Proud to Announce a Beautiful eCommerce Website Built for DSA

After two months of hard work, I’ve finally launched the beautiful website for my client – DSA.

It’s a dramatic visual change from the old website which has been very effective in lead generation but not much of a branding website, meaning it was highly functional but didn’t present DSA as a big brand. In fact, DSA is one of the top suppliers in the U.S. for visual display systems, such as light boxes, poster frames and digital signage. Therefore, we had the need to build a website that matches our brand aspiration – to be the No.1 in our industry.

Take a look at the beauty now ;-)

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I will explain about the technical aspect of the website in a different post later on. Stay tuned my friends!

Finishing Up Steve Jobs Biography

It’s amazing that how inspired I am every time I’m reading this book. The author  Walter Isaacson deserves huge credit for making it such a pleasant experience to read this book. But after all, it is the stories about Steve Jobs and many other geniuses creating and transforming Apple that are truly exciting.

He is so successful because he’s extremely smart and focused.

Being smart means that he is very insightful and intuitive about things that he has never done before. Indeed, he is betting on a lot of business decisions based on his own beliefs without the back up of any market research. However, the odds are favorable. Most times he is right, such as opening the first Apple stores which was perceived the craziest idea then. Certainly there is not just luck but more of something that sets geniuses apart.

Being focused means that he indulges himself in doing whatever he believes in. That level of focus, if we really think about it, almost guarantees something big to come out, either good stuff or something really harmful…I was impressed by the story of him kept funding Pixar to make shorts from his own pocket. It was the biggest gamble in his early career but because he and John Lasseter, the two geniuses, were so focused in making shorts, they eventually paid off.

It’s easy to see the common trait between Jobs and many other successful enterprenuers – they do whatever they believe in, even when no money can be made. This is simply encouraging. “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Think different.

Politics can be this interesting!

It’s been a few months since I’ve graduated from my 2.5 year MBA program. Looking back, I have spent too much time working on home work that didn’t fall into my interest at all. I’m not a big believer in school education because only self-teach works well for me since I was a little kid. So gladly I’m done. These months, I’ve dived into expanding my English vocabularies and studying world history + politics. The ever-increasingly heated primary election serves a perfect channel for me to understand the US politics. I’m amazed by both the politicians and political comedians and for the first time, I realized politics can be so interesting – extremely thought provoking and entertaining.

For 24 years I had lived in China, I was never interested in politics because it is not fun. Essentially, it is a game that doesn’t involve average Joe. The only time I remember voting for something (I didn’t even know what it was about and I still don’t!) is during a class in high school, my teacher dished out a ballot to everyone and told us what name we should write on the paper. I also hate the way the Chinese politicians give speeches or answer questions. All scripted. No fun. I guess the only “interesting” part is that we always know who the next president is long before the election. And the candidate usually visits the US president before his debut. “Hey I’m going to be the next one. What’s up!” ;-)

On the other hand, the U.S., titled “capitalistic”, is more socialistic than China in many aspects. This country is a bankrupted welfare state that ironically relies on funding from its evil brother China who is becoming more capitalistic than ever! But China also have serious social security and health care issues. I guess the paths of the two worlds eventually will merge. The real difference between the two is the separation of powers in the states that significantly reduces the chances of dictatorship and corruption. Then, people here get to enjoy the freedom of speech – the very gem of the western world.

By following the primary election, I’ve learned more about the two parties and their agendas. However, I only find myself too good of a person to agree with either side. Only Ron Paul is a hero and the bravest fighter I’ve ever seen.

Oh, the MBA education did help me understand money supply a little bit better. ;-)

Changes in Mumbai – From Guest Blogger Pranav Lal

I wish i had been to Mumbai but even if I had, I would have not been able to explain vividly the changes happening there like a native citizen. Thanks to my dear friend Pranav Lal, a very capable young man in my MBA program, we now have a chance to look at another amazing city in the world.

