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 »

Six Personalities You Need For Your Startup
Apr 20 2014

The following is a guest post from Bernd Schoner. Schoner was the founder of ThingMagic, LLC, a garage-grown RFID technology company led by a small group of MIT Media Lab graduates. Young and fresh-face, Schoner guided his company through the ups and downs of a start up that ultimately sold to Trimble Navigation, a multi-billion dollar, multinational tech company, where he currently works as the VP of Business Development.

According to Bernd Schoner, author of The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide: How to Bootstrap Your Startup, Lead Through Tough Times, and Cash In for Success
The Tech Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide (Amazon affiliate link) (McGraw-Hill, May 2014), assembling your founding team is a make-or-break move that every business faces. In fact, he says that it “determines the path and outcome of a new venture more than any decision in the life cycle of a company.” In his new book, Schoner sheds light on the six core roles needed for a new tech start up.

  1. The Primadonna Genius: Not surprising, technical expertise is the one skill a high-tech founding team can’t do without. You need to have a genius or two to get your team off the ground. The genius’ competency can be highly specific. Let’s face it– your genius is your diva. They will ask for things you’re not sure how you’re going to get done. They will potentially ask you to take a chance on them and look you down with that passion in their eye that compels you to say “yes.” If you’re lucky, your genius will not only bring technical expertise to the table, but also a set of commercial contacts too– an entourage of sorts.
  2. The Leader: Running a new company in a consensus-driven democratic process has its limits, especially when hard decisions need to be made that affect everybody’s lives. Consensus usually requires compromise, which is not necessarily in the best interest of a new tech venture. A founder group with a clear leader in its midst has it easier. Being the leader doesn’t mean more stock or equity, nor does it mean the leader will necessarily be CEO. It just means that the co-founders trust one of their own and are willing to follow, if indeed there is conflict and controversial decisions need to be made.
  3. The Industry Veteran: Any competent marketer can study an industry, get quick insights into how it works, understand who the key players are, and identify products that may prove lucrative for a small venture. However, it takes a long immersion in the marketplace to call yourself an insider, to understand the subtleties of the competitive landscape, to recognize people as true assets (oftentimes despite their titles), and to look through the propaganda of technical collateral and PR campaigns. That’s why the industry veteran is helpful.
  4. Sales Animal: Young high-tech companies are at constant risk of forgetting that they actually need to sell the wonderful technology they invented. A Sales Animal on the founder team helps to contain that risk. The combination of technical insight, founder authority, and sales experience is a hard-to-beat advantage in the competitive marketplace.
  5. The Financial Suit: Professional controllers and CROs are readily available for hire to fill the financial gaps on your team. Remember, though, that financial talent often has its own agenda. Understandably, they are trying to build a career, or make money quickly, or own as much stock as possible by the time your venture is readying itself for an exit. If you can put a skilled co-founder in charge of overseeing the finance function, you may enjoy a little bit of extra peace of mind.
  6. The Superstar: In the midst of silly little problems like ordering office supplies and keeping the office network running, it is easily forgotten how glamorous the role of high-tech entrepreneur can be. The world wants to think of tech founders as superstars, who are doing what the average man or woman cannot. Groom the superstar on your team and you can use her as the backbone of your marketing, recruiting, and PR strategy. Fortunately, almost any combination of eccentricity, nerdiness, and charisma qualifies a co-founder to become a star.

Every start up is different, but the roles he mentions make sense to me.  I think one of the most important roles that some companies overlook is the role of client services.  After your Sales Animal has closed a sale, it’s critical to keep customers happy and feeling cared about.  Turnover in customer’s is hard on any business, but even harder in a start up where resources are scarce and energy to find new customers is limited.  Customers in a technology start-up may be called to serve as references for other potential customers or investors, so in my opinion they should always feel like you are doing your best to do the right thing by them.

What do you think?

