How and Why a School was Born
Jun 6 2015

I was recently given the opportunity to write my story about the founding of The Magellan International School for Latino Magazine.  Here’s the link to the article on our school site: How and Why a School was Born.  It’s been an amazing experience to be involved in the ground floor of starting such a phenomenal school!

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 different people involved so you unwittingly let your guard down thinking you should give the people and the new 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 hopefully someone gets just a wee bit wiser.

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Women@Austin Elevate Award – Jimmy Treybig
Oct 9 2014

Last night I attenjimmy-treybig-women@austin-Oct-2014ded 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!

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The Art and Science of Dreaming
Jan 21 2013

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Thanks For Dreaming Mr. King was the post I wrote last year on MLK day.  I posted it verbatim below. Many of our dreams have come true because of the risks he took.  Why are people so scared of some people’s dreams that they feel the need to kill them?  Many of us are still dreaming and our dreams don’t always come true in our lifetimes.  Maybe one day all of us will dream of good things happening to everyone instead of dreaming of killing others based on their beliefs, ignorance, or desire to change the world to something slightly different.  I’m glad my light brown kids are growing up hardly thinking about the color of their skin.  How much more they should be able to feel and do without someone judging them based on something they were born with.


Martin Luther King, Jr. had a big dream. He had more courage and vision in his pinky than most of us have in our whole bodies. Here is an except from his speech “I Have A Dream.” (Go listen to the recording of his speech at this link).

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Thank you for dreaming Mr. King. You helped changed the world with your courage and the risks you took to make life better for all of our children. Today I will remind the kids what dreaming big can mean.

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Paul Simon Rocks
Nov 6 2011

I saw Paul Simon in concert last night at the Cedar Park Center.  He’s 70.  He was amazing!  He is one of the top singer/songwriters of our time.  Such talent. Simon & Garfunkel (even though they had apparently broken up by then) helped get me through my teenage years because many of their songs helped me process some of the things I was dealing with at the time.  When he sang “Sound of Silence” during his second encore, most of the audience had their phones up recording him.

Why is it some people can discover their passion/talent, be good at and succeed at it until they are 70?  While others, like many of us, seem to fumble around trying to figure it out?  C’est la vie!

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Sandi Aitken – Success To Me
Oct 24 2009

I interviewed Sandi Aitken (pdf) for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, for an article that was published in the Sep/Oct 2006 issue.  My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together a while back and you can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog.  You can see the full article on Sandi by clicking HERE (pdf).  I haven’t connected with Sandi since the interview so I’m not even sure if she’s still at Freescale, but here’s an overview:

Sandi was/is a benefits manager for Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. in Austin.  Previously she was Director of Wellness and work/life programs for Motorola and health and fitness coordinator for Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp.  She was also health and fitness program coordinator, director of nursing, critical care instructor, and director of the cardiac rehab and pulmonary education center for St. David’s Community Hospital.  She was awarded Texas Nurse of the Year and held a Chair position for the Seton Cove board of directors.  She received her MS from UT Austin in Nursing.

She shares:

Success has a lot to do with being true to your life’s purpose, vision, and goals. Often, that means running counter to what our culture’s definition of success is, because so often in our society, success is defined by your material worth or the initials behind your name. Making money is  important on a certain level, but what’s really important is to know your heart, to find your passion. Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.” Like so many things in life, it seems so simple, but there’s probably nothing harder to do.

She goes on to say:

Finding that alignment between your head and your heart, while at the same time not getting caught up in external pressures, is critical.

Oh, if everyone could be true to themselves, what a world this would be.  But as Sandi noted it is so hard to do because being true to ourselves doesn’t always go over well with other people in our lives.  Aligning head and heart is something I struggle with as do many others because what your heart/passion wants you to do in your career and life doesn’t always mesh up with what is practical given life’s responsibilities and other people’s expectations.

