About Writing
Sep 24 2009

I’m sure many of you have noticed that I’m not writing as frequently as I have in the past on my blog.  This is due to a variety of things being led by lack of time and inspiration as well as logistics.  I have also been doing some personal hand written journaling so some of my writing needs have been met through that avenue.  The thing about writing, at least for me, is that I often have to have a spark of inspiration to start something and then it usually flows.

When I started this blog over 2 years ago now, I felt like I was forced to write because I started it as a tool to promote and build awareness of my business, Babble Soft.  So I dutifully wrote.  Somewhere along the way, the duty wore off and I started to enjoy it.  The comments helped but even when the comments weren’t numerous, I knew hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people were reading (thanks to feedburner, google analytics, and wordpress stats tools), and I was getting something out of it too.

It has became a vehicle for me to sort through and share insights in business, parenting, and life in a somewhat thoughtful, crafted, connect the dots sort of way.  For some of my posts I take all the swirling raw thoughts and attempt to distill them down into something usually coherent and sometimes imbibed with meaning that only myself or those close to me can sometimes fully understand.  Yet hopefully most people take something away that helps them in business or life…or if not maybe it’s sometimes entertaining?

Since I’ve started blogging, I have come to better appreciate the nuances of writers whose works we analyzed in depth in high school or college English classes.  As much as we try to infer from their writing what they were experiencing or trying to convey, we will miss much of it.  We probably made up stuff that actually never crossed the writer’s mind at all and did not pay attention to certain words and phrases that were full of meaning to the writer herself, but to other than maybe a few people who shared her space in time would be summarily dismissed.  As a woman writer, I’m particularly aware of how women writer’s even 50+ years ago had to make sure their writing not only lived up to their image as the fairer, weaker, well mannered, and sublime sex but also didn’t offend those who could not fathom the depth of a woman’s knowledge, insight, and passion.

As a South Asian, naturalized American, woman writer writing on the topic of entrepreneurship, leadership, management, (the aforementioned still typically a man’s world) and parenting, whose family sometimes reads her blog, I choose my words as carefully as I can.  Outside the blog, the words sometimes come out a lot messier, less filtered, and a bit more humorous for some reason.  The constraints and richness those life experiences and labels give me have added greatly to what moderate success I have achieved as well as sometimes to my self imposed dramatic misery.  🙂

I have made two attempts to write a larger body of work to publish.  One was a fiction novel I started back in 2001 after leaving my first company about a devastatingly handsome, blue-eyed, Jewish male CEO, an Asian female CEO, their relationship, and their different experiences starting technology companies.  I created an outline, table of contents, and generated probably about 16 pages and then soon after got pregnant.  My first readers (my sister and cousin) seemed to like it, but because life with kids started I left it sitting idly in my computer. Fortunately I printed it out because in one of our upgrades, the soft copy disappeared.  I’ve since scanned it back in and one day hope to do something with it.

The second attempt was to write a book on the meaning of life which I discovered most people were uncomfortable talking about so I morphed it to the meaning of success.  I got many more people to speak with me but couldn’t really find the right way to pull it together or an interested publisher, so I morphed that project into the university alumni magazine articles on the Success Profiles page of this blog.  The great thing was that I actually got paid for those articles!

I sometimes get frustrated at not having the time or energy to finish that fiction novel, but I keep recalling something that one of the wives of the people I interviewed for the Meaning of Success book said.  She was a writer and interestingly she wrote about being a vegetarian and hating people who eat meat I think, but she said ‘let the writing marinate in the juices of your life.’   Which thinking about that statement right now is ironic considering you probably marinate meat more than you marinate vegetables.  But anyway, she said writing can’t be rushed and it will happen when the time is right.  Whenever I say this on my email club of college friends, my screen writer by night and document proofer friend by day, Robb Lanum, who lives in Los Angeles, gives me a hard time and tells me what he pictures when I say that.  A description of his vision is not suitable for this blog but it has something to do with the word ‘juices,’ and he’s a guy so you can probably infer the rest!

On an unrelated note, Robb finally finished a script based on a challenge I gave him two years ago to write a main stream script.  He completed it a few weeks ago and I, The Annoying Challenger, still have not had the time to read it and others on our email club have already read it.  It pains me actually.

So I keep wondering when all this marinating will be done and when the juices of life will be more manageable so I can write a book that might get published some day…

Oh and by the way, stay tuned for some interesting news about Babble Soft in the next few weeks! 😎

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A Quick SXSW Post – Guy Kawasaki
Mar 14 2009

028I just finished my second day at SXSW.  The first day left me a little hung over, tired, wanting a nap.  I got my 2nd wind right about the time I ran into Erica O’Grady in the Microsoft Windows Mobile Blog Lounge mid afternoon.  Ironically enough 95% of the people in the lounge have iPhones.

