Develop a habit of answering a Quora per week these days. Get on with me following these topics: 

1/ What are the top skills you need to be successful in project management?

From my personal experiences, I want to share a few soft skills/traits for project management (the hard skills and management system can be found in most publications about this topic):

  • Always come up with a concrete plan before execution – Most modern-time projects are collaboration fruits of many parties, departments, and individuals. A unified plan with reasonable objectives, goals, and timeline is vital to collaboration process.
  • Gain inputs from key stakeholders early on – Apply the Agile methodology and collect insights from all related parties into crafting the initial plan. People’s experience, knowledge, and insights are pertinent to designing a feasible action plan & timeline. Therefore, for top management, listening skill, win-win mindset and final decision-making are required traits.
  • Designate decision-making person for every goal
  • Delegate
  • SMART goals
  • Have a system in place to measure results real-time, provide constant feedback for timely changes and decisions, and adjust action plan for optimal performance
  • Design a reward system for top performers
  • Get the right people on the bus – Know people’s strengths and weaknesses; hard & soft skills, and put them in the right place. Eliminate irrelevant people from the team to ensure performance coherence
  • Set milestones for continuous monitoring
  • Have a feedback loop
  • Have management and leadership qualities & traits
  • Be reasonable
  • First things first
  • Be proactive
  • Synergise

A lot of above-mentioned things we can learn from the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. It is written about personal effectiveness, yet applicable for teamwork performance & project management.


2/ What are the trending topics for a masters student on human resource management?

  • The shift to freelancer human resource market: How can corporations attract talents who want to own their time ?
  • The Holacracy management model: is it viable for the corporations of tomorrow ?
  • The talent development roadmap: the new skills for the new age 


3/ What tells a VC that you are an amateur?

There have been many bright answers to this question already. I just want to add a small point: YOU ARE AFRAID THAT VCs WOULD STEAL YOUR IDEA

I did startups a few times, and pitched my projects to a number of investors. I was green back then. One of the things I keep questioning myself is whether investors would steal away my innovative idea.

Later on, when I have been on two sides of the table, I found out how naive I was.

I believe many first-time founders will share the same feelings with me back then.

We always startup when we think up something new and fresh. We believe that nobody before us has done it. We are so afraid that our innovative idea will be stolen; and the current patent system does not provide enough protection for our idea. Turn out that we are wrong.

Somewhere sometimes somebody has been or is doing something similar to ours. It is just that we do not know it. Thanks God these days we have Google to find out more information about it!

Experienced investors received hundred of pitch decks every year, so they are open to a lot of new ideas than us. That’s why there is a saying “Ideas are cheap. Execution is everything”.

Normally the great investors would choose to invest because:

  • You have a great product, and you have a number of real users that prove your ideas work.
  • You already had traction for your product, proving the viability of the project.
  • You have a great team. Invest in people, not product.
  • You have specific domain knowledge. For some sector-specific product, prior knowledge and experience is a must.
  • You were a successful startup founder before: then maybe you will make it this time again.

I did startup before with all the cool trends coming up. Turn out I was wrong. I should focus more on what interests me. Because when it gets tough, only the real passion will keep you moving on.

The fact that you tell VCs to keep your pitch deck confidential show you are inexperienced; and many founders fell for that trap. If they want to steal your ideas, they do it anyway. However, their main job is to invest, not to become a startup founder or manager. And even if they do startup, you can still win over them through flawless execution.

Even though I must admit some startup ideas would need a lot of time for experiments and product development; normally the tech-startup ideas are so mainstream these days.


4/ Is Mark Zuckerberg a marketing genius, like Steve Jobs?

It depends on how you define a marketing genius. I would consider Mark Zuckerberg a successful startup founder more than a marketing powerhouse.

SJ is more like a salesman. He took the product from Steve Wozniak and made it into a bestseller. He is the driving force behind Apple’s many beautifully designed products, thanks to his training on typography during college time. He got a great sense of industrial design, and I am glad I am typing this answer from a Macbook Air.

Mark also took the idea from the Winklevoss twins, and (very luckily) his product spread like wild fire across the U.S educational institutions. We should remember at that time MySpace already existed, yet it never reached the same success as Facebook.

I think the Facebook Newsfeed is one of the most important innovations out of Mark’s team. It keeps users hooked on the new, fresh updates kept churning out from other users.

Mark does not have the marketing flair as SJ, he does not know how to express himself as eloquently as SJ. Just watch Mark’s testimony before Congress, he sounded like a robot from the future.

I feel Mark is more like Steve Wozniak, a real tech nerd. He is very lucky to have many great mentors early on, and his product just came out at the right time.

Talking about luck, Facebook popularity soared at a time when Apple’s iPhone came out and heralded an era where users can easily create content from their smartphone. The two innovations collided and created some of the most successful technology innovations in the human history.


5/ What advice would you give to employees of a department undergoing leadership changes?

In the turbulent world that we live in today, things change in a blink of an eye. Like the famous Charles Darwin once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” (even though the quote is disputable about the authorship, yet it is not relevant in scope of this question).

