I am in Changzhou.
So far, it seems amazing. The city is clean and nice – just as an extension of the whole Biyun or Liangyan Area of Shanghai. It is just amazing.
I am planning ahead and started to put appointment one or two weeks ahead of time. Some of the meeting appointment is even a quarter away.
This practice ended up with very packed day. In the last few days, my schedule is like a meeting every two hours or one hour. I actually had 5 meetings today.
The upside of this type of scheduling is, it put the most important things on the calendar first, and you make sure you the important things done first, instead of urgent one.
Glad to share.
Here is the challenge. Just as scaling the organization, as I grew, well, to 30-some, the relationship network I accumulate over the last 20 years started to reach a scale that is hard to manage the old way. Maybe that is the reason why time flies faster and faster. Think of Yifan – he only has about 10 person relationship he needs to manage right now (at the age of 4, parents, grandparents, teachers, and a girl-friend). I have at least 1000 people in my address book that I had once kept pretty close relationship along the way.
Stay with the Past
Although it is so nature that when we move on, the old relationships fade out from the horizon. High-school classmates, past colleges of old companies. There is actually not too many reasons to re-union, but the past is always what defines us today, and science research shows staying with the past makes us happier.
Communication won’t happen automatically, unless you design it to happen. I have friends who hang up photos of his friends. It is a good way to remind people of the persons they care about. Out of sight, out of mind. If there is a way to keep people in sight, it is easier to keep them in mind, and makes the connection easier.
There are Facebook or other tools, but they are not helpful if the person is out of mind. I have to say the most impressive offline event I saw was Carroll’s tree trimming party. There is friend who comes to the party in the last 43 years! A tradition like that will greatly help to keep people connected.
One of the biggest surprise in 2011 was how many Apple product I bought. I had never imagined that before. Here is a list:
1. iMac as the main desktop computer in our reading room.
2. MacBook Air 13′ as my main laptop.
3. MacBook Air 11′ as Wendy’s main laptop
4. iPhone 4 for my main phone
5. iPhone 4 for Wendy’s main phone
6. iPad first generation for me
7. iPad 2 for Wendy
8. Time Capsule as main wireless router, and main NAS
Apple has a much higher revenue / employee in IT industry.
P.S. Corrected my typo – should be MacBook Air, not Pro.
P.S.2 Another surprise. I now have Apple friends, and have many friends joining Apple, in Beijing and Shanghai.
I love technology, and enjoy scaling a system. You build the right architecture to allow scale out – using more computers to provide more processing power.
Talking about a company, we have to scale it as well. It is an art of scaling a human organization. To make a scalable system work for the people is much more complicated than in technical world.
When an organization grows, easy things started to become difficult. In technical world, insert a record into a database, serving a page view – any newly-graduate computer major can do the job. Inserting 1 million record per minute into the database, or serving 1 billion page views per day? Not easy. For the organization, it is the same. Communication within 1 0 person team is very different from 100 person team.
Communication needs to pay basically no attention when the team is small. Everyone knows everything – just like the husband/wife relationship. There will be no meetings, or PPTs – everyone just know.
It adds a lot of overhead as the organization gets bigger. This process seems to be irreversible, but need to be as slow as possible.
The key is communication. I just learnt it is exactly like the seat table. I paid great attention about who seats near whom, but not as closely as to the organization. We change seats every quarter to allow optimization communication. The same should happen to organization design.
To organize the team around functions or business are the key questions. We need to switch and alternate it every quarter to get the least of evils from any organization design.
The communication needs to be well planned, and enforced. We need to do it all the time, and that is the over head. We need to add a communication bus for the company to allow messages to flow within the company.
I wrote an article about 10 years ago (on September 13, 2002) named:
Time flies. So many things changed since I wrote that blog ten years ago.
So, let me take time to examine the current network infrastructure of my current home – Wendy complained for Internet access many times, and I finally get it to a level that is stable enough to Wendy’s satisfaction.
Broadband Provider － Fiber To The Home (FTTH)
In the recent upgrade, the China Telecom Shanghai changed ADSL in my home to the current FTTB. There is a optical fiber cable at the door of my home, connected with a fiber modem. I pay 150 RMB per month for the 10M speed.
Here is the IP information from APNIC
% APNIC found the following authoritative answer from: whois.apnic.net
% [whois.apnic.net node-5]
% Whois data copyright terms http://www.apnic.net/db/dbcopyright.html
inetnum: 188.8.131.52 – 184.108.40.206
descr: CHINANET SHANGHAI PROVINCE NETWORK
descr: China Telecom
descr: No.31,jingrong street
descr: Beijing 100032
status: ALLOCATED PORTABLE
remarks: service provider
changed: firstname.lastname@example.org 20110103
It seems the IP address is a stable number since it is always connected there. (I started to miss the time when we were using 202.120.xxx.xxx IP address in universities.)
