I had the pleasure of talking to Rick Apichairuk in the recording ‘studio’ he has created in the office of Senna Labs, a full-service digital agency based in Bangkok. Rick seems to me like a guy that takes the ‘long view’…something he may have inherited from his grandfather. Rick is Thai, but was born and raised outside of Chicago because his grandfather sent his three oldest sons to the United States to “get an education and start a life.” This was during the Vietnam War when the United States needed more doctors and engineers and Rick’s father and uncles helped filled that gap. It also turns out that there is a decent-sized Asian population in Illinois.
We talked a bit about what it is like to grow up in between cultures. While it can be challenging early on, it helped Rick build flexibility and understanding that definitely provides benefits later in life. I noted that I often feel like a third-culture adult, but we both agreed that being bi-lingual and bi-cultural can be very helpful when managing high-performance teams with diverse backgrounds.
It turns out that Rick has been interested in software and technology from a very young age. The school system Rick attended started teaching computer programming to students in the fourth grade (9 years old). By the time he graduated from college and got his first job at the Chicago Board of Trade, Rick had been working with computers for years. As a Floor Broker Assistant, one has many responsibilities in a fast-paced environment. One of these was to keep track of all of the trades. When his team found out Rick knew how to program computers, they asked him to slowly but surely build a system to track trades, price movements, back-test trading strategies and do regressions analyses. Rick’s professional programming career had now begun in earnest.
While the CBOT is an exciting place to work, one of Rick’s friends had moved to Silicon Valley just as the dot com boom was starting and convinced Rick to move out to California when he was still just 26 years old. I think the words Rick used were “gold rush”…and he was spot on. Rick grabbed his duffel bag, moved into his friend’s apartment, and had a job at E*Trade within two weeks.
There is so much more in this super interesting episode, including why Rick decided to move back to Bangkok, accelerate his career and start his own firm.
The music on this episode was provided by Joseph McDade and is titled ‘Elevation’.