Archive for the ‘Introspective’ Category

Full Speed Ahead

Class instruction hasn’t officially started, but the MBA program is definitely in full swing. I have a feeling this short block style is gonna be the norm for my posts now as I don’t have the time to dig deeper into each topic. Instead of my regular stream of consciousness style now it will be a flash of consciousness.

Career Services did a session on social media. I don’t like censoring myself and giving people half-realities. I think what I’ll do from now on is focus on the Dale Carnegie principles, especially the ones on not criticizing, condemning and complaining.

I’m really happy to move past the stage with some classmates of asking “where are you from?” “what did you do before the program” kind of questions and get to know to the person better.

Even if it’s not right, I do view having an undergrad degree in business as an advantage. I’m also very paranoid about losing that edge. I worry that I’ll become disengaged in class when it repeats too much of the same topics we covered before. I don’t consider myself smarter than everybody else. It’s only a timing issue. I just learned it earlier than other people, that’s all. I do bite my lips a lot lest I come across as cocky or arrogant when it comes to marketing, some of the basic quant classes, and career development. Hopefully there’s a way to leverage my experience.

This two years is going to be like an economics experiment. I do find myself looking at different aspects of life as a game sometimes. You can treat the whole MBA experience as a game of Settlers of Catan or some other game where you have limited resources. Obviously your biggest resources is time. You have to evenly distribute it to: sleep, academics, career, organizations, and personal (work out, friends, family, significant other, etc).

Just the other day when I was signing up for MBA clubs it was painful to narrow it down to only 5. I told myself that I want to focus on quality instead of quantity in this phase of my life. I literally feel my stomach turn as I only sign up for 3 clubs. Who knows what it is w/ us overachieving kids. We never learn. We always want to suck on the marrow of life and choke on the bone as well.


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Two separate and independent events prompted me to write this. One was from a friend, E, upset about people telling her she’s lucky to have her new job. Another is from Mark Cuban’s blog post about with the same title as this post. I had just came across an episode of Shark Tank where Mark Cuban was on and another friend, W, highly recommended his blog so I added it to my RSS feed.

People tell me I am lucky all the time. I do feel fortunate and blessed to be doing what I do now at 27. Not a day goes by w/out me being thankful for what life has given me. However, I get the feeling that people tends to credit others’ success to luck b/c they don’t comprehend it. It reminded me of the closing scene of one of my favorite movies of all time: Rounders

If you have not seen this movie, Matt Damon plays a young poker player while going to law school at the same time. His girlfriend makes him quit because she doesn’t understand it. She thinks it’s gambling and well… luck. Speaking as another poker player myself, poker takes an incredible amount of discipline, training, focus, patience, and hard work. It’s actually pretty boring sometimes. You do a lot of folding, waiting for the right opportunity. This was also a common misconception when it comes to trading.

It makes me wonder sometimes, maybe people don’t understand what it takes to be rich. I am not the first to say this, but getting rich is incredibly boring (have you read Mark’s post yet? go read it!). You get there by hard work and saving. I see so many of my friends that clearly do not understand this concept. Believe it or not, I don’t even own a personal credit card(I only have one for business purchases). I hardly ever go out to eat or downtown to drink anymore. I’ve been on a minimalist purge lately and I literally looked at all my expenses and brutally slashed out everything I was not happy about. It’s not about being cheap. It’s about value for me and my opportunity cost is much much higher. People thinks I’m joking when I say this, but this is one of my favorite mantras now:

Jesus saves. So should you.

There’s a saying that “luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” it is so true. If you don’t save and not have the capital when buying opportunities presents themselves, especially during market downturns where there are tons of bargains, how can you take advantage of it? We don’t even have to talk about real estate or stocks, just think about even sales down at your favorite retailer. Assuming credit cards don’t exist, if they’re having their biggest sale ever known to mankind and you can’t take advantage of it if you don’t have the cash, it’s the same thing. If this double-dip recession thing does come true, I hope you’ve saved up some capital to get some real bargains. I hope you’re like me, camouflaged and patiently waiting. Waiting for that big game to come right into your gun sight and ready to pull the trigger.

I blame the media. People see other millionaires driving fancy cars and big houses on TV, soon enough you start believe that it happens all the time. What’s worst is you start believing that’s the norm and now comes the credit cards, car payments, mortgages. Real millionaires don’t live like that. Pick up The Millionaire Next Door at your local library/bookstore/Kindle if you haven’t read this book yet. People read about 100 stories about the success of Google and they start believing entrepreneurship or starting a business is easy. Yes, those are 100 stories, but they’re about ONE company.

It’s the same about travel and crime. One story about mugging and people are so quick to jump to conclusion about the overall safety of a country or city. I can’t even count how many times someone tells me backpacking is dangerous, so and so place has high crime rate. I backpacked around the world for ninety days. I didn’t die. I didn’t get mugged. I didn’t even get pick-pocketed despite not using my money belt (Looking back, I’m almost disappointed and offended… I was basically daring all the gypsies in Europe to come after me and they didn’t). I even went down to exactly where they were protesting in Bangkok on their one year anniversary and the whole safety issue is just totally blown out of proportion. How dangerous is a guy yelling into a bull horn, because that’s all that happened. The only danger you have is if you stand too close to him and it might damage your hearing.

