I have not been involved in the day to day activities or in many of the big achievements since it’s founding because I chose to take more of a behind the scenes role. I gave birth (and have the illustrative scars) to the kids who inspired it’s creation, so I think that counts for something. 😀
I decided to take care of myself and our kids while my ex husband and others did much of the heavy lifting to get us where we are today. The kids seem reasonably well adjusted despite the chaos, and they have benefited greatly from being able to attend MIS! I guess we will know if they turned out alright, if they are sane in their 30’s.
It has been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy having a lot of fun as well as re-learning lessons that I should have learned the first time! Lesson learning is tricky because each time the situation seems to have slightly different variables and people involved so you unwittingly let your guard down thinking you should give the people involved and the scenario the benefit of the doubt. But then boom, you get a little blindsided. In hindsight it is much easier to spot the red herring. [insert red herring emoji] However, the recovery time is faster, you see the signs earlier which means you don’t put your guard down as much, your good friends become greater friends, the experience makes you stronger, there’s a lot of red wine involved, and you (well me) gets just a bit wiser.
I don’t often publish promotional content on my blog, but when someone reached out to me for this campaign that goes through the end of March 2015, I thought it was worth sharing. You can help an entrepreneurial woman towards achieving her dream by checking this opportunity to help via Kiva.org out. Please watch the video and read the information about how you can participate below.
More than seven billion people live on Earth. That’s seven billion hearts beating. Seven billion bodies breathing. Seven billion minds creating thoughts and ideas all over the world. Yet, so many face struggle everyday all around us. Even so, there is one thing that will never cease to be created regardless of the struggles: dreams. Dreams created from the the slums of a bustling gray city, to the parched land of a an isolated farm, to the refugee camps of a war-torn nation.
On March 8, we honor the dreams of a group of people who have been told not to dream. A group of people who have been told “they can’t” more times than they have been told “they can.” A group who has faced abuse for being born the way they are. A group of people commodified and enslaved. A group who brings life into this world, but who are often powerless over their own. We honor women.
To celebrate International Women’s Day – and the days that follow – Kiva has launched Kiva.org/Dreams to spotlight the power of women because it’s their dreams that make our world better.
By visiting Kiva.org/Dreams, you can back a dream by choosing a woman whom Kiva should lend $25 to. There is no cost to you. By choosing her, you help her to follow her dream of starting or growing her business, sending her children to school, and ultimately, gaining financial independence.
When women have the resources to make their dreams a reality, the world changes. More children go to school, more food is grown, and nations are more peaceful and prosperous. A case in point: if women farmers had equal access to farming assets and finance, they could increase their crop yields up to 30% and 150 million people who go hungry every day would be able to eat.
Kiva.org is the world’s first and largest crowdfunding platform for social good with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Since 2005, Kiva and their growing global community of 1.3 million lenders have crowdfunded more than $675 million in microloans, backing the dreams of 1.6 million people.
By contributing to the success of an entrepreneurial woman who has overcome obstacles, we discover so much more about our own resiliency, possibility, and potential. Each of us has a part to play.
Together we can make dreams a reality for thousands of women around the world. So in honor of International Women’s Day and the power of women, back a dream at Kiva.org/Dreams.
I wonder why we don’t celebrate Boxing Day (aka St. Stephen’s Day) here in the US? It seems like a mighty fine holiday to me! The weeks leading up to the holidays seemed extra busy this year, so I had to take “holiday card” off the list of things to do this year.
In lieu of a festive blog post, here are some interesting reads:
Time’s Up for ‘Timeout’ – The Atlantic A progressive group of neurology researchers wants to redefine “discipline.” Decisions about parenting affect not only children’s minds, but those of adults as well.
Below are some really great, entertaining, and thought provoking posts & articles. Please check them out and let me know what you think.