The Shanghai Bell equipment of RG201O-CA is a very simple modem plus a gateway to the outside world of my entire home.
To cover the entire home, I needed three routers. Due to being stupid and too optimistic about the performance of WIFI, I only have limited ethernet cable on the two floors of the home. So I setup it this way:
Router 1: 192.168.2.1 TP-Link WR320R to provides wireless to the first floor.
Router 2: 192.168.1.103 Apple Time Capsule 2T to provide wireless for the reading room
Router 3: 192.168.1.253 TP-Link WR700R to act as a repeater to extend the wireless network of Apple Time Capsule to provide additional coverage for other areas of the house.
Obviously, we have much more clients than before to connects to all these wireless and wired networks. Here is an incomplete list:
Obviously, there are much more clients than before, and the count is going up every month.
It is a much more fancy network than many years ago with NAS (Network Area Storage) and other equipments connected to it.
What a CEO should do? I have to recommend an article from Ben Horowitz again (the second time in a week): How Andreessen Horowitz Evaluates CEOs.
Here is some note I took away from the reading. You should definitely read it too, by yourself.
According to Ben, he thinks the CEOs should do two things:
This is very broad and “empty” statement at the first glance, but Ben explained it in a very good way.
About the first one, “Does the CEO knows what to do?”, Ben suggested “One should interpret this question as broadly as possible”. Basically, it is like: CEO needs to know everything. Don’t laugh. It is actually very true. The CEO has to have insights of many things, from the office arrangement, to hiring, to marketing, to technology, to finance. Knowing what to do is about consistently keeping thinking about what’s behind the surface. It is tough, but … exciting.
In particular, the story – the question “Why”…
The other interesting part about know what to do is to make decisions. What Ben contributed in this idea is to clearly point out that CEO needs to make decisions with very limited information, always! The expectation to understand more about it is just not realistic. That actually gave me great relief about the situation I am in.
The second one is about getting the company do what he knows.
It turned out to be organizational capacity, get things done culture, quality of hiring, and the work environment. It is not surprising that Ben mentioned the Netflix culture building slides.
For Baixing, as a company with 50+ full time employees, we tried very hard to build a great company, and with great result. We are trying so hard to make sure the people are the core of the organization, and build the culture to help people to perform within it. It takes years of experience to get it…
New Year Gather
The interesting part of life is to set traditions. We now have a new tradition: to meet quarterly within the community of Internet entrepreneurs in Shanghai. Here is the first gather:
Alan de Botton is really my favorite writer. I am re-reading his “Consolation of Philosophy”, and it inspired me a lot. On Consolation of Lack of Money, he wisely quoted Epicure about the natural and necessary needs of human. It turned out that those does not cost a lot of money, like running, is natural and necessary, while expensive houses and fame are not. We really need to switch the paradigm of this world.
Mileage of Running
I tend of enjoy accumulating mileage of many interesting programs – United Mileage Plus, or HHonors… But nothing is comparable to the feeling of accumulating calorie burns. I started to run about 3-5 km per day or walk the same distance. It turned out to be very exciting experience. Thanks to Nike Plus that help me to record that, and accumulate.
Controlling the scope of a project, or a meeting is one of the most critical part of success. We continued to recall some of the most important principles in project management.
Time to sleep.
I just got Nike+ and started to test run with my iPhone. The first experiment is to understand how much calorie a typical running route cost. So I picked southbound of my home.
It turned out that the Pudong IKEA store is exactly 500 calories away from my home. That means, if I want to increase 33% calorie burn, or get rid of what I got from a dinner, I should just decide to visit IKEA.
I finally understood why a typical dinner in Shanghai cost 20 RMB and a taxi ride for 6 km also cost 20 RMB – because it takes 20 RMB worth of calorie to walk over 6 km, or you can choose to take taxi – the cost and the result are the same.
I also understand why IKEA sells ice-cream at as low as 1 RMB – because it takes 90 calories to walk through the IKEA store, and that is basically what the ice-cream compensate for – 90 cal for a typical ice-cream.
Here is a list of articles on the left side of Ben’s Blog. I found out all of them – every single article of them worth reading. You should, if you also run a company.
Thanks Richard Lim for sharing the first article with us.
P.S. John Morgidge, CEO cisco, once said
If you can’t see your car from your hotel room, then you are paying too much.
I just felt backed by one of the best CEOs on the important matter – cost saving.