I got married to Vicky Huang twelve days ago, on May 11, 2013. And I might be biased, but I think it was the BEST WEDDING EVER!
We had an amazing destination wedding at the all-inclusive Azul Sensatori resort in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, which is about 20 minutes south of Cancun in the Riviera Maya. The resort was beautiful and had everything we imagined – great accommodations, delicious and abundant food and drink (which we took full advantage of), plenty of entertainment options, and excellent customer service. The weather was perfect and the ceremony and reception went off without a hitch. Everyone had a great time, so much so that last night, our friends were still talking about what went down!
Here’s a quick recap of the highlights:
- A typical day consisted of:
- Getting breakfast at one of the excellent resort restaurants
- Swimming, tanning, and drinking by the pool or beach
- Grabbing lunch at the beach BBQ or another restaurant
- More swimming, tanning, and drinking by the pool or beach
- Dinner at one of the restaurants
- More drinking and hanging out at one of the bars
- Winding up at the Mojito Lounge for drinking and dancing
- The ceremony was perfect. Vicky looked stunning. And yes, I cried.
- The reception was great. The bridesmaids and my best man performed excellent speeches. Vicky’s brother and my sister commemorated our fathers, both who have passed away and couldn’t be there with us. Delicious food was eaten, drinks were drank, shots of tequila were shot, dances were danced, and great times were had. I got thrown in the pool, my groomsmen and others joined me (see our wetness below), and Vicky even jumped in too!
- Vicky, my mom, my mom’s friend, my cousin, and I had dinner at an awesome tasting menu restaurant called Le Chique, which Vicky and I agree is second only to Komi on our tasting-menu restaurant rankings. Delicious.
- Vicky and I swam with dolphins.
- Vicky and I doubled up on our last two meals. Right after we had a romantic dinner on the beach, we went to have tapas. The next morning, after a special couples breakfast in our room, we hit up Spoon for breakfast part dos.
My words can’t fully express how awesome this trip was.
But the best part (besides getting married, of course) was that 75 of our closest family members and friends joined us in celebrating. People traveled from DC, New York, New Jersey, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Philly, Minnesota, Texas, and even Taiwan to be with us on our big day. Better yet, they all made friends and had a great time with each other. Vicky and I are so lucky to have such supportive friends and family.
I wrote a post a year and a half ago about Happiness vs. Satisfaction, and how I was happy but not yet fully satisfied with life. This is one big step towards satisfaction in my personal life and I have my family, friends, and most importantly Vicky to thank for it.
If you’d like to see more pictures, drop me a line and I’ll send you a link to our Box account.
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Check out my guest blog post on ThornTech.com: The Shift to Mobile Video and TV – When Will Mass Cord Cutting Happen?
Despite all the money I spend on cable TV, I find myself watching more and more video and TV on my laptop, iPad, and mobile phone. But even with all of the TV viewing alternatives out there, like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, cable TV provides unmatched access to the most content in one place, so at what point will I cut the cord? How about you?
I hope you enjoy the article and let us know what you think!
Like this post? Then follow me on Twitter – @mikewchan – for future updates.
Confidence in Sports
You hear the word “confidence” thrown around a lot when people talk about pro athletes and sports teams. Sportscasters and analysts will say things like, “He’s playing with a lot of confidence” and “They have a lot of momentum and confidence heading into the playoffs.” Confidence is a completely intangible aspect but an important one nonetheless.
I play basketball twice a week but I’m not very good. I’m short, not as quick as I used to be, and can’t jump. But I do have a decent jump shot. And if I make my first couple of shots in a game, my confidence rises and I tend to shoot (and hopefully score) a bit more often.
But when I miss those early shots badly, I sometimes get into my own head and lose confidence in my shooting ability. I become more hesitant to fire and pass up shots that I’d normally take. Then I look like a worse player than I already am, and it just gets worse from there. It’s ugly.
Confidence at Work
Confidence affects me a lot at work, too. In the last ten months that I’ve been an entrepreneur, my confidence has been riding a roller coaster.
When I resigned from the Caps last July, my confidence was really high. I had a good five-year run and I left the Caps/Monumental Sports marketing department in better shape than when I joined. I was leaving to work on my startup, Dokkit, and I was so motivated to change the world. I also secured a couple of consulting contracts that allowed me to take the leap.
Just a few months later, Dokkit was no more, and my confidence tumbled. Dokkit was the primary reason why I left my awesome job at the Caps, and a lot of thoughts ran through my mind – anger, regret, disappointment, self-doubt, and a little bit of fear. I was lost for a while, unmotivated, and felt like I didn’t have much of an identity in the startup world. I did have some wins, as I completed a consulting engagement and scored another, which gave me a little bump. But in the larger scheme of things, it didn’t help much, as I wasn’t trying to build a consulting firm; I was trying to create a startup.
