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August 5, 2009

ecorner.stanford.edu

Filed under: Business,Readings — Fei @ 11:38 pm

Stanford University entrepreneur corner is a great source for entrepreneurs. Every week, an entrepreneur is invited to give a talk on his or her expertise, focusing on business and entrepreneur of course. An MP3 of the  talk can actually be downloaded from the website, which provides a unique learning opportunity for people who cannot attend the lecture, someone like me.

I have been listening to the lectures for a while. The quality of the talk totally depends on the speaker. Some speakers are not good communicators; some speeches are too specific on the product of the company. For them, I just browse through once.

However, some speeches are great. The speakers are very experienced, presenting a whole lot of information. In the future, I will list some good speeches that I consider worthy of listening again and again 🙂 Hope you will also enjoy them.

Today, I just list some podcasts I listened recently.

Innovation as the crux of entrepreneurship, by John Hennessy (4.0)

No wonder Hennessy is the president of Stanford University. He is such a great speaker. He is also a great entrepreneur, founded MIPS (which is unfortunately in my field). In his 30+ years of career, he has seen and tried enough things. He didn’t present a whole lot detailed lessons, but as a person being in both industry and academia, his point of view is quite unique.

Young at heart: how to be an innovator for life by Tom Kelley (4.5)

In the speech, Tom talked about many stories, vividly, which are very enlightening. I especially like his stories:  “every child is an artist”, “thinking like a traveler”, “kid’s toothbrush” . He also mentioned Jim Collin’s great book “Good to great”, emphasized the three circles, which I totally agree.

13 mistakes and 13 brilliant strokes by Hugh Martin (4.5)

Martin has been through many companies and has seen many mistakes in his career. Some of his experiences are quite eye flashing. Some of the key ideas are: the impact of CEO on the company; the importance of human resource; difference between one big player and multiple big players; don’t be afraid of law suite etc. etc.

July 11, 2009

Wells Fargo Sues Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo Denies Allegations

Filed under: Economics,Readings — Fei @ 11:00 pm

Court RoomI don’t usually do this, but this is so hilarious…

However, it definitely shows how rigid the American law is. Seems ridiculous on the surface, but the ridiculousness is based on a sound system foundation 🙂 I’d rather have this than making exceptions….

“Due to state foreclosure laws, lenders are obligated to name and notify subordinate lien holders,” said Wells Fargo spokesman Kevin Waetke.

Here is the link: http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/al-lewis-wells-fargo-bank-sues/

June 18, 2009

Why People Follow?

Filed under: Personal Development,Readings — Fei @ 5:40 pm

strengths-based-leadership
Read the book “Strengths Based Leadership” recently. I don’t specifically like the book. Most of the contests are not new. Here I just want to mention one interesting observation from the authors fo the book.

It’s about how to be a good leader. To find out the answer, the authors did not interview the successful leaders and find out their common characteristics. Instead, the authors did a survey on the followers. The followers were asked two questions:

  • What leader has the most positive influence in your daily life?
  • Now please list three words that best describe what this person contributes to your life.

Guess what the followers wrote? I would have guessed different people would write dramatically different words. but I was wrong. Followers seem to have a very clear picture of what they want and need from the leaders. Most people write the same or similar words.

The most commonly mentioned words are:

  • Trust
  • Compassion
  • Stability
  • Hope

hmm.. it’s indeed very surprising. What can I learn from this discovery?

January 5, 2009

浙江人的工作哲学:宁做创业狼,不做打工狗

Filed under: Business,Readings — Fei @ 5:22 pm

作者:hiugu600683

浙江人的工作哲学:“宁做创业狼,不做打工狗”。

当然这话说的很极端,很多打工的朋友都不乐意听,但是我们仔细想想,这位老兄的话还真有点道理呢。

狼为了寻求自由,宁愿独立人格,自由思想,天天奔跑在大草原上,肆意的猎杀牛羊,尽可能的享受大自然提供的一切美味,吃饱后就躺在草地上,什么 都不想,享受阳光和自由的空气,他们是草原的主宰,他们有的是尊严。不过当严寒来临时,他们必须学会抗拒暴风雪的寒冷,学会在厚厚的雪堆下面寻找猎物,时 常忍受饥饿的痛苦,随时担心自己冻饿而死。狼的生活可谓一半是海水,一半是火焰。

