Go With The Flow – Happy New Year 2014
Jan 1 2014

¡Feliz Año Nuevo 2014! Another year has passed and boy/girl what an entrepreneurial year it has been!  I’ve been trying to figure out how to fix the spam (stupidity) hack that someone has done to my email feed, but after checking feedburner, feedblitz, WordPress, and staring into space, a solution/fix hasn’t surfaced.  Thank you to all of you who replied to my email feed noticing the insertion of random, annoying spam ads.  The emailed version of this post may have spam inserted, so please don’t click on the spam links…unless of course you are “looking for a good time via potency drugs.”  Fortunately, the post itself as it shows up on my blog and the RSS feed do not have spam links, just the email feed and I have no idea why!

While I am writing this post, I’m listening to final mixes of two of my songs: Save Me From Myself and Soul Escape.  Pretty soon you can sing them in your shower without worries of copyright violations!  :-)  It’s been close to a 3 year process to get to this point, but I can check “having a professional song produced” off my list soon…

Just like Fred Wilson, I am Unresolved this year, and I couldn’t feel happier about it.  When you think about it, it’s almost kind of stupid to make resolutions when so much of life is out of your freaking control.  Sure, I can eat better, exercise, laugh more, cry more, make sure I have the best career ever, piss off more people, etc. but it seems to me it’s best to just “Go With The Flow,” be as honest as you can be, and “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”  Why humans don’t get this simplicity (see Scott Adams’ article below) after thousands of years is perplexing.  We must be a slow species that likes to complicate things.

But in other good reads:

The Non-Movie Version of Entrepreneurship – Francine Hardaway

How to Burst the “Filter Bubble” that Protects Us from Opposing Views – MIT Technology Review

Changing What You Do Versus Changing How You Think – IttyBiz

Simplifiers and Optimizers – BoingBoing by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert

Rethinking the Job Search – Scott Uhrig of White Rock Partners (also relevant to Sales and Fundraising)

I Don’t Need To Search Anymore – gaping void

The care and feeding (and shunning) of vampires – Seth Godin

To copy what I posted on facebook: “Happy New Year! May 2014 be full of love, laughter, joy, and mind blowing (lovely) adventures with good health and peace mixed in for good luck!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, holiday, Just For Fun, music | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Thanksgivukkah and Black Friday
Dec 1 2013

This year Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collided.  In the US, apparently the retailers decided to start the crazy sales activity just that much earlier and open up Thanksgiving eve.  I guess the news folks will tell us if it was worth it.  I didn’t venture out or even online to purchase anything on “Black Friday,” Thursday, or whatever.  I know people who did.  I did venture out today (Sunday) to Target to return some things and get some basics, but there was only the normal crowd there.

At any rate, I’m thankful that I can choose to shop or not shop.  I’m thankful for many, many things…mostly that I’m here right now in this intersection of space & time with many wonderful people around me.  Plus, I’m easily able to type this post and share these articles with you:

Our Self-Inflicted Complexity – Harvard Business Review

The Fall Of The Alphas – A VC, Fred Wilson (I just now bought the Kindle version of the book)

10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn – Huffington Post (“Problems are bad. It’s important to stay happy. I’m irreparably damaged by my past. Working hard leads to success. Success is the opposite of failure.  It matters what people think of me.  We should think rationally about our decisions. The pretty girls get all the good stuff.  If all my wishes came true right now, life would be perfect.  Loss is terrible.”)

The first lie… – Seth Godin

What “no” means – Seth Godin

Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime – Scientific American

The Paradoxical Traits of Resilient People - Fast Company

And of course a song and music video: Let Her Go by Passenger

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
‘Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast

 

Author: | Filed under: book review, books, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Win a Jackson 5ive Cartoon DVD!
Mar 17 2013

jackson5dvdI’m hosting a giveaway for the first time in a long time.  I think Michael Jackson (link to the post I wrote after he died) and his family are really talented so when someone reached out to me to see if I’d write a post about the newly released DVD and host a giveaway if they sent me a free review copy, I said “Yes, thank you!”

