Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Step Forward

This weekend I did something that I have never done before, I joined a 52-hr (which turned out to be less demanding than it seemed) start-up competition in Chicago called LeanStartupMachine. The event was geared towards the entrepreneurship community in Chicago and was advertised through the Kellogg community through the Entrepreneurship Club newsletter. I knew this event would be one of those opportunities for me to meet interesting/entrepreneurial people outside of the business school sphere and possibly learn bits and pieces from working with individuals with a designer or developer background.

Attending an event like this might not seem that much of a big deal to many of my readers. However, it was quite a substantial step for me. I have been liking the idea of joining a startup for awhile but never took the first step to try start something. I came to Kellogg with the expectation that I can meet people with exciting ideas and possibly dive into some entrepreneurial activities quickly. Although Kellogg provides excellent resource for this to happen, for someone without a particular idea in mind, it wasn't that easy. I grew anxious about what I should do about my desire to do something in this space and then I saw this event. I took a step forward. Joining this event and emerging myself in a short but intense startup experience is really my first taste of the whole startup thing, and I honestly did not know what to expect.

The details about event has been documented pretty well by my team leader Obie Fernandaz's live blogpost . The cuban descent developer/entrepreneur who had led a successful career in the web design field pitched an idea which he was passionate about, got a team together (including me who was intrigued by his idea) and started the process. The team was composed of an eccentric group of individuals. Me and another Kellogg student were the traditional "business" folks, and then we had two guys from Sears holdings who were both involved in the eCommerce division and were quite familiar with the product development process. Then there was your stereotypical geeky developer and a girl with consulting/banking background who wanted to become entrepreneurs.

It is probably good to mention that the LeanStartupMachine event is a testing ground for trying out the Lean Startup model which has been pioneered by Haas lecturer Steve Blank. The whole idea is about fast cycle of customer development, changing your assumptions and pivoting your product before actually building something in full-blown fashion. It's about getting close to the customers early through your prototyping phase and constantly modifying your prototype. I thought the idea was quite relevant for early stage startups but probably wouldn't be able to create the next revolutionary product such as the Ipod.

Given the scope of the project, we followed the steps of the LeanStartup principles and constructed our working days around conducting customer surveys, testing our assumptions and pivoting our ideas going forward. It wasn't so much of building the site out, in fact, we only built a landing page so far. But the customer development process, although at times painful and unclear, have led us to focus on the most important aspects of the project. And this first hand experience of struggling through the first stage of starting up an idea was well worth my precious weekend time.

I think I will summarize some of the lessons learned tomorrow after we do our 9min presentation. As much as I don't believe this idea will turn into anything fruitful in the future, I am excited to see what we can come up with as MVP (minimal viable product) and what other teams have done.

Lessons learned:

Monday, October 18, 2010

the Social Network, Startups among other things

I watched "the Social Network", the Facebook movie, two weeks ago. It was a movie of particular interests to our generation because so many of us are hopelessly addicted to Facebook, especially since coming back to b-school. In addition, one of the characters, Divya Narendra (the partner of the Winklevoss brothers), is currently a JD/MBA student here at Kellogg. You can read an interview of him regarding this movie here.

The movie was executed beautifully and funny at the same time. It triggered a lot of discussion afterwards among my friends about how to successfully assemble a team to execute an idea. To me the biggest lesson learned was that it was crucial for a start-up team to have a trusted developer who has vested interest in the product and company. It is true that during the product development stage, you desperately need developer talent and sometimes you just don't have that talent in your circle. That's why you hire outside help, and unfortunately that put you in the risk of hiring the next Zuckerberg. You can certainly have them sign legal document, but as a starving entrepreneur, you probably don't really have the money and time to protect your idea with a wall of legal documents.

One of the recent trends that I have seen startups do (especially startups coming out of business school) is that they outsource development work to India and maintain "long distance relationship" throughout the product development and even post product launch period. I consider this even a worse idea than hiring outside developers, especially for products that are targeted for the US market. Just talk to anyone who have experience working with outsourced companies, then you will know why.

The bottom line is, developers are crucial for tech start-ups. They are the one that hold the biggest "added value" (what you bring to the table), to use the jargon I just learned in business strategy class. And rapid turn-around and proto typing is key (hence, outsourcing to India doesn't work).

One solution to this developer power problem is actually at the source of the idea. Use Divya Narendra as an example, the idea of Harvard Connection was copied because it was a replicable and simple idea. You only really need one good developer to copy an idea like Harvard Connection. Divya's latest venture, SumZero, is an online platform for hedge fund, mutual fund and private equity analysts to share propriety information. And that, is something that requires domain knowledge, and something that is hard to copy. It serves a smaller community and has a niche market. Therefore, the developer next door who is a computer geek probably would not really be interested in copying this site. I would say Divya had really applied his lesson learned from the failure of Harvard Connection.

