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Ricky Yean
Entrepreneur & Changemaker
Entrepreneur & Changemaker

Ricky's posts

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What Steve Jobs meant to me.

Having just learned about his death, I’m mustering something together to try to articulate Steve Jobs’ impact on my life. Unlike many people here in the valley, I wasn’t much of a geek, let alone an Apple fanboy. I came to Stanford because they offered me a great financial aid package and because it was an elite institution close enough to home in LA in case I ever needed to go back. That was ’06, I had no idea Steve Jobs just made a commencement speech one year before that I’d discover later and change my life.

Going to school at Stanford was a huge culture shock. I couldn’t fit in. In dorm activities, I learned about my peers’ amazing backgrounds and felt sorry for myself for not having any of their experiences in life. I walked around the dorm asking every person if he / she played an instrument, and I couldn’t find anyone who didn’t. I did not have the study skills necessary to succeed, and got a C during my first quarter while others marched on to great academic performance. On campus, iPods and other Apple products were pervasive, and that only added to the perception – this was a school for privileged kids, not me.

I felt that way until my first spring break. I didn’t want to go home since there wasn’t much to return to. I decided to stay and went on a trip led by some upperclassmen called “social entrepreneurship in the bay area.” A little context, I hated “business.” That was a dirty word. My father was in the stock market and he was pretty much bankrupt by the time I turned 4. Growing up, he tried to give me what he knew while trying to turn himself around with no capital to no avail. I always rejected him. My mother left around then, and I struggled to grow up like a normal kid when nothing was normal about my environment. At 14, I started working so I can help pay for things around the household. It wasn’t much, but it helped. Business (more precisely, buying and selling stocks), was the reason why all this had to happen.
On this trip, we visited companies like Kiva, World of Good, Papilia, and Benetech. I realized where I was. I am not just at Stanford, but Silicon Valley, where there are “businesses” that actually did good things and made the world a better place. That was extremely eye-opening. By the time Spring Quarter rolled around, I knew what I needed to do. My perspective was completely transformed.

By bringing me here, Stanford was lifting me up and putting me on equal footing as everyone else because for once in my life, I did not have to worry about money, at least not here. The school also gave me everything I needed to succeed, with resources like the alternative spring break trip, and incredible peers I can team up with to achieve dreams. I wanted to change the world the way that people in the Silicon Valley were doing it, with massive impact. As I learned more about startups and entrepreneurship, I found myself increasingly drawn to it. In school, I made it a point to utilize the resources available to me and, more importantly, I tried to learn as much as I could from my peers.

Over time, I found out what I was good at. I’m good with people. My upbringing had ingrained in me special sensitivities that helped me navigate teams to work better together and eventually achieve success. I was never the smartest in the room, but I didn’t need to be. I found a niche in school as someone who championed the cause of entrepreneurship, bringing the startup spirit and the message of empowerment to every part of campus. I also started dabbling in startups by first working for them, and later, with the right teammates, built products that would eventually become Crowdbooster.

So what did all this have to do with Steve Jobs? Well, in college, I discovered his commencement speech. I found myself watching it over and over again. Even though I am a fanboy now, it wasn’t about his products. It was his story. Like me, he came from a low-income, immigrant family. He had to do things like pick up cans so he can sell them to buy a meal. When he found out what he needed to do, he went after it, without fear. He took the leap, and he assured me in his speech that you can’t connect the dots going forward, so you just have to have faith. That encouraged me to go from a kid who didn’t fit in to one who dared to pursue his dreams, despite economic circumstances and allures of elite jobs that pay. I knew what I needed to do. He told me to jump, and I did. I jumped. Crowdbooster is first of many businesses I will build to maximize the impact I have in this world. Thank you Steve.

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I just saw this on Facebook and it's reminding me of the Myspace Top 8, and then I thought...oh DRAMA! What do you think? This is private, so sort of like Circles on G+, but man I definitely don't want someone on my computer poking around...

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I don't think I can accurately group everyone in circles (in fact I gave up already). I definitely cannot maintain circles over time, and I cannot think about who's in what circles when I'm sharing something.

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I look up to +Mari Smith, and she's showing me what's possible on the spanking new Google+! totally ROCKS!! Awesome new Facebook and Twitter analytics platform. (I'm sure they'll be adding G+ down the road!) Sign up for beta access -- please put my name in and I'll have a wee word with the founders to get you in asap!! Of all the metrics platforms I've tried, Crowdbooster is the only one that actually gives you valuable feedback on what you should try differently to be more effective!! :)

Here's a few other metrics tools that I love: (beta) (see Facebook Page Evaluator at the top right)

Blog post coming soon comparing features and prices!! :) Any others I should include?

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Venture is exciting but I share the same sentiment as Jeff, having spent a tiny bit of time on "the dark side." Would love to see an opposite perspective though because there are still tons of venture people without operating experience.
A very smart MBA (who just graduated) wrote me asking if there was a job opportunity at SoftTech VC. She really wants a job in venture apparently, which I can respect, but I really think that venture (aka "the dark side") is a gig you do after accumulating operational experience. Here is what I wrote her:

"In any case, I don't think that we are going to be able to help: we are building the firm with Partner level investment professionals who have 10/12+ years of operating experience. We may at some point bring in a principal as well, but once again, we'd look at bringing in someone who has had at least 5 years of operating experience. Why? Because you can't really advise or provide perspective to a young CEO/founding team if you have not been exposed to "real life" yourself.

So what am I saying? That you should take that offer from <redacted> – they seem to see a rockstar in the making in you, and it is a great, promising company. And ask <redacted> to give you some exposure to the different facets of the business, and try to take on different challenges over the next few years.

If you really want to go for a venture role now, only sign up for a top firm. And after two years, cut yourself loose and join the most exciting portfolio company of theirs (or others) you have seen. You can't really have a career in venture, you have to move in and out.

Sorry if it is not what you wanted to hear, but I'd hate you end up in venture too early – when it is not the most fun and rewarding."

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Ricky Yean hung out with 1 person.Zach Bussey

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HAHA! Thanks +David Teicher
Sometimes you may not have an idea, but you still need to make that meeting. Fortunately, now there’s an easy way to be a “rock star.”
Spin the wheel, download your concept board, and seal the deal.
(via +Faris Yakob)

Does anyone use Sparks? WTF.

+Tom Anderson is really good at finding captioned images and animated GIFs about Google Plus.

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Ricky Yean changed his profile photo.
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