Who was Johnny FD? Jen? Johnny 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. It was long journey throughout the 27 years before that, as well as the decade since. My life has been a constant journey of trying to find my authentic self, battling insecurities, getting over hurtful events, and trying to find happiness, belonging, and ultimately love both for myself as well as others.

In reality, there was many more Johnny's before the version you know today. Here's everything you wanted to know...and some things you'll wish you didn't. But it's all been part of the journey to become who I am today, and in this post, I'm going to bare it all, the good and both, as they were both part of the journey to self improvement and self discovery. 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

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 Magic"

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 played a ton of Age of Empires II, Age of Mythology, Diablo, Diablo II, and 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.  I'd eventually upgrade my computer, but it took me a long loner to upgrade my social skills and life. Going to the comic book store was a way for me to always have someone to play against in real life and have that social interaction. Even till this day, "Friday night Magic" is hugely popular with middle school kids and guys and 30 year old virgins who have nothing better to do on a friday night than to sit in a comic book store's basement and play card cards. It kind of explains why I'm such a big fan of board games even today, although I've moved on to playing games like Risk, Cashflow 101 or Settlers of Catan. Or my favorite current game by Blizzard, called Hearthstone. 

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. Opening my mind through Ecstacy, MDMA, Weed, Shrooms, Uppers and Downers alike was a big part of a blurry 3 years of my life.

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 as it is today.

For most people coming down off of a rave would leave them depressed during the week, but for me, I was finally content somehow and finally at peace. 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 at the top, 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. I was so embarrassed I would either never want to take photos, or I would cut them up and throw them away when I saw them. 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 and happiness  in my life.

I tried to diet and even started developing mild eating disorders as a kid. I would always go on extreme yo yo diets. One day I finally got myself to the library and picked up a nutrition book. I once "fasted" for a week on nothing but artificially sweetened Sunny-Delight in hopes to finally lose weight. It worked, but then came right back. The crazy thing is looking back, I was no longer even fat or even chubby, I was just a big stocky guy compared to all the other Asians I'd hang out with. I was taller, and bigger than the guys who never weighed more than 135lbs and the girls who wore size 0 clothes. I remember assuming that was the norm as it was so ingrained in my social circle and upbringing.

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. It was the first time I had any diversity in my life as my roommates consisted of one Russian guy, an Irish guy and a  bit of a redneck white guy. I started becoming happier, healthier, enjoyed indoor rock climbing, bodyboarding at the beach, made some good friends, hung out with my roommates a lot 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 and other good deals that I'd find as that was a huge hobby of mine. It was basically an online journal to share what was going on around my campus life. 

During college I took up odd jobs to help pay for school. 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. I'm just glad I didn't choose the name CoolAsianGuy1 or something even more cheesy. Here is a random excerpt of one of my originally blog posts from my first Xanga. 

johnny wolf

Meet "Johnny Wolf"

Yes me, actually wearing a red silk robe and a Ed Hardy T-shirt. 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 with both the good and the bad.

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 an online shopping addiction and ordered so many packages online I would often forget what I had bought by the time it was delivered. Thank god 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. Buying things and getting "gifts" in the mail was one of the only things that would make me happy, even though it was only temporary and the results fleeting. The worst part of it was I was lonely, and had been for years. Going home to an empty apartment with no one to love was driving me deeper into depression and loneliness. Open packages of things I forgot I had bought was like my little shots of heroin.

johnny wolf neil strauss

Meet: "Johnny Wolf: PUA"

My whole life seemed to change when someone introduced me to "The Game" by Neil Strauss. I still remember picking up the book at my local Barnes and 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 few days longer. I read the book cover to cover and got immersed in the underground world of so called "pickup 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 less in your wallet unless you happened to be a tall, good looking white guy like Joe Manganiello, we ended up creating blogs and posting in underground forums field reports.  I know many of you reading this can't understand this, but even though most people in the world are good, it just takes one or two girls to laugh and say to your face in front of everyone that you're a loser for even thinking she would ever go on a date with a small dicked Chink, to ruin your confidence for years. It not only happened to me, but a lot of guys I've met along the way. Most of these guys were genuinely good guys, who just wanted a girlfriend to love, and would probably have treated them better than anyone. But they were shy, uncool, and what The Game referred to as Average Frustrated Chumps, AFC's for short.

The goal of the online communities and the forum posting about hooking up didn't start as a intention to objectify women but instead to give other guys hope and report back on what actually worked and what didn't. The problem was, when you'd ask a girl what she wanted in a guy, she'd tell you one thing such as, "be nice, be patient, be generous, be friends first," and as you'd fall for her and wait as the nice guy and good friend, you'd see her hook up with a random douchebag at the bar. We decided that if that's what women actually responded to, that's what we should follow and do as well. But in the end, our own insecurities took over and the community did more harm than good. It turns out that neither side was truly happy or finding what they wanted.  The women that would hook up with douchey guys at the club often did it out of insecurity or unhappiness in their own lives, and the guys we tried to be weren't fulfilling or really us either.  It's why I ultimately left it in 2008 and moved to Thailand to get away from it all and to find a new start, a new beginning, and hope to find out who I really was, as the douchey pick up artist guy definitely wasn't him.

