Oh, Yes. It’s Been A While….
Oct 20 2013

It’s been a while for many things in my life but as it relates to this blog, it’s been a an extra long while since I’ve posted. Many good and time consuming things have happened (and keep happening) that have kept me slightly preoccupied.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading some really good stuff (mostly short articles):

It’s True: You Talk Too Much – How to achieve the optimal 50-50 conversation flow - A Wall Street Journal article written by the writer of The Simpson’s.  It’s a very true and funny read!

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box (Amazon link) – A co-worker recommended this fiction book.  It’s written in a story-like fashion and is very applicable to creating a positive work and home environment.

Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy? – The Atlantic

IBM Watson fires its own cancer-fighting ‘moonshot’ – Venturebeat.  Extra interesting to me since I know the guy leading the Watson project for IBM.

Below is an image about self service customer support tools created by Salesforce.  I am wondering about beginning to write more formally about best practices in client services in a start-up, technology environment on my blog.  It’s what I do for a living.  I generally run client services and operations from beginning to end. I have managed all kinds of internal and external customers. I’ve been told (who knows if it’s actually true) that I’m a strong business networker with a credible reputation.  Two of my Strength’s Finder strengths are “Woo” and “Communication” so it might be a good idea for me to start sharing some of my ideas on customer service. I will continue pondering…

Click to Enlarge Image

Self-Service Portal: The Essential for Fast-Growing Companies — Brought To You By Desk.com
Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, fundraising, networking | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Who Has Your Back? In Life and Business…
Sep 8 2013

best-thing-worst-of-life I saw this image on facebook a couple of weeks ago and thought how appropriate the quote was for life and business.  “The best thing about the worst part of your life is that you get to see the true colours of everyone.”

When things get really tough in life, you see who is really there for you and others.  Whether they understand why you are going through what you are going through or why you are saying/doing what you are saying, they do their best to help you out or at least not get in your way or judge you.  If they don’t care and are more interested in the trajectory of their lives, they might abandon you or look the other way.  They are likely more worried about how they look or feel or just don’t want to exert the effort it takes to care and help you through a tough spot.

I’m grateful for the gem-like people who surfaced during the hardest times of my professional and personal lives.  I know I will do the best I can to have their back, should the need arise.  What goes around comes around as they say…

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The Entrepreneurial Life
Aug 11 2013

musical_note_4188It’s been a busy summer and an extremely busy year.  Since late last year, we sold our old house, leased back/lived in a remodel that wasn’t ours, lived in a hotel for 3 weeks, I started a new job (yes another start up!), bought a new house that has required a lot of patience to get the builder (oh, I so want to link to the builder!) to do what was promised, worked on my songs, attended indoor soccer games, hung out with friends, managed not to take a real vacation, juggled multiple summer camps, and dealt with some heavy kid-related personal transition stuff.  Just par for course in my life apparently.  If I had not been exposed to the vagaries of the entrepreneurial life, I’m not sure I would have emerged in the functioning state that I have.

I like things to be somewhat loosely organized and have some sort of structure/plan, but it seems like life and other people don’t really care so they pile things on based on their life and not mine with no regard to whether the kids or I can handle it or not.  I remember someone once told me that people dump on people because they know they can handle it because they have survived bad treatment before.   So, if I (or others) became a puddle on the floor (as my realtor once told me I had every right to do) when really hard stuff happens, they would treat me with more consideration?  That is weird logic if you ask me!

My kids have seen me act mostly with grace and on a few occasions express some natural human frustration, but overall I hope I’m modeling pick-yourself-up-and-move-on habits for them.  Life isn’t fair.  It’s not easy.  Business isn’t easy. People completely abandon you.  You lose your job.  Teammates leave.  The market changes. BUT, really great people show up to support you if you are genuine, try hard, and you smile in the face of adversity. I am lucky beyond belief in that area as big-hearted people have shown up for me constantly & consistently.  Ironically, the people who I thought would be there for me and/or the kids disappeared.

I’m excited to start blogging about the new start-up I joined and plan to do so in a few months after we get through a funding round.  It is a good job (link to post about what a good job is) with the potential of more than adequate comp should the risk we are taking pay off some day.  So far the team, the location, the idea, and the market are all amazing!  Time will tell.  And even though I like to have some organization in a world of chaos, I love going into work not knowing exactly what I’ll be doing that day.  I am 95% sure that having a job where I knew exactly what I was going to do the whole day would bore & irritate the heck out of me.  I guess you have to be careful about what you ask for (or are programmed for) and what you do when the universe decides to give you a complicated present!

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Austin and Virginia Beach ranked most business-friendly cities
Jul 6 2013

I received a request to post this info back in April, but just now had the time to get it on the blog.  It’s a bit dated but still useful especially since Austin, Texas made the list for being one of the most friendly places for small businesses!

