Category Archives: Career

It is never too late for you

 


Just read this fantastic post on Quora feeling that I might have some further thoughts about it. I have seen many people obsessing about getting things right at the first time, and if they cannot, they think things are too late. However, what I see is that chances and opportunities are almost everywhere and after every couple of years, those chances and opportunities will come back.

Should I switch what I am doing?

I was once asked by my friend, a developer, if he should switch to Business Analysis or not. He feels like it more than programming but if he tries it and he does not fit it, he would waste 2 years of his career. And this kind of switching is raised a lot by my friends and other people. “Should I switch from a big company to work for startup/startup by myself?”, “Should I switch and try doing this/that?”, “My first job/internship was terrible, it would affect my career…”. The answer is you should not worry.

Any Experience Counts

Any experience that you learn, either from a big company, from a small company, from another job or career would bring you a unique point of view into the new career. If you work as sale and now want to move to programming, your sale knowledge is unique, 90% of programmers I know have no knowledge in sales. Understanding sales and customer would bring you a competitive advantage that most don’t have. And vice versa, if you work as programmer before and switch to be business analysis, you really understand the programming work, you understand the technical difficulties and you can help the customers and programmers to talk better. Any experience counts, any unique experience counts twice.

Why knowledge/skill costs a lot?

Yesterday, I have just done a very good job. It is very good because I spent almost a year keep thinking and trying to solve the problem but I couldn’t really solve much. However, the solution yesterday was so easy and short that I was shocked. It reminds me of the following story:

1 guy with a car broken going into a gargage. The repairer asks him for 100$ and it took him the whole day to fix the car. However, the car gets broken again after just a few days. The owner was so disappointed and tried with a new repairer. This new repairer, an elder, just took a quick look at the car and blow the hammer 3 times into some specific place. He then charged the owner 500$. This time, the owner was shocked, “How can I pay you 500$ for just 3 hammer blows?”. “1$ for 1 hammer blow and 497$ for me to know where to do so”.

It just shows me how much matter the knowledge, the thinking through the problem matters, not how much the efforts. Of course, experience and knowledge comes after efforts, but always think before doing

Why not join with a startup idea?

Idea vs Execution

Idea vs Execution

Just found a brillian post, says all I need to say for most of my friends or people. And a good advice to people, please think through and not so disappointed if some developer does not want to go with your idea. The #1 item is the most important thing, imo:

  • Ideas are easy, execution is hard.
  • People approaching developers often dramatically underestimate the amount of development work, or the complexity of it.
  • Proposing a revenue share means the developer has to take as much risk as the idea guy (for very low pay, given the point above), and trust that the business will receive the right amount of marketing/sales follow-through.
  • There’s an opportunity cost to working on someone else’s idea instead of for paying clients.
  • The idea being proposed is often very unrealistic (and the developer, having worked on a number of such ideas, can tell).
  • Developers have their own ideas to work in anyway.

iPhone v.s Android

The smartphone game is over. The tablet game will be finished soon, within 2 years.

iPhone versus Android

iPhone versus Android

 

 

Android wins, iPhone loses. 75% v.s 15%, soon will become 85% v.s 5%. But that doesn’t matter much for Apple. Apple is a brand for high-end products. They don’t aim to gain all market share. To gain market share, Apple has to attack more of the low-end market, which means they have to lower their price. However, matching other supplier’s price may be harmful for Apple’s brand, although they may achieve it by more efficient supply chain and factories.  To become a high-end brand, Apple spends a significant amount of money on their brand and will not scarify it for the market share.

But in this ecosystem war, the bigger ecosystem leads to a win by monopoly. When 75, 80 or 85% of the market is using Android, app developers will flock to there, and make the ecosystem become much more valuable for customer. To continue earning a lot of money, Apple has to continue what it has done best under Steve Jobs’s empire. New product, new market, new value, or new software that people are willing to purchase with high-price.

What will be the next Apple’s product? Probably Apple TV, I am not even sure about that.

And the important questions for most of us, as app developers, what should we do? Should we all move to Android yet, should we change our strategy of iOS first, Android second? Or should we start discussing about Mobile Web App?

I am writing more on the Mobile Web App v.s Mobile Native App in the next post, catch it soon.

Communication problems between distanced members

Misunderstanding

Lacking communication….

If money is your startup’s problem, you should open a branch to outsource some development work into cheaper countries, like Vietnam. Then, you would exchange 1 problem with another, probably harder than you thought.

Communication: this is a key. Effective, efficient, going into the right way. In startups, there are much less time for documentation. Things have to go really fast, features after features, products after products. It is much better for startups to go fast, try with different ideas until they get it correctly. And when they get the idea correctly, it is time to execute, as fast as possible to get the products into the market. Distance difference is a main barrier for communication, talking over Skype feels very different from talking face-to-face. Another barrier is time difference.

The time difference between Vietnam and America is huge, 10-15 hours time difference. When the Vietnamese developer wakes up, their colleague sleep, and vice versa. I have seen some approaches to this problem: scheduling out some fixed time in the day or week, to meet, or someone has to sacrifice. The first one is not normally working for startup when lots of communication needs to happen. The second one will not last for long.

Competitive Advantage – how to make it last

In the last 2-3 years, iPhone development has been my advantage when I stepped into the area early. It brings me many good results. But, that’s over. You hear it correctly. I don’t mean iPhone development will decline, but the growth of the market is significantly slowed down. And the number of good developers in this area will significantly grow when more resources are available.

