The Accountability of a Leader

When I was young, I’ve fantasized about the Wall Street and its masculine bossy cultures. I’m not sure if I admired it, but it was fun to watch in the movies and I felt the catharsis of running a fast-paced organization full of workers doing homogeneous jobs, with the boss being the absolute best at it. Like those Chinese martial art movies where the teacher is the best martial artist in the country.

It became clear to me this was not always the case. In reality, the junior investment bankers stayed up late, crunched numbers, done researches and wrote reports, while their bosses went out to grab drinks and have fun. When the juniors got promoted, they too became like their bosses, reaping on high salary and bonuses while getting the new blood to serve them well. Deep inside, I’ve always felt this wasn’t really the kind of leader I respected nor wanted to become.

boss-vs-leader

When I worked for a tech company back in my early 20s, our team’s manager was an eccentric guy. He joked a lot, sounded silly from time to time, didn’t seem that intense or focused on work, felt like he was laid back most of the time.

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7 Earth-like Planets and the Non-linear Gap between the Civilizations

Last week, NASA announced that they found 7 Earth-like planets just 39 light years away, with 3 of them in the goldilocks zone. This could probably be the most exciting news of 2017 (non-work related).

The chance of meeting another civilization in the universe that happens to be in the right timeframe between the beginning and the extinction is pretty slim, but if we were to meet another, this could be both exciting and terrifying. Considering how much human civilization advanced within the past century or so, it’s hard to imagine where we will be in 100 years from now. This kind of advancement are almost always non-linear in nature. Where will we be in 1,000 years? 10,000?

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The Founders Pledge

I’ve signed up for the founders pledge inspired through Y Combinator’s blog post.

With Founders Pledge, founders can sign a pledge to donate some portion of their personal equity and then figure out the recipients for the donation later. Founders Pledge handles all the legwork. As a charity itself, pledges are eligible for tax relief at time of exit and funds can be deployed globally.

Founders Pledge (1) allows founders to decide now that charitable giving is important to them, (2) doesn’t impact other stockholders of their company and (3) requires only about 5 minutes of time and no participation costs. Founders Pledge also provides substantive post-exit support including cause area analysis, charity sourcing, deep due diligence, and impact reporting.

I’ve been keeping my donations private so far, but moving forward, I hope I can nudge someone out there just a little bit more by making my commitments more open and public.

I believe in the quote “be the change you want to see in the world.”

As a mere mortal, I’ve made lots of mistakes in the past and will continue to make more mistakes, but hopefully this will be one of those decisions that will be certain to bring good outcomes.

The Evening with Michael Moritz

At Y Combinator‘s Tuesday dinner event last Tuesday (2/23/2016), Michael Moritz came for a talk. It was deeply inspiring to see him in person, but it was even more energizing to see him still so ‘obsessed’ about his work at Sequoia Capital.

Here’s a brief excerpt from his talk:

That’s what, at Sequoia, we’ve always been focused on: How do we maintain a consistent level of exceptional performance? Most entities, most organizations are capable of doing it through a year, or five years, maybe ten years. Very few are able to do it over multiple decades. And I’m not saying that we’re exemplary, but we’ve worked really, really hard on trying to perform at an extremely high level.

How have we done it? It all sounds very, very mundane. You can read a book about the principles of high performance, or great leadership, and it’ll all sound very straightforward and rudimentary. The difficulty is doing it every day, doing it every week, month, quarter, year, and keeping that beat up.

Which is part of the reason we don’t have all sorts of lucite blocks commemorating this or that anniversary of some company hanging around the office at Sequoia: Because all of that is yesterday, and it’s irrelevant to the future.

Read (or listen to) the rest of the conversation here at The Macro.

A Focused Culture

One thing I’ve noticed going through Y Combinator was how consistent were the messages repeated by the partners, the staffs, and the alumni network. As a startup founder, you should do two things: “write code and talk to users.” The more recent version is: “build product, talk to customers, and exercise” – which I think is a natural evolution, since YC funds a lot of non-software-only companies these days and the partners are getting a bit older. 😉

The entire message is around “Growth” and the way to get there is by writing code and talking to users. And stop doing anything else. Sounds simple, right?

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Where the Grass is Always Green

When I was eleven, my family moved to the United States, due to my father’s job working for the Korean government. I still remember my first ride from JFK to some urban parts of the New York city. Still a bit jet lagged, I was struck in awe looking at the graffitis on the streets of NYC. I’ve only seen graffitis from the movies and the sheer unfamiliarity of the view somehow got me scared and excited ambivalently.

Taking a bite of freshly baked extra cheese pizza was a pleasant surprise to my taste and grabbing the oval-shaped ‘football’ for the first time got me all confused.

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