June 2007

I Have a Dream

I have a dream that someday all of us can live our dream and achieve what we always wanted…

Despite what we were taught.

Despite what we were told.

Despite what we were expected to be.

Despite the fear.

Despite everything else in life that could stop us from doing anything.

I found a moving performance while reading Seth’s Critics & the Dip.  Paul, a mobile phone salesman from South Wales, realized his dream on stage …

Despite what he was taught by trade.

Despite the expectation of the judges.

Despite everything else that stopped him before that moment.

Paul made his choice to step on the stage and he said:  “My dream is to spend my life doing I felt I was born to be.”

That day, Paul lived his dream. 

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First Imtrepreneur Mastermind Meeting Review

Last night I hosted the first Imtrepreneur Mastermind at the Miyako Hotel Boardroom in San Francisco. 

The objective of the is to create a supportive environment for inspired entrepreneurs to meet, learn and help each other grow.  Most members are from foreign countries, but not everyone.  I want Imtrepreneur to be an incredibly rewarding experience for members.   Each Imtrepreneur member would discuss his or her business venture, share tips, and discuss business models, marketing and sales strategy.  Imtrepreneur would be a great opportunity for member to kick start, improve business venture, share tips, problem solving techniques, get advice on profitability and discuss business models.

We had six committed entrepreneurs showed up to our first Imtrepreneur Mastermind Meetup last night.  Three of us arrived 15 minutes early at the Miyako Boardroom.  The room was beautiful, professional and well prepared.  We had a great spot and off to a good start.  We had a great mix of people from all over the world including Indonesia, Brazil, US, Pakistan, Poland and Hong Kong with a good variety of industries including social networking software, commercial real estate, network marketing, software consulting and personal development.

We gathered around the long mahogany boardroom table and talked about our passion, business goals, sales and marketing strategy and tactics, corporate direction and many fun and important topics. 

Nothing beats meeting face-to-face and I really enjoyed the chance to connect with other Imtrepreneurs who are passionate about what they do.   In a way, I felt we were like our own Board of Advisors.  You feel alone sometimes when you are your own boss and chief.  Imtrepreneur Mastermind is a great sounding board for all of us.

Woody Allen once said: “80% of success is showing up.”

I want to congratulate everyone who was there last night.  For those of you who wanted to come, but missed last night meeting, don’t worry.  The next meeting is scheduled on July 26th.  You can sign up .

Have a great weekend everyone! 

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How to Expand Your Network (Increase Your Bacon Score)

In 1994, one year after I came to the US, three students from Pennsylvania invented a trivia game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”.  This game shows that any actor can be linked to Kevin Bacon through their film roles. 

The game was born while these students were watching a TV commercial showing Bacon’s recent film at the time.  The commercial led to a discussion on the wide variety of actors Bacon had worked with.  The concept of this game is to connect any film actor in history to Bacon as quickly as possible and in as few links as possible.  The Bacon score is also assigned to each actor or actress to determine the number of degrees of separation they have from Kevin Bacon.

I found this concept really fascinating and it reminds me of a quote by a wise man (I forgot whom):

“Your net worth expands in proportion to your network.” 

I am a true believer in this quote and even though I don’t really know Kevin Bacon’s net worth, my gut tells me that his net worth is probably not trivial.  In fact, if I can assign a “Bacon Score” to people like Bill Gates & Warren Buffet, their scores are probably a lot higher than mine or yours (for now).  J

In this article, I want to help you in two areas:  First, some ideas to expand your network; and second, some ideas to improve the quality of your network.

Expand Your Network

When I first came to the US it was hard for me with limited English to meet new people.  Naturally I was more inclined to hang out with people from my own country.  It didn’t take me long to realize that sticking with my own clan not only would limit my social network, but in many ways my future and career would also be limited.  After all the tremendous effort I went through in coming to the US, I at least owed it to myself to meet new people.  

After years of exploring and meeting people from all over the world, here are a few ideas to expand your network:

Interest Groups.  Meet people who love to do what you are interested in (for example:  Jazz, Movies, Hiking, etc) 

Toastmaster.  Meet people who are passionate about improving their communication skills

Volunteer Groups.  Meet people who are willing to give and help people

Continued Education.  Workshops and seminars are the best way to meet like-minded people who also want to keep growing and learning.

Continue to Explore New Networks.  Your friends now are probably not the same friends you had when you were in kindergarten.  As you grow as a person, your networks will naturally change.  Meanwhile, while it is comfortable to stay with your old networks, don’t stop yourself from exploring new networks.  I bet you wouldn’t say no to meeting friends of Kevin Bacon.        

Once You found Your Network

Just because you find the right network, doesn’t mean your network will expand. Just like everything else in life, you get as much as you give.  Here are a few ideas that can improve the quality of your network:

Show up.  Woody Allen quote that 80% of success is showing up. Showing up is the first sign of commitment and dedication.

Initiate.  Ask your new friends from your network out for happy hour or dinner.  Building a quality network takes time and sometimes you have to initiate these opportunities.

Volunteer.   Take on responsibilities and establish yourself as the “go to” person in the network.  Volunteer as the chair person at the next meeting or event.

Show them who you are.  Share your experiences and stories with people in the network.  People love stories.

Regular Contact.  The frequency of contact will determine your impact on the network.  If you are never there, how can people count on you?  On the other hand, if you are emailing people everyday, people won’t count on you neither.  There needs to be a fine balance there.

