Category: My Rants

A year since I updated my blog!

By , October 9, 2016 1:34 pm

songcircularWith the popularity of social media, not much gets posted on my personal website these days. My friends pretty much follow me on Facebook and my professional associates follow me on LinkedIn. Those are really the only two outlets I use on a regular basis. These services combined with the power of a smartphone doesn’t leave much space for other mediums.

In fact, I’ve stopped carrying a dedicated camera and I use my iPhone 6S plus for everything. I’ve done the comparison and the camera in the iPhone is just as good as a DSLR from back in the early 2000’s (that’s the last time I got a dedicated camera). So now, everything is one that iPhone. Heck, with 64G that’s a lot of stuff I may never go through again.

As for the 1984 BMW 633csi I got last year. It is now my daily driver. All of the kinks have been pretty much worked out and I can confidently drive it anywhere. During the past year I have met a great community of enthusiasts who have helped me in the car’s restoration. Cars with a strong following like this will only go up in value. I had the same experience with my Porsches, Pantera and Ferrari. But anyone that knows me, knows that I get a hankering for another vehicle in short order. I’m not sure what is next but I do know that it’ll be a while as I am preoccupied with my job at www.equilar.com.

BMW 633CSi

The car one year later after numerous updates including all new suspension.

My work keeps me ridiculously busy. I am finally at a company that has a super solid business model and there’s still room for growth. I run Engineering, Products, IT and Marketing. It’s a lot to cover, but my past has had stints in each one of those areas. I am excited by the future and spend pretty much all my time working. It’s a profitable startup and that’s a rare beast in the Silicon Valley. OK, until next time. I hope everyone is doing well.

A 30 year BMW rises again

By , September 15, 2015 8:11 pm

There has been so much done to this car since the last post that I don’t even know where to begin. I have begun to put things into buckets depending on the priority required to get it usable as a daily driver. I’ll document some of those things here.

Getting it Licensed

The first order of business was getting the title transferred to me. Not an easy task when the registered owner is no longer with us and the car is an inheritance, but the title is not yet transferred. But before we can do anything is California, we must get it smogged. This required multiple trips to DMV as we have to get a moving permit (remember it hasn’t been driven in over 5 years).

Getting smogged after 5 years of being idle.

Getting smogged after 5 years of being idle.

The good news is that it passed smog with flying colors! All I did was put in fresh gas and drive it around the block a few times. It wasn’t without incident as a coolant leak happened during smog and then the radiator failed! I was able to make it home though.

New Radiator

Well, this was an obvious one after the smog incident. Not only did I put in a new radiator, I decided to replace key hoses, the water pump and also do another coolant flush while all the stuff was out.

All new cooling system in place. Now if the temp gauge worked...

All new cooling system in place. Now if the temp gauge worked…

New Wheels!

One of the more exciting developments is the new wheels that I got from a 5-series. I learned that I would need something called hubcentric rings as there was a 1.2mm difference in the central diameter of the hubs. At least the offset was correct and I loved the style. The new tires 225/55 x 16″ are much larger than the stock 195/70 x 14″. Not only was I able to get new wheels, but the spare was also part of the package!

Really like the look of the new 5-series wheels on the car.

Really like the look of the new 5-series wheels on the car.

The Interior

The next order of business was various parts of the interior. The faded leather was hard and losing its’ color. It was also beginning to crack and the speaker pods on the rear deck was unsightly. I got some leather dye and Groit’s Leather rejuvenator and after 3-5 treatments, the interior is taking shape quite well.

eBay score!

eBay score!

One of the issues with the interior was the peeling leather on the steering wheel. It was a pain to have to see and feel that every time I was in the car. I bid on an eBay auction and won the wheel above for only $35! What a score!

The Instrument Cluster

This is by far the most annoying thing. I have been struggling with it for weeks. Basically my gauges do not work. After much research, I knew that a printed circuit board was at issue and that the nicad batteries used had leaked acid and damaged the board. I tried many things including a bypass, but have met with limited success. In the process I replaced a broken odometer gear, got brighter lamps for night lighting and learned way more than I needed about the wiring diagrams of these cars. Right now I have a working speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge and tachometer! Broken still are the temperature gauge, economy indicator and the service interval computer. Also my onboard computer is dead.

