Saturday, January 10, 2009

Do you Facebook ?

Before last year, I had always considered the internet a fairly utilitarian tool. I never understood people who were constantly online or chatting online. I always got on the internet did my thing, and got off. I was a fan of Google, as I found it useful for getting directions and finding obscure recipes for German Apfel Cakes. The internet was also great for its convenience of online shopping, and no one can argue how revolutionary has been.

However, it's only recently, since last year, that I started this blog, and joined facebook. I at first thought I was too old for Facebook, and of course there was always that concern that once you put something on the internet, it was basically like exposing oneself. However, I came to realize that having a presence online is like driving. If you use good judgement and act responsibly, it can actually be a fun and useful activity.

There are those driven by the number of networks, friends, and social groups they can belong to, or applications or bling that they add to their facebook, but for me, I think the best thing about Facebook has been the ability to reconnect with people from my past - such as old highschool friends, former colleagues, college friends, etc.

The funny thing about Facebook is how much socializing and the ability to connect with people has changed. Even though I have been able to reconnect with friends and colleagues, I've never picked up the phone to call and say "hello" to a majority of my "Facebook friends". And except for small group of very close friends, it's doubtful that I would ever see any of these "Facebook friends" in person.

Which is why I found this video hilarious...

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Who will buy US Debt?

Today, Obama announced his economic Stimulus plan "American Recovery and Reinvestment," the name of his proposed $750 billion stimulus package at George Mason University.
"Throughout America’s history, there have been some years that simply rolled into the next without much notice or fanfare. Then there are the years that come along once in a generation – the kind that mark a clean break from a troubled past, and set a new course for our nation. This is one of those years. We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime – a crisis that has only deepened over the last few weeks. Nearly two million jobs have now been lost, and on Friday we are likely to learn that we lost more jobs last year than at any time since World War II. Just in the past year, another 2.8 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs. Manufacturing has hit a twenty-eight year low. Many businesses cannot borrow or make payroll. Many families cannot pay their bills or their mortgage. Many workers are watching their life savings disappear. And many, many Americans are both anxious and uncertain of what the future will hold.

I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world. In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse...."

What's interesting is that earlier this week, the International Herald Tribune reported that China is losing it's taste for US Debt.
China has bought more than $1 trillion in American debt, but as the global downturn has intensified, Beijing is starting to keep more of its money at home - a shift that could pose some challenges to the U.S. government in the near future but eventually may even produce salutary effects on the world economy.

But now, Beijing is seeking to pay for its own $600 billion economic stimulus - just as tax revenue falls sharply as the Chinese economy slows. Regulators have ordered banks to lend more money to small and midsize enterprises, many of which are struggling with slower exports, and Chinese bankers say they are being instructed to lend more to local governments to allow them to build new roads and other projects as part of the stimulus program.

Given the ambitious stimulus plan that Obama has in mind, it will be interesting to see how the Treasury will raise the capital, with demand decreasing for US Debt. In addition, what will be the effect of rising interest rates on capital investments for the private sector and for consumers?
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Race and Achievement

Obama has demonstrated the ability to make diverse and competent appointments within his administration. The latest nominee making the news is the potential nomination of CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General.

The Daily Show has an amusing clip satirizing the notion of Race, Immigrants, and Overachievers. As this was something I could relate to, I found the ending especially funny.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Happy New Year to All!

Aside from having to remember to write 2009 and not 2008 on checks, to me, it's just another day in the continuing march of time. While some may think of the New Year as a chance to change habits, lose weight, learn new things, or wiping the slate clean; I personally do not make New Years Resolution. I don't see the point for why we have to have a special day to make commitments? Why put it off tomorrow, why can't people just resolve to change that moment?

However, this January, I find myself a little more reflective on my past and my future. In the past ten years, I have had 6 different assignments, had 7 managers, worked for 2 companies, experienced one merger, and lived in 3 different cities and two continents. With each move, I've come to accumulate more things, and have learned that I abhor packing and unpacking.

Part of my reflection is driven by the fact that I have something in common with the incoming President elect, Barack Obama. Like Obama, I am also moving on to a new assignment and a new location. While Obama is moving into the White House, I will be moving to southern California, a big change from Boston, Massachusetts!

In addition, my new assignment is filled with challenges of learning a new business category and dealing with sensitive organizational changes, just as Obama will face a new role with tough problems, and political environment challenges of Republicans and Democrats. While the challenges and level of complexity that I will face in my new role is not to the scale as what PE Obama will face, I do think about what similar qualities will be required to make transitioning to a new assignment successful.

If there's one thing that I have learned from my own personal experiences, as well as from others, there are certain critical qualities required to help make any transition to a new assignment successful:
  1. Listen and Learn: I've always felt that knowledge is power, and one of the first things I've always found helpful is to listen in on as many meetings to understand the issues and how people are feeling towards sensitive topics. Individually, I also find it helpful to do my own research, analyzing information, and reading up on topics that I am not familiar with.
  2. Collaborate and engage: Reaching out to people and gaining their input is so critical. It helps make your own acceptance into a new environment or organization that much easier. Moreover when recommending proposals or action plans, understanding other people's positions is a critical success factor to its implementation.
  3. Be Flexible: While having a new role or job can already be challenging enough, these are the times that call an individual to be even more adaptable to change. No matter what plans I might have in mind, I find that I need to be patient and flexible when facing unexpected events, and be able to alter my plans accordingly.
  4. Be Realistic: There is always that saying, "Hope for the best, plan for the worst", and it's always good to ensure that you do a proper risk assessment on key decision making. It's also important that you communicate the right level of expectation, not only to yourself, but to others.
For myself, I am certainly glad to shut the door on 2008, as it was a tough year all around both professionally and personally, which makes me very excited and eager to see what 2009 has in store.
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