Archive for November, 2011

A.R.T. of Time Management

November 16, 2011

There is a bunch of book on time management. You’ve probably read a dozen of books or at least heard of this topic millions times before. Recent book I picked up is called “관계중심 시간경영 (Time Management – Relationship Matters.)” It is a Korean book published by Korea.com. It is written by Mr. Hwang Byung-koo, an engineer by training, civil activist, music producer, and now business consultant. Not only because Mr. Hwang is a close friend of our family, but also because this book is a by-product of his highly productive work style and diligent manners, I strongly recommended it.

One part of his book really grabbed my attention. Mr. Hwang gave his own interpretation on the priority decision matrix of Stephen Covey. Priority matrix was introduced in Covey’s famous book, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. We all know this book. We all know this simple matrix on how to sort out things to manage your priority.

To refresh your memory, here is priority matrix.

Quadrant no 1.

Urgent and important

Quadrant no 2.

Not urgent, but important

Quadrant no 3.

Urgent, but not important

Quadrant no 4.

Not urgent and not important

So where shall we spend most of our time to manage our time better and live a better life? That’s right. “Quadrant no 2 – things that are not urgent, but important” is it. What might be a good day-to-day example of things that might fall under this quadrant no 2? Weight training, diet, vocation training, language learning, business planning, or good friendship, you name it. These are important things, but they can be easily abandoned because there are usually no set deadlines. However if you keep doing things that are not urgent, but very important, you will eventually have fewer urgent matters because you already dealt with them before they become urgent. So, allocating 20% of your time or doing important stuffs first thing in the morning, or blocking time for the things that are not urgent, but important when you are at your best. It will be surprising how much time you can save and how much you can achieve more.

What about stuffs on other quadrants then? For quadrant no 1: urgent and important, just do it right away if you think you can get it done in 5-10 minutes. I already explained quadrant no 2 above, so I will pass it. What about quadrant no 3: urgent, but not important? In fact, our lives are full of urgent but not important stuffs. So, what shall we do? Delegate it or procrastinate for tomorrow. You will see there is much fake urgency in our lives. You wake up next morning, they may still look urgent, but don’t be disguised. They are fakes. What about quadrant no 4: not urgent and not important? Oh, well, why do you even bother? Throw it away! They are total time wasters.

Mr. Hwang’s drive for time management is not about project or task completion. A.R.T. describes his main point as it is written on the subtitle of his book. “A” stands for availability. “R” stands for responsibility, and “T” stands for trust. His goal for time management is building solid relationship. If you’re dragged by so many undone priorities or urgency, you cannot find enough time for your family, friends, and more importantly for yourself. You may feel like you are getting things done under the direction of your boss or smart phone to-do list. You may also find deadline is quite helpful to stay focused. However, you are most likely living in deadline misery, not deadline magic. If you are a mile away of your “real life” purpose, what’s good with that?

Relationship really matters and it takes time to cultivate good relationship. If you want to find more quality time, please, don’t forget “doing things not urgent, but important” first. Then, your life can be more meaningful. Your life will be more prosperous with people surrounding you. Time you spend for solid relationship will make you happier that money cannot easily buy.

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App-solutely Fabulous

November 14, 2011

Last week, I spent time to meet with young entrepreneurs based in Seoul. My search for young entrepreneurs continues. I hope to find a good quality team to closely work with. My venture investment is largely co-related with my time and managerial effort, not only monetary injection, to bring business on. One thing I want to achieve in Korea is to move forward these young entrepreneurs faster than global competition and make meaningful mark in the market to maximize investment value.

As a matter of fact, it is not surprising to see 80% of dozen of business entrepreneurs that I met in the past week had app business plans. Regardless what they were trying to achieve with their core business plans, medium was largely drawn to the app. App is easily grab-able and acquainted to wider range of people these days, and also less-capital intensive to break the ground. It is like web entrepreneurs’ foray in their early “go to the web, young men” era. Google and Apple also bring on this app universe to its Internet browser and operating system platform to embrace more non-techie users to their eco system. Non-techie users can easily obtain value from using apps. They can download from singular app universe with no need to search for hours. People like free stuffs but the price of app is reasonable, not intrusive. So, people easily let go their payment transaction to buy what they want at a fraction of cost of what they used to pay for.

Problem of app business is still clear, though. As app business becomes like media business, it requires more wisdom to grab attention from general public. App entrepreneurs ought to compete for time usage of target users, not money. App business requires fairly intensive marketing and PR investment than usual. Soon after app is moving into the wing of long-tail app universe, it is a lot harder to revive it. App entrepreneur is concerned to immune his app to stay in the top of cloud and maintain steady seller status. Singular market place is great to position his product as long as app gains top rank for a formidable period. However, soon after it goes under water, business becomes sluggish. It is similar with other traditional publishing business like book or music label.

