Seeking advice from Business Mentor

August 24, 2008 by Vince Lin  
Filed under My Personal Life

This Saturday, I had a 10am meeting with the previous founder and CEO of a startup I joined when I moved to the Bay area. He sold the company for a modest sum of millions, and has since retired in the peaceful and rich town of San Rafael (just north of San Francisco).

I had setup the meeting because I dreamed of him. My subconscious was trying to tell me something. Coincidentally, he also was looking for something, as he now no longer needs to work, and as Paul mentioned, the next level for him was to help others succeed, thus passing on the torch.

I made the 1.5 hour drive to Marin county, because I wanted to do this face to face. I wanted to see the man in person and have a heart to heart with him.

As I walked up to the door of his house and rang the doorbell, I looked up in the sky for a second and wondered, “What the fuck am I doing here?”

Paul opens the door, I haven’t seen him since we were acquired and things got political with the acquiring firm. His piecing gray eyes, his stature, his voice, it was all coming back to me now. Paul was very friendly, greeted me like a friend and sat me down. As he sat me down, he went on about how he thought I was looking for something, just as he was and asked me to ask him questions directly, although always controlling the frame. It was interesting, because it was like he already knew what was on my mind and was one step ahead of me every step of the way.

His insights hit hard, and it will take me years to understand everything he said. This I am sure of. Here are a few of the major points that I took down in my notebook:

