Monthly Archives: April 2008

“the last lecture”

Even in an self-help obsessed culture, I think everyone recognizes the magic and poignancy in the last lecture of Randy Pausch. What makes this Carnegie Mellon professor so inspirational? While the fact that he is currently dying from pancreatic cancer sets a compelling context, it is the way that he has lived out his life, the 76 minutes of advice he has put together to share with his children and students on the fundamentals of life, that has made him the icon he never intended to be.

Especially in our busy lives, it gives us reason to pause and to reconsider the priorities we have in our life. There was once a woman who had in every sense what society would deem to be a successful life path — graduate from law school, enter into a respectable law firm, and then, she decided to put her career on hold to be there for her children during their first few years. During that time, she instead found volunteer opportunities that kept her engaged, involved, and balanced. Later on, she would go on to hold one of the highest positions this nation offers. Who is this woman? Sandra Day O’Connor.

I am sure there are many individuals out there who have achieved the same, although perhaps not with the same type of visibility. The message, however, remains the same time and time again. You have an entire lifetime to work in front of you — take the time to enjoy those moments that will only come but once in a lifetime.

This was a point that Pausch brought up repeatedly in his “lecture” as well, bringing on stage his beloved stuffed animals, and reminding everyone that in the end, the little things really do hold the most weight. Let your kids draw on the walls. Cherish those who constructively criticize you. Never lose that sense of wonder, that sense of innocence and curiosity that speaks from the heart.

If you have not yet seen this lecture, I would really encourage you to take out the 1.5 hours to do so … hopefully, it will add perspective to your own life:


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[insert profession] without borders

MBAs without borders is a group that allows business professionals to apply their skills in developing nations and economies, and aid non-profits and social enterprises in those places. Hope to see this really grow, and that more and more people get involved! 

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earlier on, i posted an article about china’s loyal youth, and how they, according to the article, are among the world’s most optimistic and the greatest beneficiaries of the recent policy changes that are taking place in china. to add on to that, i think it’s pretty amazing how tech-savvy young adults have leveraged technologies to define a new era of nationalism — cybernationalism (not unlike the whole obama phenomenon in some respects …).

granted that blogs, forums, and chat rooms have long been a part of deeply contested issues, the scale that this recent movement has spurred is something that hasn’t quite been achieved before. while there was the anti-japanese sentiment awhile back, i think this movement, which touches upon the ideals of the olympics that a passionate youth can relate to, has caught the attention of chinese everywhere.

chain letters have quickly been passed on to thousands around the world, as well as youtube videos that counter and challenge what the protesters say are false depictions of tibet, china, and the dalailama. Similarly, Chinese MSN Messenger users have posted the badge of “<3 China” as a stance against accelerating anti-Chinese sentiments. The web has helped achieve what the chinese government has always desired — an effect that they have hardly had to directly catalyze. By uniting the core of any society, a passionate and engaged youth, the internet has served as a bridge to the next era of national identity. the million dollar question, however, will be how to contain this before it just as quickly downspirals into a faceless, and more critically, mindless mob running on angry fumes.

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so the .com, .org, .tv has gotten its fair share of the entrepreneurial buzz — so what’s next? i think in the venture field, one area which has remained relatively untouched (although i’m sure we’ll see this change quickly in the coming few years), is the .edu domain space. while we have seen a flurry of online education programs arise at the post-secondary education level (university of phoenix, numerous online courses offered by different universities) to fill the gaping demand of working professionals who want both, there really hasn’t been quite that same activity on the k-12 level.

with increased global competition for the greatest scarcity in the world — global talent — i think that it won’t be before long before we see an exodus of companies (startups and established alike) fill this space. already, 2007 has seen some commendable measures (e.g. One Laptop Per Child), but as globalization becomes more and more of an imperative, rather than an option, imagine the opportunities that will be in the .edu era. by leveraging current technologies, education is long due for a facelift, one that will hopefully combine the very best of public institutions and private enterprise.

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Stephen Hadley and … Nepal?

Hmmm so is this what the administration’s understanding of current events really is?

Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor, in conversation with George Stephanopolous on “This Week” regarding President Bush’s decision whether or not to attend the Opening Ceremony:

Hadley: The president is going to the Olympics. What he’s doing on Nepal is what we think the international community ought to be doing, which is approaching the Chinese privately through diplomatic channels and sending a very firm message of concern for human rights, a concern for what’s happening in Nepal, urging the Chinese government to understand that it is in their interest to reach out to representatives of the Dalai Lama, and to show, while the whole world is watching China, that they are determined to treat their citizens with dignity and respect.

