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Re-Starting With Why November 3, 2011

Posted by peterxu422 in Business, Entrepreneurship, Science.
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Why. How. What. The Golden Circle rule. A simple concept that could change the way you view your life for the better. The creator of this concept is a man named Simon Sinek, an inspirational speaker and ethnographer, someone whose work I greatly admire. I first became familiar with Simon when I watched a TED talk titled “How Leaders Inspire Action.” It was the most thought provoking and incredible TED talk I have ever listened to. Simon came to speak at my school today and I was lucky to be there for it.

I have watched his TED talk about 3 times already and I was expecting him to speak about similar topics. He talked about the exact same things, using almost the same language. I was already familiar with everything he said today. However, I went there not for the content, but for the subjective energy and connection that I felt in that room on a human level. Simon speaks with confidence, clarity, and complete honesty in what he believes, and that in turn re-inspired my outlook on life.

The main chord he hit that really reverberated within me was understanding what you believe in, being clear about what you believe in, and remaining authentic on how you show your beliefs. This, he believes, is how businesses and people who make impact think.

For the past few months, I lost some motivation to continue my work. It was beginning to pile up, and my mindset was such that I was in it for something else. I fear that I became too focused on the rewards of my work that I began living to wait for the prizes. I wanted to push through and get to the end quickly because I was tired of waiting. My concentration on the result made me less focused on the present, and consequently, made me less motivated to work.

Today, Simon helped get me back on track. He preached that the ultimate fuel for oneself is understanding exactly what they believe and why. It is the difference between someone who gets up and goes to work excited to accomplish something as opposed to someone who gets up and goes to work hoping to get through the day. It is the difference between leaders and those who lead. And when you find those who share your vision and wish to make it theirs, you begin to have the capacity to create movement and impact.

I believe in a world that appreciates science and technology and supports its continued innovation to do good and to further the potential of humankind. This is what gets me up in the morning. This is what gets me to class. This is what gives me hope for a better future. Thanks for coming to Queens College Simon. Please come back at some point. Maybe the next time we meet it will be at Columbia.

Watch an amazing and inspiring talk.
VIDEO: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

My First Hackathon October 14, 2011

Posted by peterxu422 in Business, Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology.
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About a week ago, I attended my first hackathon hosted by the non-profit organization hackNY. What is a hackathon? It is an event where a bunch of programmers come together and build something within a certain amount of time. How long do they last? This one was 24 hours, others can last up to an entire week. What do they build? Programs, applications, web apps, perhaps even more. The rules of this hackathon was to build something awesome within 24 hours.

The day-long event began at 2pm on a Saturday and ended 2pm Sunday. A variety of delicious foods was served regularly throughout the entire night to keep the hackers energized and awake. Lots of Redbull and Monster energy drinks too.

After the hackers registered and signed in, we sat in the auditorium waiting for representatives from various web startup companies in NYC present their API’s. The API is basically documentation that teaches you how to use a company’s software in your own applications. So for example, if I wanted to build an application that would allow me to input an address which would then output the location on a Google Map and present pictures of the nearby area on a Panoramio Widget, I would use the Google Maps API and the Panoramio API to see how I could incorporate their services into my program. This is basically what I, along with a few others, built that night.

To say the least, my experience there showed me how challenging developing web applications can be. It is quite different from the non-web programming I have done in Java and C++. My brief background in computer science allowed me to write and interpret code, but as far as actually creating a web application was quite challenging and unfamiliar. I actually felt quite demoralized by this, as I realized how inept my software development skills were. This was particularly demoralizing given my desire is to be a tech innovator.

However, I was fortunate enough to meet people there who were at my level, and even more fortunate to meet experienced coders willing to help us get started. After the hackathon event, we maintained communication with each other and expressed an interest in continuing to learn how to do web development. We are currently working on a collaborative project outside of school. It will be fast paced and will likely take a chunk of my time, but I think the experience will be worth it.

Part of my new resolution was to take more risks. Taking on this project bears some risks, particularly to my academics, but what great opportunity does not involve taking risks? The late Steve Jobs has shown us that the things you build can change the world. Sometimes, you have to stop studying how something works, and actually make it. Let’s start building.

Hackers at the hackathon

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