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GeekMBA360

Career and Money Advice At The Intersection Of Business And Technology

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Free tool to sync up Microsoft Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar?

By GeekMBA360

My work calendar is on Microsoft Outlook. I use Google Calendar for personal use.

I want to have one combined calendars to have visibility into both my work and personal schedule. In other words, I want to do one-way sync between Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook (the data will always be synced from Outlook to Google.)

It’s excruciatingly painful to find a FREE tool to allow me to do this.

1) Google used to have a Calendar sync tool but it recently discontinued it. Mind boggling decision.

2) I started looking into sync Outlook calendar with other calendars.

3) Yahoo had a calendar sync tool but it’s no where to find. I actually find a page for “beta version” of the sync tool but the software didn’t seem to work.

4) I opened a new Outlook.com account – I want to give Microsoft a shot. If their web calendar can easily sync with their desktop Outlook calendar, I will happily to switch to Outlook.com. Well, as you could imagine, Microsoft is great at upsetting consumers! Their free sync tool can only sync from Outlook.com to Outlook desktop but not the other way around.

5) I’m back to square one. Fortunately, I found a version of the old Google Calendar tool saved on a server somewhere in Australia. For the time being, the software still works.

I still don’t understand why Google, Yahoo and particularly Microsoft make it so hard to sync calendars? There is a golden opportunity for Yahoo or Microsoft to steal some market share if they do this right.

Is anyone at Yahoo or Microsoft listening? Hello!

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Microsoft gives me every reason not to switch to Window 8

By GeekMBA360

I studied computer science. I have worked in software & e-commerce for 15 years now. I consider myself a computer power user. Computer is the primary tool I use at work.

I desperately want to upgrade to a better and more modern operating system. Unfortunately, Microsoft is doing a great job to discourage me from upgrading to Windows 8 and buy a Microsoft Surface.

Every time I’m at Costco or Best Buy, I visit the computer section. I like to play with the products they have on shelf. The Windows 8 interface is so confusing – the most basic tasks I want to do are 1) switch from IE browser to Microsoft Excel 2) run two Excel spreadsheet at the same time 3) connect to my office computer via VPN and remote desktop. These are very simple tasks on my laptop that is running Windows. Unfortunately, the Windows 8 user interface is extremely confusing. I really don’t want to bother to figure it out.

The more I play with Windows 8, the most I dislike it. I might never want to purchase a Windows machine again. I can live with Mac or Chromebook.

Microsoft: you suck!

A frustrated user.

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Work from Home, VPN access and your job security

By GeekMBA360

A lot of companies have flexible work hour policy. They allow employees to work from home for some days.

To work from home, the employee will need to log into his/her employer’s Virtual Private Network (VPN.)

Once you logged into VPN, you are being watched, tracked and analyzed.

When a company wants to lay off people or get rid of you for whatever reason, it can easily use your VPN access data against you.

If you work from home, please make sure you are really working. You log into VPN in the morning, and log out in late afternoon or early morning. Please really do your work. Otherwise, you might get yourself into trouble.

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I love to learn! Do you?

By GeekMBA360

The number of online learning opportunities has been grown exponentially. It’s very exciting time for anyone who love to learn.

Here is a list of learning sites & resources I use regularly:

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Exciting update on How to Get a Job at Amazon.com

By GeekMBA360

I published How To Get a Job At Amazon.com ebook  four years ago.

I’m happy to report that this book has helped many people to get full time job offers from Amazon.com. Some of them even contacted me and had lunch with me after they relocated to the greater Seattle area to work for amazon.com.

I’m humbled and excited by the responses I have been getting. I will continue to update the eBook to provide the most helpful information on how to interview and get a job at Amazon.com.

