FD’s video project: Living the Startup Life Trailer

Our CMO Jun Loayza and his great buddies Steven Chen and Chris Lew is starting an awesome video project recording what goes on in our lives within the startup. We have a few weeks of footage but are not 100% sure it this is something that people actually want to watch. Let us know if you would like us to make more and get to know our team better!

FDCareer.com is doing awesome, and we’re excited to show the world how your career path could be a fun RPG game! Stay tuned for more FD.

Great Presentation on Web Analytics and Product Management

I was reading the blog by Alex Nesbitt, a guy that I met in one of the Digital/Tech events, and he pointed out that Dan Olsen made an excellent presentation at the Web 2.0 Conference regarding Web Analytics and Product Management:
I was reading the blog by Alex Nesbitt, a guy that I met in one of the Digital/Tech events, and he pointed out that Dan Olsen made an excellent presentation at the Web 2.0 Conference regarding Web Analytics and Product Management:

My Ben Stiller Movie Trip up North

This is probably one of the most terrible trips I’ve had ever. Every single logistical detail went harmoniously wrong, including wasting over 5 hours of accumulated driving time, breaking my iPhone, and having public toilet water splash all over my face. The only saving points were two people that have not disappointed me in my life (semi-rare if I worked with them for awhile): Peter Suberlak and Michael Cox. Other people who have not disappointed me yet are my CMO Jun Loayza, and my super developer Stephen Johnson.

Anyway, for some context: I was planning to go up to Oakland from Los Angeles (7 hours drive) to get an interview with Green For All, an awesome awesome organization focused on environmental sustainability and how it helps produce green-jobs to disadvantaged famillies. I planned to stay up north for 2 weeks, so I can get into the environment and potentially meet people to help out with various things. I planned to go up Thursday. The arrangement was I would live at my friend’s Dave’s apartment (he is in Taiwan), but I had to first go to a place 50min away to find his keys in a secret spot. The apartment would be 10-15 minutes away from my interviewing spot, which would be perfect since it’s scheduled early at 9:30am.

So usually, for trips like these, you would want to leave early in the day. However, I needed to give my keys to my girlfriend to take care of the apartment, as well as take her to class from work, I decided to wait for 2pm, no problem. I had work to do anyway. When I took my girlfriend to the Getty Center (class), we realized we were 45 minute early, so we decided to get some food. We decided to drive one direction and find spontaneous food on the way. However, after driving 15 minutes north we did not find a single restaurant, and realized we didn’t have time to eat and come back. So we drove back without eating, and that was an unhappy 30 minutes of wasted driving. Afterwards, I drove for another 20 min, when my girlfriend Amy called again. That’s when I realized I forgot to give her the keys for my apartment. There you go, another 20 min back, and 20 min up, which adds up to another 60 minutes of wasted time.

The trip up is decent. Just very tiring. For the entire 7 hours, I was listening to business podcasts or talking on the phone. It’s somewhat like a 6 hour lecture with the podcasts. Made one 5-minute stop for Subway, and that’s about it. When I arrived at the secret spot, I was completely exhausted. It was 9 PM and I needed to make my Skype meeting at 10PM. I looked around and could only find a garage opener, but not the keys to Dave’s apartment. It was very dark but I kept on searching through spiderwebs and such, hoping to find that key. Didn’t happen. Now I will surely miss the meeting and need to find a place to stay late at night in a foreign city. I have a lot of friends in Norcal, but not that many who I can just crash at without notice, who also is within 30 minutes away.

This is when Peter Suberlak, somewhat of my mentee who helps a lot in Future Delivery, called to check up. Once he knew where I was, he suprisingly said, “Hey! I live 15 minutes from where you are at! Need me to go help you?” That worked out, I chilled at his place. I also realized that I forgot to bring my dress shoes, and he was very happy to borrow me his. A savior of the day. I was slightly late for my meeting, and could barely speak intelligently. This was when I realized my limits: I can’t really function well as a human being after 7 hours of straight driving while listening to business podcasts. After the meeting, I went straight to bed. Instead of being 15 minutes away from Dave’s apartment now, I was an hour away, so I needed to wake up earlier in the morning.

The next day I got to the interview 5 minutes late, mostly due to unfamiliarity with the parking in Oakland and complicated one-way streets. The interview went great, and I made a good connetion with Green For All. Since I was close, I thought I might as well use the garage opener to get into Dave’s apartment’s building and use his wifi to get in touch with him. That’s when I realized that didn’t work either. After I found a wifi connection somewhere else, I found Dave online and told him that I couldn’t find the key. He was in shock, and after some investigation he realized that someone changed the arrangement. The garage remote I had was for another house close to where I found it, and I was supposed to use that to open the garage door, go into the house, and get the keys. So due to that, I drove another 50 minutes to that place, got the keys, and another 50 minutes back (extra 30 minutes to drop off shoes to Peter). I got into the apartment and everything is happy. I could stay there for 2 weeks comfortably while doing some good work.