Small Businesses Rate Utah and Alabama Friendliest States, California and Illinois Among Least Friendly. Austin and Virginia Beach ranked most business-friendly cities.

 (San Francisco, Calif.) April 2, 2013:   Thumbtack.com, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, today released the second-annual Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey showing that Utah, Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho and Texas rated as the top-five friendliest states for small business. In contrast, small business owners gave Hawaii, Maine and Rhode Island an “F,” while California and Illinois rounded out the bottom five, both earning a “D” grade. The top performing cities were Austin, Virginia Beach and Houston.

The Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide universe of job creators and entrepreneurs in order to determine the most business-friendly locations. While there are various “business climate rankings” that rate locations as good or bad for business, there are no others that draw upon considerable data from small business owners themselves.

“Small businesses are top-of-mind for lawmakers nationwide, but too often their needs are more a matter of conjecture rather than actual evidence,” says Sander Daniels, co-founder of Thumbtack.com. “Some 7,000 businesses owners across the country have told us that they care about a lot more than just taxes – for most businesses, simple licensing regulations and helpful training programs are even more important to their success.”

Some of the survey’s key findings include:

  • Texas had three of the top five cities (AustinHouston and San Antonio), while California was home to three of the bottom five (Los AngelesSan Diego and Sacramento). Newark, NJ finished last in this year’s rankings.
  • Professional licensing requirements were 30 percent more important than taxes in determining a state’s overall business-friendliness, confirming the findings from last year’s study. Furthermore, this year’s research revealed that 40 percent of U.S. small businesses are subject to licensing regulations by multiple jurisdictions or levels of government.
  • Small businesses were relatively unconcerned with tax rates – more than half of small business owners felt they pay about the right share of taxes.
  • African-American and Hispanic small business owners were significantly more likely than their white counterparts to encourage others to start a new business.
  • North Carolina was the most improved state, making strides across multiple categories and rising from a “C+’” to a “B+” grade overall.
  • The ease of obtaining health insurance was an important factor for many businesses. One-third of small business owners rated obtaining and keeping health insurance as “Very Difficult,” versus only 6 percent who rated it “Very Easy.”

“It is critical to the economic health of every city and state to create an entrepreneur-friendly environment,” said Dane Stangler, director of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation.  “Policymakers put themselves in the best position to encourage sustainable growth and long-term prosperity by listening to the voices of small business owners themselves.”

The full results can be seen here and include full sets of rankings, dozens of easily searchable quotes from small businesses nationwide, regional comparisons within states, and Census data comparing states’ and cities’ key demographics against those of other states and cities.

 “The relative ease of running a business where I live is a direct reflection of the way our city and state operate and enforce the rules. They are very orderly and have very clear laws that are easy to follow.  It leaves me with more time to focus on actually running my business.” Trainer – Salt Lake City, UT

 Survey methodology

Thumbtack.com surveyed 7,766 small businesses across the United States. The survey asked questions about the friendliness of states and cities toward small business, such as:

  • “In general, how would you rate your state’s support of small business owners?”
  • “Would you discourage or encourage someone from starting a new business where you live?” and
  • “Do you think you pay your fair share of taxes?”

Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation evaluated states and cities against one another along more than a dozen metrics. The full methodology paper can be found here.

What is Thumbtack.com?

Thumbtack.com is a place where you can hire help locally. Need a DJinterior designer,wedding photographer, or house cleanerTell us what you need, and we’ll bring you 3-5 bids on that job to your email inbox within 24 hours. More than 275,000 small businesses and freelancers have listed their services on Thumbtack nationwide.

Media Contacts:

Barbara Pruitt, 816-932-1288bpruitt@kauffman.org, Kauffman Foundation
Sander Daniels, 415-547-0579sander.daniels@thumbtack.com, Thumbtack.com

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

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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Do You Have The Guts Not To Fight?
Apr 21 2013

42 film poster.jpgI saw the movie 42 this weekend and it was *very* inspiring.  The theater was packed and people applauded when it was over.  Based on my movie going experience, it’s not often that people applaud after a movie.  It was about Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player.  The movie portrayed what he went through to make a name in America’s top sport in the 1940’s.

One line from the movie that resonated with me was said by Branch Ricky, a team executive, played by Harrison Ford in response to Jackie saying “do you want a player who doesn’t have the guts to stand up from himself?”  He responded and told Jackie he wanted a player with the “guts not to fight” (or something like that), when people would surely treat him awfully because of his race, in order to make history and become a baseball legend.  It would be extremely hard for most people to sit back and experience the horrible, racist things he had to endure from slurs to being denied a hotel to stay in when he was on the road with his team.  Yet, he apparently had the strength to “turn the other cheek.”