The Jackson 5ive Cartoon DVD retails for $32.99 for a DVD and it’s $39.99 on Blu-Ray.

The kids watched all of the 23 episodes and really enjoyed them!  I wasn’t able to watch all of them due to regularly scheduled “mom duties” and work related stuff, but I did see many of them.  Despite hearing the “ABC-123″ song way more times than I have in my entire life before now, I really enjoyed them too.  It was neat (a.k.a. groovy) how they took classic fairy tales and turned them into shows that had a “hairy godfather,” “The Wizard of Soul,” “Michael In Wonderland,” “Jackson and the Beanstalk,” etc.  Michael loses his glass sneaker when he sneaks out to the ball and the pretty girl finds him in typical “Cinderjackson” style.  In another one, Michael eats a poisoned apple and needs to be awakened by a princess’ kiss. Their pet mice (Ray & Charles) & snake (Rosey) join in on the antics and the episodes even teach nice lessons about topics like taking care of nature.  The episodes were a fun flashback to the 1970’s and the songs that made the Jackson 5 (Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael) famous.

Here’s the blurb from the folks giving away the free copy: “For the first time ever, the famous Jackson 5ive Cartoon DVD is on video … available to the public since January 15, 2013! Introduced in 1971, the cartoon takes the Jackson brothers on a colorful journey, teaching them a life lesson along the way of all 23 episodes. Making this DVD extra special is that each episode features two digitally re-mastered tracks from the Jackson 5ive! We think this is something that all Jackson fans, music fans and the 1970’s in general will love, as the cartoon brings back the glory years and celebrates the immense talents that each Jackson possessed. Not only do I think you will enjoy this DVD, but believe your kids will be captivated by the incredible music and colorful animation of the Jackson 5ive!”

How can you win? Just leave a comment on why you (or someone you know) like Michael, The Jackson 5, or any of the other talented Jackson family members, and the kids and I will sort of randomly select a name on Friday, March 29, 2013.  The lucky winner will be put in touch with the promoters of the video and will receive a free DVD directly from them.  It’s as easy as A, B, C, and 1, 2, 3!

Author: | Filed under: competition, Just For Fun, music, product review, singing, TV | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

The Business Of Movies
Jun 25 2012

Good movies provide such wonderful and safe escapes from our daily worlds into world’s dreamed up by others or into accelerated views of someone else’s “true events.”  They speed up the mundane and let you experience a gamut of emotions that people typically experience over decades in a couple of hours.  A friend of mine who has been writing scripts for years in Los Angeles recently sent out an explanation as to why the movie John Carter, which I didn’t see, flopped after much anticipation that it would do really well at the box office.  The reasons had a lot to do with marketing and business execution.  No matter what industry you are in, you can’t escape the fundamentals of business, timing, and a little luck.  Now for a quick review on some movies I’ve seen recently:

Rock of Ages.  It’s based on a Broadway musical, and I liked this more for the music than the actual storyline.  It was fun to see famous actors (Tom Cruise reinvents himself again) and actresses playing the parts of rock singers and their groupies.  The songs were from my teenage years. I knew all of them and they triggering an array of memories and feelings.

Hysteria. A really good, somewhat comedic take on the guys who invented the first electric vibrator for women after determining that manual stimulation was just too cumbersome to “cure” women of alleged hysteria.  It wasn’t until 1952 that the “hysterical” diagnoses for women was removed from the medical field.  It’s hilarious what they labeled as women’s symptoms of hysteria (i.e., wandering womb)!

Madagascar 3 – Europe’s Most Wanted. I love most animated movies.  This one was good, but still not as great as the first one.  Polka dot, afro, polka dot…

Brokeback Mountain. I rented this because I had never seen it during it’s big hype period.  I was expecting the relationship between the two cowboys to be more subtle but it was right there in your face.  It was an interesting story but mostly irritated me at how selfish they were given the other people in their lives.  I’m glad it lost to Crash for best picture that year.

