Written by: Dean Hua

Reading Time: minutes

I was thinking about some of the holiday well wishes that I got from various people over email recently. I had considered sending out holiday cards but I wanted to go for something more poignant, less time consuming, and just as heartfelt. And so I came up with The Dean’s List. Back in college, if you made the Dean’s List, then it meant that you had reached a high level of academic excellence. In this case, if you make my list, then it means you have made a high an impact on my life personally or professionally.

Once you read past this list, I also explain below it’s importance and I hope that it inspires you to do something similar. I hope you take on a similar resolution.

  1. Jennifer: You may be my oldest niece, but you’re like a little sister to me. You’ve come so far so fast and I’m proud to have seen you mature so much in these past few years. You’ve got alot going for you. Good luck with college. It’s my hope that before you graduate that you’ll understand that while books are good, people are better. People is what will power your career and your life. I’m really interested to see what aspect of a career in design that you’ll pick. I’m a bit bummed that you may not go into fashion as I was hoping to hobnob with all the models that you’d meet. It should your duties as a niece to do that for your uncle :). But hey, even a career in graphic design ain’t too shabby. Who knows, you just may be my future business partner. I can hear your mom groaning already.
  2. Leesa Barnes: Frack! Need I say more? In case I do, I’m just glad that we’ve kept in touch with each other after all this time. I appreciate how articulate you can be but yet still have a good ear for listening. Most can talk, but can’t really listen. Yet, you seem to have both and you are only a few years older than I. What’s your secret? And thanks for the funny business anecdotes that you’ve shared with me over the year. I swear that the stuff you describe can only happen to you!
  3. Joenn Khoo: Remember that joke that I made about how beautiful your dress was and trying to unwrap it? I think of you in a similar respect. You always seem to pleasantly surprise me. The more I run into you, the more pleasantly surprised I am at learning something about you. It’s like trying to take the Christmas wrap off and figure out what’s inside of you. And when I get to the end, I am pleasantly surprised to find something else interesting about you. I feel like it’s Christmas everytime we meet.
  4. Maria Sipka: What can I say that the two of us haven’t articulated privately? It’s just amazing how two people from opposite ends of the world share a passion for community building. But when you think about it, it has little to do with the C word, does it? Because it really is all about people and the two of us enjoy doing that on varying levels. You’ve blown me away with your experiences, stories, and insight. You push forward without hesitation or fear. I am inspired. You share me your Sipka-isms and I will share you my Deanisms and we’ll have the making of a great book on people.
  5. Denise O’Berry: We’re both busy and don’t really “see” much of each other nowadays. How did you manage to be so concise and succinct in everything that you say? If you know the answer, can you go teach that to everyone else to be just as articulate? It’s such a precious gift to have.
  6. Scott Allen: Speaking of articulate. I’ve never known anyone to be pissed off at you. My wish in 2007 is that you’ll manage to piss at least one person off so that the rest of us can feel secure about ourselves. Can you do that, Scott? Pretty please.
  7. Lien Nguyen: You truly live up to “softie” status. Kind, compassionate, and understanding is how I have always known you. I know you’re so busy saving lives as a doctor, but I know that every person you run into, be it a friend, stranger, patient, or otherwise, you will have an effect on them as you have on me. Any guy would be lucky to have you. By the way, you’re very huggable too! I’m getting 2 of that shirt- one for you and one for me.
  8. Lin Chen: It hasn’t been very long for the two of us. There is still a lot more to know and learn but I appreciate the time spent so far. I think you underestimate your abilities in certain areas and you just need someone to recognize those other great qualities that you have. I hope that doesn’t sound cryptic. I see certain things in you that I really like and respect. And thanks for letting me use the photo below. I realize like the pic.
  9. Sunny Cervantes: You live up to your name in every regards. But you’re also strong and very loyal. I can’t think of a lot of people who embody those two traits. I appreciate your loyalty, friendship and all the laughs along the way. But I’m still funnier than you are. Keep on LOLing for me.
