How English being my 2nd language saved me from Facebook Scam

Being unsure of English phrases can save you from Facebook Scam

So my friend Facebook Chatted me and told me he is in trouble. He was stuck in London, mugged at gun-point, and needs some help to get back to the States. Since English is not my first language, I wasn’t sure if “mugged at gun-point” means someone literally points his gun at you, or just an idiom referring to a certain situation. After trying to look up this term (rude to ask when your friend is really mugged), I saw the official Facebook page explaining this fraud (Thank your super high PageRank Facebook). So I just want to warn my friends about it.

After knowing it’s fake, I wanted to get more details of what they are doing.

I wanted to paste the conversation but realized Facebook don’t save chat history. Sadness.

Here’s the link to the facebook article

Basically, it has these elements:

1) Friend got mugged in London
2) Needs money to get back to the states
3) Pretty perfect and sociable English. Not the usual dumb “I am the royal accountent of Nigeria”
4) Sense of urgency. “Plane leaving in 2 hours and I need to settle my hotel bill here!”
5) Goes through person’s inbox so knows what you guys have been talking about, “So…how was that investment with Viralogy.com you were talking to me about 6 months ago?”
6) Wants you to send money through Western Union.
7) Smart responses to “How come you don’t ask from your parents? They’re pretty rich dude.” “Is there a phone I can call you with?” “I’ll just pick you up from the airport and you can stay at me. Then you don’t need the money.”
7) Gets mad when you want to confirm their identity, “Dude I already got mugged and you’re asking these stupid questions. I need to leave like right now and I need help…why won’t you believe me??” and then at the same time looks through all Facebook stuff to try to answer you.

Please pass this around so no one falls for this. It also hurts friendship if they succeed. Thanks!

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

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 The government should pay entrepreneurs salaries to save the economy

What to do when your industry is dying

(Viddler Screwed Old Users by deleting all their videos, so no video here 🙁 )

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.