Happy Super Bowl Sunday & Groundhog Day!
Feb 2 2014

I’m not a big football or groundhog watcher, but this year the days have collided.  I don’t plan to watch any groundhogs, but I do plan to see part of the Super Bowl.  Because my son loves sports, we will be going to a friend’s place to the watch the game so he can be with others who like to watch football.   Ah, the things us mothers do for our kids that we don’t have the patience to do for other sports fanatics in our lives. :-)

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owl-seth-godinI’m hoping with the recent WordPress update, there won’t be spam links in my email feed, but it’s a crap shoot.  I haven’t been able to figure out the reason after asking several people and doing some research.  I think it’s beyond my technical expertise to figure out a fix in the near term.  I’ve managed to post about once per month mostly because I haven’t permanently fixed the spam issue and secondly because I’m still working on interesting topics to post about.  Here are some good reads:

Groundhog day and the Super Bowl – Seth Godin

The kids who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways. – Katie Malinski

How to draw an owl – Seth Godin

The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People – AlterNet.org

The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You – NewYorker.com

 Overcome the Eight Barriers to Confidence – HBR.org

…different people differently – Seth Godin

Life is not an adventure until it starts scaring you shitless. – Gapingvoid

 

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship, Just For Fun, parenting, wordpress | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Personality Types and Change Management
Oct 1 2012

Organizational alignment, managing change, and/or getting ready for company growth is not easy.  Companies who spend time addressing organizational health definitely have a competitive advantage.  One way to help assess health is to help management and everyone on the team understand their strengths and weaknesses.  I’ve written on this blog several times about self analysis and assessments from Strengths Finder 2.0 to career inventory tests to reading tons of articles fiction or non-fiction based.

One tool that many companies and business schools use is Myers-Briggs.  I have taken that assessment 3 times and each time I am an ENTJ.  I recently took it again as part of a management team exercise and my T was softer (probably due to the tons of heart related work I’ve done) and my J was stronger (probably because I’ve had to rely more on my planning skills with 2 kids, working full time, consulting part time, and attempting to work on my music).

Below is an infographic on Myers-Briggs Personality Type and Social Media Usage and here are some other interesting articles having to do with how people process decisions and change:

Ten Reasons People Resist Change

7 Social Psychology Studies to Help You Convert Prospects into Paying Customers

Making Choices: How Your Brain Decides

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship, singing, social media, social networks, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

BiG HealthCARE Opportunities Summit
Sep 28 2012

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

For more Information go to: http://bigaustin.org/healthcareopportunitiessummit or email them at info@bigaustin.org

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneur, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Generation Flux And Women Leaders
Mar 26 2012

Two very interesting reads.  One by Fast Company on the changing nature of our workforce and a redefining of generation based on the way people view their careers regardless of their age.  The other is by Harvard Business Review on whether women make better leaders.  Here they are:

This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of BusinessJanelle Monney, an executive coach, told me about this article.  I got both exhilarated and mentally exhausted reading it because I was wondering if I could keep up with this career flux until I’m 80 like some of the folks mentioned in the article.  I think it’s because most of the people mentioned in the article didn’t have two little kids fluxing around them while they were bouncing from project to project! :-) I was introduced to Janelle by Peter Strople, an instant-change agent who knows pretty much everyone worth knowing on this planet.

Are Women Better Leaders than Men?But the women’s advantages were not at all confined to traditionally women’s strengths. In fact at every level, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts — and the higher the level, the wider that gap grows” (see charts shown in the article.)

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship, FYI | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Kiva launches Kiva.org/women and Partners with Dermalogica to Give Away $100,000 in Loans
Mar 6 2012

The following is a guest post from Kiva’s press team:

Kiva launches Kiva.org/women and Partners with Dermalogica’s joinFITE to Give Away $100,000 in Loans to Women around the World

Kiva LogoKivaFor those of you who have made loans on Kiva.org in the past, this will come as a piece of good news. For those who haven’t – it’s a double whammy: you’re being introduced to Kiva AND finding out about their newest venture!

