Written by: Dean Hua

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How long does it take to become somebody to someone? Do you have to spend several months of building a relationship before making an impact? Several weeks? Several days? Could you detect potential after just one encounter?

It’s tough to say. Some of you received an email from me last year where I declared that I would only need one New Year’s Resolution from now until my dying days. Ok, so it may have been a bit melo dramatic of me. But I wanted to really set the tone for what 2007 was going to be about for me.

I insisted that I would become somebody to someone and just as equally, I was going to find people who would be a somebody to me and where I wanted to go in life.

Because you see, so many of us lack the “right life” and fail to realize what it takes to develop it. We don’t make the right money. We don’t have the right life partner. We don’t have the right essentials in our lives.

I realized that in order for me to have the right life that I would have to surround myself with the right people in my life. Last year was my first year in consciously and openly developing, strengthening, and maintaining my social and professional network. Prior to last year, many people had known for me having a pretty decent network and the wisdom for building it at a young age. I’m turning 30 on April 1st! Seriously.

But in typical Dean fashion, I was never satisfied. If the concept of networking, meeting people, and developing relationships was akin to being a game of sorts, then I wanted to take my game to the next level. I wanted better meaning, weed out the not-so-serious, and develop more remarkable relationships with the right people.

So one year has passed. Where am I now?

After the first year of being in what I call “The People Business”, I realized how much progress I’ve made and all the interesting people I’ve met along the way. I collected remarkable stories. I was never in the business of collecting emails, phone numbers nor business cards. But I was in the business of trying to collect people and their stories of who they were and where they are going. Perhaps I could come along for the ride with them. Our life is like a book. Each chapter unfolds with new characters coming in and some leaving. And I wanted to meet as many interesting characters as possible and see where our journeys would take us.

As a result, I saw an increase in my own business. I made a few new friends along the way. I managed to overcome the fear of jumping out an airplane- skydiving. And I grew personally, spiritually, and emotionally as well. Not too bad for just trying to meet new and interesting people, eh?

I knew that the first annual Dean’s List of 2006 would be completely different from that of 2007. Some names will drop out. New ones will get added in. Relationship building is a constant ebb and flow. For the official story to how I developed the Dean’s List and it’s significance, I would refer you to this blog entry that I wrote about it.

In short, The Dean’s List is a symbolism of excellence in relationship building. It’s the list of people who, in some shape or form, meant the most to me and made an impact on my life. They became somebody to someone and that someone was me. It didn’t’ matter if I knew them for one month or five years, remarkability can come in many forms and can happen anytime, but only if you allow for it to. I am reminded that the beauty that we see in others or lack thereof is a reflection of ourselves. I always tried hard to see the good in others because I knew that I would be rewarded for it.

Some people send out holiday cards. Some people send out an ecard thanking everyone for the year that just passed. Me? I got my list of characters and this annual email that I send to my entire professional and social network.

My goal with this email and the list itself is several fold;

  • To be a reminder and encourage excellence in all types of encounters and relationships that you build with people. To help encourage you to build your own list and thank those people who came along the way.
  • To publicly acknowledge those who made the most impact with me for the past year. Sometimes a simple acknowledgment of another person’s contribution is often enough for them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  • To reinitiate and start a conversation with many of you who I have not seen or heard from in a while. Maintaining a network with over 300 people on it is seriously a lot of hard work. Help a brother out here. Drop me a note of hello. Comment on this blog entry. Say hello and feel free to bring this up as a source of conversation. Refer me business, if you must (hint, hint) Do whatever, but feel free to keep in touch with me. Serendipity can happen anytime.

And so for those who made my own personal list, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope that this public acknowledgment be enough of a reward and to let whomever may read the blog entry know of your character and contributions to my life.

And without further ado, the 2007 Dean’s List is below. I welcome both comments on the blog and/or private hellos.

Based on last year’s response, I was flooded with emails so do bear with me if I am slow to respond initially.

If you are inspired by this, I would encourage you to forward this story to others in your own network. I knew of a few people who took this idea and made their own list last year. Or the ultimate form of inspiration is to create your own list about the people in your life.

