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My cousin Brian Qiu was born on a Leap Day. While most people expect to celebrate their birthday annually, Brian only has a real birthday once every four years.  Although he always celebrates it on Feb 28, or March 1, still, I have an inkling that he sometimes feels sad about not being able to have a true birthday every year. Maybe he should celebrate it as a birthday week or even birthday month, just like me. However, it makes him really unique that everyone in the extended family remembers his birthday, and maybe it is the fate to be special, plus he was born in the dragon year that his life and work have the destiny to be very successful.  He has a sweet and smart wife, two cute sons, and himself is a General Manager, and the most important, he is a serious runner.  Happy birthday to you, Brian, my special cousin.

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There are many ads talking about leap day events on the facebook and other websites, such as Nike, talking about the one more extra day for running extra miles.  Virgin American has an ads have special rate if you book your trip on the leap day.  Don’t know when marketers started aiming for the once every 4 years event.  I have reached my conclusion: every occasion could be a marketing opportunity. Marketers are looking for every moment and every channel marketable to promote their products or services - really hard working and interesting thinking.  Nike doesn’t directly promote their products on the leap day, but be spiritually encouraging people running more.  Nike doesn’t need to strengthen its brand awareness on the current stage anymore, but emotionally establishes a brand attitude to influence people.  But what is the benefit for them to do so without promoting their brand? - winning customers’ loyalty, and running more or asking more people to run will lead to consume more products, Oh yeah, they know runners need to change shoes every 6-9 month, and people also care about the fashion when they are running surrounded by others.   In this marketing evolution period, marketers have to be creative to drag consumer’s attention and not to annoy them by contaminating another day on the calendar to be commercialized.  

Wish everyone enjoy the Leap Day once every 4 years. 
 
 
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I read @briansolis' new blog- The Rise of digital Darwinism.  Feel it is so true. The marketing is even different between 2009-2011 when I went to business school.  What we taught in school about the traditional marketing is lack of market now. Because we are all focusing on digital marketing in the field.  

Followed by the digital technology improvement, marketers will have more and more different channels to reach customers, also have to develop different strategies upon every channel to meet customer's satisfaction and market needs.  Listening to customers will be the accurate orientation to be able to sustain longer in this marketing revolutionary era.  Engaging and interacting with customers to get insight, being always in beta stage to continuously optimize marketing strategies, and adopting more advanced channels and technologies quickly to figure out the best solutions for the products and services are the only ways to survive in this new marketing evolution.

 
 
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Birthday Month Gift - illy espresso machine




Valentine's day Homemade Dinner

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National and History Museum Birthday weekend eve

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Two nights eve, homemade Japanese Beef Curry 


Birthday Eve, New York Best, Black Sesame Creme Brulee from Cha-An
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1 of tons of Birthday Gifts from Jon's Mom -  A dress wearing in the opera



BIrthday AVOCE Dinner with @Hegranes




Opera Aida @ MET


Birthday Weekend Dinner hosted by Facio's

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Main course - Pineapple Salmon - Delicious

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Chipotle Chocolate Icecream
 
 
 
 
Last week, I attended the social media week from Wednesday to Friday. It makes me really excited to know more and more companies are focusing on social media strategy, because companies finally realize how important customer’s voice is, and how efficient social media will influence more people.  

Social media week is free registration for everyone; I got the news from @hegranes.  I signed up for a lot of sessions and went to as many as I could in order to get the social media trend in New York.  All of them were held as panel styles, which invited 2-4 people from social media departments in some famous companies, such as IBM, Nokia, JWT, LinkedIn, Time Warner, and L’Oreal. Some of the sessions and panels I attended didn’t teach me any new approaches, they all talked about the current popular topics: engagement, influencer, and ROI.  As Brian Solis' said in his latest blog "Brands Face Stream Fatigue as Consumers Look Beyond Gimmicks in Social Networks", I think a lot of companies just do whatever popular on the market, they don't have their innovative social media solution to let their services or products meet their customer want and market needs.

However, two of the interesting sessions peaked my attention, which were held in Bloomberg, which always treats the visitors very well, providing snacks and meals and plus I got chances to visit their awesome snack bar. They also showed off the high-tech badges and personalized wifi code once you sign in to their building.

