Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One Example of Code-Switching

The recently started NPR Code Switch blog has caught my attention.  Though the definition of code switching seems to be broad, it hits home for me in many ways ranging from my use of two languages, having a "work mode" tone when I troubleshoot problems, a ministry voice, and a casual mode that is made up of Bay Area, Asian Pride, hip-hop laced slang.

There are lots of potentially meaningful examples of code switching in my life, but here's an inane one.  During the exchanging of the Sign of Peace during Mass, there are some guys where our sign of peace is a bro-hug.  There are some women where our sign of peace is a hug.  And there is the select one where the sign of peace is a kiss (hi babe!).  Everyone else is a strong, firm handshake and either, "Peace be with you," or "Zhu ni pin yan," which in itself is a code-switch within a code-switch.  

But one of the most awkward situations is when I bro-hug one of my bro's or a particular high schooler I'm fond of and then when reaching to make a normal handshake with the next guy, they assume the bro-hug too and it degenerates into an awkward mess of accidentally interlocking fingers and a half-hearted hug.

Good thing the gif below didn't happen the other way around.  It could have gotten pretty weird with the white guy.

Inline image 1

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ministry Idea

Every now and then I get a bit of inspiration with some aspect of my youth ministry.  Working with a team of young adults that are all volunteers can sometimes be tricky particularly when it comes to defining their commitments.  I often wonder how I can continue to renew and strengthen their hearts for working with the youth. 

After reading the article below about Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, I was inspired to ask some of the more emotionally intelligent high school students to see if they would be willing to write a letter or a record a video that expresses what they observe the young adult volunteers do for them and what they have meant to them.  At our monthly staff meeting, I shared the letters and videos with the young adults and held a casual discussion about their reactions.  It was interesting to see that by default, Chinese American young adults don't always know how to receive affirmation.  However, after some probing, I could tell it meant a lot to them.


Organizational psychology has long concerned itself with how to design work so that people will enjoy it and want to keep doing it. Traditionally the thinking has been that employers should appeal to workers' more obvious forms of self-interest: financial incentives, yes, but also work that is inherently interesting or offers the possibility for career advancement...The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other peoples' lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.

Call centers, even on college campuses, are notoriously unsatisfying places to work. The job is repetitive and can be emotionally taxing, as callers absorb verbal abuse while also facing rejection (the rejection rate at that call center was about 93 percent)...Now, at the call center, Grant proposed a simple, low-cost experiment: given that one of the center's primary purposes was funding scholarships, Grant brought in a student who had benefited from that fund-raising. The callers took a 10-minute break as the young man told them how much the scholarship had changed his life and how excited he now was to work as a teacher with Teach for America...The results were surprising even to Grant. A month after the testimonial, the workers were spending 142 percent more time on the phone and bringing in 171 percent more revenue, even though they were using the same script.

When Grant went back and talked to the callers about their improvement, many actively discounted the possibility that the brief encounter with a scholarship student helped...Eventually, having replicated the test five times, Grant was confident that he had eliminated other explanations. It was almost as if the good feelings had bypassed the callers' conscious cognitive processes and gone straight to a more subconscious source of motivation. They were more driven to succeed, even if they could not pinpoint the trigger for that drive.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Neal Mohan

Entire article: http://www.businessinsider.com/neal-mohan-googles-100-million-man-2013-4#ixzz2PzXQv8Ep

The second reason Frankel hired Mohan was he found him to be a "rare" combination — an "insatiable technologist" who also had enough business savvy to interact with NetGravity's enterprise customers on a strategic level.

"When he worked with a customer, he didn't just help them solve their problems," Frankel said."He helped customers figure out how to better use our technology. That turned into a lot more business for NetGravity."

"In a typical meeting with Neal, he asks questions non-stop. He really wants to understand what you're discussing: some new segment, some new company, some customer problem. He wants to understand it — and he can really absorb and digest all the facts that he's getting hit with."

Many people believe the reason Mohan has done so well at Google is that he is able to talk to engineers about advertising and media in a way they understand.

"At a company like Google, one that really thrives on intellectual discourse, he was able to come into most senior rooms and describe the whole strategy that drove the acquisition and explain it incredibly coherently," one colleague says.

"Generally people are able to either go wide or go deep. He manages to do both, which I'm impressed with anytime I'm in the room with him at the most senior levels."

The other big reason for Mohan's success at Google has been that Wojcicki and senior management have given him lots of money to spend on acquisitions, and he has spent it very well.

  • "He's not a screamer or a big table-banger."
  • "You don't waste a lot of time in meetings with Neal, that's for sure."
  • "If I escalate something to him, I know that he will return a response."
  • "He gives you a lot of autonomy, but believes in defining big, specific, and strategic goals."
  • "Every three months, he makes sure there is not a lot of redundancy in his product line, which is critical because in ad tech, everything has to sync."
  • "He doesn't bullshit. If our numbers were going bad, I heard from him."
  • "I never had to talk to him unless I needed to. It was awesome."
  • "He is the quiet assassin. He's not a big show-boater." 
  • "He listens to his partners. He invests time in understanding what they need."