Monthly Archives: July 2009

6 Cores of FD Networking: Starting with the Self

Many of my readers have been asking me to elaborate on what I meant as the 6 Core Values of networking, so I decided to elaborate more upon it.

Networking starts with the Self

In order to network, you must be worth networking with. Networking goes both ways. You’re not only trying to enrich your life through your friends and contacts, you are trying to do the same for these people too. Knowing a million people who think lowly of you is useless. These are the six Core Values that must be acquired to truly network well. Without these core values, networking will just be an empty action that means very little, just like playing only the notes on an instrument without any rhythm, dynamics, tone and feelings.

The 6 Cores of Networking are:

Integrity
Sincerity
Optimism
Confidence
Initiative
Persistence

While some people might think, “these are things people are born with! I know I lack that, but I can’t do anything about it!” The truth is that we have more control over ourselves than most would think. All it takes is attitude and a constant will to be better. You can’t change yourself immediately, but you can’t become a great musician overnight either. It takes good attitude to change your attitude.

Integrity

Integrity is different from acting ethical and making people think that you are a good person. That’s one of the byproducts of this core value. Instead of having people think you are a great person, BE A GREAT PERSON. Integrity is about your decisions if you didn’t have to worry about consequences. The idea is to simply have pride in your life for who you are. Be liable not only to others but also to yourself. In the long run, people will know your true values, and if they regard you as a person of high integrity, you have achieved a high level in networking. Even if people never find out, which is unlikely if you do things correctly, you know you can walk this world with your head lifted high. There’s nothing shady in you.

Sincerity

In terms of actual Networking, this could be the most important core characteristic. The basic principle about networking is to stop just thinking about your own benefits. Care about others! Try to help them as much as possible. Don’t be phony. Try to find the part of yourself that derives joy when you see others achieve success, especially when you know it’s because of your help. Don’t think about returns. Think about win-win and relationships.

Optimism

No one likes to see others sad and grumpy all the time (unless they are sick-minded themselves). Being optimistic means you can be a source of motivation that people draw hope from. It is a vital force that keeps yourself productive too. How can you accomplish much if most of your time you are
coping with your sadness? Finally, optimism is necessary considering the cold turndowns you will experience while learning the craft of Networking.

Confidence

When you are optimistic, it is easy to be confident. When I say confident, I don’t mean thinking yourself superior than everyone else. That’s arrogance. Confidence is to know that you are valuable because of who you are, instead of what you CAN do. A confident person not only sees all the good things in him/herself, but also sees all the good things in others. He/she knows clearly that everyone does at least one thing that he/she completely sucks at, if not dozens more. Confidence is important because when people don’t know you, they can only rely on what you portray to them. How you view yourself is often projected to others. If you think you are insignificant, you will act that way, and others will view you as insignificant. Remember the principle that “No other human being is too good for you” and everyone has a reason to think you are important if you give him/her one. You must lead others in believing in yourself. I often tell people I give advice to: confidence is everything minus one. Like n-1, it is not everything, but it is almost everything in this world.

Initiative

Nothing will happen if nothing starts. Unless you are truly successful already, people won’t come to you. You have to go to people. Successful professionals are great people to know (assuming a sincere attitude towards them), and if you are the only person trying to know them, you are ahead of the game already. Taking initiative means you have to overcome your comfort zone. You must be adventurous and be willing to explore out of your bubble. At the end of the day, nothing bad will happen. If you express your respect for someone and admiration (if truthful) of what she has done, even if she does not reply, at worse you made someone feel good about herself. Without seeking, you won’t find.

Persistence

This is probably the most difficult out of all the disciplines.Persistency means never giving up. If someone ignores your email, send another one (after some time so you don’t seem desperate). What happens in life is that good things that seem unavailable will open up for the guy who goes the extra mile, and who still seeks after being turned down. Now the hard part is to find the clear line between being persistence and being an egocentric bastard. If people say no and you keep pushing until they feel they must say yes, that is obviously horrendous behavior. You won’t go far with that, as people will start to hide from your sight when they see you. However, the chances are, if someone didn’t reply to your email, it’s because even though
they felt positive about it, they didn’t have the time to reply. Think about how long it takes for you to reply to some of your friends. Good things come to you if you show enough determination.

I hope these comments are helpful to people, and feel free to discuss/challenge anything I said!

Be Compelling, not Genius

Be compelling, not Genius

A lot of times, you would have this pure genius idea that you know no one else has thought of (hmm, not sure about that). This is something that can blow the world away. Honestly, you have no clue if this genius idea would work or not, but it’s really awesome, and it would be SO amazing if it worked.

On the other hand, there are some ideas or solutions that you know is pretty compelling, but not as “sexy”. I would say, if this is your first project/startup, focus on the compelling one.