Become an expert. What are you good at?  What is your specialty?  By what do you want your friends to remember you?  Establish your creditability in the network as the expert in a particular area.

Connect Your Networks.  Once in a while you need to bridge the gap.  When the appropriate time comes (you will know), you can exponentially grow your network by connecting the dots.

Obviously there are many more ways for you to expand and improve your network.  But the only thing that really matters is that you continue to grow as a person by expanding and learning from your network.  If you forget everything else in this article, just focus on providing value to your network, I guarantee (yes I will) that you will receive amazing reward from your network.

By the way, after years of dismay about this game, Kevin Bacon finally embraced the idea and formed the social networking charitable website called with the goal to link people to charities.  See below.

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Imtreprenuer - A Mastermind Group for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

I started a new meetup group called Imtrepreneur  - a mastermind group for immigrant entrepreneurs living in or near San Francisco & Silicon Valley.  

The goal of Imtrepreneur is to create an environment for entrepreneurs to meet and learn from each other.  Most members are from foreign countries, but not everyone. Whether you are looking to get business advices or finding business partners, you will find Imtrepreneur to be a wonderful way of meeting amazing like-minded entrepreneurs.   

I want all immigrant entrepreneurs, regardless they are expert or new to the world of entrepreneurship to join Imtrepreneur. Imtrepreneur will be an incredibly rewarding experience and an easy way to kick start and improve your business venture, share tips and problem solving techniques, get advice on profitability and discuss business models.   

There will be three levels of membership:

- Open enrollment Level - $10 per visit.  With up to 20 entrepreneurs per meeting.  This will provide entrepreneurs a taste of how Imtreprenuer mastermind group works.

- Emerging Leaders Level – Qualified Entrepreneurs only.  With up to 16 emerging entrepreneurs with complimentary expertise and skill sets per meeting.

- Chief Executives Level – By Invitation Only.  With up to 12 chief executives, presidents, or business owners per meeting. 

To Join Imtrepreneur - Open Enrollment Level, click here.

Why focus on Immigrant Entrepreneurs?

Based on my research and various studies, I think so there is a market for immigrant entrepreneurs.  See below for details:  ·         (by NVCA.Org)Imagine innovation in

America without Andy Grove, without Jerry Yang, without Sergey Brin — Hungarian, Chinese, and Russian. These immigrants have contributed enormously to innovation and our well-being. ·         Changing Face of Entrepreneurship  - The Immigrant Entrepreneur (by Entrepreneur.com)The U.S. Census reports that immigrants are currently the fastest-growing segment of small business owners. 

·         (by CNN Money)Nearly half of today’s private, and 20 percent of public, venture-backed start-ups were founded by immigrants despite challenges, study says. 

·         (by LocalTechWire.com)In 25.3% of the engineering & technology companies started from 1995 – 2005 have at least one key founder was foreign-born. Over half (52.4%) of Silicon Valley startups had one or more immigrants as a key founder, compared with the California average of 38.8%. 

·         (by Businessweek.com)One-quarter of the publicly traded, venture capital-backed companies started in the past 15 years in the U.S. were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs… 

·         (by ABC7News.com)There are organization like C.E.O Women which transform women’s lives by helping to  become successful business owners. 

·         Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs (by Researcher from UC Santa Cruz)Skilled immigrants are a growing presence in Silicon Valley, accounting for one-third of theengineering workforce in most technology firms and emerging as visible entrepreneurs… 

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The Land of the Free

After a three week visit, my mother was off to Hong Kong last night at about 1:30 a.m.  It was a wonderful three weeks that we spent together; lots of laughter, great food and heartwarming conversations.  Saying goodbye to her was very tough for me.   

As I was sending her away I couldn’t help but notice that there were so many people at the airport from all over the world going back to visit their home countries.  They were from India, Mexico, Hong Kong, UK, China, France etc.  Most of them were US citizens as I could tell from their passports.  Yet, whenever they have a chance it seems that they would go back to see their families and friends in the other part of the world.  

As an immigrant I often ask myself…  What is keeping me here away from my family? How long should I stay here?  Why am I still here after all these years?   

I remember when my cousin was applying for a student visa  to come here. He got rejected three times despite his excellent grades and great background.  Why do people still want to come to America despite these miles of red tape?   

I can’t speak for all immigrants.  As for me… it is the freedom.  

Freedom to dream.  Freedom to think.  Freedom to act.  If you dream it, you can get it.  This luxury is not common in most countries but we can find it here. Being free to pursue your dream is everything.   

Millions of people emigrate to the US every year without knowing a word of English or having much money.  I was one of them 14 years ago.  We work hard.  We never complain.  All we want is the opportunity to serve.  All we want is to be free.   

Earl Nightingale once told this story: 

In New York City there was a Korean family who managed to buy a small convenience store in midtown Manhattan.  The first thing they did was to clean it.  It sparkled with cleanliness.  Then they stocked it with everything their customers would expect in a grocery store.  They were open early in the morning and stayed open until late at night.  They never failed to smile and greet their customers.  They were open seven days a week.  Slowly, they became wonderfully successful.  After years of operation, one day a customer came and found that they were closed.  On the door, there was a sign giving the reason why.  It read “We’ve gone to Yale University to see our son graduate.”

That is an American story.   

Despite the mountainous obstacles of not speaking any English and not knowing anyone, they worked hard and made their dream come true. 

What is your dream?  Are you living your dream?  Are you getting the most out of this land of the free?  

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