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Who said business is not personal? It cannot get more personal

October 6, 2011 5 comments

I have always wondered why some people are more successful than other (I mean, most other) people. It is probably a combination of personal charm, smartness, a lot of hard-work, and some luck. But when it comes to leadership the qualities are probably the same, and it’s really less about what you do but more about who you are (as a person): passionate, visionary, engaging, motivating. Think about any leader around you. When a great leader speaks, you listen with all ears, you can’t wait to learn more, you are inspired to think, you can identify with his/her stories, and you want to follow, and you want to take actions.

Our Vice Chairman spoke at a town hall earlier this week on where we stand with our business today and what we will need to do in Q4 in order to meet our targets for 2011. He is a native British with a great deal of humor and personal charisma. When he was highlighting our significant sales performance back in April (best month of the year) he mentioned he “posted the chart on his bathroom door” and “his wife has the same chart tattooed on her back”. It was a joke obviously. Everyone laughed. But the important thing is, guaranteed, there is no way you will forget about this bar chart from April and it will haunt you and drive you for better performance for the rest of the year.

Personally I have always loved leaders who have this “sense of urgency”, which gets reflected in the way they think and the way they talk. I recently watched an interview with Meg Whitman, one of the Fortune top 50 most powerful women in business, the new CEO for HP, former CEO for eBay, and the candidate for Governor of California in 2009-2010, where she commented that politics is tougher than business because politics is very personal (think about personal attacks/no privacy etc). However she goes on to explain that when answering questions in politics, you get away with the so-called “political spin”, which is both expected and accepted by the public; however if you do the same with your employees in a business environment, you will be walked out of the door!

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What they won’t tell you about job hunting!

September 6, 2011 3 comments

Previously I wrote several articles on job hunting and career advancement but today I would like to share with you a couple of new insights that I have gathered over the past few months that particularly address HOW NOT TO FALL INTO THE TRAPS of so-called job hunting tips. You probably know many of these already, or you may be doing exactly the opposite of these, but it’s okay. These ideas should become common sense to you after you finish reading this piece, so bear with me.

 

  1. Recruiters are only helpful when they need you, not when you need them!

The No.1 myth about job hunting is that “headhunters are angels and they will help you to land your next dream job”. Not exactly. First you need to understand how they actually profit from their job. They don’t earn any money from you directly but if the firm decides to hire you then they get paid by the firm. Which means, they will ONLY WANT TO HELP YOU if they think (or better yet, are certain) that you have a very good chance of getting the job! So if you are desperately in need of a job or you don’t necessarily have a strong profile or you behave as if you are hesitant, insecure, and not-that-confident, then the recruiters have absolutely no incentive to help you get connected (it’s sad but that’s the hard truth). This is exactly why you will ALWAYS get the most headhunter calls when you are still at your CURRENT JOB. If you already have a job, which means you are hirable, it immediately makes you more attractive. Does that make sense?

So if you have quitted your previous job or that you just graduated from b-school, you should honestly focus your time, as much as you can, away from recruiters. The only exception is that, i.e. on your LinkedIn profile you have already exhibited a proven strong track record of consistent top performance at multiple big firms, then whether or not you are currently employed is less of an issue.

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Maybe there is still a chance to have it all

August 18, 2011 17 comments

One of my girlfriends is visiting NY for meetings and she asked me to help her to pick up her wedding gown from Vera Wang the day before. I am so happy for her. You know there are times when you say “good for you” you actually feel “gosh it’s so unfair I cannot believe she is getting this while I didn’t!” But that kind of feeling is not in my dictionary anymore. I am lucky to be surrounded by both guys and girls who are as ambitious, capable, observant, insightful and FUN as myself (sorry I’m complimenting myself again), if not more, and they complement me as a human being, and they inspire me every day to give back more with passion and love.

Ultimately it’s not about a competition after all. It’s about inviting someone to join the life journey with you, to learn, to share, to enjoy; or sometimes, just to sit quietly together while looking out of the window, and maybe laugh, and sing.

 

Treat people right, any people

 

When I was in Hong Kong I went to this Portuguese restaurant once and ordered some baked pork and rice dish. I asked the waiter some standard question on what kind of sauce he recommends, how long it will take, and how big the portion is etc. Apparently he was relatively new and he couldn’t answer half of the questions. I got very impatient. I unintentionally raised my voice and I was at the edge of asking to be served by another waiter. He was embarrassed obviously, and my friend who went with me gave me a very disturbed stare, which I couldn’t quite figure out why at the moment.  Read more…

Good Manager and more: 5 things you wanna see in your boss

April 6, 2011 6 comments

BEING AN ASSOCIATE is an awkward stage in your professional life; and I think you would agree with me on this. It’s like being a sophomore in college: All of a sudden you don’t receive as much attention as those excited-about-everything Freshmen anymore; at the same time you are still not “experienced” or “qualified” enough to apply to those internships/programs specifically designed for Junior and Seniors.

A couple of examples in line with this:

  • In Objective Settings you are expected to use language like “take a leadership role in this project”, but you should be very cautious with language like “managing the project or the team” – Right, if you (being an Associate) are managing the team, why do they need a Director?
  • The VP who used to be your supervisor now reports to the same boss as you do. But while the VP is participating in management training programs, you are left behind doing the VP’s job.
  • You are responsible for the quality of the work done by your Analyst but he/she doesn’t report to you, so most of the times, he/she doesn’t give a sh** of what you say or intend to have him/her do.
  • Let me STRESS that all the above don’t happen often at all in my own case, but nevertheless I guarantee you this is quite universal otherwise.

