The beginnings of Group Emporium Corp. GEC

If you expect this to be purely a business blog post, I'm sorry to disappoint you as I'm writing this as part of my online writings in a style following the ancient philosophy of the Body, Mind and Spirit. Not that I'm not a business minded person but I prefer to be known as a loving Family man, an optimal Entrepreneur as well as a humble Spiritual man, all rolled into one. Best way to explain it all is to introduce myself as an aspiring writer with the latest view ratings by Google+ found here.

Invited to be the co-founder and COO of Group Emporium by Carlos E. Jean-Gilles,  the Founder and CEO of a company that we are going to incorporate together soon, this is really about a business said to be in its very early stages at this point of writing. However it is not considered new to our minds and visions. For Carlos who has spent 7 years working on this launch and I with 30 years of preparation in multiple disciplines as an entrepreneur supporting a family of 6 children, I guess it is never too late either. Carlos himself is a writer too, much more polished than I am, and we believe that our common interests in life and the passion we have to succeed in whatever we do created spiritual roots in our new found relationship of over 3 years communicating with each other just via the net. It is out of over a billion people registered in facebook that we found each other.

I am a China man with the official given name of 'Sun Fu' or a nickname of 'Sun Tzu' given by some friends or 'Some Fool' by foes. I really think I'm Superman in the English world haha. So that you know my online writing style in advance, I love to use links in my writings as a habit following the way my brain works. It links to what I know and shares to the sources of that knowledge which traditionally in printed books have used footnotes and a bibliography at the end of a chapter and the book respectively. I use links not only to substantiate what I say but also for the greater purpose of giving a clearer picture in my communication to the reader without occupying the post with another thousand words! Where a picture can adequately replace a thousand words, I will surely use it too as below:



In short, you need not click on the links if you are already clear on what is written or if you are not curious about knowing more about the highlighted word. If you like to click on the links, I suggest you first read the entire blog post to get a general understanding of the contents first and then go back to click the relevant links for more details. This is to avoid disruption in the flow of your reading as clicking a link will always open another tab of this window you are viewing.



Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca in Malaysia and now in Singapore the City State

Kuantan is where I have received a lot of inspiration as a writer to become the base of my creative writings. Kuala Lumpur is where I was born and also the birthplace of all our children. Malacca or Melaka is a popular tourist spot in between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Singapore is where my wife was born and where we have established a home base in latter years when our boys were in their teens to move there for their academic development.

On the way to the USA, I had transverse through all these places with a photo from each place to give you a feeling of what it is like to be there and possibly a link from my personal journals to have a feel of the place even more which I will add with time. Meanwhile here are the photos all captured from my own camera, my own eyes, and my own mind:

Kuantan

Kuala Lumpur

Melaka

Singapore


Which do you think is my favorite place to live in?


During the long haul flight between Singapore and Los Angeles

I'm not one who spends a lot of time watching movies or videos in my everyday life. It's not that I don't find them entertaining or uplifting which I really do.  I guess it is because I am a busy multi-tasking person with many responsibilities to fulfill in what I have mentioned earlier to do with the Body Mind and Spirit aspects of life.  I just find them quite time-consuming and could be quite addictive too! It is because of the way movies make one become emotionally engaging like making one happy, excited and at the same time bring out sadness and tears in our eyes all within a narrow time frame.

However, when I am on the plane, I find that I'm strapped down on my seat with nothing else to do. Though I could use the time to read, but since I already do that at other quiet times of my life, I felt watching movies on the plane would be the most optimal use of my time to balance my life. Make sense to you? Now there are so many movies to choose from in front of you in the modern airplane today with touch screen menus to make your choice.

These were the movies I had watched:

 Chappie : This story about robots is actually on the theme of the consciousness of the Mind.

Marvel's Avengers : This was a very long 2 hr 15 mins action orientated movie that didn't make much sense to me except it was a Good versus Evil battle and I watched it only because I was wearing a superman tee shirt!