Yes, sometimes it takes more guts not to fight as people like MLK and Gandhi have demonstrated.  Fortunately for Jackie, he had talent, desire, a little luck, and passion for the sport of baseball.  He knew he wanted to win at baseball more than he wanted to rightly punch somebody or stoop to their level.  Like many entrepreneurs, he focused on the end goal and didn’t let the mean spirited, those scared of tolerance/change, or the onslaught of scathing words get him down.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, movie reviews | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

In The Interest of Time…
Apr 2 2013

Congratulations to Eric Tung, a former undergrad student of mine from my adjunct lecturing days at The University of Texas at Austin, for winning the Jackson 5ive video!  It’s strange to know that my former students already have kids of their own, and he has far surpassed his Intro to Entrepreneurship teacher in the world of social media!

There is much going on and my entrepreneurial life juggle has (again) taken precedence over blogging, so I leave you with these interesting reads:

How to Deal with Negative People – Texas Enterprise

Decision making for the indecisive – The Washington Post

Advice for CEOs in We Are Austin Tech Video – The American CEO

Make room for A players: Stars don’t always turn up on your schedule – The American CEO

The loneliness epidemic – Seth Godin

Studying entrepreneurship without doing it – Seth Godin

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

SXSW – 2013
Mar 8 2013

South by Southwest is upon us here again in Austin.  There are tons of people here.  They’ve expanded it to include an Education category, followed by Interactive (for the geeks), followed by Film and Music.  There may be some other categories, but it’s gotten too big for most of us here to keep up with.  I don’t have a badge this year. I attended a few parties last night including the annual High Tech Happy Hour at Molotov and the Start-Up Crawl.  My perspective on the evolution of sxsw interactive is that it’s starting to get unwieldy.  It’s a great time to catch up with many friends and business connections that I don’t normally get to see during the year, but there is so much noise that it’s easy to miss the substance.

Welcome to everyone who is here visiting our fine city!  We have a lot of a lot of interesting entrepreneurial activity going on here and a very open/collaborative community.  I hope the new, viable start-ups get lucky, make some great connections, and generate some good buzz that will sustain their businesses for another year.

 

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

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 »

Much Ado About Women
Feb 27 2013

teach-to-fish-400x478There have been some interesting articles floating around about women and our roles in business and leadership lately.  I’ve posted a few on facebook and wanted to share here:

Richard Branson on Why We Need More Women in the Boardroom (a.k.a. 12 Angry Men) – Entrepreneur

Sheryl Sandberg’s Radically Realistic ‘And’ Solution for Working Mothers - The Atlantic

Are our colleges equipping women to be leaders? - Washington Post

Why I Was Never a “Feminist” – Stealthmode

Why Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s work from home ban is the wrong approach – The American CEO

4 Reasons Marissa Mayer’s No-At-Home-Work Policy Is an Epic Fail - Forbes

Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office – New York Times

The Most Powerful Women in Tech – 2012 – Forbes

There are have been many advancements to support women in the workplace and yet women still don’t have equal representation in many areas of senior leadership.  For the first time ever, women are earning more college degrees than men.  Yet at the senior level of most organizations, women are not very visible (i.e., “heard”) and sometimes their actions are deeply scrutinized by both men and women.  It seems to be the ongoing price of progress, and I’m glad I’m living in the year 2013 versus 50 to 100 years ago.  I think women have clearly demonstrated their value in the market place…now if they could earn equal pay for equal work across all job functions, that would be another step in the right direction…

To those men and women who take the time to teach women and young girls how to be leaders and provide them support as well as access to your networks to help them grow and learn from their failures & mistakes, thank you for your foresight, interest, and encouragement!  “Give a man/woman a fish, he/she eats for a day. Teach them how to fish, they can eat for a lifetime.”

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, working mom, working mother | 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 »

Marketing Cloud Summit – Austin, Texas – October 25, 2012
Oct 22 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Get a jump on your 2013 marketing planning in this “meeting of the minds” afternoon in Austin, Texas.  Bulldog Solutions, where I work, is one of the sponsors of this event along with many other well known companies in the B2B marketing space.

Join us for an educational summit in Austin, Texas, hosted by the Marketing Cloud™ and featuring Jay Gaines of SiriusDecisions, who will present “2013 Planning Methodology to Maximize Revenue,” SiriusDecisions’ ground-breaking marketing planning methodology. Customers and partners of the Marketing Cloud will then present real-world case studies that illustrate the planning assumptions offered by Jay.  

You’ll learn why:

  • Your marketing must be a BLEND
  • FOCUS on the persona is critical
  • It really is time to MOBILIZE
  • You must ELEVATE to be relevant
  • BALANCE is everything

Who should attend: Marketing and sales leaders responsible for delivering revenue in 2013 in the areas of strategy, infrastructure or programs.

Date:  Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time:  1 p.m. to 5 p.m. CST (followed by a cocktail reception)

Place:  Hilton Austin, 500 E. 4th St. Austin, Texas 78701

Register Now...

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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 »