  10. Zhiyi Yu: You were my first impression of your company. You didn’t disappoint and I’m glad that I stuck around because that caused me to make some great connections. I’ll never forget the impression that you made on me.
  11. Kevin Barrett: Youthful and wise at the same time- great combination to have. I wish there was a chance that I can learn more from you but alas some things are beyond our control, eh? I still think you have a slight accent, though
  12. Krissy Jackson: Your spirit and resilience knows no bound. Your son has a great role model. I thank you for helping me build up the community that we have so far. I really am inspired by your personality and spirit. It is something that I can learn to shoot for. Don’t change, babe.
  13. Russ Howard: You talk about how you’ve learned so much from me, but you are far more kind and compassionate than I can be at times. You live up to your billing as a Texan. Don’t change those qualities about you. Be bold. Be confident. Let every step you take convey those qualities and you’ll do just fine.
  14. Lisa Ocone: I will always affectionately refer to you as my as my em. While some people may see as two very different people on the outside, I think we have more in common on the inside than meets the eye. And while it may be hard to believe, I’ve learned quite a bit from you. Ive learned your little secret in how you manage to make friends wherever you go. I’m not as good as you are yet, but I’ve learned a few tricks from you and I’m getting there. Thank you, em.
  15. Susan Ciccantelli: You are sooooo Sachi! That phrase should summarize it all. Thanks for the inspiration.
  16. Danielle Bailey: You were so instrumental in helping me get the business off the ground. I know you had a lot of personal issues to take care off and it was hard for us to keep in touch after that. But my door is always open to you. I enjoyed all the jokes that we shared. You are truly selfless not too bad for a redneck. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
  17. Krista Goon: If we lived closer to each other, you could almost be like my older sister. Like Danielle, I appreciate the help and advice that you’ve given me throughout this past year. Thanks for your patience in the project but most importantly, thanks for just being there.
  18. Bengt Wendel: I think there is a lot that I can learn from you. But for whatever reason, we really haven’t made the time to connect as of yet. When we do, it’s either that we’ll both learn a lot from each other or we’ll both end up facing off in an intelligent and heated debate every single time. Either way, they should both prove to be fun.
  19. Jared Martin: Thanks for letting me come on with the group. Didn’t I tell you that by December, we would kick some serious butt? 2007 is going to be exciting and I’m looking forward to continue building up this community of people we have so far.
  20. Des Walsh: As hard as a time that I give you and the fact that I’m far younger than you, I’m surprised you’ve never wanted to just strangle me. I’m glad you take my challenges and queries as just that and it is a testament to your patience and wisdom that you’ve gained through life. Despite the age gap, you’ve never treated me as a lesser of two equals. I’ve always enjoyed our talk on business and strategy. Cerebral and articulate is how I best describe you.
  21. Vandana Purohit: I’m telling you girl- this ain’t no coincidence that we are just running into each other again after a long hiatus. I’m just as excited about what 2007 holds for you as you are. I always say that networking is serendipitous in every respect and it’s my hope that this is another example of that level of serendipity.
  22. Carol Williams: To one of my “originals.” You took a chance on my idea. Not alot of people would’ve done so but that’s a testament to the faith that you have in people. It’s because of your faith in me that I was able to fine tune that big idea and make it profitable for others. Thanks for being the “guinea pig” that I needed at the time. Of course, based on the growth that I see in your business for the past year, I don’t think you have a problem with being my little guinea. Here’s to future guineas!

I came to understand that the greatest need for any human being is to feel wanted and connected. It’s what I refer to as the the longing for belonging. It took me such a long time to learn that lesson of people. Be it a girlfriend, business associate, friend, client, church member, or stranger on the street, I know there isn’t a person in this world that doesn’t want to feel validated and acknowledged.

This is the most important lesson that I’ve had to learn in my young life. We all contribute to each others success and failures. We are our own community. I realized just how important building communities and connections are now. Whether it’s a relationship with your spouse, your circle of friends, or your co-workers, we all want to feel like we belong and matter.

