Sorry I did not post anything yesterday but I had a real world experience with synergy and building human relationships offline at the SVAMA Networking event last night. There was such a diverse crowd ranging from consultants, graphic designers, young people just getting their feet wet to seasoned professionals.
There were a few fab Rookie Stylie marketing professionals
and I was just impressed by their finesse, so much that I think I will just have to work a little harder to keep up with them.
I met another Asian-American guy there too and we were having a good time talking and joking. I am all about diversity and sometimes extremely pro-diversity but sometimes it's good to meet someone of the same cultural background who immediately understands where you are coming from.
I am going to the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner tonight in Mountain View, so I will have something to report on that later.
It is totally sold out and I am going to be so shocked to see *this* many girls in Silicon Valley all at one place.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Sorry I did not post anything yesterday but I had a real world experience with synergy and building human relationships offline at the SVAMA Networking event last night. There was such a diverse crowd ranging from consultants, graphic designers, young people just getting their feet wet to seasoned professionals.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I've been trying to learn some Photoshop techniques and made up my own logo in the process.
This logo goes with a pitch that says, "I help entrepreneurs understand how to develop their business strategies clearly and easily."
There are a ton of Photoshop tutorials on YouTube that can help and of course, obviously I can't do anything fancy like graphic designers do. Not sure which tagline would sound better, so if any thoughts, I'm open to your ideas on this creative endeavor.
Monday, January 28, 2008
A high school junior from Del Mar High School came to my door this evening. I've been fairly disappointed lately after the Fed cut and the overall state of the economy recently and worried about how that would affect the future.
So when a high school kid with a 3.7 GPA comes to your door and asks you to sign up for the newspaper so he can get money to go to college while you're thinking about the state of the economy, then you've been scammed. A previous article in the Stanford Review talks about how the California Newspaper Sales & Marketing group targets lower income students to get them to sell newspapers.
If you see a young kid asking you to help out in his fate for success in college, it's better not to listen. It's a smart scheme on the part of the company because they know that the people most likely to buy the newspapers in print are people who value education and will have some expendable income.
In my case, curiosity killed the cat. Turns out these kids are paid for their part time jobs and the kid who seemed so motivated at first, when asked, didn't know what school he wanted to go to but wants to become a CSI investigator.
This is one of those cases when marketing is not educating, it's deceiving.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
It's Sunday so I thought to indulge in a little bit of blogging transparency, because after all, we are in a post-consumerism age where most people are used to being marketed to and I know that for myself, I'm just looking for a bit of honesty in the world.* I'm taking a stand on this in the perspective spirit of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and his book has a very scary but beautiful quality to it which I can't match up here, but at least that will help create the idea of why this blog post should be shrouded with a spray of misty fear.
On Friday, I alluded to this idea that according to the sociological belief about the different generations in the workforce, Millenials may not grasp the idea of what it means to hit "rock bottom" because we're spoiled. (PINK Magazine has a great article about "Gen Y" which will offer some perspective.)
Well, I'd like to disagree a little bit about Millenials being spoiled. I think a lot of us are willing to work and work hard, but our definition is probably a little bit different from generations of workers before us. One thing that has always perturbed me about the job marketing for young people entering the workforce in Silicon Valley is its highly competitive nature, relative to other cities, as it is full of seasoned workers. So, perhaps I am not looking the right places because the Hidden Job Market plays a huge role here, but it's tough going to win a job, especially for someone who is just starting out and looking for experience. Also, the pricing isn't a great motivator: I scanned a few job boards today just to get an idea of how I can illustrate this point. There are a lot of internships with exciting descriptions which are either don't pay or offer a small stipend. This means most of the money better be coming from somewhere else and it's scary to think, it's really true that survival is not easy.
And then there is something else that I find a little bit scary about working. Social networking tools definitely make networking easier and creating individual publicity easier but the economy is going up and down so much that people are working harder and harder. Work is a good thing, it keeps people busy and hopefully it leads to living fulfilling lives.