  • When you are in a company, think of yourself as an “intra-preneur”. You feel trapped Richard? Why? Ok.
  • Try not to think of it as being “trapped”. Think of this as an opportunity. You are being PAID while LEARNING the skills you require to one day start your own business. Google is your oyster -take the time to learn how to company works and how it makes money and these lessons will make the time worthwhile.
  • While looking for other people, seek those made of the same “oak”. Some people get it, some people learn to understand it, and some people just don’t no matter how hard you try. My brother, for example, I wish he would understand, but he doesn’t.
  • See this as a longterm goal. A stepping stone. During your journey, you are going to go in circles, it is NEVER a straight line. However, as long as you have a vision of your final destination, eventually you can build and take the steps to get there.
  • You MasterMind Alliance is very important – people you can rely on ad advisors and who can assist you in your goals. Brain power from your advisors – example of the Client Advisory Board at our old firm. Find 3-4 positive people with good ideas, who you can trust. This can even be employees at Google! The important thing is that this is not a chat chat session to “COMPLAIN” about life or things. This is a session about ideas, positivity and sharing life challenges and finding solutions. It is important to find others with thesame mindset as you for this.
  • Within the company, while being an “intra-preneur”, you must figure out ways to make money for the company. This is your role, and you will learn in this role. It is also required as part of your journey to discover your own hidden talents and skills.
  • Let the detractors go. Envy, Anger and Vengeance are usually negative emotions. If you need to crush someone, then so be it, and do it with finality, but very rarely is this the case. [Paul gives an example where one guy at an old company was unable to work with him, and ultimately he went to his boss at the time and made an ultimatum and the other guy was fired]. Most importantly: those people whose minds are filled with this negative energy will be their own undoing. You need not alot resources or attention to people who envy you.
  • With Managers, I talked to Paul a little about my trouble with them. He agreed, and said, “Well, you are not good with managers, that is true”. Which hit hard, but now that we no longer work with him, this was really good advice!
  • With managers, reflect their goals and objectives and GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT. IF you give them what they want, eventually you will get what you want. You must give to receive. KEEP YOUR GOALS CLOSE TO YOURSELF. Projecting your goals on them will only detract you from your real goal.
  • They may be “higher” than you, but in your mind, you know the real score. This is just a stepping stone for your master plan. Once you take care of all of a manager’s asks, you have time to explore the technolgoy of your compan-y and do your own personal learning that way.
  • When staring out, use your own money. When you use your own money, you are in control and you do not have to give away any leverage in control. Retain control of your business by using your own capital (funny how this parallels to Machiavelli’s The Prince is using one’s own army to retain full control of your princedom).
  • R, You need to understand how management systems work, because one day you will be managing people and they will walk all over you if you do not have this skill mastered. What is the Google business model? Study it! Use this to your advantage
  • Execution is very important, and you must write down your goals, and then breakdown the SPECIFIC skills you need to learn in order to become successful at that business. The hiring. The specific way the ads work. How you can get clients. These are skills that may take years to learn, so start now by noticing these processes and ingraining them in your mind, unlike much of the rest of the population, just waiting for their next paycheck. You MUST put money and invest towards your goals, without this it is just a pipe dream.
  • Apply the 17 principals of success from Clement Stone, the first of which is a positive mental attiture. This is the start and most important of them all. There is also a level of Serendipity – more examples given of Paul’s personal life events.
  • See this as an opportunity:
  • 1) to get paid while you learn
  • 2) to learn to deal with difficult people
  • 3) to deal with managers and pleasing them
  • This is a good start. No one else can define your wealth for you. I remember asking a social worker a long time ago for help – I was in a bad place. He said, “Paul what do you want to do with your life”
  • I said, “I want to become a millionaire. You know what he said?”
  • The worker said, “Stop bullshitting! You must be more in tune with reality. Forget your pipe dreams”
  • I called him a few months later, and told him that he had a bad mental attitude and because of that he will never have the life he really wants.
  • If I said, “R, what do you want to be? A rockstar? And you said, ‘yes’, I would not make fun of you. I would cultivate it, IF YOU WERE SERIOUS. Great. How? What does it take to become a successful rockstar? You should study the music industry. Past rockstars. A band. The elements of making music, the process of producing music. How tours work. How one reaches celebrity status. The business of producing sounds tracks. The pricing structure of the music CDs and the different channels of revenue. The dynamics of a bank for success. the type of music… Do you see where I am going with this? With ANY goal in life, you must base on merit and take the time to learn the skills that are required to succeed in this role.” (I was starting to see how his mind was working)
  • It is the same with making millions and starting your own business. What type of business do you want to start? How do you get there? A nightclub? What are the specific skills and elements of success of a nightclub? How does it work?
  • Obtain the TOOLS OF THE TRADE. This may take years, but it is your foundation. A solid foundation, once built, is hard for failure to break.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Talked to me specifically about price margins for our previous business and how this was key in negotiations and retaining our profit margins in the startup. This knowledge took Paul may years to acquire.
  • The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron – suggested read – cultivating creativity in a spiritual way, by reaching your subsconcious into the conscious. Chronicles what happens in side your dreams.
  • Plain white paper: What is your goal? How to achieve it?
  • Column A: SKILLS I HAVE
  • Column B: SKILLS I NEED
  • Last but not least, make it FUN.
  • “Paul, this all sounds great, it just…. sounds, really hard…”
  • Why is it hard? Well, you need to make sacrifices to get to where you are, but these are not in vain. Also, is it really that hard? There are always things in life that will be hard. Try to enjoy the journey. Remember as a kid, building jigsaw puzzles? The beginning is tough. However, the process is fun when you know what the big picture is. Piece by piece, as you put it together, it all becomes clear. And although the first few pieces are difficult, isn’t it fun? Enjoy the journey, enjoy the challenges. The journey continues forever, and it never ends. Thus, see your challenges as as opportunity, and HAVE FUN!

His comments and insights will continue to guide me for many years to come, I am sure of it. This was something special. As I reflected on his words, I also realized how much of this applied to Pickup. All of a sudden, for a moment as I was driving back, I felt like I saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

The reason I chose entrepreneurship

August 22, 2008 by Vince Lin  
Filed under My Personal Life

I remember as a kid that dad was always angry. There were times he beat me, but he always did it in a disciplined way. When the beatings went down, I promised that I would one day become a dinosaur and come back and kick his ass. (I loved dinosaurs, still do) Funny thing was, after I said that he would laugh a little and the beating usually stops.

