Friday, August 17, 2012

Thank you Facebook

Despite the annoying content on Facebook, despite the privacy setting issues, and despite all the negative reputation of what is Facebook, i say Thank You. A big Thank You.

What i'm grateful for FB, is by bringing everyone online. EVERYONE. Now everyone can get their news, in a super fast, unmoderated medium.

And everyone can make a choice. Pro-RH, anti-RH, dontgiveashit-RH, makefunof-RH, and iwouldratherplayD3-RH, everyone can make a choice (though in psychology we learned we don't really have a choice, but that's for another story).

I know the Internet came first. But before FB, it was hard to bring everyone to the same discussion forum. Now, anyone can post news, can be organic news, or from a blogpost or from the mass media companies. And the social connections quickly picks it up and spread it. And the pick-up and spread is so efficient and organic, that any significant news will spread on its own merit, and not based on decision by some media executive or some political backing.

Of course, there is fear about spreading lies, but these lies are quickly examined in the comments and shares. From there, it will be easy for anyone to dig deeper and make up their own truths. Any truth is also easily questioned, reviewed and verified. After all, we know truth is a personal decision of what we accept as true or not.

Of course it's not perfect. The entire global population is not present yet. There is disinformation and spam. A lot are still coming from the TV generation (passive and mindless). But i'm also not sure if we want it to be perfect.

Some news that has real merit might not spread as fast and as wide than a non-sense one. But to me that's ok, it just means that the other news is more sticky to people. If a news don't spread wide then try again, until you get to the tipping point.

These are exciting times we live in. And as more and more of us come online in FB (or Twitter or G+ or reddit or 4chan or other social media networks), specially the next generation (Justin Bieber and Call Me Maybe fans), it will only become better and more interesting. There will be a lot of noise in these social networks, but overtime as we all do, we will slowly learn how to filter them.

I'm saying this to FB, but this is in theory goes out to all the social networks and the Internet as a whole, specially the blogs and the bloggers out there.

To some of us, this is not old news. Clay Shirky has made books and a TED talk about this. Former US VP Pres. Al Gore even had a speech about this at least a decade ago. The Arab uprising has used this extensively in their own campaign. The Dot Com Bubble had its own sugar rush moment and bonked in the late 90s about this. And the list goes on.

But seeing it work and seeing it cut through some of the hardest and toughest institutions of our time, religion and mass media, is just, just worth mentioning. And seeing it happening in our own backyard, is very inspiring.

Now we know that Senators and politicians and religious leaders and media celebrities and anybody for that matter, can not easily bullshit us anymore. We know and they know, they're just full of BS.

Exciting times indeed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A whole new world

This is not about Aladdin's story. But you can read the title like how Jasmine sings it in the movie. Like... "a whole new world..." go ahead, sing it, it's now playing at the back of your mind, it's LSS time! :)

Looking into the future, i think the kind of work environment my kids will be facing will be different from now. Instead of encouraging them to dream of a specific profession and apply for a job, i will encourage them to be entrepreneurial. Also, i will encourage them to find something they are passionate about and find a business opportunity there.

A lot has changed with the Internet and how we all communicate and socialize. Although the need to socialize is still the same, just the medium we use is more efficient and cost nearly zero to maintain. Further, the distribution channel of almost everything had become so small that anybody can create something and easily, cheaply reach out to an audience.

I've seen the impact in the markets i'm familiar with, technology, computing, startups, running, cycling and other endurance sports. I've also seen it in almost all social causes, climate change movement, healthy food initiatives, active lifestyle groups to mention a few.

Now why am i talking about this? I'm slowly seeing the irrelevance of schooling and getting a degree. Although i'm not comfortable yet of not sending my kids to school, because i'm not ready to take on the full burden of educating them myself. But i'm looking at the decreasing dependence of schools and what my kids will get from them.

Perhaps schooling will be viewed as a social venue and training ground for them. Where they practice the craft of learning, make lifelong friends and trial the real world.

Without depending a lot on schooling, they can find what they are passionate about, and set out to be the best on it. Learn by themselves and with friends, practice on their own efforts, enroll in specific classes, and test themselves by going out there and competing or launching a product.

I'm not sure if it comes as a shock to many, but i think not. I am a product of no proper schooling, and not having a formal degree has not prevented me from doing what i like to do and earning money from it.

The only time i had a problem, was when i tried applying for an immigration visa. I learned that a college degree is about 35 points out of 100. And together with my unofficial work experience, i'm probably one of the most "unqualified immigrant" in the system.

But looking at it, i don't see myself immigrating to any country now. The rising Asian economies (have you heard about the dollar and euro markets problem lately?) is creating a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurial people like me. So i think i'm already where i should be.

At this point, i'm very excited what this perspective will do to how we bring up the kids. Imagine encouraging them to be computer pro-gamers, or endurance athletes, or instill in them the dream to be an organic food producer. I'm thinking to encourage them to be travel bloggers, or indie movie producer/director, or dream of building a software startup. Heck even dream of being Justin Bieber is not very far off. Or, anything where they are producing original content, organic ideas, or creating value for people, it's so easy to earn money from it.