Rewiring the SI computer board to just bypass the SI computer!

Rewiring the SI computer board to just bypass the SI computer!

Wallah! A working (mostly) instrument cluster.

This made me happy. After two weekend's wor, I mostly have a working cluster.

This made me happy. After two weekend’s work, I mostly have a working cluster.

Final cool picture – the original license registration

During all this madness, I was able to get finally get the new registration tags. I took the picture below as I thought it a milestone that I was able to get the original tags in view before putting on the new tags! It was a nice nostalgic moment.

The car will live again!

The car will live again!

So true to my word to the previous owner, I will get this car back on the road. There is still a huge list of things to tend to, but I should have it pretty much fully driveable in the next month. I plan to keep slowing fixing critical items and then one day I’ll be able to commute with confidence in this car.

Thanks for staying with me this far. The shark will rise again.

Women on Board!

By , May 27, 2015 10:09 pm

Gender diversity has been quite the hot topic in Silicon Valley. After Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”, there appears to be a steady stream of talks, conferences and news stories about this topic. At our company, Equilar,  we are building a product that allows a company to assess their Board of Directors. One of the factors is gender diversity. Even with all this attention only 19% of Board members in US companies are women.

Aaron Dhir's book

Aaron Dhir’s book

Recently I attended a talk at the Stanford Law School entitled “Where are the Women: Strategies for Increasing Board Diversity“. The conversation included the Aaron A Dihr, the author of the book “Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity” and Deborah Rhode, a professor at the Stanford Law School. These are the notes and thought that me and one of my colleagues took away from the discussion.

Spoiler Alert: Trying to force gender diversity is extremely difficult. Similar to socio-economic movements like racial equality, it’ll take decades to radically change. In fact, it may take a new generation of workers to fully implement true equality.

At the current rate of adoption on corporate boards in the USA, it will take about 70 years to achieve a 50/50 split. hardly encouraging.

 

The Way in Norway:

One on of the interesting anecdotes was the state of corporate law in Norway, where companies are required to have 40% female board members or risk dissolution. Aaron used Norway as a case study in many of his discussion. Could forcing gender diversity by law enact change? In the early days of the law’s passage there were companies desperately trying to get women, any women, onto their boards. This gave rise to a few not so nice terms like “Trophy Directors aka Trophy Wives” and “Golden Skirts”. Even then, the women hired were those that would most likely vote with the rest of the board. So diversity didn’t really change the vote, but it did re-distribute power. Over time, the women started to engage more and challenge the status quo. Sixteen countries now have a quota, but the USA lags still.

Stanford Law School hosts a talk about gender diversity

Stanford Law School hosts a talk about gender diversity

Interesting Anecdotes and Jokes:

Deborah indicated that women are thought to be more adverse to risk. If Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters, they might still be around today!

Much research has been done, but has not proven that diverse boards will perform better financially. This has been one of the key problems facing this movement.

There are only 2.8% women in the Fortune 500 boards. Why? Some reason offered are:

  1. Not enough qualified candidates
  2. Women are just not as interested
  3. Interested but not being selected.

Culturally we expect men to be better leaders. There’s an unconscious bias to look in socially similar networks. These happen to be closed networks. We need to look outside the traditional CEO/CFO titles for candidates.

The funny thing is that in a recent survey, 79% of respondents say that past CEO’s are not good board members because CEO are used to pushing to get their way. They are not as open-minded.

In a survey of the Fortune 500, less than 50% even talk about diversity in their proxies. When they did, they talked about diversity in experiences and not gender. Surprisingly one of the most well known and progressive companies, Amazon, openly says that they do not think about gender diversity at all. This surprised Dr. Rhode.

What can we do?

We as a society expect more of the BOD since the 2008 meltdown. Diversity will be a slow trickle down effect. If shareholders can force diversity disclosures on the ballot and the SEC can demand disclosure, that would be a beginning.

Another idea is to have tenure limits to force board refreshes at a set interval. As we pass through a few generations of BOD members, new thinking will emerge.

