From articles about startups & geek culture to career & life advice, these are the thoughts on the Tip of my Tung.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why I'm building, a new community for career help

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 Posted by Unknown 14 comments
Determining a career path and getting that first job after college can be a pretty lonely experience. Life after college is a seismic-shift, and everyone’s path is at least a little windy. Just knowing where and how to get started with your career is a challenge in itself.
Some new grads will move to new cities to pursue jobs in competitive fields. Some will take unfulfilling jobs in the short-term to pay the bills. Some will grapple with what to do with an art history or psychology major. Some will move back in with mom and dad for a bit or take gap-year and explore the world while trying to figure out what to do next. Whatever someone decides to do after college, it’s a special mix of exhilaration, newness, fear, fun, uncertainty and sometimes loneliness.
But starting out professionally doesn’t have to be lonely. The antidote to career loneliness is other professionals who have been in your shoes. Think about it: there’s another professional out there somewhere who has done the thing that you want to do in your career. There is someone who has been faced with the same challenge and understands what you’re going through. They can help you with your situation, and in doing so, make your career journey a little less lonely. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could meet and talk to that person?
That’s why we’re building Huttle.
Huttle is a career mentorship community where people can support each other along their career journeys. On Huttle, professionals just starting out can seek guidance from more established professionals on all kinds of career topics like choosing a career path, landing a first job, negotiating salary, making a tough career decision, and everything in between.
Professionals use Huttle to help people who are just starting out. Right now, there are awesome professionals on Huttle with backgrounds at companies like Facebook, Uber, Electronic Arts, Eventbrite and more.
You can join Huttle here, and if you have any questions, advice, or feedback, feel free to email us at!
P.S: Interested in following the Huttle story? Make sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why I Decided to Sell Everything & Buy My First Condo

Wednesday, September 09, 2015 Posted by Unknown 22 comments

 After living and working in New York City for four years, I decided that I was finally ready to move back to the Bay Area. Once I decided to make the move, I found a great job at a startup in San Francisco, which inevitably meant figuring out where I would live and whether I would rent again or take the plunge and buy my first home.

I looked at the market in the Bay Area and realized I was definitely moving from the second most expensive city in the world to the most expensive city. If I decided to rent, I would be paying upwards of $3,000 a month for a comparable 1-bedroom to the one I had on the Upper West Side in NYC. This was a pretty bitter pill to swallow because I always knew I wanted to buy, but paying $3,000 a month for rent would really eat into the amount I could save each month for a down payment.

Keeping this in mind, I knew I needed help with how to proceed on my quest for a new home, so I reached out to Bernard Klein at Blooming Sky. During my conversation with Bernard, we spoke about what I was thinking long term, I mentioned the following: I wanted to pay about the same or less than my apartment on the UWS, I wanted to buy a place in the near future, and because I did well at three startups in NYC, I had a modest amount of funds across my brokerage, savings and checking accounts. After a few meetings, Bernard advised that now might be the perfect time to buy given the insane rent prices, white hot housing market in the Bay Area, and the continued growth of Silicon Valley. But, if I were to buy, it would mean moving to another blossoming city just outside of SF...Oakland!

The Three Things to Know When Looking

Once my mind was set on buying, I began looking at properties around the Bay Area, and I learned a few things pretty quickly:
  1. Whether you’re looking in SF, NYC, or any other city with rapidly rising home prices, you’re going to need to look at the listing price and compare it to comparable homes or “comps” as they’re often called, in the neighborhood. Comps give you an idea of what you’ll actually end up bidding. From my experience, in Oakland and SF you’ll likely be bidding at least 30% above the list price. This meant that if I was looking to spend a maximum of $600,000 for a home I would have to look at listings in the $300,000 - $450,000 range.
  2. When looking at condos, you’ll need to factor in the cost of the monthly homeowners association, or HOA, fees. One place we found had monthly HOA fees of $700! When you’re looking at spending around $2,200 on your monthly mortgage payments, extremely high HOA fees like that could make the difference between eating out or eating ramen every week.
  3. You’re going to look at a lot of stinkers, and that’s okay. With markets the way they are in SF and NYC, people are looking to sell their homes for a nice return, but that doesn’t mean the listings you look at will meet your minimum requirements for comfort. One place we looked was the strangest loft we’d ever seen. It was three floors but no walls, so if you ever wanted privacy you had to keep walking up. Another one we saw was listed as an amazing two-bedroom, but in reality, the bedrooms were tiny, the bathroom was dated, and the kitchen was a hallway. When looking for your first home, it’ll be rough, but when you do find a place that checks of all your boxes, it truly is a magical thing... except of course when you get outbid.