I consider myself as lucky to be on this assignment overseas. Read more…

3 stories on knowing yourself better and life attitude

March 17, 2011 8 comments

It was a little bit sad looking out of the window from my seat on the 24th floor in the Park Avenue Plaza building. It was raining badly in the morning when I came in; it was almost freezing when I went to lunch with my lovely Chinese colleagues; yet 5 seconds ago, it suddenly cleared up and it was all sunny. The windows almost felt like non-existent.

But it was sad because I am leaving NY, though only for 3 months. Yes I am going to Hong Kong for a short-term assignment which is a great opportunity and I look forward to the new adventures, discoveries, and I am excited about what else about people, culture, business and life I may be able to share with you. The past few weeks have been hectic with all the logistics and responsibility transfers, and of course, a lot of late night calls with Asia. But at this point, I felt calm. A little bit sad, yet calm.

I am not sure how frequent I will be able to write while I am working out of Hong Kong. I am under the impression that I will be working crazy hours given that’s the only reason they want me there. But before I embark on my new journey I want to leave with you a few stories which I have experienced recently. I thought about naming these under “self-improvement” or “peace of mind” or even “pursuit of happiness in life”, but when I started writing I realized it all comes down to — knowing yourself better, and especially your attitude when you respond to unexpected things in life.

It’s challenging, but it’s not that hard.

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Do one thing that scares you every day

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It was a Wednesday and I just came back from Delaware with our clients for a day trip to our data center. I have 2 hours to kill before Mary Poppins, so I marched into Borders trying to finish Liar’s Poker, and then another book caught my eyes: The 4-hour Work Week. I heard a lot about this book from my friends and I used the next hour flipping through the pages and I’m pretty happy with what I am reading, and I think Tim Ferriss does offer people a sweet DEAL (Definition, Elimination, Automation & Liberation).

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What if your boyfriend/girlfriend is attracted to someone else?

March 3, 2011 40 comments

Dear Danye,

I have read your blog about being attracted to someone else while in a relationship and it was really helpful. The thing is, I am in a multi-year relationship with someone 9 years older than me (I am in my early 20s). I can say we get along well because we share the same intellectual and maturity level despite the age gap. My boyfriend recently admitted that he is attracted to this girl who is one of his employees (he is a manager).

Well, this was not the first time it happened but this time seems to be more serious than before. Unlike the previous situation we had, he admitted to this girl that he likes her though the girl, being in a relationship herself, said that she only sees my boyfriend as a big brother. Despite this, I can still sense that there is something else going on. They would usually go out drinking with the rest of their team and the two of them would always sit beside each other even after I told my guy to at least try to fight the feeling if he still wants work things out between the two of them. Even if he told me that it wasn’t anything serious, I can’t help but get jealous and hurt with the thought of him spending more time with this girl than me. He works overtime everyday (which he always did even before we met) and after work, they would spend the rest of the day drinking. He would usually come home an hour before I am supposed to leave for work so we don’t get to spend much time with each other anymore.

I don’t know how to deal with it anymore. We have tried to talk about it but he kept on saying that he doesn’t understand himself either. He said that he still loves me but his answers to my questions show that he is not sure of his feelings anymore. I have been trying to think things over and decide whether to continue trying to work things out with him or just give up the relationship. He met this girl a little over a month ago. Please help.

Thank you – Lhen

Yes so I wrote about how to deal with a situation where you’re in a relationship but attracted to someone else, and also the situation where you are attracted to someone else who already has a boyfriend and girlfriend. I thought I was done with this, thanks God. Now I realized you are facing the challenge of exactly the third possibility: What if your boyfriend/girlfriend is attracted to someone else?

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Most Effective Tips on How to Write Follow up Emails

February 24, 2011 7 comments

Dear Danye,

I really want to hear your insights on how to follow up with people I just met with such as alumni or high profile people. After the first acquaintance, I usually don’t know what to say to them through email or phone since we barely see each other. At the same time, I’m afraid that too many emails of questions or holiday wishes would annoy them. But I want to make a good impression because I may need their help at some point. Would you please elaborate how you maintain the relationship with your contacts?

Thank you – N


Another great question from Ask Danye, you guys are really awesome awesome inspirations! And I want to reassure you that the very fact you are writing this email to me means you take initiatives and that you are on the right track: yes, you do need to reach out to people BEFORE you actually need help from them. And here’s how to do it:

  • Make it extremely easy for them
  • Keep it very short (the 3 steps)
  • Watch your tone (some do’s and don’ts)
  • Write it already

Make it extremely easy for them

Senior people are busy people, so if you want them to do just about anything in the world, you need to make it super easy for them. I recently coordinated with HR, Yale Alums at my firm, and Women Initiatives for an informational/networking/recruiting event with Smart Woman Securities, a women organization from Yale. I pushed very hard for the event to happen obviously since we don’t really recruit on campus, and there’s tons of coordination work. But I got affirmative response from EVERY SINGLE person I reached out to and everyone is super excited to help me, even Harvard alums!

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