Forming a partnership with Thorn Technologies in December has been a real positive for me. Not only do I get to use my marketing skills to help Jeff grow his software development business, but we’re working together on a startup as well. I have clear deliverables and timelines (my confidence increases when I execute discrete tasks well), and I have a newfound identity in startup land. It’s been a great partnership so far, and one that has definitely helped me increase my confidence and motivation on a daily basis.
Still, everyday there are highs and lows. Some days are tougher than others, but that’s all part of the struggle.
Getting Out of the Rut
Things are easy when your confidence is peaking. It just feels like you’re smarter, things move more quickly, and you worry less about the little things.
But what about when you’re in the valley? Everything seems to move too slowly, every task is a bit more difficult, and you tend to stress more about insignificant things. Motivation drops, which then lowers your confidence even more. It’s a vicious cycle. How do you get out of that rut?
I try to add value in other ways. In my basketball situation, I’ll pass the ball a bit more and play better defense. When an easy shot opens up, I’ll try to take advantage of that to build my shooting confidence. At work, I’ll delve into a task that doesn’t take too much brainpower. Maybe I’ll take care of administrative work or write a personal blog post to get some things off my chest (like I’m doing now). Sometimes even those tasks are difficult but it helps me make a little bit of progress when I’m not at my best.
Does confidence impact you as much as it impacts me? If so, how do you take advantage of the peaks and deal with the valleys?
Startup Weekend events bring together entrepreneurs who launch startups in 54 hours. Non-technical people, designers, and developers pitch ideas, form teams, build products, create a pitch deck, and present their work to a panel of esteemed judges at the end of the weekend. Many teams continue to work on their ideas after the weekend is over, and businesses are launched as a result. It’s a long, intense weekend but invigorating and motivating for everyone involved.
The event started on Friday evening with some introductions to the weekend’s format and an exercise that simulated what would happen over the next couple of days. Basically, impromptu teams were formed and were provided with two random words with which they had to create a logo and business concept and pitch it to the crowd. The teams came up with really creative ideas, and that set the tone for the weekend.
Attendees then pitched their own ideas for products that they wanted to build and recruited others to help them do so. There were about 35 ideas pitched, ranging from a website for mock interviews to a karaoke app, and the total was whittled down to 16 that were actually pursued. Teams were formed and they started working until 1AM.
The work continued Saturday morning at 9AM. Throughout the day, teams were brainstorming ideas, validating their concepts, creating mockups, coding, designing, and developing business models. Mentors were helping the teams refine their work. And we were there to support the attendees with advice, food, and lots of caffeine.
On Sunday, there was a palpable tension in the air, as teams had to present their pitches at 5PM. The participants were scrambling to finish their prototypes and put together their pitch decks. Some teams were confident while others were sweating, but everyone was cranking. It was intense!
The pitches were great (you can view them here) and the amount of work these teams did in such a short amount of time was amazing. The best pitches clearly communicated the value proposition of the idea, had a simple prototype that showed how the product would work, and addressed the business potential of the concept. The prize winners were as follows:
- First Place – HelpCloud, a customer service application for Google Glass
- Second Place – Traject, an analytics platform for non-profits
- Third Place – Blossom, software that analyzes your text messages
- Honorable Mention – Soundcheck.io, a video platform that helps you discover bands playing in your area
But all sixteen teams did an awesome job!
I have a deep connection with Startup Weekend. I attended SWDC in November 2011 as a participant, and it really confirmed my desire to be an entrepreneur. At that event I pitched Dokkit, my smart calendar idea. Though I didn’t get to work on Dokkit over that weekend, I gained so much knowledge about how entrepreneurship worked. I learned how to do an elevator pitch, worked with developers to create a product, put together a pitch deck, and met a bunch of really smart and motivated people with whom I stay in close contact with today. The event solidified my desire for entrepreneurship so much that I quit my job seven months later to pursue my startup! SWDC had such a positive impact on my life and it was awesome to give back by volunteering.
Props to SWDC co-organizers Mack Kolarich, Denis Baranov, and Barbara Lee, 1776, and all of the mentors, judges, volunteers, and participants who contributed to this great event. DC’s startup community is certainly alive and kicking, and I’m looking forward to helping out at future Startup Weekends!
Guest Blog Post on ThornTech.com: Augmented Reality – Will Wearable Hardware Bring AR to the Mainstream?
Check out my guest blog post on ThornTech.com about augmented reality and how wearable hardware may bring AR to the masses.
Augmented reality has been a hot but primarily experimental technology. Will wearable AR hardware usher the technology to the mainstream?
I hope you find this interesting!
Image credit: Leonard Low
I’ve thought a lot and have had many discussions about this throughout my career. Should I be a generalist and build a broad base of skills and knowledge so I can be flexible and work different jobs in many industries, or should I go deep into one specific skill and/or industry and become a specialist? What’s best for long-term success? Forbes and the Harvard Business Review thinks generalists will rule the future; I tend to agree but I don’t think it’s that cut and dry.