Erica is so awesome!  She is one of the 25 people selected as the Austin American Statesman’s Texas Social Media Award recipients.  I was also nominated but people like Erica, who are the master-esses of the social media world, truly deserve it.  I don’t think I had seen her since last year.  She’s one of the happiest people I’ve ever met and tweeted with.  When she stepped out of the lounge, I borrowed her pink hat and asked Brian Solis (who Erica introduced me to) to take a picture of me with another social media/entrepreneur great: Guy Kawasaki.

We spoke with Garage.com (founded by Guy) back when we were doing our first high tech start-up and at one point we had a t-shirt our son wore when he was a toddler that said “Garage.com. My favorite letters are I, P, and O.”  8)

Guy is one of the most down to earth tech entrepreneurs you can meet.  He graciously has me and my blog listed in a few places in his AllTop library sites (Mom Bloggers, Twitterati, Startups, etc.).

I hope I and my panelists are coherent by the time my panel – Building A Web Business After Hours – rolls around on Monday, March 16 at 3:30 pm!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, conferences | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

Lovely Linky Links
Jan 29 2009

Just had to share the following links…

Pre-Judging Other People – Never A Good Idea – I read this post by Thom Singer back on January 17 and it’s been sitting in my in box because I knew I wanted to link to it.  He tells a story about how he was in a vegan restaurant reading Thomas Friedman’s book Flat, Hot, and Crowded and ran into a woman who had heard him speak about networking at the Austin Chamber of Commerce.  She had made assumptions about him based on his talk, and he was unaware of the faux pax he was committing wearing a leather jacket at the vegan restaurant.  A great and entertaining read…especially if you know Thom.

Who You Are And What You Do – I read this one right after reading Thom’s post I mentioned above and thought how appropriate given that on this post Seth Godin discusses how people form a judgment of you online.  If you do certain things, people make judgments based on what they see you do.  The key takeaway for me was “If you’re not happy with the perception you generate, change the words you type and the messages you send.

Love (and Annoying) – Another great one by Seth Godin.  I just love the way he writes and how he ties easily understandable concepts to the marketing of products.  He starts off his post with “The goal is to create a product that people love. If people love it, they’ll forgive a lot. They’ll talk about it. They’ll promote it. They’ll come back. They’ll be less price sensitive. They’ll bring their friends. They’ll work with you to make it better.  If you can’t do that, though, perhaps you can make your service or product less annoying.”  Great advice not only for marketing products but also in life!

The Global Hug Tour – I found out about this on twitter.  It’s an endeavor by 2 people in a small prop plane, flying around the world, delivering 100,000 hugs and $1,000,000 to important causes.  I remember reading somewhere on their site or elsewhere that people need (or should get) at least 7 hugs per day.  Now that’s a lot of hugs if you don’t have little kids because I’m sure I beat the little kid hug daily quota often!  My kids are just so hug-able. 🙂

For just $10 you too can be a Hug Amassador!  This feat is being run by Gail Goodwin and her husband and press will be following them to make sure the money actually goes towards hugs and not a second house!  This endeavor particularly resonated with me because I once heard a story about the orphans in Romania who were never touched.  The babies were left alone to cry and ocassionally given food but never held and cuddled.  The story showed those children when they were older and how difficult it was for them to adapt to society, how they couldn’t relate to others, and how desparately lonely they looked.  I can’t imagine someone not wanting to hold and touch a little baby.  Us humans are such social creatures that sharing a hug can go a long way.  Many of us in the online world know that we can even give virtual hugs by putting someone’s name in brackets so here’s a hug to {{my blog readers}}.

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Babbling About Business and Parenthood
Jan 3 2009

I’ve changed the tag line on the header of this blog from ‘babbling about business, babies, and parenthood‘ to ‘babbling about business and parenthood.’  I haven’t done any posts about babies in a long time and given that I finally completed my daughter’s baby album, I’ve closed the book on the baby stage of my life.

However, that does not mean I won’t be doing posts about babies ever again.  Nicole, my new partner and resident baby sleep expert, and I will be putting some baby related posts up on The Babble Soft Blog.  Our NEW blog (designed by none other than Swank Webstyle, who designed this blog) just went live last week and we don’t even have more than our “Hello World” post on it yet, but we’ll soon be posting baby tips and advice on a periodic basis there.  We welcome great guest baby tips as well!

