Daily Archives: August 24, 2017

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15 - Scaling both a career & company through Y-Combinator & China with CPO Teng Bao of Strikingly

“We were scared, like the jobs that we had, made us scared for our futures.”

Teng Bao is cofounder and Chief Product Officer of Strikingly (Sxl.cn in China) which is a website building tool that went through Y-combinator and has scaled from 0 to more than 1 million websites since its inception in July 2012.

Teng is currently heading up product design there and got into product by way of trying to design video games when he was young. His interest in games led to coding and eventually to overall product design. As he puts it, “videogames are purely UX” and he sees a huge overlap in building a good game and designing a product for smooth user experience.

Teng has started several companies in the past few years before and during his time at the University of Chicago before meeting up with his current cofounders to launch Strikingly. In this episode we discuss his career journey, which used a lot of ‘well I don’t want to do that’ to eventually find his way into moving to California and joining Y-combinator.

From there, we then track the company’s journey to Shanghai and building out the team with China-focused products to supplement their current US-based web design products. We also delve into some of the strategies they use to develop and nurture their international company culture.

In this episode:
+ Moving to the US when you’re young
+ Making flash video games
+ Which parts of gamification translate well to product
+ Being a summer intern in finance
+ Advantages of being a mix of a designer & a developer
+ Crowdfunding for school projects
+ Battling against constant self-doubt
+ Being rejected by Y-combinator
+ Then fighting back into Y-combinator
+ Moving a company to China from Silicon Valley
+ Building products for the Chinese market
+ Cultivating an ‘international’ company culture

Links:
Teng’s site:
http://tengbao.me/

Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tengbao/

Strikingly:
http://strikingly.com/
https://www.sxl.cn/

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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14 - How cooking pumps up WikiCookJoyce for a VP corporate strategy job at Publicis with Joyce Ling

“When something is happening top down, you think about their reactions from bottom up. And then you’re able to find the right strategy right in between.”

Joyce Ling is WikiCookJoyce, a food & cooking WeChat KOL influencer, when she’s not managing a large team at Publicis.Sapient as VP of Strategy. Joyce lived in Taiwan before her family moved to the Bay Area. She attended the University of California Santa Barbara with a dual major in fine arts & Chinese literature.

Around that time, Joyce started working in the makeup industry and eventually found herself moving to China to help Sephora launch there. After that she spent ~4 years in Dior where she split her time between training and Product Marketing. An interest in digital marketing led her then pursue agency life at Razorish & Digitas before roles at Michael Kors & ToryBurch brought her back to the fashion & brand side.

She’s now back on the agency side at Publicis.Sapient overseeing consumer insights and digital strategy development while on the side becoming a WeChat KOL for cooking. Joyce runs a popular account called WikiCookJoyce posting food and personal recipes. She even met her current boyfriend who was a fan of her blog and so we discuss how this just might be one of the smartest dating strategies around.

In this episode:
+ Her journey between Taiwan, US & China
+ How art is connected to the makeup industry
+ The importance of employee retail training
+ Meeting her first boyfriend in an AOL chat room
+ Why she became a food blogger on WeChat
+ The fear & drive of going on your own into the unknown
+ How she met her boyfriend through her WeChat blog
+ The “work” personality vs the real “Joyce” personality
+ The rituals she tells herself to get ready for a very social workplace
+ 10-minute problem breakdown strategy
+ How she uses food rituals to break out of her introvert shell
+ How management is seeing the best in people & knowing how to get it out of them as individuals
+ How to manage your own reactions
+ Using you early life interests to find the meaning in your work
+ How cooking can help you organize your thoughts

Joyce’s book (Amazon China):
https://www.amazon.cn/从厨房到餐桌-Joyce-Ling/dp/B01HRF23YQ/

Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/joyceling/

Instagram: (don’t click if you’re hungry)
https://www.instagram.com/wikicookjoyce/

WeChat Official Account: (see above, same warning)
WikiCookJoyce

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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13 - Why Kevin Chen left finance to tackle the global language education market as CEO of Italki

“After 10 years, some investors joked you should have IPO’d or died by now.”

Kevin Chen is co-founder and CEO of Italki.com, a language learning social network and marketplace for connecting teachers & students for private classes. Before that, Keven also cofounded Famento, which sought to use social networking to help families record and share their family history.

Kevin is a reformed finance guy who spent several years working at Merrill Lynch & Lehman Brothers in London, New York and Japan. We speak a lot about his personal backstory and how he struggled to work in an environment that while mentally challenging and interesting it was ultimately unsatisfying.

We talk about how he made some of these big career decisions, the interactions with family about it, a cross-Asia backpacking trip and eventually moving to Shanghai with no plan, just a feeling that it was the right place to be.

Kevin is a really intelligent guy who’s in a somewhat unique position of a managing an extremely cross-cultural team in China with a Chinese cofounder. We talk about some of the unique challenges he and his cofounder face when trying to set a company culture while also rapidly scaling from a small, lean team to more than a hundred.

In this episode:
+ How “Liar’s Poker” got him into finance
+ Working in finance in NYC vs Japan
+ Using solo travel to reflect
+ Being a first-time founder
+ The desire & importance of documenting family history
+ Should people become chatbots after they die?
+ His motivation to start Italki
+ Challenges of building single company culture in multi-cultural business
+ Being a “bridge builder” cross-culture CEO
+ How to handle rewarding early loyal employees vs new staff needed to grow

Books;
Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
http://amzn.to/2uwvZ38

Mr China by Tim Clissold
http://amzn.to/2wReRSo

Wild Swans Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
http://amzn.to/2uR8g8U

The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur) by by Hannu Rajaniemi
http://amzn.to/2vPSrnG

The Hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz
http://amzn.to/2fC7Lh3

Linked in
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinchen501/

Email him
kevin at italki.com

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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