Marty Hu

The light shines in the darkness

Read this first

Man in the Ocean

Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?
Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
Will traders barter for it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?
If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!

  • Job 41:1-8 (NIV)

I had a good talk with a spiritual mentor of mine recently. I was confessing that I sometimes feel crushed by the amount of leadership that I have. These feelings of inadequacy make me feel that work is not fun and that everything is

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It’s Not About You

When I moved up to San Francisco, the city started opening up my eyes in ways that it had never done before. There is just such a shocking disparity of fortune here that you cannot help but come to terms with. I was uncomfortable with it when I moved up here and I still am.

Well, a few months after moving to San Francisco I was walking home and on the way ran into a homeless guy who asked me for a dollar.
After forking over the money, I asked him - what are you going to spend it on?

He then asked me, if I wouldn’t mind - could I give him some more money so that he could buy himself some food?

“Actually I’d love to buy you some food. Mind if I join you? Maybe we can go and eat it together?

I hadn’t eaten dinner yet at this point, so I ended up sharing my meal with this homeless guy and his friend.

Here I was, sitting down at a dinner with two humans and thinking

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What do you live for?

I recently got dinner with one of my good friends from college. He’s a very sharp guy and successful business owner. Right now he’s travelling the world and running his business remotely. In the past three years, he’s been to something like 50 countries. It turns out that travelling everywhere in the world can be much cheaper than paying rent in San Francisco.

We chatted about life goals and he mentioned that he would probably stop travelling within the next five years of his life and settle down to start his next business at that point. By then, he will have experienced the best parts of the world in his youth and will start his next company as a more cultured, open minded human. I admire that. We read everywhere about and fundamentally recognize the importance of travelling while young, and he is actually doing it. Most of us dream about seeing the world but never do it.

What hit me

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A Startup’s Guide to Time Hacking

When we first started our company, we slept in a garage, ate nothing but IKEA meatballs, and worked all of the time. Despite our effort, we did not manage our time very well and really had no idea what we were doing. We worked too long and didn’t accomplish nearly enough.

Over the last few years I’ve been working in this company, I’ve had to revisit and consciously break down many of my misconceptions regarding time and readapt them to fit my life inside of a start-up.

My goal in this post is to discuss my mental model for thinking about time at a startup today. I hope that this post can serve as a useful reference to the early stage startup that is looking to get more out of their working day - to start time hacking.

 Time hacking: the big picture approach

Much of the literature you can find on time management involves turning yourself into some sort of robot. If you follow what you

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Nonfiction Reading List

I’m trying to open-source content that inspires me, and thought that a book list might be a good place to start.

So here’s a book list for people who like non-fiction. It’s by no means exhaustive, but I definitely liked everything on here. Cheers!

Nonfiction Reading List

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Skip the Basics

My younger brother recently left for his sophomore year at MIT. While he was still here, we got together several times and had several lengthy discussions about college life had been for him over the past year. One interesting point he mentioned is how placement works at MIT:

When my brother matriculated at MIT, he had already taken honors multivariable calculus at Stanford (receiving an A). However, MIT refused to accept the Stanford course as credit for it’s own (non-honors) multi-variable calculus course [1]. Instead, he would have to take a placement exam along with all of the other freshmen hoping to place out of multi-variable calculus. No problem, I figured. As I saw it, his preparation should have been more than enough.

Well, here’s my paraphrase of my brother’s story:

Ten minutes before his multivariable calculus exam, I walked to the exam room and noticed a girl sitting

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My (Old) Stanford Application Essay

Dear Reader,

I remember that when I was applying to college all of the essays that I could find online were utter crap. So I went and dug up my own college application essay (circa 2007) to open-source it with the community.

I wasn’t one of those cool kids that hacked out their college application in 24 hours. I believe in working hard for the things I want in life, and the essay I’ve included below is the product of many months of work.

I hope you enjoy it.


11a: “A picture is worth a thousand words,” as the adage goes. (You’re limited to one page, however.) Sometimes a photo or picture can capture an object that you treasure, a person you admire or a place that you love; sometimes a photograph is simply your record of an experience or moment in your life. Imagine one photo or picture that you have, or would like to have, and tell us why it is meaningful to you.

A picture

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An old high school friend of mine recently matriculated into the Stanford Phd program for Chemistry. We had a dinner celebration for her and I got to learn about all of the things she’s done since I last knew her in high school. To me, the most impressive of all of her feats is the fact that (in addition to Chemistry) she finished a second major in Math. In fact, she told me that she nearly pursued her Phd in Math. This personally impressed me because I used to know her when she was in high school. Back then, she was indistinguishable from an ordinary student math-wise [1].

Ordinarily, when I think about a Math Phd student, I envision someone who’s known that they’ve wanted to do Math essentially their entire life. I think of a person homeschooled, who’s skipped on three grades in math, and won multiple math contests in the region. My friend would not have fallen into this category.

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A very smart friend of mine has been surfing the job market and was recently offered a position at a start-up. The CEO let him know that he had until the end of the week (three days at that point) to give his decision. By the time I talked to him, he only had a fraction of that time left to decide and was asking for my opinion about whether I thought joining the company would be a good career move. [1]

I told him that while I didn’t know much about the company, my gut response would be not to sign with them. I said this because to me, the CEO’s behavior reflects a flaw in his personal integrity. In my opinion, any employer unscrupulous enough to pressure a candidate to accept a job offer is going to be less likely to have qualms over:

  • Forcing that individual into a ridiculous working schedule
  • Missing payroll (this does happen)
  • Lying about the company’s progress

I come from perhaps

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Coursework vs. Production Code

I’ve been speaking to a number of first-time technical entrepreneurs recently who are starting businesses for the first time. One question I often get is regarding the difficulty involved in writing production code. Given that probably a lot of them (you) have similar experience to what I did, I thought I’d share some reflections I had about the differences between academic work and production coding.

Programming at a startup is, in general, much easier than the work you’ve already done in school.

I’m assuming a lot of things when I say this. Naturally, I’m assuming that you challenged yourself while you were in school. You took some of the hard classes and didn’t just coast through the easy ones [1]. You completed all of your assignments (likely taking multiple late days, but hey, finishing is finishing).

In school you work on problems that get progressively harder. By the time you

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