I’ll continue to post about the collision/intersection/graceful (and not-so-graceful) interweaving of the entrepreneurial similarities between business and parenthood here on entrepreMusings.

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In The Blink Of An Eye, It Is Over
Dec 31 2008

magic-8-ball-2009-1magic-8-ball-2009-2And so 2008 comes to an end and the old saying ‘time flies’ is yet again reaffirmed.  It seems to go faster with each passing year, especially with little kids jumping all over you, sucking your energy dry underfoot.  Each year is a smaller fraction of our total lives.  To our kids each day seems like an eternity full of laughter, playing, occasional tantrums, asking their parents for candy, and fun!  And to us grown ups, the movie of our lives keeps going faster…slipping through our fingers….with fond and sometimes hard memories behind us and interesting times ahead. 

So I’d like to thank all of you dear readers for joining me on my entrepreneurial parenting and business journeys.  I haven’t spent much time trying to monetize my blog, and I don’t make much money from it.  So your blog comments, your emails, your conversations, and your tweets mean so much to me!  Most of us bloggers don’t blog for money, we blog to share ideas and to create conversations whether on or off the blog that might not have happened before. 

My favorite form of compensation comes from those of you who comment directly on a particular blog post.  The way to a blogger’s heart, after all, is through comments left on her blog. 😀

But, I also very much enjoy the comments from those who recieve the free blog updates via email who simply hit ‘reply’ and let me know their thoughts.  I get many replies on twitter, and I wish someone would figure out how to integrate tweet replies directly into the blog comments, but that hasn’t happened yet (as far as I know).  

And then there are those of you who I talk to on the phone or see in the business community who mention they read my blog and mention a particular post.  I’m often taken by surprise by who reads my blog and what their interpretations are of my posts.   The people who know me well usually know how to read in between the lines, and I keep it fairly tame because my mother and my favorite aunt read my blog!  I wouldn’t want to shock them too much.

Special thanks goes to my husband, Erin, (who I honestly don’t think really reads most of my blog posts or he might feel more compelled to comment on some of my snarkier ones) for making sure this blog works smoothly.  He upgrades the blog when a new version comes out, he installs the latest/greatest WordPress plugins that help make this blog as effective as it can be, and helps troubleshoot any random technical glitches that occur.  He is our resident rocket scientist, and I have yet to see a technical problem that he can’t figure out. 


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The Entrepreneurial Ledge
Nov 20 2008

I had to talk myself off the entrepreneurial ledge yesterday.  Of course there is the often publicized glamour of entrepreneurship and then there is the unsung story of the not so glamorous side.  I think most entrepreneurs are a little bit neurotic, myself included, so when I heard that the first company I was founding CEO of officially shut down recently, I entered a state of…well I still haven’t figured out what state that is.  

The company was alive for 11 years.  For 11 years it provided experience, salaries, products and services to employees and customers.  I left in 2001 and my husband, Erin, who was the CTO left in 2003, and we have had nothing to do with the day to day operations since.  But the profound affect it has had on me cannot be reduced to mere words.  In many ways, it was like my first child (without the diaper changing).  It was a difficult parting of ways for me both personally and professionally.  

I knew a few good people who were still there and through the years they have reached out to me to help them find another job or share their experiences about working there.  Good people came and went.  Some bad ones came and went and some bad ones stayed, but overwhelmingly greatness was among us.  I heard about the company shutting down a few weeks ago but just mentioned it to a group of college friends on an email group I’ve been a part of since 1995 (pre-social networking sites for people who love mushrooms, pre-blogging, pre-twitter).  I had convinced one of the guy’s in the group to join us for the journey and he replied by saying this: 

Aruni – I know I’ve poked at you and Isochron since I left but I have to say it was the best business class I could have taken. This piece of Oil Field Trash was polished quite a bit while in Austin. I do want to thank you and Erin for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. From that trial I learned sooooo much. I’m not sure I ever put it together sufficiently for you guys to know what the experience meant for me. Thanks! You and Erin were a rock I could depend on during my time in Austin as well. It meant a lot.

When I read his note on my phone before going in to an invitation only IBM Women Entrepreneur’s Webcast event held at IBM, the flood gates cracked a little.  I was sitting in my car in the parking lot so I had to pull myself together and go in.  The rest of the day I was on edge and I still am. 

I had to walk into my day job after the IBM Webcast and deal with bureaucracy, with people wanting 5 approvals to get something done, with collections, with employee allocations, and with being extremely underpaid because I’m doing much more than I was hired to do.  I had to suspend reality to make it through the day.   I repeated to myself “floodgates don’t open at work” over and over.  If I was a man and punched the wall, it would be more acceptable.  I had a “What am I doing with my life?” moment.  I had a “I’m working for ‘the man,’ I have two kids, I’ve been married for 7 years, we have a house and car payment, I have to keep our insurance benefits, our savings have sunk due to the crazy economic situation, and I feel trapped” moment. 

