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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement

Ali G Harvard Commencement Speech

"Gangnam Style" Singer PSY Visits Harvard


25 Laws
"Nobody succeeds in a big way except by risking failure."
- William Feather
1. Smile at failure. Failure only exists temporarily. Anticipate success will return.

2. Believe that there are no failures; we merely postpone our success. There are no failures in life, only delays. Failures are stepping stones, not stumbling blocks, to success. Unless there are failures, how can there be success?

3. Failure can be reversed into success.

4. Failure is a process. It is a series of events leading to the failure that fails.

5. It takes a lot of courage to fail.

6. Failing challenges us to greater heights.

7. It is a privilege to taste failure. Not everyone has the experience of a particular failure.

8. Failure is not final.

9. Accept the realities of failure. It strikes at everybody.

10. Do not brand ourselves as failures.

11. Regard failure as an isolated case. We have not failed; it is the work we have done that has failed. We must separate ourselves from failure. While we dislike our failure, we still love ourselves dearly.

12. Permit ourselves to fail.

13. Do not regard failing as a stigma.

14. Failure is not the opposite of success. It is the step prior to achieving success.

15. Any work we do has inevitably two results - failure or success. It is akin to tossing a coin in the air - the result is either a head or a tail when it lands on the ground. Sometimes, it happens that failure results. We did not choose failure.

16. Failure is a learning process. We learn failure in the school of hard knocks, just like we learn trigonometry in school. Regard failing as an education process.

17. Since failure is a learning process, enjoy failure! Failure can only be appreciated and enjoyed in the University of Life.

18. Failure is a resource from which we can draw invaluable experiences.

19. Failure creates other opportunities.

20. Focus on managing 20% of crucial failures. It contributes to 80% of the results.

21. Failure is not that important. It is the response we make to the failure that is important.

22. Read biographies of successful men and their failure. Study how it traumatized and spurs them on to greater heights. Model them.

23. Pamper yourself with a good book, holiday, meal, movie or simply laze around and smell the roses.

24. Plan and strategize what is the next course of our action.

25. Finally, remember success is managing failure.

When we are successful, we will look back at our failures with a grin.
How badly we took it when we could have enjoyed and savored them.
"Men are born to succeed - not to fail" Henry Thoreau

Oprah Winfrey Harvard Commencement speech | Harvard Commencement 2013

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Joel Neoh, Groupon buying giant

Published: Monday November 25, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday November 25, 2013 MYT 9:29:33 AM

