Being influenced and becoming influential

In my junior year in high school (2002) I spent a lot of time ditching school and participating in online gaming. Deductive reasoning can lead you to the possibility that I might not have been a popular student. However, online gaming gave me an outlet to meet others with common interest and build strong bonds. During the after hours of hardcore gaming I came across a discussion board dominated by east coast gamer’s. It was a forum dedicated to a top-tier clan from the NYC area.  At the time of my browsing there was a popular discussion called “Do you believe in God” in the “Thought Provoking Forum”

I had no idea that me sharing my thoughts about God publicly would change my life forever, and I seriously mean that. Lets just say I was blind in my faith and didn’t feel I needed to support my claims what so ever. On that very day, I got my ass handed to me. It was defeat. I felt humiliated. But it was a blessing in disguise. For you to truly appreciate the good in life you need to experience the bad. I was being influenced by a person who was clearly capable of experiencing life on a higher intellectual plane.

That didn’t keep me from experiencing life on that level though. I was determined to not be portrayed as someone who is “dumb” or “stupid”. Along with that feeling, I also have an innate need to display value and leadership to others. I feel deeply fulfilled when I know deep down in my heart that I have been of service to society. We all participate in being influenced by others and influencing those around us. It just depends on what level of the spectrum.

In all professional fields such as recruiting and even in life in general we’re taking part in a giving and taking relationship. It’s like the circle of life. Simply speaking, the universe and the human species as a whole operate in this fashion. In my opinion, those who “succeed” best in this process are those who take time being influenced by others good and bad and then share that experience and knowledge to others and specifically the next generation.

This blog post is directed to those who KNOW deep down who/what they want to become and to push them to be the best in that specific area. Whether it be in the recruiting field, music industry, acting field and so on. Let this bring to light the process to a conscious level in your mind. Also, understand that the end result does not happen over night. But, you will be able to notice results right away depending on how much you act upon your desire. Let us begin.

It is in my belief, that there is a list of  passive and active interests that allows a person to move from talented to influential in a particular area of interest(s). Passive talents consist of reading, observing, and listening. On the opposite side of the spectrum, in the active category there is writing, speaking and acting. Allow me to elaborate.

There is a saying among aspiring writers, to keep them on the path to becoming a better writer, that is “when a good writer is not writing, he reads”. I think that’s simple to understand. In our case, sticking with the theme of bettering yourself in your career we are looking to experience others by being passive and vulnerable. This allows learning to take place. Anyone can write, but a person who is influential builds an audience through his writing. To do that, he has to have spent a substantial amount of time experiencing life’s lessons and taking part in passive actions. The more reading you do the more knowledge you can consume, and the more knowledge you consume the better your chances are at providing value to others.

A smart student/pupil spends time gathering information such as video programs, audio recording, or positioning himself in areas where he can potentially meet and speak to those who are influential in his field. He then can spend time soaking up this knowledge while also having reading materials in his weaponry. The more he spends time studying, the better his confidence will be when he goes out into the field to experience what it’s all about. Life itself, is the best teacher. As long as the student is willing to learn from his mistakes. To many human beings go through life being close minded, and eventually grow old and can not escape detrimental behavior. Once you have spent time building up your own thoughts and opinions you then can move along the spectrum and participate in speaking events. This really begins to build your persona as a person of great value.

You may be thinking to yourself that both of these terms seem to stick out like a swore thumb. I agree. But I am going to try to stick with them anyway. I will start by explaining the semantics behind the usage of “acting”. When I say act, I don’t mean on the stage or on a movie set. I mean your daily life. What you do as a person, who you talk to, what you eat, the information you consume, and how you act, and above all, how others portray you.

By explaining this, now you should get the gist of the term “observing”. Like I said earlier, a student needs to play a passive role and be vulnerable to the process of learning for the sake of consuming knowledge. This last part is about him or her spending time and stalking/lurking others who seem to play that influence role, and they try to understand that person at a deeper level. Even the psychology of that given person. This circumstance only takes place if the person really wants to be come that spotlight character that others can go to for valuable content. If that’s the case, expect to shift your lifestyle to fit your calling. If you are an actor, you need to be watching movies of great actors, watching bravo’s the actors studio, watching behind the scenes features on DVD’s, reading blogs and forums, and networking with other actors/actresses. Not to mention your close eye on your physical features. Taking care of your face, maintaining a specific body weight( plus size, petite, medium etc) and so.