Good at math (Seth Godin) – This post arrived in my in box after my 9 year old daughter told me she wasn’t good at math. I told her she was too young to make that decision. I told her that only after she has taken Calculus that she could she tell me she didn’t like math or it wasn’t her best subject. She then asked me what Calculus was and she, her brother and I laughed out loud at that silliness. 🙂
Get Lucky (Fred Wilson) – Fred appears to be one of the luckiest people I know. A famous VC and blogger, great family, good health, etc. He links to an article Richard Wiseman wrote on lucky and unlucky people. He said the money quote was “My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.”
I was fortunate enough to be invited to be one of the coaches at this year’s InnoTech Women in Tech Summit event. InnoTech Austin, presented by Presidio, returns to the Austin Convention Center on October 15, 2014. The 11th annual event will include all new topics and speakers for a fresh and exciting conference.
I have not had the opportunity to attend InnoTech in the past. I’m looking forward to the experience and to networking with a bunch of new and interesting people. For those of you in Austin, I look forward to seeing you there!
Last night I attended a Women@Austin event where they gave the first Elevate award to someone who has had a great impact on women entrepreneurs. It went to my long time mentor and adviser, Jimmy Treybig, founder of Tandem Computers.
Jimmy is one of the few people to take a company from $0 to $2.3 billion. I feel so lucky to have had him as a mentor, friend, and adviser over the last 15 years. Check out page 26 for an article I co-wrote on him for the Rice Alumni magazine called Successful Companies Require Successful Teams! He gave a great speech last night on the importance of women in the entrepreneurial community and how the fundraising process works for both women and men.
I was asked to contribute a quote about Jimmy for the award. Janice Ryan, co-founder of Women@Austin, read an excerpt of my quote as well as quotes from others before he was given his award. Here’s my full quote:
“Jimmy is one of my favorite people to talk with about business and life. He’s always made himself available to discuss my ideas, encourage me, and offer me different ways of looking at things. He’s been a wonderful cheerleader for me during great times and challenging times. He tends to look at the whole person and evaluates them through a lens of whether they are smart, kind, have the ability to create great opportunities in their chosen market, and can lead/motivate a team of talented people…regardless of their gender, ethnicity, kid situation, or even if they have blue hair or tattoos! Plus, he always buys me nice lunches”
I look forward to the next Women@Austin event. There were some very accomplished and powerful women in the room last night. The energy was palpable!
I finally faced a bigfear of putting my “art” out there for the world to judge, hate, like, love, or be indifferent about. It’s been a multi-year endeavor, and I published them online via DistroKid back in March 2014. Getting them on the sites below was the easiest part of this whole endeavor and apparently I’ve made $10.50 on them in March and April! There’s a two month lag in reporting sales via DistroKid. I wasn’t sure I’d even get $5, so I’m excited about the extra $5.50 that I can use to buy lottery tickets!
I didn’t create the songs for money. I created them to stay partially sane during a very strange and eye opening period in my life, and I wanted to see if I could actually go from nothing to something consumable (darn entrepreneurial genes) in the world of music. From what I hear in the music business, if I recoup my investment in a decade, I’ll be lucky. To me the pay back is my kids humming my songs as well as some of their classmates telling me they downloaded them because they liked them…priceless!
Here’s the sparse facebook page for what I call this haphazard musical endeavor: Metaphor Mania. You can find the songs here:
Co-written by Aruni S. Gunasegaram (lyrics & singing) and Brett Jason Wintermeyer (musical arrangement). Produced, arranged, & recorded by Ron Wikso. Chris Tondre (Guitars and Bass), Derek Morris (Keyboards), Chad and Natasha Hudson (Background Vocals), Ron Wikso (Drums). Album cover designs by Marla Shane .
I posted the song links on facebook a couple of months ago and received some encouraging feedback. Just like I like, love, hate, and don’t care for some songs, I suspect others will feel the same about these, but I finally did it! And, as they say, “beauty is in the eye (ear) of the beholder!”
