Networking: Finding the Common Interest

Networking and building relationships with people is one of the most essential things one needs to do to become successful. When you want to contact someone and meet up(newly met professional or old friend), you want to find a common interest to make the meeting pleasant and enjoyable for both. Maybe you both like golf. Maybe you would both like to visit a museum. But what if you don’t know what that person likes? In that case, there is a pretty universal common interest: food. Statistics show that most people deal with some sort of food one time or another in their lives. It also happens that most people like food. So it’s pretty safe to invite this person to a good food place when you don’t know enough about him/her. If the food is good, timing is possible, and maybe you’ll be treating them (and it’s worth it), most people wouldn’t mind getting some food and talking to you.
When you are talking to a new professional, make sure you don’t put too much focus on his or her professional information and forget about the personal things in his/her life. It doesn’t matter if they’re highly successful people, they’re still people, and until you show that you care about them as real people instead of their titles, you will have a hard time building a true relationship.

In regards to conversations, if you know the person likes something that you don’t, do not lie and
pretend you like it. You’ll lose any sense of credibility very soon. You could reveal that you do not know much about that topic but is interested to learn about it. That’s a good way to have a good conversation on something without needing much knowledge to it. Most people like explaining and teaching things they are passionate about, as long as you can keep yourself from drooling. However, besides having an open mind to learn, being genuinely concerned about the other person often helps in being more interested towards subjects that he/she is passionate about.
If you know what makes people smile, your day will turn out much better.

Awesome Wizkids from Kansas

For the Summer, Future Delivery invited 3 young programmers who are 19-20 years old from Kansas to help us develop our FD World platform and launch (in the next few weeks). I call them Team Blue Valley because they were all actually from Blue Valley High School in Kansas. I converted my 1 bedroom apartment into a work station with desks connected, and added another bed in the bedroom. Right now we have Team BV sleep in the bedroom and do work in the living room. My old roommate and myself just sleep on the floor in the living room, and a marketing gal will sleep on the couch for awhile. That’s an awesome startup life.

Now to really understand how good these kids are, I need to tell you what happened. Our CTO Jason Wei gave them an option of 4 tasks to do, and expected them to tell him which one they want to work on in 3 days, and take the next few weeks to complete it. After 3 days, instead of telling Jason which one they want to do, they already finished 3 out of the 4 tasks. Jason was very impressed, and so he gave them another set of tasks that were much more challenging, and they completed it in 2-3 days again. Jason said they are better than at least 50% of his team in Tosh-iba, which is one of the strongest devisions in the US, and all have at least 10-15 years of experience. Again, these guys are only 19-20 years old.

Everything is looking swell in FD, and everyone is passionately trying to make a difference in the future. I do hope that we will be given that opportunity to make that impact in society.

Steven Wallace: The Crazy Genius

Mike Liu: The man who is addicted to frustration

Tony Tonev: The Bulgarian Web 2.0 guy for celebrities

They’re working their lives away for FD….obviously.

A great blog I retrieved on the founding of Bruin Consulting

So today I accidentally found a blog post by my business partner Jun. It was a blog that he thought he had lost due to switching of url names and destruction of the wordpress database. I found it on Google Cache and remembered the good old days of how we founded Bruin Consulting, a premiere business group at UCLA. I was also gladened by the kind words he gave me. Anyone out there who seeks to start a student organization, here is a great example.

“Posted by Jun Loayza on Aug 28, 2007

Recruiting during the Fall of 06 was an eye-opening experience. I was able to get many first round interviews and achieve second round interviews as well, but I never received that phone call that I was impatiently waiting for. I interviewed with a myriad of companies: PWC, Deloitte, Triage, Cast, FTI, Gallup, and many others. My interviewing skills were top-notch, so I just couldn’t understand why I had yet to receive a phone call from these companies.

I came home early November to visit the family. In my room was a pile of letters, letters that were staring back at me, digging into my soul because I knew what each one of them said. Do you remember the feeling back in High School, when you come home waiting to get your acceptance letter in the mail? You know if you’ve been accepted by your dream school even before you open the letter. Big means that all your hard work has paid off; small means you just didn’t make the cut. Well, in the world of interviewing for a full-time job, a letter means that they had “too many qualified applicants” to give you a position.

Life has always been easy going for me. I work hard, get good grades, have great friends, and always get what I want. These letters hit me like a ton of bricks. They made me feel small, inadequate, and unimportant. These letters would be the turning point in my life.