Losing Your Dream Home

Unfortunately, due to soaring home prices, getting outbid is a very real thing. A friend of mine found a place in the suburbs of Pennsylvania, and his bid was accepted even though he bid roughly 10% under the list price.

This won’t happen in the Bay Area and NYC. We found an amazing two-bedroom, two-bath condo, and even though we bid $80,000 above the list price, we lost the condo because another couple put in an offer that was $70,000 more than ours. It was devastating to hear that we didn’t get it, but when you’re looking at neighborhoods that have historically great returns, this will unfortunately happen.

Finding (and Affording) Your Home

After looking at a few more places, we eventually found a one bedroom, one bathroom with a bonus room that was perfect for us. It had everything we were looking for- great area, a one bedroom with some extra space, remodeled kitchen, and a big living room for our TV. The day that our offer was accepted was both the happiest day and the most terrifying day of my life! Why? Because once the offer was accepted it meant that it was time to commit and gather enough funds to afford the downpayment.

In the end, I had to invest almost all my assets to afford the condo, but don’t get me wrong, it was truly the best decision of my life. My mortgage plus taxes and HOA fees are less than anything I would rent in SF. I own property in an area where the price per square foot has grown almost 73% over the past five years and continues to climb. Most of all, I own a home where I can put down roots, invest in, and start a family. Ultimately, buying your first home will be one of the most exhausting things most people will ever do, but with good planning and research, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What Warby Parker's SoHo Store Taught Me About Product, Company Culture, And Scaling A Business

Monday, January 26, 2015 Posted by Unknown , , 1 comment
This past Sunday, my Walmart glasses that I bought four years ago before I moved to New York finally broke. Partially blind, devastated, and preparing for the upcoming blizzard that's supposed to hit Manhattan Monday evening, I found as many glasses stores that I could to replace my broken spectacles.

After walking into an insurance-covered optometrist's office in Midtown and debating whether I should pay about $150, I decided that I would put my potential lenses down and give Warby Parker a try.

I've always known of Warby Parker. One of the first vertically-integrated start-ups to reaching huge valuations on a business model that's actually generating a profit, Warby Parker is one of the greatest start-up success stories and was always a topic of conversation while I was working at Bonobos. So, it was finally time that I walked into their SoHo store to see what all the fuss was about.

Simply put, I was amazed and finally got it.

The Product - Ease of Access

The minute I walked in I was impressed with Warby Parker's presentation. The store is staged as a library for obvious reasons, and I was really impressed by their wall of glasses and the center tables. Unlike traditional stores, Warby opts to keep all of their product on the show floor. Carrying over their amazing "try before you buy" online experience, anyone can walk into the story, head to a wall of glasses they like from afar, take a pair off the shelf, and try them on. There are zero barriers to try their product which makes browsing and buying incredibly easy.

Once you're interested in purchasing, there isn't a line for you to get in. Leveraging the positive checkout experience that Apple has created, Warby allows interested customers to walk up to one of the employees on the showroom floor to buy. The employees fill out your information on their iPad, swipe your credit card, and your glasses will arrive in 7-10 business days. It's quick and painless, and most of all, because Warby is vertically integrated, their product is significantly cheaper than the other pair of glasses I was looking to purchase (Warby = $95 versus $150+).

Although the significantly lower price paired with the amazing store experience showed me why Warby is doing well, there was something beyond the Product and Presentation that really made me want to support the brand...

Company Culture - Celebrate Your Team & They'll Celebrate You 

Once I was interesting in buying a pair of glasses, I placed them on what I thought were ordinary library desks, but once I started scanning the content behind the glass I realized I was looking at an entire timeline of the company. Celebrating everything from their first booze cruise to their first store opening, these seemingly innocuous tables were actually just as important to the store as the glasses people were buying.