First, here’s what Kiva does, in a nutshell: Kiva.org is the world’s first and largest microlending website where anyone, anywhere can help alleviate poverty and empower entrepreneurs across the globe through loans as small as $25. Lending through Kiva creates a ripple effect in a local economy because with as little as $25, you enable an entrepreneur to build their business and bring goods to their community. As these businesses grow, so do other opportunities: to employ other members of the community, or to make enough money to send their children to school and learn to perhaps become business owners themselves one day. So your $25 loan might help lift an entire village out of poverty!

The best part: When the loan is repaid, you can choose to re-lend your money to help another entrepreneur, maintaining a growing cycle of progress. If you want to read some wonderful entrepreneur stories for yourself, check out how Flaura’s photocopy business, Kumri’s sewing shop, Glory’s goats and Grace’s peanut butter came about or reached their potential thanks to Kiva loans.

The latest piece of good news from the folks at Kiva is that, in honor of International Women’s Day, they are launching Kiva.org/women on March 7, 2012 to help empower women and create sustainable change.

To kickstart it, Dermalogica’s joinFITE program is funding a $100,000 Kiva Women free trial program. What does this mean for you? Free money! You’ll be able to make $25 loans to a female borrower of your choice without fronting a single penny (for as long as the Dermalogica money lasts).

Just for the record, Kiva has already been helping women around the world: since its launch in 2005, more than 80% of the loans funded through Kiva have been to women borrowers in 60 countries including the United States. Kiva has connected more than 600,000 women borrowers to nearly 650,000 lenders, crowdfunding more than $200 million in loans to women.

Because women have proven to be such massive agents of change in impoverished communities when given a minimum of resources, this program is designed to focus specifically on them.

Check out the press release on the topic or go ahead make a loan through Kiva.org/women as soon as you have a chance.

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship, fundraising, FYI, guest post, parent stories, working mother | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Race To Nowhere
Feb 14 2011

This past weekend, I saw the documentary called Race To Nowhere.  It was screened by the school my kids go to called Magellan International School.  It was a fascinating documentary about the pressures put on kids in the public school system and in school in general.  They interviewed many parents and teens about the amount of homework, studying, extra curricular activities, etc. that they all felt compelled to do in order to be able to get into a “good” college.  It depicted the stress levels of these kids, and highlighted one really smart kid who committed suicide because of the fear of doing badly in school.

Honestly, it was crazy the amount of homework these kids had to do.  I don’t remember having 2 to 3 hours of homework every night of the week when I was in middle or high school!  I also don’t remember requiring a parent to help me with my homework.  I agree with their premise that less homework is better and kids should spend their time learning in school and after school they should have downtime.  I don’t think you should eliminate homework all together as some experts suggested in the movie, but I think expecting elementary school kids to have homework every night is excessive.  They need time to be kids and have unstructured play with their friends or siblings.

I like the homework schedule at my kid’s school.  They usually get homework on Friday and it’s not due until the following Thursday so you can help them learn to pace working on their homework during the week.  Apparently, the country who has the highest amount of homework is Turkey and they perform the worst in tests when compared to Finland which has the least amount of homework and their kids out perform the kids in most of the rest of the world.  But then again, the social structure in Finland is different than most places.  They have liberal parenting leave, flexible work schedules, etc.

Since my kids aren’t yet in middle or high school, I can’t really say from first hand experience how stressed out those kids are these days.  However, if they are taking lessons from their overworked, stressed out parents who are trying to do everything without much of a family support system, then really we should look at the entire social system in the US.  Many of us are so used to working all the time, that we sometimes miss the forest for the trees.

The movie was a good reminder to pay attention to our kids and their signals about what’s going on in their life.  We all still need to live in the existing academic infrastructure so we need to make sure our kids know how to navigate that system but at the same time make efforts to begin changing the system by looking at different ways of educating our kids like they do at the Magellan International School.

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship, parenting | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

The Difference Between Girls And Boys
Oct 8 2009

Some of you may recall that I accidentally published a version of this post a while back.  In my blurry eyed state of doing too many things I hit the little blue button that said Publish instead of the black and white button that says Save Draft inside WordPress.  So here’s my next attempt to try to have it make more sense.

Everyone knows there is a physical difference between boys and girls, but I think not many (especially in the business world) understand the mental and emotional differences.  Many studies have been done on the subject including ones done on the differences between male and female brains mentioned HERE, HERE, a psychological overview called Understanding The Difference Between Men and Women, and a 2007 one done by McKinsey & Company called Women Matter (pdf) that suggests that companies where women are strongly represented in senior management and on the board perform better than others.

