A Decade Discovering The Magic of Reading with The Literacy Project

Literacy Project

This is a very exciting year for The Literacy Project! As we go into our tenth school year of teaching students, we can’t help to be grateful for helping over 9,000 children in need. We had great success last year and plan to showcase three of our students who excelled tremendously in their reading skills this past school year at our upcoming annual gala this October. A celebration of “The Magic of Reading” will take place at the Balboa Bay Resort honoring the students who strive for success through our program and the local community who supports them. We are so excited to celebrate all that we have accomplished this past decade and look forward to helping many more generations of students in Southern California.

It’s no myth that illiteracy is a threat to the success of our youth. Studies have shown that many students begin to fall behind in literacy levels by the time they reach fourth grade. After that, their ability to catch up decreases significantly, while their chances of dropping out and giving up on school increases inversely. Our mission here at The Literacy Project is to provide the extra care and attention to students at risk of falling behind from their peers and build their confidence to succeed. Not only do we help students learn to love reading, but we provide a fun, socially interactive environment for students to learn together, all while doing what children love the most – playing games with their friends!

We have instilled new confidence in students from our program who have gone from fearing words to finding a love and passion for reading. One of our teachers, Ms. Nancy, from the Coachella Valley School District says the difference she sees in her students is inspiring, “It’s amazing to see all their little faces when they say a right sound, the big smiles and big eyes show how proud they are of themselves. Sometimes it’s just that confidence that they need to become a better reader and to learn to actually like to read.” We’ve been able to help children improve their literacy skills and overcome the insecurities of illiteracy. They no longer see reading as a challenge, but as an adventure.

In the upcoming years, while we continue to support and mentor students in our homelands of Orange County, we are also planning to bring The Literacy Project to new areas. Last year we inducted a new chapter of the program in Utah and are currently looking forward to branching out in Arizona as well. Our foundation provides lifelong skills to children in need, all while teaching them to have fun and make friends. The difference we have made in thousands of students lives over the past ten years is something we will never forget. We will continue to build new hope and confidence in students across the county and in our new chapters.

Anduril Industries Moves into New Headquarters with the Help of Hughes Marino

Anduril Industries is a different kind of defense technology company. Anduril builds creative cost-effective technology that aids those who serve on the front lines defending the nation and its interests. The company’s approach is to innovate fast, with the best talent, funding their own product development, and only sell it when it’s ready. Anduril’s core technology includes artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, sensor fusion and the application at the front lines of operations. They focus on applying their technology to defense, law enforcement and the securing of critical infrastructure.
Founded by Palmer Luckey, who previously founded and sold Oculus to Facebook for $2 billion, and joined by co-founders Brian Schimpf, Trae Stephens, and Matt Grimm, who come from senior positions at Palantir, and Joe Chen, who previously was product lead at Oculus, Anduril’s team has grown into a 100+ person organization with offices both in Orange County, CA, and Washington, D.C.

Earlier this summer, Anduril moved into its brand new 155,000 square foot corporate headquarters, located in Irvine at 2722 Michelson.
Anduril’s move into their new home marked the conclusion of over a year-long process of securing the perfect building to support their growing team of technologists, and the final space is one of the most cutting-edge and innovative workspaces in the region.

Reportedly the largest office lease signed in 2018 countywide, a project of this scale requires a massive amount of strategy, design and coordination, which Hughes Marino was proud to lead.

Click here to learn more

SOCi Updates

1. SOCi Go: We’re excited to share we just released a new version of our SOCi Go mobile app. Here is an article from our Portal that goes over how to update/download the newest version depending on your OS. I know your team had a ticket around getting a backlog of the push notifications, and we’re not seeing that with the new app. I also wanted to let you know that V2 of the app will include the ability to toggle different notifications on and off in the app. I’ll let you know when that is released.

2. SOCi Multi-Connect: This is a new view that allows you to see what users have the correct FB/IG admin permissions and have a linked ‘token’ in SOCi. This will provide a backup if one of your users loses access to any pages for whatever reason. Connection strength can be increased by having multiple users in your account authenticate with Facebook and relink to SOCi. Click “Increase Strength” to authenticate with Facebook and improve the connection strength.

