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Motivation

The last thing I want to happen is to be wondering, at age 30, a good 8 years from now, “Why haven’t I written that novel yet?” “Why haven’t I reached for my dreams and done xyz yet?” “I’ve always wanted to have accomplished this by now,” “Man, I should have partied more.” 

Life is so short. It terrifies me that one day my parents aren’t going to be here with me, or that I’m not going to be here. 

Every time I start getting complacent (which is pretty much never, anyways), or whenever I start getting slow on progress, I should look at this post.

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YC Female Founders

I had an incredible birthday. A kind of cool thing about being born on leap year is that the next day I had an extension of the best birthday ever! So I’ll just talk about the latter. 

I was invited on Saturday to the YC Female Founders Conference in Mountain View, the first all-female startup founder conference held by the YC. It was planned by Jessica Livingston and described as their most over-subscribed event in history, which is impressive considering the immense popularity of their meetings. The day featured back to back talks and candid/very useful advice. It was refreshing to attend a meeting with so many driven women, all there with a similar purpose in mind. Walking into a room with at least 900 females was also very interesting, because it was like walking into a sea of estrogen. 

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Jessica Livingston opening the conference.

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I had a lot of fun and met some great people. However, one of the best perks of the conference was the gem mine of good quotes. My favorite speakers were Adora of Homejoy and Jessica Mah of inDinero. They’re both beasts. I’ll share some of my favorite quotes of the night below: 

“It’s best if your target user is yourself. Then you can have a conversation with your users just by thinking!” -Jessica Livingston

“Running a startup is like sprinting a marathon, but with hills and mountains, and earthquakes and avalanches in the way, and things that look like water holes that turn out to be mirages.” -Adora 

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Gary Danko

I had the privilege, recently, of attending literally the best restaurant in San Francisco. My partner in crime took me to Gary Danko for our anniversary, and I was floored by the food. The staff were kind enough to give me a small gift to take home, which turned out to be the best breakfast cake I’ve ever had, plus the mini dessert snacks we could not finish, and those were also the best I’d ever had. There were a lot of best-I’d-ever-had’s. I’m a lucky girl.

I’m not a foodie, and my palate isn’t particularly sophisticated. That being said, I am a huge appreciator of food. Every dish that night had so much complexity. You’d get hit by waves of flavor, one after the other, blending together with subtlety you’d never have imagined.

Starting off, I had the best oysters and caviar I’d ever had in my life. If I had to choose words to describe it, the oysters could be described as “succulent,” and the caviar “smooth.” The flavors were balanced so well. Definitely one of the best dishes. (I really want more.)ImageSecond: this was undoubtedly the most beautiful dish I’ve ever seen. The tuna was perfectly fresh and even the avocado was incredible, which was key. The sauces also complemented the dish very well. Amazing.ImageLobster on creamy potato. Probably my FAVORITE dish of the night. I can’t describe it. I’m a giant fan of lobster, and everything on this plate was just delicious. I’d eat this every day if I could.ImageSalmon coin on top of cucumber. Very refreshing and light. (He likes salmon 🙂ImageVenison! The oats were incredibly good in this dish. Otherwise, the venison was my least favorite dish of the night, but probably only because everything else was so incredible.ImageLamb. As over-filtered as this picture is, the lamb was the best lamb either of us had ever had. Tender, and with the best flavor. My boyfriend’s favorite. Would definitely order a second time and recommend to anyone to try.ImageChocolate souffle! I have a weakness for chocolate souffle. This was incredibly fluffy. I didn’t know souffle could be this fluffy, almost as light as air. Unfortunately by this time we were getting full, but it was full of flavor without being too heavy. P got the pineapple flambe (they seasonally switch the fruit), and although that was a great show and came with fine vanilla ice cream, I still liked mine better. Image

Lastly, the mousse was incredible, and the chocolate calligraphy was elegant and beautiful. Those little desserts in the back? I ate them the next day and remembered just how good the restaurant was. I was a happy girl.Image

If you ever have the chance, this place is a must-go! It’s pricey, but if you can afford it and you love food, I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Thank you to my sweetheart for taking me here. ❤

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Chanath Palihapitiya Interview

This interesting talk by Silicon Valley VC Chanath Palihapitiya really sparked my interest and highlighted several phenomena of importance:

1. As a society the source of our social capital is shifting from graduating from a prestigious school then going on to own a car/home to the validation we receive on social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram.

2. Education is becoming increasingly less relevant as information and new/cheaper methods of learning are becoming available on line.

3. Silicon Valley is becoming increasingly about making a quick buck on trivial apps than funding meaningful startups that can advance society further in medicine, education, and other worthwhile causes. In the photo space alone, in the 8 or 9 years, 1,038 startups were funded by more than $1 billion in venture capital, and 7 successfully exited.

