I am planting a tree

Starting a business is easy, keeping the spirit and not giving up is the difficult part. I’ve seen this repeating in many other entrepreneurial articles – “hard work, never give up and believe in yourself”. I actually heard of this analogy speaking to another entrepreneur last year. Starting a business is like planting a tree. At the beginning it is very hard to convince other people what you’re doing. It is risky. Who would believe a seed will become a tree?

It is alot of hard work and requires preparation as well. Market research is like looking for a the right environment for your type of tree. You need to understand your species and hopefully have experience planting one before. You can’t just plant a right next to a big tree, obviously it’ll be too competitive for you to survive. It needs to be on new ground that no one has tried before. The result is slow, but it is rewarding.

So next time when other people asks me, I can tell them I’m planting a tree.

Are you an outlier?

Recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s new book – ‘Outliers’ on the flight to HK. He’s answered some of the questions I’ve been asking myself. How do genuises become so successful. Apart from hardwork, alot of it has to do with doing the right things at the right time.

He started his argument saying basically, there’s no geniuses, yes even Mozart was not a genius. He proposed a 10,000 hours rule where anyone can become an expert if they spend that amount of hours in a particular subject.

Then there’s the proof of born at the right time, e.g. Hockey players are born early of the year, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both born in 1955, Majority of successful lawyers were born in 1930s, and 1890s Americans are at the top of the World’s rich list.

He also showed examples high IQ != success. Particularly the smartest person in US, Chris Langan, with IQ > 195, had a hard life because of this surrounding circumstances. Imagination and practical intelligence are both under valued in assessing our children’s performance.

Cultural values and spoken language are also factors of success in the big picture. Western culture is more assertive where’s Asians are more authoritative. This could lead to disastrous situations like why Korean airline had more accidents than others.

This book has given me some ideas how to raise my child in the future. I am lucky enough to have exposure to both west and east, there’s huge opportunities. I have had similar ideas previously about being successful is not just about IQ or working hard. I need to exploit my surroundings and be at the right place at the right time. That is why I chose to come back to HK, not many people can speak fluent English, Cantonese and Mandarin and know that is what they should exploiting. Having a HK ID card is also a huge advantage, HK citizens can go to China freely and while keeping dual citizenship. Chinese mainlander would have to give up their Chinese citizenships. Taiwanese couldn’t even have direct flight to China until now. Westerners need to update their visas now and again. In fact, HK businessmen have long been doing business in China because of this advantage. Therefore I suggest people find out what their real assets are, its not just about hardwork and skills. Alot of successful stories make sense as an after fact, the key is to execute the right plan when other’s don’t know about it yet.

Anyway I dug up some videos of Chris Langan as well, and read up abit on his theory of everything. Its interesting how he attempts to combine psychology and science together. If something cannot be explained by science doesn’t mean it cannot be explained. Cognition was a main factor of a beginning to the Universe.

I work on the web

I work on the web, and have been for many years. Ever since I dialed to the internet with my 14.4k modem in high school, I fell in love with the web.

Back in the days, I coded HTML in notepad using nested tables layout, kept refreshing my netscape browser to check my changes. When Flash was the new cool thing, I started hacking flash’s actionscript when it didn’t have script editor.

And then I got into server side programming. Coldfusion at work, PHP at home. Developing a CMS was a prerequisite for every web design companies. I also did abit of research into the semantic web as my final year project at University.

After getting sick of programming in Flash (it’s so buggy) and building yet another CMS, I got into front end development. CSS, web standards, tableless XHTML, accessibility were all the new buzz words. Consulting in HTML development could be a profession, thanks to IE and the browser war.

Then came the era of web2.0. Ajax was the new must have feature in all web apps. So I started building hard core ajax apps, tested painfully in all browsers and joined an online storage startup (let’s not talk about that). I almost stopped programming entirely and just wanted to stay away from browser compatibility issues. Usability consulting seemed to be a more satisfying job.

One day, I heard about this new MVC framework called Ruby on Rails. I wasn’t too interested at first, as I’ve seen too many not-so-user-friendly MVC attempts. I spent sometime building a little app, I was enlightened. Since then I’ve been fullly indulged with ruby and building web apps again.

Then, Steve Jobs announced a new device – iPhone. That has changed the mobile applications and mobile internet game completely. Occasionally, I dream about what I could do with the iPhone.

Now as an entrepreneur, I’ve started a ruby on rails software development company and we’ve developed our own product Ankoder. Since youtube was proven to be successful, future of videos will be huge. Bandwidth speed will be much faster, cost will be lower, people would like to take their media to many other devices. We’re hoping we can lower the barrier of entry for small companies to ride this next wave.