The most typical versions of success stories that we hear begin on linear paths. The kind of paths that entail getting a sound education, obtaining a degree, landing a well-paying job, finding a suitable spouse, creating the perfect little family, so on and so forth. However, after reaching this “success,” many fall into this routine that is difficult to break just runningthrough the motions, living almost like robots. They live mundane, routine lives with little to no fluidity.

This success story, though, sheds a whole new light on the “robotic” life.

Like many teenagers, Matt “Dumbo” Nguyen, who is now best known for his heavy involvement in the success of Poreotics, grew up not knowing what his direction in life would be. What he did know was that his creative mind consumed every fiber of his being and that he had a burning desire to showcase it. He started off on that linear path, going to school, thinking that he would eventually apply his knowledge in a field like business. But along the way, he developed interests in so many different creative outlets that he juggled multiple jobs before finally deciding on what would later become a semi-permanent career. Here, he took his first step out of living like a robot that was following a paved path. At the young age of 18, Dumbo was able to recognize that his love for the Arts was not just a passing phase, but would actually be the driving force leading up to his unique success. He truly began to nurture his passion when he decided to become involved in a profession where he was encouraged to express freely and creatively. At the time, he believed that the Paul Mitchell School for aspiring hair stylists was the perfect way to practice his art. Dumbo felt that, similar to himself, hairstyling was constantly growing and evolving.

By 2010 and about 10 hairstyles later, Dumbo was leaving lasting impressions in Orange County, and believe it or not, it wasn’t because of his unconventional hair! This time, it was for his talent in hip-hop dancing. While he knew he loved to dance, he was entirely unaware of how far this hobby would take him. He just yearned to share his passion with whoever was willing to watch. Completely oblivious to the power of YouTube, he started posting videos of himself popping and doing robotic choreography. He was by no means the best dancer around, but people took special notice because he was doing something out of the ordinary.

With more people recognizing his talents, the more his desire to express his creativity grew. This fire inside led him to create Poreotics; a hip-hop dance group consisting of several talented dancers. After years of practice, Poreotics entered a nationwide competition hosted by MTV, known as America’s Best Dance Crew. Their distinctive style, which involved story telling through the use of music, popping, choreography, and robotics, developed high recognition amongst 15 other competitors, and was the leading factor in their rise to victory with a grand prize of $100,000. Dumbo and the Poreotics’ win instantly put Westminster, their hometown, on the map. Most importantly, Poreotics’ success was the catalyst that allowed him to convert his passion into his permanent career.

Poreotix, the Westminster dance crew, was at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank for a taping of “America’s Best Dance Crew” last Tuesday. The members are clockwise from left: Andrew “Chad” Mayate, Charles Nguyen, Can Nguyen, Justin “Jet Li” Nguyen, Matt “Dumbo” Nguyen, and Lawrence “Law” Devera.

After years of touring the world with Poreotics, Dumbo appeared on TV shows in Vietnam. He was featured on Dancing with the Stars and was also a judge for a hip-hop dance show. His passion for music led him to redirect his time to disc jockeying and producing music. Dumbo and his wife, Tessa, started a collaborative DJ duo named Arius. The DJ duo focuses on dubstep, showcases live drumming, and dances in their performances. Their style soon garnered international popularity, putting them on a world tour.

With all these successes, Dumbo’s ability to inspire individuals is second to none. He has been one of my biggest inspirations since first meeting him 11 years ago. I’ve had the honor of being considered one of his best friends, and even being the best man for his wedding. I used to live vicariously through him when his dance career took him abroad to Russia, Asia, Germany, and so many other places. I’ve seen him through his struggle and now, in his successes. In watching his growth, I experienced a paradigm shift; my entire perspective on the way life should be lived took a 180. Dumbo went against the current, created his own zig-zagged path, dabbled in several different fields, pursued his passion, and ironically enough, found his success through robotics, the exact thing he broke out of; the typical robotic lifestyle. He is living proof that we can build ourselves up from a simple idea or hobby, turn it into a career, and become living legacies. Dumbo taught me to continue freestyling in life, because any movement at all will end up being a work of art. Though his dancing style is distinctively robotics, his lifestyle is far from choreographed.

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