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What I Learned In The Middle Of An Apartment Fire

I made a life-changing decision to leave New York behind. Instead, I flew to Los Angeles, then back to New York, and then finally, finally to San Diego.

If we could go back in time and go back in time with all the people I met along the way, if we could go back to any point in our pasts, this moment in time might be one of the most memorable. Here, I’ll tell you in just a few words what made this an extraordinary time in my life and how I learned some important lessons. Learn more about my experience in this video.

So the fire was happening in my place of work. I had been working at Facebook for about four months, and at the time, I was about to graduate with one of the best degree programs in New York. I’d been living at Facebook for five years, in a very nice home. I had enough money saved to take at least a full course load at Columbia University on finance, with the intention of taking MBA.  I had been working a lot with Facebook, building a lot of the social networking product, and I needed to get the company to grow in order to continue to make the product and product development work here and to continue this project, which in turn kept me here for almost two years.  At some point, I started getting an increasing number of requests for my assistance.  Some customers and team members in India had become very frustrated with the fact that they were never able to get through to their friends there on mobile, so they built mobile apps that would translate their text messages into English.  They could actually pick up the text that was being typed out, and they wouldn’t have to leave their mobile or go back and switch to an e-mail address.  These messages got really large numbers of people, and they were really upset about it.  They were able to read these messages very quickly on their mobile phones.  We built these apps for them, but we were not able to do that.  And so we were having these conversations over an international phone line between New York and India, trying to get the apps to work.  I kept hearing from some of the most senior people in India saying, “We’re trying to sell you to your customer base, but we’re not able to do it.  In fact, we don’t even know if we can do it.  How can you be in charge of doing this kind of work here because you’re not even able to build the product that you said that when you left?  You have no ideas?”  The senior people said we’ve never been this far into a market before, and it’s extremely difficult. And I kept saying, “You’re wrong.  You’re missing some very simple, straightforward ideas.  I want to have this conversation over email between the two of us.”  We were able to create an app that translated our messages into more than 100 languages.  Every single message was translated by hand.  But because of that app, a year after it was created, our customers in India were able to read the message on their cell phones.  And what was really amazing was that they were able to do this over email, because the Indian service providers that translated the messages didn’t even know about the app, and we had had that same idea for so long.  And so, to them, it just turned out that the messaging was translated into English.  And there were a lot of benefits to that app that were not even really understood or understood by the senior people on the other side of the line, until this email conversation.