3. Listings Management: This is the newest product our team is adding into SOCi. It is tentatively scheduled for October and would be an add on to your contract. This product will allow you to manage your customer’s online listing information from one dashboard in SOCi.

Tompkins International Recognized as a Best Logistics Consulting Firm by ALM Intelligence

ALM Intelligence – Consulting division, previously known as Kennedy Consulting, has named Tompkins International a top leader in the logistics consulting industry. Tompkins International was one of six firms selected due to its ability to create impact for clients and overall logistics consulting capabilities.

Logistics consulting addresses the development and execution of best practices for managing the movement and storage of goods across the supply chain. Primary activities involve network strategy and design and warehouse, inventory and transportation management.

In its report, The ALM Vanguard: Logistics Consulting, ALM Intelligence states, “As a boutique firm specializing in logistics and distribution, Tompkins International’s experienced consultants bring a highly informed point of view in collaborating with client teams to develop customized solutions that enhance agility and flexibility when responding to changing market conditions.”

For more than 40 years, ALM Intelligence has been researching the management, financial and IT consulting industry, studying the global consulting marketplace at multiple levels. ALM’s Vanguard research series assesses firms in terms of their relative ability to create impact for their clients. In addition to its overall rating assessments of consulting providers’ depth and breadth of capabilities and best-in-class provider designations, this series includes detailed capability evaluations for each covered provider as well as a qualitative analysis of their consulting organization, approach and service delivery model.

Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina with offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia, Tompkins International is a supply chain consulting and integration firm that maximizes supply chain performance and value creation. It enables clients to be more profitable and valuable, while also becoming more agile, flexible and adaptive to the marketplace. Tompkins International collaborates with client teams to develop improved operations strategies and supply chain planning and execution across all the Mega Processes of supply chains (PLAN-BUY-MAKE-MOVE-DISTRIBUTE-SELL). To learn more about Tompkins International and its end-to-end supply chain and logistics services, please visit www.tompkinsinc.com.

BIASC CEO Jeff Montejano Named to the Inaugural Group of Policy Experts in Conjunction with the SoCal Policy Forum

Jeff Montejano

The SoCal Policy Forum, created by the Southern California News Group in partnership with the Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside, serves as a platform to regularly convene policy experts on timely issues that can better engage and inform the larger public. Experts selected to participate in the forum comprise a select group of business leaders, elected officials, academics, philanthropists and issue advocates.

“I’m honored to be included in such a distinguished group of policy experts and would like to commend the Southern California News Group and UC Riverside for undertaking such an important endeavor,” said Montejano. “With California’s housing crisis reaching unprecedented levels, I look forward to the opportunity to address the critical steps that must be taken to create more housing not only in Southern California but throughout the state.”

Learn more and stay tuned for updates

The Secret of my SuperPower

Kevin Viner

Written by Kevin Viner, Mentalist

After my shows/experiences I create, people often come up to me to try and understand the secret of my “powers”. I frequently get a version of this question: “You don’t have to tell me how you do what you do, but can you tell me what is the nature of what you do? Is it a trick or is it something else? Is it something you can teach?”

When I hear this question, I smile inside and feel I’ve been successful in creating a temporary disruption of the ideas we have about reality J. In response to this question, therefore, I always try to give an answer that makes that question even stronger, and brings appreciation to that place of not knowing which makes us open to discover more.

For that reason, I never share the secret behind what I do as a Mentalist. Just as I won’t share the secret of how I climbed this rock wall in Moab, Utah a few days ago without any ropes or safety gear. I will just leave you in the Unknown – the state that I was in when looking at the overwhelming beauty I experienced there.

However, there is a secret which I thought could be worth sharing – not the secret of my “powers” – but the secret of my “SuperPower”.

First to say that I do not claim to have powers, as I see myself as an artist. However, I do have a SuperPower: As a Mentalist, and as a human being, I’ve always been interested to see things that lie below the surface. Things that we may not be able to see, feel, or touch, yet we know they are real and present: Love, Mystery, Purpose, the Universe… these are some of the intangible aspects of life that have captured my attention the most.

