A leadership lesson I learned from basketball

Basketball Leadership

You cannot lead effectively if you worry about yourself

This week I was playing a game of full-court basketball with my father. Unlike my Co-founder Jun Loayza, I am not good at basketball because I never really trained in the basics of dribbling, manuevering, and strategies. As a result, everytime I am point guard, I don’t do it very well.

This struck me as a bit unusual. Wikipedia explains the point guard position as, “The point guard, also known as the “1”, is the team’s floor general and the best ballhandler on the team. In football terminology, the point guard is a basketball team’s “quarterback.” The point guard is essentially the team’s captain, and his job is to make his teammates better and to hand out assists.”

Growing up, my talents have usually been around strategizing, analyzing, coordinating, and bringing out the potentials of people. I led and coached a state champion chess team, and I’m usually the calm guy who is more emotionally stable in tough situations. In essense, I seem to be built to be a good point guard.

But I’m just not a good point guard.

Why? It’s because I suck at basketball so much that I end up worrying about my own stuff.

I’m alway afraid that someone will steal my ball. I’m thinking about dribbling instead of doing it naturally. I’m thinking about “what should I do next? What should I do next?”

As a result, I am unable to 100% focus on my teammates, which is what a leader should do.

If you are a leader, you should:

1. Make sure you know/do your stuff well enough that you don’t have to constantly be pinned down by your own stuff
2. You must put the team before all your personal welfare. You must elevate from taking care of yourself to taking care of the people you are leading. Leadership requires sacrifice (and followers sacrifice for great leaders too)
3. You must seize every opportunity to bring the best out of people. Your job is not to be the shark that shines in your ecosystem but to be the ocean that contains and nurtures all the sharks that will shine for you.

Stimulus Optimization: a model to save the economy

Economy

The US government is said to be $65.5 Trillion in debt. For perspective, this is more than the world GDP for one entire year and four times the US GDP for one year. In other words, the US Government literally owes the world to other nations.

Right now the federal government is borrowing from tomorrow to solve today’s problems, much like many US citizens. The US borrows money from other countries to help the irresponsible executives and companies clean up the mess they made and hope to “one day” be able to pay it back. As you know, when the people can’t pay back their debts, they go bankrupt, and the banks/lenders fail along with them. If the US keeps getting more debt without promise of making MORE money back, it will end up bankrupted too, resulting in other countries being like failed banks and fall too.

Now I’m not a doomsday person, and I like to stick to positive and actionable steps, but I do want to emphasize that in this environment EVERY dollar must be spent to its maximum efficiency. I guess we could call it Stimulus Optimization.

What the government should do

I’m going to give you what I believe is the best strategy for Stimulus Optimization, and then layout the logic that got me to this point. (Note: since we’re talking about an economy at large, I’ll be doing a lot of generalizing for demographics. I obviously know not ALL people in that demographic are like that).

1. Money should stay circulated in old lower income males, small businesses (but not large corporations), social enterprises and non-profits.
2. Money should be put into industry-creating technologies, but not just for technology development but also the commercialization of the technology. The government should support tons of startup entrepreneurs but pay them just enough for them to survive.
3. Money should be put into essentials of society like Education, Healthcare and Tech Infrastructure.

Some of this may seem unintuitive, or possibly biased/humanitarian, but I do believe that this is most economically efficient. Let me explain why.

Continue reading Stimulus Optimization: a model to save the economy

TrueTwit defeats its own purpose by helping spammers

truetwit spam

TrueTwit helps you figure out who are the spammers and who are the real people

Lately I’ve come across this Twitter App service called TrueTwit. This is a service that is meant to identify who are the real people who are following you, and who are the spammers.

It works pretty simple:

1. Someone follows you
2. TrueTwit sends a DM with your account asking the new follower to go onto their site and fill out a captcha and prove s/he is human
3. TrueTwit shows you a list of people who are validated to be humans and so you can safely follow them back.

TrueTwit’s big flaw

So far so good. Neat concept, and definitely trying to solve a pain that is in the Twittersphere. Now the problem comes with this rule of TrueTwit:

If you are a signed-up user of TrueTwit, you automatically pass the test and will not be prompted to prove you are human if you follow another user.

From a conceptual level, this is smart, because TrueTwit will get a lot more signups since people want to avoid the hassle of doing captchas over and over again.

However, here’s the problem:

Continue reading TrueTwit defeats its own purpose by helping spammers

Yu-kai Chou’s Presentation: Building Your Brand with Your Company Blog

View more presentations from Yu-kai Chou.

Yu-kai Chou’s Presentation: Building Your Brand with Your Company Blog

Here are the slides for my presentation on Building Your Brand with Your Company Blog

Hummingbird604 made some excellent live notes on his blog. Definitely check it out!

Out of the Country. Not out of the Game. Thanks to the Virtual Office

As some of you guys know, due to family reasons and a bit more, I have temporarily left the US and am now operating from the lovely Vancouver in Canada. Leaving the Golden State was tough, and the team wondered if I could still be running the company from here.

But afterall, our team was virtual even before I left the states. We had members from a variety of places, and even team members from the same city don’t sit and work together. So as long as the time zone wasn’t different, it was not as terrible.

To prove this point, we recently entered a Vator.tv competition for $10,000 sponsored by Elance, called “A New Way to Work“. We previously got 10th place in a competition out of 140 startups and pitched the Viralogy idea in front of a number of different investors. We also won 1st place at a VC Pitch Competition.

This project was designed to illustrate the advantages of working virtually on a team without an office. Since we have people from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle, Texas, New York, and even Turkey, this was fun to make as we each share our experiences.

An excerpt:
Breaking the mold of a localized business allows me to plan my hours and my days the way I want. Whether I work at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. is up to me, and it allows me to manage my productivity effectively. If I need to spend more time with my dog or my fiancée during the day so that I can burn the midnight oil at night, I can do that. If I want to spend my day working on my netbook in a coffee shop, I can do that too. It’s a large responsibility that can be incredibly rewarding if managed well.

Working virtually means that our staff is extremely flexible and respectful of each other’s needs in terms of time. For example, we hold a weekly company meeting at 8 p.m. Those meeting times are extremely rare in the normal corporate culture, but we have found it to be a perfect time to collaborate and think creatively. When you can work in a virtual workplace, you have increased flexibility not only with respect to location, but time as well.

If you want to run a virtual office and don’t know how, check out the blog de Viralogy!