Here it goes:

After a crazy roller coaster period of one and a half years, I finally got my break and came home. While the plane was landing on Mumbai, I could see the cars driving and some piled up in long lines at the signals. As soon as you land, the people who would earlier form lines and give courtesy would just turn into animals and launch out of the airplane. No one even waits for the plane to stop and the seat belt sign to come off.

Welcome to Mumbai, where everyone is in a rush. That can never change I suppose.

After getting my luggage, I get approached by a guy telling me if I pay him $50 he can get me cleared through the customs green channel. I had nothing to declare and had no electronic items too. I told the guy thanks but I had nothing for the green channel. He still persisted and asked. I said, “I really don’t have anything.” He abused me and went ahead. A nice way to get welcomed back home!

As soon as I am out of the airport I felt a bit nervous seeing so many people out there. Man, the people have doubled it seemed. Was trying to locate my parents and after 3-4 minutes they were able to locate me.

I was glad to sit in the car to head back home. But we had just moved like a mile and we had stopped. It was already a jam at 1 AM. Mumbai is always under construction with fly-overs and more expansions. Just too much construction is going on. A lot more number of cars and a lot more construction. By the time I get to enjoy the new infrastructure, I feel, I would be so frustrated that I wont be living in the same city.
Well the thing that changed was the number of vehicles, people and buildings.

When I reached home, I was amazed to see a 15-floor tower in front of me. When I had left, the ground was also not cleared for construction. There were more malls and more shops.

After relaxing for a few days, I took the public transport to get back that feeling. I boarded the local train and remembered the three years I traveled literally hanging by the bars to reach office. It was a weekend then, so the train was relatively empty. The traveling time had surely reduced and the train was traveling faster. People now reach at work faster!

The prices of commute had also gone up a lot. The rickshaw ride which earlier used to be Rs 11 is now Rs.13, the train tickets prices have gone up too.

I met my old office buddies and went out with them for dinner to a decent restaurant. Almost all dishes there were priced from Rs. 250 ($5). That was a real surprise. When I had left the same dishes were around Rs 100-150. The onions were at an all time high when I was there.

My friends then decided to take me shopping. There were just too many shopping outlets now. Any brand, any make is now available. The malls are filled with shops and then the employees. These malls sure have given a lot of employment to people. Indians unlike Americans depend on other people for their shop. They want people to show them the variety and options rather than look for themselves. This generates a lot of job for salesman and store employees.

I wondered how these shops would sustain themselves. But, the middle class now a lot more spending power. The pay packages have gone up. People now here spend money more openly than what they used to. More and more families are out eating and having a good time. The middle class really seems to be flourishing and doing well in Mumbai.

It’s a race still in Mumbai. People are running at any point of time to get a better life, to get money and to be happy. With so much stress and pollution I really wonder if anyone will reach the state of being happy. Do we really need to run a race? I guess we do, to feed ourselves and our family.

Pranav Lal
Jan.26, 2011

Top 3 Changes in Beijing for the past 1.5 years

I went back to Beijing last month after one and a half years.

Now let me list the top 3 changes according to my own experience.

1. Traffic…ehhh….is really bad.

I went to have lunch with a friend and got stuck on the 3rd ring road in the middle of the day. Another day, I went home from my gym around 4pm and walked 10 blocks to find one taxi. Anytime in the evening you’d rather be frozen to death than take a taxi and waste your life in it. One cab driver kept complaining about the east part of Beijing being the worst place to drive and bragging how good the west part is. Relax, my friend, west is just as worse! In fact, everywhere is a parking lot with cars seem not to be moving at all! Now the government starts to give a quota of 20,000 license plates each month through a lucky draw. So communist! They should have done car control long time ago like Shanghai through a market economy way!

2. Food and everything else…ehhh…is so expensive!
Food price has gone up to almost twice as much as before! Tomatoes and eggs are 73 cents per pound and green veggies are mostly around 44 cents per pound. This is the price I get in the China Town of SAN FRANCISCO! Even the milk got up a lot – A 250 ml of milk cost 50 cents, equals 4 dollars for 2L milk . I went to shopping malls only twice and anything that looks OK won’t be less than 70 dollars!

