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Career and Money Advice At The Intersection Of Business And Technology

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The most underrated skill

December 10th, 2016 by GeekMBA360

A lot of people don’t have this skill. In fact, in a corporate environment, the higher you go, fewer people you’ll see have this skill.

Right now I’m dealing with a couple of senior executive colleagues who have essentially zero amount of this skill. It’s hard to get them to understand what is going on and change their mind. They have a lot of opinions based on gut feeling but not on facts. The problems is that they don’t know what the facts are, and they don’t try to gather the facts. This is because they lack this skill.

The skill is the listening skill. The ability to ask questions, let someone to finish their sentences and explain, and quietly process the information before talking again.

A couple months ago, I interviewed a candidate for a senior marketing executive position. She interrupted me multiple times “I got it.” while I didn’t even finish describing what I was going to say. That’s a huge red flag.

Listen more. Ask more questions. Have the humility.

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It is not about money

December 9th, 2016 by GeekMBA360

It’s not about making more money. I have very little interest in material things. I live in a small house. I drive a Honda that is several years old. As long as there is a computer, an internet connection and a coffee shop nearby, I’ll be pretty happy.

However, I work really hard. I want to achieve financial independence. This is not because I want to have a lot of money so that I can retire or buy a lot of stuff. That’s not what I want.

I want to have control over what I do, what kind of people I work with, and where I live and work. It’s about freedom. It’s about having control over the most importance resource I have — my time, my mind and my body.

It’s impossible to achieve the above if I continue to work for a corporation.


This is about working for myself. This is about choose myself.

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Travel vs. Relocation

July 19th, 2015 by GeekMBA360

This is a topic that has been in mind a lot lately.

I recently took a job with company that is based in Chicago. In fact, many companies are opening up offices in the Seattle to take advantage of the technology and E-commerce talents in this area.

Because of the time difference, I have been starting my day early. Last Friday I had a conference called started at 6 AM PST. This is not that big a problem now because kids don’t have school now. Once school starts, my morning will get really crazy.

I have also been traveling to Chicago quite a bit. I usually take the 8:30AM fights, and arrive in Chicago around 2:30PM. I’ll still get a couple hours of work in the office. Again, traveling is hard on the family.

I have been thinking about this a lot. Seattle is a tier-2 metropolitan area. It’s not New York, San Francisco, LA, or Chicago. There are fewer employers and fewer job opportunities. Yes there are a lot of tech jobs in Seattle for software developers. But, if you’re in leadership/managerial position, you’ll soon find that Seattle is a small place.

I have been wondering if I’m better to relocate to Chicago. I’ll be able to focus on the work. Family and kids will get the chance to live in another part of the country for a couple years. I don’t plan to to there forever, but a few years might be good for my career.

I have to admit the process of relocating make me feel stressful. But, will relocation be a better option than frequent travel (e.g. travel every other week to Chicago for Monday through Thursday)?

I don’t have an answer. Sometime, I wonder if it’s better to commit to an area, and focus on building and growing a small business so that I’ll be free from the relocation dilemma …

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Where can I touch a brand new ThinkPad T450s

May 12th, 2015 by GeekMBA360

I have done my research online. I want to buy the laptop with the best keyboard with a Trackpoint. I want a laptop that is not too heavy so that I can travel with it. I have a Macbook Pro but I’m still not used to Mac.

My last few laptops were all from HP. They all ended up having a broken display.

I’m willing to spend a little bit more to get a ThinkPad. The one I really like is ThinkPad T450S.

The problem is that I cannot find any store carries T450S in store. I went to Costco, Home Depot, Staples, and Best Buy. None of them carries any ThinkPad. I went to Microsoft Store. They only carries ThinkPad Yoga.

I want to play with ThinkPad T450S before I make a purchase. I’m willing to pay $10 – $20 to get a feel of the machine.

I wonder if this is the future of in store retail of electronics — customers can pay to play with the machine in store and order online.

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Will you take a job if it doubles your pay?

May 12th, 2015 by GeekMBA360

You’re offered a job that double your total compensation. The amount is potentially life style changing as you will pay off your mortgage in a couple years.