My kids are helping me create YouTube videos for the songs since they know how to use iMovie and I have no clue how to make a video. We are still searching for additional appropriate random photos so it’s likely the videos won’t be ready until after summer’s over and we return from some photo worthy summer trips.
Thanks for taking the time to listen to them and share them if you like them. As always, I appreciate all of you readers and friends who have stuck around for so many years through my entrepreneurial, parental, and musical endeavors…
The following is a guest post from Bernd Schoner. Schoner was the founder of ThingMagic, LLC, a garage-grown RFID technology company led by a small group of MIT Media Lab graduates. Young and fresh-face, Schoner guided his company through the ups and downs of a start up that ultimately sold to Trimble Navigation, a multi-billion dollar, multinational tech company, where he currently works as the VP of Business Development.
The Primadonna Genius: Not surprising, technical expertise is the one skill a high-tech founding team can’t do without. You need to have a genius or two to get your team off the ground. The genius’ competency can be highly specific. Let’s face it– your genius is your diva. They will ask for things you’re not sure how you’re going to get done. They will potentially ask you to take a chance on them and look you down with that passion in their eye that compels you to say “yes.” If you’re lucky, your genius will not only bring technical expertise to the table, but also a set of commercial contacts too– an entourage of sorts.
The Leader: Running a new company in a consensus-driven democratic process has its limits, especially when hard decisions need to be made that affect everybody’s lives. Consensus usually requires compromise, which is not necessarily in the best interest of a new tech venture. A founder group with a clear leader in its midst has it easier. Being the leader doesn’t mean more stock or equity, nor does it mean the leader will necessarily be CEO. It just means that the co-founders trust one of their own and are willing to follow, if indeed there is conflict and controversial decisions need to be made.
The Industry Veteran: Any competent marketer can study an industry, get quick insights into how it works, understand who the key players are, and identify products that may prove lucrative for a small venture. However, it takes a long immersion in the marketplace to call yourself an insider, to understand the subtleties of the competitive landscape, to recognize people as true assets (oftentimes despite their titles), and to look through the propaganda of technical collateral and PR campaigns. That’s why the industry veteran is helpful.
Sales Animal: Young high-tech companies are at constant risk of forgetting that they actually need to sell the wonderful technology they invented. A Sales Animal on the founder team helps to contain that risk. The combination of technical insight, founder authority, and sales experience is a hard-to-beat advantage in the competitive marketplace.
The Financial Suit: Professional controllers and CROs are readily available for hire to fill the financial gaps on your team. Remember, though, that financial talent often has its own agenda. Understandably, they are trying to build a career, or make money quickly, or own as much stock as possible by the time your venture is readying itself for an exit. If you can put a skilled co-founder in charge of overseeing the finance function, you may enjoy a little bit of extra peace of mind.
The Superstar: In the midst of silly little problems like ordering office supplies and keeping the office network running, it is easily forgotten how glamorous the role of high-tech entrepreneur can be. The world wants to think of tech founders as superstars, who are doing what the average man or woman cannot. Groom the superstar on your team and you can use her as the backbone of your marketing, recruiting, and PR strategy. Fortunately, almost any combination of eccentricity, nerdiness, and charisma qualifies a co-founder to become a star.
Every start up is different, but the roles he mentions make sense to me. I think one of the most important roles that some companies overlook is the role of client services. After your Sales Animal has closed a sale, it’s critical to keep customers happy and feeling cared about. Turnover in customer’s is hard on any business, but even harder in a start up where resources are scarce and energy to find new customers is limited. Customers in a technology start-up may be called to serve as references for other potential customers or investors, so in my opinion they should always feel like you are doing your best to do the right thing by them.
This year Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collided. In the US, apparently the retailers decided to start the crazy sales activity just that much earlier and open up Thanksgiving eve. I guess the news folks will tell us if it was worth it. I didn’t venture out or even online to purchase anything on “Black Friday,” Thursday, or whatever. I know people who did. I did venture out today (Sunday) to Target to return some things and get some basics, but there was only the normal crowd there.
