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Your Startup is ‘Breaking Bad’

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SPOLER ALERT: If you haven’t watched the series yet (until the finale), be warned that this post will give references to scenes of Breaking Bad and contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Assuming you are Walter White, you just realized that either your present career is hopeless or your life is somewhat heading towards a dead end (or you’re just getting bored). You need to do something about it.

Say you are working the traditional job. You are (or were) an employee, like Walter, and you are getting tired of everything – from your boss firing up your ass inch by inch on a daily basis to you being the typical breadwinner. You realized you are not going anywhere. You are going to relive your inner scientist to prove to yourself – you can do much better than this.

And so you venture to a new world, a much dangerous and risky but free world.

Your new adventure awaits you.

ROUND 1: STARTING YOUR COMPANY

Ha. So you want this business? Why so? “Oh well, you’ve never seen a high school Science teacher cooking meth, have you?” And so you chose to do what is not done yet. And you’ll be the first one to do it. Not only to show the world that you can do it, but also to experience what it’s like to go out of your comfort zone. And don’t forget the money business.

ROUND 2: FINDING A CO-FOUNDER

You realized you cannot do this alone. You may as well look for a partner. Oh, there’s someone I knew from high school… Jesse!

Things should go well from here, you wished.

ROUND 3: YOU NEED A SHIP

Oh ship! You’re finished with your product, what now? There goes most of the startup problems, getting you to ship your products to the right customers (or users). Think of why most of the Kickstarter campaigns fail. Most failures occur not because they fail to get funds, not because they fail to perfect the product, it is when they didn’t put in mind that delivering their products to their customers is part of their business.

Thank the drug deities for Tuco’s gang.

ROUND 4: EXPANDING YOUR BUSINESS

Well, the main gist here is – if your product is as genius as Walter’s 99% pure blue crystal, you get to expand your business easily. Even with just the word of mouth. Your products don’t have to be perfect, though. As 99% is as perfect as it may seems, at least you got way above your competitors.

ROUND 5: COMPETITORS

Here comes your competitors. As you expand your business, you must be aware of your competitors. Or you may end up getting hit by a 12 year old boy you wouldn’t think your competitors would surprise you.

Well, now you are aware of them. Like Walter, you know you have a better product – waaaaay better than theirs. Why is it? Because Walter spent most of his time actually being so nosy on everything about his product, from that one fly carrying shenanigans around the lab to the very least details about temperature and chemistry stuff. He underdid his competition. He doesn’t need competitors, least the need to compare his product with theirs.

ROUND 6: WE ARE ACQUIRED!

“Posterous has been acquired by Twiter, all your posterous blogs will be shut down next month. Muahaha”

Oh, remember when you spent most of your time investing to a service then one day you’ll hear they’ve been absorbed by a much larger (hint: monstrous & slimy) entity? If any of you ever played MyMiniLife way back 2008 you’ll know that feeling when Zynga bought it and all your MiniHomes were instantly demolished into one lonely black hole on the internets.

Well, as being on the client/user’s side, it sucks harder than actual black holes. But mostly on the startup, company, service being acquired, they are partying harder than a migrating flock of geese leaving all but bird shit behind.

Oh, remember when Mr. White’s business has been acquired by Gus Fring’s army of chicken-flapping distributors? Well, he and Jesse got more cash than they dreamed of. But ended up doing things they do not wanted to do. The freaking CCTV, anyone?

In the end, he fired his new boss. Hmmm, might end up differently had he been acquired by the Cartel, eh?

ROUND 7: BETTER CALL SAUL… AND FRIENDS

You know you cannot do anything outstanding without any legal advice, right? Saul was supposed to be killed the first time they met but Walter realized he needs him… and his connections. Better have legal advice, buddy. Bloody network, too.

ROUND 8: K.O.

Your startup’s future is in your hands. Had it been that Walt’s DEA Brother-in-Law didn’t discover that book Gale gave him, it would be a happy ending for the White household. Well, to the very end he still saved his co-founder’s troublesome ass who turned Judas with him. So I guess the lesson is pick the right co-founder to begin with. Ha.

It all goes back to where you started. If you are thinking of building a startup, it’s up to you to just remain as society’s typical byproduct – or go start cooking and go Breaking Bad.

Now, find your Jesse Pinkman.

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About the Author

This article was written by Gian Faye, a web geek from the Philippines. Gian has been doing web design and development for 7 years and Gian is currently focusing on front-end development and user experience design. see more.

Callum Connects

Joelle Ung, Founder of Treasure Unity

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Joelle’s entrepreneurial journey has been an interesting one, leading her to the world of network marketing, enabling her to help other entrepreneurs succeed.

What’s your story?
The sense of wanting to make an impact, of needing to add value to ‘something,’ be it focused on business or peoples’ lives, has led me, through many failures, to where I am now, the food and beverage manufacturing industry. My entrepreneurial journey began as a wedding planner. Then, having tasted initial success, my desire to find meaningful business mentors brought me to the world of network marketing.
Having benefited from the teachings of my mentor, plus the time I spent growing up as the daughter of a great father, I realised that the urge to ‘pay it forward,’ by mentoring future entrepreneurs and helping my colleagues, other entrepreneurs to succeed, had become a personal mission.
The Honest Living Program, owned by my current company, Treasure Unity, is a realisation of that dream. The program opens up learning opportunities for women under duress, underprivileged women and single mothers. It provides a platform from which I am able to teach, imparting people skills and the art of presentation through the day-to-day program. It is absolutely free.