That’s when I talked to my Legal Representitive talked to me about my sponsorship in the US. Green For All seemed to like me and would like to sponsor me, but they are checking if that’s feasible for the organization. My LR needed me to go back to LA as soon as possible for some documents, and plus, I only have 2 weeks to relocate to Oakland if everything passes. This was Saturday morning when I realized I should be home (plus it’s good to meet my FD meeting). Dave told me earlier, if I needed to go home early, give the keys to a guy name NK who goes there every night to do work. Unfortunately, he did not show up Friday night (quite understandable)I facebooked him, emailed him, called him 6 times in 8 hours, and there were no response. I also couldn’t get in touch with Dave. After resolving a small issue within the company at 5PM, I realized I needed to leave, or else I would be driving in horrendous status. I decided that, at least I don’t want things to be worse because of my visit, so I would take the keys to where I found it. That’s another hour of driving.

Early in the day, I also called my friend who is taking over my apartment. Amy gave her my keys because she needs to show case it for potential subletters. I called her in the morning, could not get in touch with her, so I left her a message. Pretty much saying that I will be back and I need my keys so I will have a place to live. On my trip back, about 6pm, she called back and informed me she was actually at Las Vegas. Well, I guess I need to find a place to stay when I’m back home too now, or I could sleep on my car.

The best part comes here. While it was around 7PM, I became pretty hungry because I have eaten that day was a footlong Veggie Delite from Subway. The solution? Another Veggie Delite from Subway. I’m trying to become more veggie, since I’m not too picky on what I eat. I was listening to my podcast with earphones connected to the iphone in my pocket when I felt I should urinate before I go back on my trip. While I was unzipping, my arms dragged the earphone cords, and pulled the iphone right out of my pocket, straight into the public toilet. The splash was mild, swift and smooth. But the gasp to my mind was not. There was this 1/4 of a second “should I reach into the toilet and grab it??” before I actually executed it. I tried to dry it up, and it said that it could no longer detect a SIM card. It then finally completely shut off and died. I tried to get the water out of the iphone, but after some shaky, it didn’t do much. Then I decided to blow air into the iphone. That’s when a lot of water suddenly splashed out onto my face. It was quite a lot of water, and it certainly was not very appealing, especially when you know it’s public toilet water.

After my Veggie Delite (it was still delicious I must confess), I was driving on the road, knowing that I would be doing so for another 4 hours without business podcasts, and without communication to the outside world. What’s worse, I told Amy that I will pick her up from a friend’s place at 1AM when I get back, and I didn’t know where the friend was. Now there’s no way for me to coordinate with her when I get there. Things seemed rather tragic.

Finally another bright light in the dark night. I realized I was really close to Arroyo Grande, where my good friend Nancy owns a 600 acre ranch. Another friend who I worked with in the California Student Sustainability Coalition (where I was the Finance Director), Michael Cox, also lives there. I appeared at his place about 10PM, and saw that he was having a party. It was actually a tiny bit awkward for me, because I remember him inviting me to this party, but I said I couldn’t make it. When I showed up, people were like “Oh, Yu-kai! What a pleasant surprise!” “I didn’t know you were coming!” “Yay!” when in fact, “Oh, I’m only here to borrow a phone so I can call my girlfriend.” This was especially weird to me, because some of the people there I have only seen for the first time in my life. We have worked together on the phone, but never physically met, and that’s the best kind of “great finally meeting you!” I could do. Others I have heard about but it’s the first time we had any sort of interaction. I stayed for about 20 minutes to share my trip with Michael and Crystal Durham (ED of the CSSC), used the phone to tell Amy that I will pick her up at an exact location at 1:15AM, and left again.

At this point, I was getting somewhat tired and delirious. It’s not common for a person to drive 7 hours after an intensive work day starting 5PM. I almost got into 12 accidents, including driving off the ramp and what not. I felt like resting, but I wasn’t able to, because I had to catch the 1:15AM pickup time or else Amy would be left in the cold. When I finally go there, it was 1:15 right on the point. I couldn’t find her, so I parked the car, and fell asleep right away. Amy then woke me up, and made me realize that there was a misunderstanding, and she thought we would be meeting at 1:30.

Once picking Amy up, that concluded a very eventful trip. Life is still good, besides needing to replace the phone. Now I just hope my sponsorship issue would turn out to be no problem. Whoever’s reading this, I appreciate you actually getting to this line. Hope you have an awesome week and that you will be successful in every activity you engage in!

Why do Asian Kids Study Like Crazy


Click this link to see my latest post on how Diablo III uses Gamification to become so addicting

Can we really achieve diversity with no discrimination?

