Monthly Archives: September 2011

From "prince" to "pauper"


note: you can use the arrow key to click through the image gallery (there are two images).

disclaimer: the last time i used mint to allocate my budget was two years ago in 2008. the budgeting that i set at that time in my life is wildly unreflective of my spending habits in the past year.  additionally, the horrifying “budget exception” includes several transportation bills (airfare, cabs) that was reimbursed so graciously by my previous employer.  the images are just to comically emphasize the drastic change in spending habits from within a few weeks.


of the few extreme aspects of my recent “life changes”–from working at a bank (quite possibly the most corporate, hierarchical environment, to which someone can be subjected) to working at a startup (quite possibly the most formless, unstructured entity), from living in new york city (one of the few cities in the world where you can eat, drink, find drugs, find sex–essentially, satiate any hedonistic appetite–at any given time of the day, borderline unhealthy focus on career development) to living in california (eternal absence of humidity, perpetual laidback attitude and approach to life supported by limitless blue skies and palm trees)–one of the more prominent is spending habits.  by pursuing a startup, i forgo the bimonthly paycheck that financed my irresponsible drinking habits and set current spending limitations until our venture reaches cash flow positive (cash flow from operations less maintenance capital expenditures).


spending has significantly declined since my move to california (except for my recent expense on a new macbook air). unfortunately these cut backs occurred at the worst time possible, when i just recently discovered this site where else can you buy an AK-47 lamp? actually, probably the AK-47 lamp store or via this link:


anyway, here is to my transition from a comfortable life of feeling like a boss and saying “yeah, i can afford it; you go ahead and supersize that” to living like a college student, once again (during which, i became an armchair coinnessur of korean instant ramen, as well as raised my cholesteral levels and tolerance to spicy MSG-filled broth).  goodbye $14 stirred dirty gin martinis, laphroiag 10-year with two ice cubes, speakeasies, bottle service (exclusively in lower east side, i should add; meat packing district was out of my first-year financial analyst price range and douche-tolerance zone for me to rage comfortably), tapas bars, bloody marys with brunch, and taking cabs.  hello low rent, free google food (thank you fourth roommate, Michael Wei), kalimotxo (equal parts two buck chuck wine and off-brand cola), and costco wholesale food.




current morale level:

excited. counting down the days until michael gao’s birthday (9/30) and then until we move to Santa Clara (10/7).

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Tips to become a winning financial analyst


like everything in life, navigating the confusing intertwining branches and brambles of the financial analyst jungle is a game.  winning requires steady focus, a strong stomach and disposition, and the expectation that you will get shat on multiple times per day.  i have compiled below a short list of tips and tricks to help analysts orient themselves in the fast paced environment, full of egos and death traps that will take the most promising career at the drop of a hat, to ultimately succeed in the race to the top.

1. make sure to get a loud keyboard:  if they can’t see you working, they better hear you working. sometimes i would intentionally slam away on my keyboard to make sure those around me know that i am cranking out memos. even when playing yahoo! text twist, i make the keyboard my bitch everytime i type a letter. a sub-tip would be to increase your typing and decrease your mouse clicking when bosses approach.

2. always look busy as hell, but accept new assignments happily: even if you are surfing dealbreaker and playing minesweeper, as soon as your boss comes around, do the following: sigh but with a smile on your face, appear flustered but eager to take on the new task, and say “i have a lot on my plate right now, but i feel this new assignment will help me learn more about [insert boring subject here] i am more than happy to accept.”  this will give everyone the illusion that you are working much harder than you are, but also that you enjoy more responsibilities, which will land you the position of ‘go-to analyst’.

3. do not make eye contact with anyone on friday afternoons: everyone needs their weekend. just because you are working at a bulge bracket bank suckling the tender teats of egos-gone-awry does not mean you are forced eat seamless orange-chicken at your desk on a friday night.  friday afternoons is right when bosses come around the floor looking for defenseless prey who would happily spend their weekends working on an assignment that will ultimately be tucked away into a folder on the shared drive for nobody else to see. when friday 2pm rolls around, you better glue your eyes to or minesweeper and hope to sneak out by 5pm. being well rested on weekends will undeniably restore energy for the upcoming work week.