McKinsey also did a report called Centered Leadership: How talented women thrive (you have to register to read the full report).  My boss at ATI, who use to work at McKinsey, gave me a copy of that report late last year and a good overview is on a post on the glass hammer blog at Factors that Sustain Successful Women Leaders.  When I first read the report I have to admit I was pretty cynical and felt like it was mostly taking a man’s perspective’s (i.e., researchers) to try to ‘explain women and their emotions.’  But a series of unexpected events happened in my life, combined with working at ATI, which was my first steady office job since having kids, that changed my mind.  I happen to think men are just as emotional as women, they just express it differently which, of course, is more acceptable among other men.

As a woman who got her MBA and was founding CEO of a venture capital backed tech company, there always seemed to be an expectation that one had to be like a man to succeed, which was mentioned in the Women Matter report.  Only 20% of my MBA class were women and I daresay less than 5% (that may be 1%) of technology company founding CEO’s are women.  Many of those women dropped out of their careers for several years to have and rear children.  I took years off from a high-paced job too but at the same time attempted to keep my knowledge up to date by teaching entrepreneurship at UT Austin and founding Babble Soft from my home office.  My first company was a business-to-business company where you sell directly to businesses.  Babble Soft is a business-to-consumer business where you sell directly to consumers.  I now know a dangerous amount of how things work (or don’t work) in those vastly different kinds of business models.

From my perspective, the more you could act like a man without being too confrontational/aggressive the easier it was to navigate the world of high tech business.  More than 90% of the time I was the only women in a room full of older, White men.  Gail Evans, former VP at CNN, and author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success that Women Need to Learn mentions that many men put women into one of 4 categories: Wife, Daughter, Mistress, or Mother.  The best of these categories is, according to her is Daughter because men take on a more mentoring role.  She also says there is no such thing as work/life balance.  It’s all one life that you work and play in so trying to balance those two doesn’t really make sense!

I really enjoy working with men and women so I think that’s helped me break some barriers and fortunately 99% of the older, experienced men and women I’ve been around in business have been helpful.  I have avoided most of the horror stories.  I remember being amused at what some of the good ‘ole boys I ran across when I worked for an oil & gas company would say and do.  I could usually tell if a guy was being malicious, sexist , disrespectful, or just joking around.  It helps that I’ve had a lot of guy friends.

As I watch my two kids, an older boy and younger girl, the differences are fascinating and have been noticeable since birth.  They are both wonderful in their own ways and some of the differences I’ve noticed is how they show their affection as well as how they assimilate information, hear you, and how they want to be heard.

I’ve noticed that boys in general like to show their affection in a more physical way by running in to you, talking about their bodily functions, wrestling, and being overall less aware that sitting on you is not always comfortable.  But my son also wants his cuddle time and hopefully he’ll still want it  for a few more years.  He’ll sit close to me when he’s watching TV, give me a hug, or if he wakes up at night, he’ll want to lay in bed next to me for a little while.  He much prefers throwing a football, playing soccer, playing video games, or watching TV than engaging in long conversations.  I end up turning the TV or Wii game off when I really need him to listen to me though, which frustrates him.

My daughter shows her affection more through drawing things, sitting next to you, talking to you, hugs, saying she loves you, and generally being calmer.  I think she’s a little bit more active than she would be because she has to keep up with her older brother, who encourages her to talk about bodily functions!  But she wants you to be generally softer with her.  Certain things seem to affect her much more strongly and she’ll get a bit more emotional and require much more talking with to get her out of a funk.  But once you explain things to her and help her express her thoughts she’s usually fine.  She’s still not big into long conversations either.

I’ve always found the world of human dynamics fascinating and have enjoyed the complexities of both men and women.  Both genders have such great things to contribute to humanity and I think the best leaders take the time to understand that and play to the strengths of each gender and each person in particular.  The greatest, well known leaders (political, military, and business) of the past had teams of 99% men on their team.  The great leaders of the future should be aiming for a balance of men and women on their team, and they will hopefully take the extra time and effort to make sure each is supported to meet his/her goals.