I will keep focusing on following areas of app innovation even if clear problems are well-addressed above. Like everyone loves this platform terminology, I am no different and I keep my eyes on following platforms for:

• mobile advertisement

• micro-payment and in-app purchasable business

• trade and transaction for goods and service, and

• social planner that cuts away borderline between your online and offline life to get more social

I hope I can come up with a team with more fundable and big picture business idea to make us more excited and beat the global market expectation. Small media business like a magazine publication is probably good for sponsors in a small scale as long as it is a profitable business. However, we talk about venture type growth that can draw J-curve graph and reaches three digit million revenue in 3-4 years, don’t we? One or two creative apps idea is not enough and savvy investors have no appetite for assorted chocolate box, either.

First thing in the morning

November 8, 2011

Story 1. Literally every church in Korea has dawn prayer meeting. Service time varies. Though, members of prayer meeting gather as early as 4:30~5:00 A.M. in every morning. Members even come from a bit of distance if they want to serve at their home church. Some folks may do it at home by watching live Internet streaming video or having a personal quiet time if they can’t commute.

Story 2. My grandfather rose up from poverty to entrepreneurial success building a large energy & utility conglomerate. I often noticed that he retreated to his library in the early evening even if there was family gathering. He went to bed around 8:00~9:00 P.M. and woke up at 4:00 A.M. We knew he was working hard during the day and we were not bothering him after he muted for rest. His early rising routine continued until he was weakened from terminal illness. This habit was common for other successful entrepreneurs in his era.

Like two examples above, hard work is what defines Korean who has rapidly built a wealthy nation from scratch within 60 years after mass devastation of the Korean War. Being a morning person was a leading chariot of personal and national success. Getting up early is a good way to show commitment to your success. Doing important things first in the morning help stay focused and achieve your goal. Early morning is fresh and productive. No one would touch it. You can maximize your productivity. Depending on how you wisely utilize extra few hours in the morning, your day can be crystallized. Therefore, I often encourage entrepreneurs who I work with to start a day early.

Being an early riser, many social events in the evening can be abandoned. Creative minds and geeky developers love their leisurely late evening. If you are up and running since early in the morning, but feel dull and tired throughout the day, you’d better check whether you have quality sleep pattern. If you use your entire morning to check up emails, SNS updates, or gossips on the Internet, you’d better sleep in. 3-4 extra hours before you hit the office in the morning is quality moment to architect your plan and make detail touch on how to improve it.

Modern day venturing process requires a lot of team work. Clear entrepreneurial direction crafted from your solitary moment is a key driving force. You will see the difference and you should be ready to shoot the core issues. If you have entrepreneurial idea you’re super excited with, get up early and try it for good.

What do I hope to see after SIRI?

November 7, 2011

SIRI, a voice recognition and natural language processing software that is integrated with iOS, has become part of Steve Jobs’ final legacy. SIRI was a brainchild of SRI International. Menlo Ventures, Morgenthaler, and Hong Kong financier Lee Ka-Shing’s family money bankrolled until Apple bought it in April 2010. We could have seen Android or BlackBerry version of SIRI, but Apple didn’t continue after acquisition. Alternatively, there are fairly well-functioning voice recognition tools that I occasionally use when I drive or just for fun on my Android device. Though, SIRI’s self-learning capability and Jobs’ magic touch make all difference.

I travel a lot and often work on a remote site. With widely available free WIFI and LTE connectivity, I don’t have to run around to get a wireless signal. However, I have to plug in somewhere to recharge. Battery capacity and power efficiency often rank up top buying factors for me. My ASUS net book can run for 11 hours in theory. My HTC and BlackBerry devices are separately carried for my data and voice communication usage along with extra batteries. I do everything wirelessly except for power recharge. Biggest reason for me being temped for old Kindle was fairly generous battery scheme. Though, Kindle Fire gave it up in order to obtain better user interface and more versatile functionality.

So, what do we hope to see after SIRI as a major shift in portable smart device? One of my top wish list is changes in power consumption and recharge scheme. Computing power, wide LCD screen, fantastic user interface, bolstering wireless communication, and varieties of Apps are all great. Though, I would like to see more innovative change in power. There are 4 major trends to hit this:

• Higher capacity battery (but smaller in size)

• Low energy consumption design

• Alternative energy source (other than traditional lithium-ion or polymer)

• Wireless energy recharge

Short distance wireless charging like PowerMat is a great stepping stone. However, we’d like to see more distant recharge innovation like Mr. Nikola Tesla envisioned 100 years ago. Better yet, how about portable device that runs for a week or a month on moderate use without charging it. It can make our smart “portable” life more exciting but less burdensome.