As we look for members for a BOD, look outside the traditional past CEO/CFO roles. Look to lawyers, accountants, academics and people who have been on non-profit boards. This will grow the available pool and will invariably include more women.

Look to examples of success in diversity. Surprisingly the NFL and Military are great leaders in this area. They have more than tripled the % of women coaches and generals in the past 10 years.

Not surprisingly, one of the goals of our upcoming product offering is to unveil relationships and broaden the pool of candidates for board members. During our Summit in June, all will be revealed!

The Power of a Mission

By , May 13, 2015 8:07 pm

Often times I am reminded that a job is so much more than something to do or a way to  make money. In order to really be passionate about what you do, you need to believe in your mission. In fact a recent story came out about how some of the nations best computer scientists (yes out of Stanford), normally do NOT take the job that pays the best. ( Why new Stanford Grads Turn Down $150K salaries) They want a mission. An ideal that they believe in.

Recently our company was working on a Mission Statement. That seemed so cliche and it was so difficult to get agreement, but we did. Here’s our mission:

Equilar Logo

“To empower, engage and enable executives throughout the world”

Ok, sounds aspirational, but why should our employees care? This post is my interpretation of our mission and why it’s important.

The Realization

The largest public companies in the USA are our customers. The data and the analysis that we provide are used to make sure that they can attract and retain the best management. These companies and their management have a disproportionate effect on their communities, the environment and the lives of their employees. We (a group of 100+) people sitting in Redwood City, CA are creating the intelligence being used to make these management hiring decisions. The right CEO makes sure their companies give back to the community. They get compensated based on their performance. We help to inform these critical decisions.

An Epiphany

When I was about 25 years old and a Systems Engineer for a company called Borland, we were meeting with the largest corporations in the world and explaining to them how they should roll out their desktop application strategy. They were moving from a Mainframe/dumb terminal type environment into the new world of desktop computers.

I remember sitting at a huge conference room at Coca Cola world HQ in Atlanta, waiting for their senior executives to arrive. One by one, the executives and their assistants made their way to the large mahogany table that was polished to a mirror shine. After a brief introduction from my manager, he turned to me and told the assembled group, “And now Song is going to explain how you can modernize your operations with desktop applications.”

I realized that no other industry in the world would an assembled group from a Fortune 10 company executives sit still to listen to the advice of a 25 year old kid! That was a great empowering feeling. I realized that I liked technology! I’ve been at it ever since.

So What?

When I learned what we were doing at Equilar, I had a distinct feeling of Deja vu. Here were are, a small company in Silicon Valley effecting the destiny of some of the world’s largest corporations! We help them create the best management staff and boards by making sure the compensation and incentives align with company goals. Many of our employees are right out of college. It reminds me of that moment in my career when I had the Epiphany.

So, take our mission to heart and realize that like a “butterfly effect“, we can make the world a better place with the product that we deliver!

Goody bag to enforce mission statement!

Goody bag to enforce mission statement!

If you are not an Equilar employee, check out our Career Listings!

 

Tech in Motion – Our First Meetup

By , April 10, 2015 1:03 am

Equilar sponsored a Tech in Motion Meetup at the SP2 restaurant in San Jose, CA. It was a first for us as our HR department has embarked on a mission to get the Equilar brand out into the Silicon Valley tech scene. Silicon Valley is one of the most vibrant economies and it attracts all types of people. Whether you want to learn tech, get into a startup or make a career change, a meetup is a fantastic place to network and meet other like minded individuals. Our company was there to recruit!

Cross promoting the meetup on LinkedIN mobile.

Cross promoting the meetup on LinkedIN mobile.

During the days leading up to the event, we sent out tweets and posts on Facebook and LinkedIN. We watched as the RSVP list grew to 164 people! I had high hopes for this event. Later at the event, I was told by the event organizer that some of their larger events can grow to as many as 500 people. It’s a sure sign that these things are working.

