Failing Fast

In business school, one of my professors taught me something very important. He said that the difference between a winner and a loser… is that the loser hasn’t failed enough. Winning business owners, he says, seldom achieve success on the first try. I believe this to be true.

People always ask our founders how we manage innovation at Google. Newspapers and publications will print quotes and headlines like “top 10 things Google does to foster innovation”. The truth is, put quite simply: we have a very unique culture and DNA, one that has not existed before. To truly understand this, one has to actually live on the Google campus for some time. Read more

Business vs. Love Part 5

November 9, 2008 by  
Filed under God of Style, My Personal Life

You know the feeling.

Friend calls you up to go out, there’s an event at a bar. Same scene, same girls. You wonder if you should muster up the courage and energy to go out, or decide to stay in and make some progress on that website you have been trying to launch in the past 6 months.

Scenario 2 – you have been doing well at work lately – new job and new promotion. 2% salary raise. Yeh. You decide to go out more this week with your friends. You get a few number closes, but none of them return or pick up when you text/call. You wonder where your game has gone wrong, and after a while decide “fuck it” and focus on some other area in your life. Maybe you’ll muster up the anger or motivation to call up a few PU friends and ask for their advice, but ultimately, the game dynamics go back to you.

You go back to focus on work, but you realize that you are working your ass off for your company and they are making all of the money. The constant ass kissing and power maneuvers at work get to you. You decide to start your own company on the side. You do some research and work, but really have no idea where to start. You write a business plan.

A friend’s birthday comes up – you decide to go. You hit it off with this girl, and decide your game isn’t so bad after all. You go out a few more times over the next 2 weeks – some nights are good, some night are not. A lot of effort is being put into this and the results of lays is not showing.

If the above 5 paragraphs sound remotely familiar, that is because I have experienced it first hand. I have been writing these “Business vs. Love” posts for…. 1 year now!

It took a some simple advice from one group member, a Stanford PhD student at our MasterAlliance meeting to wake up me, “R, maybe there are just excuses? I mean, when I didn’t want to work out, I was throwing out the exact same reasoning as you. These are just excuses that stand in your way. Maybe I am wrong, but think about it.”

He’s right. The truth is, if it came down to it, I would choose love over money. Because love transcends material things, even this life, money is only a tool we use to trade things of perceived value in this world. But achieving both often means going after something the right way. You want to pickup a girl? Focus and learn from each set’s mistake. Don’t over analyze your sets, and focus on your skill set. Film yourself if you have to to see your flaws.

Waiting for that business plan? It is not going to write itself. Stop watching porn and if you are going to blow off your friends, make a commitment to finish 20% of that plan by the time you go to sleep. These are things that are definite and require energy, but the fact is sometimes this pain of exerting energy is better than the pain of mind-numbing and time passing that comes from doing a lot of things that are 1. half assed and 2. not significant anyway.

“With Scarcity comes Clarity” – Sergey said recently in the economic downturn, and this is another sage advice that I am lucky enough to see working at Google.

For Business or Love Part 4

September 22, 2008 by  
Filed under God of Style, My Personal Life

You guys know I had this challenge for a long time. Matador was able to shed some light onto this. Whenever I start writing a business plan, I go back to reading pickup material or rattling my brain over girls. Why? Life is so short. What is it all for in the end?

Matador, on day 1 of bootcamp:

“I was a loner. I didn’t think I needed anybody. I didn’t think I needed any friends. At the same time I had a very strong father, who was very disciplined and who I thought brought me up very well. I went to school, I studied computer science, I went to business school after that… and then I worked for some top tiered consulting firms that were internationally known. So I had a good career. I had my health, wealth fully intact by age 23. My first job was 30k a year and I built myself up. To be fair, I built up in the dot come boom so it was easier, but that’s where I started.

Over time, it got worse and worse, because I did focus on the relationship part of my life, and it started to suck to motivation out of me from even working harder, because what is it all for? Thoughts like that started creeping into my mind.

