Transitions are Constant
Nov 24 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Read ‘Em, Weep, and Laugh
Oct 13 2014

Below are some really great, entertaining, and thought provoking posts & articles.  Please check them out and let me know what you think.

Good at math (Seth Godin) – This post arrived in my in box after my 9 year old daughter told me she wasn’t good at math.  I told her she was too young to make that decision.  I told her that only after she has taken Calculus that she could she tell me she didn’t like math or it wasn’t her best subject.  She then asked me what Calculus was and she, her brother and I laughed out loud at that silliness. :-)

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

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

Get Lucky (Fred Wilson) – Fred appears to be one of the luckiest people I know.  A famous VC and blogger, great family, good health, etc.  He links to an article Richard Wiseman wrote on lucky and unlucky people.  He said the money quote was “My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

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

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

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

I was fortunate enough to be invited to be one of the coaches at this year’s InnoTech Women in Tech Summit event.  InnoTech Austin, presented by Presidio, returns to the Austin Convention Center on October 15, 2014. The 11th annual event will include all new topics and speakers for a fresh and exciting conference.

I have not had the opportunity to attend InnoTech in the past. I’m looking forward to the experience and to networking with a bunch of new and interesting people.  For those of you in Austin, I look forward to seeing you there!

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How do You do Your Homework?!
Aug 20 2014

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

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

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

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

You will learn about:

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

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

Here’s an overview of Querium:

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A Trip of a Lifetime – Sri Lanka
Aug 18 2014

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

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

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

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

 

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Elephants Strike Back
Jul 27 2014

IMG_0635[1]

Phone booths in Dubai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Songs In The Wild
Jun 3 2014

Save Me From MyselfI finally faced a big fear of putting my “art” out there for the world to judge, hate, like, love, or be indifferent about.  It’s been a multi-year endeavor, and I published them online via DistroKid back in March 2014.  Getting them on the sites below was the easiest part of this whole endeavor and apparently I’ve made $10.50 on them in March and April!  There’s a two month lag in reporting sales via DistroKid.  I wasn’t sure I’d even get $5, so I’m excited about the extra $5.50 that I can use to buy lottery tickets!

I didn’t create the songs for money.  I created them to stay partially sane during a very strange and eye opening period in my life, and I wanted to see if I could actually go from nothing to something consumable (darn entrepreneurial genes) in the world of music.  From what I hear in the music business, if I recoup my investment in a decade, I’ll be lucky.  To me the pay back is my kids humming my songs as well as some of their classmates telling me they downloaded them because they liked them…priceless!

Here’s the sparse facebook page for what I call this haphazard musical endeavor: Metaphor Mania. You can find the songs here:

iTunes:
Save Me From Myself
Soul Escape

Amazon:
Save Me From Myself
Soul Escape

Spotify:
Soul Escape
Save Me From Myself

SoulEscapeCo-written by Aruni S. Gunasegaram (lyrics & singing) and Brett Jason Wintermeyer (musical arrangement). Produced, arranged, & recorded by Ron Wikso. Chris Tondre (Guitars and Bass), Derek Morris (Keyboards), Chad and Natasha Hudson (Background Vocals), Ron Wikso (Drums).  Album cover designs by Marla Shane .

I posted the song links on facebook a couple of months ago and received some encouraging feedback.  Just like I like, love, hate, and don’t care for some songs, I suspect others will feel the same about these, but I finally did it!  And, as they say, “beauty is in the eye (ear) of the beholder!”

My kids are helping me create YouTube videos for the songs since they know how to use iMovie and I have no clue how to make a video.  We are still searching for additional appropriate random photos so it’s likely the videos won’t be ready until after summer’s over and we return from some photo worthy summer trips.

Thanks for taking the time to listen to them and share them if you like them.  As always, I appreciate all of you readers and friends who have stuck around for so many years through my entrepreneurial, parental, and musical endeavors…

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Lemonade Day Stand – 2014
May 7 2014

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

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

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

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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.

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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.”

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The Space Between the Notes
Feb 17 2013

musical_note_4188“Music is the space between the notes.”  ~ Claude Debussy

Everyone is so busy these days. We fill our lives with things that take us from here to there in minutes, when even just fifty years ago it might have taken us hours or days to do something.  The infrequent times I get to work on my music are the times I get to exercise a different part of my brain.  I’m in the middle of getting two songs produced with a professional named Ron Wikso. I’m learning a ton about the process, and he has been patiently explaining it to me.

The phrase “between the notes” has come to my mind often these last few weeks as I’ve found myself with a little more time to work on my songs, but I struggle with enjoying the space…the temporary lull in some of the noise…because there are so many other pressing daily life details that need to be attended to with the kids, job stuff, house stuff, etc.

I think that not only in “music,” but also in life the most poignant moments can lay in the space in between the noise of our daily lives.  The times when things in our lives are on pause (or change dramatically) while we wait for the next great refrain or chorus to start are often ignored, because we are waiting for the “silence” in one part of the symphony of our lives to end and the activity/music to begin.  Unlike an already written sheet of music, we don’t know if the next refrain in our lives will be a joyous beat, a steady (a.k.a. boring) rhythm, a pleasant melody, or the background music from a horror movie.  We don’t know, yet we often live in the anxiety and can’t enjoy the space…the space to explore other options or even to take a nap!

True learning, profound connection, and great discoveries have been known to happen in the space between thoughts, yet most of us are afraid of that space.  We don’t often choose the space or if it chooses us, we don’t know what to do with it.  It has been proven that meditation has many benefits when you can stop the thinking and sit still in silence, but it’s not easy.  “I think therefore I am” could have easily been said “I am therefore I think, play, laugh, feel, love, etc.”

The more we are able to quiet our thoughts and live in that space, the more peace we seem to achieve and the more positive impact we have on those around us.  The challenging nature of that endeavor mixed with the constant flux of our lives is why I believe there are very few gurus and prophets in this world.  Most of them are men who did not have kids or had someone else taking care of their kids.  Many of them also did not want or need money and were fine with sitting under a tree or in a cave meditating most of the time.  If I had no kids, I might try that life for a while. :-)

May the space between the notes in your music or the choruses of your lives become great defining points in the stories you tell.  I already know I’ll be a grandma or teacher with the best First World “war” stories based on the space between the notes of my life…

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Groundhog Day – February 2, 2013
Feb 2 2013

groundhogHappy Groundhog Day!  According to the Washington Post: Groundhog Day 2013: No shadow for Punxsutawney Phil, so spring is around the corner.  It feels like it’s been Spring in Austin, Texas for a while now.

Like the main character in the movie Groundhog Day (wikipedia), I find that February 2, 2013 has some de ja vu elements to February 2, 2012.  In others it’s completely different.  I think I have grown & learned a lot since last year but apparently I, like many others, still have much to learn.  Guess that’s what makes life worth living: the new & unexpected adventures around the corner vs. being trapped in the same day-to-day experience unable to even drive yourself (while holding a groundhog) over a cliff to escape.

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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.

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