The opposite is also true. Just because people don’t see it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Just because you don’t see me working doesn’t mean I’m not putting in 60, 80, 100 hrs a week working to make my dream come true. Just because you didn’t see it didn’t mean I’ve not been working out on the factory floor everyday after school since I can walk.

So the next time you want to say someone is lucky, think about this: are they lucky, or do they deserve everything they got?

Alright I’m off my High Horse brand soap box now.

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My New Brain

I’m at a brain workshop this weekend.  Pretty much all the weekends in February is taken up for interviews and TEDxAustin so I have been feeling pretty tired actually.  It looks like March will stay the same way w/ Mardi Gras in New Orleans, baseball spring training, SXSW, and a photo workshop w/ The Strobist and Joe McNally.

It’s a three-day workshop and I just finished Day 2.  I’m hoping tomorrow to be a lot better since it covers 50% of the material.  There are things I’m impressed with so far and there are things I really don’t care for at the moment.  I’ll refrain from total judgement presently since technically I’m not finished.

It’s called Dynamic Mind Workshop.  A buddy of mine got involved w/ it and is actually working to become an instructor at the moment.  I thought since I’m going back to school in the fall it would be useful.  The only reason I’ve waited this long is b/c it’s a 3-day long workshop and I haven’t been able to clear my schedule due to work and interviews and what not.

Let’s just get the negativity out of the way.  I’m actually a little upset right now with some of the material presented in the workshop after I went through all the trouble of clearing my schedule.  There are different sessions on music, nutrition, vitamins, drugs/alcohol/smoking and its effect on the brain.  If you’re saying to yourself right now: “you went to a workshop for THAT?!” you know what, my feeling exactly.  All this is pretty common sense that I’ve either already know or have been exposed to before.  Just the music topic was two back to back one-hour sessions.  Please, just give me the PowerPoint print out and have me read it on my own… BORED x MAX.  If it was up to me, seriously I could’ve covered it in 15-20 minutes.

Speaking of PowerPoint, just some suggestions… at least by todays’ standards, it’s pretty awful.  Not very clean, you have text transitions floating across the screen here and there, audio, sound effects here and there… it’s really quite distracting.  Not to even mention the ugly WordArt.  Now, Warren Chaney, the creator of the program is my guess in the 70’s (judging by his Linkedin profile that he was first in college in 1960, 50 years ago and nice round number for college age is 20), so yeah he’s old.  Update your slides, man.  While you’re at it… update the website, too pls.

The program and presentation are meant for all different kinds of audience but c’mon, adapt a little bit when you’ve got half of the class that are either still in school or just out.  Do you really need to spend so much focus on Alzheimers and dementia??

There are components that are fundamental and beneficial to know and understand for your progress.  There was a session on parts of the brain and what function each area is responsible for, etc.  That was cool, to think about how to use all parts of your brain when you’re performing a task.

The interactive part, where you learn memory techniques that involve using visual images to associate with objects and numbers is hella lot more interesting.  I’ve already been exposed to this long ago in Dale Carnegie Training so it wasn’t THAT mind blowing.  The reading technique is cool, too.  Unfortunately, I’ve also already been exposed to stuff like that before.

*Ok, full disclaimer… I’m not your typical audience member.  It’s not like I have brain power oozing out of my nostrils, it’s just… idk, I just happened to have known all this before already.  You might still find this really beneficial.

Anyway, as a marketing guy and presenter I would do things so differently, but I’m still looking forward to Day 3 and reporting back to you what I’ve learned.

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My Little Things

I’m always surprised that little things can make the biggest impact in making connections and building relationship.  I just arrived in Durham today.  While riding the courtesy bus to my car rental, I started talking to the driver.  He mentioned to me that he’s from Algier and after confirming that they speak Arabic there I said to him ”asalaam alikum,” which is the common greeting in Arabic.  Its literal translation is like “peace be with you” I think.  You can after that his interaction w/ me was just that much warmer. 

Normally as a member of the car rental company they’ll have the car ready for me and I can literally just drive off.  Today, they instructed to him over the radio that I had to go inside the office to pick up the car keys b/c it just got out of the wash.  Upon arrival he sees a huge line of people waiting he told me to just wait outside and ran in to get the keys for me.  How nice!  Would this had happened if I didn’t establish that rapport earlier just b/c I spoke his language, which I don’t… I only knew one phrase and thank you (which is “shokran”).

It reminded me of the time I was in Thailand over New Years, Kho Phi Phi to be exact.  I had learned how to say “Happy New Year” in Thai and while on an island tour I said that to one of the crew.  He reacted as if I was his long lost twin brother.  I can’t blame him… driving fat Scandinavian tourists around on a boat all day has got to get old pretty fast.  He actually brought me up to where the captain is, with the best view of the islands.