I had already committed to guest lecture at an executive MBA class yesterday evening so I went in not knowing what would come out of my mouth.  I shared the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and received several questions about Babble Soft and my day job.  I was surprised at how calm I felt giving my talk given the emotional roller coaster I had been riding all day.  One of the students took my card and said he wanted to see if he could help me get introduced to someone for a possible opportunity for Babble Soft.

I also happened to receive an email through facebook from one of my former students (I taught entrepreneurship at The University of Texas at Austin) who happens to be expecting a baby.  He sent me a link to a new book by Randy Komisar who wrote The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living (a book I made required reading in my class) called This I Believe.  Komisar writes about the Deferred Life Plan and how we make excuses about not doing what we want to do and putting off things until the time is right.

So despite all of that, I talked myself off the entrepreneurial ledge because I live in the real world.  The real world is where I have two beautiful children who smile and laugh.  A world where I tell my son after he ate a big dinner tonight that he was a ‘hungry hippo’ and he immediately replies and says in a comedian (trying to make his voice sound deep) tone “There’s a Hungry Hippo in the House!”  My daughter laughs, and I look at him with a smile on my face and know instantly he got his sense of humor from me. 8)

[Hippo photo by my friend Sandy Blanchard]

So I take solace from some words my day job boss told me the other day.  When I asked him why he wanted to hire me he said ‘because he heard I was a natural entrepreneur and he wanted one on staff.’  When I thought about those words later in the day, my soul said ‘thank you grandpa’ because he is who I gained my natural entrepreneurial tendencies from…I just happen to be a woman girl.

I hope both my children will be able to express themselves throughout their lives in ways I was never able to in the past but aspire to in the future.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, social networks, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

I Wanna Write A Blog Post, But I’ll Settle For A Haiku
Nov 12 2008

And I wanna be a cowboy too, but given my crazy self-inflicted schedule of two, three, four, five (yes each kid, the husband, and the house are also job-like at times), I can’t seem to find the time to get all those deep and meaningful posts written.  So, I’ll have to settle for a haiku and hope I win a MacBook Air.  Copyblogger is running a contest where the person who writes the winning Haiku on twitter will win a MacBook Air.  The second and third prizes look interesting too, but winning the MacBook Air will impress my husband more than the Epson printer I just wrote about. 🙂  

Not being one who writes haiku’s often (i.e., probably not since 5th grade), I had to rely on these examples from the Copyblogger post:

“Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. It consists of 17 syllables broken up into three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.

Here are two quick examples found on Twitter Search with the tag #haiku:

Been up way too long / Need about a week’s more sleep / Might not be enough

~ @MFlanders

The furnace is fixed / breath invisible again / how much is the bill?

~ @badboc

Got it? Obviously, the more clever, comedic, or compelling your haiku, the better your chances of winning.”

So here’s my haiku:

Working day and night / To change the world for parents / One diaper a day

I was going to write at the end ‘one diaper an hour’ but since it’s late and my brain isn’t at 100%, I wasn’t sure if ‘hour’ would be read as one syllable or two depending on what city/state/country the judges were from.  So I changed it to ‘a day’ to avoid any controversy.  Plus it can be a stinky (wish you could change that diaper more often) experience in a a start-up/small business/Internet endeavor so I figured if the diaper shoe fits…

Author: | Filed under: blogging, Just For Fun, twitter | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Give A Man A Fish, He Eats For A Day…
Oct 15 2008

Teach her how to fish, she eats for a lifetime.  This year’s Blog Action Day theme is about poverty.  When I last checked the site over 10,000 bloggers had signed up to participate reaching over 11 million readers worldwide.  Last year’s theme was on the environment and I wrote Rock. Paper. Scissors. How Do We All Win? on the topic of the environment and cutting down on paper usage. 

How does one break the cycle of poverty? As an entrepreneur, I’m a strong supporter of those who try to make a difference by creating products and solutions that help their local, national, or global community.  All ideas are not created equal, but the people behind them are the ones who can cultivate them into something life changing or learn from their failures, pick themselves up and help others on their paths to create something great. 

Whether entrepreneurial drive is innate or learned one may never know, but we do know that it can be cultivated and nurtured by the right people, resources, and support.  It can also be squashed and abused by people who feel threatened by the passion behind the ideas. 