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 influences 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.

Even though I officially left the PUA community myself in 2008, I continued to help out my old employer by giving talks and even doing a few international bootcamps in the years after even up to 2012 or the beginning of 2013. Growing as a minority and trying to date in America was difficult and it didn't help that my father never gave me any advice and I didn't have an older brother as a role model. Even in the media there were no role models. You'd see plenty of movies where there would be a white male kissing an asian female but almost zero the other way around. Because of the media it make it so it was really difficult to date for a lot of Asian males in America. A lot of asian girls would only date white guys exclusively, while white girls would sometimes say really hurtful and racist comments even if you politely tried to talk to them at a bar. Not to mention the fact that asian men get the least amount of matches on online dating, making that difficult as well.

Looking back, my regret was allowing cheesy, pick up/seduction type marketing become the highlight of it all. We should have just sold the program for what it actually was, which was a 3 day course mostly about simple things everyone should know like proper body language, handshakes, eye contact, and basic conversation. But the truth is, even though the majority of the men who took bootcamps with us just wanted to be able to find a girlfriend and get married, they felt so powerless to even do that they felt like they needed to become a master pick up artist or grand seducer to even have a shot at happiness and fulfillment. I know it sounds silly that our frame of mind was literally that if we could learn how to pick up any girl in the bar, have a ton of sex, and even threesomes then the ball would finally be in our court and we'd be able to stop being hurt by women. Even though sometimes I wish I could take those years back and never have picked up that book, every couple of months even today I get an email from one of my former students telling me that they just got married and if it wasn't for the skills and confidence they got from our pick up bootcamp, they would still be single and lonely today. It was amazing to have been invited to one of the weddings as a groomsman and see JT, the owner of the company I worked for as the best man.

I'm sure that if you dig and look for the sleazy things, there were plenty of them, but the reason why I'm embedding the full videos here is because if you actually sit down and listen to the talks with an open mind and an open heart, you'll realize that 98% of what we talked about and taught was good social skills, self help and confidence that we unfortunately didn't learn from our older brothers or dads. I regret and apologize for the sleazy and sometimes disgusting parts of the PUA scene, but at the same time will be forever grateful for turning me onto the idea that self help genuinely works and that self improvement is something that we can really work towards.

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.

In my four years working as a divemaster and scuba instructor, hundreds of people have entrusted their lives with me underwater and I'm proud to be able to have been to show them an entirely different world and teach them the skills they needed to survive it. I also got to see the beauty and power of mother nature first hand at up to 40 meters (131ft) underwater. It was an amazing experience and i'm so glad I was able to share it with so many people.

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"

As for my social media handles all being @JohnnyFDK, it's only because @JohnnyFD was taken so I had to add another letter. It's a bit cheesy, but since I was making money publishing books on Amazon Kindle at the time, I figured Johnny Fighter-Diver-Kindle would be fitting, plus it rhymed. 

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.  You can also 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 even when people dig up the embarrassing parts of my past.

With Love,


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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.

    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!

  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.

  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!

  4. Hey Johnny! I just came across this post and thought that it was awesome of you to share so much of yourself. I learned something new even though I listened to your talk on this year's DN Summit.

    Having also been part of the pickup community I totally understand what you mean. There's so much value in that community but at the same time there are some definite negatives and it's hard to convey the positives to people.

    1. Hey Victor I sincerely appreciate that and I'm really glad that I'm finally comfortable enough to share this part of my life.

      I wish that there was a way to share just the good things that the PUA community had to share like self-development, building confidence, and basic social skills, without all of the negative parts.

  5. Hey Johnny don't be ashamed do have been a PUA, for me that is not wrong with that, and maybe your pua knwoledge made you able to find love.
    You are really an inspiration.
    Keep Going !

  6. Hi Johnny... Wow I cant believe it .. I was exactly the same... In my 20's I was hopelessly lost with regards to meeting women until I found the Game book (Stylelife)... and my 30's I got to live like James Bond... meeting Style twice and Mystery once in Ireland. I then found the 4 hour work week and began the transition into (Lifestyle Design). But it has not been an easy journey, but I'm hoping to break through by the end of 2020.

    WARNING: What the Game doesn't teach us insecure guys is that the surface level charm and confidence of a PUA patches but doesnt heal the deeper insecurities and childhood wounds that many of us carry... and you become a magnet for hot but complely toxic women just as if you're wearing a neon sign above your head!

    I ended up with a Borderline/Covert Narcissist woman who literally ripped me apart from the inside out... and now my story has become a mens survivors guide for tocix Cluster B women!

    Stay Safe out there!


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