I’m working on trying to mesh some of my passion/heart’s desires with life’s practicalities.  Today I scheduled a make-up voice lesson with my voice instructor, Gene Raymond, who I really enjoy working with, and brought the kids with me.  I’ve brought them to a lesson once before.  I bring them coloring books and they color without fussing at all.  I think they think it is funny to hear mommy sing scales and do vocal exercises.  Some of the vocal exercises are quite funny.  🙂

A few of the songs I’m working on right now are Killing Me Softly With His Song (Roberta Flack), Play Me (Neil Diamond – changing the ‘she’s’ to ‘he’s’), and The Rose (Bette Midler).  I have the opportunity to take a lesson with a teacher at a level higher than Gene in this particular style of coaching called Speech Level Singing in a couple of weeks.  This teacher has sung with Bette Midler and trained several American Idol singers.  I’m looking forward to it and hoping I don’t choke!

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Dr. Ari Brown – Success To Me
Sep 20 2009

I interviewed Dr. Ari Brown (pdf) for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, for an article that was published in the July/Aug 2006 issue.  My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together a while back and you can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog.  You can see the full article on Ari by clicking HERE (pdf).

Dr. Brown is a board certified pediatrician at the Capital Pediatric Group in Austin.  She’s the co-author of Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for your Baby’s First Year and Toddler 411.  She received her MD from Baylor College of Medicine and did her residency and fellowship at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital.  She has two children.

She shares:

The hallmarks of successful people are perseverance, self confidence, and satisfaction in what they do. In my daily work, I interact with parents, and I truly think being a parent is the most rewarding thing you could possibly do. A parent who is raising his or her children well, being a good advocate for them, and ensuring that they grow up healthy and strong in every sense of the word is a huge success.

She goes on to say:

My advice to young people looking to be successful in life is this: You can do it all, but you can’t do it all at the same time. Pace yourself. You want to accomplish many things in your life, but at the end of the day, your family is really the most important. Don’t put your family on hold to build your career; you have your whole life to work!

Parenting is one of the hardest yet rewarding things I’ve experienced.  It’s so true that if you can help someone be a better parent and connect with their kids, the world can be a better place.  That’s why I admire those people who take care of children from a childcare or medical perspective.  As a parent, it was great to get affirmation from our kid’s doctors that we were doing OK or to get advice from them on what things we could do differently.

I have to constantly remind myself of the fact that I can do a lot of things but not all at the same time.  I have a hard time pacing myself but I’m learning and trying and saying “no” to many things…even things I want to do but know I can’t do well right now until I get a few things settled.  My kids (as are most parents) are the most important things to me in the world and I hope when all is said and done they grow up knowing, believing, and feeling that so they can do anything (within reason of course) their hearts desire.  🙂

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First Week Of School
Aug 23 2009

School starts next week for most kids here in Austin – public or private.  Many parents are in a flurry getting ready to get their kids back into a routine if they haven’t had one during the summer. For dual working parent families, like ours, who probably had our kids in summer camps it’s probably a shift back to more stricter bed times and potential looming home work days.

For us this is a very special first week of school because our kids will be attending the new Magellan International School (MIS) founded by their dad, Erin Defosse!   It is Austin’s FIRST multi-language (Spanish, English, Mandarin), International Baccalaureate, Primary Years Programme school (pre-K to 2nd) ever and has already set the record for enrollment numbers for a new private school with about 45 students on Day One!  Most private schools start with significantly fewer students.

They will be offering art, music and physical education as part of the standard education and will be teaching using the ‘units of inquiry’ model.  You’ll have to go to the site to learn more about how that model works.  As a person who is rediscovering her passion for singing, offering music is well ‘music to my ears!’

The kids have been involved in getting the school ready from helping to paint, potting plants, running errands, and assembling furniture.  It’s been a great experience for them to see how something that never existed before comes to life.  They might just get the entrepreneurial disease bug.  🙂

As an entrepreneur, it’s amazing to see how much has happened from vision to fruition.  In March 2007, we moved our son to the Austin International School (AIS), a wonderful school whose primary language is French.  Erin grew up in Mexico so he had a strong desire for the kids to be fluent in Spanish.   We really enjoyed the environment and teachers at AIS but given that neither of us knew French, Erin began searching for different alternatives and didn’t find anything suitable so in the Spring of 2008 just before I took the steady, day job, he decided to look into creating one.