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Thanksgivukkah and Black Friday
Dec 1 2013

This year Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collided.  In the US, apparently the retailers decided to start the crazy sales activity just that much earlier and open up Thanksgiving eve.  I guess the news folks will tell us if it was worth it.  I didn’t venture out or even online to purchase anything on “Black Friday,” Thursday, or whatever.  I know people who did.  I did venture out today (Sunday) to Target to return some things and get some basics, but there was only the normal crowd there.

At any rate, I’m thankful that I can choose to shop or not shop.  I’m thankful for many, many things…mostly that I’m here right now in this intersection of space & time with many wonderful people around me.  Plus, I’m easily able to type this post and share these articles with you:

Our Self-Inflicted Complexity – Harvard Business Review

The Fall Of The Alphas – A VC, Fred Wilson (I just now bought the Kindle version of the book)

10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn – Huffington Post (“Problems are bad. It’s important to stay happy. I’m irreparably damaged by my past. Working hard leads to success. Success is the opposite of failure.  It matters what people think of me.  We should think rationally about our decisions. The pretty girls get all the good stuff.  If all my wishes came true right now, life would be perfect.  Loss is terrible.”)

The first lie… – Seth Godin

What “no” means – Seth Godin

Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime – Scientific American

The Paradoxical Traits of Resilient People - Fast Company

And of course a song and music video: Let Her Go by Passenger

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
‘Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast

 

Author: | Filed under: book review, books, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Lemonade Day Austin – May 5, 2013 – Entrepreneurial Kids
May 5 2013

Every year there is a nationwide effort to encourage kids to think like entrepreneurs called Lemonade Day.  This year it was held in Austin on May 5 (cinco de Mayo), 2013 and both of my kids participated with some of their classmates.  One location was at the Rookie Triathlon and the other was at Mueller Lake Park. My daughter’s team made a profit of $91.  They split $90 three ways and gave $1 to the 3 year old sister of one of the girl’s on the team.  Her younger sister is so cute and had a sign that said “buy my sister’s lemonade” that she held while yelling the words on her sign.  She drew in many customers by her sheer cuteness and confidence! Although she deserved more than $1, she is only 3 and thought $1 was an amazing amount of money.  My sister and her friends are 7 and 8 years old…oh what a few years of living does to change your perspective on the value of $1. :-)

My son and his buddy are still calculating their returns, but it looks like they made money after deducting costs.  I’ve told both my son and daughter that no gloating is allowed. I have a feeling my daughter’s team performed better mostly because of Location, Location, Location!

Lemonade Day is a great way to teach kids about the economics of running a little business and was started to help teach kids about entrepreneurship.  The kids create signs and are supposed to figure out what supplies they need and how many drinks/snacks they need to sell to make a profit.  It’s fun for the parents too and gives us an opportunity to talk about business, marketing, and selling with our kids.  Those are skills that will serve them well for life!  Gone are the days of steady jobs that last 20 or 30+ years.  Here are the days where most people will hold 10 to 20 different jobs [infographic] at different companies in their lifetime.  Might as well teach them how to pick themselves into the job/career that they want!

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CELEBRATING 18 Years of BiG BUSINESS, BiG IMPACT AND BiG PARTNERSHIPS
May 4 2013

big-austin-gary_hoover-may 2013CELEBRATING 18 Years of BiG BUSINESS, BiG IMPACT AND BiG PARTNERSHIPS

Acknowledging the past, Celebrating the present and Ushering in the future is the theme of BiGAUSTIN’s 18th birthday celebration.  On Thursday May 9, 2013 from 6pm-9pm, BiGAUSTIN is inviting friends of the past and present who have been instrumental in establishing BiGAUSTIN’s status as a leader in the small business development sector.

This event will engage past and present clients, instructors, supporters and all whose stories have inspired 18 years of adventure for BiGAUSTIN.  This interactive event will consist of food, live music, raffles, and networking opportunities for all in attendance.  The BiG celebration will feature the unveiling of BiGAUSTIN’s training room and updated picture displays of current clients and their businesses.

