Friday, November 21, 2014

Dear Frank...

Dear Frank,

It has been the better part of 10 years since our paths crossed. It was a chilly, if not freezing night. I forget exactly if it was in November or December. But, I do remember that we were entering the seasons of the winter holidays, closing on Thanksgiving... perhaps even Christmas.

We met outside of a local pharmacy in the community where I grew up. You were sitting down on the curb, with all your earthly belongings. You weren't warm enough. And, you looked completely thrashed. Going to school to become a doctor in healthcare, I knew your body has been punished by years of whatever it was that landed you on this path. You were probably in pain. You were certainly suffering. And, you were most desperately alone. There was no faking the anguish... the hopelessness in your life.

Honestly, you probably didn't even notice me walking by you - twice actually... just to make sure you weren't deranged. I did this for my own safety, just to be cautious. But, I did this because I wanted to do what I did next.

See, a few doors down from this pharmacy was a pizza shop. I bought you a fresh hot, pepperoni pizza. I was going to get cheese in case you didn't eat meat. But, I figured to gamble. Besides, it looked like you could definitely use the calories.

I approached you slowly, gently -- I didn't want to startle you. It looked like you've been through quite a lot in your life.

I said, "Excuse me, sir."

You didn't know I was talking to you at first. Then you acknowledged me.

I continued, "Hey... what's your name, friend?"

You said, "Uhmm.. it's Frank."

(Now, I remember! It was definitely soon after Thanksgiving... because of what I said next.)

"Frank, here." I handed you the pizza and said, "Have a Merry Christmas, Frank. Take care."

"Uhm.. Thanks!" you replied, in the most appreciative, unassuming manner.

You put some of your effects down and you just sat there, enjoying the warmth of the pizza box.

I got into my car. I had to drive away -- had an engagement I was already late to. But, I couldn't bear seeing you end your night without knowing there was still hope, still love, still generosity, and a spirit of giving in this world.

I drove by, looking on you from a distance. Just to make sure you'd be okay. You slowly opened the box, gazing on what must have looked like a feast. You didn't even know how to begin. You must have been starving, but, your body had learned to live with that sensation.

You picked up a humble slice and took a slow, savoring bite.

Unfortunately, that is where our connection ended. I had to keep my eyes on the road and move on to my next destination.

But, Frank -- I want you to know, that every time it gets cold and we enter these winter months... as the holidays approach, I think of you often.

Dear Frank, I hope you are well... I hope you are well.

With Kind Regards,

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Five C & P's of Social Media Significance

As we all know, social media has come into a life of its own. For many of us, the connections we make here may actually be more salient than those we make in physical person. We have watched social networks mature, evolve, and grow -- each with their own culture, etiquette, use, and expectations.

We have also seen some handles grow at incredible rates, garnering inconceivable amounts of attention. We have also watched other handles with fans and followers numbering beyond that of celebrities. In contrast, we've also noted high quality content go relatively unnoticed by the numbers.

So, I must ask one question: What makes your social media significant?

I suggest that there are a duo of five C's and five P's which lead to social media significance; where the breadth of metrics match the depth in meaning. In my humble opinion, this is the core of significance in social circumstances -- it doesn't matter if you have the eyes of a hundred people when not one is compelled to interact with you. If such is the case, you are but a figment; experienced and forgotten. Whereas, if you but have the eyes of ten individuals and all ten of them personally relate with you, connect with you, and form meaningful interactions -- yours is truly significant.

The Five C & P's of Social Media Significance

1. Be Constructive - Your Posture
As with most interactions, first impressions are critically important. Your content is surrounded by the posture you take upon it. If you are negative, destructive, insulting, and critical, there is a good chance that you have already gotten on people's nerves. There is already enough of that in the world. People are over the differences and are more interested in what unifies our purposes together. Constructive, positive, and eager outlooks are very attractive. They gather attention from all walks of life because all walks of life can benefit from encouragement.

2. Be  Controversial - Your Position
While this second principle may seem to conflict with the first, let's first establish that I don't mean for you to intentionally go out and offend people. Controversy at is core resides in disagreement. One person takes a position on one side of the line; the other person stands across from them. When people disagree, it is easy for things to get heated. However, disagreement doesn't mean dis-unity! It simply means we have different perspectives; more likely than not, our drive holds the same purpose and ultimately the same destination. Disagreements attract attention. And, this is good!