But since we're no longer confined to the 9 to 5 in professional jobs, and the internet is pervasive in all its ways, I've been debating whether this affects families and general human relationships, "in person" versus over your social network.
Sometimes I look at the myriad of ways people can communicate over the internet and the amount of time people may spend working just to survive; and maybe I'm being naive but it doesn't always make a lot of sense that families don't have a lot of time to spend together.
Also, I read this article called What should I do With My Life? and look at the comments. There are so many people who expressed their struggle and troubles trying to find passion. A lot of them sound disjointed and I think that is scary.
So, readers out there, what do you think? Is it possible to have a fulfilling family life and a good job? What does the "Pursuit of Happyness" really mean now in 2008?
Friday, January 25, 2008
How does it happen that the entire health of the stock market is affected by one Rogue Trader can mobilize the Fed to do something?
My former accounting and personal finance professor once said that the best way to buy stocks is to go by the old saying "Buy in May and Go Away." If you believe in the health of the company that you paid for and the health of the US economy, then there shouldn't be any need to micromanage the company.
Now that is going to change because the US economy is not so stable. China, the sleeping giant, is just at the birth of the Industrial revolution and moving fast. A lot of Americans still think of credit cards as free money and look beyond interest rates as negative incentives not to pay off their debts, which is probably what gave in to the subprime crisis anyway.
Fellow Millenials: Listen up! USE that altruistic nature that you so value and help the US prepare for a healthier economic future. You don't want to end up on the streets smelling more like ammonia than Coco Chanel.
Yes, I am a millenial too and yes, perhaps I was spoiled by doting parents but once they let go, you get the real idea about what rock bottom looks like.
Living in the "now" is not as important as living comfortably. We're most likely not going to remember the fancy Coach bag at age 80 and in need of health treatment that probably costs just as much as the bag, which won't be trendy any longer.
The way the financial sector has structured their marketing tactics (0% APR, Health Services on Credit, Buy Two for One, etc) just to increase market size has to change. It's done nothing but taught us that everything is for free, even if temporarily. And it's obvious that today's market simply has the kind of behavior that expects everything for free: free internet, free services and instant cash. Young people have to become more educated about the way they spend their money. The color black is almost always in fashion, so ladies, gents and metrosexuals, let's try to remember that red should only be used in moderation.
And for the anti-consumers out there: you know you're just as bad toting lululemon gear, $50 to $100 fair trade yoga bag and taking yoga classes that most likely cost you $150 per month. This is enough to feed a family in Cambodia for half a year.
Let's get real here. Do something huge, save the world economy by SAVING. And if you're going to make an investment, do it but don't expect instant gains. We're going to need it when Hydroxatone becomes our new best friend.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
This is just a random observation but I daresay in my group of friends, those who are reaching their 30s are less likely to use Facebook and then you have the oddball professor or teacher or parent who is trying to stay hip and connect with their teenagers. Are these non-Facebook users laggards or simply not interested?
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I feel the need to tip my hat towards a former client, whose most recent project is in the social media space. He calls it Locavox or "Local Voice" and is currently serving Monterey, CA as well as a global, generic community.
While Locavox gives a nod to sites like Truemors and other social bookmarking sites like Digg.com there is a bit of a twist that makes it really unique.
Locavox can also write their own articles or link to their own blogs about local events and the idea is to create an online community for people who live in the same area. It's a bit like how Facebook is able to create online networks or groups. But not only that, it the news that you posted appears the most newsworthy to the community in any given week, it will be published in print.
The print option should appeal to the retiree community in Monterey who can enjoy the news a second time. What do you think?
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
This is really a divergence from the usual subject matter but I just can't think straight. I bought some really fragrant rosemary from Trader Joe's and was making a sauce with it, hung it over my kitchen sink to dry, then started to get blurry, spotty vision and now nausea. It's really odd, actually because I have not had this kind of reaction before.
I searched a few articles on the internet and it's said that some people can be allergic to rosemary oils and experience nausea.
Need to get out of the house but I am so dizzy....