Since that time, he along with someone he hired to help him get things off the ground by finding the right Head of School, not only found the perfect Head of School, Marisa Leon, from Colombia but also 3 great teachers – one from Spain, one from Colombia, and one from Chicago.  They all have very sweet personalities and awesome backgrounds.  I’m excited about the kids getting to work with their respective teachers.  It will be interesting to see how they all adapt to living in the United States in a city that’s had over 100 degree temperatures for quite some time now.

So 20 or so months ago, MIS was a vision in Erin’s mind and now it is reality.  I know it will positively effect thousands of kids who will surely go out and make a wonderful difference in this world in not only one language, not even two, but three languages.  As a writer, I have come to appreciate the power of language both written and oral in changing one’s own world and the world at large.  Oh to have such power in more than one language…what a gift to our kids.

So cool! 8)

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Susan Hays – Success To Me
Jul 21 2009

I interviewed Susan Hays (pdf) for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, for an article that was published in the March/April 2006 issue.  My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together a while back and you can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog.  You can see the full article on Susan by clicking HERE (pdf).

Susan is a lawyer with her own practice.  Previuosly she worked with Waters & Kraus, LLP and Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP.  She served as briefing attorney for Texas Supreme Court Justice Rose Spector.  She earned her JD from Georgetown University and was the Dallas County Democratic Party Chair from 2002-2005.  She is also the co-founder of Jane’s Due Process and received Texas Monthly’s Best Lawyers in Texas under 40.

She shares:

Another Biblical adage that I think resonates really well with the notion of success is, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I absolutely believe that we have a duty to do good with what power and influence we’re given. It really upsets me when I see someone who has achieved a
high office but doesn’t use it for the betterment of the state or country

She goes on to say:

I don’t think luck, if you define it as 100 percent chance, has much to do with success; success has much more to do with a willingness to seize interesting opportunities. Successful people see opportunities as challenges and not something scary. Wildly successful business people are smart enough to spot a need and gutsy enough to go out on a limb.

Susan has done a lot of great things for her community and to help young people, especially pregnant teens via Jane’s Due Process.  So many of us have been given so much and we don’t always put our resources, skills, and talents making the biggest difference we can.  It does take hard work, wrestling with your definition of yourself and society, as well as facing your fears to make the biggest impact we can.  Seize those opportunities when they come your way!

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Jack Baum On Success – Three Legged Stool
Apr 28 2009

Jack Baum was one of my favorite investors and board members at the first company I founded.  He was outspoken, introduced us to key customers and other key investors, and was a real supporter of us founders.  He isn’t afraid to say what was on his mind even if it was not politically correct.   He also took time to listen to our perspectives and since he is an entrepreneur himself, he could relate to us.

I interviewed Jack (pdf) for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, for an article that was published in the November/December 2005 issue.  My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together a while back and you can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog.  You can see the full article on Jack by clicking HERE (pdf).

Jack is the President/CEO of Food, Friends & Company, which owns Cozymel’s Mexican Grill and is now creating an upscale seafood restaurant called Red Sails, as well as a Pan-Latin concept called Tango. He founded Canyon Café, Sam’s Café, and Newport’s in Texas as well as Sagebrook Technology Partners, an investment firm that provides capital to early-stage technology companies. (Sagebrook subsequently merged with 2M Capital.)  Has competed in five Ironman triathlons and finished in the top tier in the amateur division.

The main point he wanted to share was:

When I look at the traits of successful people, I think of a triangle or a stool with three legs. First, successful people have meaningful relationships with their family and friends.  Second, they take the selfishness and the ego out of making money and elevate
what they do to make money to a point where it’s good for society.  And third, successful people know how to recharge their batteries.

He also shared the following advice:

When I talk to young people, I often use the metaphor of training for a marathon, which is something I know a lot about, to illustrate how to be successful. I know I can increase my training by 5 percent a week without injuring myself. If my goal is to run a marathon, and the longest run I’m capable of today is three miles, I then calculate how long it’s going to take me to be ready and I can enter a marathon after that date.