Joel Neoh, Groupon buying giant

Working conflict: 'I tend to think of my work as leveraging conflict rather than managing it and often times, we learn the most through conflict,' says Joel Neoh of Groupon Malaysia.
Working conflict: 'I tend to think of my work as leveraging conflict rather than managing it and often times, we learn the most through conflict,' says Joel Neoh of Groupon Malaysia.
From runway model to successful entrepreneur, Joel Neoh will give any 30-year-old a run for their money.
AT the age of 20, he earned his first million – after founding a fast-growing student agency set-up. Three years later, he emerged as the winner of Malaysia's first corporate reality TV programme, The Firm, despite being the youngest contestant on the show.
Joel Neoh has come a long way since. Now, he is an integral part of one of the world's fastest growing companies, Groupon (as listed by Forbes in 2010).
Apart from juggling his day to day as the CEO of Groupon Malaysia, Neoh heads Groupon Asia Pacific, overseeing operations for the public-listed group-buying website company in 11 other countries: Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
The mechanical engineering graduate, who also modelled part-time during his university days, has been named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year 2012, Asia's Top 10 Young Entrepreneurs by Top 10 of Asia magazine, and most recently, Young Global Leader 2013 by the World Economic Forum. Earlier this year, as a result of his professional achievements, Neoh was awarded the Malaysian Service Medal by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Appointed as a key line-up speaker for The London Speaker Bureau and Asian Business Angel Forum in 2012, Neoh now also serves on the Advisory Board for the School of Business, Monash University.
That's a whole lot to take in, for someone who just turned 30.
"Growing up, I was always asking a lot of questions; always challenging the status quo. I must've annoyed a lot of people. But looking back, I think that's one of the key criteria of an entrepreneur – curiosity," he said over a phone interview, undoubtedly squeezed in between his daily meetings.
In 2006, Neoh had set up Youth Malaysia, a non-government organisation that managed events for youths. After the successful conceptualisation of YouthSays, a survey platform for Malaysian youths (which become a big revenue churner), the organisation went on to organise Youth 08 – arguably the largest youth festival at that time.
After organising its third youth festival in 2010, Neoh realised that the Internet offered great business growth opportunities and that e-commerce, especially, was the holy grail of the World Wide Web.
In September 2008, Neoh founded GroupsMore, a Malaysian e-commerce company based on the business model of US-based Groupon Inc. Within three months, GroupsMore was catering to over 20,000 customers.
The company's seemingly overnight success eventually caught the attention of Groupon Inc and instead of filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement (which Neoh feared when he first heard from them), the American corporation expressed interest in collaborating with its Malaysian counterpart.
In January 2011, GroupsMore was acquired by Groupon for an undisclosed sum and Neoh's company became known as Groupon Malaysia. Under Neoh's stewardship, Groupon Malaysia has become the leading social e-commerce platform in Malaysia and was dubbed the fastest growing country in Groupon for 2011.
"I'm always looking to take up the biggest challenges because I know that would give me the largest opportunity for growth and learning. It was difficult at first – while my friends were excited that it would soon be payday, there I was, worrying about whether I had enough money to pay my staff. My journey as an entrepreneur has evolved and every day is a challenge. But I believe in never, ever giving up," Neoh opined.
Neoh also believes in this: recruiting people who are significantly better than himself. "I make it a point to hire people who have better skills so that we can all learn from each other. So far, we've brought some of the best talents onboard."
Of course, doing that also requires the man to set aside his ego.
"It's hard, but it must be done. There's no point in hiring people who aren't better than I am, because all I'd would get be team that listens to me, without really challenging what I have to say. I tend to think of my work as leveraging conflict rather than managing it and often times, we learn the most through conflict."
Neoh is also big on giving back to the society, and has been championing for the larger group to take on more of such activities. Most recently, he pooled resources to raise over USD$100,000 (RM318,700) within a week for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
In retrospect, Neoh revealed that he had a hard time convincing his family, particularly his mother, about his passion for entrepreneurship.
"My mom had no clue what I was up to – she must've had a hard time explaining what I did to the relatives. I was constantly trying to convince her to let me become an entrepreneur, and that was also part of the reason why I joined The Firm. After I appeared on the show, she started burning DVDs of the episodes for all my aunts and uncles."
Still, Neoh was quite sure that his mother had yet to catch on to the bigger picture.
"It was not until a year ago when I bought her an iPad that it finally struck her, because her friends kept telling her to go onto the Groupon website. I think the best way for my mom to understand what I did was to be an end user of the service itself. For me, the most rewarding thing is when the people you care about start using and believing in the things you build."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to create an effective business continuity plan


Ed Tittel and Kim Lindros | Nov. 15, 2013

We rarely get a head's up that a disaster is ready to strike. Even with some lead time, though, multiple things can go wrong; every incident is unique and unfolds in unexpected ways.

This is where a business continuity plan comes into play. To give your organization the best shot at success during a disaster, you need to put a current, tested plan in the hands of all personnel responsible for carrying out any part of that plan. The lack of a plan doesn't just mean your organization will take longer than necessary to recover from an event or incident. You could go out of business for good.

How Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery Plans Differ
Business continuity (BC) refers to maintaining business functions or quickly resuming them in the event of a major disruption, whether caused by a fire, flood, epidemic illness or a malicious attack across the Internet. A BC plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of such disasters; it covers business processes, assets, human resources, business partners and more.

Many people think a disaster recovery plan is the same as a business continuity plan, but a DR plan focuses mainly on restoring IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. It's actually just one part of a complete business continuity plan, as a BC plan looks at the continuity of the entire organization. Do you have a way to get HR, manufacturing, and sales and support functionally up and running so the company can continue to make money right after a disaster?