I have heard several of my favorite bloggers mentioned Kiva.org in the past and I thought it was a really neat concept. So for this year’s Blog Action Day, I’ve decided to donate $100 to a Kiva project.  However, it looks like I’ll have to wait because all of their projects are currently funded! 

Kiva is a site that enables people to give/lend money to entrepreneurs in third world countries who are trying to make a difference in their poverty stricken communities.  You can contribute money towards a small loan for an entrepreneur to help him/her get started or purchase some supplies.  It’s called micro-lending. 

Giving someone the means to try something entrepreneurial to build up their self esteem and add value to their community, is priceless.   Giving them the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship first hand from the school of hard knocks is contributing to their life education.  

So take a look around you and be grateful for what you have despite the challenging economic times ahead for all of us.  If you are reading this blog post, chances are that you are not sitting in a hut somewhere without electricity wondering where your next meal might come from. 

Encouraging ideas, creativity, and entrepreneurship is the way we will see ourselves through this downturn.  Investing in good people with the entrepreneurial spirit is a fabulous thing to do.  Check out Kiva.org and when an entrepreneur and her project surface that you find interesting, consider lending her a few bucks to help her make a difference!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, charities, diversity, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Lovely Links Liven Up Living Rooms
Sep 24 2008

Well, they might not liven up your living room but I didn’t want to write the overused term “Link Love” in the title of this post.  I’ve been meaning to share some links to interesting posts I have read/perused recently and here they are:

Best Mommy Blogs for Parents – Vanessa Van Petten writes a couple of blogs targeted at teens and tweens and she felt my blog was a good one for teenagers.  I’m still far from the teenage years with my kids, but I’m flattered to know my topics are appropriate for teenagers to read!

Massive R2-D2 Cake – Featured on Parents Magazine’s blog called goodyblog.  Wow, what a cake! I tried to get a PokeMon cake for our son’s recent birthday and couldn’t find one.  We had to settle for Speed Racer.

Boutique Up – A site I recently discovered that sends out queries from people looking for products to represent in boutique shops!  Kind of like HARO but for boutiques.

What will Barack Obama do for small businesses and entrepreneurs as president and What Will John McCain do for small businesses and entrepreneurs as president – Wendy at Sparkplugging went out a limb to discuss politics on her blog but did so by focusing on what the issues were for small business owners…specifically ones who work from their home and/or have less than 5 employees.  Both articles are interesting reads.  The one on Obama had many more comments than the one on McCain…go figure!

Carnival of Healing – Many links to many posts about healing, self empowerment and spirituality.  This one was hosted by my online friend Pearl.

Leave Wall Street, Join A Startup – by Fred Wilson, a New York VC.  Good advice since there will be many leaving Wall Street…

Happy Birthday to the reason IttyBiz exists – by Naomi at IttyBiz.  I’ve followed Naomi’s blog off and on since she started it.  She has got some freaking amazing writing talent!  Not everyone can write such humorous, harsh, and informative blog posts.  Can’t wait until she figures out how to weave in a romance novel into her writing style.  I even tried to hire her a couple of times but my emails got lost in her waterfall of emails so I chalked it up to fate and bad timing.  This post will make you laugh and cry at the same time!

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Adventures in Blogging
Sep 9 2008

I’m sure many of you have noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much recently.  It’s not due to lack of desire, but due to lack of time and mental energy.  I have a full list of topic ideas I want to blog about, but by the end of the day after interesting and bureaucratically taxing events, kids, dinner, husband, baths, teeth brushing, catching up on Babble Soft stuff and personal emails, I feel pretty dazed. 

I have blog posts floating around in my head with rarely enough thoughtful time to get them down in a post.  Fortunately, I have had some timely guest posters who have filled in some of the gaps. 

I can’t say I’ll be able to get to a blogging pace (in the near future) that can keep up with my blogging ideas given my current schedule and life situation, but so far I’ve done a better job at posting than Marc Andreessen, founder of Ning and formerly Netscape, who hasn’t consistently blogged since May 2008!  But he’s running a heavily venture backed company so I’m guessing he has just a few more people breathing down his neck than I do.  

I’m glad I’m not in his shoes right now in this economy, with the news constantly talking about the questionable results of social networks from a business model perspective, and with some of the widget partner issues his company is facing.  But Marc’s a tried and true entrepreneur so I’m sure he and his team will figure something out.  If not, he is a millionaire and married to a millionaire so chances are they won’t be out on the streets any time soon. 

Yep, it’s all relative and I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given and the opportunities yet to come.  Thank you to all of you loyal readers for sticking around!