While I believe these new social changes are slightly more complex than that and may apply mostly to people of a certain disposition and background, and while some people still and always will receive validation from going to HBS or believe in the importance of education, these are interesting new trends. The percent rate of college enrollment has been decreasing, but likely because young people feel discouraged with the sad state of job opportunities/the return on a college education. Youth with little skill and the ability to code will continue to make apps following the herd so long as there is the potential of reward. I don’t think every 21-year-old startup founder is capable of solving diabetes, but I hope that those who are capable do so. I suppose the lessons from this interview would be 1) nowadays you can possess less and be happier, 2) Learn/accomplish things by yourself and you can be just as esteemed as Ivy League graduates, and 3) We should make a concerted effort to use our abilities and available venture capital to make a more positive influence on the world.

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Great By Choice (Book Summary and Thoughts)

One of my goals over winter break was to do the reading that was indefinitely stalled on my ever growing to-read list. “Great by Choice” by Jim Collins was an interesting read, introducing me to some practices that I hadn’t thought of, but will now be implementing religiously in my own life. The main thesis of the book, backed by a fair amount of analytical evidence and research, is that we control whether we succeed or fail, and that the most successful companies that beat their respective markets by far (which Collins calls “10X companies”) all share similar traits. All 10X companies plug and chug away at a constant pace (which he calls the “20 mile march” in which progress is marked and paced so that the company does not overextend itself but always hits profits and goal margins, even during unideal times), make a habit of delivering, save up large cash reserves for inevitable bad luck events, and adhere to what works consistently and with discipline. The CEO’s of 10X companies are not necessarily visionary, creative or even charismatic; they are neurotic, paranoid, obsessive, and validate all of their methods and decisions with field evidence. Surprisingly, they take less risks, and change less than their less successful competitors. Here are some of the other points that struck me:

1. Discipline

The 20 miles per day concept can really be applied to anything, including learning to code, exercising, writing a book, or building a company. Successful people make reasonable measures and adhere to them religiously, even during busy or stressful times, so that regardless of conditions, they always make progress.

2. Fire bullets, then cannonballs.

This aspect reminded me greatly of The Lean Startup A/B testing wisdom, in which companies first test their theories on a small scale before launching into massive expenditure.

3. Expect, and prepare for disaster.

Save cash. Maintain a high cash:assets ratio. Build a sturdy culture to weather upcoming storms. Take less risk on the three risks Collins outlines: Death line (in which faltering can entail company (or personal) death or debilitation), asymmetric (in which the potential downside far outweighs the potential upside, i.e. not bringing water on a long hike through a desert, etc. Can be avoided through some foresight and planning), and uncontrollable risk (which can be prepared for). Time-sensitive decisions don’t mean that you need to rush into a decision, merely that hypervigilence, early recognition of threat, and constant worrying for worst case scenarios pay off. It entails making a deliberate, not rushed, decision in the time available before the risk profile changes.

4. Be consistent in methodology. Once you find something that works, don’t fall for the new fad. You can make amendments, but don’t change the constitution.

5. Luck is like flipping coins. There will inevitably be both bad and good luck. You can increase luck by swimming with great people, and you can also ensure that your preparation means you receive great returns on good AND bad luck.

“Great By Choice” was overall an interesting read, and although it mostly reinforced the ideology that I possessed before, that hard work determines one’s fate, it brought up interesting specificities in how 10X companies are managed and propelled into success.

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What to Do in My Final Semester

In the midst of finals, I have managed to somehow induce a state of stress such that I no longer feel particular hunger nor fall asleep after hours of trying. Remarkable and slightly alarming as this is, I also recognize that this is my second to last semester. So how did this semester measure up? How satisfied am I with it? And how can I ensure that I leave my four years at Cal with no regrets?

Overall this semester, I worked very hard as a project manager for my consulting group and in achieving both client happiness and team bonding. I got to meet and work with an awesome startup with the nicest founder out there, as well as the coolest team. I applied to a few incubators and learned a lot, and finally have been seeing the slow but steady growth of J’s and my vision! We created a brand, and now we are creating a product, but we still have to launch it. I also began the processes of outsourcing product development and manufacturing, and am learning that is far more difficult than I initially thought. I endured the long days of recruiting, only to make up my mind that I would rather spend the next year working on something that I want very much to make a reality, although recruiting was still a valuable learning experience, as it always is. I made mistakes, and now I know better. When I wasn’t being preoccupied with side hustles, I did try to study and complete my assignments on time. I also ate extremely healthily and worked out religiously until finals, and have witnessed an overall improvement in health. However, this semester I have not been able to be as social as I would have liked to be, and I would like to change that during my last semester and make it a point to catch up with at least one friend for lunch or dinner per week before we all graduate and leave.  I’d also like to strive for better performance in my important courses and leave Cal with good relationships with great professors. 

So how did this semester stack up? Not so bad. I’ve been lucky to have the friendships of some very special people, including my partner and my PIC, and I couldn’t have kept at it without their support. I hope for an even better semester next year!