About Me

My photo
Paris, France
My friends think I'm a jet-setting international playboy...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back to the theme

The mantra of my blog is "think big." I've tried to provide content from my life that has inspired me to think bigger and hopefully package it in a form that inspires others likewise. The purpose of this post is to provide an anti-mantra so that readers perhaps understand what I would like readers to not do. See below.


I find it so funny when someone tells me that they are protesting one thing or another in their life because they don't agree with it. While I can see where they are coming from (i.e. something displeases me so I'm not going to support it), and I even think it is a good thing that we somehow fight evil, I hope that we realize just how interconnected the world is these days. Like my vegetarian friends that don't eat meat because they can't stand the thought of killing animals. Idealistic? I guess. But what about all of those living breathing plants that we brutally mutilate with every appetizing bite? 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

sunday joyriding

Ferrari 550 Maranello
My Uncle John once told me that everyone should have a chance to drive a Ferrari. Today he gave me that chance. I can say that my mind was sufficiently expanded. The only problem is that I don't think my thirst was quenched.

Thanks Uncle John.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Exceptions and Exceptionals

Recent years have seen popular articles degrading my peers as suffering from "delayed maturity." Experts have painted a pathetic picture of my generation as video game playing, basement living, single, unemployed, under-educated menaces to society. Perhaps the stereotype is fair.

However, I've just spent a weekend on mancation (a vacation of only guys doing guy stuff) with some of my best buddies from my college years; and my friends are anything but pathetic and stereotypical. In total there were nine of us. One of my friends just graduated from a top 25 MBA program and got a job in the Salt Lake City Area as a project manager for Adobe. He's headed directly to NYC after our mancation to manage projects with Ralph Lauren and NBC. Another friend has been working for EMC - a Fortune 500 high tech company - in Boston as a marketing manager.  He's headed to Brazil immediately following our mancation to manage some projects down there for a couple of weeks. Turns out he's fluent in Portuguese. Friend 3 is attending dental school at University of Washington, one of the top programs in the nation. He's married to an incredible woman and they are expecting their first in a month. Friends 4 and 5 are learning Arabic and Farsee, respectively, at the Army's elite language training program in Monterey, CA. Friend 6 is a territory manager for Herseys in San Diego. He brought all of the candy so we could stay up late. He's also married to a fabulous woman...way out of his league. He's been put on the executive fast tract because he's so impressive. Friend 7 teaches high school math and also coaches high school football, soccer and baseball in Arizona. Friend 8 had the hardest career choice of all:  Microsoft creating video games or Pixar creating the coolest movies ever. He chose Pixar because of the free breakfast every morning and now lives in the San Francisco area. He just finished working on a new movie coming out called Brave and was recently assigned to Monsters Inc. 2.

I forgot to mention that all of these guys are honest, selfless, humble, moral and ethical individuals who try really hard to make the world a better place. My friends are exceptional...and apparently exceptions as well. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summary of my job search

In May the U.S. unemployment rate climbed back to 9.1%. In June I received 3 really good job offers. I'm not trying to brag; however, I have written a couple of posts about finding jobs and it turns out my methods may have worked. This post will be longer than my usual posts and will share the details of the interesting story of just how I got a job. I will conclude with 7 useful points.

About a year ago, on my own dime (about $450) I went on a field trip with some classmates to San Francisco to meet with distinguished alum and tour their companies. We met with Mark Paul, Division President of then Boston Scientific's Neurovascular division (#305 Fortune 500). My dream job was to work for a Fortune 500 medical device company and so I asked Mark how I could get a job at his company. It was a bold move and he more or less dismissed it. But I didn't stop there. He had mentioned that he wanted to help start a life science MBA program at the U and I happened to be president of a club of students interested in the life sciences. After our meeting I asked if I could help and he gave me his card. I must have sent him half a dozen emails and called three or four times over the next 4 months with no response.

Last fall I happened to see Mark at a medical device conference in Park City. I approached him during a networking break and he actually remembered me. Turns out all of my attempts to contact him weren't in vain and he was impressed with my persistence. After some small talk he asked me if I was still interested in working for Boston Scientific and agreed to help me get a job. Pause there.

Around the same period I went to a job fair in Salt Lake City and met a recruiter from Merit Medical, a local mid-sized medical device company. I applied for one of their jobs and got rejected, but I had a couple of really great interactions with them.

Also last fall I flew to Chicago for a job fair. It cost me about $500. While there I happened to sit on a hotel shuttle next to an employ of Abbott Labs (#69 Fortune 100) - a company I really wanted to work for. Turns out he was one of the top 50 employees in a company of about 90,000 employees, worked in their vascular device division and happened to know some people in the company. I impressed him and he told me he would make some connections for me. We kept in touch for about 6 months. Finally I purchased a plain ticket, found a friend of a friend to let me couch surf in San Francisco where he was located and told him I was going to be in town and asked if I could meet with a recruiter. He did better than that and set up meetings with the top marketing folks in his division.