My first interesting event was four new start-ups talking about their retail banking social media approaches.  They all had great ideas regarding the payments and credit card solutions.  “Move n Bank”, incorporates credit card into Mobile technology.  It sorts the spending category, can show which how much money you spend on each category, whether it is for fast food, or grocery, coffee and Powerball.  It can even find out you have spent $279 in Starbucks this month, reminds consumers of their spending behavior. Another feature of it is that consumer can show some credit score through social networking. That, how many good friends you connect, decides you how much you can lend from the bank.  “The Simple Card” talked about powerful searching engine to sort where, what, when, with whom you spent money and the platform designed friendly for users to pay among the friends, it is also keep track of your spending.  “Venmo” is mobile solution, similar to PayPal, to pay friends and charge them, but also show your friends’ social activities, for example, two friends ate at Jean George last Tuesday, just like Foursquare , you can “stalk” your friends.  “Bill Guard” is a secure system to avoid other merchants to overcharge consumer, but majorly to target to banks to save their time to deal with mistake charges between consumer and merchants, such as some companies renew subscription without notice you, some restaurant charge you more tips than you signed.  Once internet has some customer complains or suspects related to certain merchants, Bill guard can capture the information and warn you on your e-bill or send you an e-mail. I was totally brain washed by those new start-ups.  Retail bank is a really difficult segment to establish start-up because it has to deal with too many regulations.  But it is also a really smart way to provide consumer advanced convenience in social media world.
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I also liked Reid Hoffman’s interview.  I made sure to get there early – first 100 people got a free copy of his new book “the Start-up of You”, as we saw the brief interview “ 8 job search tips” from Mashable the day before.  Reid talked about Plan A, Plan B and Plan Z.  I think people will most likely to have Plan Bs, but never thought of Plan Z, which is the plan if Plans A & B fail. I have admired LinkedIn for its networking capability and always surf on LinkedIn to find connections or apply for jobs.  Reid said everyone needs to be entrepreneur of yourself, to take responsibility and to have the spirit as a start-up.  He is not necessarily suggesting that everyone founds own companies, but promote yourself on the job market, connect with people as if you would need to for developing your business.  I got the book and can’t help reading 30 pages in that afternoon.  I might have deep thoughts about the book later.  But the first section has really attracted me.  Reid uses a lot start-up stories, such as Netflix and Zappos to inspire us that we always need to keep adjusting as startup beta stage, improving the feature, skill and knowledge to meet the market and “customer’s needs. Also it will be very easy for individual to build your knowledge and experience on your existed assets.  Donal Trump built his real estate because his dad is a real estate developer.  Google co-founders both have PHD on computer science. I really concurred that current job market is not a traditional market anymore, companies will never spend a lot of money to train employees from a white piece of paper, instead, they direct hire someone who already has the experience and knowledge.  Also traditional applications will become harder and harder to get an interview, the only efficient way is networking.  I think I learned a lot from the first 30 pages of his book.  

I read an article from Businessweek that Google, Facebook, Skype, Twitter and Zynga all have set up their another core offices in New York, and plan to expand more, which means those social media gurus all think New York is an important hub and excellent place to development their business.  I hope it also provides me an excellent opportunity to find a social media job, to let me have more space to execute my creative ideas.


Some Interesting Session Links
LinkedIn Platform Use 
How to Build a Global Facebook Architecture for a Global Brand
Retail Bank Social Media
Whole Social Media Week Video

 
 
I was worried about living in New York since it has so much delicious food that I want to taste from the street food carts to high-end restaurants that I would gain weight. But my advanced digital scale tells me that I lost 5 lbs since I came to NYC.  Although I wasn’t even trying to lose weight, I thought I’d share a few tips for what might have helped me drop a few lbs.
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1.  Running

Running is the most important and efficient tips.  Just run about 3 miles slowly and then relax every other day.  If you don’t have motivation as it is too cold or you feel tired, set up a certain time on running days, and find a far place you want to shop, and run there, shop and run back. Design different routes to explore new stores, restaurants and scenes.  

2.  Walking

New York provides us all the opportunities to walk, walk to subway, walk 10 blocks instead of waiting for bus, and compete with the others on speed on the street.  I walk so much faster than before, trying to catch up with New Yorker speed.  

3.  Eat @home

Every week, I probably just dine out twice, the rest of the meals I prepare and cook at home.  I can control the healthy ingredients, put less MSG, oil and salt into my dishes.  I usually like seafood a lot, it has sufficient protein, DHA and provides the fat good for the muscles.  But eating at restaurant for seafood will be so expensive.  I will buy fresh fish at supermarkets or at China town, making it much cheaper to cook at home.  The only problem will be that sometimes you are not good at controlling the amount you cook, you have to throw away the extra when you reach your 70% of capacity of your stomach.  Don’t overeat the food even if it were so good, is not worthy it. It will enlarge your stomach and the bottom of the dishes usually more oily that have much fat.

4.  Junk food 

Only eat junk food once a week, sometime you have to hang out with your colleague and friends to join them for McDonald’s.  Sometime you feel you need an ice cream or froyo (frozen yogurt) after dinner. Sometime you have to try the premium Belgium Fries.  Sometime you are short of time, it is convenient to get a slice of pizza.  I will not resist it, especially in front of friends.  On the other hand, your friends think you are naturally fit, no matter how much you eat, you won’t get fat. But after that, I will feel super guilty and well control myself for a whole week or more.

