Tag Archives: work

Good to Great – Can any company make the leap?

“Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t” by Jim Collins, recommended to every business person, entrepreneur and non-profit, . I read it while I was consulting with a “good company.” One of their partners said to me “It bothers me that we don’t do anything great.” I could see it in the passion in his eyes that he could see the potential in his company but for some reason couldn’t make it there. The answer was so obvious to him once I passed along this book to him. I believed in this company, one of the partners DID in fact have the potential to be a “great” leader. However, he wasn’t “The Man” in charge. Funny enough, leadership styles is what was most discussed during my time at this company.

I watched patiently as “The Man” exuded with brilliance but also thrashed around in anger making rash judgment calls, burn bridges, make up facts and figures with each sales pitch, etc. Around the same time, I saw within The Man’s circle of friends, they were achieving some astronomically amazing feats in this world, changing history forever.

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Introvert, Extrovert or Ambivert? Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

A recent book that got me thinking is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Really interesting read because I initially read it to better understand the introverts in my life. Interestingly, I discovered more about myself and how to interact with colleagues and loved ones better.

To most people I appear extroverted. To those whose known me for all of my life would say I am an extrovert. However, after reading this book, I tested to be an introvert. So I might be an “Ambivert” a personality trait including the qualities of both introversion and extraversion. So I found the Myers Brigg test and tested to be an introvert. So I dug out an old book to figure out what color my parachute was. Shockingly, the answers I used to give were different from how I would answer them now. So the color of my parachute is much different now that when I was college (yes, I’m a hoarder and somehow have my college copy too).

In the past decade my interests have moved from social gatherings to more intimate settings. My parties were replaced with yoga and mediation sessions. In the past few years, my large groups of friends were replaced with online communities that I led, assembled or connected. My dance music was replaced with old school jazz and eclectic world music. My daydreams of whirlwind international trips to metropolitan cities have satisfied with long secluded hikes in the California mountains and sea cliffs. My past anxieties of staying at home had been relieved somehow by my gardening, crocheting and art photography projects. Social media and my addiction to Instagram helps me continue me extrovert image, but if you count how often I’m with more than 1 person, its rare. Maybe I am a true Ambivert.

I found the most interesting parts of the book were the Extrovert Ideal and her observations on the differences between Asian Americans born and raised in America versus the ones who come here as adults. Comparing that to the Asians in Asia as observed by expats. The personality traits that each culture values and respects are drastically different. Leadership styles were in stark contrast of each other. Americans seem to value the extroverted leader and undervalue the introvert. Whereas in Asia the introvert’s calm demeanor seems to be the model f the rock solid leader.

As a Vietnamese-American born in Saigon and raised in Hawaii, which is officially America but it too has its own language and cultural identity. Assimilating was a bit confusing especially when my immigrants parents were trying their best to provide the basics. Between my extroverted “Tiger Mom” and extremely introverted father and the pulls of conforming to the Westernized social norms, it was a challenge. Needless to say, I straddled the introverted perfect grades bookworm as expected by the Tiger Mom with extroverted pursuits such as taking any leadership opportunity I was given. I’m not sure I ever figured out the balance between Eastern and Western cultures, hence my ambivert traits. So I ponder about the next generation.

When it comes to the business world and preparing for the future, it’s undeniable that Asia is a powerhouse. Japan dominated the eighties and now China is the world’s superpower. Asia was booming while American were still going through our recession. So how do we help Americans and future generations prepare for the decades ahead where Asian and Asian style leadership will be valued. I remember being in Hawaii in the eighties, the Japanese businessmen were trying to learn English. Now it’s the opposite. It the Americans learning to assimilate to Chinese culture. We’d have to address this cultural difference if we are to compete in the future.

Greg Kidd, Jeffrey Paine, Peter Chen, Brian Wong, Andrew Chen (top) & Trip Adler

Men teaching the boys to fish – building a legacy vs. a tech startup

The proverb goes “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” After several weeks of intense fishing lessons from some of Silicon Valley VIPs, founders and investors, it leads me to ask are you a man or are you a boy? Are you creating a tech startup hoping for a fat exit? Or are you a man building a legacy? In speaking with some of these high level achievers, the one biggest difference I noticed is their thinking. They don’t just see the trees but they see the forest. While people are asking them fundamental question on the building blocks of a successful startup, these men are scheme to build a legacy that will be resilient to the test of time and go way beyond them in this lifetime. While some are plotting their next step, these men are miles ahead.

What is the larger picture? What are the true questions you should be asking? If I am lucky enough to have a mentoring session with anyone I respect, I often ask questions that try to get in their head, behind their thinking, understand their decision making, their motivations, their inspirations, their strategies for the higher level questions, etc. Even if your startup isn’t going well and you will need to pivot later down the line or quit all together, the higher level advice is what will last you forever.  Realizing that these men probably already made enough money already, so what motivates them to continue? They are inspired to build a true legacy business. Pitch them what you have has what it takes, know your shit and back it up. They can tell a winner vs a loser from a mile away.

Be inspired by something true. Be motivated to make a change in the world. Live with intention. Build something you are truly passionate about. The pieces will fall into place if you keep working your ass off to create your own luck. Learn how to fish.

Startup Mansions – Thinking outside the box in San Francisco’s hot apartment rental market

Ever heard of co-working? Well, this takes co-habitating a new meaning. With San Francisco’s tight housing marketing, residents are starting to think outside of the box and revolutionize an old idea of co-habitating. The demand for 1-2-3 bedroom apartments are extremely competitive currently, but demand for 10 bedroom mansions, not in this economy. There are a handful of mansions housing tech startups around the city and bay area.

Here’s a renovated Victorian mansion across from Alamo Square houses 10 startups under one roof. I was lucky enough to get a tour from one of the occupants. They have a Great Room furnished with kitchy retro decor where all the walls is a giant chalkboard motivation board. Their living room was designed to house a bullpin of computer stations the call the “War Room.” The use of dry-erase paint on the walls make it easy for the ad-hoc meetings that occur many times a day. The house also has a music room, ping pong, billard table, community kitchen, bunk beds to pile in the bootstrappers, large deck facing Alamo Square. Some bedrooms have private baths, whereas some are shared.

Sure its the “Real World” tech style, but it goes beyond convenience. The benefits of these arrangements is intangible yet significant.  The increased productivity gained, forged friendships, partnerships formed, synergy of share resources, network and peer feedback makes this simply priceless. These occupants are selected by the company that holds the lease, thus holds the risk, but this gives the most flexibility in terms of lease terms, especially for the international entrepreneur where it’s more difficult to get a lease or sub-lease. There are several mansions like this already and the company that has the lease to this mansion is planning to expand operations. Check www.airbnb.com for some options.

Co-working – NextSpace & Sandbox Suites

NextSpace-SF

  • Location:
    •  In the heart of downtown SOMA financial district. Conveniently located near the BART & public transportation. This space has 2 levels on the 2nd and 3rd floor.
  • Ambiance:
    • Well decorated capturing the tech start-up feel with their open space plan, brick walls, primary colored walls mixed with neutrals, bright furniture & cool art
    • Hotdesking – shared desks and tables so you could work just about anywhere.
    • Comfy couches to lounge or work
    • Windows bringing in natural light to help energize members
    • Not too crowded and not too quite. Perfect place to work if you like hearing others around you. Not the best if you want a quite space to yourself. Small offices would be ok for that.
  • Great for networking:
    • Other founders and startups work there and the vibe is good, you could chat with other without feeling like you are in a library.
    • On Fridays at 4:45 pm they start their Member’s Happy Hour which are sometimes sponsored by local companies.
      • I was there when Tropo sponsored the beers and brought in reps to chat it up with members.
    • Conference rooms hold events that are free for members to attend.
      • I was there to attend a Brown Bag Lunch: Attract More Clients Now! by Coach from Clarity Unlimited
  • Tips:
    • Free trial day when you come for a tour
    • They have cubbies to stash your stuff
    • Office Manager was very nice and provided a Mac power cable when I forgot to pack mine.
    • They have a variety of membership levels to meet your needs & budget.
    • Members could use any other their other locations as well as the
    • They are members of a collaborative union…so members could use other Coworking spaces they are affiliated with.

 

Sandbox Suites:

I checked out 3 of their 4 locations. 

Union Square @ 567 Sutter

  • Location:Union Sqare
    • They had limited availability and had some opening up.
    • Conveniently located near everything.
  • Ambiance:
    • First thing that struck me was how quiet it was, especially being in Union Square. Great for those who want to quiet space to think and work.
    • Open space plan using bright colors, some accents and art.
    • Private offices have windows and general area has skylights bringing in lots of natural light.
    • The “Digital Bedouin” are the general hotdesking are in the open but the members are very quiet and network a bit less than other Coworking establishments.
  • Networking:
    • Free trial day in any of their multiple locations throughout the city.
    • They do hold Member Tea and events in the open “Atrium” there so there are chances to network.
  • Tips:
    • As a member, you could use and attend events at any of their 4 locations
    • Near a tons budget eateries, restaurants & bars.
    • They have a variety of membership levels to meet your needs & budget…when they become available.

  SOMA/SOUTH PARK @ 404 Bryant St

  • Location:
    • SOMA/South Beach/South Park near a many other Tech companies…where all the action is.
    • Near freeways and public parking. Bit of a walk from nearest Muni lines-Less convenient to public transportation
    • In the Basement – some windows provide light into the space, private offices which have glass walls bringing in the natural light to the general area.
  • Ambiance:
    • Open space plan using Modern & Minimal Mondrian-inspired decor-stark whites with bright primary colors
    • The “Digital Bedouin” are the general desks are in the open, generally lit using florescent lighting. Has a library feel to it.
    • Great productive space, members are quiet and network a bit less than other Coworking establishments
  • Great for networking:
    • Free trial day in any of their multiple locations throughout the city.
    • Open “Atrium” was used as an event space – members attend free.
    • I was there for a Funders & Founders Meetup event – “Crowdfunding Your Startup – The Future of Startup Funding” where they brought in relevant speakers and 75+ people in the startup/tech industry attended.
  • Tips:
    • Free trial day in any of their multiple locations throughout the city.
    • Office Manager Laura was very friendly and helpful.
    • Not near very many budget eateries like in downtown, however, it is near nice restaurants & bars.
    • South Park is a great place to take a break or eat at a nice restaurant.
    • They have a variety of membership levels to meet your needs & budget.
    • My favorite of the 3 Sandbox suites visited.

SOMA @ 123 10th Street

  • Location:
    • SOMA convenient to the BART & Muni lines, near Civic Center.
  • Ambiance:
    • Kitchy – College decor using off-white walls and brightly colored Ikea furniture & accessories.
    • Loft upstairs allows the space to have a more open feel.
    • The “Digital Bedouin” are the general desks downstairs, generally lit using florescent lighting.
    • Private desks and conference rooms upstairs – lack of natural lighting is a bit oppressive.
  • Tips:
    • Free trial day when you come for a tour
    • They have cubies to stash your stuff
    • As a member, you could use and attend events at any of their 4 locations
    • They have a variety of membership levels to meet your needs & budget.