The SuperPower I am talking about is the ability to perceive the depth that lies below the surface. I experience this in all kinds of ways: looking below the surface of what motivates the actions and choices I make, striving to see what is beyond the initial impression or judgment of another person, contemplating the biggest questions about Life itself, who we are, why are here, and where we are going.

The secret to this SuperPower is a curiosity that is free from boundaries. It is penetrating, as it does not impose ideas at how things are and how things can be. It is what I strive to inspire with my work as a Mentalist, and as an Educator. It is my most intimate, precious secret.

It is not always easy and it does not always feel natural, even for me, even if it is my SuperPower, to be so curious… especially when I am tired or I make a mistake. I rather recoil, and be safe. We are conditioned to have boundaries, to limit life and what is possible, to put ourselves and others in a box, to label life. And yes we do need labels, we do need boundaries to function in society, to communicate, to live together. I am not denying that. But when we can at least temporarily suspend these boundaries and not impose our ideas on the vastness of who we are and what lies beyond what we see, touch, feel or think… so much more is possible.

People often ask me “but how do I do that?” There are two things that make this possible. The first is being able to temporarily and repeatedly suspend our ideas, our fears, and our desires. The other one is to make room for the truth of the bigness of life. If we are able to suspend our ideas, fears, and desires, our curiosity is freed from the boundaries these create. Likewise, if we are able to make space for the bigness of life, we will have the spaciousness that allows us to discover things that we would otherwise not be able to imagine before.

This may seem esoteric or distant, but my experience tells me that it is not. It may seem difficult, but it’s only because we have been trained to validate only what we can see, feel, rather than making room for the vastness of the unknown.

Try to apply this to your life, and see how much space it creates. For instance, try to suspend all your ideas and fears about death, and be curious to dig deeper. Or hold the bigness of Life as you think about someone really dear to you and see what you might uncover about who they really are that you have no idea about.

When I got married, I committed to myself that I would never put my wife in a box, and 10 years later, at times I look at her and still do not know who she really is, and that fills me with so much joy and anticipation of what I may discover.

There is a vulnerability in this kind of curiosity because by suspending what we think we know, our fears, and our desires, we make space for the vastness of who we are and our potential yet to manifest.

For me, this is so fundamentally important that I spend my time when I’m not performing running with my wife a nonprofit that creates this kind of space in public high schools. In an educational world there is so much pressure to have the “right” answers, it’s so important to have a space where students don’t have to know, a space where they can engage with the big questions about Life, and explore the vastness of who they are, who they can become and what they can contribute to the world.

There is an unspoken message in Education that misleads students, which is that we’ve basically figured out what life is and specifically how students’ lives should unfold. Society has laid out what students need to do, to study, to achieve until they are independent. Instead we should be honest about the bigness of life, that we haven’t figured it out, and create a space for a curiosity which can inspire them to truly take their lives into their own hands as well as interest them in their role in contributing to and shaping the future.

Mocana Expands Executive Team to Lead Rapid Company Growth


Internet of Things (IoT) Cyber Protection Leader Names New Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, VP of Customer Success and Chief Finance Officer, Following Influx of Company Momentum

Mocana Corporation, the leading provider of integrated device cyber protection solutions for IoT and control systems, today announced the addition of four new executive team members to lead the growing demand for end-to-end device security across all industries globally.

“We’re thrilled to add this impressive caliber of top executives to the Mocana leadership team, as we continue adding new customers and partners to our trusted ecosystem,” said William Diotte, CEO of Mocana. “It is the right team at the right time to execute on Mocana’s ultimate mission to protect every device on the internet and protect families, cities and countries.”

“It is certainly a once in a lifetime CMO opportunity – to help make earth safer,” explained Hope Frank, CMO of Mocana.