Long-Lasting Success Requires Non-Ending Efforts

Competitive Advantage

Competitive Advantage

To be successful, a company or a person has to get some competitive advantage. The problem is sooner or later, every other companies/people will improve themselves to gain your competitive advantage. It may take them 3-5 years, but in this technical world, it would be even less. This advantage can never generate a long term plan. No matter how you protect it, no matter what cost you pay to protect it, people will soon be leveling your advantage. Don’t dream and don’t sleep on the victory. Long term and scalable model requires lots of building efforts to generate more competitive advantages.

I have never tried to protect my knowledge about iPhone development because I know the market controls itself. I see enough of stupid people trying to protect their knowledge to gain advantage in company promotion.

To be successful in long term, the same for personal or company, you need to build a culture that motivates new innovation, i.e creating new values. These new values, new knowledge or new understanding will bring you more competitive advantages or guarantee with you a long term success

Online Education and Interaction

Education Video

Education Video

Coursera is cool. Online Education is cool. Content is cool. But do you know what is not? The interaction. It is damn boring to stay focused in 3 hours for a video lecture. Recently, my wife and I tried our best to study Introduction to Finance and Financial Computation Econometric. The interaction environment in the normal classroom is not always interesting, it is even worse in an online course. Maybe we haven’t used all the resources we have or we haven’t tried hard enough. But to make the model more successful, interactions would be the key.

Offline watching has its benefits: people can watch anytime, anywhere and any videos you like. It sounds good until it comes to practice. People get lazy, some of them are watching half the video and have to stop to do something else. When they come back, they lose time to get into focus again. It takes more time and efforts to really focus and learn quickly with offline video.

Obviously, they are still free, I have no complaint about a specific site. What I mean is “Hey, this is my problem and may be others’ problems, hope you guys can fix it”. I think we need to give more benefits for people, as gamification and gaming theory often do, to let them spend a specific of time in their schedule to finish the video, to really focus. Maybe these sites offer some chance to chat with the professor, some small quiz that can be both challenging and rewarding.

In the long term, I really think that solving this problem is the business key and competitive advantage for any company.

Reality is Broken – Why Game Matters (part 1)

Reality Is Broken

Reality Is Broken

This book offers me a novel approach and surprising idea of thinking. I am influenced by my country’s media on how bad the game can affect people and students’ mind and how bad games are. But this book challenges my long-time sticky idea, and it does a good job. It sounds like a gamification book or articles that me can read somewhere on the Internet, but it actually gives me more than those boring theories.

Good theory of gamification
It provides me a good understand, not just the theory of gamification. How game designers think, how they plan and write stories that are attractive, human friendly and feel very personal to you. The game challenges you, the game rewards you, the game praises you and welcomes you, the game gives you chance after chance when you keep failing.

The book author makes a good comparision with the real life. The real life challenges you, no rewards, punishes you for being wrong, makes you feel like shit when you fail and noone ever cares about how you feel.

The book makes me stop here and start thinking and observing people around me more. People are worried too much about their future, their failure and their life. Games give them what people actually dream for. It actually explains to me how people are addicted to game. It is not just people want to be fun and entertain, it is normal that people are seeking for respected, value recognition and a better life.

Understanding about sociology and psychology
The book also gives a deep understanding of how Massively Multiplayer Online Game works, how it can be used to resolve real world problems. It is quite interesting for me when the author analyzes the World of WarCraft to demonstrates how gamers actually collaborate, get to know each other and together do something to achieve the goal.

Many other examples are also useful and interesting: Wikipedia is a big multiplayer online game, where people try to collaborate, edit and create better articles to achieve a big goal together. Or this fun and interesting game: FreeRice (http://freerice.com/), where you try to achieve your goal and also help to heal the world.

The author analyzes many different aspects of a game that help people to try to achieve their goal, stick to their purposes and try again and again until they got the goal. If we know how to design a good game, we can make people work together to reach one really big goal.

World Of Warcraft  

World Of Warcraft

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Education would be the next wave

This is our research about the electronic education market, as the CMU Assignment

To look at the whole report, you can read it from here:

In short, we are seeing the new trends in technology, business, politics and market landscape is moving to allow better competition and creates better platforms.

In technology, we have better network bandwidth, better cloud computing, better consuming device (ipad/iphone) and better content generation tools like iBook Author.

In business, we have seen recent trends in education, from traditional education, to distant learning with the materials downloaded/sent to you via DVD, and then to e-learning when you can get interactions with teachers in the online place. The e-education would bring it further, to help you with more interactions with the teachers, with other students, and you can study wherever and whenever you like.

Domain + Tech + Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can see the new hype about education, health care or photography. I believe that in this new era of technology startup, it is time that we are innovating in each industry, to transform the industry into a better format. We have technology there, we have social network there, we have better design there, in iOS or Android platform. The technology industry have gone quite far comparing to other industries like education, healthcare, design, news, food, lifestyle.

We have seen innovations in Education with Coursera, Ucademy, Khan Academy… We have seen more innovations is coming in Healthcare with Misfit Wearable…News is already transformed with iPad, iPhone, social network and how we share news together….

I agree with the article:

The only way out of this innovation gridlock is an expansion in founding team diversity. I believe the missing piece from the DNA in the founding teams of transformational companies is now the domain expert, who has deep insight into the industry they are trying to disrupt.

I think we will see more innovations in each industry, rather than just technology improvement like the last few decades with Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

In the meantime, our project team in CMU has spent a significant amount of time to produce a quite good report on the Education Innovation.

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/assets_c/2012/07/map-of-value-creation-thumb-580×482-1971.jpg