The compensation package is a two-year deal. You’re joining a struggling company. They know they have to pay a lot to attract a candidate of your caliber.

Will you take this job?

The natural inclination for most people is to take the job.

Everything has a price. When they pay me a load of cash, at some points I will take it.

A lot of people will think this way.

But, you need to be careful.

There is no free meal in this world. There is a reason that you get paid so much money.

The work will be hard if not impossible. You’ll face a lot of politics and stressful situation. It’ll not be easy to earn the cash.

Most people overestimate the amount of happiness money will bring to them. And they underestimate the importance of fulfilling work.

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Create the best possible environment for myself

November 10th, 2014 by GeekMBA360

I used to think that I can survive and excel in any environment with persistence, strong work ethics and mental toughness.

I cannot say I was wrong but my thinking has evolved.

A fish needs to the right water to thrive.

Each individual needs the right environment to maximize his or her talent.

I’ve been giving this topic a lot of thoughts.

I want to create the best possible environment for myself.

We’re all different so the environment that is right for me might not be right for you.

The environment I’m cultivating for myself have the following characteristics:

  • Work for someone who I really respect. Or work with someone (in the case of an entrepreneurial venture) who I really respect. Having really smart and capable people at the top is really important for the business, and for my career and personal happiness.
  • Stay away from the high pressure rat race of New York or Silicon Valley. That means I will intentionally live in a smaller city with a more balanced lifestyle. I’m living in Seattle and I like Seattle. The only downside of living here is the rainy days from late October to mid Feb.
  • Let me focus on creating values and allow me to do what I’m good at. I like consumer focused business because I want to touch people’s lives, I like online direct marketing and analytic, and I admire and appreciate the mentality of a value investor.
  • Minimal amount of office politics and bureaucracy. There will always be politics. But it’s more tolerable in some companies than others. I prefer smaller environment that is focused in getting things done. I want to stay away from environment that functions like working for the government.
  • Location agnostic: I don’t mind work long hours on something I really enjoy. But, because I have families in different parts of the worlds, I want to have the flexibility of working in any place in the world. With internet and my line of work (e-commerce), this is becoming increasingly doable.

What is the optimal environment for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Which city is the E-commerce capital of the world?

November 10th, 2014 by GeekMBA360

The answer is Seattle.
It’s interesting how many companies are opening offices in the great Seattle area.

Google already has a large presence with offices in both the Fremont neighborhood (i.e. the “Center of Universe”) and Kirkland. Both Facebook and Twitter have offices in Seattle.

Apple is opening an new office in Seattle. Alibaba has “secretively” set up an office in Seattle.

But, what hasn’t been reported is the number of Consumer Package Goods companies that are setting up shop in the greater Seattle area.

If you visit Bentonville, AR, you will see an ecosystem built around Walmart. Many of the CPG companies have offices near Walmart headquarter.

Today, we’re seeing an eco-system built around For example, P&G has moved their e-commerce staff to an office in Issaquah, WA (a suburb of Seattle).

I think more and more consumer package goods companies will set up shop in the greater Seattle area to better manage their relationship with Amazon. This will be great for the economy in the greater Seattle region.

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Is there a bubble in the Silicon Valley?

November 10th, 2014 by GeekMBA360

I am hearing some familiar stories.

Software developers are switching jobs every few months.

A few start-ups are getting hundred of millions of funding without any revenue.

In fact, in the case of one start-up, the job applicants are not allowed to see the product the company is building. This company has the backing of all of the big name venture capital firms. The amount of funding this start-up received is astounding.

But, I feel that I have seen this movie before. Webvan is a name coming into mind.

When job applicants are chasing the next IPO and venture capitalists are throwing money at start-up with no proven business model and revenue, it’s time to get concerned.

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How I make my commute more productive

June 14th, 2014 by GeekMBA360

I used to listen to sports talk radio during my commute. Lately I have decided to make my commute more productive.

I have been listening to audio books and podcast. My favorites are:


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Awesome summer reading list

June 1st, 2014 by GeekMBA360

I have been reading a few excellent books:

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