There are some careers where it’s necessary to be a specialist, otherwise you likely wouldn’t have a career. College professors and scientific researchers come to mind; you need to be an absolute expert on a particular subject to be successful.
On the other hand, industries like consulting, which is where I started my career, breeds generalists. Consultants, especially in the early stages of their careers, work on a wide array of projects across many industries. As they become more experienced, some may focus on a particular function (such as strategy, marketing, or operations) or a specific industry (e.g. healthcare, technology, consumer packaged goods), or a function/industry combination. But overall, consultants are armed with a broad array of skills and knowledge that many take with them to executive positions at other non-consulting organizations.
So, like with many questions, the answer is, “it depends” – on your goals and your personality.
If you want to start or lead a company, having breadth is a must because you have to understand all aspects of your business, including sales and marketing, product development and management, engineering, finance and accounting, human resources, and more. Sure, you can outsource or hire specialists to handle many of these functions, but you must have at least a cursory level of knowledge of all of these to effectively run a company.
You can also do really well by being a specialist. You can focus on a particular sector of finance (e.g. fixed-income investing), marketing (e.g. email marketing), engineering (e.g. Java programming) or any other function, and be the go-to guy or gal in that specific field within your organization. Additionally, you will presumably really like what you do, since you’ve found enough affinity for it to specialize.
I’m in the generalist camp. Like I mentioned earlier, I started in consulting and enjoyed jumping from client to client and working on different types of projects. As a marketer for the Washington Caps, I liked touching many different aspects of the business, such as CRM, database marketing, advertising, mobile, social, and analytics.
And in my current career of launching a tech startup, I believe being a generalist will serve me well. The various marketing and strategy roles I’ve played will help me acquire and retain customers and map out the future for my company. And I’ve broadened my skills even further by learning programming so I can work more closely with software developers and add value to them when I can.
So for me, the preference for being a generalist boils down to a couple of reasons: 1) I want to start and lead a company, so the generalist business skills are necessary, and 2) I would probably get bored if I focused on only one specific function. And while I think a broad array of skills is powerful, augmenting that with some deep knowledge of a particular industry makes for the best recipe for professional success.
What do you think? In your field, are you a generalist, specialist, or a mix of both? What pros and cons have you seen being so?
Check out part 2 of 2 of my blog series on ThornTech.com: Mobile Social Commerce – What’s Going to Happen Next?
I make some predictions about what may happen with MoSoCo in the future, how technologies will evolve, and how retailers and brands will implement them.
You can find part 1 here: The Rise of Mobile Social Commerce.
I hope you like it!
Check out my guest blog post on ThornTech.com about the rise of mobile social commerce.
This is part 1 of 2 and provides an overview of the growth of MoSoCo and what’s happening now. In part 2, coming soon, I’ll make some predictions about what may happen with MoSoCo in the future.
I hope you find this interesting!
This past weekend I attended the NYU Entrepreneurs Festival in New York City. And contrary to what you may think I meant by the title of this post, I had no mixed emotions at all about the event; it was an absolutely amazing and well-planned conference. I titled this post as such because attending the festival made me feel many mixed emotions about my current status as an entrepreneur.
Some of the emotions I felt include:
I had no idea how many awesome entrepreneurs attended NYU, and I felt a great sense of pride to have attended the same university. Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square fame, Herb Kelleher from Southwest Airlines, Founder and CEO of the Ladders Alex Douzet, NYC’s Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne Haot, and Dan Porter of OMGPOP / Zynga were amazing keynote speakers and all NYU alumni. In addition, I met and learned from so many other NYU alumni who are working on some great startups.
I also felt a strong sense of pride about the entrepreneurial community that is being built at NYU by Frank Rimalovski and his team. The collaboration between staff, faculty and students was amazing and is sure to continue to grow the NYU entrepreneurship community in the future.
As an entrepreneur, you’re doing something wrong if you speak with a founder about his or her company and don’t get motivated to start or continue to build your own. The passion that founders have for their companies is contagious, and trading ideas and opinions with them only got me more psyched up to figure out what my next startup adventure will be.
Yes, I was completely motivated by speaking to other entrepreneurs, but it also caused a level of anxiety for me, since I’m not currently working on a startup that I can call my own. I quit my full-time job eight months ago to work on Dokkit and basically have gotten nowhere in the startup world. I’ve really lacked a startup identity, which has been eating away at me for a while now, so hearing that other founders have launched products, raised money, and garnered revenue made me feel really anxious and doubt myself and my decisions.
But overall, I felt a real sense of excitement by attending the conference. I’m excited to get to work on my next startup (whatever that will be), excited to grow the new relationships that resulted from the festival, and excited to be a continuing part of the NYU entrepreneurship community (as much as I can from here in DC).
The NYU Entrepreneurs Festival was an amazing event and I’m so happy I attended. Props go to everyone involved in organizing the conference, and I’m really proud to be a part of the amazing things happening at my alma mater.