November 2020 update: life, work and Magic

Hello! I’m James Hsu, co-founder of CardBoard Live, author, technologist, and host of the Humans of Magic podcast.

Every Monday, I share what’s on my mind. In the midst of the pandemic, I’ve come to realize that one of the things that truly bring me joy — writing — is missing from the equation. This is my attempt to rectify the situation.

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I tried to write a blog post each week and failed miserably. Let’s get back on the horse, shall we?

This is going to be a “what’s James been up to lately” post. In future updates, I’ll get back to focused topics.

This is a catching-up-with-James session, only much more impersonal (it’s over the internet) and way less fun (you have to actually read words on a page).

In the meantime, you’ll just have to deal with my random sharing of topics, in no particular order. Sorry.

CardBoard Live company update

We’re exploring many new opportunities with our expanding CardBoard Live platform.

Supporting Magic: The Gathering (my favorite game and competitive pursuit of all time!) continues to be something that drives us, day in and day out.

We are starting to branch out into new forms of content. Keep an eye out for announcements. There are some BIG updates coming this year, and early next!

Our collaboration with SkyWeaver, a blockchain-based collectible card game, is just the beginning.

Wilson and I are thankful for the community’s support. Our mission, since day one, has been to empower gaming content creators to tell vibrant and amazing stories. We couldn’t have done it without our fans.

We are grateful and deeply humbled by the experience.

I’m going back to school (PART-TIME)

Excited to announce that I’ll be going back to school, PART-TIME.

I will be starting my Global Executive MBA program (“GEMBA”) at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai.

This is a part-time program, and requires a commitment of 2 working days per month (plus 2 weekend days = 4 total days per month).

The ‘minimal’ study schedule is great because it affords me the opportunity to learn while focusing on the main objective of running and growing my startup, CardBoard Live.

I decided to apply to the CEIBS GEMBA for several reasons:

  • Learning how to lead and manage teams in an ever-shifting global business landscape is what it’s all about. This is a top-notch program, ranked top 5 globally, that will teach me the skills and discipline to do so. Simply put, it is going to help me run and grow my business.
  • The program exposes me to strong thinking and points of view from diverse global leaders, many of whom are senior managers at large corporations. As a point of emphasis, the class cohort has an average age of thirty-eight years old, and applicants must possess at least seven years of people management experience. This is NOT a classroom filled with junior folks who are just getting started on their careers. I’m looking forward to learning a ton from my classmates, most of whom understand how to effectively navigate the international business climate, at scale.
  • With the COVID-19 situation, it’s unlikely that I’ll be situated anywhere other than China for the time being. Now that CEIBS is open again for face-to-face learning and I’m largely immobile, the timing feels right. Since I’ve always wanted to pursue higher education, there’s no better time than now.
  • I’m very much against learning pure theory. As I spoke to past alumni and faculty, I became increasingly convinced that the program is valuable for NOT being theoretical. This program will give its students the ability to put learnings into practice, and interface with top-notch management talent to examine and address business problems in practical contexts.
  • It is always correct to invest in yourself.

I haven’t been in the classroom for the past 15 years, so there is a tiny bit of anxiety involved with this decision.

But what’s different now vs. back then is that I now know what I want out of my education. Most critically, I have accumulated a lot of lived experience to help me figure out how best to learn.

I’m excited to start the journey and look forward to sharing more in the future.

Playing Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering, the game, has been a big part of my identity.

It’s related to my startup. I’ve written two books about the topic.

And this year, I’ve played a ton of it!

I recently played in the online Eternal Weekend tournament series for Magic. Eternal Weekend is a long-running series that celebrates the oldest and most powerful cards in the game.

It’s always been held offline, in a big physical space…until things changed with the coronavirus this year.

Ironically, I started playing Magic Online this year to train myself for Eternal Weekend.

There are parallels between Magic and poker — learn to play online, and see a lot of hands, so that you can translate the experience to live play at the World Series of Poker.

After COVID-19 hit, they moved the event to (where else?) Magic Online. Certainly a great decision, as it’s better to hold the tournament online than to cancel it.

I didn’t perform super well, but I had fun. In the process, I made leaps in my overall play and mindset. I document the journey here, here and here.

For a general tournament recap, check out my good friend Julian’s Eternal Weekend retrospective on the official Magic site. Julian is one of the true ambassadors of the game.

Running a marathon: change of plans

Running a 42 km race (i.e. marathon!) has been one of my biggest goals, before injuries and random occurrences derailed it over two years ago.

This year, things seemed to be going well. I started running long distances again, and have logged a total of 800 km (= 497 miles) since April.

I signed up for a full marathon about a month ago…

…and just made the difficult decision to NOT run the marathon.

A few reasons:

  • With life and school studies ramping up soon, I didn’t want to risk getting seriously injured or hurt. CardBoard Live has been going well. Life has been going well. Let’s keep it that way.
  • My recent knee MRI and doctor visitation confirmed that while I showed no signs of possessing a worsened knee condition vs. one year ago, it is also not getting better. The fact that I’ve been able to log so much mileage this year is a complete blessing. The doctor recommended that I continue to enjoy running, but do so at a reduced clip.
  • By the way: (1) I’ve received multiple opinions on this; (2) I’m not stupid enough to selectively listen to medical professionals only when it suits me; (3) I’ve explicitly asked doctors if I should run a marathon and they’ve said “no.”
  • While the marathon has been a “bucket list” item, and I feel confident in my ability to complete it, I need to move past my own personal ego and evaluate risk vs. reward. I can now easily run 20-30 km in a single session. My legs are much stronger now vs. six months ago. I do not need to “prove” my capabilities to anyone now, especially to myself.

It is also an evolution of my mindset. I’ve always been competitive, almost obsessively so, with improvement. I motivate myself through goalposts and milestones.

“Running and completing a marathon” has been the latest one. But what am I really chasing?

Let’s say I complete it. Am I really able to just walk away after completing one race?

Or am I simply going to tell myself that the next carrot is “run another marathon, achieve a better personal record”?

Maybe the next-next goal becomes, “run an ultramarathon” or “complete a triathlon.”

Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these goals.

But I’m not a spring deer anymore. I’m thirty-eight years old.

There’s some truth to what my doc told me: “running a marathon is something that would have better suited you in your twenties.”

I can’t turn back the clock. I can’t magically fix my knee and body.

But what I can do is adjust my expectations.

The next chapter of my “exercise life” begins now. Get back into the gym, build muscle, enjoy brisk 25 km runs sparingly.

I know this isn’t the most relatable topic. I’m convinced that 95% of the world hates running with a dedicated zeal. I just happen to fall into the 5%.

But like Magic, running is a huge part of my identity. And letting go is hard.

New basketball podcast who dis?

Episode 1

Episode 2

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

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