Monday, December 16, 2013

Blew up in school meeting

During the last meeting before winter break today, I asked faculty for inputs so we can provide more timely feedback to students in our classes.  Some faculty provided very thoughtful suggestions.  But quickly some faculty start pointing fingers to other direction: the learning management system, students don't come to office hours, etc.  When one CS professor demanded more salary and teaching assistant support, I was very upset.

I can't take the attitude that "the prerequisite to improve my work quality is to give me more money", especially we are dealing with education.  There are so many problems that we can solve and help the students, especially the under-served one, but when the first thing faculty think is more money, we quickly going to how to allocate limited financial resources - important discussion, but rarely link to better education to the students.

I discussed with a retired provost a couple of days ago.  His remarks on why he took an early retirement is interesting "I can't stand the politics of the faculty".  I am worried that many of the faculty are falling into that trap: "more money or low quality".  In both education and high-tech, it is proven the mentality does not work.
Quality has to be #1 issue.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Being a professor

I appreciate my job AND career AND calling as a professor.   There are always ups and downs, but there is not many other positions that is secure, pleasant, autonomous, prestigious, engaging, appreciated and well-paid.  Wait, sans the pay part.

Compared to the old days, a university professor is similar to a priest.  The gospel is knowledge and pursue of new knowledge. The professors are supposed to work hard, but on the subject they find worthy and interesting, answering to no one but their peers.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Internal management team

I heard this over podcast of Harvard Business Review -

Each person's perspective is limited, since we usually don't have a group of advisor that know us well and have the right aspect and available to us, it is an worthwhile strategy to have some "Internal Management Team"

CEO - set the vision, lead the charge, adjust the strategy
CFO - make sure the resource is there, be prudent and efficient with the resource
COO - make sure all the procedure is established and followed and production is effective

Board - Watch over the "big picture", heed the danger, take the long view, the sure I do the right thing, not just doing things right

Often we have to put ourself in one of these role so the overall operation is meaningful and productive.  And hopefully, lead us to peace and joy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Financial Independence and Financial Knowledge

I started investing rather young, right out of grad school.  I carefully put away 30% of my earnings every year for four years.  I bought two houses and several stocks.  It was terrible.  I was too naive and too lazy to learn.  I lost most of my money in stock and lost one house to foreclosure.  The bad credit followed by for 7 years, during my time in the doctoral program.

I was lucky enough that I cash out most of my remaining stock in 1999 for another house in Monterey and escaped the dot com stock bubble. I restarted my investment in 2003. Not until I stared study the necessary book, take the necessary risk, avoided the typical pitfall that devour the typical investor: greed and fear.  I read several books on stock and real estate, follow closely WSJ, forbes and Money and  Between 2003 and today 2013, I started with less than 100K, now is 10X more.

The total time I studied is less than 3-400 hours.  The hourly rate is more than $1000!  I cannot believe I did not spend some time earlier in financial study, I probably wasted at least 3000 hours in college on games and useless chats.  Everyone should know the basic of investment.  It might not be as important as life and death, but it is definite results in rich or poor.

Friday, October 25, 2013

HIstory of finance

Getting more and more interested in finance and the history of it. Especially when I took Schiller s class last summer, he brought the financial market book with him once to a vacation.  He is so mesmerized by it that he read the 800 page book by the pool side. Siegel book is a classic. really enjoy it,  so far two chap into it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

poverty and prosperity

Watched the PBS series on Poverty.  It is a strange flim that almost equate minority to proverty which disturbed me.  Often a lot of wishful thinking people blam the proverty on circumstantce, it can be natural disaster, poor land, colonism, etc.  But the answer is easy and hard: change the culture.  Feed a person enough food so he is no long hungry, if he still work hard to prepare for the future, he will be rich.  If he just play, lay back, scatch his ball, he will be poor. It that simple.

In this case, no matter how much the government do, how much we donate, poor will be poor if they don't change within.  Rich will be rich even if they become poor temporarily. 

The poor don't want to work too hard, but accuse the game is not fair.  
"The easier way for the poor to become rich to allow them the change to earn their out of proverty."  How true!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

One reason it is best to share bad news in person

Few people will remeber that you said or did, but they WILL remember how you make them FEEL. 

