All in all, I think it's a very cool world with a lot of really interesting characters, and the show has gotten me thinking a lot about my own life and what I have to do to get what I want these next few years.
For those who haven't yet watched Game of Thrones (henceforth "GoT"), the plot centers around a highly unstable kingdom called Westeros that is in the midst of civil war, as several different leaders throughout the kingdom have declared themselves king after the current King's claim to the throne was called into question, and are raising armies to take by force what they believe should be theirs.
Meanwhile, far away in a distant land, there is a young exiled women named Daenerys Targaryen who also has a claim to the throne, given that her father was king at one point but was overthrown by the most recent king and she is his only living heir. The only problem is she has no army, no allies, no leadership experience, and is a woman living in a man's world playing a man's game. Not only that, while the civil war rages on in Westeros, she is stuck halfway around the world with no clear way to get back home.
The gradual way in which Daenerys, with a little luck and lot of saavy, is able to gain an army, gain allies, and become a formidable contender for the throne is one of the central storylines of GoT. In fact, her character has been a major inspiration for myself as well, as I attempt to pull off something similar here in Silicon Valley.
I won't lie, I also want to become King one day. It's definitely one of the items on my bucket list. But that's not what this blog post is about.
What I want right now is simple - I want to make something of myself, I want to use my God-given talents to put a meaningful dent in the universe, and I feel that the best way to do so, for me and at this point in history, is through startups, in the startup capital of the world, Silicon Valley.
I know what I want, but the only question is HOW to get it. Right now, not unlike Daenerys at the beginning of GoT, I'm in a situation where I have very little going for me...
- For starters, I am totally new to California and the San Francisco Bay Area, and I can probably count on a hand and a half the number of people I already knew reasonably well upon arriving here. I may be back in the US, but my real home is in NJ/NY, so in a way I've traded one foreign land (Korea) for another (San Francisco).
- I want to work in technology, but I am not an engineer and I don't really know how to code, and whatever relevant experience I might have had in Korea is not valued that much here. My resume simply does not stand out compared to the other people here, so I won't be able to get a top startup job by just cold-applying to companies. I've already tried and it didn't lead to anything. Rather than blindly applying to hundreds of startups, I'm going to have to identify a few that I really identify with, show up at their doorstep, and then do whatever it takes to show them that I'm an awesome guy who can do great things for them.
- I want to build my network here and get to know a lot of smart, talented, and accomplished people, but right now I have nothing in my resume or my history that would necessarily make *them* want to get to know *me*.
The show starts off with Daenerys being married off to a powerful and greatly feared warlord named Khal Drogo in the hopes that his army of 40,000+ warriors can help her take back the throne at Westeros. Early on, this plan seems to be working out pretty well, enough so that even the current King at Westeros acknowledges them as a threat despite them still being thousands of miles away.
However, things don't work out as planned, as Khal Drogo is killed in a freak accident and almost all of his warriors and followers abandon Daenerys, as she was merely seen as the queen of the warlord Khal Drogo and not a leader in her own right.
I also had hopes of a similar "alliance" with my previous employer Croquis Inc., a Korean startup with global ambitions, great engineering and design talent, and makers of "Biscuit", the Bronze Medalist at Evernote's 2013 Devcup. I ended up joining them through a chance introduction from my wife, and at first, it seemed like a match made in heaven. They wanted an international person who is passionate about technology who could still fit in and communicate comfortably with Korean coworkers, and it seemed like the perfect way for me to gain experience and make inroads into Silicon Valley.
I thought working with Croquis could be a launching pad for my new startup career, but for reasons I won't go into here, it didn't quite work out the way we'd both hoped, and so now here I am in San Francisco, starting over from scratch.
In GoT, the turning point for Daenerys comes when she realizes that despite having no army, no friends, and almost no followers, she discovers that she does have a very special ability that no one else possesses - The power to breed, control, and manipulate dragons, mythical creatures believed to have been extinct for many years.
Once word gets out that Daenerys is the owner and mother of 3 newborn baby dragons, her legend starts to grow and things start going her way as she gains allies and starts building an army. Although her dragons are still young and too small for battle, it's their storied reputation for destroying entire armies and their potential to turn the tide of the war that gets the other wannabe kings shaking in their boots.
That got me asking, what is my dragon? What is my one killer "power" that can help me get the ball rolling? I have several definite strengths, but it's hard to tell which (if any) of them are my "dragon". I know I'm very analytical, I know I'm good with people, I know I'm a good writer and public speaker, I know I have a good sense of humor, and I know I'm pretty creative. But it's hard to say which (or what combination) of these strengths will be the key to making a name for myself here in Silicon Valley. If technical skills are the "army" of Silicon Valley, I have none right now and I need to find a way to use the strengths listed above to acquire such skills bit by bit, whether it's my own or others'.
Once I've found that one thing, my "dragon", I have to believe that everything will naturally fall into place.
The 3rd and latest season of GoT ended with Daenerys winning a critical mass of loyal soldiers and followers and officially becoming a force to reckon with. Whether she'll triumph is anyone's guess, but the fact that she's even able to get into a position to do so is supposed to be extremely impressive.
But I am not at that point yet.
There's so much I have to do these next few months - I need to find a startup to work at (or start my own), I need to meet lots of new people and make new friends, I need to continue honing my existing skills and acquiring new ones, I need to work on my various personal projects, I need to keep blogging, etc. The list is uncomfortably long, but taken together these are all things which will help me get to where I want to be.
Despite Silicon Valley being a land of opportunity and open doors, a lot of those doors happen to be closed to me at the moment. But that's alright, I knew that would be the case going in. What I have to do now is find a way to get my foot in a door (any door) somehow, even if it means getting paid peanuts or doing grunt work. Because I know in my heart that once I am "in" and become a part of a great team, it's only a matter of time before I start making my mark.
As the great Muhammad Ali once said, "I'ma show you, how great I am."