New Year’s Eve.  I also rented this one and it was as I expected.  Full of stars.  Not great acting.  Sappy, unrealistic ending, but good for a few smirks.

Men in Black 3. Great movie.  Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin are great actors.  Will Smith is one very talented dude.

The Raven. Named after one of Edgar Allen Poe’s poems.  This was a morbid and dark movie and very much like Poe’s poems and writings.  It was a bit too morbidly uncomfortable and depressing for my taste.

Casa de Mi Padre.  A Spanish cowboy movie starring Will Ferrell.  A strangely funny, yet awkward movie.  Very cheesy, but many scenes made me laugh out loud.

Sliding Doors.  I watched this on Netflix.  It stars Gwyneth Paltrow and shows two different timelines of her life based on whether she caught a certain subway train or not.  It reminded me of how gullible most of us women are when it comes to what men do, say, and don’t say.  It was a little Woody Allen-ish.

I’ve seen a few others this year and rented some more as well, but I can’t really recall what they are right now.  The next movie I want to see is Brave.  I think that one will be a box office hit…they have marketed it very well so far!

Author: | Filed under: movie reviews, music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

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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How To Copyright A Song
May 5 2012

Well, we finally did it.  Brett Jason Wintermeyer, my songwriting partner and fellow Metaphor Maniac (link to facebook page that we haven’t actively publicized yet, but hope to soon), finally filed a copyright on 4 of our songs last week.  We were trying for a 5th, but we kept getting stuck so we gave up in the hopes we’d be inspired later.  4 is a lucky number, right?

It’s important to keep in mind that all artists own the rights to their works and have immediate copyright protection even if they don’t submit for a copyright registration.  Having a copyright registration just helps the artist in case some legal issues or unfair usage claims arise.  We might submit them to some songwriting sites so I thought it best to do the legal thing.

The creation of the 4 songs took much longer than we thought given we met on average one night every 2 to 3 weeks.  Over 1.5 years later, we finally felt they were in good enough condition to “finalize” and file.  I’m sure we’ll continue to tweak them as we practice and perform them live.

The process of filing wasn’t that difficult.  You go to the US Copyright Office page and create a log in with tedious password requirements.  I heard that within the last year they implemented the ability to do it all electronically so you can now upload your files.  It’s $35 per song or compilation.  If you wanted to register 9 songs as part of a CD compilation, you could do the entire compilation for just $35!  We chose to file separately after I conferred with a music attorney in town, Christian L. Castle Attorneys.  We don’t know if we’ll ever make a CD or if we will just play/sing them socially.   Rob Wells, their Director of Artist Relations, walked me through the process quickly, and I was able to do most of it on my own.  It’s a little tricky the first time to know what items to check, what category to select, and what info you need.  It takes 90 days for the copyright office to review submissions.

There are two different things you can copyright when it comes to songs.  One is the music & lyrics and the other is the sound recording.  It’s important to understand the distinction to figure out when or if to file for one or both types of protection.  It’s best to talk with an attorney as to what’s best for you.  The chances of our songs making it big are pretty slim for many (7 billion people on the planet and millions of songwriters doing this full-time) reasons, but it’s kind of neat to potentially have an official, documented claim to a piece of work.

The songs range from pop, jazz, to rock and their titles are below.

  • Save Me From Myself – my favorite  (Jason created this amazing “sweet” guitar picking intro to the song that makes me smile & tear up at the same time)
  • Look At Me – Jason’s favorite based on chords/melody he created many years ago that happened to fit my lyrics.  We also affectionately refer to this one as our ‘elevator musack song.’
  • Fatal Attraction (or Soul Mate) – a jazz piano song (think: grand piano/lounge singer) about the foolishness of love and its often mistaken identity
  • Soul Escape – a rock song based on wanting to escape bad, noisy (and sometimes silent) connections with people

Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to perform these live some day.  The lyrics were inspired by many things but mostly my kids and a few people & experiences that profoundly impacted me at critical junctures in my life.