Woman in Gold : This very classic feel movie I felt made me feel the Spirit as the woman had felt thinking of her past experiences with a lawyer assisting her who was also was caught by it too. This was the spirit to recover the old paintings not because of their great monetary value but for the spirit of appreciation of her ancestry in Austria.

The Longest Ride: This is a love story especially about everlasting love portrayed so well between a country bull rider and his university student girlfriend classified under feelings of our Body or heart.

I must admit that in most of my plane rides, after watching the movies, I'm embarrassed to face the flight stewardess trying to serve me food or drinks as I'm all teary eyed! Do you see from what I have told you about the effects these movies have on me why I rather avoid them in my everyday life? Just as in my everyday life, however, I get impressions due to the 'multi-sensory' self that I have become to enable me to classify 3 of the movies above under the Body Mind Spirit classification in the captions of the photos shared above. It also helped me to appreciate that the background behind the movies is always a writer with the stories or the script before the movie was ever made.

Learning more about Carlos and Me

The purpose of sharing more about Carlos and Me is because we had intentions of creating a worldwide portal to buy and sell things on top of the leading social network platforms. Identity and presence with our writings in social media are of paramount importance. I took the initiative to start this blog here in a casual style similar to how I first started most of my other blogs to get the flow of writing going. We share quite a number of things in common and one of them is our passion for writing.

Now as readers may learn more about me in authoring this blog to find out that I'm quite a photojournalist too, I like to explain that since the invention of small digital cameras, I have always carried one with me. This is to capture many aspects of my life that I feel must be recorded as evidence of perhaps my unique experiences or my interpretation thereof which excites me and propels me to try to become a better man with a strong love of humanity and the creator of mankind.  As I share them with words, I often feel a need to give more evidence to testify of the truth of my writings or add further clarity which may seem unbelievable but are really true. This could be due to my training as an auditor in my early life. Even with a camera close by, there have been some occasions that I was caught unprepared without any photo shots and this is when I declare, "My words are all I have!"

As one with admittedly a poor memory or one that is not the photographic type, which explains why I began to write more in life by way of personal journals, I found that the digital camera compliments my desire to strengthen my memory especially for words, dates, sequences, numbers etc. Fortunately, I find it unnecessary for the kind deeds of the many people in my life as I have a computer-like memory for that! However, due to the great number of people who have touched my life or that of my family members for good which I have gratitude towards, I often regret that I can't name them all on a list if I had to give a speech to thank them due to time shortages in preparation or delivery. However, I did attempt to do it on my 20th Anniversary webpage and video clip found at the end of the commemorative website, with the printed clause that it would definitely be an incomplete list.

Carlos inspired me with many things. It started with his mastery as a tech support guru in facebook where I had sought for his assistance, knowing that he had the record of the highest number of facebook questions answered in his volunteer support role compared to the others. Then I began to realize his proficiency in writing that he was preparing to publish his first book about 'Self Actualization'. He started sharing some of his other writings with me and I did the same too. The clarity of his writings and mine I feel allowed us to appreciate each other's character and competency which eventually led him to offer me the role to be his co-founder of GEC, trusting me to share much of the business strategies and methodologies with me that he had worked on in the past 7 years with facebook.

My first meeting with Carlos for real, not through online chats nor a meeting of writers by reading each other's written thoughts.

Day 1 Tues 25 Aug 2015

Going for a walk in the park in our first face to face for real meeting.

It was a nice park to walk and chat. Just as we found an interesting diving place where some people were diving into the water from a high up cliff, the phone rang and it was my friend Tommy. From the video one can see those who were brave enough to dive into the water from the cliff top high above the water. Others were watching for a long time but could never find the courage to do it. I likened it to the business world where many would be afraid to dive into a venture with its related risks while some will do it and repeat it many times as confidence and skill have been acquired. I was such a person in the business world as a serial entrepreneur for over 25 years!