My team will also start to offer 1-on-1 coaching on a limited basis – each session will take an hour. Our team of interview coaches will spend 45 minutes to conduct a mock interview – it’s very similar to the actual interview you will have at amazon. We will then spend the last 15 minutes to de-brief, providing you feedback and tips on how to interview with Amazon.com. All of the interview coaches have worked at amazon.com before – so you will be “coached” by someone who “has been there and done that at amazon.com”.

Please email regularguy@geekmba360.com for pricing and appointment information.

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Will there be more layoffs in second half of 2013?

By GeekMBA360

I only have qualitative information but I predict unemployment rate will go up as there will be more layoffs in second half of 2013.

The Obama Care changes will take effect in January 2014. I’m not against health care reform. But I think companies will start to cut staff to help offset the increasing health care costs as result of Obama Care.

This past week I have heard about multiple layoffs. Also, some blue chip companies are trying to get ahead of this and are starting to plan layoffs.

The second half of 2013 could be quite ugly.

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My not-to-hire list

By GeekMBA360

Over the years I had my share of success and failure to hire people.

Here is a list of job candidate I try to stay away from.

  1. Candidate who is late for job interview. No exception. If a candidate is late for interview, he demonstrates one of two shortcomings: 1) he doesn’t’ respect others’ time or 2) he didn’t plan enough time to beat the traffic (or other unforeseen circumstances.)
  2. Candidate who is over qualified: the job market is tough. Some candidates are willing to accept job offers that the candidate is over qualified. However, this type of candidate is taking the job for the money. Unless they can keep their egos in check (which is very hard to do), they will soon start to resent their jobs. I stay away from candidate who is over qualified.
  3. Spoiled rich kids: I have nothing against candidates from wealthy families. In fact a few of my friends are from very affluent family but they are also some of the hardest works I have ever known. However, some rich kids are so spoiled that they feel they are entitled to everything in the world. The worst part is that they’re extremely self centered. It’s all about them. If something is not going his or her way, he or she will throw a tantrum. Stay away from these people.
  4. Never hire a management consultant with no operational experience. The worst type of employee I had is HBS graduate + McKinsey/Bain/BCG Consulting Experience + undergraduate business major. Most of them are completely useless – they’re corporate ladder climbers with no idea of how to run a business. They focus on the wrong thing!
  5. People who are very verbose. This type of job candidate is overly detail oriented, and they will waste everyone’s time because they will make very 5-minute conversation into an half an hour meeting!
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What really matters at work?

By GeekMBA360

I worked for a company that was acquired by a much larger corporation. The integration process has been painful for many of my colleagues. Our work environment is becoming much more political, bureaucratic, and frustrating. However, the work itself is still very interesting. The company is in a very hot market with a lot of growth potential. It’s just the office politics is getting out of hand. And the management is a group of former management consultants who have no clue to run a business.

Some choose to quit but most of them didn’t end up in better situations. I keep telling people not to run away from places – you should make a career move because the new company provides a step up in term of growth opportunity, market opportunity and compensation. You should not join a company because you want to run away from your current employer. There is a fine distinction here but it’s an important one.

There are only 3 three things that really matters to you at work:

  1. You accomplishments
  2. Your continued career and personal growth
  3. The network of friends you have

Focus on these three things. If you feel that you are maxed out on all three areas at your current company, then you might want to make a move. Otherwise, you might want to consider to stay because you still have a lot to gain.

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What would you do differently if you can re-do your post college career

By GeekMBA360

It’s college graduation time again.

I graduated from college in 1997. I finished all of my required courses in Spring semester 1997 but decided to stay for an extra semester because I wanted to take some classes I really wanted to take. Looking back, I was not ready to leave college at that time. I had job offers but I was terrified of entering the real world. I had always enjoyed academic environment and I lived a sheltered life.

After college, I worked for a management consulting company for one year. I then joined a medium sized enterprise software company for a year. The next stop was to join a hot start-up in the Silicon Valley. That company crashed and burned after on year. I did another start-up before I went back to business school.

Looking back, if I can re-do the first four year of my post-college career, knowing what I know now, I would “plan” my career a little bit differently.

