As a child of Japanese immigrants growing up in predominately white areas in The States, I knew we were always different. We took our shoes off inside the house (weird). We ate fish and rice (super weird). My mother dressed me in conservative pinafores (super duper weird). Like aliens from another planet, we didn’t speak English with each other. Everything about our family was strange. I learned to accept we were simply different and I would always be weird.
I have a problem. I am addicted to the Internet.
For over a decade almost every free second has been spent online. When social networks gained momentum, not only was I spending all my free time online, I started making time to go online. Combine that with a constant need to learn new things, it was over: I now had to force myself to go offline. I’ve even resorted to pulling the plug so my laptop dies. Embarrassing, I know.
Anthony Bourdain has a foul mouth, likely a drunk, and stirs controversy. But you cannot deny, the man has legit entrepreneurial game. He’s written best selling books. Hosted some pretty damn good shows, and now a household name.
Maybe I can relate to him more as I’ve worked in the food industry. My very first job was as a waitress in a sushi joint — typical — then moved on to bartending. Working in food is where I picked up a lot of hustling skills that consistently help me in my non-food industry life. In food, it’s about knowing your capabilities and ceasing opportunities. When your salary is minimum wage and you depend on tips, there is no such thing as ‘luck’ — you create your own luck. Not because you want to, but because you have to make the most out of situations in order to make ends meet.
Any business owner, founder, aspiring entrepreneur, and even individuals looking to climb the corporate ladder can learn a thing or two from successful people who have ‘made it’, in an industry as cut throat as food. And Bourdain lays it out best in this Men’s Journal interview.
On actions vs words
“I quickly came to understand that there are two types of people in this world: There are the type of people who are going to live up to what they said they were going to do yesterday, and then there are people who are full of shit. And that’s all you really need to know.”
Takeaway: When it comes down to it there are those who walk the walk and those who talk the talk. Key is recognizing the difference quickly and cutting out the bullshitters. It saves lots of time, effort, money, and feelings. Yes feelings. Let’s be real. It sucks being let down or disappointed.
“In a world full of bullshit, when you need something as badly as drugs, your bullshit detector gets pretty acute. Can I trust this guy with money? Is this guy’s package going to be all he says it was?”
Takeaway: Imagine every conversation like a beautiful presentation. If you think about it, 99% of presentations that stick with us have filler slides — you know, the slides that seem to have no purpose except to impress the audience with inspirational quotes in pretty font faces, compelling charts with repetitive factiods or some unrelated slide with cute baby animals or a funny meme photo, etc., etc., — you get the picture right? When stripping away filler slides and concentrate on the objective of the deck, the essence is 1% — if that. On decks, it’s okay. Presentations are supposed to awe the crowd and leave impressions.
I look at conversations with people we meet for the first time like Powerpoint (or Keynote) presentations. People paint the best pictures of themselves. It starts from presentation — attire, mannerisms — to online personas to what they talk about. Ignore 99% of the superficial stuff and listen to what they say.
Bourdain nails it with two questions to ask yourself when meeting new people: is the other person all he says he is? And can I trust this guy with money?
Words that come out of people’s mouths and first impressions can charm and impress. But life is way too short to deal with bullshitters who simply want to look good to other people for whatever reasons they may have. Do you really think people who spend all their energy looking good to others can add value to your life? Sure they may be fun but they most certainly don’t help you make money, and frankly, distract you from reaching your goals. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve wasted a great deal of time being burned by people who seemed this way and that way, promised all kinds of stuff but were just full of shit.
Find your own questions that help identify if someone is really worth your time and can help reach your bottomline.
Nikesh Arora ex-Google exec, now Softbank Internet and Media CEO / vice chairman of the overall company tweeted he is looking for “ivy leaguers with US / Japan experience”. Why did he specify ivy leaguers? Does he realize he is biased?
Or, what about when we see someone in the US, who is using a smartphone other than an iPhone. What are your initial thoughts? It’s okay, be honest. You’re not alone. I’ve heard many girlfriends say things like “I’d never date someone with an Android phone.”
We automatically assume things about people born and raised in certain cities, countries, regions, etc. And judge people by how they look or present themselves to the world. We don’t do it on purpose but we are all guilty of some sort of bias and judgment.
But imagine if you unknowingly carry those thoughts into the workplace. Do you choose to do better work with colleagues you already have an unconscious bias towards? Or what if you are a hiring manager; are you confident your choices aren’t driven by bias?
Ponder that for a second.
I’ve expressed on Twitter how I am thrilled to the toes Megan Smith is America’s new CTO. And it seems most of the tech community is too. General consensus is because she is a female. Or part of the LGBT community. Or both.
I am excited because I have followed her and what she has been doing for Google as an individual (if you’re interested, YouTube her talks from Google I/O or interviews on Google.org and Google [X] to see the many reasons why she is such an excellent leader and technologist — if you love tech from the core like me, it’s really, worth your time.)
One of my favorite clips I’ve seen of her, is about bias — conscious and unconscious bias — which I believe, is important for everyone to be cognizant of. Especially, if you are management level or higher.
This is the video, I’ve been tweeting a lot (with little to zero interest) but now that you’re here, watch:
I wish there were transcripts but some of my favorite soundbites – few are paraphrased:
“You hear venture capitalists talk about pattern matching when they are looking for the next young entrepreneur. But they are also pattern matching for things they have bias in, and not realizing they are doing that. So they might be more likely to fund a White or Asian man vs another (and she gets interrupted).”