I had arranged to meet a childhood friend 'Tommy' who knew me as 'Boynie' after being separated for over 45 years as he grew up and worked in a different town and eventually migrated to the US. We had a first great meet together with Carlos in the park and arranged that the next day we would all go for a tour of the city with Tommy taking us around. 


In the evening, we went to Mukilteo area to have dinner and have a short visit with my late wife's brother who lives there. My wife had passed away of cancer in Nov 2012, about 3 years earlier.




Our first night ended with some startling incidents worth mentioning here in the spirit of transparency and disclosure. My brother-in-law came to join us for a chat at the restaurant after dinner. I had called him earlier to join us with no response and he explained when he met us that he was in the gym with his wife. I introduced Carlos to him and it didn't take long before the chat became a little strained or tensed! Carlos having worked closely with Facebook for 7 years as a top volunteer in support services and having had communications with Mark Zuckerberg and his development team made some negative remarks about the company and on Mark himself. I was well aware of the outspokenness of Carlos against some issues with the founder and the principles of how the company operated the social media platform as in some public writings, Carlos had even written his negative opinion of facebook in the same media itself. This had cause me to wonder why would he be doing that when we were planning to ride on the facebook platform for our new business? Also in the Asian perspective, we should always be respectful of the Giant partner we would be working with I should think! My intra-personal thought was that it was probably how Carlos was negotiating terms with facebook or this was how Americans did it as he had often had to persuade the company to follow guidelines given to them as an experienced and knowledgeable top support person for facebook.  My brother-in-law who worked with an investment company who had made a lot of money in Facebook stocks took offence to the negative opinions of Carlos to my surprise! I was startled by his response too, excused myself to pay the bill and did my best to end the evening as best as we could. I could see Carlos was a little shaken and may have regretted to express himself too straight forwardly!

On the way back to drop me off to my friend's home in the late night, Carlos asked me casually how I felt about the Founder's agreement latest draft he had sent me. I did casually respond to him that in a very last minute while I was in Salt Lake City, my lawyer had spent over time after hours even to vet it for me and gave back to me his response with some "red flags" on it. On asking me what they were, I simply said the key concern was that I was only getting vested interest over time for the shares I would fully pay cash for which is not the normal practice whenever I would purchase shares in a company. 

The final occurrence of the evening was while navigating our way back to my friend's home, my T-Mobile service went down and it happened to Carlos too! We made an exit off the freeway to what we felt was the closest to my friend's home. Driving around the suburb we got a little lost. Being past mid night I hesitated to give my friend a call. The highlight of this incident was I felt Carlos and I did not panic though strangely our T-mobile data service some how had a black out! With calm minds, we figured it out the best we could and eventually my friend did call me to find out where we were. We were actually quite close to his home and with a little directions we soon could find the way back!

Day2 Wed 26 Aug 2015

Bright and early the next morning I got my old childhood friend Tommy and my new friend Carlos to meet by an old classmate from secondary school Benedict in their home I was staying at.

Here are Benedict and Tommy.

Carlos was also introduced to another of my old classmate and here he is seen talking to Benedict's wife Joon.

Tommy drove Carlos and I downtown to visit the popular sites of Seattle.  This was our second day meeting plan as desired by Carlos to sight see Seattle to spend the time to socialize with each other together with Tommy who served us well as a gracious guide.



We enjoyed a hearty seafood lunch, compliments of Carlos

I was quite surprised when the waitress just poured the seafood onto the table top which is never done back in Asia! 


Finally, we ended up heading to the grounds of the Space Needle, an icon of the city where we enjoyed shaved ice together.

I was the only one keen to get to the top to see the panoramic view of Seattle and they gave me time to do this. Besides exploring places at the sea level, I have always enjoyed the view from the top as shared in this post as well as my travelogue post of other cities I've visited.