For this New Year, I resolve to building up this list. As Maria and I once said to each other; to meet more people and build more quality relationships. If you take care of that, then so many of the other typical resolutions will be taken care of on its own. Through more relationships, you’ll probably find someone who can motivate you to stop smoking or lose a few more pounds. You can probably find a business contact that can help you make more money or move up in your career. You can probably find someone to travel the world with.

As for 2006, I thank you for making me feel rich beyond words. You move me and I hope I’ve reciprocated in kind. This little list is my own way of acknowledging your contribution to my life and my purpose. When you see the beauty in others, they start to see it in you. I don’t know how to explain it, guys. But it’s like I see the world in a new way that I’ve never seen before.

I hope that this inspires you to reflect on your own circle of influence, continue building your list, and start paying it forward. Who has moved you? Who has contributed to your wealth? Are there people out there who you are totally grateful for running into? And most importantly, do they know about it?

By December 31st, 2007, this list will be three times bigger than what it is now.

And for those wondering- no, I didn’t have anything to drink while writing this. Believe it or not, I’m not always serious and I do have a soft side. What can I say, I’ve softened up quite a bit over the past year. I have you guys to blame for this. 😉

If you choose to duplicate this initiative, please drop me an email and I will be happy to include a link to your personal list. I hope to see more people do something in a similar fashion and make this part of their New Year Resolution.
With the right people in your life, all things are possible.

With affection,
Dean Hua

Update: To celebrate her most recent birthday, Leesa Barnes created a list of people who have influenced her life over the past year. Very nice and poignant. And I even got an honorable mention!


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  1. Sniff. And here I thought you couldn’t make me sniff. Hmp. I’m so glad we met and became friends. You have made an impact on my life as well. Because of you, I am now staring at a paintball gun and seriously thinking of the game’s merits. LOL.


  2. Awww Dean! Best Xmas gift ever, being mentioned on your esteemed blog. Internet surfing is awful in Asia at the moment but you just made it mucho better. Thanks for the kind mention…. and yes, the friendship too. Sister? Hmmmmm! 😉

  3. Dean –

    I’m so honored to have been mentioned. You’re an amazing person and would have launched your business either way I’m sure. I’ve always admired your professionalism and even your Yankee sense of humor (Yankee though it is). Bless your heart 🙂


  4. aww that is so sweet! i’m so glad that i’ve met you too. you’re one of the coolest and nicest person i’ve ever met. i wish you nothing but the best in the new year. 🙂

  5. Bengt- I dunno if anyone follows the show, Heroes, but their slogan that’s built into the 2007 season is, “Are you on the list?” Hmmmm….

    Sunny- I can make alot of girls sniff if I really wanted to. But gosh, the biggest impact I made on your life was pushing you into paintball? lol.

    Krista- Well, perhaps, older Malaysian sister that I never had. I already have two sisters in the family. Though, another sister wouldn’t hurt.

    Danielle- Wow, the redneck returns and she starts slinging Yankee insults at me again. I feel sooo loved right now. Seriously, nice to see hear from you after such a long hiatus.

    Lin- BTW, really nice butterfly necklace thingy. I would’ve said how beautiful it made you look that night and how it accentuates your outfit, but you or someone would’ve said how gay I was being for saying that. So either way, I can’t win with you guys anymore. But hey, nice hair-do. Are you bringing sexy back? 😉

  6. Dean..this is the nicest holiday message ever. Original, beautifully spoken. You rock big time, dude. I am very “sachi” to have met you! Namaste…and keep on listening!

    p.s. Have I said anything interesing here? Perhaps not! Then I owe you…I’m totally OK with that. Here’s wishing you Peace & Prosperity in 2007.

  7. Dean, what a unique and special gift. thank you! you’re right, we all want to feel loved 🙂 i don’t think it’s a coincidence that we met up again either..i just love these miracles.