I think the same thing happens in life. A lot of young people coming out of college are rushing to get their careers started, but I think they need to look at it more as a marathon than as a sprint. I believe they need to say to themselves, “Here are the tools that I need to put in my toolbox to be successful. I’ve got plenty of time to do it. I don’t have to do everything today.” If they can have that perspective, they are more likely to stay balanced and to keep each leg of the stool on the ground.

I have a lot of respect for Jack.  He seems to have found ways to keep his three legged stool balanced for the most part from what I’ve seen.   He flew in to speak to my entrepreneurship class a couple of times and was always a great hit with the students.

The marathon analogy works well for start-ups and life.  There are many times in an entrepreneurial endeavor you feel like just giving up because it’s just too hard and all your muscles ache and your brain is fried.  But you get up and keep going until you make it over the hump or you hit the wall.  Some companies make it across the finish line, some make it but fall apart afterwards, some make it in record time and are the darlings of the race, and some people’s mind/body just have to call it quits because that’s just how it has to be at that point.  They pick themselves up and try again later with another company.  And such is life.

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Randi Shade On Success
Mar 8 2009

Randi Shade is a friend of mine and she is currently a member of the Austin City Council.  She and I were both doing our first high-tech start-ups around the same time many moons ago.  I interviewed Randi for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, for an article that was published in the November/December 2005 issue.  My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together and you can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog.  You can see the full article on Randi by clicking HERE (pdf).

Randi received her BA from UT in 1988 and her MBA from Harvard.  She is currently an Austin City Council member and mother to two young kids.  She founded Charitygift, a company that allows people to make donations to charities via the Internet.  She was then the VP of gift cards for the company that acquired Charitygift.  Previously she was the director of the Entrepreneur’s Foundation and founding executive director of the Texas Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (now called the OneStar National Service Commission).  Shade was responsible for launching AmeriCorps in Texas.

We started the article with this quote by Randi:

Success to me is living a life that matters. I’ve tried to do that, combining my experiences in government, business, and philanthropy to do meaningful work, but I feel that you never really “achieve” success. You never get to do the touchdown dance, or cross the finish line, because success is a moving target.

She then went on to say.

When I went to business school, there were many people who said, “It’s important to spend the first third of your life learning, the second third earning, and the last third serving,” as if you can cap your career off with service, and it’s something you do in retirement. I completely disagree with that. I think you need to be doing all three throughout your life, simultaneously, and I believe that is a big part of success.

I think it’s true that ‘success is a moving target.’  Once you accomplish something you can savor it for a little bit but then it’s on to the next thing.  Here in the Western world we also define success in more material terms than in other cultures although the Western influence is strong and has permeated throughout the globe.  Other cultures sometimes measure success when one achieves nirvana or a state of being free from suffering and wanting.  It seems to me that both measures of success are fleeting unless you happen to be able to sit under a tree day & night and if you don’t have kids. 🙂

It is important to mix learning, earning, and serving, but I think the definitions of what those mean to different people are as varied as the colors in a rainbow.  I am always trying to learn from my observation of people.  People are fascinating to me so watching them, reading about them, and connecting with them helps me serve them.  I also think serving can be defined not only in the typical community service point of view but also being the best parent you can be to your children.  Ensuring your children are educated and taught to respect others is a huge service to the community and humanity.  I’m sure there are many of us who have seen the results of bad parenting on our society and even if you are not earning dollars while you are a stay at home parent, you are earning huge social capital, in my opinion, by contributing good, productive human beings into society.

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Liz Carpenter on Success
Feb 18 2009

Now for the next highlight of one of the people I interviewed for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, on Liz Carpenter that was published in the March/April 2005 issue.  You can check out the post I did on Mort Meyerson, former CEO of both EDS and Perot Systems, for some background information.

My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together.  You can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog. The series started as Success To Me and during the middle of last year we changed it to Self Starter to focus more on entrepreneurs.  When we told them we weren’t able to continue due to our other commitments, they brought the series in house.  You can see the full article on Liz Carpenter by clicking HERE (pdf).

