Empower Yourself, Empower Your Business

2014 Goal: Learn the Basics of Computer Science

This 2014, I’m going to be taking a bunch of online computer science courses at the Stanford Center for Professional Development in preparation for my application to the CS Masters in Computer Science program.

Yesterday was the start of class for CS 106A, Programming Methodology taught by Keith Schwarz, who is super energetic and engaging.  The class is the intro to computer programming geared towards a general audience which is perfect for me.  You can get a preview on the course website to see what it’s all about.  

So, why learn to program computers?

I like how our teacher phrased our goal for the class which is: 

Learn how to harness computing power to solve problems.

I’m excited to see how my thought processes will improve and be refined through learning all these things such as 

  • exploring fundamental techniques in computer programming
  • develop good software engineering techniques and
  • gain familiarity with the Java language

The class is an hour long, three times a week and I download the videos online.  There are seven programming assignments and two midterms and the class ends in March.

The online delivery is quite convenient.  I just downloaded the class and was able to start and stop it along the way and play it in the car while driving.  (Yeah, take that Manila traffic!  I’m learning even if I’m stuck.)

The first class was housekeeping stuff, introduction to how computer science is super cool and meeting Karel the Robot.

So far, it’s off to a good start to 2014 and hopefully I’ll be a better leader and be able to build a better product for Shopinas.com with all that I’ll learn this year.

Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes, biology is about microscopes or chemistry is about beakers and test tubes.

Science is not about tools, it is about how we use them and what we find out when we do.

Michael Fellows and Ian Parberry,
“SIGACT trying to get children excited about CS”

New haircut. Inspired by Jean Seberg in the French new wave film Breathless.

New haircut. Inspired by Jean Seberg in the French new wave film Breathless.

I’m Planning to Get My MBA in Fall 2015

Having gone to NYU Stern business school for undergrad, I have always felt that getting my MBA was utterly redundant.  An MBA is valuable for gaining three important things to get ahead in the world:

  1. business knowledge
  2. a bigger network
  3. a credential.

With my sights firmly set on conquering Hollywood as an actor and producer back then, I thought I had a strong enough business foundation from my undergrad, the network that I needed to build wouldn’t be found in an MBA class and the MBA credential would be meaningless in an audition or a pitch meeting.

Instead of spending on tuition and sitting in a classroom, I chose to invest in starting a film production company in LA and to learn by doing.  I setup an LLC, I produced a trailer, I raised money and I produced a full-length feature.  Along the way, I learned how to lead in the midst of intense pressure.  I also realized that I no longer wanted filmmaking or acting as my career.  

When I switched gears and returned to the Philippines, I joined my family business and started Shopinas.com and joined Dun & Bradstreet Philippines. In the last three years, I felt my undergrad education served me well, while being in my family business made having a bigger network or a credential unnecessary to accomplish what I have done.  

So what changed?  Why am I now deciding to get my MBA?  

1. It’s time.  I believe I’m about to hit a plateau.  At some point soon in the future, I will hit a wall with how much I can push my employees and how fast the market will grow.  I would have optimized and squeezed out all I can and beyond that, I know I would get diminishing results.  The only way for me to take my business to the next level is to upgrade myself, my way of thinking, my way of leading.    

In addition to getting my MBA, I’m gunning to do a joint program and get my Masters in Computer Science or Engineering as well.  

Running an internet company without a computer science or engineering background has been quite a challenge for me.  The scarcity of good-hearted engineering talent has driven me to empower myself to really learn the technical side of my business as well.  

With all the exciting developments of Dun & Bradstreet’s Data, Insight and Analytics strategy, I also look forward to understand data science and analytics to leapfrog our D&B performance in the Philippines.  

2.  The tech scene and community in Manila is heating up and I’ve been fortunate to meet some key international players while being here.  But the scene is still rather small and after a while you’ll get to know everyone and that’s that.  I look forward to learn from a new crowd of people and to get them excited about the opportunities in the Philippines.

3.  Also, after encouraging several of my employees to pursue their MBAs, I feel it’s about time that I lead by example and do so myself.  

Where am I applying?  When do I plan to attend?

I’m planning to apply to (in alphabetical order) Harvard, MIT Sloan, Stanford and Wharton.  These four schools have excellent graduate business and engineering programs.  I would love to get accepted to any of these schools, although my heart beats a little faster for Stanford because of 3 things: the weather, Silicon Valley and of course, it’s closer to Manila.

I’m aiming to be admitted in Fall of 2015.  That means I’ll be graduating the MBA in 2017 and graduating the MS CS/Engineering in 2018. 

What will happen to Shopinas.com and D&B Philippines then?

Knowing how intense these MBA and CompSci/Engineering programs are, it’s crazy to combine it with leading two organizations remotely.  

But that’s exactly what I plan to do.  

I struggled with this idea at first and thought I had to figure out a way to step down from my post and appoint successors in my absence.  However, I shared my concerns with Anthony Scriffignano, one of the people I respect in D&B International.  Anthony has an MBA from Columbia and a PhD from Antioch and currently leads the Worldwide Data and Insight team.  He took both his MBA and PhD while working full time, although he cut back on hours.  He reassured me that I could do it as long as I was willing to put in the work.  

I have managed to lead two organizations simultaneously in the last three years. If there’s a way to do it remotely, I’m sure I can figure it out.  I have about a year and nine months to organize both Shopinas.com and D&B PH to be able to operate splendidly with me being away.