This is a free event and all invited guests are encouraged to bring guests as well.  Attendees will have the opportunity to increase their business visibility and forge new partnerships by sponsoring BiGAUSTIN’s training room.  Sponsorship packets will be available at the event.

BiGAUSTIN is delighted to have distinguished entrepreneur and speaker Gary Hoover, one of the nation’s foremost experts in small business success having created pioneering book super- store BOOKSTOP, which helped change the nature of book shopping in America. This company was sold to Barnes & Noble for $41.5 million when it was just 7 years old. RSVP HERE…

About BiGAUSTIN

BiGAUSTIN is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing training services, one-on-one assistance, and loans to individuals who want to achieve self-sufficiency by starting their own small business.  BiGAUSTIN assists small businesses to successfully grow by providing comprehensive education, tailored business counseling and flexible loans.  BiGAUSTIN’s office which houses most of our staff and our training facilities is located at 5407 N.IH-35, Suite 200 on the 2nd floor.

Media Contact:
Happiness Kisoso
happiness@bigaustin.org

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I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.
Mar 4 2013

Poe-Quote“I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.” – Edgar Allan Poe   Someone on facebook shared that quote recently.  Subsequently, two of my girlfriends told me that Poe was one of their favorite authors.

I saw The Raven last year and it was a dark film.  Reading about Poe’s life it sounds as if his heart must have been “touched” often.  There are more than a few entrepreneurially-minded individuals who had similar characteristics and as we see in the media there are also some famous actors and singers whose sanity has been questioned.  Your heart/passion has to be touched to take on the “insanity” of starting a business!

My guess is that most of us keep our hearts protected, otherwise there might be a lot of “insane” people running around.  Or maybe we could all do with a bit more insanity (i.e., non status-quo) in our lives…without the judgement and cowardice that often goes along with it. As Albert Einstein said, the true definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Poe doesn’t say whether the touch is one that caresses, holds, scares, confuses, or breaks his heart leaving us readers to wonder what he meant or what touched his heart the most.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, random stuff | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

The Impermanence of all That Exists
Jan 13 2013

mandala-tibet-jan2013This weekend I went to the Blanton Museum of Art exhibit that showcased Tibetan monks building a sand mandala.  After spending days and hours creating this mandala out of fine, colored sand, they “dismantle the mandala, sweeping up the colored sands to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists.”

I wonder if entrepreneurs who achieve the most success, not only in dollars but also impact on the world, truly understand that everything is impermanent which results in a shift in how they perceive risk.  Steve Jobs could have floundered in his business in the early days, as most entrepreneurs do, instead of becoming a household name for founding Apple and Pixar.  I’m sure he and his team threw away many designs or product ideas that they spent countless hours on, but they kept on painstakingly placing the grains of sand on each next iteration. If a few grains of sand shifted in some of the most popular designs he had envisioned in his head, we may never have known he existed.  And now even he is gone but his company lives on…for now.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun, steve jobs, success | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Lincoln and Dealing with Change
Nov 18 2012

I saw the movie Lincoln last night. I left this comment on Fred Wilson’s post about the movie:

I saw the movie last night and was deeply impressed with how it was done and the actors rendition of all of their parts. Watching a movie like this gives you perspective on what we have to deal with today in most of our (very lucky) daily lives. The fear & demons Lincoln had to wrestle with must have been tremendous. One line I remember went something like “We can show people that democracy does not have to be chaos.”

As I observe start-ups and small businesses I’ve been involved with, those who have thrived attempt to manage chaos with some sensible structure, coordination among team members, & meaning. Those who don’t have that belief/skill set tend to build continuously chaotic companies with high turnover. Like with a child, the first year or so of chaos and sleepless nights are understandable, but after that healthy parents and healthy kids are expected to start “growing” up so to speak and communicate differently.”

On facebook I posted: “The movie Lincoln is a must see. So well done. Saw it last night. Definitely gives you perspective regarding what people were dealing with then vs. now. Standing up for your beliefs in a smart, intelligent, strategic way is not easy and most go the easy route because the fear of rejection is so huge in many of us.

The amount of change in our daily lives today gives us very little time to think about our decisions.  We often make decisions hastily without taking the time to analyze what is sometimes an overwhelming amount of information.  We often don’t make decisions at all because we are too used to the the status quo, we worry what people will think of us, or we are paralyzed with the amount of information we feel we need to sift through.  In Lincoln’s time the conflicting information he was receiving was also tremendous, and in his situation there were people’s lives at stake…not just jobs, profits, losses, and Wall Street earnings that many of us deal with today here in the United States.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, movie reviews, working dad | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

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

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The Importance Of Being Consistent
Jun 10 2012

I’ve been observing businesses from several different perspectives for most of my career.  After I became a mom, I began observing other parents so I could learn from them.  It’s clear to me that being consistent in action whether it be disciplinary or rewarding in nature is very important….but so very hard to do “consistently.”

If you aren’t consistent as a manager/leader or as a parent, your team or your kids can easily get confused and frustrated.  They aren’t sure what behavior will result in what reaction from you. If you keep changing direction before your team or your kids understand where things are going, it can result in fatigue and rebellion.  I’ve seen this happen countless of times in business.  The entrepreneur/CEO isn’t sure where things are headed, so they shift directions before the team gels and can improve the situation or in really bad cases they don’t even tell the team, and they find out only when they are in a random meeting weeks later!  I’ve seen cases where one day the manager is happy with the way someone is doing something and the next day they act as if they have no idea what you are talking about.

I’ve seen parents (myself included) say one thing and do another because we are tired, not sure what to do, feel guilty, are under extreme emotional duress, or think because someone else is doing something a certain way we should too. It’s not easy being consistent from bed times to drop off/pick up times to homework with your kids as well as expectation setting, messaging, or rewarding your employees.  I’m sure someone somewhere has done a more scientific study than I have that would prove the value of being consistent.  If it were easy, I’m pretty sure we’d have fewer wars! :-)

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, mom, parenting | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Letting Go Of Perfection And Checklists
May 17 2012

It’s hard to say if letting go of perfection and checklists are related or not, unless of course you put “be your silly self even if someone looks disapprovingly your way or feels threatened by your authenticity” on your checklist. :-)

A friend posted a 2010 article on facebook recently called Want to be happy? Stop trying to be perfect.  It’s so true.  I don’t know where we get that intense fear to be perfect and do it all correctly based on some model someone or a group of people or some stupid TV show put in our mind.  I think part of the reason reality TV shows have done so well is because those who have time to watch them inevitably feel better about themselves when they see they aren’t as screwed up as some other people out there!  You must watch the author’s video about the topic and her years of research: TEDxHouston – Brené Brown (youtube).  She delivers her message in a very authentic/real way and that’s what we are all striving to be: authentic and accepted for who we are.  I like the slide where she equates a breakdown to an awakening.  I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt.  I hope I can help guide others through their awakening process because it’s painful.  I’ll be attempting to do a little of that this weekend by being on the support team for the Search Within program that I participated in over 2 years ago.  The founders of the program will be holding their last events this year after 15+ years of organizing them.

Another interesting read I found via Marc Andreeseen’s blog is called The CEO’s Weekly Checklist by Scott Weiss.  He says you should “Push the Team. Sell the Vision.  Arbitrate Disagreements. Manage by Walking Around.  Talk to Customers.”  It made sense to me since I’ve worn those first time CEO shoes before.  I might change the order, but other than that these are good guidelines.  In my opinion, the number one job of a top notch CEO/President is to find the right people and orchestrate them towards success.  It is much easier said than done.  You have to get your ego out of the way and not be threatened by the authenticity you see in those people.  If you hire them and don’t listen to them, then you might as well dig your early grave from a business as well as your employees personal health perspective.