Aren’t people wonderful? :-D

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, diversity | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Profiles in Power – Austin Women
Jul 26 2009

betty-sue-flowers-aruniThis past Friday, I attended the annual Austin Business Journal’s Profiles of Women in Power event.  I attended on behalf of my co-worker and friend, Melissa Rabeaux who I have mentioned on this blog before.  She runs most of the green technology organizations in town including the Clean Energy Venture Summit, CleanTX.org, and Austin Solar Energy Entrepreneur’s Network.  She was nominated for the event in the non-profit category.  She wasn’t able to attend because she is recovering really well from successful surgery!

I sat at the IC2 table.  IC2 is the parent organization to the Austin Technology Incubator (check out our NEW website), where I work by day.  It was probably the best of the Profiles events I had attended and I’ve attended a handful throughout the years.  IC2 sponsors the event every year.  We sat right next to the keynote/award recipient table.

Last year Laura Kilcrease, founding director of ATI, was the 1st Lifetime Achievement award recipient.  This year it was Betty Sue Flowers (see fuzzy iPhone picture of me with Betty Sue taken by someone who doesn’t know how to take iPhone pics).

I met with Betty Sue several years ago when I was working on a book concept that I have yet to complete.  My friend Randi Shade introduced me to her.  She said she remembered me and that she had seen some of the articles that I’d published.  She also said the offer to write the Foreword of my eventual book was still open even after she moves to New York with her new love, former senator Bill Bradley, who was also at the lunch.  He’s a very tall man!  Now I just have to write that book…whatever it ends up being.

Karen Hughes (former Bush under secretary) was the keynote speaker! She was a fabulous, engaging speaker and even spoke about Bush’s made up words like ‘misunderestimated’ and how they often had to tell them they weren’t real words.  It’s stunning to me that he didn’t know they weren’t real words, but Betty Sue in her acceptance speech said she liked that word and that as a professor of English she thought it should be added to the Oxford dictionary.  She said it should mean something like people underestimate the extent to which they misunderstand something.  Betty Sue is so good with words!  Because it was a woman’s event, Karen spoke about jewelry she bought (and was wearing at the lunch) with Arabic on it when she visited Kuwait and how honored they were that she was wearing it.  They were impressed that a White House official would wear something with Arabic on it.  She said her husband told her it was just an excuse to buy jewelry! :-)

The winners of the final awards were (ones in bold I know and/or are friends with):

Joyce Batcheller – Seton Family of Hospitals
Marilyn Bostick – Dee’s Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas/Seton Family of Hospitals
Linda Brucker, A Legacy of Giving
Tausha Carlson, Marahton Real Estate
Ewina Carrinton, Reznick Group, P.C.
Deborah Cole, Greater Texas Landscapes
Charlene Crump, Mary Lee Foundation
Nancy Ebe, Ebe & Associates, P.C.
Nora Foster, Campus Advantage
Candice Houston, ThinkStreet
Julie Jumonville, UpSpring Baby
Vickie Lee, VP HR of Tokyo Electron
Marny Lifshen, Marny Lifshen Consulting
Victoria Lynden, Alliance Abroad Group, AIDE, Kohana Coffee, Cissis market & Wine Bar
Sandra martin, founding CEO of Center for Child Protection
Caroline Murphy, St. David’s Healthcare/HCA, Mayor of BeeCave
Rebecca Powers, Impact Austin
Kerri Qunell, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas
Kendra Scott, Kendra Scott Design
Sue Snyder, Jackson Walker LLP
Denis Trauth, President of Texas of Texas State University – San Marcos
Jimmie Ann Vaughn, Jimmie Ann Vaughn Real Estate/Bastrop Downtown Business Alliance
Stuart Vick Smith, Maxwell Lock & Ritter, LLP
Lisa Williamson, UpSpring Baby
Ellen Wood, vcfo
Patricia Young Brown, Travis County Healthcare District

I saw several people I hadn’t seen in a while, and I enjoyed the event immensely.  Maybe one day I’ll be nominated for an award and win  something… 8-)

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments »

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?!

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship, success, success story | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

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 »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business School or Med School for Moms?
Jul 22 2008

Thanks to a Mommy Track’d post called MBAs Are Opting Out for the link to the article by Reuters called More women with MBAs take mommy track than doctors: study.  