On the topic of protecting your ideas. I also want to share another school of thought. We just had a guest speaker for my Operations class today. Sunil Hirani, the founder of Creditex (acquired by ICE for over $500 million) spoke to us about Process Innovation and Entrepreneurship. What I took away from his talk is that ideas are best shared. In reality, once you talked to the first customer, your idea is out anyway, so you might as well talk to as many people as possible, to hopefully 1) attract the best people to your team; 2) to refine your idea. I am definitely a strong supporter of idea sharing. After all, most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that "execution is more important than ideas". But I think what I said about "easily replicable ideas" vs. "niche ideas" still hold true here. In the end, Mr. Hirani's venture is a financial service company rather than another social network site.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Back to Blogging

Sorry I ate my own words when I posted in my last post 5 months ago about being more motivated to blog....The reality was, I was too occupied with life disconnected with the real world during the summer and life became insanely busy the moment I landed back in America. I went on KWEST, met many people during CIM, found friends and non-friends in my section, transferred to the MMM program, had my first class at Kellogg, had my first final exam soon after, applied for a bunch of student positions, went to millions of study group meetings, got myself involved in too many things and found little personal time to even video chat with my fiance.

Yet, I decided to start blogging.

I am not sure how I am going to shape this blog. But I realized that I desperately need to take time out of the swirl of business school and reflect on life. It is the only way that you can escape the infamous "Kellogg atrium effect" and chart your own course in the right direction.

I don't know if people still read this blog, but I hope my reflection will also give you a glimpse of what life is like at Kellogg, albeit it's just from one person's perspective.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

BoB Awards

I was genuinely surprised this morning when I saw the ClearAdmit tweet about the winners of their annual Best of Blogging Contest. I won? really? seriously? I felt a little embarrassed since I haven't posted anything since early April...not to mention all the wonderful blogs out there in the MBA blogsphere. I admire the focused content of MadBubbles, the sleek design of a beautiful mind, the extremely informative blog of Hari's. How on earth did I win among all those dedicated and talented bloggers~

Interestingly, my post "Don’t Let [the B-School] Application Defeat/Define You" won the best single post. I think for many reasons, this message really resonated with us MBA applicants and probably won me the BoB award in the end. So thank you all for reading my humble post (and voting for me). I am just glad that some folks took it to heart because I really believe that neither the application process nor the result define who we are.

I think getting this award is a really good thing. It gave me the extra motivation to keep blogging at just the right time. As life becomes tedious again with all the moving to school preparation, I needed the extra push to produce meaningful posts. And this award gives me just that :)

So congrats to all the bloggers! and a big shout out to Orlando, a fellow Kellogger (do they actually call it that? I will find out this fall I guess~ ) who won the student blogging award and whose blog is of top, top quality. Also, if you haven't noticed, there is quite a large number of Kellogg bloggers on the list, which, in some way, demonstrated the Kellogg community/sharing culture. Or, as my friend puts it, we are just a chatty bunch :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kellogg Class of 2012

I am happy to announce that it's official that I am going to be a member of the Kellogg Class of 2012! It's been a long journey and I feel so lucky and thankful to be able to make it in this competitive application season and become a member of this great school. Evanston here I come!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Somewhere in between

I haven't posted much this month. What happened? Hum, it seems that time just flied by when you don't have all the business school applications worries. Although I did receive a rejection sometime in between, but after all these months, I have developed high immunity for rejections, so I smiled and moved on. Also, sometime in the past month, I bought my ticket to go home, submitted my letter of resignation, and had a panic reaction about all the stuff I need to sell and pack-up before quitting and heading home in June. I can't believe my So-Cal life is coming to an end in two months.

Yet I look forward to this summer. Dealing with visa stuff will not be fun, but having my boyfriend coming to visit for the first time will surely be an exciting experience. Plus, I will be helping my mom develop and expand her business. This woman is the inspiration of my life. She courageously started a totally unrelated second career after she retired and she is the most energetic 60 year old lady I've ever seen. After spending less than 3 months total at home for the past 8 years. I am glad I will have full two months with my parents before my new chapter in life.

So here I am, somewhere in between my soon-ending chapter in So-Cal and my new exciting 2 year bschool adventure, with so much to do yet so much to expect and dream about.

Dare I say that I am still waiting for R2 results...this extremely long journey is finally coming to the more week to go till I can tell people "yes, this is where I be going for sure!". :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

don't let bschool application define/defeat you

As R2 results slowly rolled out for various schools, the blogsphere/online forums became active again. For some, it was a triumphant finish. For others, it was the land of nowhere.

This post is dedicated to those who unfortunately did not make it this application season, especially those who I've personally interacted with.

It was heart-breaking even for a bystander to see these individuals pouring their heart and soul into bschool applications, as well as two years of precious time, and ended up with nothing but disappointing emails from their dream schools. As a fellow applicant, it was also my worst nightmare that I had once imaging myself going through. It's definitely a low point in life.