UPDATE: On an interesting note, Seth Godin, the famous author and blogger on marketing tips & ideas, did a post on September 10 called How often should you publish? and in it he says: “Key assertion: you don’t publish it unless it’s good. You don’t write more blog posts than you can support, don’t ship more variations of that software than your engineers can make marvelous.”  So I guess my haphazard blogging is OK because it fits what I can support!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, social networks, venture capital | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Blog Action Day 2008 – Poverty
Aug 27 2008

If you haven’t heard, they are already signing up people for Blog Action Day 2008 and the topic this year will be on Poverty.  If you are a blogger and have thoughts to share on the topic of poverty, go sign up now!  The only requirement is that you do a post on October 15, 2008 on the topic of poverty.  I posted last year for Blog Action Day and the topic was the environment.

My post last year was called Rock. Paper. Scissors. How Do We All Win?  I wrote about ways we could reduce the amount of paper we use by cutting down the paper we receive.  Since last year, I called up and cancelled several of the catalogues that we randomly received, made sure we were getting e-statements instead of paper statements, etc.  We have drastically reduced the amount of unnecessary mail we get, but we still get things that I haven’t figured out how to stop getting!  But I’ll keep on trying.

Check it out, sign up, and share your entrepreneurial and parent related thoughts about poverty!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, environment, FYI | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »

Movie Fun for the Whole Family
Jul 18 2008

Now for a fabulous movie-related guest post by Film.com’s mom blogger, Sue Harvey!

Movie Fun for the Whole Family: Trust Mom on Film, and Your Instincts

Mary Poppins photo from film.com credit to Walt Disney
The best piece of advice my husband and I received before the birth of our first child was fairly simple; trust your instincts. Now, this advice was given in the context of when to pick up a crying baby, but we have found it to be just as effective and useful in many other aspects of parenting as well. While plenty of studies, guidelines and groups exist that are ready and willing to tell parents how to raise their children, I believe nothing trumps parental responsibility, engagement and instinct. That said, I’d like to offer a little more advice – advice about movies suitable for families with small children. 

I have been a movie lover far longer than I have been a parent, and many of the films my Mom shared with me when I was a child are the same films my children and I enjoy watching together today. The movies that never fail to entertain us all are musicals. The range of topics within the genre is practically limitless, and some of  the musicals that have been hits with my children from the time they were about three years old thru the present (they are now aged 12, 10 and six) include Mary Poppins (it’s “practically perfect in every way!”), Singin’ in the Rain  (it’s funny, has great dancing, fun songs and memorable characters), An American in Paris (remarkable choreography, amazing music, visually arresting, ‘s wonderful!), Brigadoon (mysterious, magical, beautiful), The Pirates of Penzance (silly story with catchy, quick lyrics, Kevin Kline as the Pirate King and Linda Ronstadt as Mabel), Annie Get Your Gun (delightful, fun, and featuring Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (funny, good music, great choreography), and On the Town  (what better way to introduce your kids to Frank Sinatra?). 

I quickly realized that even they didn’t understand the story upon the first viewing, they generally enjoyed the songs, costumes, dancing and characters enough to want to watch them again, and again, and again. Each of these pictures provides not only good clean fun, exposure to remarkable talent and craftsmanship, but also a cultural education from which they can only benefit. 

Possibly a more obvious choice for family films would be animated features, particularly those produced by Walt Disney’s Studios and, increasingly, Pixar. I own copies of and have seen many of these films more times than I care to recall, as have my children. They, too, are part of our cultural heritage and I would argue that a childhood devoid of  The Aristocats, 101 Dalmations, the Disney Princess lineup, Fantasia, Fantasia 2000 (personal favorites of my tribe), Finding Nemo, among others, would leave a gaping hole in one’s cultural education.

However, I would also suggest that allowing a child to watch any of these films unsupervised, particularly for the first time, would be a mistake. In case you haven’t seen them yourselves or have forgotten, most of these features involve at least one dead parent and mortal danger for the heroine or hero. This is the stuff of nightmares and phobias – not to mention many tears. These may be classics, but they can also be scary. 

If you seek the kind of video fare I fondly refer to as the Electronic Babysitter the pickings are rich. PBS produces numerous shows, many of which are available on video in addition to their daily programming, which are not only educational and suitable for even the youngest viewers; they are often tolerable for adults, as well. 

We are our children’s first and primary teachers. I firmly believe that if we introduce our children to the best we have to offer, be it films, books, food, music or personal habits, they will naturally develop a taste for quality. Deciding what “high quality” means to your family is where instinct, judgment and responsibility come into play. While it can be helpful to consider movies ratings, the only one really qualified to decide what is right for your children and your family is you. So, if you don’t have time to pre-screen a film, talk to the clerk at your local video store or your friends or family, or check out a title on line. But remember, just because the company marketing a film declares it to be “fun for the whole family”, doesn’t make it so anymore than a picture without a rating (as most of the above mentioned musical are) is “inappropriate”; trust me. Or better yet, trust your instincts. 

