1 of a 1000

João Vazao Vasques
6 min readFeb 25, 2016

This text is part of my WOW for the Thousand Network 2016 application

Hey there! I am João, a (software) engineer who likes to solve big problems, using technology and anything else that is useful, that affect lives of everyone living on this amazing planet called Earth.

The last times I wrote something here was about two not-so-positive episodes in my life: surviving certain death when a car hit me and reflecting about my first big failure as an entrepreneur.

Today, I am happy to write to you a little bit more about myself: three personal aspects and stories that defined me as a person and how can I contribute to the Thousand Network Family. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it for you!

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious”

Albert Einstein

Curiosity. If I would pick some quote to define myself, I would this quote from Einstein. Since I remember myself that I have a passion for trying to understand and reason about things I don’t understand.

On my early years it was electricity. I remember running around my grandparent’s house pulling out electrical sockets. It was perfectly natural for a 6 year old kid that just wanted to know where did the light came from. As you might imagine, my family didn’t think that way and lived in constant panic. I believe this was the first time I was fascinated by science and engineering.

The second episode that I remember was in the late 90’s and it was probably the day I fell in love with computer science. It was June, during a sunny day, in Lisbon and I was spending the day with my mother at the research center she worked. I really liked spending my days there surrounded by computers and people talking technology. Talking about building the future. However, on that day something magical happened. My mother called me and told me to ask her something and suggested that I should type my question on the computer.

The computer had a webpage opened that was very boring: only had a text box. I clicked enter and then, magic happened. The computer returned something that was exactly the response I was looking for…

“WOW! The computer is inteligent and understands what I need. I want to make it more smart, I want it to know how it works!.

This day, without even knowing it, I fell in love with computer science. The rest, as people say it’s history… By the way, that boring website was Google.

“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary”

Pablo Picasso

The second thing I would like to talk to you about is creativity. I always liked artistic activities such as drawing or playing music. I believe the hability to product a piece of art is one of things that makes us humans unique. You can program the most advanced artificial inteligence software ever but he won’t be able to create a painting like Da Vinci is a symphony like Beethoven. Interesting thing for an engineer to say don’t you think?

When I was younger I used to spend hours drawing. One day, I saw a beautiful picture of Batalha’s Monastery and I said to my family: “I am going to make a drawing of that”. It was a very complex piece and the most complicated drawing endeavour that I have had. After 3 complete days, lot’s of torn paper, frustration and hard work the drawing was complete. The result was far from perfect but I was a proud 8 year old “artista”.

Batalha’s Monastery Drawing. I was 8
Smaug drawing in the making

I have spent many years without drawing, university and running a startup didn’t help much, but since the begining of 2016 I made a personal challenge to make a very ambitious drawing. Until then, I am training with some “easier” pieces such as this Smaug. It’s still has a long way to go but it’s being a very interesting, demanding and challenge learning. I am also taking my chances on photography. You can see some of my work on my Flickr and Instagram.

“As you think, so shall you become.”

Bruce Lee

The third and last thing I wanted to talk to you is about perseverance and mental strength. This quote from Bruce Lee is very short but it’s one of the most powerful and meaningful ones I know. It’s really amazing how in seven words, how one is able to produce such a strong message about life and its objectives, goals, aspirations and dreams.

The martial arts philosophy of strong principles, discipline, respect, perseverance and mental strength has always a big impact on me. That’s what lead me, as well the oportunity to learn how to do amazing kicks, to start training Taekwondo when I was 15 with one purpose, to become a black belt. Note that I chose the word become and not have. To become a black belt you need to walk a long and a very hard journey to earn it. To have a black belt you only need to go to a store and buy one.

2012 World Championship Medal

One of the most important events in my life was during a Taekwondo tournament. Five months after doing my black belt exam I was flying to Little Rock, Arkansas, USA for the 2012 World Championship. I went there without any expectaction of winning anything. I only had one goal: to represent my country the best I could.

After three fights I went to the final and lost it. No one likes to lose, even people you say they don’t mind. I was a little bit sad in the end until one of the masters came to me and said: “You should be proud. It’s not everyday that you go to a world championship final. You made your country proud sir”.

After that accident that nearly killed me, doctors said I would not be able to do Taekwondo again. Although I respected their verdict, after all they were doctors and they knew what they were doing, I never believed in it. I always though that I was able to go back. Even when my body was in pain and didn’t respond the way I wanted it to, I never gave up. It was about perseverance and mental strenght.

Today, I am already doing sparring again and training hard for testing and the next championship. Remember that Bruce Lee quote I mentioned before?

“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall”

Alexandre Dumas

A team is as strong as its weakest member. I believe that only a team of great people can achieve great things. For me, the Thousand Network aims to be that: a group of great people with the purpose of doing something great for their communities. You might be asking at this point: “Why have you decided to apply for the Thousand Network and how can you help us?”

First, I wanted to do something meaningful at a large scale without expecting nothing in return. People don’t pay volumteers not because they don’t have the money but because they are priceless. Second, I want to leave better world to younger generations than the one I got from my parents’. As simple as that.

How can I help? On everything that needs to be done! I am not afraid of the unknown. I am persistent and resilient and I have proven it in the most different and extreme ways in my short life. I am creative and curious which means I am always thinking of new ways of solving problems. I want to help you make a difference.

I am João and I hope to 1 of a 1000.



João Vazao Vasques

Blockchain Analytics @Chainlink | Alumni of: @Unbabel, @talkdesk, @Uniplaces |1x startup founder| Taekwondo black belt