Then I emailed Mark, whose division had just been purchased by Stryker (#323 Fortune 500), and told him I was going to be in town and asked if he would set up an appointment with a recruiter. He also did better and set up meetings with his top marketing folks.

I flew to San Francisco ($650) and had a marathon of 10 interviews in two days. Both sets of interviews were set up as informational interviews, but both turned into job interviews as both companies informed me that they recently had openings. A month later I found myself back in San Fran for final interviews. More on that later.

In the meantime, a Salt Lake City based medical device company Merit Medical contacted me about another position. A classmate of mine had landed a job there and put in a really good word for me. I interviewed and they called me a week later with an offer. I had to turn them down because I was holding out for San Fran and they wanted a decision quicker than I was willing to make one. But it did help to speed up the process in the Bay Area as both Abbott and Stryker were willing to rush the interview process to accommodate.

During my final interviews I gave them my best. I dropped every name I knew, showed as much passion and energy as I could and prayed like crazy. The hiring manager at Stryker summarized my situation best. He said, "You have a lousy MBA with no work experience, but you met Mark and bugged him like crazy until he finally gave you an opportunity at Stryker and you met some random guy on a bus in Chicago who gave you an opportunity at Abbott. You're a go-getter who takes initiatives and you're a likable guy. That's why you are interviewing for this position and nobody else is."

Not only did both companies give me offers, but knowing about each other they both fought over me. It felt really good to be wanted. I took the job at Stryker because it was a better fit and I start July 5.

In spite of all this information, I've mentioned merely a fraction of what I did to get these jobs. I didn't mention the random people who would share bits of information about the companies or people who made connections for me on LinkedIn and all of the names I would drop in these interviews because I knew so many people, or the hundreds of jobs I would apply for at these companies so the recruiters knew me inside and out before I even met them because my resume had come across their desk so many times (I'm still getting rejection notifications for jobs I applied for).

What I learned:
  1. To get a good job sometimes you have to create opportunities for yourself. In my case I flew around the country, sent dozens of emails, made dozens of phone calls, cultivated hundreds of relationships, applied for too many jobs to count and took every opportunity I could to get advice and a chance.
  2. Be likable. Not sure how to help you with this one, but likable people are given opportunities.
  3. Network like crazy. Everything worthwhile in my life comes from my relationships with people I care about.
  4. It takes money to make money. In my case it cost me about $1600 to get a job. 
  5. Sometimes you get lucky. It was pure serendipity that I sat next to one of the top leaders in a company I really wanted to work for.
  6. Business is about making money. Ask yourself how you are going to make a company money, or at least add value.
  7. To get your dream job (or maybe even just a job) you have to work hard and do things differently than the rest of the applicants out there. 


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rising Star Sanjay gets support from U and Rob Jafek

After visiting India and Rising Star Outreach with some MBA classmates, we decided to sponsor one of the kids Sanjay on behalf of our college and the Alumnus Rob Jafek (second row, third from left) who toured with us and spent so much time helping us navigate our adventure in India. 




Sanjay is such a sweet boy.  He has no fear and is constantly asking questions, but when new volunteers approach him, he pretends he is shy and hides his cute face. He is eager to learn, and pays quiet attention to his teacher in class. Sanjay is often found singing and can catch onto a tune after only hearing it once.  When he first arrived at the school, he was stoic and answered his teacher’s questions with a sharp Tamil answer. After a while, his teacher was able to break a smile from him by saying “I love you Sanjay!” in her singsong voice until he cracked. Sanjay now says that he loves his school, and his teacher.  He has a best friend that came from the same colony, Karthik, that he watches out for. They are inseparable, and always fall asleep side by side.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Job search: When it rains it pours

Funny how timing and context are everything. A couple of months ago I was stressed to the max because I didn't have a job lined up when I graduated (hence the theme of my recent posts), and nobody seemed interested in me though I had searched and tried relentlessly. I was talking to a classmate and good friend, Deven Dustin, and he encouraged me that things just magically seem to pop up in April and May. True to form I had five interviews today with three different companies. No offers yet, but it feels good to be wanted.

But now that the context and luck have changed I'm stressing out because I have too many things pulling at me. Just a couple of weeks ago a mentor approached me about an opportunity to be a biotech equity analyst on Wall Street. Are you kidding me? Do you know how many doors that would open for my career, not to mention the adventure? At first I hesitated because I'm a med device guy, but with further contemplation I decided I would be crazy not to at least be open to it. One time I turned down an opportunity to interview with P&G because I'm not really interested. It didn't occur to me at the time that the chance to interview with them alone would be worth it. So today I had a phone interview with the Wall Street recruiter. Intense and totally fun.