5.  Digestion Activities

Don’t sit after meals, stand up, wash dishes, do some cleaning, take a digestion stroll around the block… it will help you kill the fat at your tummy.

6.  Hang out

I don’t mean hang out for drinks, but for meetups.  I have one or two evening meetups every week.  Some are for networking with Alumni, some are for networking in order to find a job, some are for fun such as free Yoga, free running and scrabble games, and some are for learning more trends such as social media week.  For regular meetups, you will stand there for at least one hour and keep on talking to people you just got to know, at the same time you will kill your calories. 

7.  Love

You always think you need to keep fit and attractive even for your partner to let them be proud of you and love you more and more.  I feel competitive in this city filled with tons of beautiful and fashionable people.
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8.  Stress

I always have the biggest stress, seeking for a job, which makes me worry all the time. Stress will transition to my motivation to work harder and think more about smarter strategies.


9.   Sleep more

The better I sleep, I feel more happy and full of energy and feel more I naturally lose my weight.  In the night, sleep mood helps human beings to release the harmful toxin thing off your body, I guess including the fat.

10.  Buy a scale

Be aware of your weekly changes of your weight, at least once every week, suggested by @fazworks at a certain time each week. 

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11.  Drink coffee

Every morning I need to drink a bold coffee to wake me up.  Actually it is really good for health.  Caffeine not only stimulates your energy and motivates minds, but also help you digest and help the body to move your bowels to get rid of toxin.

12.  Keep you active and make a productive day

Every day I set up many goals in the morning and do as many things as I can, even on this past Saturday, I cooked omelettes for breakfast, searched for jobs, went through some reading on e-mail and books, ran through central park and visited the natural history museum and ran back, shopped for dinner, ate at home, and wrote a blog before bed.

My boyfriend got so many comments on his fitness since he started dating me, and he becomes more fit since we moved together that he also shared my habit and tips.  I think a great and healthy habit throughout the week is very important.  Sometimes I just don’t control too much on eating, I can eat what ever looks good to me, such as bacon, cheese and froyo.  People said I am probably the type that never gets fat.  But, there actually is no genetic fitness in the world; healthy habits you keep subconsciously lead you to having attractive fitness.

 
 
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I recently read James Altucher’s blog about how to be a better writer; I think among all those tips, inspiration is the most important element.  Not only for writing, but also for everything, business idea, innovation, strategy and invention.

How is the inspiration sometime with you and some time isn’t?  It seems to be out of our control. However, I found some interesting things to stimulate the inspiration, just wanted to share.

New Environment: 
when people go to new environment, like a new city, a new country, new school, new company, they will see hundreds of new things around them.  Those new things break people’s regular thinking pattern and adjust to a new structure of your logic to adopt the new circumstances.  I just moved to New York for a month, I almost have one blog post every 3 days.

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Different Element: 
The element I mean here is simply the atmosphere that touches and surrounds us everyday.  Regularly, air is surrounding us.  However, I always have some weird thoughts and inspiration when I was touched by the water: go to shower, take a bath, or swim.  I have confirmed this with several people who have the same feeling, their inspiration always happened in the shower.  A lot of Poets were made in a hot bath tub in ancient China.  Chairman Mao always made some master poems when he was swimming.

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Brain Break: 
It applies not only to inspiration, but also to all the stress.  I usually go to see the ocean and or river, or go to run for a brain break, which refreshes your brain and recharges your mind.  My boyfriend said his inspiration comes from walking his dog.  Other people do Yoga.  In the middle of Yoga or meditation, you will feel you clean your lousy mind and get rid of other complicated nonsense; it will help you find the simple and right solution to solve the problems.  Sleeping is also a great brain break.  In the dream, you also jump out of a limited “yourself” boundary, to think out of the box and play the inspiration instruments.

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Almost dead: 
When some of my friends disappoint about not able to find a job in the US, he finally made a decision to found his own business.  Now he not only has income, but also owns every penny of company’s net income.  Steve Job had built Apple kingdom, launch revolutionary strategies and products, when his life was on the edge.   When I almost had an accident in the car in the University, my life pictures, the most important things, and the unfinished things flipped in my mind, even it was just about 0.3 seconds.  Since then, I have decided to cherish every second and try my best to do things in the present.  I think we don’t know what will happen in the future, why not living thoroughly right now while we are having.  

Inspiration is a miraculous thing; it is a gift but also happens suddenly and lasts shortly.  Once it hits you, you have to record it and take advantage it.  Some people wake up in the middle of the night to write down some thoughts, some people use mobile app or camera to record what they think and what they saw. 