What did I do this for, dad? I’ve been cheated. Fuck you telling me to stay out of trouble of these years. I didn’t sign up for this! I was miserable. From 16-26 were the dark periods of my life. Not to get too personal, but I was a depressed person. 26, I started stumbling into this thing.

C&F worked a little, but it didn’t work …. I made millions of blunders, I did some stupid shit…

But man, I am going to make statements to you today and I can back it up 100 and fucking 10%. By understanding what I am about to teach you, which you will now get, you will get a night and day difference over these 3 days by believing that in the pure mastery of this WILL make you feel like you have superpowers. Do you guys believe that?

It is going to require CHANGES. It is going to require EVOLVING… I feel… AWARE. That is all I can promise you, a moment of awareness. (To go the rest of the way)

Why Business?

March 23, 2008 by  
Filed under God of Style, Learn about Making Money

“While we were in school, we took it for granted that everyone we knew was in one way or another ingrained in business. Entrepreneurship was our life and we lived it. When we graduated, it became clear that not everyone understands or even appreciates business or capitalism. If you think about it, we are already way ahead of the pack. Let’s start something together!

– these were my words to my good college buddies – a year after graduating from a top business school and adjusting to life in the real world. Today, 3 years later, one of them initiated another call after they found out I have been at Google for over a year.

Back in 2004, I was still a virgin and despite the opportunities provided to me by my female friends in college I was still a total AFC with women. Since then, I have made some decisions that has changed my life for the better. I quit my job in consulting and moved out here to California. As one IT founder put it when asked, “why do a startup on the west coast as compared to the east coast?”, he answered, “there are dreamers here in the Bay area. People don’t think you are so crazy. The VCs (Venture Capitalists) understand if an idea seems far-fetched but possible in the near future.” I did it for business reasons, but also partially for social reasons. In order to reinvent myself, I had to get away from the world I once knew.

Since this post is not about pickup, I wanted to talk about what I am about from a business perspective. While I am still an aspiring PUA, I feel like I actually have more depth and value to offer from what it means to live with “business” ingrained in your life and personality. So here goes:

Growing up, I was a very cute kid and people treated me, for the most part, very well. Dad’s job as a diplomat meant that we met a lot of important people and that every time we moved, the government took care of us. I was proud of him. There were a few instances where dad would get angry, and it was all work related. This had a big impact on me growing up. He had prestige, but the income wasn’t necessarily high. The government will take care of us, but there wasn’t enough money to safety retire until he was very old. I remember a few times where he got very angry at his work experience, especially his bosses. That’s one problem with the government. If you work for them, it is hard to switch jobs. Thus, dad has been a diplomat for our country his whole life. I respect him for his decision, but as a very young kid in high school I knew from watching him that I did not want to work for the government.

Naive as I was, salvation came from Mr. Thomas’s economics class in highschool. I found out that one of the key ideas of “capitalism” is that in order to make money, you must create a good or service that satisfied a person’s needs. Supply and Demand. Wow. A system that rewards someone for giving someone else what they want. How cool is that!?

This prompted me to apply to 3 business schools. I got into all 3. I picked Boston as my next adventure. God knows what would have happened to me if I went to Pepperdine in Malibu. In college I studied marketing, management information systems and entrepreneurship. Our school is well known for entrepreneurship, and our business professors were all one time entrepreneurs. This meant real world experience and stories from the people who made history themselves. I still remember my professors to this day – Jeannet, Lange, Kopp, Bliss, – entrepreneurs themselves who really had a huge influence on me.

Now during this time, despite being a business school, opportunities came my way to get laid. And I couldn’t recognize the signs. So as time went by, I sort of decided that I would focus on business, make a shitload of money and then get the girls. Little did I know how wrong I was. But there was an advantage to this: I was motivated to study business. I became really good at interviewing and “business talk”. I could think about a business from a strategic, marketing, IT, accounting and even international perspective. I still remember always being late for “international marketing” class.