Just read on Reuters.com today that a Dutch company is going to launch Readius, a handheld mobile device with a Kindle Reader like screen. It's a Phillips subsidiary that is launching the product and I must say, we all love mobile and we like the idea of the Kindle Reader which is why I'm getting really interested in this product. Reviewers of the Kindle have commented that the Kindle is kind of clunky and 70s-ish and I think Readius could solve that problem. It sounds like a good idea to have a phone that you can use and a reader that you can pull out when you feel like reading.
Now all we have to do is wait for the reviewers to start giving their pros and cons on this product.
It's going to be priced the same as the iPhone, though, so that will really put up some barriers for people like me who are laggards and tend to wait and see what they early adopters do with such a thing.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
I lost my phone between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 17 and it's a bit like losing a third ear. The last place I saw it was on my kitchen table on silent mode and I don't remember moving it, although it could have gone to Peet's Coffee with me between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m. but I don't recall taking it.
I have not been so bummed in my life.
We now live in an age where cell phones are our primary, private lines. I doubt teenagers nowadays ask for a private line in their room. They probably ask for an internet connection and a cell phone. Even Grandma might use a cell phone to text her BFF (can't remember which cell phone commercial that is from).
That is partly why I have not written in the past couple of days, too, because when I am mobile without internet connection, my cell phone is my mouthpiece, my method to contact a friend who can navigate me out when I am lost (which is often) and my meeting maker. It's tough to make weekend plans without a cell phone, especially in a day where I plan to meet different people at different times of the day but we haven't decided what time exactly we will meet, which is after the other thing I am doing. Also hard to call people to let them know if I will meet them and find out where to meet because I don't have phone numbers anywhere but on my cell phone.
I also miss out on who's planning to do what and when, and who is involved or planning on joining.
The other thing that is annoying about not having a cell phone is that I cannot text the Google 411 line to get information about a place if I just need a phone number or an address without bothering anybody I know and without paying $1.75 or more for a 411 call.
Last, it's the "not-knowing" how many missed calls I have and from whom that really gets to me. I have about a dozen of missed calls on it from my house but besides that I have no idea.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I'm still debating whether social media applies to the B2B market. For example, if government niche marketers most likely won't be using social media because of the bureaucracy that remains in the market, but surely governments talk to each other and complain and have some way of communicating.
Social media right now is dominated by all kinds of people who have caught the internet bug and are blogging, posting reviews on everything from restaurants on Yelp!to software on CNet and all this influence through non-marketer authorities in a peer group is really changing the way people buy things. Products these days have to be sold by "organic" product evangelists, not by marketers. So the marketing role is changing because marketers now have to mobilize product evangelists rather than educate the market on what they should or should not buy.
Hark back to the 1990s and you will remember commercials that tell you why Pepsi is better than Coke and vice versa. I don't think products are sold that way anymore--it's more about who buys the product and if they are in the same peer group.
Do we see this kind of behavior happening in the B2B side? In a way, yes, because if we didn't, then companies would not post case studies on their websites. Companies are highly risk adverse where costs are concerned and they often don't want to purchase something if their partners or competitors are not buying the same product.
Therein lies an answer: corporations may be more slow moving in comparison to individual consumers and as the overall population gets more educated with social media, then perhaps we will see a different dynamic in the B2B market. However, this sort of thing is still emerging and there are different issues such as security, IT management and brand management that will come into play.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Today I've been looking at different companies and trying culminate a few ideas floating around about "value add" and either beating or staying ahead of the competition as well as what it means to work in high-tech where innovation is "a moving target". I read a case study today which Norman R. Augustine wrote about Lockheed Martin's attempt to restructure and survive while thinking about where I would fit into the management mix when I get that first dream job and why a company would need my insights as an employee. Yes, there is a bit of ego in this post, but I figured I needed the extra boost today as part of my introspective research of the day.