Liz received her BA from UT in 1942.  She was the White House press secretary to Ladybird Johnson.  She is the author of several books and uses humor extensively not only in her writing but also in her speeches and day to day conversations.  One of her first books was called “Start with a Laugh,” which was a first hand account of writing speeches during her white house years.   She would be about 88 years old right now and was an active supporter of the women’s movement.

We started the article with this quote by Liz:

To me, being able to use your time, hopefully profitably, doing what you want to do, and finding happiness in it, is success. I think the keys to success are sharing and having a generous heart and a sense of humor. Another trait of successful people is that they are aware — they have inquiring minds.  And finally, people who are successful are committed to taking risks and to walking through open doors. If you don’t trust yourself to take a risk, you’re likely to be left out of greater success.

She then went on to say.

There’s an old quote from the women’s movement: “Men are made anxious by failure. Women are made anxious by success.” I think women have gotten much braver since the start of the women’s movement in this country, and it thrills me that now we are not so anxious with success. We now help each other achieve it.

I agree that many women (myself included) don’t really feel comfortable with success outside the home environment.  I know that sounds strange, but I’m still on the cusp of the generation of women who grew up with mothers (who may or may not have worked outside of the home) who were still ‘programmed’ to think about life, womanhood, wife hood, and motherhood in a certain way.

There have been many changes in society since we were children and as women we have many more opportunities than our mothers had (without having to worry as much about the glass ceiling and with having no help from our spouses), but many of us still struggle with defining our roles.  I imagine the same is true for men who now find themselves much more involved in child care than our fathers were.  With many more women working (by choice sometime during their children’s lives) than ever before, men have to be more involved in the day to day business of house management and child care because we often don’t have the nearby family support system that used to exist.  Our mother’s who had to work or chose to work in many cases had to do everything without much support from their spouse.

So it’s no wonder we sometimes still feel residual anxiety about success because with success comes worry about how we will manage the rest of our lives with kids…because I think it’s already been proven that although we can have it all, we can’t have it all at the same time!

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The Stuff of Dreams
Jan 19 2009

barack_obamaTomorrow is the inauguration of the next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.  The post I did called A Vote for Brown, Brains, and Change after he was elected was one of the most commented-on posts I’ve written on this little’ ole blog.  It’s a historic event for America because as pretty much everyone in the world knows, it is the first time we will ever have a brown person, who also happens to be extremely smart and qualified, at the head of what is still the most powerful nation in the world.

There is much hope pinned on him to keep the US a strong world power and save us from the descent we are now experiencing.  I believe that if he continues to openly communicate with the American people that he will set the realistic expectations that it could take as long to get out of the world wide economic quagmire we find ourselves in as it took us to get into it.  He has a lot of challenges ahead of him and it comes down to each and every one of us contributing by continuing to work hard and helping others, as good Samaritans do, to help them get back on their emotional or financial feet one family at a time.

I was watching Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech (August 28, 1963) earlier today on CNN and was moved, as I usually am, at his words.  Just over 45 years ago, colored people could not drink from the same water fountain as White people.  They could not stay in the same hotels or hotel rooms as White people.  They could not sit in the same place on the bus. They could not get access to the same education.  They could not play on the same football teams.

MLK and all of the people (White, Black, Brown, and blonde, red, hair-dyed, and dark haired people) who believed in his dream, knew that one day the children of the slaves and the slave owners would be able to sit down together for dinner as equals.  They would be able to go to the same restaurants and stay at the same hotels.  His dream took time to achieve but now almost half a century later most of his dream has become real.  If he had not been killed for voicing his dream out loud, he would be 80 years old today enjoying his 4 children and granchildren.  If he had not taken a stand, the world might have been a different place.

Not only colored people but also women have been able to achieve amazing things because of the barriers broken down by men and women who came before us.  I am so grateful for the strong women I have met along my path who have helped me and instead of pushing me down, they offered their hands and their hearts to pull me up!   These people fought hard to make our lives easier, and as I start to cross mid-life, I not only look ahead of me but also behind me to offer my hand in help to others.