Remember any person can play any role on these spectrum. There is no good or bad in this situation. It just “is”. If you want to be a person of influence some day, remember you can’t start being an effective influencer without doing your do’s. That means you can’t skip steps. You HAVE to be building passive interest in things like reading, writing, and watching in order to move along the scale. Stick with it and create realistic achievable goals.

Last advice, when taking interests in to others who influence you, remember its okay to have role models, but at the same time, limit them to role models, because you deserve the right to shine like a star just as much as they did. If you put in the time, I guarantee you one day your time will come.

Good luck!

Bad Things Happen for the Greater Good

Max Weber(1864-1920) a German political philosopher wrote an essay called “Politics as a Vocation” and in it he explains that there are three decisive qualities that a true politician needs to have: passion, a sense of responsibility and judgement. Judgement in the sense that you can detach your self from a situation and act calm and cool and decide on decisions that is for the greater good. These qualities are great for a politician of course, but they can relate to anything. Even just being a good human being.

Yesterday I spent my Friday afternoon and night laying in the hospital. During my stay I spent a lot of time crying and thinking privately, not understanding why I could have let myself go physically. As I began to process what was going on, I began to remember what Max Weber taught me only a few hours earlier when I had been laying down and reading. It’s something I learned a long time a go when I was 17 and fully grasped the idea by the time I was 19.

I learned AGAIN that life is so beautiful and precious (passion) but it is finite, and eventually one day I will inevitably die, and because of this it is my responsibility to take care of this vessel of mine (mentally, physically and spiritually) while I am here. To do this I need to have good judgement. Judgement in the sense that I can detach myself from personal situations and act calm, so that I can make quality decisions that is for the Higher Good.

Thank you Max Weber for your time spent on this earth studying. Your past existence has affected the life of a young man almost century later for the better.

Also, in case some of my friends are wondering, I am in good health. I had a cat-scan, EKG, chest x-rays and some type of test that looks for blood clots in the chest. All test came back negative. They gave me nitroglycerin (was used in case there was problems with my heart) under my tongue before all the test, which took the pain away temporarily and something called an upper GI cocktail, a nasty fluid that you drink that numbs the esophagus and throat, which in turn takes away the excruciating pain.

The pain was due to large amounts of acidic acid in my system, that couldn’t escape out of the mouth or the butt, so it worked its way into my left chest. Which def. felt like heart attacks all day and night. It was painful. But it was an experience that allowed me to process my life. Bad things happen which bring out the good in a person.

Now it is time for me to retire and sleep. Much rest is needed.

An in depth look into the new startup Airtime

On June 5th 2012 the secretive startup Airtime  (Sean Parker & Shawn Fanning) released their much-anticipated video application. On opening day, users could have potentially been matched via video with people like Jessica Alba, Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker and other top names. During launch day, users familiar with tech, shared negative responses concerning the usage of Flash. (security vulnerabilities)

However, this article isn’t created to discuss the Adobe  Flash controversy, or even talk about Sean Parker & Shawn Fanning. No not-at-all, they get too much publicity anyway, especially Parker. My intention is to share insight into what Airtime is, the great team, the money behind it and the possible evolution behind Airtime as a company, brand, and application.

Airtime is a live video platform that allows you to connect with strangers who share the same likes and interests as you, and like Skype, lets you video chat with your current friends. Airtime is built on Facebook  and uses your information from there to discern who should be connected to you by video. From what I understand, you can also select a criteria that is used in the matchmaking process as well.

