Monday, December 24, 2007

Making Incentives Work

Leading up to the holiday season, posting is still going to probably be light (not to mention hoping to close all the loops to get the Getting Things Done methodology going. Here's a short guide to planning compensation plans. Comp plans are one of those things that make a big difference (good and bad) to culture - but I think the key is to realize that compensation isn't just monetary. More on the topic later and some interesting models that I've come across in China.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Couldn't help myself.


Keeping Meetings on Track

Factoring in the cost of time (let alone in China where I often have to ask what someone meant) and travel multiplied by the number of participants, meetings are expensive. One of the many things I'm thankful for at least internally is that we get some productive discussion and that staff aren't so afraid of me that they remain silent throughout (discussion for another day).

I've been listening to an audio seminar called "Getting Things Done" by David Allen and it has been quite invaluable with innumerable "aha" moments. One of his tips has been to always start meetings off stating what that meeting is supposed to accomplish and before the meeting ends, establish specific next action steps.

What You Need to Know about US-China Relations

From Kiplinger but summarized by All Roads Lead to China. The original title in Kiplinger's specifically relates to investors, but this article applies to a much broader audience dispelling some of the many myths out there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Does being Happy make you Productive?

Maybe not. Of course I suspect that the best type of an environment is a results-driven workplace where workers are happy not because of the perks but because employers don't get in their way (yes, far easier said than done). Not sure how this ultimately applies in China but where perks don't cost too much and can result in a modicum of dignity and comfort, I'm game. While keeping good employees is common sense, I do think I also fall into the trap that it ultimately just comes down to money. Perhaps the greater lesson from the authors of Freakonomics is that performance is more about who you hire than how they feel. Quoted from psychologist Nathan Bowling:

My study shows that a cause and effect relationship does not exist between job satisfaction and performance. Instead, the two are related because both satisfaction and performance are the result of employee personality characteristics, such as self-esteem, emotional stability, extroversion and conscientiousness.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mysteries of Travel

I'm waiting to board a flight that's 1.5 hours late. On the way in, I invariably always stop at the local relay/book store to pick up some reading material on the transpacific flight. While I'll grant you that reading business rags can almost be like porn to me, there are two sets of questions that I have to be asked:

  • Who buys porn on the airport? And why at the airport? Does this mean I should be even more concerned about the cleanliness factor in the bathrooms? (it's quite the long flight after all)
  • Why do airline lounges insist on serving foods that cause flatulence?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"Keep Moving Forward"

I was recently reminded of Disney's "Meet the Robinsons" after hearing Rob Thomas's "Little Wonders" (great song by the way) played in the hotel's gym. Hollywood doesn't make enough movies about entrepreneurship let alone inspirational ones. If he were alive today, I believe Walt Disney, one of America's greatest entrepreneurs, would have very much approved.

Truth be told, I don't really like calling myself an entrepreneur as it seems to have a sort of transient type connotation to it (though perhaps those who know me well might think this is why the description might be apt). Entrepreneurship isn't celebrated nearly as much as it should be.

Working for yourself and building something from scratch takes a lot of discipline but most of all I think it takes a near inhuman amount of persistence and to be unafraid of failure. I suspect like many forms of leadership, do it long enough and it can be lonely without the ability to talk to people you think can relate to you and you can trust. I don't doubt that there are many entrepreneurs out there who are building businesses that have little to no chance of real viability. I do suspect however, that most successful entrepreneurs would also tell you that part of the trick is believing in yourself and sticking it out long enough for luck to pay off - whether it be having the opportunities to present your ideas to the right connections or clients to developing the idea that finally catches fire. Until that time you have to find a way to let the optimism vanquish the doubts along the way. This movie illustrated this perfectly.

Keep moving forward!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Long Hiatus. Fresh Start.

Ok. Now that I have gotten rid of what few readers I had, I am back. In the journey to figuring what what's important to me, I have determined that scratching that annoying itch to blog is one of them. I am going to try to keep posts simple and focused on one thought at a time - but I aim to reduce my political rants further though I cannot imagine I will be able to entirely resist. I do think as well that I have figured out what I want to focus on: building a business where a large part of what we do happens to be in China.

Like the now somewhat arcane term 'e-business', I believe the novelty of doing business in China will wear off (if it has not already) into simply a part of doing business. The topics I hope to primarily cover include recruiting/hr, productivity, and legal/tax/regulatory issues with a few random thoughts mixed in.

I do have a few ideas for coming posts including a trip to recruit interns near Wuhan (hiring 11), sniffing around a small potential acquisition and my introduction to the byzantine Chinese legal system, and my journey to "getting things done" having been recently introduced to it by a friend in China.