What excites you most about your industry?
To be able to keep adding values to others. On stage or off, it doesn’t matter. I enjoy every call I receive, every appointment that is set up, every individual I have met, and have yet to meet. There is only one agenda, and that is to add value to the person I am speaking to.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Having lived in Singapore and Malaysia for the past 39 years, my heart is impacting the people in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Because of the people who live there, and because there are no barriers to communication for me.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t make any decision out of confusion, disappointment or anger. Decisions should always be made with a restful heart.

Who inspires you?
Walt Disney: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
My husband is an ‘overcomer’ who had a near fatal stroke 18 years ago. He lost the ability to practice his dream career as a medical doctor, yet he chose to be a prisoner of hope rather than be a prisoner within his body, and he has never indulged in self-pity.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Lately, I have learned to be still when an opponent strikes at me. It works! You do not need to immediately rebut an opponent. He, or she, will most probably be waiting for a reaction. When they don’t get one, when you remain still and unmoved, you become unpredictable. They do not know your next move.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have sought advice from more wise counsellors before making major decisions, especially if finance or investments were involved.

How do you unwind?
Sometimes I like to take a short getaway or, on a daily basis, I read bible verses that I find uplifting.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Penang. It is close to home and you can get a premium service at an affordable cost. Also, I can pack light, and it is easy to find anything and everything there.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Like a Virgin, by Richard Branson

Shameless plug for your business:
Become an irresistible woman with substance! We will bring out your natural leadership skills through the Honest Living Program.

How can people connect with you?
They can connect with me by email [email protected], through WhatsApp 92300071, or they can call me on my mobile.

Twitter handle?
My twitter account is inactive. @ungjoelle @treasureunity

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Dr. Vivienne Ming, Co-Founder and Executive Chair at Socos Labs

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Dr. Vivienne Ming is a theoretical neuroscientist, entrepreneur, technologist, and an author. She co-founded Socos, her fourth company, where she combines machine learning, cognitive neuroscience, and economics to maximize life outcomes in education and the workplace. Vivienne is also a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, where she pursues her research in neuroprosthetics. In her free time, Vivienne has developed a predictive model of diabetes to better manage the glucose levels of her diabetic son and systems to predict manic episodes in bipolar suffers. In 2013, she was named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech by Inc. Magazine.

What makes you do what you do?
I grew up reading far too much science fiction. It always seemed not like an escape, but like a guide to a better world that we could build. When I ran into challenges later in my life and learned how easy it is for a high potential life to slip through the cracks, it was that love of science fiction that kept me thinking that something better was possible. I found a purpose in that failure that drove me to earn my PhD in neuroscience and machine learning so that I could build the worlds that I used to read about.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I have worked in several different industries. As an academic, I had a rather shocking amount of success as a graduate student with papers published in top journals and I went on to appointments at Stanford and Berkeley. Then, I started all over again when I founded an education company. When the company rose to prominence and I was giving keynotes at major education conferences, I left that behind to develop technologies for talent acquisition, healthcare, and anything and everything that made better people. My path to success was always forged by me solving problems, with a lot help from simple dumb luck.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
After founding a number of technology companies, I decided I wanted to take what I learned and share it with as many people as possible. I wanted to have an impact on global policy. Based on advice from colleagues and friends, I founded Socos Labs, a think tank that uses machine learning, economics, and behavior research to explore human potential. Socos Labs experiments with whole new visions of work, education, innovation and inclusive economies to inform more human-centered policy.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
I’ve been influenced and supported by a great many people in my life, but I cannot say that I’ve ever had a mentor or even a hero that acted as a guide for my career. I’m not belittling the value of great mentorships (my own research argues for its impact), but rather it’s equally important to recognize that a career isn’t a formulaic movie plot with predefined roles.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
My work is about making better people and helping people grow. It has always been very important to me to give people a chance who might not otherwise have the same opportunity elsewhere. I have built companies where people who don’t have traditional credentials can come and work on projects that make a difference in people’s lives. The only component I’m really looking for is potential.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
Supporting diversity is both a mission of Socos Labs and a key part of nearly every company with which I am involved. I sit on the board of companies that foster diversity and I’ve founded companies to find strategies to reduce bias in the hiring process. Creative diversity is crucial to run any high performance organization. My research show that companies should build teams in which everyone brings different, complementary strengths to the table, and diverse life experience is one of the greatest sources of those strengths.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
I suspect there are many ways to be a great leader. My personal approach is perhaps naively simple: do good work and share it with the world. I am sure there are more sophisticated and effective ways to gain attention and build high-performance organizations, but my approach (which I heartily advocate for anyone else) is to focus fanatically on what you’re trying to achieve, your purpose, and find or simply create the means for your work to reach other people.

Advice for others?
Seek out problems that are so messy other people have given up on them.

That is exactly where I want to be and what my new think tank, Socos Labs, aims to explore. We partner with companies and NGOs that share in our mission and help advance a new understanding about education, workforce, health, innovation, inclusion, and so much more. Along the way I’ve learned enough to write a couple of books, How to Robot-Proof Your Kids and The Tax on Being Different, which will be out later this year. In both I discuss how we can begin to untangle many of these big messy global problems.


If you’d like to get in touch with Dr. Vivienne Ming, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vivienneming/

To learn more about Socos Labs, please click here.

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