I say bazillions of opportunities. And what's more exciting is, it doesn't matter what country or market situation they have or college degree or what school they went to, there are always opportunities to grab, if they just learn the entrepreneurial attitude.

Of course, there are still a lot factors to consider, and one big item here is the environment they grow up with. Family environment, school environment, friends, town, country, etc. At least what i can help in this area, is set it out for them, take the lead in building that environment for them.

In fact, it's one of my main driving motivation to help build a local startup and tech community. Soon i will get myself involved in the running and endurance sports community. Maybe hook up with the social causes community or link up with food producers or link up with travelers.

And when there's already a nice community, i will slowly introduce it to my kids. I'm very excited to see how their exposure will mold their way of thinking. Traveling with them will also be an exciting time of learning and exploration.

Of course, it's still a lot their decision. I don't plan on going religious on them about this. I'm just going to nudge them, give them the "kindle" to start their own fire. It is entirely their choice what kind of life they want to live.

As i look at this, i think it's a whole new world for them to look up to, and one thing i'm very motivated to help in creating.

Friday, August 10, 2012


We've been reviewing the business values we have in the company, and the word empathy keeps on coming back to me.

I define it as mindfully thinking of people first. A company is composed of people and our products are being used by people. At the bottom of everything we do, people are always involved.

Often company policies are thought-up in the name of profit, efficiency and productivity. These policies are well intentioned, and they are good to implement. However without fully understanding why the policies are there, they are often implemented for the wrong reason. It's important to find that balance of people and profits (talking about profits warrants another post).

Having empathy as one of the business value, means we always consider how people will use the policy and how they will be affected by it. People always come first. In the end, the effectiveness of the policy is measured based on how the people adopted it and benefited by it.

It is also the same when building products. If we always keep in mind how people will use it, interact with it and benefit from it, it's not very hard to build a best selling product. In whatever we build, in the end we are offering a solution to people's hard problems.

And that's how i always come back to empathy. By keeping people always in mind, and making sure we're always doing the right thing, doing the good things, i think we come out as a better company.

I know it sounds very righteous to be always doing right and good to people, but if you ask me, and if i look back at what we have done in the company so far, it just makes good business sense. Of course we are not perfect, and there are things we could have done better, and from those we are grateful for we have learned a lot. Nevertheless, the desire to do good to people and put people first is there, it's absolute, and it is a business value that we want to keep.

There's a saying that a company is heavily influenced by the founder's values and culture, and in our case i can say the same. Looking out for people and taking care of them has always been something that gets me motivated and excited to do. I know that this is dangerously close to becoming a me, me, me, oh look how great is me post, and that is not what i want to do here. I'm just trying to connect what we do in business and why we started it in the first place. And it always goes back to those who started it and managed it.

So empathy, it's a very powerful value to have in the company, and one i think will sustain us for the long term.

Thank you very much for reading. Bow.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

App idea: Bill, congress and votes

With all the buzz with RH Bill, it would be nice to know who in Congress voted for or against it.

I'm thinking a web app can be built which lists all the outstanding bill, who created it, who supported it, who are against it and who are ignoring it.

Often there's a lot of talk and news about the bills, but at the end of the day, we want to know what the representatives we all voted for supported.

Maybe there's a web app out there that does this? If not, it would be a nice side project for a team of programmers. It just needs access to data in congress or senate. But maybe someone who's in the inside wants to help?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My EastWest credit card and sex toys

Hahay, EastWest bank, i don't understand why i have to explain myself buying an interactive sex toy online (which i did not do), on a card that i had requested cancelled 2 years ago. My last balance payment was August 2010.

I know, you know it was fraud, since 2 months after that, you automatically reverted the charge. But the finance and the late charge due to that sex toy, has not been charged back.

Now i have to go through all the hassle of having to file a dispute, call the collection department, annoy my weekends with threats about not paying my card and how it will ruin my credit record, ruin my american dream -- for a charge i did not make, and for a finance chage or late charge i should have not incurred... if that sex toy did not arrive in my bill.

Then you ask me, Sir did you really buy that sex toy? Dude, do i look like i need one? WTF! If i need one, i would probably have promptly paid for it, lest my wife would see it in my statement. Unfackingbelievable.

Somehow, the entire system got so complex, that for the person making the weekend calls to see what's going on about my account, instead of just blindingly looking at people to call and read the script -- he could have just brought it up with their supervisors or whomever, about why bother our customers, and accuse them of being a non-debt-paying-scumbag, when they can clearly correct this. Seriously, there has to be a better way for this.

At least i know someone is happy after all these, the guy who fraudaulently bought the interactive sex toy. I just hope he enjoys it, since i can imagine, a sex toy that talks, sounds like the bomb! :) Who needs an emotional GF/wife, when you have an obedient, talking sex toy. It sure sounds worth taking a risk.