Then again, among the large pool of applicants this year, there were those resilient re-applicants, who got up where they fell and charged forward with such determination that one can only admire. Many of those re-applicants succeeded in their 2nd or 3rd try because their applications got better, or simply, because they persisted.

I have always believed that the key to success is about having the right attitude, which includes an unshakable confidence and a real humble heart. I fully understand that rejections from our dream schools can be so crushing, that we feel desperate, insignificant and incompetent. But the truth is, there is so much to you than four essays and a simple five page application! So friends, please don't let bschool application define or defeat you. The future is still bright, as long as you are up for it!

I feel like I have a lot more to say but don't know exactly how to say it. So I am just here, to show my support, as a fellow applicant.

I hope five years down the road, you can look back at this episode of your life with a big smile.

Friday, March 5, 2010

DAK Recap Series #2 - The Admits

The Admits

Another purpose of admits weekend is to meet the other admits and basically see if you connect with your future classmates. However, I don't think DAK was designed well for that. It might be different for those who were able to attend some of the Thursday night social events, but for the majority of people who attended only Friday and Saturday full day events, the schedule was extremely packed with talks after talks. We had a little scavenger hunt activity on Saturday but it was cut short due to my section's never ending Q&A with the section leaders (which was not at all bad~). From my conversation with several admits who also went to other schools' admits weekend, it seemed that certain schools have more free time for socializing or just admits bonding activities. I am not sure if everyone wants more time to bond with other admits (some of whom will not be your classmates anyway...), but I certainly can appreciate some more time to do that. Our scavenger hunt was surely fun! Here is a picture of how we spelled out Kellogg in the atrium :)

Our Scavenger hunt team

The bustling hallway

Admits listening to presentations

One thing I want to emphasize is that you do have plenty of time outside of the regular day-time activities to interact with people. We had a dinner, a closing reception, as well as pub time and club time. Unfortunately my energy level deteriorated with the lack of sleep and the fully packed day time activity. I was barely functioning during pub time on Friday and didn't even make it to the club on Saturday. So ya, can't comment too much on that I suppose :)

TG = "Thank God it's Friday"
@ the Keg
a dive bar which apparently is Kellogg students' hang out hot spot

So overall, I think I was able to talk to some 20-30 admits and really built a connection with about 6-8 of them? Which was not too bad. After-all, I am more into building meaningful connections than meeting as many people as possible. My overall impression of the admits is in line with the students, maybe a little shy and more low-key, but then again, I didn't make it to the club.

P.S It seems that half of the admits were set on Kellogg and half were still comparing schools. The most admits I encountered were deciding between Kellogg and Wharton or Kellogg and Berkeley. Also there were quite a few international folks who made all the way from Europe, Latin America and Asia to Evanston for the weekend. Kudos to them!

Next post: DAK - the MBA program

DAK Recap Series #1 - The Kellogg Culture

I finally completed my HBS interview, which turned out to be more conversational than a grilling one. Now as I wait for the final result which is entirely out of my control (and any last minute interview invites from Haas or Stanford), I can finally sit down and write this long over-due post on my DAK experience, which happened almost one month ago.

I don't want to recall every single event happened at DAK so I will just make a simple list at the end of this series of posts showcasing what DAK offers. I will focus my post on some key takeaways and my overall impression of Kellogg through the experience. I am also dividing it into several posts so it's not in a super long post. :)

The Kellogg Culture

I think the best part of any admit weekend is that you really get a sense of what the students are like and have a taste of the culture. Although at DAK, you don't have that much socializing time due to the packed schedule, you do get a sense of what Kellogg is about. Two things stood out to me: the student-run culture and the down-to-earth students.

DAK is a entirely student-run event, and I have to give a thumbs up for the DAK team's organization and execution. Given the 300 something students and significant others, there were definitely possibilities for some chaotic moment, but I didn't really experience any. Every time I stepped out of room, there were always some students in the hallway with the DAK shirts, directing people where to go. From KPW to DAK, everyone I met at Kellogg was easy-going and genuine. Sure, there were a few that I probably wouldn't become close friends with due to certain personality differences, but I have yet to meet an arrogant or bad-attitude Kellogg student, which says a lot in the MBA world.

What I really loved about DAK was my section leaders. The admitted students were divided into sections named in a similar way as the real Kellogg sections. Mine was called "Jugheads" which was the junior name for "Bucketheads", go figure. Each section had 5-6 section leaders who were current students, both 1st and 2nd years and they pretty much ran the break out sessions and answered any questions we had. My section leaders were a group of really down-to-earth, fun-loving folks who were very honest in answering our endless questions and went out of their ways to help us. I felt very comfortable around these folks and could see really see myself being apart of the community.