Thinking back on this in highschool, I realized that often times, dad was very stressed from work. Although we lived a seemingly lavish lifestyle moving from country to country, the truth of the diplomatic family is that most of them are not paid that well. They are paid fairly, and most expenses related to moving are sponsored by the government. As dad used to say, we have a lot of power, but not as much money in the government. As I got older dad become more mature, and we became better friends rather than a father-son relationship.

This was one of the big influences in my life, watching dad work in the government and slowly began to lead me to pursue the study of business as a way to escape the “bad government boss” with too much authority entrapment. In economics class with Mr. T in highschool, he always stressed supply and demand. “The market always adjusts”, he would say as a supply-side economist (slight bias there on his part). I began to believe in the power of the capitalistic system. A system built upon the idea that in order to garner wealth and power, you must provide a good or service that benefits and adds value to others. How cool is that!!?

To my slight disappointment, there are many flaws in the capitalistic system. However, these flaws all at some level go back to the core of the human vices. Greed. Vengeance. Abuse of Power. Vanity. To date, it is a better system to advancing our race given the nature of humans.

Why I am telling you this story? It happened such as long time ago. Well. Today I had my first taste of the micro manager. My head felt like it hurt from stress, and I realized that I have never felt this way before. It was an interesting feeling. Fear. The power struggle at work and the feeling of someone having control over your survival value. It is a very humbling, humiliating as well as scary feeling. The reason I got into business was that I believed in the value of the market and that a skilled person can always find employment. While this is true to some degree, there are other things that hold you back to a job as well. Including your savings, health benefits and overall career momentum.

Guys, I feel… defeated. However, in my misery I promised myself one thing: that one day I would become rich enough to not have to bow down to a manager at company. I never, ever want to feel like this again if I can have the power to change it.

Here is a scene from a cool move “Wanted”. This scene happens after Wes meets the fraternity, and is told that he has inherited his father’s fortune and that he was meant for more than to be just a “sheep”. His best friend is fucking his girlfriend, and his life is a mess.

Dealing with negative emotions

August 14, 2008 by Vince Lin  
Filed under My Personal Life

In reading my more recent posts, I have come to discover that my life has take a slight detour for the more emotional roller coaster ride. This is due to a few reasons:

1. Due to the nature of my work, I cannot discuss the drama that is unfolding at my job.

2. In my search for “targets”, my success rate have been relatively low compared to my previous tenure in San Francisco.

3. In this city of mine, many families live here. I feel slow. I miss the adventure of the city and I realized that in order to motivate myself, I must go AGAINST the rhythm and flow of this town.

These factors, together have contributed to my examination of myself and my own negative emotions. I believe that Envy, Hate and Anger and all essentially bad emotions to have, with the exception of righteous anger. I have never wished misfortune on others, however I have wanted what others have, and perhaps this can be classified an Envy. To wish ill upon your enemies, I have never felt this way until I have been betrayed and thrown under the bus at work by a former manager who I considered a friend.

I decided to post this event so that others can see not only the highs and lows of my journey. It is not all fun and games – there is suffering, sorry guys :) But I think in times of misfortune or suffering, one learns to pick himself up, and some other hidden part of your character is unveiled. For example, I have learned that I can channel my anger into productivity in starting my own businesses. The drive of never feeling the emotion burden of someone who dislikes you have financial and managerial power over you is a strong motivator to do much good. Without going into much more detail of the exact events of my misfortunes, here are the emotions I have felt over the past 2 months:

Anger is an emotional state that may range from minor irritation to intense rage. The physical effects of anger include increased heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline.[1] Some view anger as part of the fight or flight brain response to the perceived threat of pain.[2] Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively and physiologically when a person makes the conscious choice to take action to immediately stop the threatening behavior of another outside force.[3]

Hatred or hate is a word that describes intense feelings of dislike. It can be used in a wide variety of contexts, from hatred of inanimate objects to hatred of other people.