There really are very few people like me and that is a cliché statement because everyone is unique and there is no one person like the other. But if you were to define the market segment that I would fall under, it would be "Gen Y girl geek* in Silicon Valley who has lived in three other countries outside of the US and has seen how economic development can affect people in third world countries." Take a sample size: Out of 100 students of the class of 2000 at the Hong Kong International School high school, I am 1 in 100 and out of those students who live in Silicon Valley, I am maybe 1 in 5, (based on my connections on Facebook).
Take that number and try to find the number of people in the sample size of 5 people (a non-representative sample at best) that really wants to understand the history of our modern world through the fast-changing, fast-paced landscape of high-tech business and you are down to a sample of one. Which says nothing except that I am 100% me and if every competing entity on the free market has varied strengths and weaknesses giving each a fair competitive advantage, then it's true that I am totally and economically unique.
The question that often comes up these days is what is your value add and can you compete in this fast-paced, non-traditional, non "9 to 5" industry? Can you chase a moving target and hit a bull's eye? Do you understand what innovation means? I like to think that in about five years from now I will be more of an expert with a stronger understanding of the high-tech landscape. Right now, like our friend Linus Caldwell, I have the right skills for my profession and they have to be put into practice. Hopefully, within the next 5 years, I will have the means and experience to give back to the community and empower young people.
But for now, give me a challenging question to try and provide intelligent recommendations for your industry, and I will work with you to come up with some relevant answers. In addition to that (and I say this with tongue-in-cheek), if required I can get other examples in three Romance languages and maybe one or two major Asian languages.
*No "Geek" doesn't mean braces, awkward fashion, bad breath and oversized glasses. Believe it or not, in Silicon Valley, it's become a sub-culture and says Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, "After all to be geeky is to be intelligent, have passion for a subject and to know that subject in depth."
Monday, January 14, 2008
The dance of life is a peculiar thing. I stumbled upon the Google GMail blog today which led me to an extraordinary blog where I am many months behind on learning about.
A grandmother at 95 years old was given a blog by her nephew who continues to transcribe her blog for her. You can read a summar about this in a news article here. Other than the fact that this is a compelling example of how the perspective of one's life can become transparent on the web and inspire many people, it also says a lot about our grandparents' generation.
If we are to look at our own grandparents, we would find that it is true that life is a fleeting thing. One day, you wake up and you are old with many memories and young people are not always interested in hearing what you have to say about the 1920s or 1930s because it's not the "in" thing. To know of a story where the "now" and the "then" converged is really something.
There's a gap between innovation and preserving traditions and culture. I spoke with my fiance yesterday about holograms after we saw The Illusionist and he was trying to think of a way to create a new disruptive technology. We also talked a bit about the evolving internet and how it was the start of a disruptive technology that has changed our lives. It's a long way from our grandparents generation, that's for sure.
Across sectors, there have been a number of disruptive technologies. In my mind, some of these would be: blogging changes media and web 2.0 software changes the fact that we no longer have to download software onto our hard drives; the Nintendo Wii broke the couch potato paradigm; internet search changed the way we viewed information and wikis changed collaboration behavior on the internet.
It could be that I am jaded, but I do feel like there is less focus nowadays on enriching the culture that we live in and making meaning out of life experiences. There is a lot of thought put into work culture and innovation and while not a negative thing, it certainly puts the current millennium and history into perspective, say when we are 95 and looking back at our lives.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Indoctrinated by Starbucks Coffee and the love of fine things, Trader Joe's (fondly named TJ's by some locals) has gained a solid reputation for providing the middle class consumer with adventurous products sometimes considered luxuries by most who I think may not hold corporate, stereotypical Silicon Valley jobs.
I got to thinking recently about the possible correlation between sugar/caffeine and impulse buying. I read an article somewhere that has gotten lost now in the massive spider webs of the internet that mentioned that Christmas shoppers were more likely to spend money if they had consumed something containing sugar, like candy canes, hot chocolate or mochas.
Did you know that Trader Joe's offers free coffee and orange juice while you shop in their grocery store? They do this on a regular basis and let's face it, we all know what orange juice tastes like. It's more of a service to customers that they provide and they attract you to the sampling counter with some yummy new goodies to try. And if you're hungry, samples whet your appetite and increase your impulse to buy things you don't need.