狗的生活恰恰相反,平时狗只能吃主人剩下的残羹冷炙,被主人吆喝着到处忙活,没有自由,没有尊严,只有摇尾乞怜,狗的生活是有保证的,虽然从来 吃不到什么美味,但是冬天到来时也不担心挨饿受冻,有主人的屁护,狗们感恩戴德,发誓下一辈子依旧为主人效忠,即便主人肆意的打骂狗们,狗们也多半不敢吭 一声,因为听话和驯服是狗们的标志。委曲求全是狗们的标签,为了稳定的饭碗,为了自己老时有一份固定的口粮,一切都认了!

如果把现实生活中的人们进行比较,估计我们大多都是过着狗的生活,稳定安逸,但是永远吃不饱,想离开主人家的狗窝,但是缺乏破釜沉舟的勇气!

我感到现实中的年轻人的职业选择大多是做打工狗,而不是做创业狼。可能很多朋友会说,刚出校门的学生,哪里有资本和经验去创业呀?最好的选择就是去公司打工几年,储备点经验和资金,然后几年后有机会的话再自己创业。

其实这样的想法证明是很错误的,一个大学生单位工作几年后,不但赚不到创业所需要的钱,更是无法学到创业的经验与技能。打工生涯学到的东西对创 业基本上是没有用的,因为两者的角度不同,思考方式不同,得到的经验体会也不同,只能这么说,打工几年后你唯一获得提高的是打工的技术技能,而创业最不需 要的就是技术技能了。

更可怕的是,打工几年后,年轻人普遍会丧失创业的激情,丧失初生牛犊不怕虎的勇气,越来越沉湎于单位之中难以自拔,后来创业的念头只能永远的留在心底,成为永久的遗憾。等到年龄到了40多被老板辞退的时候,才后悔20年前为什么不出来自己创业呀!

那么做创业狼的要求究竟高不高?

我的答案是:只要有做创业狼的理念,哪怕口袋里只有100元,照旧可以创业成功!

人家早一辈的温州人出来做生意口袋有几个钱?不是靠换鸡蛋换铁锅赚的第一笔钱嘛。你口袋里只有100元,至少可以在街边摆个地摊,冬天卖点袜子 手套什么的,夏天卖点菠萝什么的,资金充足一点后可以搞个烧烤之类的,反正,钱再少,也能走上创业的道路,关键看你想不想做创业狼?

打工人生与创业人生一定是不一样的。

时间长了,打工者的性格与创业者的性格会有越来越大的差别。

我们扪心自问,打工时间长的朋友时不时觉得更加患得患失,害怕外面陌生的世界,害怕失业的危险,心灵变得越来越敏感和脆弱。心态不仅逐渐的疲惫 和懒惰,整个人也没有了锐气和精神,只好安慰自己知足长乐,淡漠名利。但是生活变得越来越平庸,家庭的经济负担越来越沉重,房子和孩子教育日渐成为自己脖 子上的经济绳索,勒的越来越紧,透不过气来,只好调整自己的心态,让自己逐渐适应城市小爬虫的定位,自己本来就是庸人,庸人何必自扰之,发财是人家的事 情,咱没有那命。

最恐惧的第一件事情莫过于听到公司效益不好,要裁员的消息,最要紧的事情和领导搞好关系,坚持学习恭维逢迎拍马屁,入乡随俗嘛。思想麻木了,只好随大流,毕竟饭碗在领导或老板的手心里面,想让你滚蛋,就得滚蛋。

最恐惧的第二件事情,是看到自己年龄的日渐增长,可是自己的工作技能却没有获得任何提高,虽然靠着资历老工资也越来越多,可是看着那些新进来的 年轻大学生,生龙活虎的干活,却只要那么一点的工资,老板的敲打在耳边响起,看人家年轻人吃的少干的多,你们这些老革命越老越不行了。难怪,打工生涯的结 果是越老越贬值,尤其到了40-50年龄段,简直是事业最悲惨的阶段,时刻濒临深渊,如同趟地雷阵,动辄下岗失业。