For example, if the building that houses your customer service representatives is flattened by a tornado, do you know how those reps can handle customer calls? Will they work from home temporarily, or from an alternate location? Companies such as SunGard sell access to cubicles that include a desk, phone and computer in their recovery centers, along with server- and device-based DR services.

Note that a business impact analysis (BIA) is another part of a BC plan. A BIA identifies the impact of a sudden loss of business functions, usually quantified in a cost. Such analysis also helps you evaluate whether you should outsource non-core activities in your BCP, which can come with its own risks. The BIA essentially helps you look at your entire organization's processes and determine which are most important.

Why Business Continuity Planning Matters
Whether you operate a small business or a large corporation, you strive to remain competitive. It's vital to retain current customers while increasing your customer base - and there's no better test of your capability to do so than right after an adverse event.

Because restoring IT is critical for most companies, numerous disaster recovery solutions are available. You can rely on IT to implement those solutions. But what about the rest of your business functions? Your company's future depends on your people and processes. Being able to handle any incident effectively can have a positive effect on your company's reputation and market value, and it can increase customer confidence.

First, Create a Business Continuity Plan
If your organization doesn't have a BC plan in place, start by assessing your business processes, determining which areas are vulnerable, and the potential losses if those processes go down for a day, a few days or a week. This is essentially a (BIA).

Next, develop a plan. You can use any number of free templates available online or find an actual plan published by an organization similar to yours and modify it as needed.

There are six general steps involved in creating a business continuity plan:

One common business continuity planning tool is a checklist that includes supplies and equipment, the location of data backups and backup sites, where the plan is available and who should have it, and contact information for emergency responders, key personnel and backup site providers.

Remember that the disaster recovery plan is part of the business continuity plan, so check with your IT department to ensure it has or is actively developing a DR plan.

As you create your plan, consider interviewing key personnel in organizations who have gone through a disaster successfully. People generally like to share "war stories" and the steps and techniques (or clever ideas) that saved the day. Their insights could prove incredibly valuable in helping you to craft a solid business continuity plan.

Then, Test Your Business Continuity Plan
You have to rigorously test a plan to know if it's complete and will fulfill its intended purpose. Many organizations test a business continuity plan two to four times a year. The schedule depends on your type of organization, the amount of turnover of key personnel and the number of business processes and IT changes that have occurred since the last round of testing.

Common tests include table-top exercises, structured walk-throughs and simulations. Test teams are usually composed of the recovery coordinator and members from each functional unit.

A table-top exercise usually occurs in a conference room with the team poring over the plan, looking for gaps and ensuring that all business units are represented therein.

In a structured walk-through, each team member walks through his or components of the plan in detail to identify weaknesses. Often, the team works through the test with a specific disaster in mind. Some organizations incorporate drills and disaster role-playing into the structured walk-through. Any weaknesses should be corrected and an updated plan distributed to all pertinent staff.

It's also a good idea to conduct a full emergency evacuation drill at least once a year. This type of test lets you determine if you need to make special arrangements to evacuate staff members who have physical limitations.

Lastly, disaster simulation testing can be quite involved and should be performed annually. For this test, create an environment that simulates an actual disaster, with all the equipment, supplies, and personnel (including business partners and vendors) who would be needed. The purpose of a simulation is to determine if you can carry out critical business functions during the event.

During each phase of business continuity plan testing, include some new employees on the test team. "Fresh eyes" might detect gaps or lapses of information that experienced team members could overlook.

Finally, Review and Improve Your Business Continuity Plan
Much effort goes into creating and initially testing a BC plan. Once that job is complete, some organizations let the plan sit while other, more critical tasks get attention. When this happens, plans go stale and are of no use when needed.

Technology evolves, and people come and go, so the plan needs to be updated, too. Bring key personnel together at least annually to review the plan and discuss any areas that must be modified.

Prior to the review, solicit feedback from staff to incorporate into the plan. Ask all departments or business units to review the plan, including branch locations or other remote units. If you've had the misfortune of facing a disaster and had to put the plan into action, be sure to incorporate lessons learned. Many organizations conduct a review in tandem with a table-top exercise or structured walk-through.