At any rate, I’m thankful that I can choose to shop or not shop. I’m thankful for many, many things…mostly that I’m here right now in this intersection of space & time with many wonderful people around me. Plus, I’m easily able to type this post and share these articles with you:
10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn – Huffington Post (“Problems are bad. It’s important to stay happy. I’m irreparably damaged by my past. Working hard leads to success. Success is the opposite of failure. It matters what people think of me. We should think rationally about our decisions. The pretty girls get all the good stuff. If all my wishes came true right now, life would be perfect. Loss is terrible.”)
Every year there is a nationwide effort to encourage kids to think like entrepreneurs called Lemonade Day. This year it was held in Austin on May 5 (cinco de Mayo), 2013 and both of my kids participated with some of their classmates. One location was at the Rookie Triathlon and the other was at Mueller Lake Park. My daughter’s team made a profit of $91. They split $90 three ways and gave $1 to the 3 year old sister of one of the girl’s on the team. Her younger sister is so cute and had a sign that said “buy my sister’s lemonade” that she held while yelling the words on her sign. She drew in many customers by her sheer cuteness and confidence! Although she deserved more than $1, she is only 3 and thought $1 was an amazing amount of money. My sister and her friends are 7 and 8 years old…oh what a few years of living does to change your perspective on the value of $1. 🙂
My son and his buddy are still calculating their returns, but it looks like they made money after deducting costs. I’ve told both my son and daughter that no gloating is allowed. I have a feeling my daughter’s team performed better mostly because of Location, Location, Location!
Lemonade Day is a great way to teach kids about the economics of running a little business and was started to help teach kids about entrepreneurship. The kids create signs and are supposed to figure out what supplies they need and how many drinks/snacks they need to sell to make a profit. It’s fun for the parents too and gives us an opportunity to talk about business, marketing, and selling with our kids. Those are skills that will serve them well for life! Gone are the days of steady jobs that last 20 or 30+ years. Here are the days where most people will hold 10 to 20 different jobs [infographic] at different companies in their lifetime. Might as well teach them how to pick themselves into the job/career that they want!
CELEBRATING 18 Years of BiG BUSINESS, BiG IMPACT AND BiG PARTNERSHIPS
Acknowledging the past, Celebrating the present and Ushering in the future is the theme of BiGAUSTIN’s 18th birthday celebration. On Thursday May 9, 2013 from 6pm-9pm, BiGAUSTIN is inviting friends of the past and present who have been instrumental in establishing BiGAUSTIN’s status as a leader in the small business development sector.
This event will engage past and present clients, instructors, supporters and all whose stories have inspired 18 years of adventure for BiGAUSTIN. This interactive event will consist of food, live music, raffles, and networking opportunities for all in attendance. The BiG celebration will feature the unveiling of BiGAUSTIN’s training room and updated picture displays of current clients and their businesses.
This is a free event and all invited guests are encouraged to bring guests as well. Attendees will have the opportunity to increase their business visibility and forge new partnerships by sponsoring BiGAUSTIN’s training room. Sponsorship packets will be available at the event.
BiGAUSTIN is delighted to have distinguished entrepreneur and speaker Gary Hoover, one of the nation’s foremost experts in small business success having created pioneering book super- store BOOKSTOP, which helped change the nature of book shopping in America. This company was sold to Barnes & Noble for $41.5 million when it was just 7 years old. RSVP HERE…
BiGAUSTIN is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing training services, one-on-one assistance, and loans to individuals who want to achieve self-sufficiency by starting their own small business. BiGAUSTIN assists small businesses to successfully grow by providing comprehensive education, tailored business counseling and flexible loans. BiGAUSTIN’s office which houses most of our staff and our training facilities is located at 5407 N.IH-35, Suite 200 on the 2nd floor.
“I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.” – Edgar Allan Poe Someone on facebook shared that quote recently. Subsequently, two of my girlfriends told me that Poe was one of their favorite authors.
