When it comes to success stories, we often only see what appears on the surface: an overnight achievement and some inspiring numbers. But most that have found success have only done so after braving challenges, overcoming them, and growing as a result. Their transformation from beginning to end is what’s inspiring, not just the end. Yet how do we continue growing after success? How do we find fulfillment in an era that focuses so much just on the virtues of achievement?
Delos Chang, an entrepreneur turned tech investor turned magician, is currently on that journey.
Chang ventured from a very young age into the world of software engineering, startups and investing. At the age of 19, he acquired a $15,000 grant from Dartmouth College via a business competition. By the age of 25, Chang transitioned fully into allocating his capital into early-stage tech investments and venture deals. With complete freedom of location and freedom of time, he could travel anywhere and work at his own schedule.
Chang contemplates, “Ascending Maslow’s hierarchy is such a privileged meme, but at the same time, I believe self-actualization is such a central existential question that everyone thinks about. For me, part of the answer was just learning as a beginner again and continuing the never-ending path of growth. A big distinction for me was discerning between what I thought I wanted, what I thought other people wanted, and peeling all those layers back to try and find a new calling. So I decided to become a magician.”
At 26, Chang performed at NYC’s Fantasma Magic Shop full-time as a magician for tourists, locals, TV segments like FOX5 news, and anybody who wanted to see something at the table counter. He would never talk about his former life or that he could be functionally retired: a magic trick of his own.
“In the end, I’m a firm believer that magic is not what makes the magician interesting. It’s (hopefully) the magician that makes the magic interesting. So I try not to let magic, wealth or anything define me because at the end of the day, what matters are human relationships.”
While going from investing millions to performing sleight-of-hand seems radically different, Chang states that there are actually lots of similarities.
“Thinking Fast & Slow is a popular book amongst magicians and it talks about the idea of a cognitive illusion. If you google ‘Müller-Lyer illusion’, you’ll see two identical lines that you perceive as not identical. You can even intellectually know the lines are identical, but your mind literally can’t help but see one longer than the other. Kahneman states that this is a cognitive illusion because intellectual knowing and subjective perception are two different things. I think about this concept a lot. What are the cognitive illusions in investing? What are life’s cognitive illusions?”
At present, Chang devotes most of his time to devising new magical effects. He also continues to plan and manage his investments.
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