Monday, December 17, 2012

From ordinary to special world

They can't be more different.  Our hero is doing just fine in the mundum ordinary world.  But there is a slight stir foreshadows the internal challenge and the external enemy that will draw the hero to a new world, in which he will be tormented and he will stare death in the eyes - and we will follow him to concur the beast and the internal demon - in the special world.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


We all think of heros as strong and brave.   But these qualities are secondary to sacrifice.   We admire hero's because their willingness to give up something dearly to them, perhaps even their lives, for an ideal or a group.

The heros earn their magic power through learning, sacrifice and commitment.   When the training is over, they suddenly realize their magic power is not the fantastic sword, but the ability to learn,  sacrifice and commit.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The hero and the ordeal

Our hero must die.  Or appear to die so that he can be born again.  The liveliness is depressed so it can be revived again.  So the world can fill the elation and exhilaration with our hero.  He has never felt more alive when he was looking at death in the eyes.  The ordeal is an absolutely crucial part of the hero's journey.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

There must be a truth

I cannot help but believe that there is a truth, somewhere, somehow, as an eternal reality, a Platonic ideal form, a devine model.  From it, infinitely intricate variations can be generated, each resonating with the essential spirit of the truth.

I cannot help but believe that there is a devine mandate on me, someday, somewhere it will be clearly revealed. At that time I will be completely clear that all the struggle, tears, laughter, triumph and dispair  are part of the holly plan to support and shape me for that mission.

- reading "Writer's Journey" by Vogler

Monday, November 12, 2012

Need a new team to start disruptive innovation

Following along the innovators delimma.   Another set of prove that a new,  independent organization is needed , away from the existing company,  to be successful in starting disruptive innovation.  Seagate,  Kmart, IBM all prove the case.

Back to my industry,  a new organization might be needed to launch completely online program.  even a new private university,  or charter university, might be needed to start the complete online GE package.

Most major will be glad to accept the GE since it is messy and labor intrusive.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Innovating the next higher learning

The is the topic that I will present as the keynote at defense language institute Dec 26.

I have to remember that people really don't want to be there.  So Id better tell insightful and interesting story plus a few jokes to engage them and convey my message.


Social media
Flipping the classroom
Learning science - instance feedback. Short attention

Thing not yet able to leverage tech

Monday, October 29, 2012

Innovators delimma - the board connection

Re-read Christensen's book.  A lot of intriguing ideas. Some of them right on, such as using agile model.  Observe the user, don't just ask.

But I believe there are probably a more human issue.   How the company, especially ones that have a complacent, aging board, select a group of  innovative management and let them run the company? 

A board that look over the shoulder of the CEO all the time,  I submit, is the early sign and part of the reason that "good" companies fail.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Who owns the ice house?

Hard work, preservernce, thrifty,  choosing the right friends - the mindset of an entrepreneur is powerful enough to lift Taulber from poor black kids to successful banker and acclaimed writer.

There are always nay sayers around us.  Sometimes they are the ones that are close to us. They tell us not to work that hard.  They joke about our seriousness.  They say it is all useless.  Fending off their daily sarcasm may be harder than the entrepreneurial projects.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Biking to school

Start biking to school twice a week.   I .surprised that I enjoy the grueling route  and look forward to it.  I put the podcast of marketplace, education weekly, science Friday, freacnomic  Harvard business ideas on my ear phone and make the journey somewhat educational.

From Carmel to pebble beach entrance is 200 ft easy climb, then to the scary 660 ft 2 miles drop to the shore of Monterey.   After Monterey,  it is easy enjoyable bike trial along the coast.  The scenery is wonderful. 

After I got to school, I feel refreshed and a sense of accomplishment.   Sometimes I felt it is the only one in a busy yet unproductive day. Sigh.  Well, time to ride!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Invincible Enterprise

Discussed all day with Greg Yezersky on creating corporate innovation training.  One version of the workshop is called "invincible enterprise".  What an intriguing name! A quick summary of my ideas of the traits of an invincible enterprise are -

A. disciplined workflow,
B. consistent innovation,
C. cultivation of internal leaders.  

Item A will grantee the quality of the product today, B will assure the viability of entreprise tomorrow, C will make sure the next leaders are ready.

The entreprises has the ABC will be invincible, those don't, will parish sooner or later. Among the big companies, HP has A and B but does not have C, Kodak has A and C but not B, Apple and IBM probably have all.  Google, Facebook, CISCO are too early to call.

If we look at countries as entreprises, it is interesting to compare USA, China, Japan, Germany, Sigarpore, Taiwan.  All score differently on the ABC.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Overlooked ingredients of innovation

When one is very hungry,  cooking up a new dish is not the first thing come to his mind entering the kitchen.   When there is no trust that invention can be shared without being stolen, people keep the idea to themselves.  When there is no tolerance for failure,  no one dare to try new things.