When people move away from the wall of product and place their eyes on the table, they see what they're really supporting. When you buy a pair of Warby Parker glasses, you're supporting a company that celebrates every single moment of success, big or small. You're supporting a company that values their employees. Most of all, you're supporting a company that does it's best to be ethical, fun, and good in a world where more companies are cutting wages, outsourcing, and increasing prices to give value back to the shareholders while shortchanging the employees their responsible for.

(See the rest of the timeline here)

How Warby's Company Culture Creates Huge Scale

With a small set of tables located in the center of their store, Warby is able to do something most companies fail at: share their core values to their consumers and transform them into brand advocates. In doing so, Warby is able to change someone's opinion of their company from a "glasses company" to an "ethical company", and as more companies are choosing to become less than ethical and seeing their share price fall, Warby's play to emphasize their "goodness" rather than their cheapness allows them to scale because if someone can buy a cheaper product from a company that gives consumers a positive emotional feeling when they walk out the door, then they're creating consumers that will come back to buy more and consumers who will share their positive experience with their friends and family, creating massive opportunity to grow.

So, in the end, I bought the pair of $95 glasses, and I'm pretty pumped. Not because I won't be blind, but because I contributed to the growth of a company that's doing something really great for people all over the world, and I feel pretty damn good for helping Warby out.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

4 Posts To Help You Prepare For An Awesome 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 Posted by Unknown , , 1 comment
This past year, I've written quite a few posts ranging from career and financial advice to recent job postings. Rather than have you sift through them all, I wanted to grab four popular posts about working in comics, personal finance, salary and job negotiations, and job interviews that you might not have read that you really should!

As you get dressed to go out tonight for New Years Eve or you need something to read while you're hungover New Years morning, here's 4 important posts to study up on if you want to kick 2015's butt.

1. If you ever dreamed about working in comics, make sure you read this post & watch this documentary

Don't know what it's like working in comics? Read this and find out!

2. If you think you're bad with your personal finance, here's how you can get on the right track

Help yourself and learn about investing in 2015
 3. If you need help negotiating your salary, check out this three-part series so you don't get taken advantage of by a new employer

Salary negotiation is a little bit more complicated...
4. Finally, if you can only read one thing, read this post about one tip to stand out in a job interview
This is assuming you've already been picked of course...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Most Important Poker Lesson Every Person Needs to Know

Tuesday, December 09, 2014 Posted by Unknown , , 2 comments

"You can do everything right and fail. It doesn't mean you made a bad decision."

The most important first lesson in the game of poker is to not be results oriented. By that, I mean that you should shift your focus away from the outcome of a decision and instead examine the decision itself. Of the available options you had in front of you, was it the smartest choice you could have made? Did you gather enough evidence to support your plan of action and were you certain the move you made was the best one you could have made for a successful outcome? If so, then, regardless of the result, you made the right decision.

However, poker (and life) are often filled with moments of chance, and sometimes the right decision still leads to failure. Here is a famous poker moment from the 2010 World Series of Poker that is a perfect example of how chance can ruin our good decisions:

So what happened? Cheong started off with pocket Aces and Candio started off with a seven and a five of spades. Before any additional cards were dealt, Cheong was an 80% favorite to win the hand, or, to put it differently, Cheong would win this battle four out of five times. In fact, once the flop--or the next three communal cards--was dealt and both players went all-in, Cheong's dominance jumped to 87%. But, a four came out in the end, and Candio won the hand with a straight.

What this moment illustrates is that you can do everything right and still fail, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have made that decision. Four out of five times, Cheong will win that hand, and when there's $8.5 million on the line, those are incredible odds. So you take those shots every time you get them in poker because you know that, more often than not, you come out winning.

But what does this have to do with life?

Unlike poker, life doesn't give us neat odds on a decision. We don't have a dashboard of probabilities that constantly updates every time we find ourselves at a crossroad. But, like poker, we do have the evidence around us to gather information. In poker, we can judge our opponent, look at the communal cards, and look at our own cards to see what are the possible probabilities of success, and in life, we have our friends, our family, the successes and mistakes of others, and a million other things for us to look at before we decide to make a decision. And, if we believe that the decision is the best one we can make, then, like Cheong, we should put our chips all in and we can live our life knowing that no matter what happens next we did the right thing.