Author: | Filed under: music, singing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees
Nov 30 2011

I don’t know why but I really like the Bee Gees.  Some of my favorite songs by them are Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, How Deep Is Your Love, Don’t Throw It All Away, If I Can’t Have You, More Than A Woman, etc.  I know it’s 70’s cheesy but oh well.

I love music and songs and lyrics because to me they portray the human condition better than any other form of artistic expression.  It appeals to so many senses.  Music helps us get through hard times and celebrate great times.

Here’s to Stayin’ Alive when you are faced with the things life throws your way…even when you are expecting it or half expecting it and are relieved or stunned by it.

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Time Keeps On Slipping…
Jul 26 2011

Where does it go? Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future… (you tube).  So much going on but so little time to write about it.  My daughter lost her first tooth when she was almost a year older than when my son lost his and the tooth fairy came to visit.  I know this because I did a blog post about it and if I hadn’t, I’m not sure I would have remembered when he lost it.  Thank goodness for blogging!  She was in Mexico when it happened visiting her cousins and apparently instead of a tooth fairy, the tooth mouse visits and she got pesos instead.

Check out Beat the Heat Happy Hour – July 20 and Sales & Business Development Lunch & Learn – July 13, 2011 for posts written by the Austin Technology Incubator marketing intern, Kirsten Frazee, on two recent events I coordinated for our member companies.

Check out our highly non-publicized facebook page called Metaphor Mania for info on our songwriting endeavors that are moving at the snail like pace of the silvery, slimy trail in between our busy lives.

The kids are in summer camp with varying degrees of happiness depending on the day and if there is a cool field trip involved.  They are learning social survival skills, and I’m learning skills on how not to worry when I leave my daughter in a room full of unknown kids with teenage camp counselors.

Hopefully in the next few weeks, I can blog about another shift in my life…a very good one

Until then, I’ll be breathing deeply and trying not to drink too much red wine.

Author: | Filed under: austin technology incubator, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, music, parenting, singing | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Mar 20 2011

This post went out accidentally via email yesterday before I had finished editing it.  I wanted to let it sit overnight and re-read it before publishing it.  Although I had reverted back to Draft in WordPress, Feedburner did not get the message and sent it out.  Fortunately, the edits are not major but were more for clarity. However, if you read it the first time, I suggest you read it again because those few changes will likely change your understanding of what I was trying to convey. I also took out some not so relevant sentences and added a couple links to the book on Amazon should you be interested in purchasing it.

My best friend of 23 years is an English professor.  We met during my first day in the dorm before starting my freshman year in college.  I was a business major who didn’t know much about English other than writing seemed to come easily for me even at a young age.  I can trace my interest in creative writing back to a 5th grade teacher I had the first year I moved to Lubbock, Texas.  I would make A’s and A+’s on my English papers in high school for creativity but practically fail grammar until my freshman year in college when grammar all of a sudden made sense to me.  Or maybe I should say I quit trying to make sense of grammar and accepted it for what it was. My best friend is a grammar guru and maybe the combination of taking freshman English and typing her papers for her, because I typed faster than she did, somehow helped me get the practice I needed to improve my grammar and punctuation.

Our professional worlds rarely collide, but when I’m facing a situation personally or professionally, she often has a reference to literature (sadly, my knowledge of great literature is not deep or wide given my business degrees) to help me try to make sense of what is happening.  Fiction is fiction but as a writer I have come to appreciate that really good fiction is based often times quite heavily on the author’s direct experience or observation of others.  A book that my friend suggested I read a while back when I was going through my personal family transition is called The Awakening by Kate Chopin (wikipedia) [The Awakening (Norton Critical Editions) - Amazon link], but she didn’t think it wise for me to read it while in the middle of my turmoil since the main character kills herself and she was concerned about me.  Not that I ever had suicidal tendencies, but it was probably wise I wait to read it because I’ve come to realize that the state of being one is in when they read certain words has a huge impact on how they receive and interpret those words.  So I read it this weekend.

