Thursday, August 30, 2007

What's on my iPod

Here's what's new to my iPod. Getting heavy play is Back in Your Head by Tegan and Sara, Timebomb by Beck, Me Gustas Tu by Kiko Menendez, and Running Away by the Polyphonic Spree. Sure beats the voices in my head : p

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back in Oxford

Wow, I am soooooooo jet lagged. I get up around 4am and by 4pm I'm about to pass out. Sigh, it'll be over soon. Just three more weeks until graduation, then I'm moving back to LA and beginning the next chapter of my life. I can't wait!

Today I picked up Christopher Hitchen's book God is not Great. The EU subtitle is 'The case against religions' while the US subtitle is 'How religion poisons everything'. I think the former gives a better feel for the book than the latter. This is not a foaming at the mouth rant about the rising tide of religious fundamentalism in the world (not just Muslim, but also Hindu, Jewish, and Christian extremism), but a thoughtful and well reasoned argument that asks religion to justify its existence in an enlightened world. Central points: religions misrepresents the origins of man and the universe, it is not a necessary condition of a moral existence (see also Socrates, existentialsim, and the wisdom of Mark Twain), it is uninspiring given the vast wonders of nature and science (burning bush versus molecular biology), and it is ultimately grounded in the false comfort of wishful thinking. Many good and thoughful people will disagree with Hitchens, but he makes some good points.

Now, since I've just given several family members and friends a heart attack, I have to ask, why is it that it's somehow taboo to ask questions of faith? Is inquiry and honest dialogue antithetical to faith? Saint Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi both delved deep into the philosophical roots of their spirituality and emerged with more refined and robust conceptions of their faith (not to mention reformers such as Martin Luther, whose philosophy was heresy to his church), so why not ask the hard questions and demand answers?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Volunteering with Google

Last week the Google interns kicked in to help out The Family Giving Tree, a San Jose non-profit that assembles backpacks filled with school supplies for underprivaledged kids. We got to spend four hours of our workday assembling the packs and making sure they only contained safe and appropriate items (no pointy scissors for kindergartners). It felt really good to volunteer, and I'm looking forward to plugging back into Reading to Kids and Habitat for Humanity when I get back to LA.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


It’s been a pretty good week at Google. Yesterday, Eric Schmidt the CEO hosted the MBA interns for a Q&A session. One thing he said that resonated was that most MBAs get to the top by following orders; getting good grades, testing well, and generally jumping through hoops. However, career success will require breaking with that conformist mentality and generating new ideas, new products and services, and new ways of doing business.

Within Google, it also means being able to defend your ideas within a meritocracy where the best ideas, however radical, rise to the top. Instead of asking how to control the chaos, one must manage uncertainty while retaining a lively and creative dialogue that encourages debate. The CEO isn’t the only good brain within a company and the solution to the uncertainty and challenges of the world lies in fully leveraging the bright minds within your organization. Worthy ideas must be efficiently identified and decisions must be made in a timely manner to allocate resources and execute against opportunities. It strikes me as a very delicate balance, especially at scale, but I think Google has developed a process that seems to work. Related advice: hire the best (inversely, work with the best). Solutions arise through the wisdom of crowds, so have a smart crowd and let them speak.

Another bit of advice he had was to be willing to take risks in your career, but don’t linger in positions that aren’t a good fit. Feel free to join that startup, but if the culture’s wrong or growth becomes limited, be willing to walk away. Ditto for functions and industries. The career paths of my generation will likely be non-linear, so roll with it.

Today was nice too. I was grabbing lunch at one of the campus cafes and spotted Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Steve Jobs browsing the salad bar. What was really cool was that while everyone noticed, no one particularly cared. It’s nice to be at a place where the C levels are people too.