I can’t say I’m surprised for a variety of reasons.  I have an MBA and although I never thought of completely opting out of the business world to be a full time stay at home mom (other than the first 6 months of my kids’ lives), I did choose a more flexible transition back into the workforce by starting my own company.  That way I could start them off in part time care until I felt they and I were ready for them to go to full time care. 

According to the article by Reuters, “The University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business study of nearly 1,000 Harvard undergraduates found that 15 years after graduation, business school graduates were more likely than doctors or lawyers to leave the workforce.”  

It continues by saying “Those surveyed were about 37 years old and had at least one child. Fifteen years after graduating from Harvard College, 28 percent of the women who went on to get MBAs were stay-at-home moms. By comparison, only 6 percent of MDs stopped working outside of the home.  Of the MBAs surveyed, 27 percent had careers in the financial sector and 17 percent worked in consulting. The majority of the MDs worked in specialties centered on women (13 percent in obstetrics/gynecology), children (31 percent in pediatric medicine), and family.” 

As a business student, there’s not often a set path like there is for med students.  In the medical field, you finish school, you do your internship, you do your residency, and then you get hired into a private practice or university to continue in your field.  Sure the field of medicine changes but apparently not as fast as the field of business.  

Business is all about your network and skills.  Moms/Parents who stay at home with their kids are advised to continue building and keep up with their network.  Medicine is definitely about your skills, but you usually don’t get hired on to a hospital or private practice based on who you know, it has more to do with what you know and where you got your degree! 

I find it interesting that I know several MBA women friends who have opted out of pursuing a career while their kids are young and at the same time my OB/GYN and pediatrician (who both happen to be women) came back to work shortly after their kids were born.  Our pediatrician came back to work only about 8 weeks after her baby was born.  I think both of them are amazing and incredible doctors! 

I remember my OB saying how important it was that I take it easy after the baby was born and to take as much time off as possible.  I then made a comment to her about the fact she returned to work after her babies were born and she was able to manage it, and she kind of stared at me blankly and didn’t seem to know what to say. 

So what do you think the reasons are for the different parenting choices made between moms who got a business degree and those who got a medical degree?  I have some ideas, but I’d love to know what you think.

Author: | Filed under: diversity, mom, mother, parenting | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Memorial Day – Babies and Our Military
May 23 2008

I met a gal on twitter who tweets by the name of @MailOurMilitary and @Dayngr.  Her real name is Trish.  We got to tweeting and emailing and then talking. 

Since Trish had gone through the hardship of being away from her husband when her first child was born, we both thought it would be a great idea to join forces to offer members of her non-profit organization, eMail Our Military free subscriptions to Babble Soft applications as well as access to a discount code for 20% off purchases for non-active military and friends.

So please let the military families you know about our offer and encourage them and others to sign up at eMail Our Military.  We know there is no way to make up for the lost time and touch of a parent who is away but now they have access to a free tool that can help bridge the unavoidable physical gap between two parents of a precious newborn.  We wanted to give people another reason, which is often overlooked (i.e., being away from their baby), to remember all those men and women who have put their lives at home on hold and/or laid down their lives to protect our freedom.

You can see the press release below, on our site, on PR Web, and on eMailOurMilitary’s blog.  Trish also wrote a more personal blog post called Baby Memories, Milestones, and Our Military where she mentions her experience as a new mom whose husband has to leave one week after her baby was born!

Happy Memorial Day everyone! 

Babble Soft and eMail our Military Join Forces to Offer Free Subscriptions to Babble Soft Applications for Active Duty Service Members with Newborns

Just in time for Memorial Day, Active Duty Service Members with Newborns now get free access to Babble Soft’s web and mobile applications through their membership at eMail Our Military.

eMail Our MilitaryAUSTIN, TX; MIAMI LAKES, FL – May 22, 2008 – Babble Soft and eMail our Military are partnering to offer free subscriptions to Baby Insights and Baby Say Cheese for active duty service members with newborns. 

“We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with Babble Soft.” said Trish Forant, Founder and President of eMail our Military. “My husband was called into service only one week after our first child was born.  I had very few friends and family to turn to for support where we were stationed and it was difficult for me to convey to him what I was going through with our new baby.  I would have loved to have the online tools Babble Soft provides to communicate to him how often and when our baby was feeding, sleeping, etc. as well as important picture milestones!”