Paraphrased from

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

                                                                            Maya Angelou

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Grad student presentations notes and comments

Reviewing grad student presentation on external client supported projects.  Students put in significant efforts but the result can be improved.

- client did not come, which showed either they are either not engaged, not supportive or not happy with the project
- students presentation is not rehearsed.  1. time is not controlled, 2. demo, which is the crucial part of the presentation, is often chaotic
- presentation skills are fine overall, slides are well organized.  Many students still use "like" "uhm", "you know"...

- Most projects focus narrowly to the clients instructional media design, instead of the broad process.  We should train the student as designer, similar to an architect, not a construction worker.

- A general issue is the communication and commitment of the client, we should have a signed agreements with them and education the clients on the design process.

Most project adopt a non-personal approach, training oriented training.  How to inspire?

Faculty are very committed to the projects they advise, but during student presentation, faculty should let the student facing the challenges themselves, instead of injecting during student presentation.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

40 Direct Reports

I enjoyed meeting and discussing with faculty, staff, teaching assistants.  Most, well probably all, of them are positive, responsive, dedicated.  But the number of my direct report has become overwhelming. Seven staff at School, four program directors, over 30 faculty members, three at the Institute,  another 10 or so on various projects.  Not sure it is the most effective way to run the operation.  Need to redesign.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Retire? Never! It is the next movement of the grand symphony

What surprised me most during my summer trip is that several of mine college buddies have retired.  Some of them made millions, some just enough for basic expenses.

The poem that was never written because some one knock on the door.  --  it is sometime the most difficult part of life, the interruption that cost the possibility.

So I am reading the book as suppliment to what color is your parachute, it mentioned  a few ideas that worth noting.

- People are most attracted to fifty+ people if they still have energy and passion. 
- The year between 50 and 75 can be the crowing peroid - people don't have to worry about earning and kids rearing, they can just focus being fulfilled and achievement.

- they enjoy music, write book, take interesting classes, meet new friends, travel to far-away places

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Paper work in government

Paper work to process workload with the Cal State is tremendous.  The extreme case is that if there one day additional consultant work, it will take three emails, 30 minutes of filling forms, three physical signatures and copies to get myself or someone paid US$300. For a long term project, it might be OK, but I am finding out in the summer, I spend three to four hours a week just to process these papers.  I guess that is why EDP, with their mediocre HR systems, is making so much money.  I can log in every two weeks and approve 25 employees timesheet and 5 overtime pay, it only take me 10 min.  That is still 10 min of work that I don't enjoy, but it is efficient.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Low spirit can start a vicious cycle

Overall, there are not that much to complain. Health is fine. Family are healthy. Finance secure. Eat well and sleep fine. Yesterday's project management class went especially well.  At the end of the class, lead by the energetic student Eddie, I got an standing ovation.

Today, a gloomy Sunday, Ying's family with new kids from JiangYin visited and D. Chen visited in the afternoon. Both are pleasant.  But I am depressed a bit. Because the recruitment is facing challenges and certification are forced to move to Monterey against my recommendation.

Dealing with challenges is never a problem for me, I am invigorated by it.  But a challenge that I can't do much about frustrates me.  Since I can't do much, I should not worry, just like the seven habits book states, only worry about things within your circle of influence.  But I can't help but feel depressed.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The road less traveled

I took the road that is well tried,
Scattered with deserted amour,
And smells of sweat, tear and blood galore,
I shall be telling this with a sigh,
For I was foretold to be one of them,
Yet I step further, 
And that made all the difference.

Happiness is nowhere,
But a direction that I can dash toward, full-speed,
Without contemplating other roads,

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." - Frost

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Institute for Innovation 2012-2013 annual report - message from the director

Message from the Director Dr. Eric Tao

For annual report 2012-2013

Innovation is the lifeblood of a region’s economic growth.  Throughout the United States, from the White House to the campus of California State University Monterey Bay, innovation, together with entrepreneurship, is touted as the utmost important strategy in business and education.

