Go West, Young Man
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I went to reunion in Barcelona back in September of 2013. We met as high school kids during an internship at EDS (Plano, Texas). It was over 15 years ago. Many of us have only become bigger kids. 
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Traveling has a way of removing crap from our personal compass. I came home on a Sunday and QUIT MY JOB on Monday. By the end of the week, I had rented out my condo in Uptown Dallas and was driving out to San Francisco.
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Ass Backwards
San Francisco is like a Walmart with endless aisles of smart people. One day, I was having a beer with a buddy (who went public with a startup).  He asked me how my personal project was going. I told him that I was here to ride the wave and chase the next unicorn. Here's his two cents --
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“There are lots of smart people coming up with great solutions. But they have solutions chasing problems. DON'T YOU THINK THAT IS ASS BACKWARDS?"

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Quickest Path to Second
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While in San Francisco, I reconnected with the Master Sinfonia. It was led by David Ramadanoff, who was once the associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony. After a performance one evening, I saw a pack of second violinists hanging in the parking lot in what appears to be a closed discussion. I thought I was tight with these people. The very next day, there was an unexpected email from the conductor. 
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“By unanimous decision from members of your section, they would like for you to be the Principal Second”.   
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Mission Driven
Living in the Mission District was awesome. There are as many taquerias as there are homeless people. I found myself strolling through Delores Park a few times each week.
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My college roommate Jason was in a giant loft and let me crash the couch. A Peruvian shaman lived down the hall. We had a marijuana dispensary across the street. Every Thursday night, the old lesbian next door would host a musical jam session. When she opened her windows, it would smoke like a chimney.
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Mama I'm Comin' Home
My San Francisco experiment was money well pissed. I met some great folks, ate a ton of Gucci ramen, and learned a lot. After a few months, the new car smell was fading. I got on a train that didn't have a next stop and it was chewing me up. Even worse, my back was starting to cave from humping the couch.
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In December 2013, I decided to head back to Texas. But I was really happy to heading home. Did you know that El Paso is half way between Dallas and San Francisco? 
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Business in the Front. Music in the Back
I've had a double life for as long as I can remember. While going to school, I was working at a startup while playing concertmaster at the UT symphony. Every now and then, I'd get a phone call to sub with the Austin Symphony. Over the years, my business degree has lead me from Cisco Systems to KPMG and then to Atmos Energy before landing at a small energy startup. But I always found myself returning to music.  
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Wanna know who has been accepted into music school not once, but Three times? Auditions are all-consuming. We stop life and hold ourselves in solitary confinement. There were days when I forgot to eat.
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Because I passed up on music so many times, I will likely become a Tiger Dad one day and make my kids play an instrument. 
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Boomerang: Path to Starving Artist
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While slumming it at my buddy’s house, I found my way back to the Las Colinas Symphony. It was easy dinero and the musical therapy that I needed.
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The Uniform
Playing a classical instrument is a precision sport. We practice for long hours in isolation to achieve perfection. Not only do we have to battle musical challenges and nerves but we have to deal with the added constraints of restrictive clothing. 
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Orchestra musicians are required to wear a tuxedo. It is kinda like wearing a strait-jacket to perform brain surgery.
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Function vs Fit

I visited every Men's Wearhouse and crawled the internet for better options. Today, I have a closet full of crappy tuxedo jackets, shirts, and accessories. After lots of shopping and visits to the tailor, I reached a broad conclusion:

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"Those that fit are not functional and those that are functional do not fit"

 

I Got 99 Problems

Formal wear has not been updated since its inception. People have come to accept that formality should be restrictive and uncomfortable.  There is also a subset of human beings who designate themselves as the high priests of fashion. Beyond the snobbery, here are some of my main digs at formal wear:

(1) Design - The tuxedo was designed as a dinner coat for formal parties. Its rigidity and shape was intended to exude boldness and confidence. How am I suppose to move around in this thing?

(2) Fabric - Traditional fabric such as cotton absorbs sweat and holds heat. How does my body breath in this thing?

(3) Lack of Options - As a consumer, I'm skeptical of any thing or place with the name "warehouse". Today, the market is flooded with cheap imports that fall apart and a few luxury brands that I can't afford. Where and what are my options? 

There's got to be a better way
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The Epiphany
While running on the Katy Trail (in Dallas), I looked down at my shirt and had an epiphany. I was wearing a light-weight, moisture-wicking shirt that was moving with my body. It was light as air and made me feel fast as lightening.  I thought to myself --
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“Why can’t I be this comfortable while I’m on stage?"

 

Stuck in the Past

Every athlete in every sport (think NBA, NFL, FIFA, ATP, PGA, etc) has shifted AWAY from cotton jerseys to high performance synthetic fabrics. In the past twenty years, yoga wear has taken a life of its own and been brought from the gym onto the streets. Why in the world has formal wear not seen any advancement?

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(This is not a picture of me but some version of me)
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Love versus Like
I heard a talk from Sam Altman, the guy behind the Y Combinator. He said “It’s better to have a few users love your product than for a lot of users to sort of like it."  That statement has always stuck with me. For more fortune cookies from Sam, click HERE
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Finding Love
Online dating is a lot like playing the lottery. The odds are not great and historical transactions are not indicators of future success. Profile pictures are highly deceptive. A few had faces that only a mother would love.
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But like the lottery, we only need to strike once. In early February, I met a gal on a popular dating site. Maggie loves yoga. To impress her on our first date, I went to Lululemon and overpaid for a shirt. 
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POS
The internet is great. I quickly found a designer in Los Angeles. And after four months, lots of prototypes, and lots of money down the drain, she sent the final prototype tuxedo shirt.
My friend was in town for a visit and I asked him to try it out. He shook his head. I knew what he meant. 
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I got really depressed. I had quit a full time job and was sleeping on couches. I didn’t mind tapping into my 401K. But the crap is that I couldn’t get to a solution. 
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Ramen Inspiration
It was close to 10pm. I sat at the dinner table with my buddy while grieving over instant ramen noodles. He told me about the El Camino de Santiago - a religious pilgrimage where he walked across Spain on foot.  
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I went back to my room and ran some Google searches. At 9am in the morning, I was on the phone with American Airlines. An hour later, I had booked my flight. Two weeks later, I was in Spain.
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WTF
Maggie was living and working at a small college in Wichita Falls. Coming from the cultural epicenter that is Beijing, Wichita Falls was a near death sentence. She would sometimes refer to the city as WTF.
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It's true what people say —sustaining a long distance relationship is not easy. We had been talking almost every night. On weekends, I would drive out to visit her. I had butterflies in my belly every time before seeing her. After my tuxedo project had collapsed, I told her that I needed to step away to “find myself”. Her exact words were “WTF!"
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El Camino de Santiago
Three weeks later (in early June 2013), I was in Spain walking alone on El Camino. If you want to see pictures of foot blisters and delicious Spanish cuisine, see HERE
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The Camino really helped me restore my personal compass. Often times, we look outward for answers and inspiration. But the old saying holds true -- it is all inside. In life, we need microscopes just as much as telescopes.  
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Whirl Wind Tour 
I wasn't quite done with traveling. I went to Berlin for beer and schnitzel. I managed to squeeze my way into a Berlin Philharmonic concert. I then hopped over to Bulgaria for a friend's wedding. From there, I met up with two buddies in Istanbul. We ate doner kebabs every day and saw lots of Turkish people. 
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A New Beginning
I came back to Dallas and immediately flew out to Los Angeles. There is a really well known fabric company that only work with the big boys in athletic wear (Nike, Patagonia, and Lululemon, etc).
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I drove out to the Fashion District and met with the agent. I pulled out the piece-of-shit prototype that was designed many months ago. It still looked horrible. But after a short conversation, he understood where I was going. He decided to release a few yards of fabric to me. In addition, he recommended a really great designer. This felt like a new beginning! 
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Movin on Up
It was a two and a half month hiatus. The day after I landed back home in Dallas, I rented a large van and drove out to Wichita Falls. Maggie had agreed to quit her job and take a chance on the relationship. We spent one final night on a mattress in her apartment. The next day, we moved all her stuff into a 500 square feet studio apartment on the 8th floor in downtown Dallas.
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Becoming a Student Again
Through a fellow musician, I became a private violin teacher at the Dallas Strings studio and Evans Middle School in McKinney. Today, I have a little army of young violinists. I love these kids. 
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Teaching could not be more different from corporate. Its hard to get on Facebook when I’m bored. But that’s just the thing — I don’t get bored! Even my worst days are not so bad. If I had all the money in the world, I would still be teaching.
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Getting Hitched
September 20, 2014 - Maggie and I loved our evening walks. One evening, I walked Maggie over to Klyde Warren Park (our park) in downtown. In the children’s playground, I got on bended knee and asked her to marry me. Twelve days later, we were at the  courthouse in my home town of Richardson, Texas.  We got married!
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@ Klyde Warren Park (Dallas, Texas)
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Product Development
The tuxedo shirt project was coming to life. My designer is proving to be amazing. She listens well and has a great eye. We found a great pattern maker that was willing and able to help.
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September 2014 - After countless testing, we finally have a viable product. I sent the very first prototype to ten of the best musicians that I knew.
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In February of 2015, I flew out to meet with the fabric company. I pulled out my redesigned prototype and watched his jaw hit the ground. He had never seen performance fabrics used in this context.
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"Sixteen years ago, Chip Wilson sat across from us. We took a chance on him and look where Lululemon is today"
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May 2015 - LAUNCH
Today, we have the world's first moisture wicking, anti-microbial, four-way stretch tuxedo shirt that is fit for a concert musician. 
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