有人说过去10年是蓝领工人下岗的高峰期,未来10-20年将是白领工人下岗的高峰期,你一位自己曾经读个大学就是精英了?社会不断进步,你的 知识结构,身体素质,职业理念早就不如人家刚毕业的大学生了。老板是现实的,肯定率先在遇到危机时裁掉那些40-50年龄段的白领工人。

所以说你现在有个稳定的工作,你觉得安全,其实等与在你身边按了颗定时炸弹,等到10多年后,它会爆炸,你那时失业的痛苦与代价恐怕要比现在残忍100倍。

其实表面看创业面临的现实风险比打工高很多,可是从长久看,打工带来的风险更高。

创业的风险是失去近几年的预期打工收入,甚至破产后还得赔进去自己借的一部份钱,但是毕竟年轻,能够屡败屡战,从失败中汲取养分和经验,经商水 平与能力一次比一次高,逐渐融入经商人士的群体后,眼界和经验日积月累,总有一个量变到质变的突破,只要真正的跨入了生意门,将来的事业基本上一片坦途。 钱也越赚越多,财富积累越来越多,自身的价值也能得到最大的体现。

相反,打工生涯持续下来,近几年确实平安无事,可是你其实在不断的贬值和缩水,而不是越来越强健。打工的时间越长,你会越来越心虚,越来越胆怯,10几年后,稍有不慎,就可能被炒掉鱿鱼,失业下岗,你看看那个风险大呢?

年轻炙热的心,蹋上人生的征途,其实没有你想像的那么的简单,
我们有什么,什么都没有,为有年轻,一个澎湃激情的心,激情一时是不行的,
弱肉强十的的社会,没的一技子长是不行的。只是社会的渣子,和乞丐有什么区别,
思路决定出路,行动决定结果。
绝大多数人习惯做语言的巨人,行动的矮子。
越是智商高的人越容易陷入这个悖论中,难以自拔。
看来上帝是公平的,赋予人智慧的同时,往往剥夺他的勇敢。
所以世界上享有精彩人生的人总是少数。
我们来描述一下那些继续打工者的心态。

他们嘴巴上说自己一直都在耐心等待,等真正的机会。智者深思熟虑,三思而后行。他们一直在等条件成熟,哪怕花开花又落,可是等到现在,时机也没有等到,条件也没有成熟,现实生活的质量还是没有得到改观。

记得希腊有一首很悲观的民歌:“日神阿波罗是个勇士,他能够一拳打倒凶猛的敌人,但他无法扭转自己的命运。普罗米修斯是个智慧的神,他能够瞒着 宙斯把火种偷了出来,教那些可怜的人们看到光亮,而他自己却被鹫鹰啄着心肝,这是命运跟他开的玩笑!”这就是人们认为自己的力量无法战胜自己命运、改变现 实的例子。

为别人打零工才得以糊口的打工朋友们不是不想改变现实生活,也有紧迫感,也很想改变自身的“贫穷”面貌,但是总有恐惧感,因为从来没有独立把握 自己命运的经历和经验,就像一个从来没有用过电脑的人,生怕按错开关和按钮把电脑烧坏了、一用力就把键盘敲坏了,或者一上网就会遭遇病毒一样。事情其实并 没有那么可怕,对于恐惧电脑的人来说,最重要的就是插上电源,再依次开机就好了。

当然我们打工者在职场上总是对工作本身负责、对企业对老板负责,所以要等条件成熟,而实际上促使这些条件具备往往会消耗很多精力,拖延很多时 间,有时还没有等到条件成熟,周边的环境已经发生了变化,旧的条件还没有达到,新的问题又冒出来了,结果还是无所适从,最终导致不了了之。所以,对于打工 者来说,最重要的就是要明白必须先行动在思考!

September 8, 2008

Quote from 4 hour work week

Filed under: Business,Readings — Fei @ 5:29 pm

“4 hour work week” cites a sentence by Frank Wilczek, 2004 Nobel prize in physics. I like the quote a lot. 