My Awesome Section Leaders

The very pretty Kellogg glass

The not so impressive DAK sign outside of Jacobs :P
Next Post: DAK - the Admits

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Haas oh Haas~

It's been very quiet on Haas front~ Super Saturday is coming fast~ and I still haven't got that coveted interview invite. I kept going back to my folder and read and re-read my Haas application. The fact is, I still love every word of it. Ok, maybe not every word, but it's certainly one of my strongest applications. So I keep being optimistic as I wait, although the time is running out...

To those still waiting patiently for Haas invite out there, best of luck to all of us!

p.s DAK post will be coming soon~ just need to focus on HBS interview prep right now~

Sunday, February 14, 2010

HBS interview invite

Last Friday, HBS released about 800 interview invites to R2 applicants. I was lucky enough to get one of them. Since I was attending DAK at Kellogg, I was perfectly distracted from worrying about the invite. In addition, after R1, I was more realistic about my expectations and was psychologically prepared to not get an invite from HBS. So when I signed into the Kellogg wifi with my admit account(I thought that was a nice touch for Kellogg), and saw that invite sitting in my email, I was pleasantly surprised.

I felt honored to be selected by HBS to move on to the next stage in this almost cruel admission process. At the same time, I plan to continue staying humble and grounded, because I know there are so many applicants out there with amazing achievements, great aspirations and big hearts who didn't make it this time. And I am by no means better than them.

I also want to continue through the process with a realistic expectation. After-all, about half of all interviewed applicants don't make it in the end. Most applicants do well in interviews and a lot of time it will come down to factors outside of our control at this point. Therefore, all I aim to do is to try my best at the interview and be ok with whatever the final result would be.

btw, I had a great time at DAK. It was exhuasting but extremely informational and very fun. I will write a detailed post later this week with pictures!

Hope you had a great valentine's day or/and Chinese New Year! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DAK here I come!

I thought I would have plenty of time to write blogs once application season finished. Reality proved otherwise. In between work, social events, running, snowboarding, cooking and volunteering, I somehow ended up with no time to write a decent blog entry! Just imagine how hectic life can be in b-school! Hopefully I can keep up with blogging then!

Another reason I haven't written many entries lately is because I am experiencing a little bit of a writer's block. I have been writing basically just about anything that came to mind. As much as I like reflecting on my random thoughts, I also want to improve the quality of my post and have a more defined focus. It's just that I haven't found it yet.

So in the meantime, please allow me to ramble on~ (as you can see this entry has already deviated far from the title...)

I am meeting a group of Gmatcluber tonight and will be leaving for Kellogg to attend DAK with bf tomorrow. I have been bombarded with emails from DAK section leaders and Kellogg student club leaders about all sorts of social gatherings during the weekend. Looks like the weekend is shaping up pretty well! The real challenge of this weekend to me is the weather. Living in soCal, you don't experience canceled flight or road block due to bad weather that often. I am renting a car due to the location of my hotel and it will be interesting how that would pan out...thanks Jeremy and Orlando for the weather/driving advice btw.

As far as DAK goes, I am really looking forward to it. During KPW, I had a great time, and that was when I was still an applicant :) This time, I will bring a camera, take lots of pictures and report back with details! Until next week, ciao!

p.s. I know I promised to write an entry about interviews. After thinking more about it though, I realized that I need more time to really come up with content with real values without repeating myself or information you can find elsewhere online. So I am going to wait on that.

(picture courtesy of Kellogg website)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The forever Mac and PC debate

image taken from

My poll on "Mac vs. Pc" has been interesting during the past days. The competition started out neck to neck in the first few days, occasionally one took a 1 vote lead, but the other always quickly caught up. Yesterday, Mac was leading by a solid 3 votes and seemed to be eying for the triumphant finish. But guess what, it's back to 50:50 again!

I am actually very interested in your opinion on this. Is a MacBook or a PC laptop better for b-school students? Let me give you a little bit of background. I am long overdue for a laptop. My current HP pavilion is 7 years old. The hard-drive had been swapped out and so was the powerjac. It runs as slow as surfing online on a dail-up. And some of the side buttons haven't been working for long time. As a long time PC user, I am ready for something new, refreshing, reliable and fast. The main problem I have with PC is the windows system. It runs super fast when it's new, but the speed usually drops pretty significantly once you start using it for awhile and run more programs. Recently my two year old windows mobile system on my cell phone started acting up strangely, and I don't even surf the web or use any programs other than sending text messages on my cell phone!

Of course I see the upside of buying a PC for b-school. With all the excel and statistics programs that we are supposed to use in b-school, PC is probably a better choice for compatibility reason. Plus I do have a tiny bit of knowledge about how to troubleshoot a PC gone haywire~ (although sometimes that becomes the problem...).

