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.”

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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...

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, marketing | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

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 »

Appreciate Your Employees. It’s Good For Business.
Sep 19 2012

Infographics are the rave right now.  Spell check hasn’t realized that infographic is a new word.  We create infographics for our clients where I work.  We also, in our spare time, create infographics for ourselves.  I happened upon this cool infographic on HR Morning (via a link from Texas CEO magazine) and had to share.  It’s so obvious to me that thanking your employees is good for business, but for some reason 65% of workers don’t receive ANY praise or appreciation.  They must work where Dilbert works.  Appreciating your kids, your friends, or your partners in life is so important.  A few kind and thankful words can go a long way in fostering loyalty, solving misunderstandings, building bridges, and most importantly bringing out the smiles & laughter. :-)

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Great Leaders Read All The Time
Sep 16 2012

They (i.e., Harvard Business Review) say that great leaders read all the time.  That is certainly true of many great leaders (e.g., founder/CEO of WholeFoods) but there are great leaders who probably don’t have the time to read especially with family and work responsibilities, and I think they get some of their information in other ways (i.e., short bursts of knowledge that they have to assimilate over time).  There are tons of not-so-great leaders out there and admittedly they aren’t avid readers.  They have a hard time empathizing with others because they haven’t broadened their knowledge base by relating to other people’s stories from different parts of the world.

When I was working on the series of articles on success, I noticed that most of the leaders I interviewed were very well read and a handful had liberal arts, psychology, or humanities degrees.  You can certainly tell when someone is well read, not just in the latest business trends but also in works of fiction and other great classic literature by the way they interact with people.  I wish I had time to read more novels.  I can’t even seem to make it to my neighborhood mom’s monthly book club!

Here are a couple of interesting but short reads:

The Secret Behind Creativity – discusses ideas on how to be creative

MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Dr. Dana Ardi – from Fred Wilson’s blog.  A guest post by someone Fred respects in the world of HR, culture building, and recruiting/retaining great talent.

Author: | Filed under: books, entrepreneurship, success | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Is It Really That Easy To Raise Money?
Aug 19 2012

The success companies and artists have seen on Kickstarter make it seem easier to raise money than ever before.  According to the article Kickstarter projects generate millions of dollars, a notable group of people have raised substantially more money than they intended.  According to the article:

Pebble Technology wanted to raise $100,000 to make 1,000 wristwatches that can be programmed with different clock faces, and they ended up with $10.3 million.  The founder of Pebble is 25 years old.

Designer Casey Hopkins asked for $75,000 to make a luxury iPhone dock out of solid aluminum. He got $1.4 million. That was in February 2012 and his project was the first to surpass $1 million.

Artist Rich Burlew asked for $57,750 to put his comic books back in print, and ended up with $1.3 million.

Ouya asked for $950,000 to create a game console and hit $8.6 million in pledges.

Apparently 10% of the films in this year’s SXSW film festival were funded by kickstarter!  That’s incredible!

It seems easy, but there is a finder’s fee: Kickstarter takes 5 percent and Amazon.com Inc. takes another 3 to 5 percent for processing the payments. Recipients are also typically taxed on the funds.

It’s interesting to note that most, if not all, of the people who exceeded their fundraising goals already had a reputation for delivering good products as well as a loyal following.  It would be much harder for someone to come out of nowhere and achieve the same results.

It will be interesting to see how long this trend lasts and if lawsuits will arise if people who contribute their money aren’t satisfied with what they get.  How does one get a refund?

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, fundraising | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

What The Heck Is Strategy?
Jul 31 2012

I think about strategy often.  It may not be apparent from my random, non-strategic blog posts, but I think about it in corporate and sometimes personal terms.  Most of my roles since grad school have required strategic thinking.  It’s an art and a science and sometimes I find that I make decisions without having full detailed analysis to support them and the result is good and sometimes I do tons of analysis and they don’t turn out the way I’d hoped.  The best is where I’m able to get a lot of good black & white data and combine it with observation of the situation along with referencing my past experiences.  I believe strategy is a lot about pattern recognition.  The best way to recognize patterns is from living life and facing many challenges.  The next best way is to do a ton of reading and case analysis.  The ideal is to have experience in both.