When there is lack of rigor, lazy is disguised as innovative.  When there is no quick way to recycle the resource after failure, waste and chaos run amuck.

Basic safety, trust, acceptance of failure, pruning, and recycling.  Most forget these

Photo: discuss innovation with leadership Monterey peninsula, class of 2013.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Oh, the places you'll go.

Watch "Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss" on YouTube
It's been so long since I read Dr. Seuss book.  I was startled to see oh the places you'll go listed as must read business book.  The book I read to my children years ago, when I re-read it, I was in awe to realize it is not just for kids.  It is for people.  Even for tired, beat-up,  torn old souls like me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Write it down

So many books I have been reading lately all stressed on writing journals.  I try to require my students to do so.  One aspect of writing things down is the discipline of keeping the good idea in once own language regularly.  Few books delineate how to use the journals.  However.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reading where good ideas come from

I am surprised by how intriguing the book is.  The idea of liquid, between the chaotic air and the rigid solid, facilitate innovation. Because it allow random connection and allow the connection to stick long enough for growth.

The proof that most the major innovation, even people often attribute to a sudden flash of genius, is in fact accumulated ideas, waiting for a connection to crystallize.

Interact with diverse yet related ideas seems to be the magic ingridien of innovation.  One way to interact with oneself is the keep notes for later review.  So called a commonplace book the many man of letters,  such as Darwin keep in exhaustive details.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Valuating college degree from innovation thoery

There is a mystery about college degree.   It is universally regarded as crucial to a persons success, every parent gives the mentra of going to college to their kids.  Statistical every year of education adds 8% to the persons income. But no one yet can tell why it is.

I am convinced the benefit are brought about by two characters facilitated by the university environment: innovation and self-discipline.

The Innovation book list

In a process to design an innovation curriculum for graduate students and young professionals. Just finished a conversation with  May be a good partner to have.

We discussed a list of books to read about innovation and innovation process:

  • "The innovation master plan", by L. Morris, free online! They have a whole innovation certificate built around it. (review)
  • Permanent Innovation (review)
  • The Innovator's Way: Essential Practices for Successful Innovation (review)
  • "Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles - Peter Ferdinand Drucker, 40 years old but still very useful.
  • "The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail"
  • "The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth"
  • "The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out"
  • "Innovator's Guide to Growth: Putting Disruptive Innovation to Work"

Being Innovative

Being Innovative 

(excerpted and revised from Nexus Newsletter, Aug 2012)

Innovation is not only the principal distinguishing strength of the human race, but also the essential quality necessary for individuals, companies, and organizations to achieve and maintain success. In Silicon Valley, innovation is not just a core value, it is in the DNA. However, before I reveal the secrets behind innovation, let’s make sure we understand what we are discussing when we speak of innovation.

Many people confuse innovation with creativity. Creativity is generating something new, different, unique; it can be interesting but not very valuable. Creativity is just the starting point for innovation.  Wait!  Creativity is not valuable?  Correct. Creativity and new ideas are a dime a dozen. Innovation more difficult and valuable: Innovation is “a new idea that changes a community.” 

How can we be more innovative?  I’ve distilled many books, seminars, and papers into three simple points, with a corresponding suggested action.

Envision the change: Write down, organize and visualize your ideas. For a smart person, there is no lack of good ideas; however, not keeping them in a more permanent form--such as in a notebook or on a blog--risks losing them.  I recommend you keep a blog using your smartphone to record your ideas when inspiration strikes and to summarize them once a week. Many ideas will be critically flawed or invalid, but a few will have the spark of real innovation. When you summarize them, envision how the ideas will “change a community”; if you cannot envision this change, the idea is probably not valuable or fully developed. Dedicate 30-60 minutes per week on this task.  

Share your ideas: Share, discuss and offer your ideas. You should develop a network of innovative people with whom you can freely share your ideas. The network should be readily available, have regular face-to-face interaction, and not be limited to just electronic channels. Discussing your ideas with mentor and colleagues is an excellent way to establish this innovation network. Through sharing, you can evaluate and develop your ideas, acquire partners, or even attract future investors.

Execute your plan: Make a simple plan and begin working toward your goal. Start small. Well, make that even smaller. The reason the vast majority of great ideas never become innovations is that the innovator never executes the plan because he or she is waiting for “the sign.” Sorry, but there is no sign. The only sign is you making steps, even very small ones, to actualize your innovation. Each small step becomes the sign to take the next, bigger step. Alternately, innovators can participate in local business competitions such as Startup Weekend, BarCamp, Ignite and Y-Combinator to boost their confidence and get valuable feedback on their ideas. Innovation is not a one-time deal. Ultimately, your first idea might not work, but your tenth might be groundbreaking. If you don’t start the first one, you may never know. It's often takes little to get started--you probably know many companies whose founders started in their garages using their spare time or weekends. It's okay to start small, as long as you start.

