An Brief Introduction!

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.
Lemony Snicket

Here I am smiling at a beach.

Hi! My name is Often L. Zhan, and I’m a twenty thirty-something-year-old young adult with mixed Asian heritage. I’m the youngest of three brothers and the oldest of no sisters. Currently, I live in the fringes of San Francisco improper and spend the bulk of my free time playing Dungeons & Dragons (3.5E), teaching children, serving in ministry, reading fiction, journaling, and writing personal notes to myself about ideas that make me giggle.


It’s always nerve-wracking to write an introduction. An introduction sets the expectations for what is to come and provides the reader with a first impression of the writer. In my case, it’s even worse this is my first post to a brand-spankin’ new blog. So far, I think I am doing a mighty bad job at introducing myself.

How can I introduce a blog that doesn’t exist? I’m not sure… but that’s OK. Like you, I’m entering into Often Zhan’s Blog blind, but I am excited at how this fledgling project with mature and grow. I’ll figure out the ins and outs of this blog as time goes on.

History Leading Up to This Blog

So where do I start? Well, I began journal writing since I was in 3rd grade but underwent a long writing stint from 5th grade until early college, ever since my mom rummaged through my room, found my journal, and asked me, “So who is this Susan, and when can I meet her?” During this hiatus, my middle brother also wrote a Xanga blog that ended up angering a lot of people. It endangered both him and myself, and we were advised by the principal to not go back to school for two weeks in fear of being lynched.

It wasn’t until taking Storytelling 101 during college that I decided to resume writing. I was and still am a voracious reader, and it took me a long time to build up the courage to follow my dream to become a free-spirited amateur writer with longing, desperate hopes to become the next Robert Heinlein.

However, my deep commitment to become a writer occurred after college. To put a long story short, I wrote as an outlet for stress and to build trust.


I’ve been researching online about how to write a good blog, and they all say the same thing:

  1. Garner a niche audience.
  2. Write consistently.
  3. Write something worth selling.

In other words: Make your blog a commodity. As a result, I was bogged down for a long time in a fruitless effort of planning a profitable, nonexistent blog.

So, what is the purpose of this blog? I DON’T KNOW. I have no idea what I am doing.

None. Nada. Ziltch. THERE! I said it.

This blog is just a place for me to organize my thoughts and interests. A place for me to consolidate my scattered ideas into one neat(ish) package. A place for me to reason out the events of my life and somehow give these experiences a sense of purpose and meaning.

So, what can I actually say about this blog? While I can’t predict the future of this blog, I DO know myself. My interests, values, and beliefs.


I always try to make it an effort to pursue what I believe. Who I am determines how I will act, so I better know who I am and plan my actions accordingly. Here is a list of some of my core beliefs:

I believe everything has a purpose.

As in, we all have a collective destiny and a higher purpose. From a teleological perspective, I believe that everything was made with an intended reason or cause (Principle of Sufficient Reason). Therefore, all of us have a responsibilty and a role to play in this big narrative called life.

As a result, I reject nihilism. I’m not trying to find purpose in a purposeless world. There is no “Searching for Godot”.

I believe that writing will change the world for the better.

I’m not talking about New York Times Bestsellers or Publitzer prizes either. I just believe that writing is an ongoing movement that can never be truly usurped by radio or television, and I want to be a part of that movement.

I believe structure gives birth to creativity.

For intensely large creative endeavors, a well-planned work-flow, time management, and goal setting are critical. There are many projects I want to complete, but the only way I can accomplish all of them is by structuring my life.


Here are two interesting economics questions:

  1. What determines somethings value.
  2. How should and, just as important, how does an object’s value drive consumer demand?

To say the least, while the question is simple, the answer is quite complicated. However, one thing can be said for sure:

The role and purpose of someone’s core values differs from someone’s core beliefs.

For the sake of brevity, let’s put aside the *How*s and *Why*s to all these questions and comments are for another post. Here is a list of some of my major core values.

I Value Content-Creation.

There are three major types of Leaders.

  1. Innovators - Those who pave the way for new ideas. They create things the world has never seen before.
  2. Supporters - Those who encourage and provide assistance to individuals who take innovative risks.
  3. Maintainers - Those who preserve preexisting content through tending and teaching.

Though a good leader has a balance of all three, I can’t help but lean towards innovation.

One measure to use to determine whether or not I want to invest in someone is to ask that person, “What are you passionate about?” and “What are your hobbies?”. If their response is comprised entirely of napping, watching TV, exploring new places, and reading (Shocking! Right?) with nothing about producing anything meaningful of their own, this would most likely raise a red flag. At most, I would probably keep our friendship at arm’s length. Why? Because if all they do is consume, I would find myself quickly getting bored. I’m not just looking for lounging buddies but comrades shared in the common goal of actually doing something.

What do I want to create? Many things.

The reason is simple. I enjoy reading books so much that I want to give back.

I Value Reading

My lofty goal has always been to read 100 books a year which I always fail miserably at (except for 2015 where I read 102 books). Usually, I end up reading somewhere between 25 to 50 books from my reading list.

My favorite genre of books is Epic Fantasy. Wheel of Time, The Assassin’s Apprentice, The Third Law… they’re all good. The current fantasy series that I’m reading is Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen.

I also find myself reading copious amounts of self-help and leadership books. Yes. I admit it. Many are predictable and repetitive, but simple (yet important) ideas need to be often rephrased and rehashed in a person’s mind before they begin to make any meaningful change. I’ve begun to feel the marinating effects of these books in my life, and I truly recommend that you take time to improve yourself by reading both low-quality and high-quality leadership books.

I Value Project Management

I am a pretty scatterbrained and messy person. It’s a family thing. Last-second decisions… Impromptu adventures…

While I’m proud of this family trait, this unfettered and winsome personality falls short in setting and achieving long-term goals. As a result, I always find myself struggling with a messy workspace and dozens of unfinished projects. It wasn’t until recently that I found the secret to success.


Have a big project? Lists!

Feeling overwhelmed! Lists!

Single and ready to mingle? Lists!

Break large problems into small manageable step and cross out each step one-by-one as you complete each one. And guess what! Once you’ve done with the list, that once looming monster is now a thousand crushed ants that you’ve squished with your sandals of perseverance.


In short, lists are awesome. You will see a lot of them. I promise.

Wait… what was I suppose to be talking about? Oh yeah! Project management! Well, lists were the initial steps towards project management and leadership skills. You’ll see me reflect on leadership experiences, especially those I’ve encountered while serving in Christian leadership.

I Value Health

My job and my fun are all sitting down stuff. Also, I’ve never been super sporty. Once, I once asked my parents if I could join a football team, but my mom feared I would break every bone in my body and promptly refused. As a result, I joined the chess team and got chubby. Not obese. Just chubby. A year ago, I decided to lift weights, eat healthily, and run. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but it’s a start.

I Value Writing

I have some upcoming and ongoing writing projects. They can be found here.