5 Essential Elements of Raising Up Leadership

Company Blogs June 24, 2015 By Ken Dong Staff

On top of a great product, good leadership has always been a necessity in any successful organization throughout history. But what do people want in a leader? It simply boils down to the fact that they want to work for someone they can trust and follow. They want to be challenged to hone their current skills while developing new ones. 
In the last 3 years, I’ve spent a lot of time building different teams and helping develop leaders both in the professional and volunteer spaces. I’ve observed 5 elements that are essential in creating a vibrant growing team of leaders.

1) Let them take the reins (a little bit at a time)

If the amount of work is uneven, then nothing is scalable. You cannot possibly do it all by yourself, and if you try, your group will never grow. But if you let them run with everything, you may be setting them up for failure. If they fail on a big project, it could be devastating and leave deep scars. Instead, as you lead the group, let them take over slowly. Assign a small project to work on and guide them through it. When they are successful you can give them more. Don’t be afraid to give them a little more than you think they can handle. You’ll be surprised at how people are able to rise to the occasion.
The progression should look something like this: 
  1. Come up with ideas and give them the directions to execute. 
  2. Give them ideas and let them run with it.
  3. Allow them to come up with ideas of what they want to do as you guide them on how to execute.
  4. Advise them as they run an entire operation from start to finish.


2) Allow them to make mistakes

When there's a project that needs to be planned and executed, you should know what areas require absolute precision and what areas can allow for more leeway. In areas of less restriction, give your team the freedom to think for themselves. You can give them high level ideas to guide them, but let them process, plan and execute on their own. After the process, make sure to have some sort of post-mortem time where they can discuss what went well and what can be improved. 

3) Be tough

Whether your leaders come in as paid or volunteer positions, there should always be a set standard that both parties agree upon at the beginning of the relationship. This is a standard by which you keep your team accountable if or when they miss the mark. Continually remind them of the goal and vision that your team is striving for and how they need to be able to keep their commitment to see it fulfilled. Being tough in the right situation will help them to stay focused while weeding out those who are not serious about the group's vision.

4) Be forgiving

Hopefully, your standards are high. You want to set a bar that is hard but not impossible to reach. Growth is more important than perfection. If you set a high bar, you have to give your leaders the time and space to reach it. This means second, third and fourth chances. It's not always about whether they are hitting every mark, but whether they are improving in the areas they are missing. Be forgiving, let them know where they are succeeding and encourage them to grow. Patience and forgiveness is essential in developing a mature, unified group.

5) Invest in 1-on-1 mentoring

Last, but certainly not least, is mentorship. This is perhaps the most important aspect of raising up new leaders. Make sure to spend time meeting with individuals one on one.  Spend more time with those who desire to grow and are willing to learn. The frequency should correspond to the maturity of your mentee. The goal of this time is for you to model how to critically think about issues and find answers and to show them how to lead other people. 
The value of this time will be proven when generational leadership is created. You invest time into people who, in turn, will invest their time into others. This ensures that when you need to focus on other issues, the group that you built will not only survive, but continue to flourish.
Creating an award-winning team takes dedication, patience, and hard-work. Implementing these elements will be a learning process for both you and your team, so be sure to celebrate those little victories along the way. In the end, your team will reap from the fruits of your effort and the results will be satisfying for all.

Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your questions or comments below.

4 More Reasons To Upgrade to 6.2

Company Blogs June 1, 2015 By Ken Dong Staff

When 6.2 was first released, there was a lot of buzz surrounding things like responsiveness out-of-the-box, application display templates, updated control panel, and the recycle bin. We heard good feedback about these features, and they have served as great added assets to improve the user experience.

Of course we didn't stop there. By analyzing the trends of today while predicting the needs of tomorrow, we're building tools that are necessary to stay ahead of the game. Our goal is not only to provide the framework to meet your current needs, but also to anticipate what you will need to achieve your business goals.

Mobile Readiness

In 2014, mobile surpassed desktop. Not only that, but according to the US Mobile App Report released by comScore in August 2015, people are spending more time on native apps than on the browser. On top of that, Google now puts a score on whether or not your site is responsive.

Those who have a mobile-ready site will ultimately have higher ranking. So, the question is no longer whether you need a mobile strategy. The question is now which mobile strategy will be best for you. At minimum your site should be responsive. For those who want to go beyond the call of duty, Liferay has the tools to help you get there.


