Archive for category Lessons Learned

Life Advice from Quora – Is it too late to do something amazing?

One of my favorite infrequent e-mails is the one I get from Quora. In case you don’t know Quora, it’s a simple Question and Answer site where anyone can ask a question and anyone can answer. Answers are then voted up or voted down. This reddit-like model has created amazing results. Often questions will be answered by experts, unlikely people with unique experience, or just everyday users with great perspective.

As a recent 30-year-old, I’ve been thinking about my life and what I’ll accomplish. With the deluge of news on young entrepreneurs who are changing the world I can’t help but feel a little behind the curve. This is a normal feeling for many of us. I found some great insight and perspective from this simple question:

If that wasn’t enough motivation just check out this great article by Herbert Liu about it: 14 Stories of Late Blooming Geniuses

The gist of it? NO. It is NOT too late.


The best quote I read was: “You can’t steer a parked car.”  So keep moving, get to work, embrace a hobby. Just keep doing.

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My Hiring Philosophy – Attitude is Most Important

In the last (nearly) 2 years at my company Spotted Koi I’ve had the opportunity to to hire several dozen people.  Obviously not all of those people worked out but that is largely because of my inexperience in hiring.  We’ve learned a lot int the last couple of years and I’d like to share what I can with you so that you hopefully won’t make the same mistakes:

  1. All Employees (and Contractors) have their ups and downs – If you have an employee who is having a bad week then it’s best to just sit down and talk to them, this can provide some good insight into what’s going on and, sometimes, just talking to them can take care of the problem.  Either way, figure out if the person is having a bad day or if they are just not working out.
  2. Hire for Personality before skillset – of course skills are great and we ALWAYS end up looking for skills first but a personality that doesn’t mesh (or isn’t motivated) is a GIANT waste of time and resources.  I’ve found that finding employees who have the right mindset and the right attitude but aren’t as good skill-wise are far greater employees.  I’d much rather have a happy go-getter who needs a little guidance than an extremely skilled but lazy and pessimistic employee.  Work should be fun to go to every day.  If you’re the boss you actually have some control over that!
  3. Hiring is a crapshoot – until you’ve worked with someone no amount of interviewing will really tell you how they work.  To combat this problem we test out applicants on test-projects before they get hired on.
  4. Fire Fast – You’ve probably heard this a lot but it doesn’t pay to be a wuss about it, if you have someone who can’t make the grade then you need to fire them ASAP, give them honest feedback about why they didn’t work out and move on.  Easier said than done so think of it like you’re going skydiving.  It’s best to jump out of the plane before you think about how scary it is!

Caveat: Like most things in life, as I learn a little more I also realize just how much I do NOT know.  I’m sure there are plenty of things that I will learn even more about in the future so don’t expect this to be the end-all of advice on hiring.

SO, if you have some advice you’d like to share, please do that in the comments below so we can all benefit and fall madly in love with you.

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10 Lessons I Learned from my Family: Lesson 1

In honor of my sister’s birthday (Happy Birthday Beth!) I’m writing a post a day for the next 10 days on lessons I learned from my family.

Beth is 1 year 10 days and 2 minutes older than me so we grew up very close and shared a lot of good times.  She turned 29 this morning and in 10 days I’ll turn 28.  In the next 10 days I’m going to reflect on all of the things my family has taught me over the years.  So without further ado…

Lesson 1: Confidence is all in your head so fake-it till you make-it.

I’m lucky to have grown up in a loving family with 3 sisters, a mother and a father all under one roof, I’m the youngest and I had guidance from all of my family.  In addition to all of that my family was super supportive – I was regularly reminded that I was smart and attractive and I could do anything I wanted in life (the truth of their comments didn’t matter but the support meant the world).

As I grew into an awkward teenager I found it really easy to lose all the confidence and spirit I’d had before.  Pimples, voice-cracking and being smaller than all the girls made it hard to hold on to that built-up confidence level.

As I got into High School I realized that the guys who had all the friends and were going on dates with girls (because that’s about the only thing I thought about as a teenager) were the ones who were willing to talk to them.  And the guys willing to talk to the girls were the ones with confidence.

One day I was sitting at the dinner table when I realized that I could feel completely comfortable and confident at home with my family and it made me able to be the outgoing and interesting version of myself.  At that point I decided there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to act that way at school and around my friends.  I decided that the next day I was going to just act like that.  I started smiling at strangers with a big smile instead of a meek smile, I acted like I wasn’t afraid to be goofy or tell a weird joke even though I secretly wondered if people thought I was stupid.

Gradually over the next few months it became easier to act like I was confident because I was getting more confident.  I was beginning to realize there was no really good reason for worrying so much about what everyone thinks.  Sure, I got teased a little, but in the end my ruse won out and the confidence started to grow.  Now (over a decade later) I’m completely confident with myself, I’m not afraid to look like a fool – and my friend will tell you that it happens sometimes 🙂

Leave a comment and tell us what you think about confidence or your family’s lesson!