The book was banished for decades after Kate Chopin wrote it in 1899 for it’s scandalous depiction of Edna, a married woman with two young boys, and her behavior.  I find it scandalous even today given her dramatic moves, an affair with not one but two men (one physical, one emotional), feeling no remorse, shame or guilt, and then killing herself when she can’t be with the man she loves thereby leaving behind two young children.  But it was back in the late 1800’s, when most women had no means to support themselves and they had to remain in situations they did not want to be in. The man also loves her but knows he can’t be with her because of the rules of their society and withdraws himself from her life. Since Edna is not able to pursue other opportunities or escape her current life, she resorts to killing herself (you’ll have to read the book to see how she does it) rather than live in a despondent world “without the vibrant colors of love.”

The main character, Edna, was 28 going on 29 when she began the awakening process.  I was 38 going on 39 when I started to realize I was waking up to a different perception of myself and the world around me.  I remember words I read in an email, I remember my response, I remember the place, the person, the drink, the conversation, the expression, a twinge that when placed together triggered a shift in my being that resulted in my songwriting, journaling, poem writing, emotion laden emails to co-workers, family and friends (i.e., gushes from my writer’s soul that had been behind an enormous dam for a long time).  I sought understanding through courses like Landmark (Transformation in Process and Who I Was Being Was Not Exactly Who I Am) and Search Within that both guided the participant to live an authentic life and not what Henry David Thoreau writes in Walden – “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”  That was a quote my best friend reminded me of this past weekend.  I couldn’t go to the grave with the song still in me, and I hope I don’t die (mostly for my children’s sake) before I release the songs based on my lyrics that I’ve been working on with my songwriting partner.  I also hope I don’t die before I find what some people call their soul mate so I can sing him my song, and he’ll understand it just as I will understand his song.

Here are some interesting quotes from the book written by an author who was 32 years old, widowed with 6 kids:

In short, Mrs. Pontellier [Edna] was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relation as an individual to the world within and about her.  This may seem like a ponderous weight of wisdom to descend upon the soul of a young woman of twenty-eight –perhaps more wisdom than the Holy Ghost is usually pleased to vouchsafe to any woman.” p. 17

She [Edna] is not one of us; she is not like us.  She might make the unfortunate blunder of taking you seriously.” [This was said by Edna's friend to the man, known to Edna's husband, who eventually became the object of her love.  Edna was not Creole but apparently it was common for young, unmarried men to cater to the needs of married women and flirt with them in that society.]

Edna began to feel like one who awakens gradually out of a dream, a delicious, grotesque, impossible dream, to feel again the realities pressing into her soul.” p. 41

He [the doctor] observed his hostess attentively from under his shaggy brows, and noted a subtle change which had transformed her from the listless woman he had known into a being who, for the moment, seemed palpitant with the forces of life.  Her speech was warm and energetic.  There was no repression in her glance or gesture.  She reminded him of some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun.” p. 92

Yes,” she [Edna] said.  “The years that are gone seem like dreams — if one might go on sleeping and dreaming — but to wake up and find–oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.” p. 147

Author: | Filed under: book review, books, marriage, music, parenting, poetry, singing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

A Song To Sing
Mar 3 2011

I hired someone recently to update (way overdue) my blog design.  His name is Brian Hurdle (photographer extraordinaire), and I think it’s going to look very nice, clean, and professional…oh and cool.  He’s going to add a musical element to it since my current entrepreneurial endeavor is songwriting related.  He’s going to remove the clip art girl on the phone, change the font, put a nice graphic, move it to a 2 column theme, etc.  I can’t wait for it to be ready as I’m hoping it will inspire a new wave and direction of blog writing for me.