Liferay Mobile SDK

With Liferay's Mobile SDK, now you have a tool to build your mobile applications using Liferay as the backend. All of your site’s rich information can now be made easily available from your monitor to the palm of your hand.


Liferay Screens

Once you've built out a robust solution, it's time to make available on every device. With Liferay Screens, you can easily build your native mobile apps using Liferay Portal as the backend.


Liferay Push



From your control panel to your home screen, Liferay Push gives you the ability to send notifications from your portal straight to your mobile device. No longer do you need to be sitting at your computer with your browser or email app open to know the latest updates. Tasks, announcements, news articles, and more can now be sent straight to your phone or tablet.


Big Data

“Dashboards! Dashboards! We all fall down.” Data visualization is today’s future. Once you have a platform that is easy for your customers to consume, it’s time to start weeding out the noise. Tools like Google Analytics and Tableau help you build dashboards to understand the personas of your customers. Once you’re able to put people in groups, give them only the content that will be valuable to them. Time is worth its weight in gold and a minute saved is a minute earned.


Audience Targeting

Audience Targeting says it all in the name. With the AT app, you can now deliver targeted content to a specific audience or user. Your options range from delivering weather and news based on location all the way to full campaigns that help users navigate throughout your site to perform action steps like downloading files, signing up for trials or purchasing items.

Our engineering team has done a number of webinars introducing AT's capabilities. You can view the recordings below. If you're an EE subscriber, you can also contact your Account Executive for more information!


So, if you’re currently on 6.1 or below, it may be time to make a move.

If you’re on CE, we’ve recently released 6.2 GA4. Our community is full of developers who provide excellent advice on how to accomplish any goal!

For Liferay Enterprise subscribers, you have access to the latest Service Pack which is released regularly and can be found in our Customer Portal.

As 6.1 EE support comes to an end of premium support in early 2016, you’ll want to give yourself 6-9 months to do full, thorough upgrade which can include updating custom plugins, building new features, upgrading the database, QA, performance testing and tuning, and user testing. Reach out to your Account Executive or Experience Manager to discuss how 6.2 can enhance your visibility!


Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your questions or comments below.

Attention Please! 4 Tips to Get The Most Out of A Training Session

General Blogs October 2, 2014 By Ken Dong Staff


Throughout history, knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to practical use has been of highest value to any organization. As one of the leading trainers on the Liferay Support Team, I have learned that there are certain people who will get the most out of one of my training sessions. These are the people that tend to improve at their jobs and have higher success with projects and tasks. With Liferay Symposium just around the corner, it’s going to be important to get the highest value out of every session.

Take The Training When You Need It

If you can choose, make sure to attend training for things that will actually help you. These are the classes you’ll engage with the most, and you’ll find yourself participating more and perhaps even network with other like-minded people in the same class. If you’re in a class you find interesting, you’ll be more likely to start discussions and get more than *just* a training session.

If you are a manager, set a roadmap for your employees. This roadmap should show what skills need to be developed and at what times. Instead of throwing new employees into every training available, make sure they are learning the right things at the right time. If they take a training too early, they could very well forget the information they learned when it’s time to do the job. The best way for a person to learn material after going through a training is hands-on exercises. In short: train and then do.

Do the prerequisites and bring the right tools

There are a few trainings that you can simply walk into, but most require you to bring or prepare something. You’ll want to make sure you not only have the tools necessary, but that you are familiar with how to use the tools if the class is not geared towards teaching those tools.

Use a computer you are familiar with: If you’ll need to bring your computer, make sure you bring one that you already know how to use. If you have been using a Windows operating system for most of your life, don’t go buy a brand new macbook and jump into a technical training. Your trainer is not going to be prepared to teach you how to use it. Spend the time learning the training material, not an operating system.

Have the correct programs installed: Most trainings will tell you which programs to have installed in order to take the class.  Don’t wait until 30 minutes before the class starts to install. It can take time to download if necessary and you always need to leave room for any errors during installation. Installing early will ensure that everything is running smoothly before the training starts. If you are not ready to go before the class starts, you will either hold up the class or you will have to play catch up and miss entire sections. Being prepared will maximize your time and minimize the number of items to worry about.