What have I done so far to prepare?  

I’ve begun to do the preliminary research on requirements for admission.  I’ve bought and borrowed GMAT prep books as well as MBA admission guide books and started reading them.  (Thanks Mona!)  I’ve read 2 memoirs on getting an MBA (from Harvard and Stanford).  I’ve attended the information sessions of both Harvard and Stanford.  I was fortunate to have attended a smaller discussion group with Derrick Bolton, Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions at Stanford when he was here in the Philippines.  (Thanks Earl!)

I’ve taken the quantitative portion of the diagnostic test of the Official GMAT book and learned that I have a long way to go to get ready for the test.  

And, I’m writing this article.  For the most part, right now, I’m just trying to psych myself into this new paradigm.  Writing about it and pretty soon sharing about it to others will hopefully make this more and more concrete in my reality.

Lastly, I’m praying a ton.  I’m offering up this endeavor to God.  I pray that I be blessed with the right motivation, perseverance and wisdom to pursue this in the way that would serve His purpose, whatever that may be.

What do I plan to do next?

I plan to write about this journey at least once a week to keep myself accountable.  You are welcome to join the ride.  

I plan to continue mapping out all that I need to do and by when.  Which said another way is: I plan to plan some more.

And, I also plan to study to get a Foundations in Computer Science Graduate Certificate from Stanford’s Center for Professional Development.  Getting it along with a few other classes would give me a head start in satisfying foundation requirements for the Stanford MSCS program.  It would also get me in structured study mode. It would also help me be a better leader of a tech organization because it would give me some basic skillz.  

I always say my life is hectic.  It’s going to get hecticer.

Shopinas.com in Harvard Business School Case Study

I’m very happy and proud to share that Shopinas.com has been featured in a Harvard Business School Case Study. These case studies are used by Harvard Business School and other top business schools in the world to teach MBA and undergraduate business courses.  
I used to study these when I was in college.  It is really awesome that ten years after I graduated from college to see myself and my companies being mentioned in such a prestigious publication.  
Although the main focus of the case is on Ava.ph, another ecommerce site, I am personally featured on page 3, and Shopinas.com is mentioned several times as a major ecommerce player in the Philippines.  Dun & Bradstreet Philippines also gets a mention as I share how I manage both companies.  Maybe someday, Shopinas.com or D&B Philippines will be featured in a Harvard Business School case study as the main subject.  
Many thanks to Henry Motte-Munoz for considering Shopinas.com to be part of the case study.  
For those interested in reading the case, it’s entitled, “Ava.ph: Growing a Filipino E-Commerce Company” Case number N9-813188 

Having A Morning Ritual

Start your day right.  Orchestrate each detail of your morning from the time you wake up till the time you get out of the door to ensure you honor your priorities every day.

Here is mine.

  1. wake up
  2. pray
  3. pee, scrape my tongue, brush my teeth, wash my face
  4. weigh and log weight in journal
  5. drink 20 oz. of water
  6. change to workout clothes
  7. eat breakfast, drink supplements
  8. input what I ate, what workout i’m doing and what time I wake up in my logs
  9. prep workout gear
  10. workout
  11. hydrate
  12. check workout log and clear gear
  13. change, wash face, shower
  14. makeup, hair, dress up
  15. bring stuff needed for the day

End of Morning Ritual

Meal Planning, Prepping and Bringing A Lunch Box

If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.  wise words of chemistry teacher in high school.  can be applied to food and eating clean.

no good food to eat?  then you will eat bad food.  period.  

lay out the week and put in each meal, making sure to evenly rotate stuff so you’re not overdoing one protein category (fish, shrimp, tofu, lentils, beans, protein powder, eggs, chickpeas, quinoa).  get your 2 cups of greens in.  more fruit in the am.  more oils in the pm.  No refined grains or sugar and no dairy.

Pick recipes you like.  Enlist help in the kitchen to prep and clean up.  Yay for mommies and maids should you be blessed to have them.  

Get a nice stylish looking lunch box.  Helps make you feel less conscious bringing your meals around.

Go grocery shopping.  Make food.  Bring food.  Eat food.  Patiently tell people you’re on a program while they eat greasy chinese food and ask why you’re not joining them.  Repeat.

Keep doing this enough times, you should be fit and hot in no time and eating a whole cronut and lay’s potato chips in one sitting every now and then won’t kill you.  as long as you get back on the program the next meal, with no sense of guilt. 

Tracy Anderson Method Metamorphosis DVD Review

I heart Tracy Anderson.  I am the same height she is, and I want the body type that she produces with her method.  method is hard but it works.  Longest and most consistent I’ve ever committed to a program.  Forum is wonderful.  Not too keen on her diet plans from the book or the dvd program.  

learning a lot about myself, about how much I can push myself.  cliche, but the method addressed not just your body but so many things about yourself.

you have to go through it to really understand what she’s trying to do. to your body.  once you see the results, it locks in the desire to continue. 

Clean Cleanse Review

21 Days.  Shake, Meal, Shake.  Supplements.  Elimination Diet.  Pretty Box. 

Vegetarian Breakfast Ideas

1. 2 hard boiled eggs and fruit

2. protein pancake/waffle

3. protein shake

4. scrambled eggs with spinach, mushroom and tomato

5. tofu scramble

6. perfect morning quinoa

7. cinnamon apple chia porridge

8. shrimp and veggie egg white scramble

9. blueberry protein muffins

10. Glowing green smoothie

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