Archive for August, 2013

Incredible article from Daniel Goh detailing the hawkers in Singapore and their tribulations in business terms http://ow.ly/ofXUe

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Business owner networking this friday :)

Posted: August 11, 2013 in News

Dear friends, colleagues and peers – Quite noticably, there are quite a few business networking sessions marketed with a pricetag, however our own session is held monthly for business owners TOTALLY FREE. No gimmicks and no freebies (read: freeloaders to buy own booze- cuts down on timewasters). If you want to expand your network and look for real value-adds in the spirit of mutualism ala http://www.hawkerize.com, please take this opportunity to meet our circle and myself. Please read the rules and RSVP [No members of MLM/Insurance/realestate/finance trade please. We enforce this very strictly] – Eventbrite http://ow.ly/nOLVU / see you there!

First and foremost, I must say that Ashton Kutcher makes a good young Steve Jobs. Though he cannot act angry convincingly in this role, coming across slightly constipated and forced. Of course, this is a handsome well-paid actor trying to channel pre-legend entrepreneur and marketeer Steve Jobs. So he’s forgiven.

Now that this is out of the way, I was particularly thrilled because its rare that I would have the opportunity to review a movie AHEAD of its launch date (being 15th August, and today being the 6th. Thanks to the nice folks at GV and Mr Vernon Chan in Particular for extending me this kind opportunity) and also that Steve Job‘s life story has almost everything to do with Entrepreneurship, so you can expect a meatier commentary. Bear in mind I personally have an intense hatred for anything Mac. I burn effigies in front of iPhone user’s houses and picture their heads popping in gory bullet-time like shattered watermelons through imaginary sniping. Open source and Android I say, but I digress.

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Now my trademark bottom line: 6.5/10 

  1. Not too shabby portrayal of the late and great Jobs in the prime of his youth
  2. One of the better depictions of boardroom drama, I was genuinely feeling the tension when the Apple board met each time.
  3. Supporting cast might have been a little bit stiff – most of them were playing stoner nerds with minimal dialogue, except for James Wood’s brief portrayal of Dean Jack Dudman, Mathew Modine (Way to go private Joker!) as John Sculley and lastly but most impressively Dermot Mulroney’s Mike Markkula – if anyone could figure out how to act a convincing mentor and VC, he did it.
  4. Rather concise and progressive pace of Apple’s development as a company.

The feature is 2 hours long and it basically sheds light on the early foundational years in Steve’s career albeit highly romanticized and dramatised.  1974 Reed college Jobs in the film screams ‘bad boy’ from the get go.  I mean come on, it kicks off with our dear friend irritating an academic authority figure (Jack Dudman / James Woods). Meets a girl named julie, gets laid, scores free acid (for his friends AND girlfriend… who wasn’t the girl he just got in the sack) and trips balls in the countryside – I’m pretty sure some artistic liberties were taken… and I salute you MDA for no unnecessary censorship – bet no one working there knows what an acid tab looks like anyway. One of my favourite quotes of the film hits home at this point:  “I’m sorry my life is ruining your high” – encapsulating how Steve Job’s egotism and undaunted spontaneity was abrasive to his co-workers… and rather prophetically, his life was ruining Apple’s ‘high’ later on.

Oh by the way, if the display of hedonism wasnt enough – CHOW (Ken Jeong) of Hangover fame has a cameo in the 1976 scene where Jobs still worked in Atari.
Two more brilliant quotes follow (from Job’s Atari boss, actor unknown to me) – “You got to learn to work with other people” + “You are damn good but you are an asshole” – Setting a theme. Learning points: EQ is important to an entrepeneur and creating less social friction is vastly beneficial. which is a truism, who knows how things might have been if Jobs had better interpersonal skills. Kicking your pregnant girlfriend out of the house some? Well-played. Bad actress though – she behaved more like if Twilight ended too early for viewers to figure out the whole bloody scene was a prescient dream.
I’m not sure how much of the film dialogue was sourced from Jobs contemporaries – but his speech in most of his interactions with team members patterns him like a glorified motivational speaker. As a business development founder myself, the depiction can be pretty unnerving – indeed sometimes the tripe that spills out of then-sensible office war cries can become face covering grade blackmail later. I felt there was too much focus on the CONTENT of his words and little on his actual leadership style aside from the anecdotal firing of a staff member over lack of concern for a cosmetic feature to pronounce his zealous overachieving perfectionism. There is a great emphasis on the dynamics with his Board of directors rather than the details in building the business between 1976 to 1980 which I really hoped on seeing, 2010’s Social Network did this alot better despite the meteoric rise of Zuckerberg being more pronounced. Perhaps it might have been better framed through a series of quarterly meetings. Questions that haunt me include: How did steve qualify his board members? Did he have a choice? How much equity did he choose to sell? How did his valuation fluctuate? What were his decisions on a corporate level? Pandering to mac cultists might have been the seat-filling stategy the movie was going for – there was alot of exploration on milestone apple projects such as the LISA and Macintosh and the I-MAC and too little on how the business was actually run. Perhaps the Board scenes balanced it out nicely- I enjoyed the feeling of dread that it correctly inspired: Entrepeneurs should approach Boards with caution. They aren’t the enemy… but as Job’s story goes, we learn they are not friends either, particularly without full endorsement… or a mandate.

My fellow reviewer Vernon remarked that the film was splintered into ‘ACT1’ and ‘ACT3’ of Job’s progress, depicting his journey up till the ejection from his own Board of Directors. And then an ‘ACT 3’ showing IMAC era jobs, culminating in the glorious revelation of the ipod which you see at the start of the film. I thought that delving a little bit more into his ‘down time’ before he was re invited to join apple and his little detour into angel investing (i.e.: PIXAR) might have been a revealing sojourn. But alas, we get this ‘before and after’ treatment which still manages to flesh out the multifarious innovator.

Even though there’s no spoilers; we KNOW what Steve Jobs has achieved and his ultimate demise – Ironic that a lifetime fruitarian dying of cancer; his death was not even alluded to at all in the entirety of the film, not even a ‘in memory of’ epitaph at the end, so there’s this surreal celebration-of-his-life feel throughout it all.

Conclusion: Not only a great way to burn 2 hours of recreational time, but a good biographical film which shares the lessons learnt from Job’s career as well as what NOT to do. Of course, this is subjective to how a given entrepreneur would view Job’s Journey.

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Yes this is myself and Vernon holding our preview ticket with glee

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Vernon insisted on this photo to drive home the point that Steve Jobs is in the ‘Buddhist Afterlife’

Running into: Chen Show Mao

Couldnt resist posting this – My favorite Aljunied GRC neighbour and Member of parliament 陈硕茂 / Chen Show Mao ambled by while Shirley and I were moving items out of the car. His daughter Helped take this rather quaint photo.

Not much of a post, but thought it worth a share; I’ve been talking to Dr Chen to share my views on SME issues and he’s been rather encouraging on driving more concise and useful information for Enterprising Singaporeans to suceed (and of course, create more value)