A good friend of mine told me the reason I wasn’t hired at his company was due to lack of experience. My interview was great, but when it came down to making a decision, my resume was lacking the leadership and experience that other people had. To be honest, I felt depressed for a while. I didn’t care about school and I thought that my biggest fear was going to come true : I was going to be a failure.

A phoenix is a mythical bird that dies in flames and is reborn in its ashes. I was the phoenix. Yu-kai Chou was the fire. The most influential person in my life has been Yu-kai Chou. Because of him, I am who I am today. He was the one who encouraged me and made me pursue my dream of achieving a consulting job.

In one of our many long discussions about UCLA, we came to the realization that UCLA does not have a consulting organization. There was no club in UCLA that prepared students for the consulting world. I belong to Delta Sigma Pi, but the fraternity is mostly for the benefit of brothers, and it was at a professional low during the Fall of 06. I came up with the “crazy” idea about starting a company that does consulting work for small businesses. Yu-kai had the perfect book for me to read, E-myth Revisited and E-myth Mastery. I read these books while in Peru and was motivated and ready to start my company. My company was going to be called Loayza Consulting. I was so ready to start it, that I managed to overlook some very important facts that would make Loayza Consulting fail before it even got off the ground:

1. I had no consulting experience

2. The Loayza name is not attached to business prestige

3. My team was small, still in school, and had no consulting experience either

A brother by the name of Dave sent me a link to Berkeley Consulting. Berkeley Consulting is an undergraduate organization, supported by the HAAS business school, at UCB that does consulting work for companies in the Berkeley area. This was the perfect organization that I could mimic and implement at UCLA. I quickly contacted the president of Berkeley Consulting and asked him all about the organization and how it works. I also talked to Yu-kai about my idea and he said that he was on board. With Yu-kai on my team and UCLA Consulting ready to go, there was nothing that could stop me from creating a consulting organization on campus.

UCLA said no.We do not want students conducting a business with the UCLA name.” Even after I explicitly told them that it was not for profit, and that Berkeley does the exact same thing, they still would not let me create UCLA Consulting. I was upset, and ready to petition and argue this thing as long as it took me; however, an even better idea dawned upon me. My original idea was to create a for profit company that does consulting work for small business. I also wanted to create an organization that educates UCLA undergraduates about consulting and helps them get a consulting job. I decided to create both a company and an organization. Bruin Consulting (I got the name from my friend Jamie Lee) would be the organization on campus that educates students about consulting; Scholar’s Edge Consulting would be the for profit company that does consulting work for companies in the Westwood area. The most promising students from Bruin Consulting would feed into Scholar’s Edge Consulting, creating a synergy between the two organizations. It was a genius idea.

Bruin Consulting was founded with the vision to educate UCLA undergraduates about all types of consulting, create a stronger business presence at UCLA, and get the most prestigious consulting firms in the nation to recruit UCLA undergraduates. It’s crazy how life is filled with ups and downs. If I had never received those rejections letters from those companies, I would never have been motivated to create such an influential organization on campus.

By the way, recruiting turned out to be a success for me. I was offered a full-time position at Navigant Consulting as a Business Analyst. Good thing they didn’t give me the offer in October – I would never have been set on fire.”

Premier Market Research Firm Gartner Lists the 10 Biggest Disruptive Technologies in the next 10 Years

The list is:

  • Multicore and hybrid processors
  • Virtualisation and fabric computing
  • Social networks and social software
  • Cloud computing and cloud/Web platforms
  • Web mashups
  • User Interface
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Contextual computing
  • Augmented reality
  • Semantics

These are 10 technologies that would change the game, as they either bring the user experience to a whole different level, or cut costs to the extent that some professions need to find new ways to keep their jobs. Future Delivery is heavily involved in a few of them, including augmented reality, Web mashups, Social networks and social software, User Interface, and Cloud Computing. What is very interesting is that designers are part of this large technological trend, as User Interface is what truly connects great technology to users. A good interface is not only a good feature of a product, manytimes it is the sales person of online applications too. It’s what converts people from “trying it” to users.

20 years ago, not that many people were using computers. 15 years ago not that many people were on the internet. Now they are both required to live life normally, or even just enroll and pass your classes. With exponential progress, I am excited to see where the future will take us.