Accessories: Headphones, adapters, power cords, etc… Make sure you have all necessary accessories out and ready to use. Show up a few minutes early to make sure you are able to get connected. Always assume that there will be some sort of problem. If you come in early you’ll be able to troubleshoot those issues and get them resolved before class starts.

Turn off Notifications


Distractions can be the worst hindrance to detract you from learning the material. I’ve gone through countless trainings where the trainees are answering emails, looking on Facebook, or chatting on Skype during a class. The success of their tasks or projects afterwards would depend on them understanding the material. Many times I would see them asking others questions that were clearly answered during the session. This wastes time and company resources. Here are a number of items to do before the session starts:

  • Close your chat completely or go invisible
  • Turn off email
  • Put your phone on silent (not vibrate)
  • Only have necessary browser windows open

These may seem minor and may only distract you for a moment, but in my experience, a moment lost can turn into much more.

Ask Questions & Participate

A few years ago I decided to take a plunge back into the academic world. I was thinking about going into business school, but there were a few prerequisites I needed before I could consider applying at one of the local universities. Statistics was the first class I had to take. I had not taken a math class in over 10 years since my lower division classes in college. After the first week of class I quickly learned I was going to have to do things differently if I wanted to pass. The next week I moved myself to the front of the room and made sure my hand was up in the air, regularly asking questions and answering when the professor needed participation. Being in the front helped me understand the material and eventually ace the class.


There are two kinds of questions you should be asking: questions for things you don’t understand and questions to clarify your understanding of a difficult concept. Asking questions to ensure that you understand will cause you repeat what you just learned in your own words, which will increase your ability to retain the information.

You also want to make sure your questions are related to the topic being taught. A trainer normally enjoys expounding on a subject and will gladly answer if asked. By doing this, your trainer will take notice of you and it will be easier for you to ask questions outside of the main topic after class.

At the end of the day, you can’t be in control of how well your trainer teaches the material, but whether you end up with the best presenter or not, these tips will help ensure that you get the most out of the session.



Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

3 Personalities That Foster Connection

General Blogs September 25, 2014 By Ken Dong Staff

Connection is one of the most important ways to reach your customer. It creates comfort and ultimately trust. I’ve observed that there are generally three types of people who connect well: the Talker, the Asker, and the Engager. These are people who can easily keep the conversation going; with these people there are rarely moments of awkward silence. They are great at creating a connection, and thus serving customers.


The Talker

The Talker is the person that gets into a situation and is able to talk about themselves. They are open with their experiences and share the things they’ve learned and accomplished. Anyone they talk to can often find a connection with something they also have experienced in their life. The Talker pushes information, and opens up new connections through being forthright.


The Asker

The Asker is almost the opposite of the Talker. The Asker will meet with someone and begin asking questions. It often starts with a simple “What do you like to do?” and as the person answers, the Asker is able to form new, in-depth questions that help them begin to open up. In general, people are comfortable talking about themselves; these questions slowly help the person become more vulnerable and with greater vulnerability comes greater trust. The Asker pulls information and forms connections simply by being interested in other people.


The Engager

The Engager is the least common of these three types. Whereas communicating with the Talker doesn’t necessarily foster a high level of trust, and communicating with the Asker doesn’t create a high level of empathy, the Engager is able to do both. The Engager begins with questions to pull information out of a person, but they’re not doing it just to keep a conversation going. They will ask questions and move from different topics until the moment of empathy happens. At the moment of empathy, they have found a point of connection and they will begin sharing about a similar experience they’ve had that demonstrates they understand the other person. At this moment of empathy, the Engager makes a connection that develops vulnerability, trust and rapport. Through making genuine connection, the Engager is much more successful in selling something whether it be a product, an idea or a way of acting.


Think about your current presence, your website or policies on customer interaction. Are you engaging your customers today? The price of true engagement is vulnerability. We can't simply push or pull information anymore. Whether a Fortune 500 or a small startup, success lies in conversation. Once the conversation starts, progress can truly begin..


Liferay: Nerd On The Street is a blog devoted to sharing new ideas about business and technology. To continue the discussion, post your thoughtful insights below.

4 Tips To Help Find the Root of a Bug in an Open Source Project

General Blogs January 29, 2014 By Ken Dong Staff

A few months ago, a friend came over to borrow my car. Since I hadn’t driven the car in a while, when he set the key in the ignition and turned, nothing happened. The engine had died. For most mechanics, this is where they begin diagnosing the problem. Using the process of elimination, and having already established the obvious checkpoints like whether gas is in the tank, they begin to listen to the sound of the car when it tries to crank.