Here’s to a great 2008. The sky’s the limit.

skydiving 2


My clients- Where would I be without you? Probably stuck working for someone else and giving my boss a hard time before he decided that he wanted to fire me for having too much of a smart mouth. While I can’t publicly acknowledge every single client that I have acquired over the past year, I hope that this simple paragraph would be enough for you. I mean hey, how many other consultants and designers do you know who are publicly thanking you on their own blog in front of 300 of their own social and business network? Not many. Thank you for trusting your business and hard-earned money with me. Thank you for allowing me to create a vision for what I have for you and your business. I hope that you’ll be able to refer your own colleagues and contacts to me in the future. Regardless, do stay in touch with me I always like to see the little guys (small businesses) win.

chrismoran.jpgChris Moran– One of my good guy friends. It’s so funny how we never hit it off initially but now I think so highly of you. Funny world, isn’t it? You have proven that nice guys can finish first. I’m extremely happy for you and Jennifer whom I also think the world of. And despite the new person in your life, I hope we’ll be able to share more adventures this year and have some great stories come out of them as well. Thank you for your friendship and some of the crazy anecdotes that has occured along the way. I hope we’ll find even crazier stories this year 🙂

rick dasslerRick Dassler– Dude- If you were 10 years younger and single again, we’d be out partying all the time. I can only think of a handful of my business contacts who not only do I respect as a professional but like as a friend as well. But despite the age difference, I think very highly of you as a very accomplished professional. I am very grateful to be able to have come to you for not only sound business advice, but solid advice about life as well and the occasional girl issues! You can be my wingman anytime!

Maria Sipka– What can I say? We really haven’t kept in touch much in the latter part of 2007 especially with the launch of Linqia and all the jetsetting that you are doing. But I will always remember you as someone who gave me the time of day and kept her word. I find it’s tough to find business people who will keep their word much less go out of their way to help you. And even though some of our propositions never did work out as they were supposed to, it is sometimes the thought and the gesture of goodwill that goes into it that matters as well. Thank you so much for just being genuine. Here’s to some exciting stuff for 2008.

jc duarteJC Duarte– Of all the people on this list, you are the one person I have had the least contact with. But yet, your work and passion in the field of love and romance has had an impact on my own life. It is through your passion for charm and poetry that has helped rekindled a long lost interest of mine- poetry. Little did I realize how much fun it was for me to express my own feelings through poems. And I thank you for that reminder. I want nothing but the best for you and Maria. It’s so rare that to find a relationship that the two of you share that not only is respectful of each other, but is also very adventurous. I think most people can live an entire life and never find the sort of love and relationship the two of you have. Hang onto it my friend. I know you will.

andrea morris gouletAndrea Goulet– I was so sad to hear you retire the business and go back to the corporate world even though I know it was a great gig that you landed. Even though our personalities were like night and day, I was truly impressed to find another young entrepreneur who shared mutual passions and similarities. Even though I never did tell you this, you were always an inspiration to me because of all the obstacles and challenges that you faced last year. I always knew that I could do it if you could too. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to know you for the short time that you were here. Truly an inspiration.

Sunny CervantesSunny Cervantes– I know of so few people who have such a self-deprecating humor of herself than you do. You never take yourself too seriously and I completey dig that about you since I always seem to take myself too seriously. I thank you for all the private laughs we shared as well as your unconditional support and help that you’ve given to me in business and in life. Your insight into life and business is always appreciated and the occasional love advice never hurts either…even if I don’t always listen to you.

kim lien nguyenKim-Lien Nguyen– You are truly one of my dearest friends in this whole wide world. I hope you’ll stay that way. I know of very few people whom I can rely on for such wisdom and insight that you provide. I know that when I drop you off at the airport this summer to go back west, that I’ll get a big hug from you as I always do. You give the best hugs. I’m going to sorely miss you, your physical presence, and your spirit. If I ever got married and had kids, I’d hope to instill the same wisdom and integrity into them that I see in you. I can count on one hand as to how many people whose word I would never have to doubt. You’re one of them.

lin 3Lin Chen– My other Lien, if you will. I was going to say that words could not describe what I think of you. But I guess that would be a lie as I believe I found a gift that described perfectly what I think of you, eh? When I think of you, I see a girl who has more to offer than she sometimes gives herself credit for. But I think it takes the right individual to see that and to have the right traits to bring that out of you. There are a few people who on this list who I could probably spend a page or two writing about. You’re certainly one of them. But I’ll save that for some other time. I know you think that it’s the adventures that we’ve shared that put you on this list. But really, it’s not. It’s what you’ve allowed me to understand and know of you that puts you here. And for such a supposedly simple girl, that simply says a lot. More than you’ll ever know. Heart to heart.