One day, Professor Lange pulled me aside after class. The first thing out of my mouth was, “Professor, I am sorry I am always 5 minutes late, but I really enjoy this class!”.

“No, no”, he said, “I don’t have a problem with that”
I was confused… “Oh, ok, so… I am not in trouble?”
“R, I wanted to tell you something. Your comments in class about our business case studies: you have… a talent. Use it well. In the future, the battles will be fought in the boardroom, and one day you are going to be in that situation. The battles you fight will determine the fate of companies as well as the world you live in. Don’t forget that”.
I never did.

When I graduated I snagged a pretty cool opportunity with a well known management consulting firm, becoming a project manager at 20. I remember going to the first office party and not being old enough to drink. That was quite a story. I did not fully understand how much work there was in the consulting industry: I traveled for work a lot, and I got a lot of advice from the partners but also a lot of shit. Thinking back, I learned so much about so many businesses in consulting. However, the impact of my social life, health was quite severe and I made a very hard decision to quit my job and move to California.

It was a scary move. I was on a work visa, and my time was limited. My connections on the west coast were limited as best. But I rationalized to myself at that time that, the reason I spent 4 year studying business was that I believed that in business, if you were good, it did not matter who you worked for, your skills can be exchanged and bought on the open market system. As naive as that may be, perhaps through a self-fulfilling prophecy, that was and is what I truly believed. So when I moved out here, I landed an offer pretty quickly. I did not know too much about the whole Bay area start-up world, but I knew I wanted to learn more about it.

Being in a startup is a fun and scary experience. Emotions run deep. With less than 10 employees, you become family and even though “it is not personal, it is just business”, there is a very obvious personal relationship involved with the company and the founders. The first startup was acquired while it was beginning to lose momentum on new business. The 2nd was acquired for its healthy cashflow, but after the acquisition, management decisions surely and steadily took apart the division which I was a PM for.

After the 2nd startup was acquired and I was in shock for being laid off, I decided to work for a big company. Just to have the stability to figure out what I wanted to do next. I promised myself that if I EVER joined another startup, I would own equity in the business. When I landed the Google offer, I was actually not expecting it. My interviews were going so well that I had 4-5 offers on the table, some with even more money than Google was offering. However, the Google brand name and learning experience was undeniable. Career-wise, it was a smart move. At that time I was on top of my game. I had nothing to lose, and even though I was scared, the fear fueled my desire. I thought to myself, “I have been through 2 acquisitions and 3 job transitions at 22. I can find another job I want”. It was also at that time that my PUA skills improved the most. I picked up my last HB8 girlfriend at SF’s Matrix during that time as well.

Currently, my number one goal is to learn as much as I can about the online business as I can and about Google’s innovative products. This is not about the money, it is about the lessons I can learn that will help me in life. Watching our founders talk on Fridays is always a treat at TGIF. And I always make it a point to meet new Googlers, as many of them are fellow entrepreneurs. There are 2 types of employees at Google. 3, actually.

  • The first is the pre-IPO employees – many have retired or moved on, but the ones that have stayed enjoy their work. They do not have any obligation to anyone but the company and themselves, having already over millions/billions of dollars in net worth.
  • The second is the post-IPO but well accomplished and mostly wealthy hires, that come to Google for a challenge, for fame, and sometimes for the money. Employees are paid well and these people are looking for both money and status gains. Many acquisition employees fit into this category, and many acquisition founders are still here. This group loves working at Google, but at the same time is open to the idea of starting their own business or running something on the side. Many talk about it, some are already doing it.
  • The 3rd is the employee- employee – people who are perfectly happy being Googlers for the next 10 years. They get treated well, they enjoy the security and in their minds they are not superstars or entrepreneurs. They are just glad to have to prestige of working for a great company.

My goals for 2008 is to continue to learn in my career. I also want to become better at pickup, although this area of my life still needs a lot of work. I believe in being able to do both, and I suppose this is what my blog is all about. Business and Love success, all doing so in good health.