Recent years, there have been many protesters on campus looking for diversity; as UCLA is short for “University of Caucasians Lost among Asians,” many minority groups are underrepresented. While I do think it’s great to have diversity, I think having the admission program go easy on some groups rather than others is not the real solution to a problem. I believe the problem extends from culture and value backgrounds of different groups. The university admission system is obliged to take students that are most fit to study and compete in an academic environment(which yes, I will agree that the way they identify “fitness” is completely flawed, but they try). In some cases, we probably all notice that schools also take the best fit people to compete against other schools in certain sports/activities.

Some cultures value grades over balance

Now I’m not looking to get into the zone of being politically correct or incorrect, but I will state beforehand that this blog is mostly about criticizing some Asian cultures and values. I think if a kid studies all day long since the first grade, gets extra practice problems when she finishes homework while others are outside playing, stresses about college and SATs since freshman year of high school, gets “illegal punishment” from berserk parents every time she gets a B in class, and takes on all those extracurricular activities that she may or may not like, just to get into a good college, she probably deserves to get into a decent college (at least compared to the kid who just played games most of the time).

I don’t think any group is really smarter than another, but just some groups have the cultural background to study like it’s their destiny so that they don’t embarrass their families, ancestors, and everyone that is affiliated with them. Asians aren’t really good at math (To save my ass: I simply hear this comment a lot and I do not endorse this statement); it’s kids who do 20 practice problems everyday after finishing their homework since third grade that are good at math(which regrettably or not, was not me).

Luckily, issues that disadvantage college minority groups can change, and should change. I believe that providing a better education as well as promoting more studious environments and values among the minority groups from elementary school to high school is the true solution for diversity in college. With good policy making, these are all possible.

Fit vs Diversity in Sports or the Entertainment Industry?

If you want to speak about diversity (and discrimination) on things that can’t change, I propose that every NBA team should require at least 2 White guys and an Asian guy (which still isn’t fair in the absolute sense) on the floor at all times, as there seems to be a clear absence in diversity in the name of “fit”.

We might even need to make a rule that the Asian guy should have the ball at least 3 times in a game, because that probably won’t happen without.

We also might consider having diversity in physical attractiveness in the entertainment industry, because if you pay close attention to the industry often, you might notice that non-gorgeous looking people seem to be discriminated in getting lead roles in movies and such.

Ultimately, universities look for people that have the best potentials in being successful in society after graduation, so the reputation of the school would expand, as well as receive some alumni donations. It is true that by just looking at GPA, SAT scores, some extracurricular activities and a couple essays, you can’t really tell if one would be successful in society, but that’s how the university works even throughout college and into the work force, and until you figure out a better way that is cost-effective, there is no point in blaming the school itself.

Why do Asians study like crazy?

So why do Asians study like crazy anyway? What’s wrong with them? It’s really ingrained in the Asian culture that studying is everything. Getting into a good college is more like an end itself, rather than a means to an end, which is to get a successful job.

As I went back to Taiwan and saw my Grandfather(88), after six years of not seeing his only grandson, one of the first things he asked was, “when are you going to get your masters?” Oh yea, not being here for awhile, I forgot that whether I want to get a masters or not isn’t even a question.

My aunt showed similar kindness as she innocently mentions, “when you get your masters in this degree, I’ll do blah blah blah” (blah is Mandarin Chinese, so don’t even try to read it).

If I was still in middle school, whether I wanted to be a doctor or not would not have been a question either. These are just all assumed: if you can be a doctor, be a doctor, and if you can get a masters, get one.

Now being an entrepreneur doesn’t require an obliterating amount of education, but I remained polite so I won’t piss off the whole family and put my parents in shame. They who started to save money for my education(almost $40,000 a year including living fees) since they were married deserve to have some peace.

Going back to ancient China

So the reason why many Asian groups value education and degrees comes from the ancient traditions in China. During the old days, and I mean so old that I didn’t even know how to ride a bicycle, the only way to become rich and prosperous is to take this mammoth national exam, score well, and become a government official.

During the time, most people were only peasant farmers and could not afford an education. The ones who did went for an education, which is pretty much a no-brainer even without the education.

Once you score well on the exam and become a government officer, supposedly you will bring prosperity and honor to all your family and ancestors. You basically aren’t worthless anymore in a monarchy society once you have some kind of scholarly title.

It has been that for thousands of years, and scholars were always the most looked up upon, as kings and emperors always listened to them(think Confucius).

Western cultures view education as a means to a great career instead of an end to itself

In the US, things are a bit different. People look up to individuals like Bill Gates, who quit his degree at Harvard, started Microsoft and were able to pay his bills quite well, while having some extras for entertainment.

The whole system of what is “great” and “prestigious” has some differences in the cultures. In the US, being prosperous IS prestigious, excluding activities such as drug dealing etc.