Mocana has added the following executives to its growing team:

Hope Frank, Chief Marketing Officer
As the Futurist and CMO, Frank leads marketing and will evangelize the company’s vision and message to customers, partners and the world. She brings 25 years of global experience to the role. Prior to joining Mocana, Frank served as a Partner at Mercer, Marsh & McLennan, leading “The Future of Work” World Economic Forum initiative. Earlier she was the CMO behind the renowned Finland OpenSSL encryption bug Heartbleed, the CMO of Hong Kong DDoS provider Nexusguard, the CMO of THX and launched ESPNHD. She was recently named a Top 50 CMO by Forbes, Top 25 CMO by CEO World, Chief Experience Officer of the Year by IMA and featured in Forbes and Media Post for her global executive board roles. She sits on the advisory board of the CMO Council and is a member of SVDX and Her Planet Earth.

David Smith, Chief Revenue Officer
As CRO, Smith works closely with the company’s sales teams to drive shareholder value and improve alignment between all revenue-related functions. Prior to joining Mocana, Smith served as the CEO of KONEXUS where he led the company’s efforts to simplify mobile collaboration in a crisis. Smith was also Global Head of Sales at WhiteHat Security where he led the business and more than doubled revenue. Smith has scaled several companies beyond the $100 million mark.

Rolf O’Grady, VP of Customer Success
As the VP of Customer Success, O’Grady is responsible for customer-facing engineering and go-to-market strategies to ensure customer success. O’Grady brings 25 years of experience to this position, including his most recent position as Director of Juniper Networks’ Cloud Building Center of Excellence in the Americas.

Jeanne Angelo-Pardo, Chief Financial Officer
As the CFO, Pardo is responsible for overseeing the company’s legal, administrative and the financial development in the wake of new partnerships, alliances, funding and more. Prior to joining Mocana, Pardo had her own CFO consulting practice for ten years, primarily advising software companies. She has scaled companies from the pre-revenue stage to over $100M. Before starting her consulting practice, Ms. Pardo served as CFO for DeCarta, Inc. and Pensare, and as treasurer for Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

The new additions to Mocana’s executive team run parallel to widespread momentum including the company’s recent funding to meet rising customer demand for its TrustCenter™ IoT device security management platform. Mocana also announced a new solution to protect massive IoT, smart cities and distributed intelligence networks and recently joined CTIA and GSMA, to bring mission-critical security expertise to the telecom sector.

“Given the explosion of mission-critical IoT, and after serving the global security category for many years –– it was crystal clear to me that billions of dollars are being spent on cyber detection,” said Dave Smith, CRO of Mocana. “Mocana has a unique, one-of-a-kind opportunity to provide cyber protection, which is absolutely the mission-critical investment required in 2020.”

Mocana’s cybersecurity software is used to protect IoT and mission-critical infrastructure, including industrial control systems, medical devices and telecom equipment, and is installed on more than 100 million devices today. Mocana serves some of the largest aerospace, industrial, energy, healthcare, and telecommunications companies in the world including GE, ABB, Schneider Electric and Verizon.

Mocana’s executive team will be at Black Hat in Las Vegas next week. To schedule a time to learn more about Mocana’s mission-critical device cyber protection solutions, please contact: blackhat@mocana.com

About Mocana Corporation (Mocana)

Mocana provides cyber protection for IoT, operational technology (OT) and mission-critical systems. Our proven on-device cybersecurity software and lifecycle management platform enable manufacturers and industrial companies to build self-defending systems that are tamper-resistant. Mocana’s tightly integrated solutions help companies to minimize the risk of a cyber breach, comply with industry standards, and protect intellectual property by ensuring that devices and processes are trusted end-to-end, from device manufacturing to deployment. Unlike IT network security approaches, Mocana enables devices to protect themselves and prevent malware from being installed. Founded in 2002, Mocana protects more than 100 million devices and is trusted by the world’s largest aerospace, industrial, energy, healthcare, and telecommunications companies.


How VCs Win Deals: Comic Books, Big Meals and Baked Goods

Palmer Luckey

When Palmer Luckey was raising money for his defense-technology startup Anduril, he got an unusual gift from a venture capitalist interested in investing: a comic book depicting Anduril’s team as superheroes.