The Venue – SP2 Communal Restaurant

Deep in downtown San Jose, this restaurant is very spacious with a great patio and a nice room in the back where this event was held. It looks like this part of downtown is under some serious renovation. When I Googled Mapped the location, there was an empty parking lot across the street from the restaurant. Now there’s a multi-story building being built in the area across the street where the parking lot used to be!

Our company had premium billing at the event. As you walked through the patio into the restaurant, you are drawn to the room just past the bar where the Tech in Motion event was being held. Here’s what it looks like as you approach.

Entering the Tech in Motion Event.

Entering the Tech in Motion Event, 6:06pm it’s just beginning.

Now note the girl in the red jacket behind the sign. She’s actually talking to Megan, our SR. HR person at Equilar. Our table was right behind the sign. You had to walk right past it as you entered the venue.  From the inside you can get a better idea of what the setup looked like. Here’s the view from inside the room looking towards the entrance. See the red coat girl?

Megan (in black) talking to the girl in the red jacket.

Megan (in black) talking to the girl in the red jacket.

The People I Met:

Once I walked into the room and grab a beer, I started talking to people. People from all walks of life and all kinds of interests. There was a guy who just moved from Indiana. He wanted to break into Tech and was trying to figure out how to get going. I met an engineer who was a one man startup. He was launching his on demand video chat service and looking for a partner. A few people showed off the apps that they had written on their phones and wanted to know what we were looking for in the two positions described (Engineering Lead & Automation QE). Then there was a more mature gentleman who had spent 10 years creating online training and was looking for a new venue for his skills. A great surprise was an old friend who had moved to Australia was in town! He had dropped by the event and surprised me. What a small world! Then, of course, there were lots of recruiters!

The companies represented were equally varied. I met 2 people who were Googlers working on open source projects that were soon to be monetized. Unfortunately they were not looking for a new job. I met hardware engineers designing systems for cars. One of these people worked with Mercedes Benz and was investigating human/car interactions. A professor at Carnegie Mellon was in the crowd as well as a QA Manager that looked like “Pit Bull”, the singer.

After a few brewskies I realized how busy the room had become. I just moved from group to group shamelessly asking people what they did, who they worked for and if they were looking for a new challenge! Hey, when you have to work a crowd and only have about 30 seconds with each person, there’s no time to waste!

At about 8pm, the room was buzzing!

At about 8pm, the room was buzzing!

It looked like there was at least 75-100 people in the room at any given time. I would occasionally look over at the Equilar table (you can see our vertical sign – left of center in the picture above) and see how Megan was doing. She was just as busy as I was and sent a few people my way. She was all smiles and chatting up a storm telling people about our company and the positions that were available. Every once in a while if I noticed someone was taking too much of her time, I’d go over and run interference. You have to watch out for your team member!

Megan talks to a guy inquiring about our job postings.

Megan talks to a guy inquiring about our job postings.

It was surprising how fast the time passed. The event was scheduled to go from 6-8pm. I was talking to another attendee when I noticed that Megan was beginning to break down Equilar table. I took a quick glance at my watch and realized that it was close to 8:30pm.

I helped to pack up the table and take the boxes to Megan’s car.

When I returned to the venue, there were still at least 15-20 people milling about.

By this time I was getting a bit hungry and decided to stroll downtown and find a place to eat. I found a nice gastro-pub and had a nice dinner as I pondered what I had learned in our first ever meetup sponsorship.

Tonight, a lot of people got to know what kinds of services our company provides. We talked to as many people as we could in the time we had. An even greater number of people got to see the new Equilar logo and branding. Even if they didn’t find out what we did, they will begin to recognize our name and brand when it inevitably comes up again.

Do MeetUps Work?

The HR goal of gradually getting the Equilar brand into the minds of a new cross section of tech professionals had been achieved. I’ll have to follow up with the several people I met at the event.

On my way home, I noticed 2 LinkedIn requests to connect appear on my phone  from people I had met. While I was writing this post, I was sent the resume of a Automation QA Engineer I met this evening who is currently contracting on a project at Google. Yup, meetups work.

Overall, it was a great time. I really encourage you to goto a Meetup in your area. It’s a fantastic way to experience the pulse of the people who make up the tech scene. And you never know, you my find your next startup partner or company employee!

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