geoff livingstonGeoff Livingston– Considering that we both stood each other up on our first encounters, I think it’s simply amazing that I would even write anything about you. When I first asked around about you, the one common response that I got from people was, “Yeah, Geoff is a nice guy.” And apparently you are! Thank you for your generosity in business. I know you don’t do it for reasons of altruism at all, but a thank you still helps. It’s also ironic that I’ve never had to turn down as much business as I’ve had to do with you as well. But regardless, I thank you for being you and your generosity in business. Here’s to hoping that I don’t keep turning you down as often 🙂

leesa barnesLeesa Barnes– Damn girl. It’s been a long time. I know that you’re out and about accomplishing the dreams that you set a few years ago when you took the faithful leap of being an entrepreneur. I’d like to think that all it takes a simple phone call for us to pick up where we last left off. I appreciate us being there for each other in our down time as young entrepreneurs. Sometimes it just helps to have someone there that we can bitch and moan with and let it all out. No one does it better than Leesa and Dean.

marinel dejesusMarinel Dejesus– While we may we fuss and fight, I always still care and hope that I have shown that I can walk the walk while talking the talk. I thank you for all the private laughs that we have shared during endless dinners and the dance floor. I appreciate you coming to me for advice on love, life, and relationships. Just make sure that you keep listening to me and you’ll do just fine in life 🙂

sharon mooreSharon Moore– Funny how all it takes to get to know someone is to ask for a number, eh? When I think of you, I think of validation. Thank you for validating and acknowledging the principles that I have tried to stand for in building remarkable relationships. I never knew how much my presence meant to you until that one night in Rockville. Thanks for being on the other end of the phone and listening to my endless analysis of everything and anything in life. Thanks for being talkative but thanks for also knowing when to shut up and listen. Thank you for being you.

Honorable mention: Some relationships are still rather new and you never know what might happen if time and energy are put into them. Below are just a few people have made an impact on me in such a short time period. I think we all have a few of these types of people in our lives.

Dana Shaddad, Jennifer Mitchell, Tak Lo, Paula Hay.

dana shaddad 2jennifer mitchelltak lopaulahay1.jpg


Update 3/31/08: I had to share a few private responses that I got from people that I thought were very poignant and flattering in many ways. It’s these types of responses that encourage me to spend quite a few hours on this one communicae.

  1. This is a very beautifully written article. You are saying what many wondering souls in DC have been trying to tell but hardly did.
  2. You should feel proud to be uninhibited enough to share your thoughts with us and it is very admirable that you publicly acknowledge/thank people who have made a difference in your life. Good luck in 2008!
  3. …I felt honored. We both enjoyed your company immensely. You have a kind spirit and a positive energy that we both connect with; there’s definitely a reason why we all found each other this year.

Update 4/3/08: I must be on to something because I see a simliar meme going on here which is now spreading here and here and who knows where else. People always said that I was ahead of my time and now I know what they mean 🙂

Thanks Mitch for being inspired to have your own list as well. Any more takers?


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  1. Dean,

    I am so inspired to deepen my connections to the people close to me and expand my circle as well. This year I plan to take full advantage of the organized events through meetup and seek out people with common interests as I sometimes feel I don’t always have “the right people” in my life. So thanks for sharing your sincere words.

  2. dude, can’t you find a better picture of me to post up there? lol.. seriously though, adventure only brought us together, but heart-to-heart talks brought us closer. you’re full of surprises, and i can’t wait for more. on another note, what’s our next adventure??

  3. Dean– You got my heart-felt thanks for appreciating my friendship. I’d like to make a serious comment and really thank you for being there when I needed someone the most…and yes it was even a matter of life and death. You didnt’ have to do what you did but you did it anyway. I hope we can be friends for life. Yes, we’ve had our conflicts here and there but the true nature of friendship only reveals itself when there are conflicts. Also, it’s quite amazing how a year ago we talked about meeting new people and you mentioning your Dean’s list. I admire your conscious effort to make life more meaningful for you. It’s not often that people would come up with realization that what makes life genuinely important is the relationships that we establish and the efforts that require such relationships to last. I’m inspired by the thought and part of me can relate to your desire to find comfort in having true friends. We have bonded over the year and I hope that continues for life.

  4. Thanks for updating me on your goings-on. 2007 was a crazy-busy year for me, and I hope to do more connecting this year. Thanks for the inspiration! Great photo of you sky-diving!!!

  5. What can I say? I am surprised and honoured.. I have no doubt that you were somebody to alot of someones out there this year too Dean 🙂
    Young, bright, articulate, focused.. I can go on about you for a while.. a young head on such young shoulders, the world is at your feet. Live it and love it! x

  6. False advertising!

    I got an email that said that I made the Dean’s List, but I’m not on it … 🙁

    Now I know what EMO feels like.