The comic book portrayed a “magical chest filled with money with [the firm’s] logo and the money was glowing with a white light,” said Luckey. “The money was the power that was going to help us save the world from foreign military and protect western democracy from being destroyed by Russian and Chinese military.” For Luckey, a science fiction fan whose company develops image recognition software for surveilling large outdoor spaces such as the U.S. border, the firm’s gesture was more than apropos.


For a highly sought-after group of founders, venture capitalists spend a great deal of time, money and energy wooing them into a deal.

The gift was the type of extravagant gesture that venture capitalists are increasingly bestowing on startup founders raising money. While some founders struggle to get attention from VCs, others find themselves being courted by powerful financiers who often spare no expense to curry favor. That can involve sending bottles of wine and desserts, offering rides on private jets, exclusive seats at major league sports games, tickets to artist events and, in one case, a private audience with a favorite chef.

Allbirds co-founder Joey Zwillinger received a gift of diapers—arranged in the shape of a multi-tiered cake— in celebration of the birth of his third child. (While a thoughtful gesture, Zwillinger said that the timing was “suspect.”)

Some investors said that courting founders’ interest has always been a part of the job, but competition among investors has increased as venture funds have grown in size. “It’s nuts,” said Luckey. “When you have funds like SoftBank throwing around untold billions, it’s definitely changed the dynamic, not only for me but for other companies I know.”

One misconception about VCs “is that they never have to sell themselves to a company,” said Elizabeth Yin, co-founder of early stage venture firm Hustle Fund. “But that’s just not true. There’s been so many deals where I have to pitch myself to founders.”

Not an Influence

Most founders say gifts don’t affect their thinking. Luckey, for instance, says the comic book didn’t make a difference when it came to deciding Anduril’s investors. “We were already planning on letting [the VC] in the round,” he said, declining to identify the firm because he was asked to keep it private.

Founders say they’re more influenced by a VC that can help their business. Dylan Field, the founder of design software startup Figma, said that prospective investors in his company’s Series C financing round once sent cupcakes to Figma’s offices. While the gesture was appreciated by Figma’s team, Field said that it wasn’t exactly persuasive.

“Investors that provide value are the ones that I get the most excited about working with,” said Field. “As much as I like baked goods, it’s not going to make that much of a difference.” Field said that he picked Sequoia to lead his company’s Series C financing round in part because the firm had laid the groundwork months before. “We’d had lots of conversations over the years,” said Field. “They didn’t just show up one day.”

In some cases, though, extravagant gestures may help. Carson Kahn, the founder of artificial intelligence company Volley, recalled a dinner that he and members of his team had with an angel investor at the Asian-fusion restaurant Tao in New York.

“This investor ordered one of everything on the menu,” said Kahn. “We ate a little bit, and then he ordered it all over again: one of everything on the menu. I’d never seen so much food before in my life. It was really impressive.”

Kahn said that Volley decided to give the investor allocation in the company’s financing round, although he said it was “not because of the 150 pounds of fish they ordered.”

“I think they were trying to convey the message of ‘I’ll spare no expense to make you happy,’ but I’m pretty sure that dinner cost more than what we were seeking for an investment in the first place,” he said.

Ryan Denehy, the founder and CEO of the technical support startup Electric AI, also said he’d once taken an unusual meeting on short notice at a SoulCycle class with a member of venture capital firm GGV. During the class, the GGV vice president Tiffany Luck “kicked everyone’s ass,” said Denehy. Months later, GGV led Electric AI’s Series B financing round.

“When you have an entrepreneur of Ryan’s caliber who you’ve known for some time, you drop everything, fly to NY during the holidays, and do a 7:30 pm SoulCycle class followed by a Japanese steak dinner,” said a GGV spokesperson. “Fortunately, Tiffany is a superstar on the spin bike and made us all look good.”

These overtures of courtship seem largely relegated to male founders. The handful of female founders who responded to The Information’s requests to be interviewed for this story said that they didn’t have any relevant anecdotes of investors courting their interest to share. (Forbes, however, reported last year that Mathilde Collin, the founder of software company Front, once received an elaborate Lego display from partners at Sequoia interested in investing in her firm.)