The Team that I am Blessed to Work With

In every startup, or any project that makes an impact, there is a great team that make these things happen. I am a firm believer of the concept of, instead of coming up with great concepts and having great execution, get people with great concepts and great execution on the board. As a leader, my biggest job is to get great people on the team and make them even better. With a strong vision of making society better by connecting people to the careers that they are passionate about, I am blessed to have an extremely qualified, passionate, execution-focused team that has complementary skills.

Jun Loayza: My CMO (Chief Millennial Officer) Jun is completely Godsend. Jun and I met at the Business Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi in 2005, and had since talked to him at least two times a week on average. Jun has a few natural talents. He is a natural speaker, and is extremely personal with all his engagements. Being one of the most presentable people I know (haha), Jun impresses people the moment he starts his first sentence. There’s been moments and Jun starts to talk, whoever listens goes “whoa, this guy speaks so well.” I remember the first time I met him, he was doing a presentation, and as soon as he started speaking, I made a determination to become friends with him, which happened 25 minutes afterwards. Many times when I or someone else makes a presentation, with Jun just making an introduction, there would always be a group of people swarming around Jun, asking him questions regarding the presentation, and the speaker might just have 3-4 people talking to him. It is even to the extent that whenever the programmers had an personal issue, instead of talking to the CTO or me, they would call Jun, the furthest removed CMO, and ask him. Jun is that good at being personable.

MORE importantly, Jun is extraordinary in execution skills. I have met and worked with a lot of people, ages between 14 and 55, many of them highly intellectual and successful, but Jun definitely is one of the top top among them when it comes down to execution skills. If the goal was to meet as many recruiters at a career fair, Jun will go around the room for 2 hours, meet ALL 55 recruiters while making a personal expression with each, go home, and send a personal followup email to all of them within an hour and half. On one Friday he decided that Future Delivery needed to have a whole series of podcasts (4 hours of audio), an eBook on making yourself stick out to employers (30 pages) and 6 videocasts all by Monday. On Monday, he had it all finished. The eBook received a lot of great compliments from people who downloaded from the site, and the audio series became very helpful for those who recruited.

Finally, Jun is essential in creating the right culture for Future Delivery. Jun created the Premiere Business Organization in UCLA called Bruin Consulting that took UCLA by storm just in 1 quarter. As president, he created a culture of “fun-loving people who want to do good work.” In FD, he remains to support that culture of combining work and play. Every meeting with him is not dull but full of laughter, and our brainstorm sessions involve the “trash/genius” model, which creates a lot of idea synergy and moves things quickly. Future Delivery can never and will never be what it is, or what it wants to be, without Jun Loayza.

Jason Wei: My CTO Jason is one of the top top people in the programming industry. After getting his double-major in computer science and business administration in China, he was the first employee Xerox hired in China, and he set up the whole Xerox system there. He also started his own medical device company with a few other partners, and for 2 years there were no technological competition. In 2001 (7 years later), he sold his shares, and it still operates today. When he moved to the US, both Microsoft and Toshiba wanted to give him his green card, he chose Toshiba because of their flexibility in projects. He also teaches at UC Irvine as a extension lecturer and has built up a fan base among his students. What’s interesting is that he became a lecturer because he was taking a class there, and his professor was so impressed, that he proposed that Jason should teach the class. In addition, the reason why Jason chose to come to the US, is that in his whole career in China, he has only met 1 other programmer who is just flat out better than him. When he came to the states, at the top level at these top tech firms, he already met a few people who was better than him. That excited him and made him want to live in the states.

Jason, due to his green card issue, has not been able to work for FD fulltime yet. He has done a lot of solid research on all the resources out there and made a lot of planning, but I look forward to the day he can commit fully and create the most value in FD and this world.

Cat Sze: From the beginning of our company, we had troubles finding the right Art Director. We felt that there are a lot of designers, but there are very few truly creative artists who also understands user-friendiness. We looked for a long time, covering a lot of places, including Taiwan, and had trouble finding a good one that has played with virtual worlds. We worked with another excellent artist/designer, but due to high loans, he was stolen to help out Guitar Hero 4 (FD should boycott it :)) And then we got Cat. Cat graduated from the Art Center of Design in Pasadena, one of the most prestigious design schools in the US. Cat has been an avid gaming and virtual world fan since the beginning. She is a hardcore player of World of Warcraft, and is a moderator for Gaia Online, another virtual world company. She also studies a lot of business content.

Cat is the perfect combination of being a creative artist/designer, familiar with virtual worlds, understanding the target market, and having good business sense.