How to Ensure Business Continuity Plan Support, Awareness
One way to ensure your plan is not successful is to adopt a casual attitude toward its importance. Every business continuity plan must be supported from the top down. That means senior management must be represented when creating and updating the plan; no one can delegate that responsibility to subordinates. In addition, the plan is likely to remain fresh and viable if senior management makes it a priority by dedicating time for adequate review and testing.

Management is also key to promoting user awareness. If employees don't know about the plan, how will they be able to react appropriately when every minute counts? Although plan distribution and training can be conducted by business unit managers or HR staff, have someone from the top kick off training and punctuate its significance. It'll have a greater impact on all employees, giving the plan more credibility and urgency.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The True Story of How Amazon Went from Bedlam to Behemoth

The True Story of How Amazon Went from Bedlam to Behemoth

A First Cut at History: A New Book on Amazon and Jeff Bezos

The greatest force in the universe is compound interest. So said Albert Einstein who might have revised his view if he had met the founders of some of the most significant companies of the past century – a roster that would certainly include Amazon's Jeff Bezos.
The full force of Jeff Bezos is revealed in this week's publication of The Everything Store, Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone, a Senior Writer for Bloomberg BusinessWeek and previously a longtime reporter for the New York Times and Newsweek.
It would be hard for any 22-year-old entrepreneur today to realize that in 2000 Amazon was teetering. The sun had stopped shining on the frenzied first bloom of the internet, the cheerleaders had turned into critics, Barron's ran a headline saying "Amazon.Bomb" and it was received wisdom that Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart would together bulldoze Amazon onto history's junk-pile.
For a couple of years it was sheer bedlam within Amazon. The company's headcount went from 1500 in 1998 to 7600 eighteen months later; Joe Galli, hired as a Chief Operating Officer after a long career at Black & Decker, (saying in later days that he had not wanted to do to Bezos what John Sculley did to Steve Jobs) departed after a brief tempestuous stint; unsold toy inventory piled up after Christmas 1999, investments in a collection of internet startups exploded, the stock price collapsed, debt piled up, morale plummeted, employees, burned out by the punishing pace and unforgiving tone quit in droves, stock options were re-priced and, to top it all of, there was a divine warning – in February 2001 a 6.9 magnitude earthquake sent bricks showering from the outside of Amazon's Seattle headquarters. (In 1997, when Bezos did a class at the Harvard Business School, the students had suggested he sell the company as quickly as possible).
Pedants will take offense at some of the themes of this book. Amazon puts paid to the virtue of "moats" – those impregnable barriers that are supposedly the essential companions for any start-up. In July 1995, when the first book was shipped from Amazon's headquarters in the Pacific Northwest (where Bezos based the company having flirted with the idea of basing it in California until he discovered that the state levied a sales tax) several other book-sellers were already selling books online. Whatever water lay outside Amazon's small office was Seattle rain not a moat. Books arrived (often after a couple of weeks delay) from a pair of large book distributors, there was no inventory and Bezos and others packed the books and ran them down to the UPS store.
Number crunchers who love their thick spreadsheets, financial projections and sensitivity analyses, will blanche at the inaccuracy of Amazon's early forecasts. In 1995, when Bezos started to raise money from outsiders (he and his family had furnished the initial capital) he projected that Amazon would, if things, turned reasonably well, have $74M of sales in 2000 and be modestly profitable. In 2000, Amazon turned in sales of $1.6B and had a loss of $1.4B. The eager beavers would also blanch at the way in which Amazon Prime was born – no forecasts, no projections – just the instinct of a founder knowing that what would be good for the customer would be great for Amazon.
Stone describes the atmosphere within Amazon as unforgiving. There are clearly moments of amusement and diversion but, for the most part, this is a company led by a man on a mission who does not have time to waste and is unprepared to tolerate slackers or the inept. He minds the pennies – insisting, for example, that employees use their own credit cards for the drinks machines rather than assume a right to the Four Seasons' comforts laid on by some of the better known (and higher margin) Silicon Valley companies. The Bezos described by Stone shows a refreshing distaste for collegiality – something that may work with a group of four or five highly motivated and demanding people who have worked together for a very long time – but otherwise is a surefire recipe for mediocrity. Taskforces to improve communication are met with disdain because Bezos believes that employees should understand, in an organic fashion, the essence of the company. Life with Bezos, as it is with every great leader, is not for the timid or the unprepared. Nincompoops are treated with blasts of fury – as they should be. Yet, any number of witnesses tell Stone that when everything was going wrong, all the news was bleak, and the entire world seemed lined up against Amazon, its founder was always calm and optimistic.
Reading Stone's book – as fine a profile of a secretive, fast-growing company as you are likely to encounter – you quickly understand that Amazon is Bezosland from shore to shore. Like the other great U.S. technology leaders of the past half century (listed, as an Amazon filter might say, by reverse birthdate) – Page, Gates, Jobs, Ellison, Jacobs, Moore - Bezos combines natural intelligence, an unquenchable drive, a propensity to attack the impossible, impatience with creatures of convention and fearlessness.
These characteristics have allowed Bezos to turn Amazon from a low-margin bookseller into the cash generating, technology machine it is today. Bezos long bridled at the tag "retailer," preferring instead to tell his employees that Amazon is the "unstore" – a company not constrained by habits of old. It's this that led to, among other things, Amazon writing its own software for its fulfillment centers, battling Google for primacy in product search, building AWS, imagining Kindle when the all digital future still seemed on a distant horizon. Behind these accomplishments lie the inevitable quarrels, disagreements, bitter fights, lawsuits and ugly episodes that happen within and between companies and regulatory agencies. Stone doesn't shy away from delving into these which makes his book all the better.
Stone provides a sketch (one pines for more) of Bezos' unusual childhood. His biological father, to whom Stone discloses the story of his son, was in one of those accidents of history that only Hollywood could devise, part of a unicycle troupe. Nurtured closely by his mother and the father from whom he takes his last name (a Cuban refugee whose tale is one of the best advertisements for immigration that any ad agency could concoct) Bezos was quickly singled out as a child with extraordinary curiosity some of which was fueled by Star Trek (which has led to his lifelong infatuation with space exploration). This intelligence, married to a ferocious inner desire to succeed, (high school valedictorian, Princeton, a propensity for Math) eventually put him on the radar screen of D.E. Shaw, a New York hedge fund that hired him out of college. It was at D.E. Shaw, a firm started by a PhD computer scientist, that Bezos first encountered the Internet.
The Everything Store is a carefully wrought, thoroughly researched, much contemplated and even handed first draft of history. Readers will probably have to wait a long time for the reflections of Bezos himself. Aged 49, it's still way too early for him to put pen to paper. He has only been running Amazon for about half the time that Steve Jobs spent in the computer and mobile industries. There will be a time for Bezos to pen a reflective autobiography. It will be at dawn on Day Two of the Internet.