Leverage with local talents and U.S. government supports, the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development at Cal State University Monterey Bay has been providing programs and activities to support innovative research, foster cutting edge business projects, and support students and entrepreneurs alike in their creative quest for business opportunities. iiED also looks within the university and local research institutions to cultivate projects that assist students, investors, and entrepreneurs in successful internships, resources, and project development to develop new businesses jobs in the region.

With the support of many generous individuals, companies and the university over the last year, iiED has offered several entrepreneurship and technology workshops and competitions, a speaker series on entrepreneurship, salon conversations of innovative ideas, and provided technical assistance to new business ideas.  

We collaborate closely with the Monterey Bay Business Council, CSUMB’s Small Business Development Center and the College of Business, the Central Coast Small Business Development Center, Business Entrepreneurship Center, Youth Entrepreneurship Program, Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Steinbeck Innovation Foundation. Many local business professionals, community leaders, and CSUMB faculty and administration also provided invaluable support to us. These programs helped foster new local businesses and trained students from CSUMB, Hartnell College, Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey Peninsula College, University California at Santa Cruz, and Cabrillo College

With Ms. MaryJo Zenk leading the operations and faculty associate Dr. Brad Barbeau designing the entrepreneurship activities, iiED plans to enhance these activities and add additional programs such as investor-entrepreneur-innovator meetups, a youth technology camp, student start-ups, innovation awards and new entrepreneur training in the coming year.

I am very proud of what we have accomplished during 2012-2013 year, and excited to see where we will go in the future. Your support and participation is most important part of the iiED’s success.  I hope to see you soon at the Institute and at many of the iiED events.  

Eric Tao, Ph.D
Director of Institute for Innovation and Economic Development

Friday, July 12, 2013

Journal of Summer 2013 Asia trip

陶翼青博士 (Dr. Eric Y. Tao)


skype: ericytao

Taipei Mobile: 0955-931-724
Taipei Home Phone: 02-2236-6560
Emergency Mobile: 0928-590-895

Presentation topics:
A. 大規模在線公開課程 - 進步或惡夢
MOOC - brave new world of learning or crazy day-dreams
B. 不敗-創新祕方
Invincible Company - by balance between innovation and efficiency
C. “美國夢,台灣夢” - 我的求學留學歷程
Taiwan Dreams and American Dream - my U.S. study and career reflection

Summer 2013 Schedule

6/12 Arrive Taipei

6/13 9-12 cell phone - Monya lunch
6/14-15 Personal schedule
6/15 Sat 9AM-12AM 東南大學
6/16 Sun Open

6/17 Mon 上午 10:00~11:30 汎亞國際教育中心
中午 11:30~13:30 與汎亞國際中心及台灣ETS代表 午餐
下午 13:30~15:00 專車前往國立宜蘭大學
15:00~17:00 宜蘭大學國際事務處 17:00~19:00 返抵台北

6/18 Tue 8-12noon 德霖科技大學
2pm - 6pm en route 雲林科技大學 (5pm Taichung highspeedtrain)
6-8 NSYSU reunion

6/19 Wed Yunling University of Technology 雲林科技大學-”不敗-創新祕方“

6/20-23 Mainland
6/20    Taipei -> Beijing
6/21 Morning 建設銀行
4-6 PM Tsing Hua University at Beijing
北京清華大學 - ”不敗-創新祕方“
7-9PM 清华大学华商研究中心会宴请
6/22    Beijing->Taipei
6/23 Sun Taipei 5:00- > KaoHsiung 7:00

6/24 Mon NSYSU 中山大學 - ”中山夢,美國夢,台灣夢”
6/25 Tue Morning, Kaohsiung 8AM -> Taipei 10:30 AM

6/25-6/30 Taipei/Personal Schedule

6/27 14:00~ 實踐大學國際事務處 (TBD??)

7/1-3 Personal schedule in Taipei

7/4 Back to the US

Self-inflicted pain

Back to the U.S. and resume the relentless schedule of an old man wanting to accomplish too much.  6:30 my smart phone wakes me up with a weak yet eerily irritating music.  I open half an eye and start to check the stock market.  Most of the days it has no remarkable news, I turned on Bloomberg and let the video run, it works like a great lullaby, I fall back to sleep around 6:45 for anther 30 minutes or-so poor qualify nap.