Sue “Mom on Film” Harvey is a mother of three who shares her passion for film with family-friendly movie recommendations on Film.com, a free online entertainment service on Movies, TV, DVDs, celebrity news and more.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, FYI, Just For Fun, parenting | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

How To Recover From A Scathing Blog Post
Jun 5 2008

Just over a year ago, we officially launched Babble Soft’s first web and mobile application (then called Baby Manager, now called Baby Insights).  A prominent blogger, Jennifer Laycock, whose personal blog is called The Lactivist, a popular blog on breastfeeding, saw the release and created a post that made me feel shocked, anxious, depressed, angry, and misunderstood at the same time.  Jennifer also happens to be the founder, editor, and a writer for Search Engine Guide, a widely read blog on all things search. 

Fortunately, soon after discovering Jennifer’s post, I contacted Connie Reece who blogs at Every Dot Connects.  Connie helped me set up the first incarnation of this blog and gave me advice on how to get started blogging.  She is a veteran blogger and a social media guru.  I took several deep breaths, typed up something that I felt would be a good comment to Jennifer’s post and sent it to Connie for a sanity check.  She gave me a few recommendations and I posted it. 

Turns out that comment led to a few other comments and then an amicable online relationship with Jennifer when we both realized that we were supporters and donators to our local Mother’s Milk Banks.  Jennifer and I now follow each other on twitter and read each other’s blogs.  [As an aside, we offer all eligible milk bank donors a free subscription to Babble Soft applications to help them keep track of their pumped milk!]

Last week, Connie decided to create a case study on the incident and did a post called Case Study: Engagement Turns Critics into Allies.  Where she outlines what happens:

Babble Soft, provider of Web and mobile software for parents of newborns

A press release for a new product launch was picked up by an influential blogger who wrote a very negative review.

Every Dot Connects worked with Babble Soft on a strategy to engage the blogger in constructive conversation.

The blogger apologized for the tone of the review and continued to interact with Babble Soft founder via her blog, email and, later, on Twitter and other social networks.

Well soon after, Mack Collier who blogs at The Viral Garden and Marketing Profs did a post about it too called Worried About Bloggers Dissing Your Company? Read This and he starts with:

“Babblesoft founder Aruni Gunasegaram found herself in a position that any company would dread. She had launched a new product that she had hoped would be well-received by her target audience, mothers who breastfeed their children. Unfortunately, the product was immediately reviewed, and shredded, by Jennifer Laycock, a very popular mommy-blogger who blogs at The Lactivist. What happened next is a great lesson for companies wanting to handle crisis-management in the blogosphere.”

Then, Jennifer decided to write her own post about it. I was just beside myself with 3 blog mentions from 3 prominent bloggers within the span of a few days!   Jennifer called her post Bloggers Need To Accept Responsibility Too and she says:

“Last year Aruni was launching her new parenting software. I happened to pick up the press release right as it went across the wires and had some pretty harsh words for the idea on my Lactivist blog.

‘Apparently, the company feels that there’s an untapped market in parents with extreme breastfeeding OCD issues, so they’ve made available some snazzy (I use the word loosely) new software that will allow these Ezzo-wannabes the absolute, total scheduling control that they long for.’

It got worse though. In fact, rereading that post I made more than a year ago I found myself chuckling and wincing at the same time. Chuckling because some lines in my post were really funny, but wincing as I realized just how biting and scathing my critique was. I’m generally a pretty easy going and nice person. I don’t tend to like to rely on snark, and yet there I was, throwing out snark like I was Perez Hilton.”

And continues:

“Ultimately, many of my readers ended up checking out the software and seeing the value in it for certain situations and while I still think the software’s a little on the anal side for the average mom, I fully recognize how helpful it could be for moms who DO need to track things.

Even more important to the story is the relationship that developed because of the way Aruni responded. Aruni became a regular reader of my blog and I became a reader of hers. We follow each other on Twitter and we’ve exchanged quite a few emails over the past year. Not long after the incident, I ended up sending her an email to share how refreshed I was at the way she handled things.

‘I want to compliment you on the way you handled your response to my blog post. I was pretty hard on you guys and you came in with class and style and really did a great job of turning the situation around to make yourself look good. I work in online reputation management and it’s rare to see a company respond so well. Just thought you should know that you gained my respect with that.’