Here are my aerial view shots of Seattle in photos and video too:








Day 3 Thu 27 Aug 2015

We spent this day from morning to evening for Carlos to show me what he had in mind for the venture. Most of it was technical, on using facebook tools, searching sites etc,which I could understand as he had been sharing briefs with me for some time online before we met. Other than discussing just technical tool and trends and his idea of using facebook as a platform for writers, there wasn't much meat for me to understand what steps are required to build the  GEC business. I had also highlighted the problem of using facebook as a platform for book publishing due to the instability of the facebook platform becoming inconsistent as there were programs that were trying to remove advertisements which facebook team was trying to stop by changing their algorithm. Much was still vague which I discovered from communicating to another leader in the GEC facebook group that Carlos started that nobody really knew what was the whole idea about!

 As a management consultant, my mind was centered more on the business planning side to discuss timeline, processes and projected figures but there was little time to cover this. Plans were for us to meet again the next day to cover not only the business plan but also the draft founder's agreement for GEC which Carlos had rushed out to finalize in the last minute during my trip to the US. I had insisted for the final draft before I arrived so that I could have time for my lawyers to review them before I could sign anything as I had informed him.


Day4 Fri 28 Aug 2015

In the morning, as in the past few days, I had given flexibility to Carlos to come drop by to visit me at a time convenient for him as he had rented a car. On this morning I had expected him to come by but as it got late, I knew something was not right. I called him and he told me to refer to his email to me. In short, this was my reply to him, "The Founder's Stock Issuance Agreement was rushed by you almost in the very last instance to be reviewed by my lawyers, a standard practice before I sign any agreement, in which I have shared some problems with it to you verbally so that we can discuss about it. I was planning to go to the temple today before or after our meeting, giving priority to you to set the time, but since you have closed the opportunity for my participation in this venture, I guess I will leave now for the temple."

Carlos was aware that I am an active Mormon and I was glad I could enjoy spiritual blessings at the Mormon Temple in Seattle whether our deal had gone through or not. After all, he had always referred to me as the brother whom he wished for but never had in his family. He had also revealed to me that he had a sister who was a Mormon whom he had cared for before she died of a terminal disease. He expressed appreciation that Church members did come to his home to visit with her regularly to give her support while she was alive as well as for her funeral.

We are both writers and have expressed ourselves well to each other over the years of our online exchanges. We also communicated and got along well for the few days that we had a chance to meet. Why didn't the deal go through then?

It was the legal agreement he had drafted himself from his experience working for several law firms in his early life in New York City. There is a saying that businessmen make deals and lawyers break deals. His draft agreement sent to me was rather late while I was already in the US. We had planned to meet earlier in August but he could not get back to me when I asked him to tell me when would be a good date for me to visit. Finally, a later date in the month was given and I reminded him again that I needed the draft agreement for lawyers to review it. Meanwhile, he already published in the GEC facebook group that I would be the COO of the company and told me to put my title in my LinkedIn profile.

It finally came in when I was in Salt Lake City with just a few days before I would fly off to Seattle. There were red flags in the agreement that didn't protect my interest as one investing money into the company. The main factor was that the agreement made me as one who would only have vested interest in the company's shares over a time period or that the shares of the value I would fully pay for in the beginning would not be issued to me immediately but given to me in parts over a time period of several years.

Transparency and clear reasons for doing what we have planned together or not carry on to do what was planned
(Post-dated event Jan 16 2017: Carlos had terminated his facebook account. An explanation for why he would delete his facebook account for good is can be found in detail here. With this deletion, note that any links that connect to his facebook account in this journal post will no longer be accessible.)