Chinese didn’t have a moment to enjoy a good life for their hard work since the price of the house soared. Now things are even worse. I feel really sorry coz we are all screwed.

3. Shop! shop!! and shop!!!

The whole theme of the city, probably the country at large is all about shopping. 360buy.com is said to grow strongly in the e-B2C business, aiming to be the Wal-Mart online. VANCL is the largest apparel OEM that selLs clothes on the internet. Just like VANCL,Taobao is also advertising like crazy. Yes, the quality life of the Chinese people suffers because of the high inflation but we do have a huge group of rich people existing, mostly those who work at the government, military, state-owned businesses, coal diggers and other privileged groups…They probably are the best group to represent the new rich China. I feel nothing but embarrassed.

Beijing is definitely not a nice place to live now. Shanghai is probably better but if you go, remember to take some more cash!

Let’s see what happens in 2011.

DSA Phototech – Good Example of Organization Management

Obviously I’ve been working for DSA Phototech and managing its search engine marketing activities. For me, DSA’s business is my own business. Thinking like this makes us good employees doesn’t it? :-) In fact, I’m more of an independent consultant to it but I’d like to think of myself as one of  its business owners.

What DSA Phototech is reputable for is its fast response to customer inquiries, short lead time for custom sized products and the best after-sale customer service.

What I was really impressed by the small manufacturer in LA is its people and its management methodology.

DSA Phototech has an outstanding management team, small but each of them is a hardly found talent even in a much larger firm. The CEO, CFO, Production Manager and Sales Manager compose the most harmonious team I’ve ever seen. We usually witness conflict of interest among different departments. However, at DSA, they enjoy a strong feeling of ownership and they look at the firm as a whole instead of only focusing on his/her own department. Besides the top management, there are also quite a few outstanding employees who have outperformed at their jobs.

The question is good people don’t just come and stay! There must be a reason for them to stay with DSA.

Like I said, I was impressed by its management methodology. Whether you are a business person or not, you should really understand the recipe of good management – “designation” and “incentive”.

Everyone works around incentive, whether it’s money or emotions (if not, you probably should not hire him/her). In a business world, material/financial incentive is critical. A proper incentive plan is necessary to bring out the best performance of a person.

Combining incentive with designation, the CEO is truly a management guru. He never micro-manages his team but leaves them plenty of flexibilities in doing their own jobs. He also encourages everyone and appraises them whenever he can.

Last but not least, these people at DSA are proactive achievers. Internal drive is after all what makes you better than the other. Do you agree?

China back to Tang Dynasty

While the memory of the Beijing Olympics is still fresh in my mind, my breath was again taken away by the opening show of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo which happened on May 1st, Beijing time.

shanghai expo1shanghai expo2

The moment I saw these pictures, I felt China had returned to the Tang dynasty. The “Middle Kingdom” is showing the world that it has retrieved its wealth and power. Just like in Tang times when China was a popular place among ambassadors, today more than 20 presidents or head governors attended the grand opening.

Human history has been quite ironic. A few centuries ago, China was an old and weak man being bullied by Portugal, Spain, UK, US, and even a comparatively tiny country – Japan. Now PIIGS are facing huge sovereign debt, Japan is fighting tirelessly against deflation and the US has been so hurt by the recession that the state of Arizona even passed a ridiculous law to get rid of illegal immigrants.

Morgan Stanley forecasted that China will replace US to become the NO.1 economy by 2050. This forecast might be true but I’m not happy about the way our government works towards that summit and today’s prosperity is just temporary.

In fact, no country has proved to manage its economy in a sustainable way. The greed of Wall Street, the lavish spending of some European governments and the severe corruption of developing countries stumbles many countries. China is no exception either. In fact, we probably have more problems than any other country, outrageous corruption, huge wealth gap, lapsed moral standards, just to name a few…On the way it reaches to its summit, it is also digging its own funeral. I hope we human beings can learn from each others’ failures and avoid the same mistakes in the future.