A lesson from the birth of Viralogy.com

So when we were conceptualizing Viralogy.com in December 2008, we were stuck between 2 ideas: one that was “genius”, innovative, and fun, but somewhat shaky. The other one was more “compelling” but not as mind-blowing. I mean, a Social Media Rank is cool and meets a big demand in the social mediasphere, but it’s not like the newest patented technology that will lead an undiscovered industry for the next two decades. It’s simply something that is needed, and no one else is doing it.

We all wanted to do the genius and exciting project, but it was also pretty shaky. There were too many possible scenarios that it didn’t work out. It was a brilliant way to coorindate many moving parts together to create value for all sides and make money. However, with so many moving parts, the stars have to align for all of that to continuously work out without any trouble.

If this is your first project, choose the compelling project, and put your genius into that

Finally, we decided that the genius project was too shaky, and don’t want to work for 3 years and have everything fall apart. We then picked the more compelling one. However, at that point, we didn’t know if this compelling one could make money. We then put in some of our creative juices and then came up with something cool that could make money (That actually wasn’t compelling and we switched away a bit afterward). We also put in a lot of work to make sure that this “compelling” idea is fun, exciting, and even sometimes sexy. And that is the birth of Viralogy.com.

To prove a point, within our first month of official launch, we garnered around 20,000 unique visitors, 30% of them from Direct Traffic. Three months into the project, we’ve developed a strong brand name, achieved a Pagerank of 5 (for Viralogy.com/blog), obtained over 100,000 blogs with 1.2M blog calls, and solid traffic. We got to this point because unlike many other “innovative” startups, we were compelling, and we used our creativity to push it through.

Trust me, even if you think something is compelling, there’s still going to be so many variables that get in your way that require your brilliance to solve. For the same reasons, Good to Great tells you to do what you are the best at in the world, not what’s the coolest or most popular.

If this is your first project, pick the compelling solution, use your genius within that, and build a foundation/reputation that can support your other brilliant ideas.

The government should pay entrepreneurs salaries to save the economy

obama The government should pay entrepreneurs salaries to save the economy

A few weeks ago, I was exercising while listening to the Wall Street Journal This Morning about what the government is doing to save the economy. I have also been paying attention to how governments are giving grants to startups who can prove that they are very innovative.

Having wrote a blogpost on this topic earlier, I formulated what I think is a doable plan for the government to save the economy.

For validation, I took this plan to two of my friends, one who is an ex-VC and Boston Consulting Group Consultant, and the other a Stanford Researcher. They haven’t been able to poke holes in this theory *yet*, so I thought I would share it on my blog and hopefully I will find out the flaws in my thinking or it will get discovered by policy makers to really execute it through.

Foundations of my theory: nodes and 3 coefficients

When the government throws money into the economy, it passes through many “nodes” (person or organization), and each node has three coefficients along with it: spend/save, innovation, and upside.

Continue reading

What to do when your industry is dying

What to do when your industry is dying

I recently spoke with someone who works for a large worldwide newspaper company, and he told me about how it’s really tough being in his industry. Everyone says print is dead, and there are fewer and fewer people reading physical newspapers, and fewer and fewer companies want to advertise on them. They are trying to build up their online division, but there are so many free sites out there and so much competition that it’s very difficult to become established too. He asked me for some advice.

Take all your established resources in the dying industry and focus on the new booming industry

I told him that, being a worldwide brand that they are, they should really take that brand, and focus more energy on the online division. Yes, they have more competition, but they are more established, especially to their target market that is slowly moving online.

If they think of themselves as startup in the online arena, they will realize it’s not grim at all. They actually have so much established, so many assets, and a strong brand name. And with that, with the same amount of effort, they will beat their competitors. The problem is that their competitors who are entirely web based, focus 100% of their energy on their online department, whereas this company only spends about 20% of their resources on it. Of course they will lose.

Take what you have, pull it out of the dying industry, and put in all your efforts in the new booming industry. If you can’t adapt as fast as the environment moves, you will become a victim of natural selection.

Mousetrap on Termites: Build What Your Customers Want

Don’t create the perfect product. Create what your customers want

A lot of times, teams try to produce the most perfect piece of product they can imagine. They want all the features, all the bells and whistles, and all the design implemented before they can launch it to their audience. By doing so, they spend a lot of time and money. When they finally launch it into the market, often times they realize that this is not what the customers want, and they have to revise it anyway.

Don’t make the perfect mousetrap if your customer has termite problems

Some people can spend years trying to build the perfect mousetrap, and then realize that their customer only has termites at their place. Now all that work is wasted. It would be much more efficient if you talk to the customer first, see what problems they have, go visit their house, or even live there for a few days to see the problems!

Building the best product by yourself means you assume that you are 100% like your customer

When you are trying to build the best product by yourself, you are building something that pleases you, not your customers. The only way this can work, is if you are 100% representative of your customers, which is rarely the case. Don’t be arrogant and think you know more about the customers than themselves. That might be true, but you would have better odds talking to them first about it.