Some of you may be aware of a similar app  in the past called ChatRoulette which didn’t succeed due to being a place largely used by perverts sharing their genitalia. Airtime used ChatRoulette’s mistakes to learn from to ensure that perversion is eliminated. They do this by using Machine Learning algorithms. These algorithms are specifically using customized technologies such as Facial Recognition, and skin’s hue/luminosity detection. This helps the system understand if penises are being shown on-screen. However, since it is a learning process for “machines” sometimes actions like fingers pointing or waving can be mistaken for a small penis. That’s why large amounts of stored visual data (Big Data) will be used to learn from for accuracy purposes. The evolution of Machine Learning and Big Data in the recent years allows products like Airtime to be safe but fun. (I’m a huge fanatic of the relationship between Big Data and Machine Learning)

The safety and ingenuity of  Airtime couldn’t have been possible though, without an all-star lineup to help it become a reality. Since you have two Co-Founders who are mainstream media icons and a brilliant “change the world” type of idea, backed financially by large VC’s, you have the ability to create a solid team. As I looked through the LinkedIn profiles of each key player, I couldn’t help but think, these are the upcoming tech Rock stars, who could be the next millionaires if they stick with this startup.

Lets take a look at the Airtime team:

*Chris Piro and Gareth Aye did not share a photo via LinkedIn, but they did share a Facebook profile and blog as links on LinkedIn. So I decided to carry the photos over so that way the above picture looked fuller.

*Also, some of you may be wondering how I was able to get the last names of all these employee’s even though I’m not connected to them. It’s actually a little recruiting trick, using a loop hole in Linkedin. For instance, if you were to go to Ebby A.’s profile, on the lower right it would show “People also viewed this profile” and then it would give the full names of the employee’s, when normally it would just show Name then last name initial. Thought I would share. :)

Along with Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning we have another Co-founder who stays out of the medias focus. Joey Liaw, is the Chief Technology Officer at Airtime. He went to Stanford university in 2002-2005. It’s possible that his first time being connected with Sean Parker was when he accepted a role as a software engineer at Causes (startup by Sean Parker) in 2007. Who knows though, they could have met even earlier via IRC.  When reading Joey’s profile I noticed he is a power user of a cool programming language called Erlang, just a cool fact.

Mark Jen (VP of Engineering), has an attractive work history. A graduate of University of Michigan with a B.S in Computer Engineering. He comes from a solid list of technology companies. In his earlier years he spent time at IBM, Microsoft, and Google which he got fired from, due to his personal blog posts, read it here. Then two months after being fired he was picked up by Sean Parker’s start-up Plaxo. In 2007, after ten months of Plaxo, Tagged acquired him. At Tagged it looks like he seen a lot of promotions due to excellent performance. After a little over three years it looks like his old buddy Sean Parker hit him up again, about Airtime.

Software Engineers  Benjamin Stover, Ebby Amirebrahimi, and Chris Piro seem to be the core developers underneath Mark Jen who probably spent time building up the backend, the inner guts of Airtime. It’s possible that Benjamin Stover could have played a role on the front end development with the acquisition of Larry Chen of Erly.

As far as  Emma Zhou and Gareth Aye goes, my intuition tells me they may have been both acquired at the same time by Airtime for a specific reason. The reason behind my thinking is because Gareth mentions he started to work for Airtime in May 2012. That’s two months before the actual public release of Airtime as a web application. Both Gareth and Emma come from an ambitious startup called Rapleaf. A statement taken from Rapleaf on LinkedIn: “IT company that builds innovative products to compile and analyze large amounts of information.” This is important when it comes to Airtime. They will have databases stored with terabytes and beyond, and it requires you to have engineers like both Emma and Gareth. Because in time as this application becomes more robust with users, it will be storing videos and screen shots so that the algorithms will have a sufficient amount of data to learn from.  Not to mention what types of new custom technologies they may be able to create due to the learning taking place.

It seems that Larry Chen a creative front end designer and Rosa Wu a product manager both play a part at Airtime, but also at the social platform start-up Erly (Acquired by Airtime 5/2012). More about Erly later on.

That leaves us to Tony Onorati. Tony is quite the character. I mean this in a good way (down to earth, teddy bear type of guy). He seems to be the most open about his life and his experiences via his blog. It looks like Tony plays the server monkey role, with a cool title to go. In his own words “You name it, I do it when it comes to IT. From networking architecture to day-to-day problems, I get it done. And with a swanky title to boot.”

Before Tony came into Airtime to do the day-in-day-out IT work, there was an Site Reliability Engineer by the name of Devin Murphy, who spent six months with Airtime. You may be wondering why only six months? Did he get fired? I don’t think so. I think he was brought on for the short-term to bang out large system deployment and once accomplished I think he was paid buku’ money(urban Rhode island slang for large amounts of dough) and bounced. A job well done!