But MacBook is so tempting! From what I heard, it's just a superior operating system, in addition to all the "cool" features that come with it. I can see myself picking up making video projects in school if I have a MacBook. After all, having a "fun" machine might just take away a little bit of the boringness navigating through spreadsheets :)

And then there is the price difference. I have been used to using large screens and am a little hesitant about a 13" MacBook. The 15" MacBook though, drives the price gap bigger between my two options.

So what's your opinion? I would love to hear from a converted Mac user about their first-hand experiences comparing the two operating systems. I am more concerned about mid to long-term performance. Given that I will be broke after bschool, I am not looking to buy another laptop anytime soon after this purchase! Thanks in advance guys! :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

More waiting on MIT ~

After an unproductive day constantly staring at my phone, I opened up the MIT online application expecting to see a rejection letter~ turned out I was deferred to R2 for decision. I know this happened to some R1 applicants without interview, so now it's my time to join the club.

I am a little disappointed I guess. I haven't got a chance to visit MIT when school was in session and sit in a class. I was actually looking forward to doing that if I got admitted. There are a lot of aspects of Sloan that I am excited about~ too bad I don't get to explore it more in the R1 decision time frame, since R2 decision deadline is in April and Kellogg's deposit is due end of March...this deferral just made life a lot more complicated...

So with three interviews, one admit, one rejection and one pseudo-waitlist, my R1 concludes in the most diverse possible way~ I feel extremely thankful for Kellogg offering me an admit so early in the season so that I had a great holiday (despite not doing much but writing essays) and a peace of mind while waiting for Wharton and MIT (was still pretty anxious though, waiting is never fun). Looks more and more like I will be heading to the wind city~~~

Friday, January 29, 2010

I hear ya! (and free service!)

After two weeks of attending various social activities and catching up with a number of friends, I am back to the blogging world! My poll has ended and looks like the majority of you (who voted) wanted to see some advice on interview prep. Sounds about right as most R2 applicants wrap up their applications and moving into the anxious interview waiting phase. I will write up a post about that this weekend to serve my dear readers. I am also glad to learn that a few of you care about my random thoughts on life~ I am definitely gonna keep writing those, for I think life is more than just b-school and applications. And I encourage b-school applicants to step out of the ever addicting forums once in awhile and pick up a good book or read the international section or the cultural section of the news. I think developing a broad perspective from the everyday life outside of the business world can do business people a lot of good. And I hope my blog can help convey this idea. As this application cycle finishes up, I will move away from writing about applications and focus more on life before b-school, the b-school experience, my thoughts throughout this process among other random things. That's what's in store for you. :)

On the application front, nothing much has happened recently. My Haas application went under review, and hopefully interview invites start coming out soon. MIT result will come out this Monday, I hope I will get to visit Boston in the Winter! (it's 15 degree there today according to my co-worker....) Lots of schools' R1 decisions were out the past few weeks, congrats to those who got those exhilarating calls! For those who didn't get the result they wanted, don't lose hope as I always say. And really, I don't think application results determine who you are and your future. (I've recently encountered a few so-called H/S/W admits on a forum who I think I would never like or associate with in b-school, so there you go~ school's reputation/elite status does not necessary guarantee the quality of people)

The last thing I want to mention is that I realize that some applicants are still applying for R3 or Jan round of a few schools. I want to offer my free service of essay review to those who want a second pair of eyes before sending off those essays. I can also help provide some feedback for those who unfortunately didn't make it this app season, sort of like a "ding report". Please do not ask me why you didn't get into MIT when you have an offer from Haas. There is a level of randomness/mystery in the admission process which nobody understands. Why I am doing this? Because I got free help from people, some who I only met once or never met, so I want to give back to the community. Do I want to become an admission consultant? Not really, one I think it's a crowded space, two I did it without spending a penny on consultant and I think you can too. Will post more on this later as I slowly move to my application advice posts.

So hit me up if you need some extra help. You know how to contact me. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Asia's rise - past and future

Came across this awesome TED presentation by Hans Rosling on an ESADE student's blog. I suggest anyone who is interested in India and China's development take a look at it. As many economists agree, Asia is the future. This presentation can give you some perspective on its past (well, focused on India and China) and its future through Hans ingenious presentation. This is one of the most engaging presentation I've seen for a long time. I guarantee it will be 20 minutes well spent!

What do you think of the future of these two giants? and the new world order? in both economic and political terms? Discussions are welcomed! (I know there are a lot of Indian MBA applicants out there reading my blog, so chime in :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Done Done Done!

Update: I put a survey on the right to get some advice on what you want to see on my blogs. Please vote if you follow my blog :) always feel free to send me a note to suggest other content too!
Five minutes ago I submitted my last b-school application! I can proudly say that I am officially done with this stressful and ever-lasting process! Hurray!!!!

Outside of the window, the scary storm has stopped (well, scary by LA standard...) and the sun came out! What a great day!

Now I can start thinking about all the things I want to do but put on hold for the past 6 month. I already have 3 trips lined up for the next two months. Snowboarding, Kellogg's DAK and a birthday trip my bf planned for me last year! Just hope I have enough vacations to cover all those! And here are a few things that are on my to-do list.

