot. In July 2012 ‘Gangnam Style’ was released on Youtube, and rapidly grew to become the No.1 video in history on Youtube, breaking the 1 billion views mark on 21.12.12 (and now approaching 1.2b).

It took six big trips that led to PSY dancing to his success. Many others would have stopped at the first. How many would have persevered through all six to make it to their ‘overnight success’?

When you trip in life, make it part of the dance

How can you make your trips and stumbles in life a part of your dance?

Make each of your trips a trip worth taking.


Postscript – What about PSY and his father? PSY, who was born in Gangnam district, went against his father’s wishes, embarrassed the family multiple times and ended up mocking his own family’s neighbourhood in ‘Gangnam Style’.

The story, however, has a happy ending. The family is now closer than ever, PSY and his wife have twin daughters, and his father’s company, DI Corporation, has seen its shares increase by 300% over the last year due to being in the spotlight of PSY’s success – and is now worth over US$130 million in value.)

This post originally appeared on Entrepreneurs Institute


Roger James Hamilton is a Hong Kong born, Singapore-based author, educator and social entrepreneur. He is the creator of the Wealth Dynamics profiling system, founder of Phi Dynamics and co-founder of XL Nation and XL Group. He is also the Founder of Entrepreneurs Institute, and Chairman of Green School in Bali.

Connect with him on Twitter | Facebook | Google +

finding-your-window-of-opportunity-infographic (1)

Finding Your Window of Opportunity

Article by: Anna Vital

The best times in your life to start a business

At my law school graduation the buzz word was “experience”. People were going into law firms to get it, and then go on to do great things, like become partners and CEOs. Maybe… The other truth is most of us used that word to cushion the fact that the majority of those highly qualified people thought they were not ready to take any big risks, like starting a company. And when you don’t get what you want, just about the only silver lining you can get is that experience, even if it’s not positive.
So what makes smart, overqualified twenty-something delay going for the gold, and pursue “experience”? Aversion of risk. Obviously.  Desire to delay hard decisions until life presents a better opportunity. On the other hand, the window of opportunity one has right after graduation is huge. For the entrepreneurial mind, the window is almost always open. Although, it may be getting smaller as years go by. Generally, every life event, positive or negative, is an opportunity to start a business. Even if absolutely nothing is going on in your life – let’s call it stability – it is a great opportunity to start a business. There is a major exception to that – and that is death. The window closes on that one. Take some time to examine the windows of opportunity, and see if life is presenting some of them right in front of you.

Anna Vital is a Startup Evangelist and a Lawyer. She runs Funders and Founders with Vlad Shyshov, a San Francisco-based startup that aims to inspire everyone from engineers to moms to do a startup. They call it STARTUPIZATION.

Connect with her on on and on Facebook

This post originally appeared on

6 Crucial Lessons From The Rise Of THE Startup Nation (Part 1 of 3)

/By: Peter Cauton/

So who’s the real Startup Nation?

Nope, it’s not who you think.

The country we are talking about received more venture capital per capita than any nation in the world – 2x as much as the United States. They have more companies listed in the NASDAQ than Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, India and all of Europe combined. They’ve done this despite their small populace (just 7 million people), having relatively little natural resources, and being in a perpetual state of war (it is surrounded by its enemies).

It is Israel.


In their amazing book, Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer tells the story of how Israel has recently achieved tremendous economic growth through the development of startups.

As someone whose passion lies in the development of Filipino startups precisely for economic growth and poverty alleviation, the book simply enthralled me and made my imagination run wild.

The book talks about innovation, about “battlefield entrepreneurs”, about the importance of survival mentality, nationalism through enterprise, about the critical role of diaspora, and naturally, about chutzpah.

The book talks about how a powerfully entrepreneurial culture made all the difference in their transformation into Startup Nation.

We HAVE to emulate their example.

Here are some the most compelling arguments and ideas which crossed my mind while reading the book:

1.) We have to destroy hierarchical thinking

Precisely because they are surrounded by enemies from all sides, Israel requires all young men and women mandatory service in the IDF – the Israeli Defense Forces. Now, you might be thinking “Joining an army?! this is the absolute LAST thing you want to do to challenge hierarchical thinking!

But this is where it gets interesting.

The IDF employs a curious bottom-up culture where hierarchy is thrown out the door. Subordinates are actually encouraged to challenge their superiors. In fact, subordinates can oust superior officers through vote (!).

Is there a better way to train would-be entrepreneurs? Consequently, from a very young age, Israelis are trained to challenge the status quo and assert themselves – in extremely high-pressure environments.