The Obama experiment is a new one not only for the US but also the modern world.  For any experiment to work, we as a nation need to be fully on board.  Be skeptical, but push ahead with gusto.  Put cynicism aside for a while and have faith that with our words and actions we can make a difference for the world!

A friend of mine, who I know is wrestling with his dreams although he won’t admit it out loud, recently told me that some philosopher said something like “we can change the world by changing the songs (narratives) we pass on to our kids.”  The stories we tell our children about someone’s beliefs, someone’s skin color, someone’s gender are the stories they carry with them the rest of their lives.  The stories have changed in the US with regards to brown people even from when I was a child, yet I still struggle to change those internal narratives even now.  The stories have changed also with regards to women/girls.  We still need to continue to change them for the positive.  My grandfather once told me that one day the people of this world will all be a nice tan color so in some small way it became OK for me to marry a White man and have tan colored kids.   He told me a bunch of other stories that were hilarious but not appropriate to blog about! 🙂

But the world still seems to have trouble changing the stories about people’s religious beliefs as we continue to see in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  The children are taught to hate and mistrust others based on their religion because that is what they see and hear on a daily basis.  I wonder how we can help change the stories and dreams for those children?

In my mind, getting an education is the single most important way to continue to enhance the lives of each and every one of us, our children, and the world’s children.  Tolerance and understanding come from open minds, open hearts, and trying new things.

As you think about how we can help change those children’s stories, I leave you with a YouTube video of Martin Luther King’s speech given in 1963 (see below).  Isn’t technology amazing sometimes?!

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Mort Meyerson on Success
Jan 11 2009

I used to co-write articles for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine called The Alcalde. It was one of the things I had to give up when I started a day job.  My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I enjoyed doing them but it took more time and didn’t pay enough money for either of us to  justify being able to keep doing them in either of our schedules going forward. The articles are listed on the Success Profiles page of this blog. But we had a good run with the first article on Mort Meyerson (pdf) running in the Jan/Feb issue of 2005 and the last one in the Sept/Oct issue of 2008. The series started as Success To Me and during the middle of last year we changed it to Self Starter to focus more on entrepreneurs. They have apparently brought the series in house or found someone else to continue the series which goes to show you everyone is replaceable!

I blogged about a few of the more recent ones we did but not some of the initial ones, so I am going to start from the beginning and do some posts on the older ones where I highlight a quote or two from each article. You can see the full article on Mort Meyerson by clicking HERE (pdf).

Mort is the former President of EDS and former Chairman & CEO of Perot Systems. He currently leads 2M Companies and the Morton H. Meyerson Family Tzedekah fund. He received his BA in 1961 in Economics and Philosophy. He was at Perot Systems from 1992 to 1998 when the company went from $100 million to $1 billion in revenue. He was at EDS from 1975 to 1986 when the company went from $200 million to $4.4 billion.

We started the article with this quote by Mort:

When I first retired in 1986 at 48 years old, I asked myself the question, “Is this all there is to life?” I had been a CEO, I had financial security, I had great friends and a devoted family. I wasn’t unhappy, but I didn’t feel fully successful given my financial and work success.

He then went on to describe his philosophy on giving which is based on the framework of the Jewish philosophy of tzedakah.

So now our foundation strives to be a node in a neural network called the greater community of human beings trying to help each other. I am a connector. It’s interesting that that’s what I did in business for 40 years. So, I have been applying part of my business expertise within the tzedakah perspective, and I find it very rewarding. Through the concept of tzedakah, I’m beginning to feel more whole, more successful, than I did in 1986 when I retired from EDS and in 1998 when I retired from Perot Systems.

I (Aruni) have always found it interesting that in my search for meaning I have run across so many others with far more financial and material wealth than I certainly have who are searching for the same thing. I meet many with much less material wealth searching also for understanding and peace. I have run across very few people who are completely OK with who they are and where they are in life and 99.9% of those people are kids.

There is always something in between the black & white lines in an article, a newspaper feature, or a TV story that can never be accurately conveyed to the listener or the viewer. Most of us know this, yet we still make assumptions about people and situations as if their inner essences are completely different than ours…but are they?