1. Decide whether to run the 10k or the half-marathon in March and train for it! Finally getting back in my running routine and getting my muscles and immune system back!

2. Schedule hang-out times with my dear friends who have been ignored by me for awhile. Already have several events lined up! can't wait to catch up!

3. Read the long list of books that I have been wanting to read! Will write a seperate post on that.

4. Explore LA with bf and spend as much time with him as possible. Despite having lived here for so many years, I still have so many things that I haven't done! Griffith park observatory, wine tasting in Malibu, hiking on Channel islands, just to name a few. Let alone all the great restaurants and hole in the wall eateries that I haven't experienced. I want to do all these things with my dearest bf who I will definitely miss a lot while away for school.

5. Write blog posts on my advice on b-school applications. I want to share my experiences and lessons learned and help you, my dear readers, to succeed in your process. So send me suggestions on what you want to see on this blog.

6. Basically live life to the fullest! :)

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

We all know the basic rules about how to make a great presentation. But it's always incredibly hard to actually stick to it in real life. So this kind of reminder always help! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

quiet on Haas front~

Haven't heard from Haas for awhile. The school has been especially good at communication before the break, but sort of stopped there after the New Year~ I remember the very first email they sent after my submission is that an confirmation email will be sent out within 4 weeks to confirm everything has been received for review. Well, I haven't got that yet.

I guess it must be really busy up there, with R1 interviews, decisions and R2 applications. I sympathize what adcom has to go through~ that's why I think Kellogg/HBS/Stanford's approach might be a better one. Focus on R1, decisions all sent out, and then start R2. HBS adcom even get a few weeks break between New Year and R2 deadline. Anyway, hope Haas will start moving soon on my R2 :)

Btw, I believe today is Haas' R1 Super Saturday, which is the interview day + open house for most applicants in the US. I have a friend interviewing today. So I wish her and all the R1 applicants good luck!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Last weekend writing b-school app!

While I am still sitting in front of my computer, I am leaping for joy inside. I have been waiting for this day since I started the app process back in July. Last weekend of essay writing, of not being able to go out, of not embracing the gorgeous weather~

I start to think about things I want to do after this weekend. My list is already long.

3 more days, and I can't wait to be done.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Haiti

Just donated $20 to UNICEF for Haiti relief efforts after reading Hari's blogpost. It's not a lot of money but I always believe if everyone contributes a little, the world will be a better place.

So I encourage you to go to Hari's blog and donate through the links he listed. For one thing, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and its citizens have long been suffering from poverty before the earthquake. Just imagine that for a moment. And add the earthquake.

Here is an American's account for the earthquake, it's an sobering experience.

And learn about Haiti the country on Wiki.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google pulling out of China?

Just read this news, to be honest, it was a shocker. Will post more thoughts later.

As the world learned about Google's decision to pull out of China (if they don't come to agreement with Chinese government on un-censoring Google search engines) and reacted in all sorts of different ways (most of them expressing a notion of surprise), I finally got my thoughts together and came back to write it down here.

What do I think? Well, let me start with what do I feel. I discovered Google while I was still in high school in China and have been using it since. It was love at first sight. The simplistic design, the speed and the superior performance at searching relevant information have made me a royal user since day one. Although I haven't got many chances to use (as it was just before Google entered China), I have no doubt that despite the fact that google does not hold the majority of the search market in China, it has given Chinese users tons of information and awesome free services over the past four years. So hearing that Google is leaving, is saddening, especially for Chinese Internet users.

On the other hand, I admire what Google did, although I still don't understand the real reasons behind their decision. Google has done something no other major US corporation has done before, which is to challenge the Chinese government, on an extremely sensitive issue, and in such a public way. For those who are not familiar with China and the way things are done there, the government-business relationship can make or break a company, any company wishing to do business in China. And the second key point is, while Chinese government is very open on the economic front, it certainly doesn't tolerate anything that interfere with how they rule the country. So even though Google didn't say for sure they are leaving, to make a statement like that in a blog~ without talking with the Chinese government before, is an indication that they are ready to pack up and leave. I would be very surprised if Chinese government works something out with Google regarding censorship.

What I don't understand, is the business rationale behind this decision. It is true that doing business in China was frustrating for Google and dealing with Chinese government doesn't help with Google's global (or mostly Western) image. But just as one blogger asked "Will Google make the decision to leave if its market share in China is 70% rather than 30%?". What about the potentially huge smartphone market that just started to gain momentum in China? With Nexus coming out, is Google really willing to give up all that potential? Does it really come down to their adherence to their motto "do no evil"? or is it an act of well thought-out strategic plan?

