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!
I watched a few episodes of the TV drama “Never say goodbye 说好不分手” these days in Hong Kong. It’s astonishingly touching. I remember one comparison pretty clearly when one of the lead guys commented on his relationship with two distinctive girls in a very interesting way:
- The relationship I had with A is like playing video games. There’s always another challenge waiting for me. It’s fun and engaging, it keeps me going. The best part is, you have multiple chances with one challenge, and you can even restart if it’s “game over”.
- The relationship I had with B is like doing a surgery. I have to be extra careful every second. The more I care about the patient the more nervous and intense it becomes. It gets tiring to be honest, because as a surgeon you have but one shot. If you screw this up you don’t have another chance.
This simple but very insightful comparison and analogy made me reflect deeply on how human beings interact and leave impressions on each other. Then I started thinking about relationships in general, and all the wonderful girlfriends of mine who are still single, and all the charming guy friends of mine who are still confused about what the hell all the girls are thinking. But the fact is: the girls are not less confused, and probably only more.
I am in no position to categorize myself as a relationship expert because I am simply not, but I know one thing that I am actually good at: to state the obvious but in a unique way that would make sense to all of you no matter where you are coming from. I used to tell myself: the first step to achieve anything in life is to decide what you want. So what I am trying to do here is really just to share some observations and understandings on how to make a smarter decision on what you should be looking for in a long term relationship.
Okay, hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! I had a great dinner at Koi with M the birthday girl and one of the guys was gentleman enough to bring a rose to each of the girls, very nice gesture I have to say! And then we went out to drinks at Stone Rose at the Time Warner Building. Again another cool spot in NY, you have to check it out next time you want a romantic yet low-key spot, with a lot of space, unique drinks and a great view!
Anyway, I have to admit that originally I plan to write on “What has Yale taught me about sex”! But I realized I am yet to be that aggressive and I don’t want to scare away some of my younger readers and I am pretty sure I’m not an expert on that subject anyway! But if that’s something you’re interested in reading please give me a shout in the comment or something.
So let me get back to what I actually want to talk about today: What I learned about relationships at Yale and in the US?
1. Be an independent person first
It took me a long time to realize how much truth lies in this simple idea: If you are not a happy person single, you will not be a happy person in a relationship. I’m not sure about you but I was raised up in an environment with this whole idea of “we are born to be incomplete and we spend our whole life trying to find someone to complete and to heal us”. After I came to Yale and the US, I realized it was a lie. Why? Because this idea leads us to the trap of being too demanding.
Let me take a break and write something fun about myself.
So I did this a long time ago when the 25 Things About Me idea first came out on facebook and I got tagged by someone else. Now I realized there are so many precious things about me I didn’t get to mention and so many new experiences I didn’t get to illustrate. So I rewrote this in memory of the first 25 years of my life, and I want to dedicate this to everyone who has been a part of my life, who has challenged me, inspired me, encouraged me, showed up for me, stayed with me when I felt frustrated, confused, and anxious, and finally, who has embraced my character wholeheartedly.
Btw, in case you are wondering, the pictures are taken by professional camera so you know how misleading they can be.
1. I introduce myself as Kanye with a D = Danye, and people love it. Well everyone knows Kanye West, but very few are aware that “Dan Ye” means “red leaf” in Chinese.
2. I am BIGGGGGGGGGG on sleep; I am BIGGGGGGGGGG on efficiency too.
3. I like abs. I think just abs is good enough.
4. I have visited all 8 Ivy League universities + MIT + Stanford + UChicago.
5. The only flower I wish to receive is lily: it has to be lily and it has to be white.
I had the opportunity to be involved in a couple of women initiatives recently, and I realized how frustrating and confusing the whole experience of networking may be to some women. Today I’d like to write about how to effectively network as a woman, and as a young professional, especially in industries most likely still dominated by men.
Forget about emotional connection for a second
One of the most important difference between how men and women network which I recently discovered is that men connect with each other instantly from a networking perspective, while women tend to connect first from an emotional angle, which could be a powerful thing in a longer-term oriented relationship, but not necessarily effective in a social setting. Many times after a conference or gathering event, men will walk away with business cards, and a list of names he can contact for his new business idea or who will help to advance his career or to land his next job; while women might walk away only to discover she spent most of her time talking about food, clothes, recent movies, or even kids, and she still doesn’t know too much about the other person she just spent 20 minutes with!
There’s a recent article on BNET on the right mindset of networking: to perceive networking as a skill not a task, which means you should develop your networking skills quite consciously. Given that mindset, it will be easier to talk to a total stranger in a more efficient and effective way (and not feeling awkward) when you start asking questions about his/her career, ambitions, recent development, long-term plans, suggestions, how to get there, etc. Most importantly, try to walk away with “how you can help them do better in what they do” as well as “how they can help you do better in what you do.”