A post by Carlos on the importance of transparency in GEC's operations can be viewed here. He followed up with sharing in GEC's group on facebook a post of his financial commitment to the venture by disclosing his banking in of a check/cheque of $25,000 from his 401K retirement fund which he had withdrawn with agreement from his wife. (Post-dated event: The facebook post given of his financial commitment cannot be read as explained above but the same info can be read in a LinkedIn article found here.) He must have felt he needed to show everyone his commitment to what he believes in for this new business he wanted to co-found with me. I prepared for my part when he identified the Wells Fargo bank in Bellingham Washington to be the bank we would be co-signatories in. I had already created my profile at the Wells Fargo Bank in Provo Utah, prior to him sending me his final draft of our agreement, so that if we could get the founder's agreement signed eventually, my profile can be used to open a joint account immediately and money can be wired in. I had informed Carlos earlier when I realize later that he showed a trait of changing his mind on simple things including dates and meeting times planned that I was okay with it as my motto in business was to "Float like a Butterfly and Sting like a Bee", a motto of Cassius Clay or Muhammad Ali.  I had not only learned of this wisdom as an accomplished entrepreneur, as per my profile of 30 years, in my adult life but also had learned as a student of martial arts in my younger days, which was how we used our Chi or Energy force through the exercise of our physical bodies.

Transparency and Integrity in our lives were something we had in common as shared in our writings. He would critique my writings as I did the same for him as in a post found here. That was something in common that was important for a partnership in business to work out. However, I found that there was something in Carlos perhaps that showed a weakness as an entrepreneur especially from the viewpoint of a Chinese Asian entrepreneur. Maybe it's the American way of the freedom to change whenever they feel they have the right to do so as long as it is legal and cannot be sued or something more from his Caribbean background where he remembers walking barefooted on the island where time was of no importance to him. It is also a trait of creative computer programmers whom I'm fully aware of in Asia who cannot meet simple deadlines and struggle to follow a plan. So from changing the names of his facebook groups, title of his book and location of where the company would be incorporated which initially was Canada instead of the US, dates of my arrival to meet him e.t.c, I am not totally surprised by his inconsistent behavior to feel suddenly not show up on the fourth day citing that my suggestion of discussing business plans or processes with estimates of figures was too early to be an exercise at that point in time and eventually removed me from his facebook group. On checking the group again at this point in writing, he has made changes from what was a group with members structure to become a page now with 'likes' with no evidence of his communications to me or the invitation to be a co-founder with him that was posted in the original group. As a writer and a journalist, I have kept my records well in life as found here about Carlos and his communications to me.

As our dealings have been transparent to all and our integrities intact, it was possible for both of us to continue on with our lives peacefully and wished each other well in our endeavors as authorpreneurs of our modern day despite whatever perceived weaknesses we may have of each other. This experience will prompt me to dedicate some time later to follow up on writing about a negative aspect of the American culture, which I have observed, where the law takes a paramount position compared to relationships while in Asia it is the other way around.

It started with my 3 months stay in the US several years ago, to understand American culture better, where something struck me to ask my good American friend I was living with this question, "I had always imagined America was a romantic place due to the several popular movies I had watched that portrayed great romance but why is it, after observing the people here, that I sense that there seemed to be something that separates couples in courtship?"

He answered my question with words to this effect, "In America, there seems to be a dichotomy. The heart wants to love but the mind keeps thinking of the implication of the law as to how properties can be lost to the other party should a divorce take place!"

The reader can check out the bottom of this post at a later date for a link to the above subject when it is written. Meanwhile, I have written my views on the topic of Same Sex Marriage due to a request from my Australian friend.  Much can also be written about how the laws have made the US government dysfunctional during the administration of the current President at this point in writing, who does not have a business background but is a lawyer! The opposite is witnessed of the performance of another Chinese Asian lawyer who became the longest serving Prime Minister of Singapore and also the world who turned a small island without resources to become an economic marvel by its super efficient government hiring executives with business blood in them.

A pleasant surprise on coming home from the US is to find I had just passed the milestone of 1 million views for my writings in Google+ in the month of September 2015 as can be read here.





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Continuation of my relationship with Carlos E. Jean-Giles and my Journey of Life.