But if you think about it--and if the likelihood that people buy more when they have something sweet in them is true, then TJ's has a good strategy going.
Same goes for your local Starbucks or Peet's Coffee and Tea, although just from working as a barista, I know that many people don't buy products beyond coffee and tea so much because the pricing is way too high for this middle-class market that perceives $3 as a good deal and doesn't realize how much they are spending in a month as a daily latte drinker.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wow...not much else to say that it's been said that the Sarkozy divorce was one of the more open stories of human relationship in politics.
On Yahoo! Buzz today, rumor has it that Sarkozy has a mistress that may have had something to do with the divorce.
It just goes to show that everyone is human and people like stories about human conflict, especially if they can relate. Not sure how this would affect Sarkozy's rating as president though...
On Mashable.com today, blogger Paul Glazowski discusses Murdoch's business strategy and how Murdoch attempts to revamp the Wall Street Journal in the coming months.
I say pony up, Murdoch. Quit stalling. Just give us the stories, and stop asking for our credit card info when registering accounts. Yes, we know, you like making the most money you can. But as we all know, news on the Net is now news without fees. Give in, dude. Now. Or at least soon. There’s simply no point in holding out any longer.
Well, the internet is definitely taking over the media and a lot of paper-based models, like the Wall Street Journal, are going to have to ways to cope. Certainly, a lot of odd-ball pricing models are going to make their way out especially if media companies want to try to avoid the advertising revenue stream as their main pricing strategy.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Yesterday, I talked about the importance of authenticity in business relationships, which aren't as casual as with your friends, where you can wear what you want and they probably follow the same fashion trends (or lack thereof).
Well, friends are part of your network, too. Yesterday I got into this referral program for a ski bus that takes you to Lake Tahoe and back all in one day. It got me thinking about how smart these ski bus people are. They combined some really important elements of referral marketing (sometimes negatively called the pyramid scheme) and utilized secondary relationships through their ski bus members.
To be more specific, the ski bus solves time, money and efficiency problems that alpine lovers hate. Normally, I don't get suckered in to the things like this but money is an issue and I don't want to sacrifice the snow season either. Here's an imagined conversation with said ski bus company.
Me: I am a snowboarder and I have friends who snowboard. We carpool together and share motel rooms and we've done the whole quick, dirty, cheap snowboarding trip thing. It's not that great, because we spend our first day of the weekend driving! This is why: Driver A thinks it sucks because he has to stay awake while everybody is napping. Then, we stop on the side of the road for gas, and Driver A switches with Driver B so that Driver A can take a nap. Then somebody absolutely has to go to the bathroom, especially the girls who have small bladders, and another wants a snack from the 7-11. We spend more time driving than snowboarding!
Ski bus says:No problem. We'll hire someone to drive, have no stops, keep a lavatory on the bus for emergencies and everybody can take a nap on the way to the slopes.
Me: I just updated all my gear--boots, bindings and board. I don't want to pay for a lift ticket and your bus ride. It sounds like it will be more expensive.
Ski bus says:: You can ride our bus for the same price as a lift ticket with transportation included, because we reduce our costs by not advertising. Instead, what about YOU do our marketing for us? Tell your friends about us and we will give them SKIBUS dollar discounts if they sign up and also, you'll get more discounts if they tell their friends.
Me: Yeah, I would totally refer my friends because I will do anything not to pay my entire year's salary just to have some fun and I know my friends don't want to pay huge amounts either. Not only that, but I'll keep using this service since I get discounts through them and don't spend all my time trying to drive up to Tahoe.
The only thing that is a bit annoying about this site is that they have an e-mail address called "typos at skibus dot com" because who ever is doing their copy doesn't know how to spellcheck their work. They know that us snow people are the types who say "Will do anything for snowboarding/skiing" and they really employ high level participation to the max. I mean, typos--that's not our job to notice things like that. It's yours.