The bottom line is, I hate to see Google leave. If I am in one of the ethics class in b-school, I will make an argument that Google has made before, that the benefits of doing business in China outweighs the compromises. This is not just from a business point of view, but also from the heart of a Chinese person who really hope the best for her home country. Yes it's not ideal that Chinese can't search about the Tiananmen Square incident or investigate for themselves if Dalai Lama is good or evil, but the presence of Google still brings the wealth of the world's information and knowledge to Chinese citizens. And that presence can help China advance, both economically and socially, slowly but surely. And now with Google leaving, we are left with Baidu, a great local search engine for gossips and social news, but by no way comparable to Google at finding information for English searches (the intellectuals and business people will really hate this....). Plus Baidu has tight relationship with the government, so there goes the hope of changing the freedom of speech in China.

In conclusion, I want to share a few articles on this story (thanks Hari for one of the article). Take a look yourself, and tell me what you think of this whole story. I think this is the kind of discussion that I will find particularly invigorating in bschool.

The official Google blog announcement

Reuter's article, more on the political implication, very interesting perspective
U.S., Google and China square off over Internet

TechCrunch Artile, very good insights

A Tsinghua Professor (American)'s blog post, offered some new development on the story and his perspective (thanks Hari)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Technology is cool!

Inspired by fellow blogger madbubbles's new contact feature, I looked into Kontactr, a free service for blogger to add contact forms on their blogs...and it works great!

So now you can send me an email by clicking on that small contact me icon without needing to leave your email address as a comment! Isn't that great! For someone who doesn't enjoy sharing email address in public and is too lazy to manage multiple email accounts, this is the perfect solution!

Kudos to Kontactr! and madbubbles!

In the spirit of sharing the excitement about technologies, check out a Haas student's post on the Tech Crunchies Award and the actual award list. Have to say it's great to see Dropbox win! (it really helped me through these multi computer essay writing days)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I am restless...

It's 75 degrees outside. Sunshine, blue sky, such a beautiful winter day (well, considering the temperature, I am not sure if it qualifies as a winter day).

I am sitting in the poorly lit study room, typing away my last set of essays. Oh I hate to be inside on such a nice day!

It's finally coming to an end, this strenuous essay writing process that seemed to last forever. After Jan 18th, I will be done and I just can't wait for that day to come!

Last week as I was driving down the scenic route (to avoid traffic) to my MIT interview, I couldn't help but notice the beauty around me. The gorgeous canyons, the blueish green ocean, the golden beach and the birds flying along the water. I know I am really going to miss all of this when I finally have to pack up and head to a different city. It was at that moment, driving through the canyons with breathtaking views, that I realized that I have taken all this city has given to me for granted for so long. There was a saying from a TV show that I recently saw, "so many of us focus so much on the goal ahead of us that we forget what's important is right next to us". So I made a mental note that I am going to start appreciating the wonderful people and things around me and make the most of my life here for the rest of my time before bschool. After all, this city has really become my 2nd hometown.

Friday, January 8, 2010

MIT Interview + the Power of Social Media! (Again!)

So I had my MIT interview today. I think it went pretty well considering that I found nearly all the BEI questions I could find on clearadmit and and thought of no less than eight stories to answer them...I think I only ended up using 3 or 4. Well, I tend to over-prep for interviews...but as I always say, over-prepping is better than under-prepared. As usual, I will post my interview report after MIT decision, but I will remember to take notes today so that I don't forget everything :P

There was a surprising moment in my interview, when my interviewer told me that MIT Sloan's Admissions Director Rod Garcia knew of my blog and liked it. That was a total shocker. Although I knew b-schools admissions read applicant blogs (see how I found out Haas re-tweeted my blogpost), I never imagined they actually spend the time to put the blog with the face. So much for keeping my blog anonymous :)

While I feel flattered that b-school admission officers find my words and thoughts interesting, I am again overwhelmed by the power of social media. It's really true that you can't hide your identity in the world of Internet and everything you write/post will forever be a search-able reference to who you are (and perhaps be added to your b-school application~) . It again shows that you need to stay true to yourself in every aspects of life, whether online or not. It's also a rule of life in my mind. hum~ I just hope my blog adds points to my MIT application :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Become a Judge for "Save Me A Spot In College" Scholarship Contest!

Last year I got involved with "Save Me A Spot In College" Scholarship Contest and became a judge for their written word category. It was a relatively small commitment in terms of time (just a few hours of essay/poem/story reading), but it was quite an rewarding experience. Most of the kids entering this contest were from under-privileged communities and most of them still haven't mastered the written language, but it was a humbling experience reading their stories and aspirations. Their genuineness just touched me so deeply.

So this year, I am encouraging you to help out this organization to do this amazing thing that aspire and encourage young people to aim high and dream. You can find out more about the contest here. To become a volunteer judge, just fill out this online form. I hope you will enjoy reading those stories as much as I do! :)

Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions about this. (p.s. I just found out that there is no limitation to geographic location or citizenship for becoming a judge, so feel free to volunteer! wherever you are from!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

5 down 1 more to go!