Laura Behrens Wu, the founder of shipping company Shippo, said that she hadn’t experienced much courting in the process of raising funding for her company. “Our seed was incredibly hard to raise,” she wrote in an email. “I pitched 125 investors to raise the round.” She continued, “I’d be curious [to learn] how many female-run companies had VC firms courting them with gifts.”

Let’s Be Friends

For some founders, certain gifts can be a turnoff. Kahn, now a partner at the New York–based venture firm Social Impact Capital, said that a bizarre gift from a venture firm once hurt the firm’s chances of investing in Volley. A day after taking a meeting with the firm, whom Kahn declined to name, Kahn said he received a slideshow of photographs spliced together of himself and partners of the venture firm. “The message of the video was ‘Let’s be friends,'” said Kahn. “It was not unlike a Facebook month in review video.” For Kahn, it was a clear sign that the firm was not a right culture fit for his company.

Other founders said that they were presented with gifts or opportunities that they felt they should turn down. Akshay Kothari, the chief operating officer of the software startup Notion, said that his team, while flattered by an overwhelming interest from investors, turned down several noteworthy invitations and gifts.

“We wanted to operate from a position of integrity,” said Kothari, whose company recently raised a $10 million round of financing at a valuation of $800 million from a select group of angel investors. “Taking part in these things and knowing that there was no opportunity for these investors in the company felt wrong to us.”

Some founders said that investors made nuisances of themselves in an effort to win a deal. “Everyone tries to monopolize your time once they issue a term sheet,” said the founder of a popular software company. The founder, who asked not to be named, said he recently had to ask prospective investors to stop coming by his company’s offices so that his team could focus on their work. “[These VCs] would be like, ‘We’re coming over. We’re coming over and we’re bringing some incredible wine,” he said.

Some startup founders said that venture capitalists appearing unannounced at their company’s offices with offers to invest wouldn’t necessarily be welcome. Audrey Gelman, the founder and CEO of the popular women’s co-working space The Wing, wrote in an email that she was glad that “no one [had] lurked outside The Wing to try to give us money.” Had they done so, Gelman wrote, “I’d probably call the cops.”

Philip Krim, founder and CEO of mattress company Casper, said that a seed investor once turned up at Casper’s offices with a $50,000 check in hand, eager to invest in the company’s oversubscribed Series A financing round. “It was very awkward,” Krim wrote in an email. “That’s a ton of money. He showed up in front of all of the employees and was very aggressive.” For Krim, the gesture was a bad sign. “Good investors don’t look desperate,” he said.

“When investors are pursuing a deal, there’s a fine line between being stalker-crazy and displaying a level of flattering interest,” said Alex Taub, founder and CEO of the social media analytics startup SocialRank. “It really comes down to the founder and how they perceive the investor’s behavior.”

Other founders are more understanding. “My view of this is that these guys are sellers of capital,” said Parker Conrad, the founder of human resources startups Zenefits and Rippling. “I know what it’s like to be in sales. Sometimes you need to make a big gesture to win an important deal.”

Kevin Li Becomes Youngest Asian American to Fool Two of the Best Magicians in the World

Kevin Li

Being able to fool two of the world’s most renowned illusionists is a task few magicians have been able to accomplish — it’s a feat that requires both wit and dexterity.

At just 21 years old, Kevin Li has walked away from CW’s hit reality television series “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” as the youngest Asian American to successfully hoodwink the duo with an original trick. The now-22-year-old magician will, therefore, perform in Las Vegas as a closing act in Penn and Teller’s show at the Rio Hotel & Casino in September.

“It sure is a surreal feeling to think I’m the youngest Asian American to fool these masters,” Kevin tells NextShark. “Penn & Teller are one of the hardest working magicians in the field and to even share something they haven’t seen means the world.”

This, however, was not the first time the young magician was given a chance to perform in front of the two legends. In 2017 he stepped onto the same exact stage with a mind-bending card trick, and while it wasn’t quite enough to fool Penn and Teller, it was certainly enough to leave a lasting impression.