The marketing world also needs a lot of good ideas and innovative strategies to attract consumer and bring their attention.  Especially for the Superbowl ads, there are so many similar products.  Consumers are tired of old ideas, Me-too approach and eager to see interesting things to jump out to surprise them. I guess maybe Volkswagen's agency is really good at putting themselves into the pattern to stimulate their inspiration, versus Go-daddy didn't do so, so that Go-daddy always guarantees no any other ads performs to the bottom in the Superbowl.
 
 
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Recently, I thought it was a great idea to have a scale once we settled down.  As a runner, especially someone aiming to train for races, needs to be aware of weight.  We went to Target to buy a cheap one, only $9.99.  I thought I didn’t need one too fancy, I just need to know the daily changes or weekly changes of my weight, even if it’s slightly.  When I went home to stand on the scale, it showed I weighted 114 LBS.  I can’t help doubting the scale, whether I ate crazily to gain 8 LBS in two weeks or the scale is not accurate.  I am pretty confident to reach my conclusion: the scale is not accurate.  I run every other day, eat very healthily, and always have a digest activity (walk or such) after every meal.  There is no way to gain 8 pounds in two weeks. I also want to use the scale sometime to weigh the laundry because in NYC laundry is charged by the pound, so I can estimate how much I will spend.  Even though I could have adjusted the starting scale to -8LBS to know my accurate weight, I couldn’t weight my laundry around 10 LBS, because it will show only 3 LBS probably.

Then the next time we bought a fancy digital one.  It can record your personal weight, and by keyed in your height, age and gender, it can calculate your fat, muscle, and water rate over your body weight.  I finally figured out how to do it.  This time the weight is about right, however my fat rate is 38%.  People know me always say I have 0% of fat, how then do I have 38%, which is defined as obese.  I know 10 years ago my fat rate was about 19.8%, lower than the normal range 21-23%.  This time my boyfriend’s fat rate is lower than me 25%.  He couldn’t believe the accuracy of the fat ratio of this scale either, but I still decide to keep it, at least I can weight myself, and see other index.

Actually, keeping a standard is a hard thing, and I need to be confident about my lifestyle and eating habit.  Being able to measure the scale is not a piece of cake, especially people living in the cosmopolitan city that people have chance to taste all kinds of delicious food.  Keeping a standard for a long time is also a tough job, because you need to consistently give people your brand image, and control yourself persistently with high discipline. Once you establish your brand image, you can have your brand attitude to judge whether the “scale” is accurate, or even your royal “fan” will declare for you that you are the lead of the trend and you are the standard in the industry.

 
 
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In the regular life, especially in the business world, people are networking all the time in the US - this is what we were taught first day I went to MBA.  I was thinking only China or Asia countries are high content and using relationship (Guanxi) to introduce jobs and doing business.  I was so surprised that the US does the same thing, but they are more formal, natural and transparent.  When I see so many people finding internships and jobs through their contacts including friends, friend’s friends, formal colleagues, Alumni, and even the person they just met once, I can’t help believing that this is a networking world.  The traditional or old style of online application becomes almost impossible to find a job because I am competing with thousands of people with similar backgrounds for one position.  You have to think of other strategies, among which the most effective way is networking.

I attended Marketing Mixer New York Meetup on Thursday.  I felt it was a great event.  Many people having the same passion - marketing - gather together.  I tried to talk to as many people as I could.  I first talked to a girl, like me, looking for a job.  Then another lady sought for a change from adverting agency to in house.  There is also a head hunter collected more candidates data in the field.   Some of the in-house marketers seemed to be good friends and laughed and drank a lot.   I also saw some agencies tried to hook up with in-house marketing department to get business.  Some digital marketing consultant wanted to find a new startup, some small business owners tried to use some marketing tools.  I felt the entire marketing world is connected at that moment.  The meetup was filled by steaming hot atmosphere of networking discussion.  

I have to admit it, in this new social networking era, the technology provides us with a good tool - mobile.  Exchanging business cards is out of date.  I can directly find them on LinkedIn and add them as my contacts, or worse case take a photo of their business card to become digitalized.  E-mail is not the only way to connect people, I can use social media to link them on different dimensions.  I can show them my website to promote myself and my marketing skills.  Don’t forget to follow up those contacts, I used all the energy to talk to people and tried to attract their interested.  I have sent some e-mails to those people the next day, who potentially can help me with my career.  

A lot of marketers are excited about the city.  They think the networking here is the most active and greatest thing in the world.  They encouraged me that New York has all kinds of opportunities, the essential thing is to know people who can help you connect to the chance.  I have to push myself to break my conservative Asian characters to be really socialized.   I need to spend more time and energy than national people to add more people into my circle.  At the same time, I also need to read and learn more about the new things on marketing, and practice it on my website to show people I have the talent, hire me!!!