  8. Ah, Deanie. My Asian brother from another mother (and father). It’s funny that even though we have never met in person, I feel as if you’re one of my closest friends. Thanks for listening to my rants, thanks for commiserating with me…actually, thanks for being you.

  9. Hi, HDH,

    It was a great idea!

    Powers of a “net working” shows in this entry. And you surely illustrate what I mean with QIN – and that is not either a chinese dynasty or an instrument. It is the acronym of Qualitative Intentional Networking. Here is your list of people that matters most, for sure.

    H. Dean Hua.

    A Networker with a Cause :).


    Sustainopreneurship = Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Sustainability

  10. Dean, This is truly one of the best ideas I have ever seen! I must make one of these lists. I’m going into the hospital today for some back surgery. What a great time to reflect on the people who have impacted my life. I’m certain you will be on my list. Thanks to your advice on blogging, I have been successful beyond my wildest dreams. Thanks! Carol

  11. Great way to start the new year! Although I’ve only met you once in DC, I have always felt you were one to connect with others easily.

    Look forward to seeing you again as our paths cross in 2007. Stay in touch and look me up when you’re in the Richmond, VA area.

  12. Sometime people suprise you in life. This is one of the most thoughtful things I’ve ran across. The idea to let those whose impacted your life. Hats off to You!!!

  13. As always Dean, your view and unique perspective continue to inspire and uplift the spirit.

    I’ve a couple of thoughts here. First, your basic premise is true. You may, as time passes take it a step further.

    Over my years I’ve seen people that were both much older than me (my parents at 42 and 44 and a man named Harry at 93) die and I wondered if who they were ever passes on as well. The answer is NO.

    They continue to live through each person they’ve touched in their life experience.

    You’ve probably seen the expression, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” Also true. However, if you express yourself, or know how to dress, maybe do business in a foreign country, speak more than one language, use and improve upon a lesson learned from another, then the person you’ve learned from never really stops impacting your life and therefore, lives on with all of us as we impact the lives of those we care about.

    No man or woman is an island. Everyone is impacted by others and this creates for us all a rich texture of life experiences.

    It’s great to receive your expression of appreciation and inclusion. You are still wise beyond your years.

    Happy New Year Dean!

  14. *grins* Oh Dean, I would never insult you. You’re the epitome of who I would consider as the perfect friend. You understand when I need to hide from the world and accept me back, freckles, flaws and all when I peek back in. You never harshly judge, you appreciate talents in people when they don’t see those talents themselves, and you come up with these flashes of brilliant ideas that make the rest of us say ‘Oh! Let me go do that too!!” You carve a place in the world for kindness, calm wisdom, compassion, friendship, intelligence, and humor. You are well loved by people who have never met you simply because you are who many of us strive to be when we want to be a better person.

    Best wishes, no insults,

  15. The hell of a marketing piece for an effective and interesting communicator. Dean, you really make a better version of the world so doing. Stay in touch and be good.

  16. I cannot agree with you more about the importance of showing appreciation to people who have made an imprint to our lives. I want to thank you once again for your time and effort in developing CAAAN’s web site. Best wishes in 2007!

  17. It takes talent for a guy to turn a NYE-alcohol-induced-(but-that’s-just-an-excuse)-pick-up-line into such a beautiful analogy…and post it publicly (unwrapping a dress, eh). Thank you, Dean. It’s certainly more original and preferable to “peeling the layers off of an onion”…cause no one really aspires to be, well, an onion.

    It has been a pleasure getting to know you too. I’m glad to have been the first to convey to you my observation of your calm (yet expressive) presence.

    Christmas everytime we meet…more reasons to fill our bellies!

  18. Hi Dean, Thanks for putting me on the Dean’s list. You also took a chance on me. You spent a lot of time building in the “back room” of my blog and advising me on the phone. Believe me,I do realize that. And, you trusted I would pay you as we agreed. I was glad to, for you ARE worth every dollar!

  19. I made the Dean’s List! First time in like 20 years.

    This is a cool idea, Dean, and thanks.