The leadership changes are needed by the company to cope with the new market reality. As employees, you should support the new management, for them to perform at their peak.

Give the new management time to adapt, observe the situation & act accordingly. Any drastic changes without much thinking would result in unexpected outcome.

Shower the new leader with your wisdom and knowledge. You were here before, you saw things happening in the past, you are the foot soldier on the field, so you know what’s best for the company. You can help us to grow faster by providing us adequate support.

Things might change around here. What we did yesterday might not be suitable today, so prepare yourselves for any new changes. It is imperative to the existence of our company. Rest assured that as a family, the management team will support any changes/transitions for our staffs.

We cannot spell SUCCESS without U. So the leadership change is poised to facilitate your contribution to our company’s lasting success in the years to come.

Keep your chin up! Let’s fight it another day!


6/ Is this social media era of the internet peaking or declining?

As long as A.I and robots do not take over the humans yet, there will be people online. If you look at the coverage of Internet on global scale, there are vast of opportunities for the population not connected to Internet yet. That’s why Mark Zuckerberg and the likes of Elon Musk are so determined to launch satellines to beam the Internet down to earth, bringing it to people in distant areas. Imagine you control the portal peple use to access the Internet.

When there are people online, there are communities and social media networking. U.S youth are dropping Facebook for more private life, yet elsewhere there are people who are still obsessed with facebook. The youth will move to other social networks anyway, that is why Facebook gobbles up any startups in that space as soon as it gains popularity. It is better to control any potential Facebook killers.

Marketing-wise, it is not how big the brand is; it is how relevant they are nowadays. It is so easy to gain awareness these days, with little budget for social media advertising. Yet you got to become the brand of trust and the love brand for people to buy from you.


7/ What is the best way to market a book online?

It depends. Is this a book or eBook published online ?

First of all, you will need the personal branding process. People got to know who you are first. Build online reputation by writing contribution articles to magazines/blogs/news site; answering questions on Quora, etc… There are myriad of ways to build your personal branding; so I will not muddy the waters here.

When you have personal brand, you build followers. You can share chapters in your book through your website to create excitement and online buzz.

If your content is good enough, you can sell ebook directly on your website. Getting through to publisher is a bit trickier; and online retailer like Amazon.

In the crowded space of publishers, it is really difficult to stand out from the rest. Yet if you made it already, everything you don out will be selling like hot cakes, no matter how sh*tty its content is. It is all about expectations.


8/ Considering the social media buzz, is the IHOP rebrand a marketing success?

Look up some numbers: Here’s the Data Behind IHOb’s Seemingly Stupid Name Change

It looked successful at the beginning. More importantly, the switch from pancakes to burgers indicates the shift in their strategy to catch up with the trend.

Whether it is a short-term or long-term success will depend. IHOB is a stupid name, yet people will get used to it. Burger is like commodity nowadays, so popular that the branding does little to the chain’s success. I did not try the new product yet it seemed like it is not competing in the hi-end market, yet the same space with Burger King and McDonald’s. Even McDonald’s now upgrades themselves to more health-conscious food options.

How you define “success”: success in branding strategy or success in business numbers ?

Branding strategy:

  • In short term: create buzz. So it succeeded.
  • In long term: well, the name sounds weird; yet if they offer good burgers and good value for money, people will get used to the name. We got to watch and see.

Business numbers:

  • In short term: create the buzz the brand much needed. So it succeed.
  • In long term: Very competitive market with so many burger chains. Even if they try to franchise overseas, the IHOB name is real turn-off.


9/ Has Facebook become boring? If it has become boring, then what can they do to make it fun again. Or is Twitter the king of “social media”?

Facebook passed the mark of 1 billion people, yet it still has the potential to reach the other 5 billions people on this planet.

It is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. Our online life revolves around Facebook, that’s why it is the most visited website on Earth.

Facebook might be boring, yet it has become an utility, just like electricity.

It is not as fun as when it first started, yet when I want to reach out to somebody across the globe, Facebook makes it so much easy and convenient than writing emails or calling.

It might be due to cultural difference. Twitter in the West fares better, in Asia we tend to be more relationship-based and family-oriented, that’s why we actively use Facebook to keep in touch with others.

A lot of new technologies have surfaced, yet it is difficult to ditch Facebook since it is a free utility and has all our information/memories on it. As long as it is kept free, it will be very difficult to destroy Facebook. People also collaborate better through Facebook group, communicate messages through Facebook Pages, it is all in one place. I might use Trello for work, yet it will be nice to have a central place like Facebook to keep track of everything in this fast-paced world.

Facebook does not need to be fun anymore. It just needs to work best at being an utility. It can acquire all these new exciting technologies and integrate. That’s why it bets big on VR. Mark Zuckerberg is surely afraid of being replaced, so they invest in the future. Their Internet access project makes sure the other global population not yet on Facebook will be connected right when provided access to Internet, and the VR would provide so many possibilities in the future. Finally we do not need to move, yet get everything done within our living room.


10/ To be continued…


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