Philosophers have offered many influential definitions of hatred. Rene Descartes viewed hate as an awareness that something is bad, combined with an urge to withdraw from it. Baruch Spinoza defined hate as a type of pain that is due to an external cause. Aristotle viewed hate as a desire for the annihilation of an object that is incurable by time. Finally, David Hume believed that hate is an irreducible feeling that is not definable at all.[1]

In psychology, Sigmund Freud defined hate as an ego state that wishes to destroy the source of its unhappiness[2]. In a more contemporary definition, the Penguin Dictionary of Psychology defines hate as a “deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person, group, or object.”[3] Because hatred is believed to be long-lasting, many psychologists consider it to be more of an attitude or disposition than a (temporary) emotional state (see rage).

Envy (also called invidiousness) may be defined as an emotion that “occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it.”[1]

It can also derive from a sense of low self-esteem that results from an upward social comparison threatening a person’s self image: another person has something that the envier considers to be important to have. If the other person is perceived to be similar to the envier, the aroused envy will be particularly intense, because it signals to the envier that it just as well could have been him or her who had the desired object.[2][3]

Bertrand Russell said envy was one of the most potent causes of unhappiness.[4] It is a universal and most unfortunate aspect of human nature because not only is the envious person rendered unhappy by his envy, but also wishes to inflict misfortune on others.

Nothing To Lose

August 1, 2008 by Vince Lin  
Filed under My Personal Life

You guys might be wondering why I am posting this. Whenever I feel despair or a challenge in life, I go back into my diary entries to find myself. This was the entry in 2006, the last one before I started on a trajectory in landing 5 offers and finally my Google offer. At this particular moment, I had been laid off my 2nd startup (post acquisition), I was basically jobless, living in an expensive San Francisco apartment and figuring out what to do with the rest of my life.

There’s something there that sparked motivation in me, and I wanted to recapture the moment. Read on!

-AW

“December 29, 2006

I got a call from mom and dad today, telling me about their insightful conversation with …. I have been locked in my room all day and I didn’t really get that much work done. Anyways, this prompted me to go out to the store to get dinner, as well as start figuring out what it is to get my motivation back on track.

Here are the 8 keys to cultivating motivation from Steve Polina:

1. Burn the ships.

I’m not going to pull any punches with this one. If your goals are really important enough to you, then you can start by burning the proverbial ships, such that you have no choice but to press on. For instance, if you want to launch your own business, you can begin by making the commitment to quitting your job. Write a letter of resignation, put it in a stamped envelope addressed to your boss, and give it to a trusted friend with firm instructions to mail the letter if you haven’t quit your job by a certain date.

One Las Vegas casino manager made the decision to quit smoking. He didn’t feel he had the personal willpower to do it alone, so he took out a billboard on the Las Vegas Strip with his photo on it along with the words, “If you catch me smoking, I’ll pay you $100,000!” Was he able to quit smoking? You bet! (Ok, bad pun.) This is called willpower leveraging. You use a small bit of willpower to establish a consequence that will virtually compel you to keep your commitment. As Andrew Carnegie once said, “Put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket!”

In the classic book The Art of War, Sun Tzu notes that soldiers fight the most ferociously when they believe they’re fighting to the death. A good general knows that when attacking an opposing force, it’s important to create the illusion of a potential escape route for the enemy, so they won’t fight as hard. What escape routes are you keeping open that are causing you not to fight as hard?

If you don’t burn those ships, you are sending the message to your subconscious mind that it’s ok to quit. And when the going gets tough, as it inevitably does for any worthwhile goal, you will quit. If you really want to achieve your goals, then you’ve got to burn those ships to the ground, and scatter the ashes. If you’re thinking that the average person won’t do this, you’re right — that’s why they’re average.

Since I was laid off from XXX, I really don’t have a choice in this matter. I have to start sending applications more consistently and not watch movies in between interviews. This is an on going process. Fuck you pay attention and FOCUS.