That said, start NOW: Track and visualize your ideas, share and discuss them with your network regularly, and make a plan and start on it.

This article is the first of a three-part series on innovation from Dr. Eric Tao. The next article will discuss organizational innovation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

80 hours a week!!

Putting 70 hours a week is becoming a norm since 2009.  Some weeks I have to put in 80 hours.  40 hours to put bread on the table, 40 to build a dream.  Occasionally I can escape to do something different.  Visit Ventana Inn at big sur certainly an pleasant experience.

Is working hard worth it?  I am a believer of

"Both achievement and happiness are desirable,  if one put most effort into the former, both might be achieved, into the later, both will be lost"

Enjoy reading

Drove to Big Sur and sit in the middle of Big Sur creek and enjoyed a hour of reading.  Having spent too much time on emails, blogs, news, magazines, it is a treat to read books.  Also decided to spend an hour per night on books while listening to piano.  Can do about 20-30 pages per night, so far, finished the "Startup Weekend" and half of "Where good ideas come from".  With this pace, I can do 2 books per months, that is 24 books a year.  Yahoo.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Raider's March

On a gloomy Sat morning, driving toward CU.  I put on two of my favorite music on the way, both by John William.  Schinder's list saddens me so much, especially played by Sifei,  I felt I want to turn around, find a dark corner and weep.  So many twists and turns in life are out of our control.  We all are so helpless, so meaningless, so desperate and so sad.  Why do we struggle and strife so hard when all are in vain....   But, but, wait, wait...   Sun is out, skys clear up and boom! the Raider's March is here to rescue me,  The tune is so bright and up-lifting it is almost comical.  Thanks to John William, our hero goes on!  Resolve in his eyes, scar on this chest, dangers are lurking, people's warnings circle him "don't go there" "you should not and cannot do that", "too dangerous".  He lightly touch his sword, smile and turn towards the dragons' nest....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Attending a WASC conference near Irvine.  The talk was well received, but after the conference, I was surprised that my mood is low.  Drove around UC Irvine, saw the alma mater changed over the last 15 years.  Went to a Taiwanese restaurant call cafe 302, it is packed so I have to get a burger from the near by Carl's jr.  The burger is fine but I felt disappointed.  Try to find something interesting to do, found out I don't want to do anything but come back to the hotel room and study and work on emails.  Depressed.  The never ending emails frustrated me, yet I felt compelled to do it.  Maybe I should change my habit and limited my work to the working hours.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Counting blessings

After a long road trip by myself to Southern California over the weekend to give a talk to 600 admitted students and their parents and to participate the very first alumni association mixture in Long Beach, I arrive back to Monterey after mid night on Sat.  The talk was well-received, talking to alums were pleasant and I did find time to visti Bowers Museum and had a fantastic lunch. Felt tired on Sunday, I slept much longer and had a very low energy.  It was hard to drag myself to office on Monday morning, so many tasks waiting to be done and many decisions to be made.  I felt deflated.

Walking off the parking lot, I tried to boost my morale by counting my blessings, the rewarding work, caring people around me, comfortable life-style, enviable location to work, live and play.  There is little to complain. Try to follow the suggestions by one of the Harvard Business Review talk: have enough sleep, prioritize the time so the most important tasks are done, exercise and eat well.  Life can be pleasant and productive if one has the long term vision and day-to-day discipline.  Well, I do have those, so MOVE ON and seize the day!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Intoxicated with work

Often I drove to CALMAT in the break of dawn, the mist of Monterey Bay invigorated me on the 75-mile journey.  I started greeting all the colleagues right after I arrive, start a series of meetings, some arranged long time ago, some Catherine put in a few minutes while she can find a spot. Students, faculty, managers, officials, partners, job seekers, and sponsors. Typically the few moments of back-to-back meetings overwhelmed me, I have to think hard to recall who is the person yakking away in front me with the total believe that I know the complete content. I walked around the facility to make sure everything is OK and everyone is taken care of.  At lunch, I took a quick walk to the little primitive convenience store close the bus station, had a cheap one dollar coffee and smell some downtown silicon valley air.  The focus of the day usually is my lecture.  Trying to give the audience my hundred and ten percent, at seven pm, I was completed drained and exhausted after twelves hours of non-stop action.  On the way home, I often feel intoxicated, almost the same sensation as ten shots of vodka. It is startling, yet devilish enjoyable, that the work has this intriguing effect on me.   After all these years, I start to be grateful about my work.  I guess I am very fortunate to find a job that is engaging, enjoyable and even intoxicating.

Living the dreams

I used to just nod politely saying "just fine", when people ask me "how are you doing?".  I decided to change that. ...