A month later Tony takes over.

One more person I wanted to share, and I’m mainly sharing this for the brilliant software engineers out there who may want to work for Airtime. She is the head of recruiting over at Airtime. She goes by the name of Lisa Rogers. She looks like a strong senior recruiter who has loads of experience, and for her to be the head of talent at Airtime means something. So if you’re looking to get your foot in the door, she is the person to talk to. It would be your best interest to have a strong resume, and a quality Github profile ready, because Airtime takes interest in Open Source contributors. It gives you an X-Factor against your competition.

This concludes the strong team behind the scenes doing what they do best. They get paid to do what they like and while they’re doing it, they’re bringing us a world-class product and service that could potentially change the world, or at least how we share ours selves to others. A great team like this cost a good amount of money. That leads us to our next section. The funding behind Airtime.

Two years ago in September 2010 Shawn Fanning  who was an adviser for ChatRoulette and Co-founder Joey Liaw raised 200k in funding for Supyo Inc which is now Airtime. A year later when Sean Parker is known to be a Co-Founder, Airtime begins it’s Series A funding.

Airtime’s Series A funding is backed by large names in the Venture Capitalist industry. They received 8.3 million in funding from Founders Fund (Parker now a General Partner), Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Yuri Milner, Ron Conway, Marissa Mayer, Ashton Kutcher,, Scott Braun, and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington (CrunchFund), among others.

I’m pretty sure some of that money was used to create the elegant Airtime Headquarters in San Francisco. HD pictures on Facebook

Fifteen days before initial launch date Airtime was able to gather $25 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures. I’m sure this money will be used to scale Airtime’s technology, infrastructure, number of employees, the large not-so-great launch party, and to pay for the acquisition of Erly (5/23/2012).

Erly was founded by former Hulu CTO Eric Feng (Prior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers). Erly is a new social platform for organizing and sharing your personal content. Erly also goes into detail about something they call the Experience Graph. In my personal opinion, I feel the idea of the experience graph is what can set up Airtime to be a potential powerhouse.

Currently Airtime uses Facebook (friend graph) as the platform to connect individuals. This matchmaking process is based on your likes and interests. For example, we both like Dexter, so Airtime connects us.”Great, you like Dexter, now what?” Do you see how elementary and unexciting that is. So the inevitable question should be: Is Facebook the best platform Airtime could be using? The short answer is no.

In the short-term, it’s fine for Airtime to use Facebook as its platform to be a matchmaker. This gives them the opportunity to bring it to the public, build up a user base, and bring in large amounts of data for learning material. However, like I said above. The current state of Facebook is not Airtime’s best platform for the long-term. That is why they used Series B funding to buy out Erly.

Erly understands a key principal of the human psyche, it is:

Researchers have found that we tend to retrieve memories in two ways – by people and by experiences. Sometimes you think about a person you were with first and then about what you were doing with them, and other times you think of what you were doing first and then remember who you were with.

Erly’s about page continues on stating how a friend graph is certainly powerful, but sometimes building around an experience can be more efficient.

Here is another clue:

you can quickly browse along any of those to find other experiences you might be interested in.

Relate this to Airtime. Wouldn’t it be awesome to start a conversation with a random stranger who has experienced something you haven’t, but it totally interest you? And that person has something of substance they can talk about, and maybe while you’re talking, you’re looking at that persons public event/experience pictures? Oh boy! now that’s powerful! This could be a potential Generation-Y matchmaking heaven, in a positive way. Bye! Real friendships and even relationships can spawn off this Video Platform + Social Platform.

I think this was a right move by the founders of Airtime, and I think we will continue to see an audience grow to like Airtime. I believe Erly will continue to develop and mold into something that will work hand-n-hand with the video application. In a couple of years, we could possibly see the use of Facebook as a matchmaker eliminated and substituted with something much more intimate, more humanized via Erly. I wish both start-ups a healthy and growing network, and I can’t wait to see what it will be like a year from now, five years from now, and then ten years from now.

I hope that my readers enjoyed this in-depth company profile and recruiters out there should stay tuned because I will be writing a new installment answering the question, “What does the use of Airtime mean to a Recruiter?”

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