“If you don’t make mistakes, you are not working on hard enough problems, and that’s a big mistake. “

August 23, 2008

A good psychological blog

Filed under: Readings — Fei @ 11:52 am

I found a good psychological blog. It’s very interesting reading all those factors that affect human thinking… Maybe we can utilize them in everyday life 🙂

I recommend the following articles:

10 Practical Uses For Psychological Research in Everyday Life

Detecting Lies: Top 3 Myths, Top 5 Proven Factors

A Slow Smile Attracts

Loudest Voice = Majority Opinion

Communicating Persuasively: Email or Face-to-Face?

Getting Closer: The Art of Self-Disclosure

Nobel Prize-Winning Research on Risky Decision Making

August 19, 2008

Business related books

Filed under: Business,Readings — Fei @ 4:25 pm

Since the beginning of this year, I read quite a few interesting business books. Here I just share with you my thoughts. What I like the books, and what I don’t like them.

– “Cashflow quadrants: rich dad’s guide to financial freedom”. It’s the best seller of New York Times. The author, Robert Kiyosaki, wrote dozens of books on achieving financial freedom. Among his books, I like “Cashflow quadrants” best. It categorizes people into four groups: Employee, Self employed, Business owner, and Investor. People in different groups have very different mindsets and they cannot understand each other. This book describes the value system of the people in each group, and their relations to financial freedom. I don’t endorse all Robert’s idea however (see his wikipage for detail). Most of his books are motivational without any detailed plan to achieve success. But still, you can only achieve what you can imagine (remember the law of attraction?). After all, the most difficult thing is to start. For this, I like a quote from the book: Many people will not head down the street until all the lights are green. That’s why they don’t go anywhere.

– “Secrets of the millionaire mind: mastering the inner game of wealth”. The author, Harv Eker, is the founder of Peak Potentials Training, a personal development company. Many people may have already heard about the company. Similar to the books by Robert Kiyosaki, this book is also focused on changing the “inside”. It describes 17 mindsets that successful business owner possess.

– “E-myth mastery: the seven essential disciplines for building a world class company”. It’s author, Michael E Gerber, is the founder of E-myth worldwide, a small-business development company. Frankly, he is a so so writer. If it is not highly recommended by a successful business person, I wouldn’t finish the first part. But yes, it is a great book. According to that business person, it is a business bible. It provides step by step illustration on the seven most important aspects of company building. It is a cook book for small businesses. To me, it provides some real contents, which is very different from the previous two books. But still, the book focuses the entire first part (which is also the not so well written part) on changing mindset… I like two notions from the book: work on your business, not in it. business is building a system.

– “Four hour work week”. My opinion on the book changed a lot while I listened to it (I read the audio book, which I don’t think a good source). When I listened to the middle of the book, I thought,hmm … he doesn’t know how to do business. After all, he is in his 20s when he writes the book. He’s very lucky to be successful in the very beginning. He views business as hard rigid guidelines, but in fact business composes another very important aspect: social. Business is also very social, so relations are very important. But later, as I listened more and more, I found I liked the book a lot better. The book gives very detailed instructions on dealing with different situations, achieving the goal of maximizing profitability. Even though I still think he’s very rigid in doing business, I like all the other points he wants to make.

If we say the first two books are motivational, the last two books provide detailed methods in doing business.

And I have another book to recommend. it is:
– “The millionaire next door: the surprising secrets of americas wealthy”. The authors, Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, spent twenty years studying the affluents of the Americans. In the book, they used a lot of statistics, numbers, and examples to show who the millionaires are. If you don’t know what makes millionaires, or if you “think” you know what makes millionaires, just read the book. It will surprise you. In a very short summary, most millionaires are frugal, well planned, and disciplined. They are PAWs (Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth).

If I ask a hundred people what business is, I will get a hundred different answers. Just drop me a message. I will tell you what I think. Maybe we can learn from each other 🙂

August 18, 2008

Lessons learnt by doing a startup in financial industry

Filed under: Business,Readings — Fei @ 5:41 pm

Fei: copied from an email from SVCEF

=== What we wanted to do

1. Build Vertical Search Engines For Financial Industry.
2. To give money managers edge against competitors.
3. To let money managers gain deep insight of market.
4. To help money managers to improve their investment return.

=== Targeted Customers
1. It is for Enterprise Customers
2. Potential customers are hedge funds, investment banks, financial institutions, fund managers, and other money manager.

