January 13, 2012

Summer Plans Email

The below is a copy of an email I sent to a contact. In retrospect, it is way too long and there's no way the person who I sent it to read it all, given their business. However, I thought it was a good piece that showed the passion and dedication I once had. I think I'm starting to get it back, little by little.
My name is Wonmin Lee. I am the cousin of Won Joon Lee. This summer, I need to work. I have worked tirelessly to get into Stuyvesant High School. In the post-achievement glory, I slacked off, yet realized soon enough to manage to get into Oxford College of Emory University. Now, I am determined to not let my achievements blind me from my goal in life. I am aware of my current successes, I am truly glad of what I was able to accomplish. However, I am also aware of how far I have yet to go--of how far behind others I truly am. This is the reason why I need to work this summer. Because I cannot afford the time to play around when I have so much ground to cover--just to catch up with the vast amounts of people ahead of me.  
In the financial and business world, a good educational background and contacts can get your foot in the door. However, no matter how stellar your recommendation or your credentials may be, if you do not have the talent to back up your first impression, failure is almost guaranteed. I believe that I have the perseverance, enthusiasm, and creativity that will put me above the crowd. I believe in my ability to impress--I just need that one interview, that one meeting to establish who I am and what I can accomplish. 
I do not know the intricate workings of the market and its behavior. As a college freshman, I cannot possibly predict where our economy will be in the next week, let alone a year. My personal portfolio experienced a loss of 99% in the past two months. I jumped in the market with limited prior knowledge and a heart filled with determination and confidence. Two months later, I barely survived, gasping back on the shore with less than twenty dollars left. The difference aside from the obvious $1,980 loss is a new grasp of the workings of the market—a firsthand experience that I believe is priceless and an incredible bargain at such a price. My confident and determined heart is if anything, even more confident and determined. 
The past two months has been the most revealing two months of my life, not only due to the market, but my lifestyle as a whole. I woke at 8:30 every day, to catch the market openings. I stayed up late researching the latest financial news. I picked several stocks every week and compared them to the S&P--averaging an unimpressive -0.50% margin of increase versus the S&P. Given a goal, I laid out the plans to achieve that goal and worked at it relentlessly. My goal wasn't to earn money; it was to learn as much as I possibly could before going broke. I believe that I have accomplished that goal. However, similarly with my current college status, I cannot let this victory deter me from achieving greater victories in the future. This isn't the time to celebrate, but rather keep moving forward. This is the reason why I need to work this summer. My previous goals, whether they were achieved or not, matter little once I have set my next goal.  
My next goal is to learn the intricacies and inner workings of an already established and renowned financial company. The history, credentials, and the name of the firm matters very little. What matters is the amount I could take with me on my journey to a successful future. Which company will be the greatest teacher to the aspiring leader? Which company can provide exposure to the resources that make a business man a business man? What is the difference between risk management and trading? And where can I learn these things firsthand? 
The other day, I was walking in Wall Street with two of my college friends. We happened upon the New York Stock Exchange where the traders were leaving for the day, the market being closed. A group of middle-aged Asian women were standing at the entrance taking group pictures with some of the people who were exiting the building. I was amazed. Since when did businessmen become celebrities? It struck me then that these men were all successful. I wanted to be like them. To leave everyday at 4 o'clock, discussing with my fellow traders about the day's various trades and hot stocks. A person with almost nowhere to go but up on the corporate ladder. I firmly believe that I have what it takes to climb that ladder. When you ask me why I would want to climb that specific ladder, I can only answer by saying, "Because the view is nice."  
Thank you for taking the time to read this email. 
Wonmin Lee

On a side note, I didn't realize that the world of search was so complicated and interesting.
On a side side note, I added my Google+ profile to the sidebar! Check it out!

January 11, 2012

Margin Call

I saw the movie Margin Call yesterday night. It was a pretty suspenseful movie that dramatized the recent financial crisis of 2008. At the very least, the cast was very well selected and every actor was incredibly professional.

While I don't fully understand the financial crisis, nor am I claiming to be an expert on economics or finance, but the movie made me feel a little weird--especially at this point in my life where a lot of my peers in school do in fact go off in search of finance jobs.

One particular scene struck me--the scene where the character Seth Bregman (portrayed by Penn Badgley) is crying in the bathroom stall because he's afraid of getting fired. A little background info on Seth before I tell you how I felt. He's a 23 year old working in the Risk department at a large unnamed corporation who made $250,000 last year in bonuses and salary.