We are working on some strategic initiatives at work (yes, I have a new job and it’s awesome) and my boss sent me a link to How strategists lead, by Cynthia Montgomery (Harvard professor), in the McKinsey Quarterly.  You have to register to get access, but it’s well worth it. Key takeaways for me from the article are: “The only way a company will deliver on its promises, in short, is if its strategists can think like operators.” And “It is the leader—the strategist as meaning maker—who must make the vital choices that determine a company’s very identity…

I’ll be blogging more about my new role in the near future.

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

The Definition Of Insanity…
Jun 30 2012

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.   You have a great idea but you pursue the same path and talk to the same people who got you nowhere the last time you felt some urgency around that great idea, and then you wonder why nothing of consequence matters.  On the other hand, people who say “we tried that last time and it didn’t work” usually don’t try again because they expect the same result so nothing changes.  They get stuck in the thought patterns that there is only one way to achieve the outcome.  I wonder why that is?

Maybe most of us are insane and the rest of us are entrepreneurs.  Effective entrepreneurs usually realize faster than others that when one way doesn’t work, they have to try another.  But wait, entrepreneurs are supposed to be a tad bit insane to even attempt what they want to do against great odds.  Is that a riddle, conundrum, or is it saying the same thing in different ways?

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , | 6 Comments »

7 Signs of Dysfunction
Jun 14 2012

Chinese Dragon

I recently read an article called Workplace conflict is a management problem via either my University of Texas at Austin Business School or the LinkedIn email newsletters.  That article linked to a couple of others called 7 signs of a dysfunctional company and 7 signs of a dysfunctional boss.  Check out also 7 Signs You May Be a Bad Manager.  If only there were just 7 dysfunctions!

We are all dysfunctional in some way (not sure if I’ve ever met a “normal” person) but when parents, companies, and bosses are exceptionally dysfunctional (i.e., abusive, extremely disorganized, inconsistent, non-responsive, abandon their kids/employees, have an untreated medical/psychological condition, have zero empathy, etc.), it has a negative ripple effect on everything around them.

Anyone who has managed people has probably had times in their careers where they were exceedingly dysfunctional for professional, personal, or medical reasons.  The best people I’ve worked with have done a lot of self examination/exploration, took time to learn from their mistakes, and can extrapolate how their behaviors effect those around them as well as the achievement of the goals of the organization.  This is why there are very few great leaders and managers and tons of books and articles on the topic written mostly by people who aren’t currently managing or leading an organization (or never have managed but are good academic observers and researchers) because they finally have the time to write about their experiences!

 

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

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 »

3 Quirky Business Ideas That May Just Be Brilliant
May 2 2012

Following is a guest post by Amanda Green.  Amanda writes extensively on the subjects of business and personal finance.

3 Quirky Business Ideas That May Just Be Brilliant

Great ideas come from anywhere. You can be standing in line for ice cream and voila—new business plan. That’s part of the glory and excitement of entrepreneurial thinking. It’s like magic sometimes! Lately, I’ve had a few quirky little ideas pop into my hopper that I think may actually be borderline brilliant business models—sorry if that sounds arrogant. The following are my latest offerings to entrepreneurial readers looking for inspiration:

Vending machines for zines—I’ve always loved zines, those little nostalgic holdovers from the 80s that just don’t seem to go away. Many traditional zine makers now operate online, the new village square. With the rise of the Internet, I actually see a niche for a return of physical off-line zines that could make for a good business. I could see it operating out of a vending machine, which could be customized in any number of ways. It may be time to contact 1 800 Vending before someone steals my idea. Although I guess I need to think about how I’m going to get all those zine publishers on board too…

Place based messaging app for parents—Parents use technology too. In fact, stay-at-home moms are some of the newest early adopters of helpful smartphone apps. The success of location based media apps like Foursquare and Gowalla also demonstrate many openings for innovation in this field. I suggest a place-based messaging app specifically designed for parents on the go, offering specialized discounts for check-in’s at parent-friendly venues and businesses. This app could also offer a GPS-like service that may behoove a soccer mom with a minivan full of screaming children.