Either I walk yoyo the yellow lab for an hour or I will prep my bike for commute to work.  I kept the NBC stock real time on on my ipad and start breakfast reading Mercury News.  The breakfast is usually rather substantial, a rich mug of coffee with milk, croissant with ham.  I would love some fruit with it but rarely. While I eat, every so often I scan the stock market, if there is movement, I might trade some.

I have been in and out of the stocks of several big-new companies, Bank of America, AIG, RBS, Citi.  The stock market goddess has been lay pity on me since the 2009 crash.  Most of my asset are from stock purchased after the year. I often make scary bets, hundred of thousands in one shot.  So far I am doing fine betting on the very likely of U.S. economy.  What surprised me since 2005 is the rise of real estate market in mainland China and Taiwan.  When my friend Fong suggest me to purchase an apartment in Shanghai for US$300K, I was incredulous. Now it is around $1M.

After either drive or bike to Monterey Bay campus, it is non-stop of meetings, emails, advising, classes, signatures. I try to walk around every hour also in school ITCD building, but often only get to do so a couple of times per day.  The day goes fast, before I know it, it is lunch time, I take a cup of tea and a snack bar.  Check the stock market again before it closes at 1PM PST.  A day goes fast, I usually have a thing or two that I have to finish that day, although I hate to bring home any CSUMB work, I have to do it at least two days a week.

- to be cont -

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Keeping journal

Reviewed a interesting poster this morning called success indicator..  most of the item s are common sense.  But one criteria caught my eyes:

the successful people keep journal. The failed one said they will keep journal but don't.  Well.  Better start keeping journal  then.

My challenge is there are too many places to keep:  this blogger, 3434 yahoo blog, several note books, and evernotes.  Since many of them are semi public, and I don't think any media is completely safe,  I have been keeping the journal as if they will be published someday. 

That would be ding, or can be the worst nightmares.

Getting the oil changed of the old Lexus.  It has served me well over 13 years now..still going strong .  Just have to clean it myself regularly.   Since age 40, somehow I have become adamant on neatness.   Very different form my young days..  now I can not standard kids being Sloppy. How ironic.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Poem to my faculty

This is what I often tell my faculty:

We are all monks
In the temple of academe
Worship the god of knowledge
Save the students from the sin of ignorance
So please take bring up governance

We are all nuns
Practice the love of wisdom
Dispel the devil of dogma
So when I ask you to work on weekends
So please say no more about unions

We are all priests
Spread the gospel of research
So please no mention of salary


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Enjoy sunday down time. Or not

After commence excitment yesterday,  the qientness of this merning felt like discomfort.  Sitting in the corner of the living room that I seldom venture to, the house is quiet and inappropriately huge and empty.
Reflecting tthe years past, just realize the struggling time is the sweetest and most savoring memory.  And in hindsight,  no matter the battles were won or lost, there is always something gained.  Maybe I am lucky enough that the godness of fortune usually on my side. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Interviewing for an executive position

Participated an interview presentation of a new dean of College of Business. 
Although the candidate's background is just OK, his structure of his presentation is exemplary.

Ask for all people to introduce themselves
1 minutes small talk, make people like you
10 minutes of introduction of your background, experience, and achievement 
15 minutes on description the organization's history, current status SWOT.  Let people know your goals and vision is aligned with the organization.
nd you have done your homework
10 on what you can bring to the organization, what is your set of priorities

Quote some current trends so get the halo effective
e.g. the most important skills for graduates is communication, analytical and quantitative skills, information technology.

Introduce your leadership philosophy. 

Likely question:  what are your top priority during the 12 months 
- answer;  reach out the current leadership
learn from current stakeholder
establish a strategic plan from faculty - requirement of AASCB
these days, accreditation is more bottom up.  University's vision and mission should be aligned with College of Business's plan.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Choices and Fates

We all make choices every day.  Should we eat the extra large French fries or go the gym?  Should we watch the TVs show or study?  Should we take a lesson or a vacation?

Each one seems trivial.  But the accumulative became our fate,  our life and who we are.

Are our parents there to guide us, support us, punish us at each of the teachable moments?  The lucky ones have.  The unlucky ones either don't have parents around or their parents make the decision not to guide, support or punish. 