Much like a car, an open source project comprises many components. Since source is readily available, it is easy to begin modifications to make it your own. The biggest frustration comes when you’ve built your engine, added all the bells and whistles and it just will not start up, or there’s something that is not performing right. As such, the key to finding the root to any problem in an open source project or code is to be able to peel back the many layers until you are left with the least amount of components that can be causing the problem.  

As you go through your diagnostic steps and begin debugging, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1) Roll out your project in stages

Rolling out the project in stages creates layers that can be peeled away. In a Liferay project, these different stages can be your custom plugins, your portal-ext, authentication, cluster and web server setup, database and jvm settings. Each time a stage is completed, you can test for functionality. Once things are all put together, and you happen to run into an issue, you can isolate and test individual components. For example, should you try using one node instead of a 4-node cluster? Start undeploying hooks to see if the issue still exists. If you take something off and the issue disappears, then you know where to begin looking.

2) Document everything

It is crucial to provide detailed documentation of code that is changed as well as the order that things were performed. This will play a role in knowing where to put things back once you take the engine apart to find your root cause.

In many open source projects, you need to modify the code directly in order to make changes.  Documentation can be tedious and lengthy. With Liferay, modifying the source directly should be the last thing you do. Using hooks, plugins and the portal-ext.propeties file, you can create customizations that can be easily undeployed at a moment’s notice. This helps make it so that you don’t have to document every single line of code that you want to modify.

3) Have a repeatable test case

Be sure to have a specific step-by-step test case that can consistently replicate the issue observed. Every time you make a modification, you will want to go through the exact test case. If you have a documented test that is too general, you may not see the issue occur but might have still missed a step. Having the test case can require extra time in the beginning, but it will ultimately save you time in the end.

With Liferay programs like Selenium can be used to create automated test cases that will replicate the issue.  In this case you would build the test and run it everytime you change something.  This is beneficial because it can also be used in your QA environment to ensure that the bug does not resurface after development is complete.

4) Peel off or layer on

When does the bug occur exactly? To find out, you can either begin peeling layers off the entire system or start from scratch and begin layering on. Understanding common symptoms will allow you to peel multiple layers at a time and start from a strategic spot.

When you employ these four tips, along with the help of a good developing team, you will be able to identify the location of your bugs and get one step closer to a successful project.

Liferay Gives Back

Company Blogs November 27, 2012 By Ken Dong Staff

Some of you who may have been to this year's North American Symposium you may have heard Bryan Cheung share about our partnership with an Inner City Organization called World Impact.  Here's a story of our last outting. 




Last month a number of Liferay employees had the privilege of heading out to Los Angeles to partner with the World Impact staff for their Pancake Breakfast fundraiser.  The breakfast is used to raise funds to help costs of their schools.  We all arrived about half an hour before the breakfast started.  We had various assignments from setting the tables to making pancake mix or cracking eggs and everything in between.  We quickly got to work!

JR mixing the pancake mix

Chris Lui going to town manually to get out the lumps


Once time was close we manned our stations in anticipation for the crowd to come in.  Martin Yan was our designated bacon man.

Dustin Ryerson was the face of scrambled eggs!

One by one they came, hungry and happy.  And one by one we put food on their plates! 



Until.....We realized the the people were coming faster than the food was ready!


One of the World Impact missionaries thought quickly and soon there were a number of us scrambling eggs and frying bacon in the back kitchen to keep up with the masses of people that were coming through!



We "scrambled" to keep the food coming out so that we could keep our happy customers!

We ended up going through gallons of Pancake mix and hundreds of eggs.  The staff told us that they had at least double or triple the amount of people this year than last!  They had to return to the store twice to get more supplies!  Luckily we were able to feed everyone (including ourselves!).


As some of us were handling the food others headed out to the yard to hang out with the kiddos!  Chris Lui spent a good amount of time getting pulled around and Shannon Chang even spent some time in "jail"!



This allowed time for the parents to sit back, relax and enjoy time together.


It was a great time interacting with the community, the World Impact Staff and to get to know each other better! 

Group Picture of all of the volunteers.

Liferay Picture

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