So needless to say, I am honored at their mentions and I have learned a lot in the past year.  I hope I have at least become a better press release writer. 😉

Personally, I think the biggest lesson that I have learned over the year is that although Jennifer’s choice of words were hard to read, her sentiments are reflective of what most new moms and parents think.  It’s not easy to introduce a new way of doing and looking at things to the truly oldest and arguably the most important profession in the world: parenthood! 

I think our applications can help a new mom having trouble with breastfeeding reach the other side of the breastfeeding bridge.  It can help her and her family understand patterns, positions, pumping schedules, etc.  But at first blush, most people don’t think of what we do that way.  The reasons why that’s the case would be a good topic for another case study! It always takes longer and costs more money to build a business than anyone ever thinks when they first start out.  Hence, my recent Fork In The Road post.

I just read a quote I can definitely relate to by James Cherkoff left in the comment section of a blog post that Fred Wilson of A VC did about sharing information on your company:

“Or in the words of Howard Aiken: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.””

I saw it as I was finishing up this post and it made me smile  laugh out loud!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, breastfeeding, case study, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, milk banking, parenting, twitter | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Thanks for the Mentions!
May 29 2008

Trish and I were pleasantly surprised at the number of people who blogged and tweeted about our partnership with eMail Our Military that we announced just before Memorial Day weekend.  We are forever grateful for them in helping us spread the word about Babble Soft giving free subscriptions to Baby Insights and Baby Say Cheese to active duty military with newborns who are members of eMail Our Military!  We’d like to thank each and every one of them! 

Please check out their posts and leave them a comment and let them know how great it is that they picked up a partnership created by two entrepreneurs who are trying hard to make a difference in the world.  😀

If you’ve blogged or tweeted about it and we missed it, please let us know and we’ll add you to the list.  Even though it’s past Memorial Day, if you are only now finding out about our partnership, please continue to tell everyone about it because the partnership is ongoing and Father’s Day is just around the corner.  We will still link to your post!

Blog Posts

Fred Wilson at A VC – Memorial Day

Jeff Nolan at Venture Chronicles – Markets are Communities

Maryam Scoble at Maryamie – Memorial Day

Lauren Vargas at This Mommy Gig – Serving the Homefront

Robert Hacker at Sophisticated Finance – Memorial Day

Barbara Ling at – 77 Great Resources for Memorial Day (she links to www.eMailOurMilitary.com)

Jeremy Bencken at PR4 Pirates – Anatomy of an A-List Blog Mention

Omar Gallaga at Austin 360 – Post-Memorial Day Web catch-up

Ashlee Allen of Mama Speaks – Keeping in Touch State Wide

Nicole Johnson at Pick Nick’s Brain – Quick Tip – Logging Sleep


Pistachio – Challenging: newborns. More challenging: while your partner’s on active duty. @emailourmilitary @aruni memday help http://tinyurl.com/5gmmrs

KeithBurtis – (aruni)Happy Memorial Day! Help us spread news of @MailOurMilitary (aka @Dayngr) and @babblesoft partnership http://tinyurl.com/5gmmrs...

MikeChapman – Two of my favorites! @MailOurMilitary and @babblesoft join forces post http://tinyurl.com/5gmmrs

TroyTurner – @aruni , @dayngr FYI – I just fwd’d your offer to some insiders at Walter Reed, Ctr for the Intrepid-BAMC, and Naval Med Ctr-San Diego.

MackCollier – Retweeting @aruni: @MackCollier @MailOurMilitary and I have positive news to share too re: Memorial Day http://tinyurl.com/5gmmrs 🙂

NewMediaJim (we know he tweeted but can’t seem to find the tweet now)

Hametner – @aruni @mailourmilitary Glad to see the partnership between www.BabbleSoft.com and www.eMailOurMilitary.com, looks like a great fit!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby, baby care, baby insights, baby say cheese, blogging, entrepreneurship, twitter | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Alltop Keeps Growing!
May 28 2008

I mentioned before that my blog is listed on Alltop Moms.  Well now thanks to Guy Kawasaki, I’m listed in Alltop Startups and for a brief time I was listed in Alltop Twitterati.  I guess I took too long to write this blog post, because I’m no longer listed in Twitterati.  Maybe I can earn my way back into Guy’s good graces (unless they changed the criteria for being listed there) and find another spot on Alltop in exchange for another blog post about the amazing and ever so ubiquitous Alltop concept! 😉

He also added an Alltop Adoption page so for those of you interested in people who write about adoption, adopting kids, their adopted kids, and other people’s adopted kids, check it out!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, Just For Fun, random stuff | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Alltop Keeps Growing!