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

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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.

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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One Giant Leap For Mankind
Aug 26 2012

Neil Armstrong died August 25 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He was the first man to walk on the moon (Washington Post).  He performed that amazing feat before I was born.  Despite his apparent disdain of publicity, he will always be remembered for his famous words: “One small step for man.  One giant leap for mankind.”  His walking on the moon in 1969 was science fiction come to life.  According to the Washington Post article:

Although the world remembers him best for walking on the moon, Mr. Armstrong recalled his time on the surface as anticlimactic, “something we looked on as reasonably safe and predictable.” Flying the LM was “by far the most difficult and challenging part” of the mission, he told a group of youngsters in a 2007 e-mail exchange.

The “very high risk” descent was “extremely complex,” he wrote, and guiding the craft gave him a “feeling of elation.”

“Pilots take no particular joy in walking,” he once remarked. “Pilots like flying.””

I wonder who will be the first to successfully land an aircraft and walk on Mars

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Music and Dance – Lyrics and Swing
Jun 2 2012

I saw Les Miserables for the second time in my life earlier this week.  It was good.  I saw it in London in my 20′s for the first time and that was great!  I love musicals for many reasons including the fact that they aren’t operas or ballets.  I fell in love with the actor’s voice who played the part of Jean Valjean in London.  I would have followed him anywhere after he sang Bring Him Home.  The thing about good music and lyrics are their ability to touch your heart and soul and elicit emotions that are sometimes deeply buried.  We are feeling beings and in our world, we often forget that and hide our true natures behind a facade of “having it all together” or “playing the part.”  Music is one of the safest ways to express our humanity and the vagaries of our hearts.

I also went swing dancing for the first time this week.  Every Thursday evening at the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs Headquarters (a.k.a. The Mansion), they have a class that starts around 8:15 to teach beginners how to swing or do the Lindy hop .  I enjoyed it!  It was non stop dancing/learning and not too many toes were stepped on.  Young and older folks were there.  We made a big circle and switched partners every few minutes and one time I ended up across a 14 year old boy who seemed mature & remarkably not embarrassed for his age.  Some girl will be lucky that he learned how to dance at such a young age!

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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.

 

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