Jack Huang

To be truly happy yourself, you need to find a way to make other people happy.


Jack P. Huang is an entrepreneur and founder of TrulyExperiences.com. He likes to spend his time at work geeking-out on algorithms, mining for insights or brainstorming impossible ideas. He has definitely annoyed most of his teachers, colleagues and friends with his ‘why’ questions. His wife is okay with it though.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I was looking for a wedding present for a friend of mine from business school. I wanted to get them something they’d be able to share and remember, like an amazing meal. Not just another crystal vase that gathers dust on shelves.

There were other experience providers on the market. I had used several before, and found them all to be lacking. Not the type of memory I wanted to give. I also called up a lot of fine-dining restaurants and suppliers myself asking if they’d solve my problem. None of them did, despite me trying to shove them £250 of my money.

Surely there were others like me, who valued experiences over things. And wanted a product or service that would allow them to easily treat themselves or their friends. A simpler way to help people create and share happiness and memories.

The name Truly also reflects that sentiment. The word Truly, to me, means personal, authentic and true – everything a memorable experience should be. It’s also a play-on-words of “yours truly”, which is a sign-off reserved for close friends and family.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I set my focus every morning (ie, these are the 2-3 things I need to get through today). And I do everything I can to get through them. I call this ‘moving forward time’ because it’s time spent moving a project or idea forward. Time spent thinking or developing people is included in this too.

I also save a little time for ‘catching-up’ – this includes responding to emails, requests, etc. But I make sure to batch them together and get through them quickly. I like the 4D’s rule: Do, Delegate, Defer, or Delete.

How do you bring ideas to life?

First, deeply understand why it’s important (not just to you, but to the broader ecosystem or society). Once you have the ‘why’, everything else is just reverse engineering. A huge, healthy dose of persistence and resilience helps too. =)

What’s one trend that excites you?

I actually think over-following short-term trends can get companies into trouble. Because a trend, by definition, is a pattern that emerged over a recent and short period of time.

Instead, why not focus on long-term, fundamental truths that have held true for thousands of years and will continue to hold true for thousands of years? For instance, people will always want things to be easier, faster and for better value for money. Those are simple truths you can always count on and build towards. Trends are often shocks to the economic system and should work to supplement the longer-term truths.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

My good friend introduced me to his time tracking spreadsheet 2 years ago. And it’s a habit that I’ve stuck to every single day. In short, I bucket my time into a few priorities (for both work and personal – eg, strategy, people, learning, exercise, family time, etc).

At the end of each day, I check my calendar and see how many of my hours fit into the priority buckets (and whether I was over/under). The key benefit here is that it’s a habit that’s really helped give me focus and maintain perspective.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Focus on attributes or life-skills that compound over time. For example, a genuine love for learning, resilience, systems thinking, etc.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

To be truly happy yourself, you need to find a way to make other people happy.

Sounds weird, I know. But I’ve never met a baker who isn’t happy and these guys are up way before the crack of dawn. I think the smiles they put on people’s faces with their pastries or baguettes in the morning makes it all worthwhile.

Conversely, people I know who primarily live for themselves (no matter how big their paycheck), never seem to be happy or satisfied.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

My thesis advisor once told me: the most important thing, is to make the most important thing, the most important thing.

Granted, there are definitely times I didn’t follow that advice (and have paid for it). But I think I’m getting better at focusing on the most important things.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Keep things simple. (which, weirdly, is a LOT harder than it sounds)

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I’m counting for myself at least thousands… not just one.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A better way to solve (or even prevent) fraudulent online purchases. Using advanced security and data algorithms. (which should be possible with today’s technological capabilities)

Fraudulent online purchases cost internet retailers hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Worst still, the real victims are often small businesses who are trying to make a living, paying the bills and creating jobs.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

An ice, cold beer, after a long day. And no, it did not cost $100.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Google Sheets… on everything. =)

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Quench Your Own Thirst, by Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams beer). It’s a fun, easy read, packed with practical (and gritty) business advice. I wish I had read it 5 years earlier than I did.

What is your favorite quote?

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. – Sir Winston Churchill

Key learnings:

  • Focus and keep things simple
  • Develop attributes or life-skills that compound over time
  • To be truly happy yourself, find a way to make other people happy