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!
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.
Do one thing that scares you every day
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).
IT WAS QUIET IN THE OFFICE for the past two weeks, so I took the opportunity to strategize my plan for the next year and I took the initiative to talk to a few senior managers to understand opportunities, direction of the business and the team, and to ask for advice on where I should be headed with my career going forward. In the mean time, I spent a great deal of time contemplating on the bygone year, and here are a few thoughts I’d like to share with you.
1. The best conversations happen in the ladies’ room
Well I am not sure what’s going on in the men’s room I don’t typically spend a lot of time there, but I would imagine talking in the men’s room to be quite awkward and embarrassing. It’s surprisingly not the case in the ladies’ room. In fact, many of the most important conversations I ever had throughout the year all happened in this seemingly constraint space, including how to get onto the women network events committee, who to talk to for international travel visa arrangement, which MD is going to be out for how long so I should schedule my meetings early, and etc.
I guess one of the reasons is some of the days people are honestly that busy so the only time they have slightly some freedom to take a breeze is when they go to the bathroom. And I’m not sure if it happened to you too, but a lot of times I feel I keep bumping into the same person once I run into her once in the bathroom. At actually the line I’ve used the most was: “hey I’ve seen you around on the floor, but my name is D, which group are you in again?”
This is the best article I ever read. Seriously.
Yes, if you just spare 2 minutes, read this one.
I wrote this a while back but would like to repost this today in memory of my bright college years.
I finally went back to Yale again last weekend for the 2009 commencement. It’s been exactly a year, everything’s still the same; everything’s so different. My fellow Piersonites reminded me of Toads, last change dance, Myrtle Beach, fencing club, Feb club, commencement ball, and etc. I was thrilled to discover K and S are coming to midtown NY to work too, and we were already discussing our lunch plans. Well, plan is always just a plan. I haven’t even officially scheduled one lunch with my former schoolmate in McKinsey right across the street yet. New York is so big; New York is so small.
“So today I will not insult you by calling you ‘the best and the brightest’ of your generation. Instead, I will call you ‘darned smart and really good-looking,'” class day keynote speech, Christopher Buckley, Yale class of ’75, writer. I was a little bit disappointed initially, think about Tony Blair from last year, but soon I got totally fascinated by his humor and attitude. “Say cool lines”, he reminded us, and “Perhaps most amazing, most cool of all, America finally elected its first African American president. A Harvard man,” Buckley said, with feigned disdain. “Okay. But remember — it might not have happened if it hadn’t been for a Yale man, George W. Bush.”
Of course most importantly, he challenged the fundamental way of supposed-to-be profound philosophical thinking. According to him, “whatever!” is the ultimate answer to life’s most existential problems, and “it’s just brilliant and philosophically air-tight.” To be or not to be – whatever! The only thing we have to fear is fear itself – whatever! But whatever life holds in store for you, remember the words of that most quotable of American philosophers, Yogi Berra: “When I come to a fork in the road, I take it.” And finally…he said “Whatever else life holds in store for you, and may it hold every blessing and every happiness, there’s one very cool line that you can already say: Yale, 2009 – whatever!”
I went to OneRepublic‘s concert this Wednesday. They are doing their world tour and only stopping in NY for one night. Ternimal 5 is crazily remote from everything else in the city and it is like a broadway show theatre except that there are no seats! Well, there are a few seats on the 2nd and 3rd floor but either you get there super early or you are some sort of secret VIP.
But I had a blast, like in a big club. I was there for 3 hours and actually OneRepublic didn’t show up until the last hour. They had Alpha Rae as the first cover band and one of the guitar players (I’m 99% sure he’s Japanese) was so into it because he was shaking his head the entire time like crazy, but he’s absolutely beautiful. And Sarah came out for another hour and her songs are cheerful and energetic and she’s definitely not afraid of cracking jokes and drinking on stage, knowing nobody down there has ever heard about her, probably.
You were about to do a photoshoot in the afternoon and as soon as you left home the rain started pouring down. 5 minutes later, the shower magically stopped and the sun came out, fresh and bright.
You have been yearning for this new dress for a long time, but it was simply too expensive. The 4th time you walked into that shop around the corner and suddenly noticed the very dress was on discount with 60% off, and it’s your size!
You were rushing to work and were in a hurry paying the cab. You got into the office and suddenly realized you left your cell phone on the cab. You kept calling your own number for the next 20 minutes only to realize it’s on mute so the cab driver might not even hear it. Just as you were freaking out the driver picked it up, and said I am right at the corner where you got off, come and get your phone! Read more…