A parent-friendly Internet radio service—Pandora and Last.Fm are great. In fact, I use them all the time, as do millions of other Internet users. But the problem for a parent is that you can never be sure whether something inappropriate will sneak into your playlist. Sure, they claim to have filters for that, but the reality is parents should be able to have total control over the content they expose their children to without resorting to guesswork. I think there would be a huge market for a parent-friendly internet radio service that operated similarly to Pandora, but with an algorithm that specifically eliminated any untoward subject matter from playlists.

Alright, truth be told, these ideas might require a little start up capital. And some brilliant marketing! But I think with ample time and effort they could catch on and appeal to certain niche markets.

Note: Consideration was received to review, edit and post this article.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, guest post, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Founder Dating And Other Interesting Links
Apr 29 2012

I saw this hit the Bootstrap Austin list a week or so ago: Founder Dating.  If you want to start a company right now but don’t know how to find the right co-founder, then this site might be for you.  I haven’t used it so I can’t personally vouch for its efficacy, but if I did want to start a company right now (which I don’t), I’d certainly check it out.  My main start-up ventures at the moment are my two kids.  I would definitely work for a start-up/fast growing company, but my founder status is tied to my kids for a while.

Have you ever thought about forming a partnership in your business?  Then you need to read Self-Fueling Partnerships by Bob Barker in a recent Texas CEO magazine edition.  He discusses reasons why to partner and how to do it effectively.  Many partnerships go bad as we’ve seen on the front pages of too many newspapers/websites so take his advice before getting into one.

How To Be Creative in the Wall Street Journal. “The image of the ‘creative type’ is a myth. Jonah Lehrer on why anyone can innovate—and why a hot shower, a cold beer or a trip to your colleague’s desk might be the key to your next big idea.” In the article it says “Steve Jobs famously declared that “creativity is just connecting things.” Although we think of inventors as dreaming up breakthroughs out of thin air, Mr. Jobs was pointing out that even the most far-fetched concepts are usually just new combinations of stuff that already exists.Recent research confirms Mr. Jobs’s wisdom. The sociologist Martin Ruef, for instance, analyzed the social and business relationships of 766 graduates of the Stanford Business School, all of whom had gone on to start their own companies. He found that those entrepreneurs with the most diverse friendships scored three times higher on a metric of innovation. Instead of getting stuck in the rut of conformity, they were able to translate their expansive social circle into profitable new concepts.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, steve jobs | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

MINIDonations, QR Readers, and Fundraising
Apr 20 2012

I was on the committee to help with my kid’s school (Magellan International School) big annual fundraiser, Noche de Gala.  I played a small part in a great event held at the Bob Bullock museum last weekend.  The theme was “peace” so most of us wore white dresses or suits.  There were many big and smaller items to auction

The lead organizers did an amazing job pulling everything together across multiple facets.  I was one of the people in charge of collecting payments on items that were auctioned off and this year we used some cool technology.  We downloaded free QR readers to our iPhones or Androids.  We scanned the QR codes on the back of the bid card of the person who won an auction item.  If the scan was successful, a page popped up hosted by MiniDonations with all their information pre-loaded.  We just had to enter their credit card information and the amount and it was processed and subsequently put into the appropriate school account.  It was kind of fun and neat to use and made me feel so efficient and powerful! :-)   The only thing I would recommend that MiniDonations add to their interface is a field for comments so we could put a note regarding what item the bidder was purchasing.

I always like using technology that makes things easier while being fun to use!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, fundraising, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off