I was a bit annoyed as to why he was crying. Here's a young fresh graduate making six figures with an absolutely beaming future ahead of him. The crisis wasn't completely his fault nor does he probably even understand what's happening around him. So he just cries? He made five times the national median of a 25 year old male with a Bachelor's Degree and he's crying?

As a college undergraduate, I don't even know what I would do with $250,000. Pay off my student loans? Pay off my credit card? What then? I have no clue. Which is why the following scene really shocked me.
Seth Bregman: Will?
Will Emerson: Yeah?
Seth Bregman: Did you really make two and half million bucks last year?
Will Emerson: Yeah... I did.
Peter Sullivan: What do you do with all that money?
Will Emerson: I don't know really. It goes pretty quick.
Will Emerson: Well the tax man takes half of it up front. So now you got what... million and a quarter. Mortgage grabs another 300K, I gave 150 to my parents to live off, so now you got what?
Peter Sullivan: Eight hundred.
Will Emerson: I bought two cars last year for 150 total. Probably another 100 eating... 25 on clothes, put 400 away for a rainy day...
Seth Bregman: Smart.
Will Emerson: And what's that?
Peter Sullivan: 125 left.
Will Emerson: I spent $76,520 on booze, dancers, and whores.
Pretty amazing if you ask me.

On a side note, Zachary Quinto is so cool.

Smart Shuffle

Left - Shuffle, Right - Smart-shuffle
Wouldn't it be nice if all media players, iPods, Android phones, or whatever you use to listen to music could all sync? I would love to look at the statistics on my music listening habits. Which songs get skipped one second in? Which songs have I listened to the most in my lifetime? Which songs are never played? Which songs are over-played?

This got me to thinking about a smarter way to shuffle songs. Let's just assume that somehow, music we listen to was kept track regardless of whatever device we use. Some magical tool that we shove in our ears, I don't know. Think of the possibilities!

Music that was recently added to the library have heavier weight. Songs with high play-counts can slowly decrease in weight à la diminishing returns. Lower play-count songs will be favored over higher play-count songs. The same song will never play back-to-back. An option to have smoother transitions from song to song so we aren't listening to classical Bach one song and then suddenly Lil Wayne.

Ignoring the issue of how to keep track of songs we listen to in our lifetimes, doesn't the technology to do at least the mentioned above already exist? Albeit my play-count in Windows Media Player are pretty abysmal because I chronically skip songs, I would love some of the above-mentioned functionality.

On a side note, I wish a song would count as "played" if at least 50% of the song was listened to. If not 50%, at least make it customizable!

January 03, 2012


At school, I currently work part time (9 hours / week) at the school eatery as a cashier. It's not the most glamorous job in the world, but I find it incredibly relaxing and fun. Which is contrary to general consensus--that a minimum wage job cannot be anything but hell on earth. I brought this up to my dad, proud in my unique ability to see the silver lining on what is considered to be a dark cloud. He then suggested that my part-time job didn't sound like a job, but rather an escape. An escape from the ordinary and mundane life of a student.

Is that true? Was working a cashier job an escape to me? It's true that the money doesn't really matter to me. If I think about it, what's truly special about working is the interaction I have with the countless students who pass by. I have more fun in those 3 hours of interaction than I do in any class or study session. I guess it was an escape after all.

This led me to think about what else in my life is an escape? Naturally, I arrived at video games. In the past, no matter how sad or depressed I was, playing video games would allow me to relax and forget about everything. When I had my wisdom tooth pulled out, I didn't even take any pain medications because I was too busy playing GTA4. That's the power of distraction that video games have over me.

Are escapes such a bad thing though? I'm not quite sure. But there seems to be a distinct correlation between my success and the amount of games I play. I like having the option of video games. I have been through some tough parts of my life by surrounding myself in the worlds of Azeroth or Runeterra. It's great that I have such an escape to run to when times get tough. But does this desensitize me? When does it get to the point where the slightest difficulty sends me running to video games' open arms?

On a side note, why is it that recent movies only depict Apple products? For example, when you think of the Mission Impossible film series, you don't think of Apple. I don't associate Apple with spy-gear and badassery, but there was nothing but iPads, iPhones, and Macs in MI4. What gives?
On a side side note, happy 2012!