I saw The Raven last year and it was a dark film. Reading about Poe’s life it sounds as if his heart must have been “touched” often. There are more than a few entrepreneurially-minded individuals who had similar characteristics and as we see in the media there are also some famous actors and singers whose sanity has been questioned. Your heart/passion has to be touched to take on the “insanity” of starting a business!
My guess is that most of us keep our hearts protected, otherwise there might be a lot of “insane” people running around. Or maybe we could all do with a bit more insanity (i.e., non status-quo) in our lives…without the judgement and cowardice that often goes along with it. As Albert Einstein said, the true definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Poe doesn’t say whether the touch is one that caresses, holds, scares, confuses, or breaks his heart leaving us readers to wonder what he meant or what touched his heart the most.
This weekend I went to the Blanton Museum of Art exhibit that showcased Tibetan monks building a sand mandala. After spending days and hours creating this mandala out of fine, colored sand, they “dismantle the mandala, sweeping up the colored sands to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists.”
I wonder if entrepreneurs who achieve the most success, not only in dollars but also impact on the world, truly understand that everything is impermanent which results in a shift in how they perceive risk. Steve Jobs could have floundered in his business in the early days, as most entrepreneurs do, instead of becoming a household name for founding Apple and Pixar. I’m sure he and his team threw away many designs or product ideas that they spent countless hours on, but they kept on painstakingly placing the grains of sand on each next iteration. If a few grains of sand shifted in some of the most popular designs he had envisioned in his head, we may never have known he existed. And now even he is gone but his company lives on…for now.
“I saw the movie last night and was deeply impressed with how it was done and the actors rendition of all of their parts. Watching a movie like this gives you perspective on what we have to deal with today in most of our (very lucky) daily lives. The fear & demons Lincoln had to wrestle with must have been tremendous.One line I remember went something like “We can show people that democracy does not have to be chaos.”
As I observe start-ups and small businesses I’ve been involved with, those who have thrived attempt to manage chaos with some sensible structure, coordination among team members, & meaning. Those who don’t have that belief/skill set tend to build continuously chaotic companies with high turnover. Like with a child, the first year or so of chaos and sleepless nights are understandable, but after that healthy parents and healthy kids are expected to start “growing” up so to speak and communicate differently.”
On facebook I posted: “The movie Lincoln is a must see. So well done. Saw it last night. Definitely gives you perspective regarding what people were dealing with then vs. now. Standing up for your beliefs in a smart, intelligent, strategic way is not easy and most go the easy route because the fear of rejection is so huge in many of us.”
The amount of change in our daily lives today gives us very little time to think about our decisions. We often make decisions hastily without taking the time to analyze what is sometimes an overwhelming amount of information. We often don’t make decisions at all because we are too used to the the status quo, we worry what people will think of us, or we are paralyzed with the amount of information we feel we need to sift through. In Lincoln’s time the conflicting information he was receiving was also tremendous, and in his situation there were people’s lives at stake…not just jobs, profits, losses, and Wall Street earnings that many of us deal with today here in the United States.
BiGAUSTIN is excited to begin the Small Business @ Work series with our first event, BiG HealthCARE Opportunities Summit on November 1st, 2012. BiG is teaming up with The Seton Healthcare Family to educate and inform women and veterans about the advancements, changes and opportunities within the healthcare industry through panel discussions, breakout sessions, and workshops.
Participants will be able to gather information on HealthCARE and have the opportunity to network and learn about available self-employment as a CAREER within the healthcare community, have ACCESS to healthcare providers, be able to attend economic RECOVERY breakout sessions for personal needs, and learn what every ENTREPRENEUR should know about the new policies, healthcare acts and how these initiatives will affect their day to day business.
The BiG HealthCARE Opportunities Summit’s keynote speaker, author and small business person of the year 2007: Ms. Colleen J. Payne-Nabors, will share her experience and struggle as she built a multi-million dollar business in the mobile cardiac imaging business