If you want a $5 discount to go snowboarding, just comment to let me know. Like I said, if it works on me, it'll work on any ski bunny. OK, I admit, it is a sort of plug for said ski bus but think of it more as me glowing in admiration.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I heard the oddest piece of advice yesterday in regards to office politics. The advice was: "Don't worry about it." It was an awfully simple thing to say but perhaps the most true.
There should be a large distinction between using tact in your business relationships and worrying too much about your reputation because the latter can create too much distance and perhaps mar the quality of those relationships. Too often, we think too much about the money at stake and this can create barriers in developing strong, authentic relationships that build for example, your customers' loyalty to you and your brand.
The same goes for networks. If you're at a networking event, it's better to stay positive, exhibit confidence and show interest in both your specialty and shared interests with your counterparts. In other words, be your best self and don't worry so much about what other people think.
I've been thinking a lot about this lately because when I was in Montréal, Quebec, people in general seemed to converse more naturally than we do in Silicon Valley. They are less distracted by Blackberrys and a glass of wine and good food is enough to inspire conversation. Again, I know I am generalizing, but what I've learned from Montrealites is that they don't acknowledge you as a business contact or a social contact but simply they acknowledge you as a person and stay self aware of the subjects of conversation.
Before I start to lose focus on all this, it is food for thought. We have a lot to learn from a traditional culture that still values face-to-face communication and interaction. When things revolve around money and politics, the world gets to be quite odd. So maybe that is why art and humanities exist in the world--so we can remember we are human beings after all.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Here's a perspective on Ocean's Twelve that got me really excited. I'm not sure if the screenwriters meant to write it as an office culture and interpersonal dynamics sort of movie, but it's a cool twist on a conventional action/thievery film. Some say that Ocean's Twelve abides by the "Sequels usually suck" principle but I disagree.
Maybe it's more obvious for anyone who has worked a full time office job. George Clooney and Brad Pitt did an awesome job of playing two company CEOs of a professional thievery consultancy but really the thievery could be a metaphor for any company since we're all rooting for Ocean's Twelve when we watch it. You've got all the aspects of business involved.
Barriers to Entry: Catherine Zeta-Jones is the talented detective Lahiri who wants to prevent Ocean's Eleven from succeeding at their task
Competition: Thanks to the talented and arrogant young thief, Francois Toulour, Ocean's Eleven can't get to their objective without Toulour attempting to get at it first.
Partners: You've got your business partners, and in this case one guy who makes their holographic egg.
Stakeholders: Terry Benedict plays the sinister stakeholder who wants his money and fast, so he is as invested in Ocean's Eleven's success as much as they are although their motivations are different.
International relations: There's international business travel, Shen as a rather talented business consultant, and the scene itself in Italy and France. Also, they know a ton of people, have a huge network and worry about their reputations so that they can continue working in the business.
My favorite one is the portrayal of Linus Caldwell, the rookie. He's new to the game, wants to play a larger role, stammers when he begs Rusty Ryan for more responsibility. He's got the skills, the motivation and a new-generation respect for morality. It's so comforting to get to know Linus in Ocean's Twelve, because I can relate to him and know that anyone in business is going to be embarrassed once in a while. I loved one of the beginning scenes where they meet Matsui for a job because it is so true: when you go to a business meeting for at least the first few times, everyone else might as well be speaking a different language. That changes, of course, once the rookie is acclimated to the industry language. The movie is awesome and great inspiration on how to run a good business, but mind you, Hollywood is the only place where they can use thievery as a metaphor for corporations.
I'll post a few lines of the movie soon that really hint at the business culture slant of this film.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
New year, new thoughts and new resolutions. I cannot predict what will happen in 2008 but they say that thought and determination can create amazing results. In the last year, I learned a ton about social media and geeky technology news.
Richard McManus lists his top 10 stories on ReadWriteWeb and amazingly, some of the same stories mentioned (plus more) have been floating around in Silicon Valley came about in conversations during my vacation in Montreal this year. Not all of them are about Silicon Valley but many are telling of the way Bay Area technologies are changing how people live, talk and interact. Some of my favorites:
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