 “Our goal at Babble Soft is to help strengthen and enhance connections between family members during that wonderful, yet chaotic time after a baby is born.” said Aruni Gunasegaram, founder and president of Babble Soft. “We support our troops and know how important it is for new parents who have to be away from their newborns to feel connected to what is going on at home.  Partners can share experiences and photos with each other through Babble Soft’s unique web and mobile applications. As an added bonus, members of eMail our Military will have access to a discount code to purchase gift subscriptions for their other family members who may or may not have military ties.”

Baby Insights helps caregivers keep track of baby’s breast & bottle feeding, sleep periods, diaper changes, medicine doses, immunization records, as well as mom’s breastfeeding, pumping and medicine intake. Having important information stored in one location makes communication between parents, their nanny, babysitters, grandparents, or doctors seamless and reliable and gives new parents insight into their baby’s patterns to help with crucial baby care decisions.

Baby Say Cheese lets you create a wonderful online baby’s first year photo album with milestones such as ‘first crawl, first smile, first word’ and family tree that you can share with friends and family.  You can even send a fun, cute picture postcards of any of your baby’s milestones to anyone with an email address!

About eMail our Military, Inc.
eMail Our Military was created in 2001 as a response to the DoD’s cancellation of the “Any Service Member” and “Operation Dear Abby” mail programs. As a safe alternative, eMOM picked up where these programs left off. eMail Our Military is composed of volunteers from all walks of life who understand that regardless of our political views, our military service members deserve our respect, support & encouragement. Website visitors can join and take part in a number of support projects ranging from sending eMail on a one-on-one basis with a service member to year round support projects that are open to the public. For more information on eMail Our Military, please visit http://www.eMailOurMilitary.com

About Babble Soft, LLC
Babble Soft is based in Austin, Texas and creates products that help make the transition into parenthood babblesoft-babyeasier.  Whether you need breastfeeding support, are experiencing baby sleep issues, are expecting twins, or taking care of a premature (preemie) baby and would like to create your baby’s first year album, Babble Soft offers unique, easy-to-use Web and Mobile software solutions that improve communication between caregivers.  Babble Soft makes a great baby shower gift that you can easily send via Email to any new parent anywhere in the world!  To learn more and purchase Babble Soft applications, please visit http://www.babblesoft.com.

For more information, please contact:

Trish Forant
eMail our Military, Inc.
(786) 228-7096
Info(at)eMailOurMilitary(dot)com

Aruni Gunasegaram
Babble Soft, LLC
(512) 961-6002
aruni(at)babblesoft(dot)com                                                                                   

 

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby, baby insights, baby say cheese, baby sleep, breastfeeding, diversity, entrepreneurship, father, FYI, national holiday, parenting, twitter, working father, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Women 2.0 Conference – The Rest Of The Story
May 16 2008

So here’s the rest of my Women 2.0 Conference story.  If you want to see tons of pictures (which sadly I and my deep pink Banana Republic shirt don’t appear) please check out the official Women 2.0 Conference Wrap Up post.  You can also see Sophia Perl’s (another semi-finalist) post on it here.

Friday – May 9, 2008
I took my rented yellow car and drove around the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area to meet some people.  I met Jeff Nolan, who was one of the venture investors in my first company, for lunch at a place called Buck’s.  We only just got to know each other while at my last company before I left, but he seemed to be one of the good guys.  I mentioned him in a post I did about angels and venture capitalists a while back.  We might get to work together again and this time in hopefully a more creative and collaborative way.

I tried to meet up with Guy Kawasaki later that afternoon but he had something mildly important to do like make some sort of silly book submission deadline, so we traded tweets and emails instead.  Then I went to the Stanford mall.  I’m not a big shopper, but since I had a few hours to kill, and my husband wanted me to get him a Stanford t-shirt (It’s one of his alma-maters) I wandered around a bit and read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, but was not feeling in the “now” at the time so didn’t make much progress.  So I got some hot chocolate, my rings cleaned, and happened to find a couple of light-weight jackets at really good sale prices to protect me from the Bay Area cool evenings!

Later I had the pleasure of meeting up with Maryam Scoble for wine and fabulous brie with a flakey crust. Yum! Maryam and I met through our blogs.  I initially heard about her and her husband Robert Scoble from our very own Austin based Connie Reece.  Robert even did a Qik video of me at SXSW but I don’t think that many pregnant moms or parents with newborn babies, preemies or twins are watching those videos.  Go figure!

