Strengths and Weaknesses – How They Impact Our Worlds
Dec 15 2014

I read and took the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment back in 2011, and what it told me my Top 5 strengths were seemed to make sense at the time, although I was surprised at what they call “Woo.”  I just joined a new company where strengths are valued, and I had the opportunity to take the assessment again, but this time it was the original version: Now, Discover Your Strengths(Amazon link). It’s a useful tool to help you understand yourself and others.

Interestingly, two of my Top 5 strengths changed from the last time I took it.  The two that dropped out were Strategic and Developer and the two that emerged were Includer and Arranger.  I was kind of sad to lose the the two I did, but I think I used every bit of my Strategic strength to survive the last 5 years of huge change and transitions so I had to discover other strengths to navigate uncharted waters.  I like the Includer strength description because I hate cliques and I love including as many people as I can in my professional and social life.  As many of us know, our strengths can also be our weakness and I’ve been known to communicate a lot, try to include people who may not want to be included, and try to arrange things and people who don’t really care to be arranged. :-)

Communication

You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write. This is your Communication theme at work. Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. You believe that most people have a very short attention span. They are bombarded by information, but very little of it survives. You want your information—whether an idea, an event, a product’s features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson—to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in. This is what drives your hunt for the perfect phrase. This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.

Includer

“Stretch the circle wider.” This is the philosophy around which you orient your life. You want to include people and make them feel part of the group. In direct contrast to those who are drawn only to exclusive groups, you actively avoid those groups that exclude others. You want to expand the group so that as many people as possible can benefit from its support. You hate the sight of someone on the outside looking in. You want to draw them in so that they can feel the warmth of the group. You are an instinctively accepting person. Regardless of race or sex or nationality or personality or faith, you cast few judgments. Judgments can hurt a person’s feelings. Why do that if you don’t have to? Your accepting nature does not necessarily rest on a belief that each of us is different and that one should respect these differences. Rather, it rests on your conviction that fundamentally we are all the same. We are all equally important. Thus, no one should be ignored. Each of us should be included. It is the least we all deserve.

Woo

Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don’t. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet—lots of them.

Connectedness

Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. Some may call it the collective unconscious. Others may label it spirit or life force. But whatever your word of choice, you gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it. This feeling of Connectedness implies certain responsibilities. If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves. We must not exploit because we will be exploiting ourselves. Your awareness of these responsibilities creates your value system. You are considerate, caring, and accepting. Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives. The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and your culture, but your faith is strong. It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life’s mysteries.

Arranger

You are a conductor. When faced with a complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible. In your mind there is nothing special about what you are doing. You are simply trying to figure out the best way to get things done. But others, lacking this theme, will be in awe of your ability. “How can you keep so many things in your head at once?” they will ask. “How can you stay so flexible, so willing to shelve well-laid plans in favor of some brand-new configuration that has just occurred to you?” But you cannot imagine behaving in any other way. You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish a new project. From the mundane to the complex, you are always looking for the perfect configuration. Of course, you are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don’t do either. Instead, you jump into the confusion, devising new options, hunting for new paths of least resistance, and figuring out new partnerships—because, after all, there might just be a better way.

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Transitions are Constant
Nov 24 2014

Change is constant. We are always transitioning from one thing to another and/or from one stage of life to another.  I find that when those transition times happen for me, they tend to be good times to sort through and organize stuff I rarely make time to organize.  My home office is just a little more organized as of yesterday.  I’ve shoved things out of view into closets, file cabinets, and drawers which makes me feel better and helps create space to process the transition.

I’ve also been cleaning out my email inbox, and I found some articles I’ve been meaning to post about:

Thirty years of projects – Seth Godin.  He writes about his numerous projects and career transitions.  It was strangely comforting to see all the different things he’s attempted over the years and their different outcomes.

The Creativity Myth – Kevin Ashton. Mozart did not create his music by magic or overnight.  Creativity takes time.

Cassandra and Pollyanna – Seth Godin. “Things don’t usually explode. They melt.”

Nobody Knows What the Hell They Are Doing – Oliver Burkeman. “The genuinely untalented, meanwhile, probably have no idea that they’re no good—because they’re too untalented to realize it.”  And “If you’re worried you don’t measure up, that could well be a sign that you do.”

“If you’re interested in building a business to make money, forget it. You won’t. If you’re interested in building a business to make a contribution to society, then let’s talk.” – Arthur Rock

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Clash of Clans Reminds Me of Business
Oct 28 2014

Clash of Clans icon.jpgMy 12 year old son made an interesting statement while we were driving to soccer practice today.  He said that Clash of Clans, a game he plays often on my iPhone and the mini-iPad that he and his sister share, is like business.  He said it out of the blue.  He hears me and his dad talk about businesses and companies often.

I asked him why he thought that and he said because you can join clans, you have to find clans, and then sometimes people are nice or not nice in those clans.  You can leave clans, some you can just join, some you have to be invited to join, and others you have to ask to join.  You can leave a clan if they are not nice or they don’t give you good materials.  You can get kicked out of a clan if the clan doesn’t like you.

