Find peace in nothingness.

Lessons from Japan’s History — Tajima no kami Norimasa playing his biwa. Artist: Yōshū Chikanobu (1897) Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the West, feeling empty is viewed as a negative condition. Emptiness is often associated with dark terms like depression, apatheia, or nihilism. In Asia though, things are a little different.

The Chinese word for emptiness is kōng (空); devoid, the void, the space between breaths, between lines, between lives. In many Eastern religions, emptiness is associated with meditation instead of negativity. Śūnyatā, the teaching that all things are barren of intrinsic meaning, is a core tenet of Buddhism.

The Taoist sage Lao Tzu also waxed philosophical on the useful nature of nothing at all. He wrote,


Not all friends are created equal.

Alvin Ang Instagram

It’s a longstanding tradition among the Chinese to have steamboat for dinner on the first day of the Lunar New Year — and an even longer-standing tradition to trade stories, gossip, and bond over the simmering communal stew.

2020 was no different — except this was the first time in 24 years I actually had reunion dinner with my Dad.

My Dad was, is, a workaholic entrepreneur. Festivals and weekends equal prime business hours, so we never got to spend time together during the holidays.

Not that he was a bad father, far from it, but it was just the…


Writing is a business — treat it that way.

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Your Writing Must Make Your Readers Laugh, Cry, Or Orgasm

Otherwise, don’t bother.

A bit harsh and hyperbolic, I know. But too many people write blandly. Writing with the intent to inform is good. Writing to inform and entertain is divine.

It’s the difference between that school hag who made studying a drag and that standout teacher who somehow made Math fun.

So write with the intention to educate, yes, but also with the intention of engaging your readers. Make them feel something special, something primal, something deep in their blood and guts and soul.

The ability to do this is what separates the good writers from the unforgettable.

To Write Interestingly, Live Interestingly

“How…


I was planning to quit before I got the good news.

Five of these bad boys to be exact. Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

There was a bit of a positive hoo-hah on the Medium Facebook Groups last night.

Apparently, Medium is giving away bonuses worth $500 for the month of April. I saw that Jhemmylrut Teng received the bonus, congratulated her heartily, then shrugged and moved on.

It never occurred to me that I would be one of the recipients as well.

After all, my views for March and April have been abysmal. I have also written several, err, feedback pieces to Medium over the last two months. You can check them out here:

Although my intention in writing these pieces was to…


It taught me humility.

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I was twenty years old when I got brutally knocked out in front of my friends and family.

Let me take you back to the worst night of my life. It was June 2016, and I was working as a storeman in the Air Force. Well, that was my day job, but my real passion was mixed-martial-arts.

I spent most of my teenage years in a grungy fight gym learning the way of the fist, and by the time my twenties rolled around, I was already an undefeated fighter. I held a record of three wins and no losses, and…


And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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There’s a lot of hoity-toity writers out there.

You know the type. The types floating above the rest of us, preaching that it is somehow wrong to write for money, that it sullies the art to write for anything other than cobwebs and love.

I’m not one of them. I grew up in a family of small-time, blue-collar entrepreneurs, and I agree with Steven Pressfield when he says that yes, writing should be treated as an art, but also as a hard-hat profession no different from plumbing or boxing.

I, therefore, think that there’s nothing wrong with writing for fame…


Not all writers are created equal.

“El Garrotillo” by Francisco de Goya (1808–1812). Source: Creative Commons

Readers, be warned: Things are about to get heated.

A caveat before I start to throw hands: I didn’t write this article with the intention to criticise the skill of my fellow writers. I would never do something like that.

I believe that the will to write is more important than the skill, and that if you manage to sit down in front of the typewriter to put out some words into the world, you have already overcome yourself. You have already triumphed.

What I am about to criticise is the moral failings of some “writers” here. I chose to…


An ode to Georges St-Pierre.

Alvin Ang Instagram

Georges St-Pierre is one of the greatest MMA fighters ever.

He was the most dominant champion in Welterweight history, a true-blue superstar who somehow managed to transcend the sport while remaining a class act in and out of the ring. Perhaps more importantly, he holds the dubious title of being the fighter that got me hooked on mixed-martial arts.

Watching Saint Pierre vs Diaz when I was an impressionable 17-year-old inspired me to become a fighter. Fighting gave me the confidence I needed to start my own business. …


It’s worth paying a premium — but only for things you truly enjoy.

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If You Plan Ahead, You Can Save Yourself a Ton of Money

I went suit shopping after I found out I beat out thousands of applicants to star in “The Apprentice.”

I own a suit or three, yes, but since I was going to be on national TV, I figured that I should get something clean, something customized, something special to make me look fly and help me stand out. So I went ahead and ordered two custom-made suits.

But therein lies my first mistake.

I should’ve ordered them sooner because by god were they expensive. They cost me close to $3000 USD, which is not a lot by rich kid standards…


Great art is fueled by great experiences.

Alvin Ang Instagram

“My advice to all young writers is quite simple. I would caution them never to evade a new experience. I would urge them to live life in the raw, to grapple with it bravely, to attack it with naked fists.” — John Fante, Ask the Dust

My professional ambition is to be the greatest and most interesting writer Asia has ever produced.

Here I am all suited-up, walking out of a helicopter James Bond style. This may be a narcissistic thing to say, but the only way the GIF above can be cooler is if the helicopter explodes in a…

Alvin Ang

👑 Contestant on “The Apprentice.” Top Writer. For ghostwriting/copywriting enquiries, email: sgbjjopen@gmail.com

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