Saturday – May 10, 2008 (conference day)

You can see the agenda for the conference here.  It was an interesting day in a tent near the Stanford golf course.  Walking in grass was a challenge for many of us who were wearing heels.  Those wearing pointed heels especially suffered by sinking into the grass/dirt, but since I would trip and fall on my face in pointed heels, I wear more flat ones.

The most interesting sound bites, in my opinion, came from the Power Panel: “Igniting the spark through strategies taught and lessons learned”

Terri Ghio, Unique Solutions and TBS Connect said: Make sure you have an audience, a secret sauce, strategic alliances, and ability to build the blocks and barriers for success.

Amy Love, Protégé Performance Group said: Build an inner circle, share your dream, think big, and have the confidence & energy to move forward.

Dr. Jwala Karnik, JwalaCo said: Be open to inspiration, tell people what you want to do, and just take the first step!

Dr. Maggie Haertsch, VOICEMAP said: Have passion and be totally committed, focused, and fearless!

Pat McEntee, AuxoGlobal said: Women entrepreneurs are different and that’s OK.  Women look at things they want to spend their time on differently.  Women build different companies. The fact that many retail companies are currently dominated by men is not going to last long, but women should build companies that men feel comfortable in.  By the way, Pat is a guy!

I mentioned the winners of the napkin business plan challenge in my yellow car post, so I won’t mention it here again, but I did want to mention one company and founder who was on one of the panels: Erica Estrada of d.light design.  She is impressive and her company is very cool!  They make affordable, small, solar power lighting units for people in third world countries who have no access to electricity.  So the kids in who live in shacks can study/read after dark and parents can cook or work after dark without having to use a kerosene lamp that not only stinks and has to be bad for your lungs, but also doesn’t last very long.  I really do wish her and her company great luck, good partners, fabulous investors and perfect timing!

I ended the day by eating sushi with the friends I was staying with.  They even took a picture of me (see below) drinking this huge cup of sake! The waitress finished the bottle on me, so the sake overflowed into its holding bowl.  I was glad I wasn’t the one driving us home in my rented yellow car. :-D

Coming soon I’ll post an update on my SEO experiences, so you might want to subscribe to read more about the birth pains of a web business.  It’s not pretty.

 

Author: | Filed under: competition, conferences, diversity, entrepreneurship, silicon valley, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Going to Cali for Women 2.0
May 7 2008

You might have heard, I was a semi-finalist for the Women 2.0 napkin business plan competition.  Well, they informed me on May 3, I didn’t make the finals.  Sigh.  But trying to look on the bright side, I’m actually kind of relieved because now I can focus on networking and learning instead of being stressed out about giving my pitch!  I’m starting to think I’ll have to get a job to support my entrepreneurial addiction.  Too bad I didn’t get rich off of my first entrepreneurial endeavor…

I’d like to profusely thank Sylvester Becker (a.k.a. German Cowboy) of Dana Lynn Media for helping me pull together a very cool 2 minute pitch video which I can’t share with the world yet, but maybe soon.  Sylvester was awesome to work with and so creative!  We used crayons.  We used Little People to illustrate our future customers as well as small figures of Dora the Explorer and her friends Boots and Benny.  Although I think Boots got cut out in editing.  My daughter loves Dora and in fact some people say she looks like her especially now with her new haircut.

I had already decided that even if I didn’t make the finals, I was going to the Women 2.0 conference (check out the site for the fabulous list of panel speakers – entrepreneurs and venture capitalists) this weekend in the Bay Area where the skies are blue, the weather is usually predictable, the money made in tech is gigantic, and everything is way too expensive.  Except for, oddly, the reasonably priced rental car I got from Hertz.  Thankfully, some friends are letting me crash at their place so I can save money by not getting a hotel.

Anyway, in case you are interested in the names of the finalists, here you go:

 Women 2.0 Napkin 2008 Pitch Finalists

I’ll do a post about it after I get back, so Subscribe Now so you don’t miss a thing about my sure-to-be idyllic, fantastic, jaw dropping trip to Cali!  I wonder if I can find a way to eat some sushi while I’m there…

Author: | Filed under: competition, conferences, diversity, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »