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Who is the Real Johnny FD? Jen? Wolf? Halo?

There's a lot you don't know about me, and there's still a lot I still don't know about myself. Here are all of the various sides of who I am, and trust me, there has been a lot. Whenever I get asked about my life, or get interviewed for places like Business Insider or Entrepreneur I start my story in 2008 when I first left my quit and moved to Thailand.

But in reality, there was many more Johnny's before that. Here's everything you wanted to know...and some things you'll wish you didn't. To start it off, here's a collage with photos from when I was a cute toddler, chubby kid, scuba diver, douchebag, fighter, and the Johnny FD you know today.





Why I'm Sharing This?


The purpose of my blogs have always been to share my journey in hopes that others going through the same hardships can learn from my mistakes as well as get inspired by my achievements. Even though from a glance my blog seems like just another light hearted travel blog mixed in with online business tips, in reality, it's a personal transformation blog and it always has been.

My first post if you go back far enough was entitled My Authentic Self, it took me almost 3 years before I was ready to write the next post, but it set the seed in my mind what I wanted to live and share. Here's how it all began.


That's me, the awkward kid on the far left at my sister's birthday party


Born Johnny Jen, San Francisco 1981


I don't remember too much about my childhood expect that by the time I was in the 4th grade I was responsible for taking public transportation and from school everyday, sitting next to crack heads and the homeless. We lived in  the expensive city of San Francisco and my parents worked low income labor intensive jobs since they are both immigrants from Taiwan with limited english.

I was only 10 years old, but was already out in the world alone.

My parents, especially my father was extremely strict so I was only allowed to watch TV for 2 hours per week and only on weekends. So instead, I'd wake an hour before school at 6:30am to watch cartoons after my dad had already left for work. I never really fit in at school and never made friends outside of it as I wasn't allowed to use the phone and had to accompany my parents to the market every weekend so I never had free time.


Another product of the San Francisco public school system

Introducing "Johnny Slice"


The only time I remember being extremely happy during elementary school (grades 1-5) is when I started playing handball, the game where you bounce a big rubber ball off the wall against an opponent. Everybody played it and I was exceptionally good at it. I even had a signature move called the "Injury Slice" as it would hit so fast and so low to the ground that other kids would often injure themselves (usually by scraping the floor)  trying to hit against it.

Then Basketball happened, and I didn't.

I was so stuck in my ways and so happy being the best handball player that when other classmates slowly started moving to the basketball courts, I stuck my ground. This decision and insecurity of having to start over in a new sport that I was bad at would haunt me for the next 15 years.

During middle school and high school I had my "cool" group of friends, the only problem was even then I still never felt like I fit in. Half of the year we would go play Street Fighter 2 which I enjoyed and was really good at, but the other half when the NBA playoffs were on, they would watch and play basketball, which left me alone and out of place again.




Meet "Johnny MTG"



Sometime during these awkward years I started playing the collectable card game "Magic: The Gathering" which aside from Dungeons and Dragons is probably the nerdiest game ever made. I played off and on throughout middle school and high school, which explains why I'm a big fan of playing the new Blizzard Game, "Hearthstone" even today. 

I also briefly got into playing Warcraft, Starcraft and Counterstrike. 

Even though it may seem as a gamer, I was an introvert, I really wasn't...I just didn't have anything to do so I'd stay home and play games on my sister's hand me down IBM 486DX2 computer with no CD-rom or sound card.  Going to the comic book store was a way for me to always have someone to play against in real life, which is why I'm such a big fan of board games even today. 




Meet "Johnny Rave Name Caffeine"




I'm sure I'm missing a few years in between, but the next big stage in my life was being taken to my first underground rave way back in 1997. I was barely 17 years old and just learned to drive but going to raves every weekend became my life. I believe in the concept of PLUR so much I almost tattooed it on my arm wanting to never forget how important Peace, Love, Unity and Respect were.

My weekly routine was to go to a small abandoned warehouse at 2nd and Jackson in Oakland one weekend, and then to a bigger rave at Homebase the weekend after. I even once took a rave bus from San Francisco to LA to go to Electric Daisy Carnival. It's funny that even though I had tried to get all of my classmates to go and would tell them how incredible it was, then never did until almost 10 years later when EDC became a huge mainstream festival.

For most people coming down off of a rave would leave them depressed during the week, but for me, I was finally content. Even at the rave itself, I would usually find myself sitting and observing the entire party feeling like I finally belonged to something and that everyone else there understood me and accepted me for who I was, those were the hippy days of our generation and I really did feel the peace, love, unity and respect.





Meet "Johnny Honors"


As you can see from my childhood photo above, I wasn't a happy kid. I was really overweight to a point where I would always look tired in every one of my photos which is why I don't have many during those years. My parents would give me the advice of "don't eat so much" but what they didn't realize was that I was overeating because it was the only source of joy in my life.

I tried to diet and even started developing mild eating disorders especially when I finally got myself to the library and picked up a nutrition book. I once "fasted" on nothing but artificially flavored Sunny-Delight for a week in hopes to finally lose weight.

Going away to college and moving out of my parents house in San Francisco to my own place with roommates down in Orange County was my first step to living a somewhat normal life. I started becoming happier, healthier, enjoyed indoor rock climbing, body boarding at the beach, made some good friends and ended up graduating from college with honors because I was in such a good emotional place in my life.


johnny halo


Meet "Johnny Halo"



My first blog was called a "Xanga" and I started it during college. I wasn't really sure why I started it and am pretty sure only my roommates, and classmates around UC Irvine read it, but got used to openly sharing my life. I'd use to it journal what I was up to, as well as share coupons that I'd find as that was a huge hobby of mine at the time.

During college I worked as a valet parking attendant, as a marketing intern for food services on campus, briefly as a massage therapist, and ended up landing that job at Best Buy I was somehow worried I wouldn't get. 

Johnny Halo was the first of my many online pen names and have just gotten used to having a different internet surname every time I started a new blog or a new chapter in my life. I'm not sure if I originally started doing it for privacy reasons, as the internet back then and to a point still is today a place with some weirdos or if I just wanted a new persona for each chapter in my life, but either way, that's how it started. 




Yes, I'm actually wearing an Ed Hardy t-shirt and a red silk robe


Meet "Johnny Wolf"



This is a part of my life I don't talk about much as quite honestly it's embarrassing, but even though sometimes I wish it never happened, it makes me who I am today and was just another part of the journey of personal transformation.

It was after college, I was working at my new corporate job, sitting in my cubicle thinking I had finally made it. But I was secretly unhappier than I had ever been in my life prior. I was finally out on my own, landed a good job, had my own studio apartment and everything I had been promised if I had was a good boy and graduated from a good college with good grades and got a good degree. But I was more depressed than ever.

I developed a shopping addiction and ordered so many packages online I would often forget what I had bought by the time it was delivered. Thank goodness alcoholism doesn't run in my family because I even started going home in the middle of the day and again after work and having a glass of brandy, not because I enjoyed it but because my life was that miserable I didn't know what else to do. The worst part of it was I was lonely, and had been for years.


neil strauss
With the author of the game, Neil Strauss

Then someone introduced me to "The Game" by Neil Strauss. I still remember picking up the book at my local Barnes & Nobles bookstore. It was a Friday evening after work, and I had intended to read the first few chapters then order the book off of Amazon instead to save money. But then something happened...all of the sudden I discovered that I wasn't alone in the world and that other men felt just as lost as I was, and that this book offered the hope I was looking for. I ended up buying the book for the full retail price of $29.99 and taking it home with me as I couldn't imagine being without it for even a week longer. I read the book cover to cover and got imeressed in the underground world of want to be pick up artists.

I don't know what it was that got me so hooked into the community so quickly, but it was like someone had lifted the veil off of my eyes and I finally realized that we had the power to live life differently and become the cool guy who got all of the girls instead of the nice guy who did everything his parents said to do and ended up with nothing at the end.

I spent the next two years hanging out with shy guys, sleazy characters and hollywood club girls who in retrospect were just as insecure and lost as we were. In an attempt to impress the other guys in the community and as a way to breakdown what actually worked in the world where "give a girl a genuine compliment and offer to buy her a drink" usually left you with the hurt of rejection and $15 poorer unless you happened to look like Joe Manganiello, we ended up creating blogs and posting in underground forums field reports. The goal was never to objectify women but instead to give other guys hope. But in the end, our own insecurities took over and the community did more harm than good which is why I left it in 2008 and moved to Thailand.

I never thought I'd share this, but in these four videos, I summarize openly and honestly everything I did and learned during my time in the pickup community.










The truth is, most people don't give up their lives back home, sell all of their stuff and move to the other side of the world for no reason. In my case, I wanted to get away from my unhappiness with my 9-5 job back in LA, as well as the entire pick up artist scene.  I just wanted to be free and for once do what makes me internally happy instead of needing an outside influencer to prove my own self worth.

The best thing that came from the years I spent awkwardly trying to talk to girls at bars, trying too hard to impress others, and being a bit of a douchebag, was also discovering the world of self-help which was a big part of the scene and the main reason why I stuck around for as long as I did. Even though a lot of what we blogged about sounded like the disgusting details shared by guys in locker rooms, it was also an attempt to better understand what women really wanted and responded to.

Aside from reading The Game a hundreds of other self help books,  I read the book that would change my life, "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferris. It was Tim's book that would give me the courage to move to Thailand and discover myself all over again. As a way to give back and share what I learned I went back to the U.S. and continued giving talks once a year in hopes to help the community I left behind find their own success with women and happiness in life.




Meet "Johnny Divemaster"


Every since the tv show "Lost" first aired I started secretly hoping the next plane I was on would crash so I could live the simpler life on a tropical island like they were on. It's crazy to think how unhappy I was in my own life that I actually hoped for my plane to go down to be stranded on an island. Luckily, discovering scuba diving meant I could live that life I fantasized about without having to go through possible death.

From that first underwater experience, I felt suddenly free and that I had discovered an entire new world. I wrote about the entire experience of getting the courage to quit my job and what it was like working as a divemaster in Thailand and the Caribbean Sea in my book 12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap.

Going from a complete beginner to a certified open water scuba instructor just a few years later taught me what it takes to truly master a skill and how to get over the learning curves, self doubts and hardships of trying something new. It was the first time in my life where I ever got past the easy 80/20 mastery and became a legit "black belt" in something I set my heart towards.


Underwater where I finally felt free

Meet "Johnny Fighter"




As much as I loved diving, I had realized at that point in my life that I was still out of shape and wanted to try Muay Thai for fitness. Within months, I got hooked and my ego made me think I could compete professionally with a local Thai guy who had been training since he was a kid.

I lost my first fight to a 5 round decision, but to be honest, I had already given up in round 3. Fighting in a ring in front of a hundred people was the first time I was ever in a situation where I couldn't make excuses for my poor performance, not being in shape, or otherwise be able to talk my way into success. It was after that first fight that I realized if I was ever going to fight again, I'd have to man up and put in the actual work required to be successful. I'm thankful that my opponent Big Boom agreed to a rematch 30 days later and gave me the opportunity to really train and dedicate to the sport.

Training Muay Thai taught me the discipline to work hard, exercise consistently, and put my own ego  and insecurities aside to try to achieve something I previously thought impossible for myself. It was the same discipline that later allowed me to complete my first "Tough Mudder" as well as make it to the summit of "Mt. Kinabalu."

Here's a video of my rematch and my second fight ever.



Meet Johnny FD
If you haven't figured it out by now, FD stands for "Fighter-Divemaster" which was a way to try and squeeze more keywords into the title of my first book "12 Weeks in Thailand."

In retrospect I would have just used my real name, but it's kind of too late for that now as everyone knows me as Johnny FD and it's all of my social media handles. But now you know why I never mention what it stands for as it's kinda embarrassing and super douchey to say, "Hi I'm Johnny Fighter-Divemaster"  

The rest of the story you probably already know, but if haven't, you can read my latest book "Life Changes Quick" which explains in vivid detail how I got into the world of online business, starting a podcast, getting in shape, finding a genuine relationship and falling in love as well as becoming a digital nomad.  Or if you can read the summary of it in this Business Insider feature

So that's pretty much it. I've always been Johnny and always will be. Take me or leave me, but this is who I am, imperfections and all. 

With the love of my life, my girlfriend Larissa Swart

I'm extremely fortunate to have found such an accepting and understanding life partner as well as be at a point in my life where I am genuinely content with who I am and happy in my own life. A few years ago, my own insecurities wouldn't have been able to handle being so open and vulnerable to negative comments from people I don't know online. But now I finally realize that we're all on our own journeys and nothing peoples do is because of me. 

What others say and do are a projection of their own selves and insecurities, especially since I'm 100% sure than anyone who takes the time to go out of their way to say bad thing about others are not happy or successful in their own lives.  At the end of the day, I know that I am a good person and everything I do is with good intentions to help others find their own happiness and success. I genuinely feel sorry for those who don't see that and encourage you to openly talk to me face to face if you ever feel otherwise. 

If you ever have to deal with other's insecurities, hate, or negativity, I would highly recommend you check out the book "The Four Agreements" as the audio book version of it was a blessing and helped me truly understand the true intention behind their actions.

P.S. I want to sincerely thank everyone who has trust in my character and has had the courage to stand up for me on my behalf.

With Love,

Johnny


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  1. Johnny, I have been following you for years and have been looking up to you as my inspiration. I first knew about you as a PUA, then a fighter, and then a businessman. You do many things that I aspire to do one day - and I will :) Most of my friends only know about you as a businessman doing dropshipping so they don't understand why I am always "Johnny says this, Johnny says that". You are a very transparent person, but I would never imagine you would publish this much about yourself. Now I have this page to explain how great of an example you really are. Thank you! You are a great inspiration. Please keep working hard so guys like me will have a excellent male role model to look up to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Tom, it makes me so happy to be able to share my journey throughout the ups and downs for so long. It was a long journey but it was worth it. I'm glad I can be in a position to openly share and help encourge people like yourself to become the best versions of themselves.

      Keep in touch Tom!

      Delete
  2. Johnny Thank you for sharing this. This sound so much like my life even though I went through different things I can relate to your every step and I see that I did the same think. Thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm happy to have finally been comfortable enough with who I am today to be able to have share this openly. I'm glad you could relate!

    ReplyDelete

Please take a second to log in before you comment. I've turned off the anonymous commenting option. I'm open and respectful with you, please be the same back. Stay positive, trolls and spam comments will be automatically deleted.

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