Being controversial takes a comparatively absolute stance which creates intellectual polarity. And, intellectual polarity makes people think - perhaps in ways they have never thought before. One can very much be both controversial and constructive at the same time; just because you and I disagree doesn't mean we have to dislike each other. Moreover, just because you and I disagree doesn't mean I can't learn from you.

3. Be Captivating - Your Presence
To be have significance in social media you must also be captivating. This is your presence. More importantly, this is how others perceive who you are. Your presence includes your style of persona. When you captivate, you not only attract attention, people eagerly let you hold them captive because you are interesting, motivating, inspiring, and encouraging.

4. Be Championing - Your Purpose
People like purpose. There must be a purpose for the reason you exist in social media outlets. You must be championing a cause, a way of thought, a direction, a movement, or a specific social value. Purpose can unify people better than anything else. With common purpose, even the most divergent of ideologies can come together for good.

5. Be Collaborative - Your Peers
We're talking about SOCIAL media, after all. Significance within this space has much to the people you are social with. Connecting with peers is a powerful way of organically growing your significance in social media. Sharing information (not showing), creating waves in the same direction and fosters unified efforts. Such is a worthy pursuit in any circumstance. People like team players; no one likes a ball hog. Be generous with who you are.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Life Changing MBA Course Experiences (so far)

As many of you know, I'm anticipating finishing my MBA with a concentration in Marketing in Spring of 2015. Each term has been filled with knowledge bombs, deep wisdom, and highly applicable business content. While I still have a few more courses to go, I figured why not do a write up on the big experiences to date surrounding several specific and very influential courses so far.

Now, I must make mention that I don't want this post to seem like I'm discounting courses not listed here; the course experiences I am featuring were simply ones that fit in my life in the right moment and at the right time to create clarity for life's next direction.

I hope you enjoy this very special post.

Life Changing MBA Course Experiences

1. Organizational Behavior
Studying Organizational Behavior was perhaps the most critically timed course I took through the MBA program thus far. It came during a time when I was questioning the significance of my work at the time. It also came at a time to help me realize who I needed to become in order to fully harness my talents in a way which would better serve others in meaningful and valuable ways.

My professor was very skilled at challenging our thinking process as well as our personal perspectives. In effect, the class taught me not only to analyze organizations, their behaviors, why and how they ticked, and what action steps could affect positive change -- the class forced me to flip my own understanding on its head... yielding a strong introspection on where I was in the current organization. And, perhaps what was more important, it empowered me to see myself in future organizations of opportunity where I could better serve.

All in all, the class inspired me leave a position where I found much safety, stability, and success to brave the risky unknown -- taking a promotion into an entirely new setting. The many case studies revealing the secrets of growth and constructive change lit a passion and strong interest in organizational culture change. If ever an opportunity presented itself to perform in this capacity, I would certainly relish the chance to serve.

2. Advanced Marketing Concepts
Concentrating in marketing through the MBA program has brought some very interesting insight as to what marketing truly is. One such class that really pounded out a strong vantage of good marketing was "Advanced Marketing Concepts." In this course, I learned that marketing has more to do with how a firm is positioned on a chessboard than anything else. I saw that a comprehensive marketing campaign was heavily involved with financial analysis, accounting, business strategy, product development, and consumer perspectives... little emphasis (if any) was given to advertisement, "getting the word out there," or even "informing the public."

For more of my thoughts on marketing, please click here.

3. Operations Management
This was one of my first courses in the MBA curriculum. It was also one of those courses where, upon beginning the material, I immediately knew I wanted to be good at business management. The course content had a lot to do with how firms should organize their function, how swiftly a well-tuned-company can be ran, and how to best structure operations for striking success.

It was with this course than I first clearly saw how backwards most healthcare organizations manage their operations. There is so much opportunity in healthcare operations if only the system of management were to appreciate the significance of flow beyond the confines of their immediate supply chain.

So What's Happening Now?
As I'm finishing up the program, my current courses include exciting topics such as "Managing Strategic Innovation & Change" from the Business Strategy department. Another marketing course is also around the corner. I'm confident the following term will hold content which will blow my mind. And, of course, I hope to write a follow up post once the degree is completed.

Until Then, I Remain Respectfully Yours,
-Ben Fung