 

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, environment, FYI | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Very Interesting And Provocative Blog Posts
May 10 2012

I wish I had more time to come up with compelling, informative posts, but one must prioritize.  So instead, I’m fortunate enough to happen upon some interesting ones

Eleven Compelling Startup Pitch Archetypes (with examples from YC companies).  A really easy to read summary of the types of pitches based on the type of company.  A must read for all entrepreneurs trying to fundraise.

Same Sex Marriage on AVC by Fred Wilson on President Obama’s support of same sex marriages.

Unforgiven: Inside America’s Student Loan Bubble about the student loan crisis.

Love And 6 Other Things Your Subconscious Mind ControlsAs a result, scientists are becoming increasingly convinced that how we experience the world – our perception, behavior, memory, and social judgment – is largely driven by the mind’s subliminal processes and not by the conscious ones, as we have long believed.”

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SxSW Interactive Wrap-Up and Why Most Startups are DOA
Mar 18 2012

My 2012 SXSW Interactive experience this past week was very low key.  No badge.  A few days.  A few parties.  All productive.  Great networking for my consulting business where I’m focusing on operations and partner/client management projects.  I was home by a reasonable hour every evening.

I’ve had dozens of meetings scheduled since then, met people I haven’t seen in a while, and I’m helping organize a reunion for the B2C (business-to-consumer) and Web CEO groups I was a part of when I was working on Babble Soft.  Many of us are in transition times like I am, which is par for the proverbial entrepreneurial course.  I really enjoy networking and connecting people to each other.  I even made some almost random connections for the very cool 1 Semester Startup team I’m mentoring called beDJ.  If only I could charge big bucks to do that. :-)

I have seen so many start up companies with big dreams of launching at SXSW interactive.  Most of them make a big splash and then you don’t hear from them again.  I thought this post on TechCrunch the other day was very well timed: Why Entrepreneurs Fail And Most Startups Are DOA.  Entrepreneurship (especially in technology) is not for the feint of heart.  It’s mostly for the insane, stupid, independently wealthy, ones with extremely supportive spouses/pets/friends, ones who are calculated risk takers who can rebound quickly from mistakes and failure.

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, conferences, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bazaarvoice Goes IPO
Feb 25 2012

Congratulations to the Bazaarvoice team!  They are the latest Austin technology company to go public.  It happened yesterday.  I have friends who work there and I’m very happy for them.  It takes a lot to go from zero to public and for Austin’s sake, I hope they continue their growth trend and create value.  As I commented on the Austin Startup post on the topic, Bazaarvoice’s going public creates value not only for those who work there but also value in terms of dollars invested in future start-ups and experienced people to advise/mentor them.

The founding team also emphasized building a positive culture and showed that policies like having no set vacation days can work when you trust your people.  It will be nice to have people in the community who have experienced that kind of culture go seed other companies.

Their success is Austin’s success!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, social media, social networks, success | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Leadership, Management and Unicorns
Jan 20 2012

The older I get more experience I gain working for different organizations, the more I realize that good leadership is rare and good management is even rarer.  I think we all see this played out on TV with the incompetence demonstrated by our business and political leaders.  I don’t really know why this happens and it’s sometimes a miracle that companies get built and keep going.  It’s somewhat of an enigma to me….might be a bunch of great workers covering up for the incompetence of their leaders & managers.

The reason I think good management is rarer than good leadership is that one can be a good leader by finding and getting out of the way of great talent.  They can also be a visionary leader with admittedly no management skills, but they are smart enough to find the good managers, support them, and let them do what they do best.  Great managers listen and then react to input in order to make the jobs/lives of their team easier, more interesting, and fun without being overbearing/micro managing.  To manage people on a daily basis and make things happen with so many personalities around the table is one of the most challenging things to do well while earning the respect & admiration of your team.

When you happen upon a great leader who is also a great manager, grab on to them…you’ve found a unicorn.

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