With the combined experience of University AND a 2-3 year, one-of-a-kind stint in IDF (which the book explains through a greatly-named chapter, Battlefield Entrepreneurs), the Israeli 25-year old would-be entrepreneur has no global peer.

So…how can we start changing our culture here?

Our schools, by and large, teach our children to follow rules and singular ways to solve problems (multiple choice, fact-based learning, etc). Our companies, by and large, teach our workers to follow very defined job descriptions and kowtow to the boss.

This needs to change. We have to find a way to reward risk-taking and encourage doing things different, especially with our younger generations.

(Note – this school thing really worries me. My 5-year old was recently accepted in a big university, and when we were given the official introduction of what happens in school – I really second guessed this decision. I think our schools still produce graduates built for the industrial age – and the industrial age is dying fast.

Startup dreamers take note – the education system is just waiting to be disrupted – it is now starting in the US. Why not here?)

2.) We need to embrace and use technology, regardless of our “field”

I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs who say “technology isn’t for me,” and that’s that. I think a quick dismissal of using technology is huge mistake. Technology is precisely what has made this world flat. Technology is what leveled the playing field for any entrepreneur in any part of the world to compete on a global scale. Why not use it? It is precisely what can take us to the next level.

Technology can be applied to ANY field, with wondrous results.

A budding social entrepreneur can say “I just want to help the farmers, I don’t want to be involved with tech.” Guess what? Hi-tech in Israel started with agriculture. Without much land (and most of it infertile) and much water, Israel was able to turn itself into an agricultural force, increasing its agricultural yield a whopping 17 times!

How did they do this?


Are you a doctor who wants to build a startup? A musician? A publisher? An events organizer? A marine biologist?

Look hard at technology. Embrace it. It isn’t your enemy, and it can become your bestest friend.

How can technology allow you to do something different and new and innovative in my field?

(In Israel for example, you’ve got doctors working with engineers on a startup which aims to build a credit-card like device which aims on making the injection obsolete. The book lists so many of these “mashup” startups which combined expertise and technologies from different fields. Amazing.)

3.) We Need More Venture Capital, Much More (and the government needs to get into the game)

The book is very very clear on the role of venture capital in Israel’s startup-powered economic transformation. They call it “Innovation Finance.”

I always try to encourage bootstrapping, and essentially, this was also how Israel started – with an awful lot of bootstrapped firms fighting for survival. But in order for us to scale our businesses on a global level? Venture capital is a crucial key.

Seeing the strategic role venture capital had in its development, the Israeli government started a program called Yozma (Hebrew word for initiative) in the 1990′s. The government investment $100 million in forming ten venture capital funds. A key part of the strategy was to have each fund represented by 3 parties: a young Israeli venture capital company (in training), a foreign venture capital firm, and an Israeli investment company of bank. To attract foreign VC’s,  the Israeli government offered that its shares can be bought out cheaply after 5 years, if the fund was successful. This essentially meant that while the government shared the risk, it offered the investors all the reward – an unusually great deal.

The government did this not only to attract foreign capital, but to have the young Israeli VC’s learn about successfully managing venture capital from their successful foreign counterparts.

In a few years, this same fund has grown to around $3 Billion, all to support hundreds of Israeli startups and ventures. The Yozma program has resulted in copycat programs all over the world.

Is there any innovative Philippine politician, lawmaker, or national leader listening?

(and if you know anyone, please forward this to him or her)  

If there are, let me tell you personally, startups are the key. We Filipinos LOVE technology. We are naturally innovative. We speak great English, the startup language. We can build great, globally-relevant startups.

Over the past year, we’ve seen fund sources sprout up from the business sector, all aiming to help startups. This is great news and has to continue. We have also seen startup-related initiatives by DOST, and a few other government sectors, but you know what, I think we might just need MORE help.

Game-changing, Yozma-type help.

PS: If you know anyone who would resonate with this post or to whom this post would be pretty useful for, do practice some yozma and share! Who knows what could happen if you do?

This post originally appeared on

Peter Paul Cauton is a career HR practitioner turned Serial Entrepreneur and Startup Advocate. He Co-founded HR tech firm STORM Consulting, executive search firm Searchlight International, Streamengine Studios, and He’s the man behind Juan Great Leap, encouraging Pinoys worldwide to follow their passions and to take the great startup leap.

Connect with him on on and on Linkedin


Daily Qoute

“The very first company I started failed with a great bang. The second one failed a little bit less, but still failed. The third one, you know, proper failed, but it was kind of okay. I recovered quickly. Number four almost didn’t fail. It still didn’t really feel great, but it did okay. Number five was PayPal.”

– Max Levchin, former CTO of PayPal

Max Levchin (Photo courtesy from