I'm not quite sure what my future holds and I can't wait to find out. Hang in there fellow job hunters.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

recent out of the box thoughts

Here are a couple of thoughts I've had based on recent experiences.
  1. My little brother applied for a job. He got an interview. He got a second interview. He told me about it, I did some digging and found out before him that he wasn't getting a third interview, but he was right on the bubble. I told him to call and plead his case. He did. I sent a follow-up email because I have a connection with the hiring manager, who told me he would reconsider. After 4 days had gone by without a word I told my brother to call again. He did and he got a third interview. Someone that I respect once said that the "world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth..." I would add that the world will pay you what you tell it you're worth, and also that the world will give you that with which you diligently seek. Sometimes you can rest on your laurels, but most of the time you have to take what you want.
  2. I am helping form a start-up medical device company called Monitus Medical. Our device detects leaks from accidental injuries that occur during surgery on or near the gastrointestinal tract. We just won an award at the Utah Entrepreneurship Challenge for "Best Technology" and $3000. Turns out the guy who gave us the award had just had surgery on the GI tract a week previous. Sometimes luck becomes a factor in winning. Either way, finding a champion for a product who has an emotional interest can be lucrative. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

India

At the famous Taj Hotel, recently bombed by Pakistani Terrorists

With the Taj Mahal, 1.2 billion bobbling heads, car horns that act as blinkers and pervasive poverty in stark contrast to unbelievable wealth, India proved to be an impressive experience.

 Truly one of the Wonders of the World

This particular trip happened to be an educational experience with classmates, staff and an Alum from the University of Utah. We visited Mumbai, Chennai, New Delhi and Agra and numerous businesses from large multinational companies to the smallest of micro-businesses. In spite of the pervasive poverty, most Indians seemed generally happy.

 Leaving our mark on India - a tradition at Rising Star Outreach, an NGO we helped with

Takeaways:

  1. Just because people are poor doesn't mean they are unhappy
  2. Only in India can opportunities be endless and yet still grow 8-9% per year 
  3. Cricket actually is a pretty cool sport...especially when you experience the world cup first hand

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ugly Baby


In start-up land, companies are frequently compared to babies. Nobody wants to hear that their baby is ugly, but the truth of the matter is that some babies are ugly. Likewise, some ideas are not very good ideas and some companies are not very good companies. Obviously the comparison isn't perfect because you don't kill an ugly baby like you kill a bad company, but that's just the terminology that's used.

I just got back from a business plan competition at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and someone called my baby ugly. Like any good parent, I don't believe them and I'm not quite ready to give up. However, I am a little bit more sensitive now and it might just be the first indication that my business won't stack up when it comes down to it.

Is your baby ugly?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quest for Opportunity


A few months ago I entered an idea competition at the University of Utah called Tech Titans. If you follow the link you'll notice that #9 says "Inexpensive smoking cessation drug, U." That's my idea. It's actually a pretty cool idea that I'm working on with a professor. While I'm stoked that I got as far as I did, this part of the story has a sad ending. For the first part of the competition I had to submit a 2 page brief on my idea along with a 1 min video clip. The first round of judging put me in the Top-10 out of some 40 submissions, just slipping in at number 10. The second part of the competition included a 10 min presentation in front of 4 judges who were successful entrepreneurs, business professionals and investors. One of the judges scored me 15/100 and said it was the worst presentation he had ever seen in his entire life! Talk about a confidence killer. 


Luckily I'm involved with another project called Monitus Medical, a medical device company making products that detect leaks and perforations that may occur during surgery. For their first product I am working with a team of students to develop a commercial plan and we submitted it to another competition called Opportunity Quest. If you follow this link you'll notice that one of the Top-10 finishers is Monitus Medical after a first round of business plan judging, and if the site ever updates you will notice that Monitus Medical took 2nd place after a second round of presentation based judging.  We won $3,000. It was a good day. Plus I have proven that I'm not the worst presenter in the world, or perhaps I just got lucky.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The new skill of successful job hunters

A friend of mine was kind enough to refer me to an executive recruiter. While I'm not executive level yet and didn't fit the recruiters customer profile, I am looking for a job for when I graduate in May and he was kind enough to share a few words of wisdom.

He told me about a new form of job searching that is significantly improving candidates' chances of getting hired. The technique is simple, but requires a great deal of research and creativity and a paradigm shift. Basically the idea is to add value to an employer before being hired, instead of just telling the employer why you may be valuable, or how you have been valuable in the past.

Here's an example:  This recruiter asked me about some of the jobs I am considering. I told him I was looking at a marketing position with Abbott Laboratories in China. He asked me what problems Abbott may be facing in China and suggested that they were probably facing some sort of censorship. He suggested that I research what similar companies have done to deal with censorship in China and come up with a few solutions. This way, the next time I speak with a recruiter about the position in China I will be armed with conversation material. Instead of the interview being a formal get-to-know-you session, it can turn into a conversation about Abbott's struggles and possible solutions. The interview will turn into a team meeting between employees.

My recruiter friend told me that only about 5% of job candidates are using this skill, yet it is the most valuable skill that can be acquired to improve a candidate's chance. It isn't easy to train a brain to think like this, but it is worth the investment.