4. know your windows hotkeys: this tip really should have gone unspoken. if you don’t know basic windows hotkeys, then shame on you. you don’t belong behind a computer, let alone working as a financial analyst. alt-tab, alt-escape are wonderful for when your boss comes over and you were just watching a hilarious video on geekologie, and you need to give off the impression that you were cranking away at an excel model.

5. leave a jacket or bag at your desk even after you leave for the day: this will give off the impression that you just stepped away momentarily from your desk and that you plan to return to continue working.  should someone request your immediate attention on something via email, just respond saying you were downstairs grabbing a coffee from the nearby deli and will return (begrudgingly) shortly.  bonus points for: changing your screensaver to an excel spreadsheet, jamming a pencil into your spacebar to keep the screensaver from appearing, using a fake cellphone or purse to solidify the impression that you will be returning shortly, and creating a complete body double to sit in your place to do your work.  EDIT: can also leave a half-eaten apple or sandwich on your desk, but there are some risks to this tactic–if maggots or flies appear on the food, then either your illusion of constantly working is shattered or people start thinking you are disgusting (contributed by Shelley Yang).

the key is to remember that retention compensation is not directly correlated with the quality and output of your work over the past year, but it is based entirely on the perception of the quality and output of your work over the past year.  of course, it doesn’t hurt to actually take pride in the quality of your work, but if you neglect to play the game for what its worth, you may not be doing yourself a favor.



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See you on the other side


This is it!

Arrived at san diego to mikes warm embrace, caught up over the next several minutes on how our last days at our jobs were, and realized that our journey is just beginning. This has probably been my most difficult and life altering decision, aside from that one time i decided to graduate from high school.

Ill be updating my blog semi regularly with the developments with our product, as well as random other pictures and videos of amusement.


Things to do this upcoming week:
– incorporate
– finish YC application
– read ‘the four steps to epiphany’
– meet kim’s parents (scheduled for end of this week in LA)
– get equipment ready for new space (macbook air, dell keyboard, monitors, etc)
– help mike move

Current morale level:
Excited, anxious to move to SF


10 year anniversary in post-american world

Its been ten years since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Ten years into the new post-american era that is being defined by tremendous shift in wealth, credibility, and relevance from america to the rising economic powers of tomorrow. What happened in the past ten years that lead me to believe this?

– collapse of american housing market, 2006-2008
– collapse of lehman and bear stearns: summer and fall of 2008
– US debt downgraded to AA, summer of 2011
– sustained unemployment of greater than 9%

Post undergrad entry level positions in 1990’s were ~$45k. Post undergrad entry level positions in 2011’s were ~$45k. Houses are now more than three times more expensive, as is fuel and consumer goods. Is the standard of living in the united states declining?

There are several factors, including the united states government levering up to support growth in the 80’s and 90’s, increasingly imbalanced international payments, inaccurately perceived wealth effect from rising home prices that encouraged households to increase consumption to an unsustainable rate, the increasing drain on our country’s economic resources to support a bipartisanship government structure that is both slow in decision making and terrible at reducing future uncertainty, etc. Right now unemployment is at all time highs, market volatility is out of control, and, not only investors but also the voting americans are afraid of the economic future.

But of course this is not to say that the chinas, indias, and brasils are the current safe havens. Developed europe markets are currently dealing with their own issues (should not have let greece in the eu in the first place). If the us economy sneezes, the whole world gets sick. Everyone recognizes this and will be pushing to move away from the united states dollar as the reserve currency over the next 30 years.

America is still a great place for business (except obama voiced his plan to close tax loopholes) and for innovation. We need real growth to support this economic machine. Real products with real buyers.

Excited and anxious for the future.


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