“(Unconscious bias) is no one’s fault. It’s not like we are actively doing this. We all have it. It’s inherited. It’s systemic. What we have to do as an industry, is educate ourselves.”
“Diverse teams just make better products. Patents written with men and women on them, for example, are cited more. And the number of times a patent is cited, is a measure to know if a patent is better.”
“If you are applying for a role, a woman would only apply if they have 7 of the 10 characteristics required. Men would apply if they only have 3 of the 10. So as a manager, you just need to be conscious of that, look at all the candidates, and do a little more active work to make sure you’ve got the best pool.”
Google’s Diversity website also has a nice summary of what unconscious bias is:
The science of inclusion
Research shows that when we are more aware of our unconscious bias, we can make more objective decisions. In 2013, more than 20,000 Googlers (nearly half of our Googlers) engaged in workshops that focus on the science of how the brain works. This created a company-wide dialogue around how unconscious bias can affect perceptions of others, interactions with coworkers and clients, and the business overall. We hope our focus on making the unconscious conscious will not only foster a more inclusive workplace, but also make us a better company. Watch this video to find out more.
We can do better. Let us be better.
I love this so much.
Never heard this story.
From the FT archives:
Chelsea Isaacs, a student from Long Island University, had got in touch with the Apple press office to get some information about the iPad for a paper she was writing. Six times she tried, but no response. So she e-mailed the chief executive to complain.
“Mr Jobs, I humbly ask why Apple is so wonderfully attentive to the needs of students, whether it be with the latest, greatest invention or the company’s helpful customer service line, and yet, ironically, the media relations department fails to answer any of my questions which are, as I have repeatedly told them, essential to my academic performance.”
Mr Jobs replied: “Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry.”
Chelsea composed another long message in which she argued that Apple should have answered out of common courtesy.
This time he responded: “Nope. We have over 300 million users and we can’t respond to their requests unless they involve a problem of some kind. Sorry.”
So she pointed out she was a customer and did have a problem.
He replied: “Please leave us alone.”
via ‘Time to Spit Out More Praise for Apple” published Sept. 26th, 2010.
And I leave with you wisdom, from the one person I admire and basically, worship:
Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
— via Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech, June 12, 2005
Much needed reminder. Inspiration. Motivation.
I miss Steve Jobs.
Read the whole thing here
I don’t know what happened but since I moved to Tokyo, I’m bored of Twitter and Facebook.
Don’t get me wrong, I still keep up with everyone’s lives but reacting with a comment, at reply, LIKE or favorite is no longer fun for me.
I only use Twitter now to get information (ex: latest news, find funny things, see what’s going on in the world outside of Japan / APAC, etc.) when before I used to give information as well. And Facebook? There are times I don’t log-on for days, when before I used to be glued to my newsfeed.
Perhaps I’m simply over social networks, especially since I started blogging on my own domains. (if you’re interested, I have a blog about my life in Tokyo here). I’m also blogging a lot more here, which I guess is a good thing?
Maybe I’m just weird — someone even told me on Facebook that I’m “backwards”, when I announced I started a Tokyo blog haha
Two Marissa Mayer posts in a row (!!)
From one of — if not the best — tech piece I have ever read, I was astounded to find it on Business Insider. I mean. Let’s be real, they normally publish border-line gossip.
A few excerpts — first, a tid-bit from her time at Google:
In the end, it proved to be an advantage for Mayer that empathy doesn’t come naturally to her. It forced her to be intentional about figuring out what users want and how they behave.
She came up with two clever methods of relating.
Mayer at the height of her power at Google.
The first is that she would recreate the technological circumstances of her users in her own life. Mayer went without broadband for years in her home, refusing to install it until it was also installed in the majority of American homes. She carried an iPhone at Google, which makes Android phones, because so did most mobile Web users.
Mayer’s second method was to lean on data. She would track, survey, and measure every user interaction with Google products, and then use that data to design and re-design.
Then, on her meeting with the execs and employees at Y! when she took the chair:
Many of these people were meeting Mayer for the first time, and they expected to sit across from the woman they’d read about in so many fluffy profiles and had seen on TV or on stage at conferences — someone who was charismatic and warm; personal.
That was not what they got.
[…]One by one, they walked in and sat down at a table across from Mayer. Then, she launched into questions. She asked: “Where did you get your education?” “Where are you from?” “What do you do here?” And so on.
As Yahoo executives answered, Mayer took notes on their answers with pen on paper, hardly looking up.
“There was no time for short conversation or human emotions. It was very boom, boom, boom.
“Most people walked away from that meeting saying, ‘Holy shit.’”
For the people who were making Yahoo’s products at the time, the meetings were even more intense.
A designer or a top product manager would sit down and Mayer would assault them with a series of questions.
“How was that researched?”
“What was the research methodology?”
“How did you back that up?”
On gender issues:
Young, powerful, rich, and brilliant, Mayer is a role model for millions of women. And yet, unlike Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, Mayer resists calling herself a feminist.
Mayer says that she is not a “feminist.” She says she is “blind to gender.”
I hope one day, to be half the woman she is.
Read the entire thing here. It’s incredible (warning: really, really, really long.)