    Seriously though, Dean, great concept. You are a lyrical … lyricist, and it was a pleasure to read. I will now aspire to make a list like this soon. But first, I’ll need to make some friends.

  7. Hey Dean,

    Thanks for your kind words. I never made the “Dean’s list” in college, but your list means more. I am honored to be included. Your list and website are quite inspiring.
    I am glad we both shared the skydiving and rafting experiences.
    I really got to know you during my “Summer of Nothing” and my “Fall of Everything”
    Whether we are discussing life’s nuances or the next extreme sport, here’s to more adventures.

  8. Whee! 2 years in a row on the Dean’s List. *lol* This must be how being on the Oscars feels like. Nyahahaha!

    I’m so happy we’re friends and that you’re always there for me as well esp when things go nutty. Psssst.

    I have profound thoughts about you know based on you know. Ya know, if you got your butt moving, we wouldn’t be talking in codes forever. Hahahahaha!

    Please try not to jump off something somewhere again for the rest of this year. I have Ice Age visions of you whenever you go jumping off somewhere. At the rate you’re going, I will have a coronary very soon. Sigh.

    Thank you for your friendship as well. It means the world to me. How very Hallmark of me, donchutink? *lol*

  9. Hey Marinel- I think those were the kindest words that you have ever said to me. I never knew you could be such a softie to me since we are always busting each other!

    Ed- Dude- reread it again, bro if you are trying to figure out if you are on the list. I’ll give you a hint- you fall just above Chris

    Chris- We need to find new trips so we can create new anecdotes and stories. The whole whitewater raiding story is starting to wear on me 🙂

    Sunny- You always have me laughing. But try not to start causing more trouble you troublemaker you .

  10. Dana- Try not to cry because I finally said something nice about you 🙂 You’ve got a pretty strong head yourself dear and tons of potential at such a young age. Ciao, ciao!

  11. It’s rare anybody ever takes the time to ponder and reflect on the people who have impacted their lives in some way and express it in such a generous, thoughtful manner. I really admire you Dean – your generosity, spirit and outlook on life is extraordinary. As they say – it’s the books you read and the people you meet which determine who you become. With such an incredible list of people in your life already you are living a magical life my friend. Keep being you! And thanks so much for being in my life too.

  12. “Deano” my man, you’ve hooked me as a fan.
    Deano the dude, always in a great mood.
    Deano the romantic, maybe learning tantric?
    Deano the charmer, the night in shining armor.
    Deano the man of mystery, you’re sure to go down in history.
    Deano you’re a treasure, to know you is our pleasure.
    Deano it’s your Birthday, we yell hip hip hurray.
    Deano you’re no fool, it’s April 1st and 1st is cool.

  13. WOW! I mean, WOW!

    Thanks so much for the heartfelt endorsement. I’m honored to have made the “Dean’s List” (fabulous title btw!)

    I’m just in Richmond though – I’m not dead. I’m still “here” and just a short drive (or click on facebook) away. ;~)

  14. Dean
    Great to get your latest list. Been thinking about you and your achievements, as your birthday approaches – and is, on my timeclock, now here. You are still on my list of super networkers and outstanding examples of how to connect, in that for you it’s all about people and not mere numbers. I know we haven’t been in touch much lately: there’s enough left of 2008 to remedy that. It’s already April 1 here in the land downunder (although for us who live here it’s not really “under”) and I wish you a most excellent birthday. Much joy! All honor to The Dean and his List!

  15. I have to say, Dean, that this is impressive. I’m glad we found a way to connect on Facebook, though we don’t talk there all that often (who does, by the way), but I get to track your progress towards the greatness I know you want to reach in your life. I hope I beat you there, but only because I’m older. 🙂

  16. Happy Birthday my friend – you are an inspiration for staying in touch with contacts and networking … it funny because with as much networking as we both do – I run into so many people that say “Do you know Dean?” You are remarkable – the “Dean’s List” is brilliant – and the observance as you celebrate your new year is brilliant … what a great time to celebrate with the people we care about.

    You were wonderful reaching out to me 3 1/2 years ago when I moved here from Chicago and I came to a local Ryze meeting … as you know I was involved in with Ryze in Chicago – as well as many other networking groups.

    I was also amazed at your persistence and energy trying to make the local LinkedIn group work … and the frustrations of getting others to commit time and energy to make this happen …and all your social networking – Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Plaxo and more … You are a pro (virtual and face-to-face) – but even more important is your passion, and it comes from your heart.

    Thank you so much for reaching out to me and including me on this year’s Dean’s List … as I always ask … please let me know how I can help you! Any time. Any place. Have an awesome day and year!

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