He asked me if there were wars in business, and I told him that there are competitors that companies “war” against, but they don’t typically try to literally kill each other like they do in the game. :-)

I was impressed that he came up with the analogy. I guess he’s been paying more attention than I thought to our conversations about our experiences in business.

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Read ‘Em, Weep, and Laugh
Oct 13 2014

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. :-)

Reconceptualizing Your Career  and Rethinking Career Management (Scott Uhrig) – Who hasn’t wondered what the heck is going on with their career?

People don’t resist change. They resist being changed. (gapingvoid) – A perfect cartoon to describe how people react to change.

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.

“How do I get rid of the fear?” (Seth Godin) – No, the right question is, “How do I dance with the fear?”

The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People  (Cloe Madanes) – An entertaining read about honing your misery skills.

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InnoTech Women in Tech Summit – October 15, 2015
Oct 12 2014

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!

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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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Do You Care?
Sep 7 2014

bowl of flowersDo you care? It seems like a simple question, and the answer obviously differs based on what you are talking about.  For instance, do you care about your customers? Do you care about your kids? Do you care about the random person walking down the street? Do you care about lizards?

There are many case studies of companies who have done well because they truly care about their customers and their employees.  There are writers who write about the critical importance of caring about customers and their readers.  They go so far as to say they “love” their customers.

So why is it that so many companies don’t understand how important  love, care, & empathy are to the creation of meaningful success and often goes hand in hand with financial success? Maybe caring is hard to scale?  Apple cares in one way.  Does Microsoft care in another?

The photo in this blog post is from our recent trip to Sri Lanka.  It is picture of flowers floating in a bowl of water in the area outside of a jewelry store we visited.  Many hotels and other places had similar bowls with flowers in them in the entrance area.  One hotel where we stayed had each arriving guest place a flower in the bowl to show how many people had checked in that day.  It seemed a simple gesture to demonstrate that the people in that hotel cared about each of us (unique, beautiful flowers) and wanted our experience to be the best it could be, and it was!

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How do You do Your Homework?!
Aug 20 2014

The cutting edge education technology company (Querium), where I run client services and operations, has submitted a a Future 15 session idea for our CEO, Kent Fuka.  Here’s an overview:

Ask any math instructor and they’ll tell you that while it’s nice to see a student’s answers to homework and test questions, what they really want to see is how the student got that answer. In this session we will demonstrate expert system technology that provides step-by-step tutoring assistance in a virtual, one-to-one experience. The system has students “show their work” by supporting handwritten work on tablets and reports on that work to instructors to provide insight into student thinking.

For a summary video of this the concept behind the session, check this out: http://vimeo.com/99060342

To VOTE, go here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/38969 (Thank you!!)

You will learn about:

  • The future of online math problem solving to help you, your kids, your students, and/or your teachers increase success in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects!  Will multiple choice questions in math related topics be a thing of the past?!
  • Cutting edge, A.I.-based software that evaluates student problem solving step by step.
  • Translation of student problem-solving data into actionable insight for instructors.

Thanks in advance for your vote and for sharing the link.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Here’s an overview of Querium:

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A Trip of a Lifetime – Sri Lanka
Aug 18 2014

elephants - SLYes, the elephants did strike back!  The trip was amazing and despite me thinking I might have time to type up some blog posts on the plane, sleep, kids, and other distractions (free movies) got in the way.

I think we took close to 900 photos in the many cities and tourist sites that we went to on the island.  The kid’s impressed me with their ability to tolerate the long travel and long days with different eating schedules.  I guess that means it was the perfect age for them to go!

Last Friday I hosted a slideshow for the folks where I work (Querium).  Lots of people showed up in person and virtually (via http://join.me).  They said they enjoyed it and didn’t confess to being bored. :-)  My boss was able to “mirror” my iPhone on his Mac and hook it to a projector so I could flip through the photos for everyone to see.  It was pretty cool!

Now I have tons of new photos to use in my TBD future blog posts and for my kids to use in finally finishing up the YouTube videos of my two songs!

 

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Elephants Strike Back
Jul 27 2014

IMG_0635[1]

Phone booths in Dubai

The title of this post comes from my son with affirmation from my daughter.  We are on a journey back to my homeland and plan to see and ride an elephant or two.  As usual, life has been busy and all the blog post ideas that fleet across my mind, never end up making it into a proper post.  I’m hoping that while we are on  numerous airplanes and airports that I will have a few moments to write up some posts to share after we return.

I’m writing this post from the Dubai airport in a lounge that has WiFi included.  Thank goodness for WiFi and modern technology!

We are on our way to my birthplace: Sri Lanka.  I’m such an American now (and I never knew the language) that they will view us as tourists.  It’s been 19 years since I’ve been there and that was when my grandfather passed away.  I still miss him to this day!  He was such a brilliant, unique, and funny individual whose humanity I only came to know about and understand as I got older and after he was gone so I never had the opportunity to talk with him about so many things I wanted to.

This is the first time my kids have traveled this far away from their home and so far they have been amazing travelers!

One of my next posts should include a photo of an elephant.  The photo in this post is of a high tech phone booth in the very modern looking airport in Dubai.