    Yes, I have pissed people off. Out of context, he makes me look the Devil himself, but, well, I’ll stand by the record of what happened. 🙂 There are at least a few people on MLPF who think I’m an arrogant, self-righteous SOB, too, but they shouldn’t be mad at me for just calling them on their own bad choices.

    So yes, people DO get pissed at me. I just don’t ever get pissed at them, so I think I still qualify for sainthood. 🙂

    I love the Snap previews, btw — going to have to check that out.

  20. I waited awhile before I would respond as to see who else would respond.

    I want to thank everyone for their kinds words, publicly and privately. And to think, I was this close to not even publishing it.

    It is truly my hope that a few people will pick up on the idea and let their list know about how grateful you are to them. Yeah- I know, it’s kind of mushy. But once a year isn’t too much to ask for, right? If there was ever an idea that should spread, then I do think this would be it. And yes, Scott, as you said on your blog, I hope it becomes a meme. I know a few of you have emailed me privately and toyed with the idea. I definitely hope that you do it. And I will be the first to push you along.

    It has so little with it being an ego thing for me. Of course, notoriety never hurt anyone. But when you see what I see, then you can’t hope that others catch on to a similar vision. Isn’t that right, Carol?
    Quite a few doors of opportunities have opened up to me recently because I sent this out to about 150 of my closest contacts. And I’m pretty sure the same would happen for you as well.

    Like I said, surround yourself with the right people and all things become possible. Geez, where do I come up with these lines???


  21. This is the coolest end of year/ new year idea ever!

    My dear friend Dean. You’re such a thoughtful, endearing person. Really! I’m touched by your email. How often do others think about others these days without – as you said about networking – a sales pitch in disguise. Dean – you’re heading to some exciting places. You’re on the right journey. And you will meet more magical people along the way that will change and move you in ways you would never have dreamed off. I admire you the most for doing the things that scare you. Reaching out to people when you’re not an extrovert can be very challenging. And you’ve taken the leap. Good on you! Reading your email gave me hope to continue on the path unknown. It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone and if for some reason things don’t go in the direction we thought… well… we simply turn back, back track and find a new path. I’m on a flight to Barcelona from Sydney now. Haven’t been on email for the last week or two and I wanted to have a clear head space when I read your email. This year is going to be a HUGE year. It’s our year Dean. Let’s all dive into the deep end and rejoice in 12 months at all the wonderful adventures experienced. 🙂 Maria

  22. Well Dean.. we’ve yet only met by exchanging profiles on Xing… we’ve had a brief telephone conversation.. but Maria has told me so many wonderful things about you.. which I can only validate after reading this inspiring gesture you published for New Years! WOW.. a “Deans List”.. how cool!! great idea and wonderful of you to publicly acknowledge those who have been instrumental in your life, or moved you in some way. Congratulations on the wonderful human being that you are.. hurray for the beautiful soul that you posses & WOW (!!) for the generous heart that beats within you! It’s an honor to make the acquaintance of special people such as yourself!

  23. Hello Dean,

    Moving through your site I realized I did not leave a “Thank You” for being placed on the “Deans List”…. I did however, send you a personal note for this honour back in January… so… I am now leaving an acknowledgement and “Thank You:…

    I would like to also say, for anyone looking for great web design, this is the place… Well, actually more than Web Design….. Dean has an excellent grasp on the essential components of Marketing, particularly Internet Marketing… (Blogging, Viral Marketing, etc…) Plus, the added bonus of being able to translate what a person wants via phone, email etc… and delivering the completed package…. Without having to be “Face-to-Face”…. And that is what the internet is all about… building relationships, building your business, exchanging ideas and concepts from around the world… and “Creating” something of Value….

    He is truly a “Chief Web Evangelist”….

  24. Hey Dean,

    How come you didn’t come up with a Dean’s List for 2008? I was thinking of you earlier today since your birthday is coming up. I hope you are doing well.


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