=== The reasons why we started this effort
1. This business is close to money (and lots of money in the financial industry). We assume that people are willing to pay to gain edge. Because the cost of our product and services is negligible comparing to the potential extra investment return they will get.
2. Founders have been interested in finance and investment activities.
3. We had implemented vertical search engines for other industries.

=== Reasons caused our failure:
1. Personally, we did not know many people in the financial industry, therefore, we cannot get early customers. We know how to build vertical search engines, but we do not know the market well.
2. We were not well known in the industry before we started this business. Marketing is expensive and there were no easy and low cost way to get our name out. (Low cost methods, SEO and Google Adwords, Adsense did not work).
3. We did not have a sale channel to sell our products and services. So we had do direct sales. Founders took lot of time to do direct sales.
4. The market is smaller than we expected. For example, there are total 8000+ hedge funds. However, only these engaged in quantitative and short term trading are interested in our services, these solely rely on fundamental analysis are not interested in our services. The accessible market is a much smaller market (and we do not know people in the fields to help us accessible the market).
5. We can show potential customers that we have a better search engine, but we cannot prove this will increase their investment return.
6. We are not in New York City, instead in Silicon Valley.
7. Lots of money managers has some kind of in-house development.
8. The “rule of thumb” in the investment community is that, if something works (which can increase your investment return), you will keep secrete for yourself; If you are selling it, very likely it does not work.
9. Financial industry is a very old, very matured industry. It is highly competitive. Anything under the Sun had been tried before. (Just thinking about how many technical indicators have been created and how many finance related websites on this world). Other vendors had approached our potential customers with  something similar to ours in the past. Our potential customers were really skeptics about the value of our services.
10. Some potential customers asked exclusive right of our products. One requirement they imposed before they were willing to pay for our services was that we can not sell the products to other customers in next 6 months or 12 months. Theyed claimed that if everyone uses this, it became useless.
11. We could not get outside investment. We tried to grow this business organically. Without funding make it hard to hire good sales people and to do marketing promotion.
12. The technical entry barrier of our business was low. Anyone from Google or Yahoo can build similar search engines. It is hard to differentiate us technically, which further proves the importance of marketing and sales channels.
13. Founders did not have sales experience in the past.
14. We could not leverage our previous experience and connections.

=== What we have got right
1. We build a vertical search engine in very short time, collect more than 10 Tera-Bytes text data. Our crawler is powerful and faster.

August 15, 2008

The Venture Capital Aptitude Test (VCAT)

Filed under: Business,Readings — Fei @ 12:28 am

The Venture Capital Aptitude Test (VCAT)

Another good article by Guy Kawasaki…. love it. It’s interesting to know that MBA, management consulting, IBD, accounting are not got for entrepreneurs… hmm… need to seriously think about it…

August 14, 2008

In Mystery Cotton-Price Spike, Traders Hit by Swirling Forces

Filed under: Economics,Readings — Fei @ 11:56 am

In yesterday’s WSJ, an article is about cotton option (future) price spike earlier in the year: In Mystery Cotton-Price Spike, Traders Hit by Swirling Forces

I don’t want to go into the details. What I want to say is that besides the housing crunch, this is yet another indication of the failing market.

A regularity oversight caused huge margin calls? What a market! It is too fragile, too unstable.

The financial system is getting too complicated… commodities, derivatives, derivatives of derivatives etc. Traders “hedge” their positions… it seemly can correct itself when something goes wrong… yah, to some extent…. the small fluctuations can be hidden… but the underling forces are still there. they don’t lose strength… it’s just the time is not there yet.

When traders utilize complicated tools, they actually hide the real problem, delay the break-out of the problem. And when the issues cannot be hidden or delayed any further… the aftermath gets too severe and devastating….

That’s what happens in the current capitalism world….

Well, the good news is that capitalism is actually evolving into socialism….

The 1929 crash indicates the death of free market. All economies after that are carefully regulated…. to now… because the market is more efficient, the financial tools are more powerful… even a slight oversight can trigger snowball effect… It is obvious the trend is more regulations and less freedom… and you can imagine where it will end up to…

well, aren’t you happy? what do you think?

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