2. Fill your environment with desire boosters.

Let’s say one of your important goals is to lose weight. Get some poster board, and make your own posters that say, “I weigh X pounds,” where X is your goal weight, and put them up around your house. Change your screensaver to a text message that says the same thing (or to some equally motivational imagery). Get some magazines, cut out pictures of people who have bodies similar to what you’d like to have, and put them up around your house. Cut out pictures of healthy food that looks good to you, and post those around your kitchen. If you work in an office, then alter your office in the same manner. Don’t worry about what your coworkers will think, and just do it! They may poke a little fun at you at first, but they’ll also begin to see how committed you are.

3. Surround yourself with positive people.

Make friends with people who will encourage you on the path to your goals, and find ways to spend more time with them. Share your goals only with people who will support you, not those who will respond with cynicism or indifference. If you want to lose weight, for instance, get yourself into a gym, and start befriending those who are already in great shape. You’ll find that their attitudes become infectious, and you’ll start believing that you can do it too. Meeting people who’ve lost one hundred pounds or more can be extremely motivating. If you want to start a new business, join the local chamber of commerce or a trade association. Do whatever it takes to make new friends who will help you keep your commitment.

Although this can be difficult for some people, you also need to fire the negative people from your life. I once read that you can see your future just by looking at the six people with whom you spend the most time. If you don’t like what you see, then change those people. There’s no honor in remaining loyal to people who expect you to fail. One of the reasons people fail to start their own businesses, for instance, is that they spend most of their time associating with other employees. The way out of this trap is to start spending a lot more time associating with business owners, such as by joining a trade association. Mindsets are contagious. So spend your time with people whose mindsets are worth catching.

There are a lot of negative people in my life that I had gotten rid of. However, not meeting new people at work made me realize that when I am by myself, although I feel comforting I also feel bored. Being bored is a really bad feeling. Also, I have been sick for the past couple of days, that may feed into my inability to go out and perhaps my dark mood isn’t helping my health either.

4. Feed your mind with empowering information on a daily basis.

Inspirational books and audio programs are one of the best fuel sources for cultivating desire. If you want to quit smoking, read a dozen books written by ex-smokers on how to quit the habit. If you want to start a business, then start devouring business books. Go to seminars on occasion. I advise that you feed your mind with some form of motivational material (books, articles, audio programs) for at least fifteen minutes a day. This will continually recharge your batteries and keep your desire impenetrably strong.

When you absorb material created by an extremely passionate person, you’ll often find yourself feeling more passionate as well. A great book I read was Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. As I read the book, I was absolutely amazed at how someone could be so fanatically enthusiastic about coffee. Other enthusiasm-building authors/speakers I highly recommend are Harvey Mackay and Zig Ziglar.

5. Replace sources of negative energy with positive energy.

Take an inventory of all the sensory inputs into your life that affect your attitude — what you read, what you watch on TV, the cleanliness of your home, etc. Note which inputs influence you negatively, and strive to replace them with positive inputs. I’ll give you some good places to start. First, avoid watching TV news — it’s overwhelmingly negative. Do you really need to hear about the woman who was mauled to death by her neighbor’s dog? Fill that time with positive inputs instead, like motivational and educational audio programs. If you like to watch movies, then watch movies that are full of positive energy, such as light-hearted comedies and stories of triumph over adversity. Avoid dark, tragic movies that leave you feeling empty afterwards. Dump the horror books, and replace them with humor books. Spend more time laughing and less time worrying. If you have a messy desk, clean it up! If you have young kids or grandkids, spend some time playing with them. Some of this may sound a bit corny, but it will really help increase your overall motivation. If you have a hard time motivating yourself, chances are that your life is overflowing with too many sources of negativity. It’s far better to happily achieve than it is to feel you must achieve in order to be happy.

6. Dress for success.

Whenever you pass by a mirror, which is probably several times a day, you get an instant dose of image reinforcement. So what image are you currently reinforcing? Would you dress any differently if your goals were already achieved? Would you sport a different hairstyle? Would you shower a bit more often?