  • I would take more vacations and travel more. I was totally into the “work hard” culture of Silicon Valley. I didn’t take whole lot of vacations.
  • I would work one or two years abroad. Working abroad is an experience I wish I had. With family and kids, it’s harder to move to another country to work. If you’re single, I highly recommend you to get a job abroad for a year or two.
  • I would not work in enterprise software companies. I enjoy working with consumer facing products. Enterprise software industry is industry, but it is not what my calling. I really struggled to stay interested.
  • I would not make the jump to product management – I studies computer science in college but didn’t like to be a programmer. So I made the transition to product management with only one year of work experience – I thought product management provided me the opportunity to leverage my technical skills and business acumen. In reality, product management is a highly political job that is not well suited for my personality. I would be much better off if I became a sales engineer or taken on a marketing/analytic roles in a consumer facing company. It took me 12 years to finally find the right job.
  • I would join a high growth, medium size, publically traded company. Medium size company is my sweet spot – it offers a combination of having some structure but still allows room for innovation and getting things done. I didn’t enjoy working at VC funded starts-ups – there are too much greed and too little value creation in these companies. It was never fulfilling for me to work at these companies.
  • I would move out of Silicon Valley much sooner – I enjoy working and living in culturally rich environment. For example, I love the college towns of Berkeley, CA and Evanston, IL. Santa Clara Country is full of corporate parks and suburban homes. I was not happy living there.
  • I would exercise regularly, play more sports and live a more healthy life style.
  • Knowing what I know now, I probably will choose not to apply MBA schools. Instead, I will enroll in a master program that I truly have a passion for.

If you can re-do your post college career, what would you do?

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Let your life speak

By GeekMBA360

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation is a great read.

Before I share with you my review, I would like to quote the review from Publisher Weekly because it captured this book’s essence very well.

“A gifted academic who formerly combined a college teaching career with community organizing, Palmer took a year’s sabbatical to live at the "intentional" Quaker community of Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania. Instead of leaving at year’s end, he became the community’s dean of studies and remained there for 10 years.

Palmer (The Courage to Teach) shares the lessons of his vocational and spiritual journey, discussing his own burnout and intense depression with exceptional candor and clarity.

In essays that previously appeared in spiritual or educational journals and have been reworked to fit into this slim volume, he suggests that individuals are most authentic when they follow their natural talents and limitations, as his own story demonstrates. Since hearing one’s "calling" requires introspection and self-knowledge (as suggested by the eponymous Quaker expression), Palmer encourages inner work such as journal-writing, meditation and prayer. Recognizing that his philosophy is at odds with popular, essentially American attitudes about self-actualization and following one’s dreams, Palmer calls vocation "a gift, not a goal."

He deftly illustrates his point with examples from the lives of people he admires, such as Rosa Parks, Annie Dillard and Vaclav Havel. A quiet but memorable addition to the inspirational field, this book has the quality of a finely worked homily. The writing displays a gentle wisdom and economy of style that leaves the reader curious for more insight into the author’s Quaker philosophy.”

My key takeaways:

  1. The American Culture emphasizes overcome one’s limitation and self actualization. However, each of us has our own unique calling. If we focus on what we should be doing (not what we’re called to do) and live to meet external expectations, we will end up in very miserable place no matter how successful we are.
  2. If we found ourselves keep hitting walls or burned out, it is probably a sign that you’re not following your true calling. You’re trying too hard to meet other people’s expectation. I have experienced this myself. In fact, I know very few people who are truly living their own calling.
  3. If we trust our inner self and let “self” to lead us, we’ll eventually find the optimal career path. This approach could take us to unexpected places but it will work out in the end.

Like a family friend who told me a while ago: “very few people truly love their work. and these people are truly happy.” I believe putting yourself into the right vocation is one of the most valuable gift you can ever give to yourself. Read this book and find your calling. You will be blessed.

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