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A Vote for Brown, Brains, and Change!
Nov 4 2008

I haven’t written about politics on my blog for a variety of reasons but mostly because I think everyone has a right to their own opinion and my blog is primarily about business and parenting…not politics.

However, given that a historic, unprecedented event has just happened in our lifetime, I felt compelled to write this post.  I am SO excited that Barack Obama was elected to be the next president of the United States!  Not just because I agree with much of his political philosophy, but also because he’s brown, has brains, and has the potential to heal wounds created throughout the world.

If you are someone who has not grown up with brown skin, this might not make sense to you but in my opinion this is a huge affirmation of the American dream.  My uncle, a geography professor, was turned away from a restaurant while visiting Virginia New Mexico because of the color of his skin.  When I was 8 or 9 years old, a blonde little boy turned to me in the walkways outside my elementary school and yelled at me calling me the ‘n’ word.  I had never heard that word before, yet I felt the hate emanating from this young boy, and I still remember the fear I felt standing there all alone wondering why this boy hated me so much. 

I’m not even Black (I’m South Asian), but I (and other members of my family) were lumped into the non-White category.  When I lived in West Texas, the difference was even more pronounced.  I grew up self conscious of my skin color and even now I have moments where I wonder if I truly fit in…despite being married to a White man!   Women and Black men have had to consistently work twice as hard and be twice as good to be recognized at the same level as White men in this country. 

Time will tell if Obama was the right pick, but the fact that he was picked in this country in 2008 means to me that we’ve reached a turning point in our history.  People who are not White and not even men (thanks to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin) now have a living breathing example of how it can be done.

Obama, to me, epitomizes working hard (no riding daddy’s coattails), focusing on education, prioritizing family values, and taking a thoughtful analytic (that man is smart!) approach before acting.  As an added bonus, he appears to know how to speak proper English! 🙂

Not only has he broken color barriers, he has broken social media barriers.  He has run the biggest, first, and most effective political campaign that has ever been run (oh what money can buy)!  By his campaign’s avid use of twitter, YouTube, blogs, MySpace, email campaigns, etc., he has single handedly affirmed an entire new industry and demonstrated how using the Internet and social media can have a huge impact on the success of campaigns, businesses, and causes.  If there was any doubt by individuals and big companies as to the efficacy of social media, it has now been shattered!   

I was 3 when I came to the United States with my parents, and we landed in Pennsylvania.  I was 21 when I became a naturalized citizen in New Mexico.  I am now many years older, live in Texas, and tonight I saw the window of opportunity open wider for my light brown kids…

God Bless America!

Author: | Filed under: competition, diversity, parenting, social media, success, success story, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments »

Self Starter – Kirby Allison of The Hanger Project
Sep 27 2008

I co-write articles for university alumni magazines with my fabulous writing partner Pam Losefsky.  You can also see more of our write-ups on the article page of this blog.  The last article that we did for the Self Starter series for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, is on Kirby Allison (gif).  Kirby is a recent graduate and the founder of The Hanger Project.  He built the business nights and weekends in school and even after graduating while he held a day job!

Sadly, interviewing these interesting entrepreneurs and writing about them with Pam was one of the things I had to remove from my very full plate of things to do.  Both Pam and I took on other commitments ranging from my day job and her additional writing work, that we decided we couldn’t continue to do it and do it well.   We’ve been doing articles for The Alcalde for over 3 years now and we really enjoyed working with each other and the editor, Avrel Seale.  Life is full of hard decisions and this was one of them.  Who knows, we might write for them again when it works for all of our schedules…

I’ll do full posts on past articles we’ve written that I haven’t done one for yet…so keep an eye out for those.  An image of Kirby’s article is below and an interesting highlight from his article follows.  

Last fall a confluence of opportunities – a complimentary product review in the Wall Street Journal and a major order from a luxury men’s store in Guatemala – propelled the popularity of Allison’s hangers.  He found himself scrambling to air-freight new inventory to meet the Christmas demand.  His little side project had become The Hanger Project, a recognized leader in premium hangers.”


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