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…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun, parenting, singing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun, random stuff | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

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 »

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 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.

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

Thankful – 2012
Nov 25 2012

Another Thanksgiving in the US has passed.  It’s nice to have a holiday to remind us to be thankful and grateful for the many positive things in our lives as well as for the challenges we have overcome.  I was reviewing my past Thanksgiving posts and last year I wrote Thankful – 2011 (such an original title!) and included a photo of a dragon from my October 2011 trip to China.  That trip was amazing, the memories wonderful, and I made some great new friends who I still hang out with.

I also wrote a post on Nov 30, 2008 called The Strength Of A Thought, and I still wonder the same about “thoughts” but have softened my query and am moving more toward observation/acceptance of my musing on that day: “So, how do we rule our thoughts instead of our thoughts ruling us?  Or maybe the question is can we accomplish this in this lifetime? In this body? In this experience? Oh what power our thoughts have on the direction we step in our lives…whether it’s right, left, backward, straight, or directly into stardust…into our dreams.”

Reason for photo: The kids insisted on taking the cloud photo a few weeks back that I’m using in this post.  My son felt quite certain that the middle cloud looked exactly like a dragon’s foot and my daughter agreed.  I’m thankful for their vivid imaginations.

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Happy Halloween – 2012
Oct 31 2012

Halloween is an interesting day that brings up memories from my youth through adulthood.  I love that my kids are so excited about it and enjoy trick or treating.  My son dressed up as a Jawa and my daughter as a Native American (that’s what it said on the package her costume came in).  People kept calling her Pocahontas and she kept correcting them saying she was a Native American, not Pocahontas. :-)

I used to love spreading out the candy I got on the floor of our living room when I was a kid.  My favorite sweet things were pixie sticks (pure sugar). As a teenager, I enjoyed dressing up as a belly dancer wearing an army jacket.  I had an absolute blast at our company Halloween party on the 25th of October.  I dressed up as Uhura from Star Trek and there were many others dressed up as Star Trek characters so we could have easily formed a whole crew.  I finally had to buy a new costume because for the past seemingly 10 years, I sometimes dressed up as an Egyptian princess.  Anyway, I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween.

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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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Science Fiction, Halloween Parties, and Time Travel
Oct 8 2012

I love science fiction.  I’ve always been fascinated by outer space, intelligent aliens, and strange places.  I haven’t seen or read a ton of sci-fi, but movies and TV shows like Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica always got my interest.  So, I was happy to hear that the 8th annual Halloween party theme at the place I work, Bulldog Solutions, is Sci-Fi/Glam Rock.  Everyone is invited and apparently 400+ people show up each year.  I already found my outfit (Star Trek theme), but I had to search for it online. I did not want to be Princess Leia from Star Wars and that was pretty much the only costume readily available for women at the costume stores.  All you have to do is RSVP on the Battlestar Spectacula facebook page if you want to come.

Oh, if you are into time travel go see the movie Looper starring Bruce Willis.  Guys in the future hire guys in the past to kill criminals/mob gangsters/enemies and when they decide they don’t need them anymore, they close their loop and send their older self back to be killed by their younger selves.  It’s definitely action packed and thought provoking. I wish there was less violence, but despite all the blood & guts, I found the storyline interesting.  I think they left it open ended enough that there might be a sequel.

Author: | Filed under: FYI, movie reviews | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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. :-)

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Lego Fest Mania – Austin – September 2012
Sep 2 2012

Lego KidsFest was impressive!  We were there pretty much the entire time we could be this morning.  It was at the Austin Convention Center and it was packed full of fun.  Mostly boys signed up for the workshop with the Lego master.  He talked to them about interweaving Lego’s and told him he was the youngest master Lego builder in the company.  He was 29 and had helped build, among many other things, the Lightening McQueen sculpture.  He said it took 1,800 hours to build and weighed about 1 ton.  They had many figures placed around the showroom floor like the Hulk, Batman, Hagrid, Wonder Woman, Superman, Toy Story characters, Ninjago characters, as well as many animals.  Who knew you could make a living building figures out of Lego’s?

The kids could build sections for the mini-nation they were assembling in one section of the showroom floor.  The photo in this post  is of a tower my son built representing the UT tower, and he asked to have it placed it in Texas.  My daughter built another tower and asked to have it placed it in Colorado.  Together the kids built a super tall tower and placed it in California I think.  They said there will be an aerial view of the entire area on their website after the Fest was over.

Lego started a line called Lego friends aimed at girls that had stereotypical pink colors and designs to build houses, patios, landscape gardens, etc.  My daughter and her two friends spent much of their time in that area.  Apparently, Lego’s sales to the girl market went from 10 to 27% after they designed that product line.  Go figure.  Girls like to build, but we still seem to like to build using small purple and pink pieces.  Maybe in 10 to 15 years because Lego created products that girls (or parents of girls) like playing with, we will see more women pursuing career paths in design and construction.  Who knows…

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