Friday, November 8, 2013

14-Year-Old Prodigy Programmer Dreams In Code

Fourteen-year-old programmer and software developer Santiago Gonzalez might just be the next Steve Jobs. He already has 15 iOS apps to his name and dreams of designing for Apple. At age 12, Santiago became a full-time college student and is on track to earn his bachelor's degree in computer science and electrical engineering by age 16. By 17, when most teenagers are excited to just have their driver's license, Santiago will have his masters degree.

A self-professed computer nerd, Santiago is fluent in a dozen different programming languages and thousands of people have downloaded his apps for the Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Learn how Santiago's parents overcame a rigid school system that left their son intellectually stifled and depressed and instead followed an unconventional pathway to nurture his incredible gifts. Santiago's story is truly inspiring and his family's experience provides a powerful model for parents of exceptionally gifted children.

Friday, November 1, 2013

ABC's Secret Millionaire Ali Brown goes to Common Ground to help homeles...

Uploaded on May 31, 2011

ABC's Secret Millionaire Ali Brown goes undercover to volunteer for the homeless youth program at Common Ground, the Westside HIV Community Center. After working with kids living on the streets of Venice, California -- and hearing about lives being saved and changed -- she reveals her secret.
10 minute clip. Original air date May 10, 2010.

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Chris Gardner - Life Reimagined

Chris Gardner UC Berkeley keynote 2009 (HQ)