The luckiest ones do all these for themselves.  Bit it is rare.   Am I the lucky one?  Am I making the right choice for my self?  For the kids?  These questions bother me often.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bike to work and thoughts

Have been biking to work twice a week since Sep 2012.  28 weeks, 56 trips, over 1500 miles. Today, just before the 14 miles up hills trip home, I felt tired.  Maybe because I talked to dad too late last night; maybe the years of wear and tear is catching up with me; maybe there is not much to look forward at home; maybe something else.

Well, well, take a good deep breath and enjoy the ride. Sun is setting... Time is running out....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring break reflection - life is like a dream

Spring break is over. It is not well planned so it is chaotic yet eventful. The 100 km ride from Monterey to Big Sur was a major event for me. Watching the old movie "identity" make me re-realize how fleeing and unreal is our life. Most of things in life is so superficial. On Friday there is a music recital at the study of Camel home. The music was just OK, but the event was really enjoyable. More than 20 people, including 10 young performers. Went to a Computer Using Educators conference in Harker school.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Passionate words but cold deeds

Got frustrated lately.  Not because the unrelenting amount of emails or the work during the bitter midnight, it is because people talk passionately but behave otherwise.  I don't know how should I react.  Should I pretend I appreciate the words even I know they are hollow?   Should I mock their passion and enrage them? Sigh.  I only nod slightly and see them going down their shallow pretense.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Powerful Quotes that Speak to Me

Went to quite a few parties these days. It seems to be a season of philanthropy activities. Got a few quotes and jokes. Some of them are actually from Fang's video games. 

"Come back with your shield, or on it." - Spartan mothers to their waring sons

"I expect it will be hard; I expect it will be done." - Japanese Shogun games 

"And whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty's lamp guiding your steps and opportunity's arm steadying your way." Reagan, 1992 

“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt Speech at the Sorbonne April 23, 1910

"Go big or go home." - yours truly.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Obsessed with finishing emails

The emails are just piling up.  Whenever there is an opening in the schedule, I spent in on answering emails.  Often at the expense of doing something important but not urgent.  Need to develop the discipline of only spending limited, efficient time on emails.  Maybe just one hour in the morning for CSU and one hour at night, after completing other scheduled tasks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Learn not to worry about things I can't control

I've worried last few weeks.  About so many things.  At first was running the innovation workshop in China, the invitation came too late so I had to decline.  Then is the ski trip and the weather; my right knee; the keynote speech at Defense Language Institute; the refinancing; the BPPE; the tires on the Lexus; the international recruitment plan; the online master degrees; hiring faculty, Brian leaving the country; the StartupWeekend, ..... too many to-dos, inspirations, wants, greeds, ambitions, and too little time, resource and talent.  Sigh.

Have to plan, execute, review.  But the more challenging one is how not to be worried and depressed about things that is out of my control.  Since there is not much I can do about them, worrying does not produce any results.

Hopefully the weather will turn nicer so I can ride my bike more, that is a proven method to reduce stress.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

All we need

According to Cicero,  if you have a garden and a library,  you have everything you need.

When there is no human left to hear, is music still beautiful?

Sunday, January 6, 2013


The book turn out to be much more academic than I would like.  Skidelsky spent a lot of pages on establishing the prior scholar conclusin.

Still early in the book so I am hopeful.  My pessimistic hunch is that human nature have precluded there is a limited of desire.  So it will never be enough. 

Keynes assume by 2030 the west will be so productive that the average work hour is 15 per week.  But it is completely wrong in the US and most of the world except old Europe.   For better or for worse, the US and East Asia, work is not only for earning a living.  Long hours is a status symbol,  a badge of honor, a self-imposed lifestyle.  The poor are jobless, the rich work 70 hours a week.  So it completely defy Keynes' predictions.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Peaceful at the office

The campus is quiet, since most faculty and staff are still on vacation.  After a few days break, I felt restless at home, even at the home study.   Biking to campus this morning, I felt good.  There is strange peace in me sitting in my office working away.  No sure it is good :(

Wrote this to my contacts: Looking forward to 365 fun days of working and learning with you! Happy 2013!

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. ...