Although for years I enjoyed the ripped jeans and T-shirt look, I noted that when I visualized myself in the future, having achieved certain goals, I was dressed a lot more nicely. With some experimentation I found a style of clothing that looks professional and is also comfortable. So I gradually donated my old clothes to charity and replaced my wardrobe with clothes that fit the new identity I was growing into. (Consequently, there’s a Salvation Army store with quite a stock of gaming industry T-shirts.) I learned this idea from an ex-Navy Seal, who stressed to me the importance of taking pride in your appearance, and I can say with certainty that it makes a noticeable difference. So make sure the clothes you wear each day are consistent with your new self-image.

Appearance matters. Look your best, always.

7. Use mental programming.

This is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique that will help you associate strong positive emotions to whatever goal you’re working to achieve. Find some music that really energizes and inspires you. Put on your headphones and listen to it for fifteen to twenty minutes, and as you do this, form a clear mental picture of yourself having already achieved the results you want. Make your imagery big, bright, vivid, colorful, three-dimensional, panoramic, and animated. Picture the scene as if looking through your own eyes (this is very important). This will help you form a neuro-association between the positive emotions elicited by the music and the goal you want to achieve, thus strengthening your desire. This is a great way to begin each day, and you can even do it while lying in bed when you first awaken if you set things up the night before. You should cycle the music periodically, since the emotional charge you get will tend to diminish if you listen to the same songs each time.

Keep in mind that this form of mental programming is already being used on you by advertisers. Watch a fast-food TV commercial, and you’ll note that the food is big, bright, and animated — spinning burgers, lettuce flying through a splash of water, ripe tomatoes being sliced — and don’t forget the catchy tune. So instead of letting others program your desires for you, take charge and mentally reprogram yourself.

8. Take immediate action.

Once you set a goal for yourself, act immediately. As you begin working on a fresh new goal, don’t worry so much about making detailed long-term plans. Too often people get stuck in the state of analysis paralysis and never reach the action stage. You can develop your plan later, but get moving first. Just identify the very first physical action you need to take, and then do it. For instance, if you’ve decided to lose weight, go straight to your refrigerator, and throw out all the junk food. Don’t think about it. Don’t ponder the consequences. Just do it immediately.

One of the secrets to success is recognizing that motivation follows action. The momentum of continuous action fuels motivation, while procrastination kills motivation. So act boldly, as if it’s impossible to fail. If you keep adding fuel to your desire, you will reach the point of knowing that you’ll never quit, and ultimate success will be nothing more than a matter of time.

If you apply these eight strategies, you’ll add so much fuel to your desire that the fire will never burn out. You’ll move towards your goals like a guided missile to its target, and you’ll enjoy the process because you’ll be so focused on the positive rewards instead of the difficulty of the tasks. If you get enough positive energy flowing into you, you’ll soon have positive results flowing out of you. And you’ll quickly become the kind of person that others refer to as “driven.”

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

July 31, 2008 by Vince Lin  
Filed under My Personal Life

Dale Carnegie wrote a book by this exact name many years ago in the 1940′s. And it is in this book and in its philosophies that I have learned from recently. When you worry, people tend to worry about their confusion and fears. And as we know, imagination is powerful, both in good and bad ways. In process for dealing with worrying is as follows:

1. What are you worried about? Analyze the situation fearlessly and honestly and figure out what was the worst that could happen as a result of this failure/situation

2. After figuring out what was the worst that could possibly happen, I reconciled myself to accepting it.

3. From that time on, I calmly devoted my time and energy to trying to improve upon the worst which I had already accepted mentally.

In this succession, I reduced my headaches and heart rate as it relates to work. Hopefully, I can have a good night of sleep tonight.

We stay connected these days via the phone, but in all honestly, physical intimacy with friends is the closest thing there is to our tribal roots. I realized this as I was getting support from my friends, but via phone. I wish people would meet face to face more often. Eventually, I want to be in my own company that allows me to meet with people daily and interact with them in a positive way. I believe that is one of the keys to me fulfilling the potential in my life.

I debated whether or not to post this on my blog, as not everything is always rosy and shiny. The reason I decided to post this is so that, one day, when I reach my own desired level of success, people can look back and say, “Wow, AW felt the same way back then, and here are the tools he employed to move and and ascend his current predicament”.

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