Finally I am reaching the end of the six month essay writing saga! With Stanford submitted last night, I only have one more app to go! This whole process feels like an accomplishment in itself!

Gotta prep for Friday's MIT interview first. These BEI questions are such a pain to prep....after writing 4 stories for MIT, I still need to come up with meaningful and preferably recent stories to show my actions and impact...definitely harder to prep than blind interviews...

On the other hand, I think it will be a cool experience though, since I haven't done one like this before. And life is all about experiences right? :)

Wish me luck! (and I wish you luck too!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kellogg Interview Report

As I promised in my previous post, I would share my interview experiences on and clearadmit's wiki once I got the result from the schools. The downside for doing this is that I can't really remember many of the questions asked during the interview. For Kellogg, I took notes soon after the interview so I still have a beefy report to give you. But unfortunately for Wharton, I did not take notes and the questions are forever lost~~~

Anyway, here is the report I sent to ClearAdmit, got a $10 itune gift card in return~ cool~ :)

Interview Date: Mid November, 2009
Admissions Round: R1 (admitted!)
Interview Location: On-campus
Interview Type: Adcom, blind interview

I selected to do the interview on campus during the Kellogg Preview Weekend (which btw, is an awesome event that you should check out, see my post on KPW). I wasn't sure if I was gonna interview with a student or an Adcom. But it looks like on Saturday you interview with student (I am not 100% sure about whether you always interview with Adcom during the week days though). I ended up in one female Adcom's office for the interview. She was very friendly and that relaxed me a little bit because I was quite nervous since Kellogg was my first interview. The interview started off with the most standard question about walking through the resume. I went a little far into explaining why MBA, and my interviewer actually smiled at the end of it and told me there was specific question for that later (I thank her for not interrupting me while I went off for that would have throw me off a little). All the questions were pretty standard Kellogg questions, even the leadership style one I have seen on interview reports. The interview lasted about 30 minutes and the interviewer left enough time for me to ask questions. Overall, the interview was like a relaxed conversation with the interviewer occasionally probing on points of interests. Because of my profile and my answers, the interview end up focusing a lot on leadership and team work, which allowed me to fully showcase my strengths. I felt that the Adcom was very experienced and asked lots of follow up questions. She also kept writing notes the entire time but kept good eye contact in between and had lots of positive confirmation through body language (nodding, smiling, ect.) Overall, I thought I did quite well and the admission later confirmed that.

My 2cents for interview prep: read interview reports from and clearadmit, prepare those questions, and prepare all of them. I always think it's good to over prepare than under prepare. Just make sure your answers don't sound rehearsed. Know your story, of course, but also know your strengths, and try to showcase as much as of it during the interview. And lastly, stay relaxed, don't get throw off by odd questions, just be confident and be your best self. Good luck!

Here is the list of interview questions that I remember:

Walk through your resume starting from undergrad experience?
What is your biggest accomplishment at work?
Leadership experience at work?
Follow up question on my leadership experience such as my specific actions and leadership style.
How has your leadership style progressed since college (through work and a specific extra-curricular activity)?
What role do you play on a team?
Tell me about xxx (a specific extracurricular activity on my resume).
Why MBA?
Why Kellogg?
What unique contribution can you bring to Kellogg?
What clubs do you plan to participate in while at Kellogg?
What do you do for fun?
Anything you want to say that we haven't talked about?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Welcome to the New Decade!

After a sickening (literally, in every sense) new year's trip to SF, I am back at my desk and churning through the last bits of my Stanford essays, with a running nose.

The new decade has finally came. This past 10 years has come and gone so fast~~~I still remember in 2000 I was imagining what kind of crazy thing I would be doing in 2010. Well, actually I still remember in 1990 thinking ahead into 2000 and feeling I would be such a grown up at the age of 16....time flies....

So it's about time to think ahead into 2020. First of all, a little side track. I am just very curious about how they are going to make those ridiculously looking new year's glasses for 2020. I was pondering this question for 2010, but the innovative human race always pull it off~beautifully or stupidly, that's your call.

Ok, back to looking ahead the next 10 years. It's kind of exciting to think that I have NO IDEA what the future holds for me. Sure, I have many goals but b-school can lead to many things which I can't imagine at this point. It's sort of exhilarating. On the non-career side, I think the picture is a little clearer and that happy family image hopefully will provide me with the stability I need in my life. I believe in the art of balance, between the predictable and the unpredictable, and between work and life. So I think I am quite content with my fuzzy yet holding-a-shape 10 year outlook, It's like driving in the fog, you don't know what the destination would look like, but you know the road is always underneath you (as supposed to walking and getting lost in the woods in the fog~).

Welcome to the new decade everyone, may it be a new exciting chapter of your life! (as always, ending my random thoughts abruptly~ back to essay writing!)