“I had the rare opportunity to come back on the show Penn and Teller: Fool Us. They usually only have foolers return (people who have fooled them prior) in which I wasn’t one, so I was very shocked when they asked me to come back,” Kevin shared.

“The first time around I made Teller tear up which meant more than the trophy to be honest. That made me rethink how powerful magic and story-telling can be.”

While the thought of illusionists and magicians may conjure up images of top hats, simple card tricks, and perhaps some doves for the uninitiated, the word “magic” has taken on a whole new meaning in today’s day and age. Kevin has found a new approach to the craft, one that allows him to put his own spin on things while taking inspiration from modern cultures and trends.

“I want the magic I share to feel very real, thus connecting deeper with my audiences,” he continued. “We all have different goals in life but a similar one tends to be learning a new language. I thought, wouldn’t it be crazy to learn a new language instantly? So I fine-tuned this original creation that I knew Penn & Teller have never seen any kind of magic like it.”

And as we now know, he was certainly correct. Although his first appearance on the CW television series didn’t produce the result he was initially hoping for, it was his determination that eventually led him to succeed.

“The biggest take away from my first appearance is that we are all able to improve in time. I was still trying to find myself as a performer and creator, but finally understood slowly that this is, in fact, a life long process.”

Before all of this public exposure and recognition, it was actually Kevin’s grandfather in Hang Zhou, China who introduced him to the world of magic for the very first time.

“He wasn’t a magician but learned a couple of tricks when I visited him. The feeling I got after watching became the reason why I wanted to continue this art form,” he recalled. “To share true astonishment with people everywhere and bring them out of their current state of mind.”

The seemingly small act from his grandfather has transformed Kevin’s life in ways that were previously unimaginable. And since his performance, he has gone on to graduate from business school and aims to take on his magic career full time.

“This is usually the time people feel the need to figure their lives out. However, I strongly believe that this is the main time frame we can experiment with different objectives and pursue what makes us happy without major drawbacks,” he says.

However, This journey is about much more than just success or recognition for the young performer, it’s about representation and identity.

“There was no Asian American magician I was able to look up to as a kid, so I hope my journey one day will give others more confidence to pursue this field.”

Kevin’s take on the art form has brought out a side to magic that hasn’t been seen before, incorporating elements of relatable storytelling that evoke emotion as well as awe. After everything he has already achieved in his life, he has absolutely no plans to slow down.

He tells us, “I want to change the outlook of magic on social media and live shows through more personal story-telling that others can relate to. I want people to care about the magic they see and not just find it impressive how playing cards can vanish and change color.”

Primior Invests in Xnergy Financial


Primior, a real estate development and investment firm, is acquiring an interest in investment banking firm Xnergy Financial

The relationship between the two companies offers important advantages to each one in terms of enhanced opportunities for their clients, synergies for growth and operational efficiencies.

“We continually seek innovative strategies that enable us to serve as a unique partner for individuals, institutions, wealth advisors and other investors,” notes Johnney Zhang, CEO of Primior. “Our partnership with Xnergy will enable us to further enhance our capabilities for providing the exceptional performance our clients expect.”

San Diego-based Xnergy offers a wide range of capabilities in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, investment banking, corporate finance, valuations, and business and financial advisory services across a broad array of industry segments.

The strategic alignment will provide Primior with an additional source of investors for larger real estate transactions, while offering Xnergy clients access to new opportunities in the real estate sector. Those opportunities include participation in exclusive investment funds managed by Primior’s investment professionals. In addition, Primior clients will benefit from Xnergy brokerage services for real estate sales and acquisitions. The relationship will also provide combined synergies in areas such as operations and marketing.

“This new relationship with Primior is a perfect fit for both firms,” says Xnergy CEO Nia Stefani. “It will be advantageous to our respective clients in strengthening the resources we can offer them, and we look forward to the growth we expect to achieve together.”

Primior offers a uniquely integrated suite of real estate services designed to produce superior levels of value, income generation and return on investment. Its investment funds include development funds, REITs and Opportunity Funds.