Author: | Filed under: FYI, holiday, Just For Fun, travel | Tags: , | 4 Comments »

Magellan International School’s Entry for the Gigabot 3D Printer Giveaway. Happy Father’s Day!
Jun 15 2014

Printing CapabilitiesMy son’s 6th grade class at the Magellan International School, that was founded 5 years ago, is attempting to win a 3D Printer in the The Great Big Gigabot Giveaway!  Their video entry is on Vimeo here:  http://vimeo.com/97991510.  I was trying to find a way to embed the video, but it doesn’t work like YouTube so I included a photo of one of their 3D printers instead.

Please watch the video to learn how they plan to use the 3D printer to design and create toys for children at an area hospitals or shelters as part of their community service endeavors.  Then please go to to younoodle.com/podium/jr/great_big_gigabot_giveaway_judging/public_voting#0 to create an account and vote for their entry to win. Their video is in the bottom row on the left.  The decision is based 40% on popular vote, so please vote and share this post with your friends.  Thank you!

Oh, and Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful fathers out there!  You know who you are. :-)

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Songs In The Wild
Jun 3 2014

Save Me From MyselfI finally faced a big fear 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:

iTunes:
Save Me From Myself
Soul Escape

Amazon:
Save Me From Myself
Soul Escape

Spotify:
Soul Escape
Save Me From Myself

SoulEscapeCo-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…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun, parenting, singing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Thinking about Thinking
May 31 2014

Thankfully, my life has been very busy with many good and sometimes challenging opportunities.  It’s kind of like waking up with a new puzzle at your feet almost every morning and thinking to yourself that someone must have decided that you love solving puzzles but they forgot to clue you in that you like them.   By the end of the day, you realize you do in fact like solving puzzles and you feel like you’ve accomplished something by solving part of the puzzle put at your feet that morning, but then the next morning it’s a whole new puzzle!  I think someone has done a movie about this concept?

I get lots of great ideas of things to write about during the day, but I am not usually at my home computer when those ideas pop in my head. I’m typically in the middle of doing some work or kid related thing. When I finally sit in front of my personal computer at the end of the day, I have usually run out of steam or what some people refer to as the writing flow.  As in most things in life, writing seems to happen best when you are in a zone.  Things like playing sports, creating spreadsheets, creating software code, music, connecting with people, as well as writing seem easier when you are in a zone.  When someone is in a zone, it looks effortless to those on the outside.  I’ve seen my son and some of his teammates play soccer in the zone and it’s magical.

It makes me wonder why most of us don’t operate in our zones?  Is it because we think too much or is it, according to the article Laughter, the best meditative medicine in the LA Times, because we don’t laugh enough?  Or is it because we don’t take on enough risk: How To Hack Into Your Flow State And Quintuple Your Productivity (Fast Company).

Kids laugh more than adults.  Adults are forced to think more than kids.  If you want a good laugh watch baby laughing (YouTube almost 22 million views) and Baby Laughing Hysterically at Ripping Paper (Original) (YouTube almost 69 million view).  So funny, it makes your eyes water!

If this post comes through without the issues I’ve had in the past on my blog, my next post will include the links to my a) recently published, b) many years in the making, and c) Wow, I finally did it, songs.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneurship, singing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Lemonade Day Stand – 2014
May 7 2014

lemonade-day-2014We participated in Lemonade Day again this year on May 4, 2014 (May the 4th be with you).  It was so much fun and a great entrepreneurial lesson for the kids last year (see Lemonade Day Austin – May 5, 2013 – Entrepreneurial Kids), that we did it again at the same location.  The three girls made over $165 in profits this year compared to $91 last year.  We changed our product mix and provided coffee, muffins, and lemonade versus lemonade, sport bars, and muffins last year.  Since we were at the Rookie Triathlon, there were already sponsors that were providing free Power Bars!

My son did it again with two of his friends at the same location they did last year.  I haven’t heard the results yet, but they think they made a good profit as well.

The only downside of doing the stand at a triathlon is having to get up at 4:30 a.m. in order to be there by 5:30 a.m. (hence a photo of the stand in the dark) to get set up before the race started!  A true entrepreneurial experience: odd hours, lots of work, and you have to wait until the end of the day to see if you actually made any money. I’m guessing more money is made in some simple lemonade stands than in many businesses who attempt to get up and make lemonade every day…even when there is a shortage of lemons, or currently limes (The lime panic of 2014).  See also The Lime Shortage: Still Messing With Your Margarita.

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This is a Test with Images
Apr 27 2014

I think I might have finally found the code culprit (with lots of help from friends and one who also happens to be a co-worker plus talented developer) that was causing the spam issue with my blog.

Cosmos_spacetime_odyssey_titlecardThis is a final test to see if it still works if I insert an image.  Since the kids and I have really been enjoying watching COSMOS every week, here’s an image for that show with a link back to wikipedia.

Hopefully, I will check my email in the morning and see another spam free post!  Although it’s taken a long time for the right person to help figure out the issue (crossing fingers), it least it hasn’t been billions and billions of years. :-) Good night.

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