Of course, George didn’t bother to correct him either …

I think it’s also interesting to see how the AP addressed this (note the Tibet mentioned outside of quotation marks):

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brand vs. store emphasis

in the sluggish economy, it seems that marketers have still found one very responsive group — youth. seemingly unaffected by recent market conditions, teenagers still spend at a consistent level as they have in recent quarters, causing many retailers to rethink their product placement and advertising strategy.

what marketers have noted is that instead of focusing on the advertising of store names, retailers have instead turned their attention to individual brand marketing whose main selling point centers on finding celebrity designers to sponsor lines of clothing, accessories.

but wait, before the department stores began this, wasn’t there someone else already doing this? that’s right — target. i think on this point the department stores still have a long ways to go in learning from target, who rather than simply depending on the promotion of brands that were exclusive to them (mizrahi), focused also on the development of their most prominent — and sustainable — brand: themselves.

i think if anything, history has shown us the fickle nature of humans — particularly young adolescents. by focusing so heavily on brand marketing on such a niche level, i wonder if department stores will end up cannabilizing market and mind share (ultimately translated into those valued sales dollars) in the long run.

the recent move by target in-house designer to elsewhere perhaps illustrates this best. designers come and go but the store brand, and the loyalty it symbolizes, remains. this is the same challenge that department stores and household names like j.c. penney, sears, and the like will have to confront as well: how do you balance brand prominence with store brand management?

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New York Times Op-Ed Piece

China’s Loyal Youth is the title of this op-ed piece by former Beijing bureau chief for Time, Matt Forney. Here, he discusses the nationalism of the Chinese youth, who have been the largest beneficiaries of the policies implemented in recent years. According to his observations and studies he cites, Chinese youth are among the world’s most optimistic, still unjaded by the Chinese government’s corruptions and inefficiencies.

On the flip side, does this not represent a tremendous opportunity to sustain that optimism through gradual change? Does this same optimism and national sentiments not also fuel the very platform that may be necessary to bring together a nation that has long struggled with fragmentation?

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it is so sad when an event as significant as the torch relay has to be rerouted, stopped, hastened, and threatened because of the angry voices of people who do not even understand the issues of the causes they claim to be fighting for. respect the spirit of the olympics, respect the spirit of a united people, try to build bridges and constructive dialogue, and stop throwing around hurtful accusations that will only stand to spur the wrath of the people.

to the protestors who call for human rights, who call for respect, and who call for peace, is this what you call success? we stand here together not agreeing nor condemning the actions of the chinese government — people stand here today because they believe in the spirit of the olympics, a spirit that truly puts sports and unity before politics and differences. the flags you see being waved are those of joy, those of PEACE, not conflict.

to those who shout such angry words, what are those words going to accomplish? if anything, we should use this opportunity to engage in dialogue, to engage in trying to understand the root of these resentments, and to make people realize that this isn’t an argument about me vs. you, and not an issue that is purely black or white. Shouting “liar” persistently with closed ears will not accomplish any more than staying silent. In fact, it will only cause more anger to flare.

i am all for free speech and freedom of expression. but with this freedom, please do exercise it responsibly as well. think about the consequences of not only your actions, but those of your words.  here in the united states, we are a nation that emphasizes the power, the beauty, and the eloquence of action. action, however, is more than a mere verb — it is a responsibility that should be duly coupled with knowledge, due diligence, and an open mind.

one world, one dream.

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random thoughts

tomorrow the olympic torch will come to san francisco. tomorrow the most liberal city in the united states will play host to the dichotomy that is the symbolic and historic olympic torch relay, and the equally symbolic protests that will likely ensue. 

tomorrow i will take time off of work to be a part of this, to support the spirit of the olympics, a spirit that embraces the UNITY of humanity, and to rejoice in the triumphs that china — the country where my past lies, where my heritage stands — has made. however, i sincerely hope that the two groups can come together and begin to understand each other. to begin a TRUE dialogue rather than to spur the wrath of each group with empty fists and spiteful words.  

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You know — I’ve always liked the concept of blogs because it’s basically publication made easy for the masses. No matter who you are, you’re given the chance to just share your thoughts and views on just about … anything. With the plethora of sites like wordpress, blogger, xanga, livejournal, etc. now, it’s easier than ever.

What I’ve found to be most difficult, however, is actually sitting down and writing them. What motivates you to write them? I notice that my posts will start out rather consistently, and then slowly trickle down to a few here and there throughout the weeks. Hopefully, this blog won’t fall victim and be a part of the massive blog graveyard that’s floating around out there.

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