No Pain, No Gain: The Hard Truth of Life

Marvin Liao
3 min readNov 13, 2021

Nothing worth doing is easy. This is the case in marriage, business, startups, investing, becoming good at anything.

Yet everyone is looking for the easy hack. This is why we are seeing the prevalence of “everyone gets a trophy” or the “participation award” BS. No real apparent outside enemies or threats so we turn against each other internally, hence the insane PC (Politically Correct) cultural wars going on right now.

Too much comfort and ease. Everyone wants an easy life without earning it. Hence, the proliferation of the term Growth Hack or Biohack or Lifehack.

We are watching a slow death in the western World & North Asia (Japan, Taiwan, S. Korea). We know it’s not getting any better but we don’t do anything about it. Apathy reigns. Reality is people prefer the devil they know than the one they don’t.

Yet this cannot last forever. We all know that unearned rewards are easily lost. How many lottery ticket winners end up losing all their money? How many hedge fund or day traders get beginner’s luck in their first few trades but then hit a very long losing streak? They never return to the game.

Look at the case with most of the ex-Soviet Bloc countries which saw their system end quite suddenly. Followed by almost a decade (or more) of chaos. Same in Lebanon, Argentina & Venezuela. Many of the people there are still suffering from the catastrophic collapses there.

That is why I am skeptical of the growing ESG (Environmental Social Governance) movement. I love the end goals of this. But I also understand human behavior and psychology. Add the crazy media hype around it which makes me extremely wary. People want a climate friendly social good world but are not willing to give up their creature comforts or make major changes for it. If the weird weather, regular forest fires and flooding were not enough to wake us all up. Yet nothing much has truly changed policy or consumer habit wise.

No one wants to sacrifice their lifestyle. Or at least they won’t until some really bad things happen that force them to do so. Reality is there will be a lot of pain before this change happens. Pain is a signal from your environment that something big has changed and you need to adapt. Otherwise you just keep ignoring it. It seems most of the world is still numb from all the weirdness in 2020.

So what’s the point of all this? Besides, wake the F — k up! From a personal perspective it’s important to be aware of what’s happening around you. The world has a way of testing us to see if we have the grit and determination to push through.

Watch the signals that are around you. Manage your cost structure tightly. Embrace the small discomforts to help you prepare for the big ones that are coming for us. This is why I think we are seeing the trend of cold showers, fasting & extreme sports rise among the self improvement set.

The West is in for some pain this next decade. Let’s hope we can turn this around before it’s too late.



Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything!