My Experience with Toastmasters

Don’t Start Sentences with “Soooo” and Other Things I Learned

I always thought Toastmasters was like one of those quaint support-group esque membership organizations, in the same category as  Boy Scouts, Rotary clubs, and Alcoholics Anonymous. And indeed, some quick Googling reveals they were all founded in the early 1900’s.

I like public speaking, having done an Ignite talk and spoken at my high school graduation, but I think I could get a lot better. I’m particularly bad at off-the-cuff speaking – I tend to freeze up and sound neither natural nor professional. I remember once looking around for Toastmasters clubs when I lived in the Bay Area, but … Read the rest

27

What’s Your Big Decision?

So I turned 27 about a week ago.

Last year, for my 26th birthday, I had a giveaway where I asked you, readers, to share your biggest lesson you wish you learned when you turned 26 — or who you hope to be by then if you were younger than me.

That was a lot of fun, so let’s do it again!

The giveaway: Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath – a phenomenal book about making better decisions, not through a soulless spreadsheet, but with sound and proven psychological principles. One lucky commenter gets a free copy (closes June … Read the rest

Why Practice Actually Makes Perfect

The neuroscience of deliberate practice

This originally appeared on the Buffer blog. Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

Growing up, we all heard the expression “practice makes perfect” from our high school coach/music teacher. Then Malcolm Gladwell went on to popularize the research that expertise developed over “10,000 hours” of deliberate practice. But how does that really work?

In this post, I’ll share what science knows about learning and how special type of brain tissue called myelin, plays a key role in helping us acquire and master skills.

Get more clicks on Twitter by scheduling your posts for the ideal time. Get started for Read the rest

There’s Nothing to Complain About

Reflecting on my father’s life

Photo: My father reunited with some of his old friends

My father was born in China as the middle of three brothers. His father rose through the ranks in the local college to become the Dean of Foreign Languages – the only one without a PhD. When he was 16, the Cultural Revolution occurred and young people everywhere were sent to be “re-educated” in rural China.

My father spent his later youth and early adulthood living and working on essentially a rice farm with his brothers. They woke up at dawn, worked in the fields, ate giant bowls of white … Read the rest

I’d Rather Be Prolific than Perfect

In Silicon Valley, there is a great deal of worship around Steve Jobs and the altar of perfection, so allow me to explain my preference.

Being Perfect

As a former gymnast, I know what it’s like to pursue perfection.

Being perfect means practicing the same skills and routines over and over and over again, until you have it just right. Perfect means trying fighting to fix every tiny mistake, every last detail so that when you salute the judge in a competition, they can’t find a single flaw.

In recent years, the gymnastics code of points has changed to favor … Read the rest

Earning Co-Founder Trust

GET ON THE INSIDE STUMBLE! The Story of How a Business Guy Earned the Opportunity to Co-Found a Tech Startup

I recently heard the story of how my friend met his cofounder and had to share it. I think there are some great lessons here for business folks looking to team up with smart technical people. I changed the names and am vague about certain details because they don’t really need the attention from this story, but it’s all true.

Chris’s First Startup

I met Chris at Stanford: really smart guy who studied CS and has a great eye for design. He cofounded a company right out of college, a collaborative editing/viewing tool, raised a round of funding, grew the … Read the rest

Listen to everyone, then make up your own mind

Lessons learned from Ridejoy’s seed round

“Don’t take too much advice. Most people generalize whatever they did and say that was the strategy that made it work.”

Ben Silbermann, cofounder of Pinterest

When we raised our seed round for Ridejoy, we got lots of great advice from many smart, experienced people. This was wonderful except that much of the advice was contradictory:

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26

What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you were 26?

People fall into two camps about birthdays – either a socially-acceptable time to feel entitled to special things because you were born a certain number of earth rotations ago, or it’s just another arbitrary day and nothing to get worked up about.

I generally side more with the latter – but this year I’m giving my birthday a little more ballyhoo. I think its a good time to reflect on things because similar to New Years, our birthdays remind us that death is coming)

My birthday wish comes in the form of a question:

What’s the one thing you

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Eleven Compelling Startup Pitch Archetypes

With examples from Y Combinator companies

Over the past few weeks, I’ve helped a handful of startups work on their YC applications and interviews. I spent much of the time brainstorming with the founders on the best way to explain their business in the most clear and compelling way possible. These founders knew a lot about the market and had spent months if not years developing their ideas, but that often meant they would be all over the place when talking about what they were doing. This caused their pitch to sound weak and not be as compelling as it could be.

Paul Graham is, among … Read the rest

Step Up and Deliver

What Gymnastics Taught Me About Performing Under Pressure

Photo: Erin Costa

This is a three part series on what gymnastics taught me about acquiring and mastering skillsovercoming fear and delivering clutch performances.

Gymnastics is a sport about delivering under pressure. Even though you can make it a team sport by aggregating scores and swapping out players, there is actually not interaction between your teammates outside of them cheering for you and helping you prepare for your performance, or even between you and your competition.

When you raise your hand and salute before your routine, it is all on you.

There is usually nothing else for the … Read the rest