At this point I shall admit that I have been talking in extremes and absolutes, and that a common idea of prestige and such is still shared among the cultures. It is impossible to talk about any group as a whole without making statements that are generic with tons of exceptions. I have only been talking on a relative basis, as a PhD is certainly prestigious in the US, just not AS valued as in an Asian society.

In many Western countries, education is the means to an end. You go to school so you can get a better job with your better degree. Many times you can evaluate is it worth the money to get that education(and I have learned in my econometric class at UCLA, that according to some data, on average you only make around 46 cents more per hour after each year of schooling).

But in Asian societies, getting a strong degree is almost like an end, for the strong social status(which is also created in people’s mind) of a high degree is the determination of if one is successful.

I can almost say in modest certainty that many Asian parents would be prouder of a child who went to Harvard but for some reason couldn’t find a good job than one who went to a bad college but has an extraordinary job.

Unconvinced: Do these kids really study like crazy?

OK, some people pointed out that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and people in the US value education the same way. Let me tell you this to be convincing:

A good amount of middle school students from Taiwan live like this (this includes many many of my personal friends): they would go to school at 7:30AM. School ends at 5:00PM. Then they go to after-school school to improve in school (like a Kaplan except 60% of the students are forced to go by their parents), leave after-school school at 10PM. Then they have to finish after-school school homework, and then their real school homework, and then they go to bed.

As far as I know, not that many middle school students live like this in the US. A few years back, students needed to go to school on Saturdays too (they Westernized). And in your 3rd year of middle school, you are forced to stay in school to study for your exam till 8PM every day.

Here’s another example. I remember those annoying tests that for every problem you get wrong, the teacher takes a big stick and hits you in the palm. It hurt like crap. When that happens, it’s always a long line of students waiting to be hit by the teacher. Do the parents go to school and yell at the teacher? No. The parents go to school to APOLOGIZE that their children created problems for the teacher.

In the US culture, parents have more power than teachers. But in many Asian cultures (I know Taiwan best, but many other Asian friends confirmed the same thing), the teachers have more power than the parents and the parents are often apologizing. That’s just a difference in cultural value.

Some observed dysfunctions of valuing grades over everything

For many Asian students, getting into an university is where life ends. Then another life independent of their past starts once they get out of college. However, there are some negative consequences to it, besides the high stress and suicide rates of students.

Since getting into college is everything, once students from Asia (not Asian students in the US, and no not ALL countries) get into top universities, they start to slack and have fun all day, instead of really acquiring knowledge as they are there for. The system also makes it that your GPA hardly matters as long as you pass, so that’s all people aim for. Getting into graduate school is simply determined by another test at the end of college years.

I know this because I every friend I talked to who grew up in Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea all said in middle school and high school, they were extremely stressed and suicide rates were higher. Once people get in college, what people do all day is slack off. “They made it, so it’s time to relax instead of learning.”

For that reason, when it comes to universities, students in the US actually study harder than those in Asia (yea, amazing right? Even after all that partying). This clearly shows that it’s pretty dysfunctional when a culture places the value of “grades” over “education.” You’re not there to learn, you are there to score.

This is just some thoughts based on the observations I have in society and an attempt to explain the origins of it. If you happen to disagree with anything and have better insights about things, feel free to criticize this and enlighten me. Politeness is appreciated but sometimes too much to ask for from Anonymous Commentors, so trolls are welcome too. Have a great time!

(For a BIZZARE list of what people search for in order to find this post, click here)

Startup life… it is 4:47 AM and I’m still working

So this is a response to my CMO Jun’s Blog: “Startup life… it 1:12AM and I am still working.” I actually wanted to write this blog at around 2:30AM, but a lot of things popped up, and I had to handle them, and now is my next break to laugh at Jun.

The startup life is fun and hard, and it’s really a lifestyle than a career. If you were doing a Lord of the Rings run, you won’t just say “I’m only going to travel 40 hours a week, and I will chill for the rest of the time!” No, you are constantly dealing with problems, monsters, wraiths and looking for food. You count the hours you don’t work. “I’m so tired….maybe sleeping 5 hours is fine, and I will travel again…” Recently, I almost broke up with my girlfriend due to the extreme circumstances that an entrepreneur needs to go through (girls, don’t date entrepreneurs). I think at the end, it’s Daniel Bedingfield’s song that got me back to the relationship. With that said, Jun’s blog is a lot more descriptive than mine, so I encourage you all to read his blog if were looking for some more startup blood and spirit!

and working hard

This is my entrepreneur’s game face.

Oh yea, speaking of which, I’m working with Daniel Bedingfield on a grand project that he has in mind, and today he left me a testamonial for me on Facebook: “genius-boy”

Hahaha, I’m good at what I do, but not sure if I deserve that title. I work with a lot of genius-boys though. Life is fun.