April 24, 2014

Cleveland Magazine's Silver Spoon Awards

‘Tis the season for Cleveland Magazine's Silver Spoon Awards: “The May issue of Cleveland Magazine presents Northeast Ohio’s “Best Restaurants” with the Silver Spoon Award in a variety of categories.” What a great excuse to write about one of my favorite topics: food!  Not just food for fuel of course – food for fun and for the experience of it.  While the Silver Spoon Awards comprise the whole Greater Cleveland area, I thought I’d start us out in University Circle.  There are so many fantastic places right here to dine, eat, nosh, or however you want to call it.  The weather is breaking into spring, and my hope is that this post will give you some food for thought on where you should head next.

Here would be my University Circle categories and nominees:

Best Casual:
Patio of L'Albatros Brasserie
Falafel Café – This diner-like restaurant serves an array of flavorful Middle Eastern dishes, and American options as well.  I recommend the Taste of the Middle East and a piece of baklava and Turkish coffee for dessert.

Best Fine Dining:
L’Albatros – This brasserie has classy décor, gourmet French dishes, stellar service, fine wine and a grand cheese selection.  Need I say more?

Best à la Carte:
Provenance Café in the Museum of Art – From piping hot mac’n cheese to made-to-order salads, this café’s open kitchen serves a locally sourced, seasonal menu.

Best view:
Provenance Café in the Museum of Art – The bright, open Atrium has grandeur not unlike Severance Hall.  The space feels both indoor and outdoor and, situated in the museum, it draws a diverse crowd.

Best patio:
Dessert at Coquette Patisserie
l’Albatros – Their secluded courtyard is full of sunshine and greenery.
The Jolly Scholar – Their patio is a casual oasis that is synonymous with summertime.

Best dessert:
Mitchell’s Ice Cream – It’s my favorite ice cream, and I recently discovered that slightly melted vegan chocolate ‘ice cream’ tastes remarkably like chocolate mousse.

Coquette Patisserie – Their beautiful pastries are as delightful to look at as they are to eat.  The macarons are something special, whether for breakfast, an afternoon pick-me-up or a light dessert.  They also make a great gift.

April 11, 2014

Negotiating a job offer

Negotiating a job offer including salary and compensation are probably areas that we can all use some help with. Professor Roman Sheremeta provides us with several strategies and resources to practice and use during any salary or compensation negotiation with an employer.

Negotiating has two main components: distributive and integrative. A distributive negotiation is one where parties compete over a fixed pool of value. In this case your goal is to take the largest piece of the pie possible. This results in a win-lose situation for one of the parties. In the case of salary negotiation, you should try to make sure that you are not on the losing end.

An integrative negotiation is one where there is potential for both parties’ interests to be integrated and result in a larger pie. The focus of this type of a negotiation is on the underlying interests that are often shared between parties. This will result in a win-win situation where all opportunities are exploited and nothing is ‘left on the table’.

Most job negotiations have a win-win potential!

Here are Professor Sheremeta’s tips for preparing for a job negotiation:
  1.  Self-assessment: determine your BATNA or your best alternative to a negotiated agreement
  2. Assess the other party: learn as much as you can about the employes, research the employer’s BATNA
  3. Assess the situation
  4. Present yourself: provide information about your interests and priorities
  5. Assume that the offer is negotiable, don’t ask permission! 
How do you capitalize on the win-win negotiation?
  1.  Negotiate multiple issues simultaneously, don’t get stuck on salary
  2. Don’t rush the offer, build a long-run relationship
There are several other issues to consider besides salary when negotiating a job offer:
  • Compensation: salary, bonus, stock/equity
  • Retirement: 401k, savings plans
  • Additional benefits such as: vacation, sick days, insurance, moving expenses, transportation

March 21, 2014

Know yourself

After graduation, people have started to move to different cities. When we had dinner together, which probably would be the last chance with some people, discussions about the future were never avoided, full of hope but also confusion. I suddenly had an idea to write this blog.
It is kind of a summary of all the conversations I had with friends. And I have found the most important thing we discussed is: knowing yourself.
This is an old topic, but I hope it will provide you with some inspiration.
You think you know yourself
More and more people start to search from the bottom of their heart. Knowing yourself is like putting yourself on a balance scale. Choosing a weight that is too heavy is just like you wanting to achieve something with ambition, however, this task might overweigh your capability. Choosing a weight, which is too light is like you already having some advantage while underestimating yourself.
But the reality is more complicated. That is because by knowing yourself you gain internal satisfaction, but there are too many variables in this process. State of mind is one of them. If you set a high goal that is too high, you become frustrated after failure over and over again and you might even lose self-confidence. Former CEO of GE, Jack Welch, once said, if he had gone to an Ivy League school, he might not have the confidence he has today.
Actually, the self you know, in different situations and environment, could turn out to be a different person. A very simple example is international students finding themselves to be more introverted in a foreign country.
The process of knowing yourself is dynamic. Accept the current arrangement in your life, and from this starting point, analyze yourself. I don't agree with the idea of "Fight[ing] until you know how awesome you are". On the contrary, I agree with the famous Chinese news presenter Ruiying Li, "If you spend more than half of your time on a job, you are not meant for that".
Finding a proper position for yourself is more important, no matter how different it is from what you thought and what is required by society.
Create opportunities
There are lots of things that we want to achieve in our lifetime, but usually we can only achieve some of them.
Even if you could not reach your goal temporarily, the first thing you could be sure is that you are still very lucky to know what you want and what you are good at. However, due to the objective reasons, maybe you have to give up something, achieve other things first and reach your goal in the long term. As an international student, this is very important because it is much more difficult to reach your goals in a different culture.
Polish yourself and wait for opportunities at the same time.
I have to admit that because of the problem of visa, international students don't have much time to wait. Preparing early, developing the right values and using the right methodology are the key.
I like the self-introduction from Ka-shing Li. He said "Every night he reads before going to bed. Knowledge might not necessarily increase your wealth, but increases the opportunity. It is the best way that you create opportunity."
If you are very clear about your goal but haven’t reached it yet, creating opportunities for yourself is the only solution.
Take Some Risk
There is a common sense in the financial world, the more risk you take, the more return you possibly get. Life is also like this.
I have a good friend. To get into the dream company, she only applied for this company, only networked with the people from this company and prepared the interview for this company. In the end, she got the offer. Certainly there is risk involved. If she had failed, she could have missed the job searching opportunity and have had to start from scratch again.
Knowing yourself includes knowing your risk aversion. This is also a dynamic process. When you achieve more, you have more tolerance for risk, the more confident you will be, which means you will also perform better under pressure.

‘Stepping out of your comfort zone’ is advocated in American culture. This is also a way of taking risk. But I think we should take it dialectically. If you have a high tolerance for risk, it is better for you to try. But if you are risk averse, pushing yourself too much will hurt your confidence.
Don't envy what someone has, because he also bears more risk. Be responsible for yourself.
Among globalization, I am grateful for the opportunities the world brings to our generation. However, it raises new challenges for us. To make a decision that we will not regret, we need to know ourselves more clearly and have a firmer determination.

I am from China and have been in Cleveland for one year. I love it here, although there have been a lot of surprises. I will write about my life, including the joy and frustration that comes with getting my Masters of Science in Management - Finance degree at Weatherhead School of Management and with living in America.
Hope you can get a little inspiration from my story and make your life even more wonderful here!