Although I would rank myself above average in establishing rapport with total strangers, I wouldn’t say I’m some kind of magician.  You really just have to try, at least put in some effort.  In Dale Carnegie classes people often say they have a hard time remembering names.  Looking at how they interact with me though I can just tell they’re not even remotely putting in the effort to try to remember the other person’s name.

It might sound silly, but it really is the little things that exceeds our wildest expectation, especially in business.  I can’t think of how many times a bar or restaurant become a friend of mine’s go to spot just b/c the bartender or owner send them a drink or small dish on the house, or even just remembering our names.

Take that extra step or just some extra effort to show other people that you care.  You’ll be amazed.

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My Happiness

This might be my favorite TED talk so far.  Someone turned me onto TED recently and I’ve been going through some of the talks.  Some of the talks I find lacking in content and originality a little bit plus the delivery can be sub par as well.  There has been a couple of the videos where at the end I’m left asking myself: “what was the point of that talk again?”

I love this talk because of the Dan Gilbert’s stories and humor.  Those of us that have focused on public speaking or communication are all familiar with the PEP method, aka Point-Example-Point or my friend David Brook‘s simpler method: Tell a story, make a point.  People might not remember the point, but they remember stories way easier and they can associate the point of the speech from there.

The main point of the talk is the discussion of synthetic vs. natural happiness.  Natural happiness is what we have when we get what we want and synthetic is what we make when we don’t get what we want.  It’s just a little ironic that we can manufacture the very thing we seek when the parameters are bounded.  The freedom and free will God gave us might even seem like it’s designed to make us unhappy.  We worry and stress about how thing could be, instead of embracing how things are.

Happiness can’t be found.  I’m reminded of a quote from my Southwestern book selling days: “People are as happy as they want to be.” – Abe Lincoln.  Accept the things you cannot change.  Happiness is a simple decision in your head to be happy with what you’ve got as oppose to miserable with what you don’t have.

That’s what I got out of the talk.  How about you?

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My Not Enough

Do you want to be successful?  I came across Chase Jarvis’ post the other on the subject.  Unfortunately, to want to be successful is not enough.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are times I could’ve worked harder, but b/c it was too hard or any other excuses I called it quits earlier.  It’s really interesting to see some of the companies in Europe I contacted earlier this year that I thought I struck out to come around and started conversation again.  Imagine if I had not gotten discouraged and contacted even more companies, would I have even more leads in the pipeline now?

To know what you want, that’s more important.  Success is an intrinsic matter.  Now ask yourself: what’s your passion?

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My Entrepreneur

For some reason I have always had a problem w/ the word “entrepreneur.” It became one of these cool catchy words flowing freely from people’s mouths during undergrad, just like consulting and investment banking. The same people who have no idea what the word means to them personally or what it is like to be an entrepreneur, consultant, or i-banker. All they see is the money and glamor. Yes, they have heard about the 100+ hour work weeks, etc but really, how bad can it be right? That is until you’re actually there and burn out in 2 years.

Listen to the beginning of this podcast from HBR for a definition of entrepreneurship that I agree with a lot more. I had previous settle on a loose definition for myself that entrepreneurs are people who engage in enterprising activities. So why do I still feel that me, running a family business, not really an entrepreneur. I’m paraphrasing here, but entrepreneurs should be someone that’s moving the world forward, creating jobs, real value creation. Yes, a landscape business owner provides value, but is he really benefiting the world in a significant way?

I was also happy to hear the discussion on the entrepreneur DNA around the 12:00 mark.  People talk about entrepreneurship DNA as if there’s something genetic or inherently different about these amazing people like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.  It bugs me to no end when someone makes the claim “a natural born” entrepreneur, or leader, or anything else really.  I like how they talk about it as a more general background, a more social environment if you will.  Which means that someone can learn to be an entrepreneur, a leader, and anything else you want to be.  There are different staging and preparations that go into building an entrepreneur, which is really cool b/c it happens to echo what I write in my MBA essays.

Does that mean genetics don’t matter? Of course not.  For me it just play a smaller factor.  I do believe each person have certain genetic disposition for a certain position, but the work you put in after birth matters more.  Imagine how many people had the genetic markups to be the next Michael Jordan, but they didn’t have the drive to succeed like MJ and only ended up riding the bench.

A friend of mine and me were talking about what Tim Ferriss had to say about getting an MBA.  TF had said to invest all the money you’re gonna end up spending on an MBA, the tuition, traveling, GMAT prep course and test registration fees, and use that to start a business and you’ll learn more than you would in an MBA program.  It’s debatable.  I do believe the experience in a multinational company and the MBA education would pay as the “staging” the podcast mentions.  While it’s fun to do it on your own and figure it out, meanwhile the big boys have been at it for much longer than you have and perfected the industry’s best practices, what better way to learn than to actually join them?

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