Speaking of songwriting, I forwarded a quote from Jeffrey Fry’s quotables to my songwriting partner, Brett Jason Wintermeyer that said:

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” –Chinese Proverb

To me it meant that a bird sings because she is born to…because the bird cannot be herself without singing her song.  Or maybe it’s boy birds that sing…well, it doesn’t matter.  He replied by saying “Reminds me of someone I know who has a song to sing  :-)”  I was not expecting that response as I had not connected that saying to one of the songs we are working on based on my lyrics.  The title of the song is called “I Have A Song To Sing.”  I don’t know why I didn’t connect the two, but the second line in the song after “I have a song to sing” is “But you won’t let me sing it.”  That lyric is (c) copyright 2010-2011 Aruni S. Gunasegaram by the way!

I guess that’s why it’s important to have a songwriting partner or talented people in your life…to help you connect the dots…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, music, singing | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

The Drowsy Chaperone and Despicable Me
Aug 30 2010

I saw a play/musical called The Drowsy Chaperone this past Friday with some friends at a local Austin theater called Zach (if you click that link you can even see a short video) and it was very good.  The narrator was hilarious.  He is an obviously gay guy who was married once but now is alone in his apartment listening to old vinyl records, one of which is of the musical The Drowsy Chaperone.  He intervenes during the performance with his opinions of each scene with great commentary from his life experience.  He is so excited about the musical, where most of the cast end up marrying each other (i.e., 4 weddings take place at the end), but also sad and lonely about his situation about not finding the right person to be with.  Actors to me seem to be entrepreneurs, selling themselves for each show in the hopes of getting cast.  I’m guessing that unless you are on Broadway in New York, acting is a tough life financially.

I also discovered a new restaurant called Paggi House.  The food was great (except the mussels were too small) and they had half price drinks and appetizers until 7pm so we shared a bunch of interesting things including one of my favorite things: soft shell crab!  Well, my friend isn’t a big fan of soft shell crab so she let me eat 95% of it (yummy) with a really interesting sweet/sour/vinegar house made sauce.  She had a really interesting salad that I took a few bites of that had vanilla in the dressing!

Saturday and Sunday consisted of meals at home and Chuy’s as well as seeing the movie Despicable Me with the kids.  They had already seen it, but since I hadn’t. I used my strong persuasion skills (not hard) to get them to see it again.  It had some pretty funny, but predictable scenes.  The main character strives to be the best villain in the world and gets caught by surprise when he adopts 3 little girls as part of one of his schemes to be the best villain.  His mother is never pleased with his attempts at villainy as a child and later in life which motivates him but also makes him sad.  In the end his mother pays him probably the best and only compliment he’s received from her when she tells him that he is a great parent to the 3 little orphan girls he adopted…”probably even better than me.”  You can tell he was pleased that she finally gave him credit for something and it wasn’t for any of his attempts to be a bad guy.   Us mothers can cause so much joy and sadness in our kids lives…well according to movies anyway…oh and a few psychologists. :-)  I wonder where the dads are in these animated movies?!

I had planned to post this earlier, but my Internet has been down for the last couple of days because some squirrels chewed through some of the cabling…those darn squirrels!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, movie reviews, music | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Salt and The Brew – An Interesting Combination
Jul 25 2010

I saw the movie Salt yesterday with a friend and it was intense.  A good action/thriller with Angelina Jolie as the main character.  She plays a CIA agent who is set up by Russian agents to infiltrate American intelligence, but she doesn’t know this about herself until she’s much older.  Of course the bad guys always underestimate the power of true love to destroy even the most evil plots and plans.  The stunts and effects were really good.  However, as skinny as Angelina is, some of those stunts and fights with men twice her size are even harder to believe…but hey, it’s just a movie.  My friend and I left the theater pumped with adrenaline, and we both concluded that the way the movie ended there was probably going to be a Salt II.

We decided to grab some dinner and headed over to Baby Acapulco’s which is just across the street from the theater.  We were pleasantly surprised with the band who was playing that night – The Brew.   They play Latin Jazz music and they were really good.  She had heard of them before and I wasn’t sure if I had.  We both enjoyed a margarita and the show!  They even had a free group salsa lesson that I participated in despite the fact I was wearing flip flops.  I’d love to take salsa or almost any kind of dance lessons some day so it was a fun experience.  A bunch of us lined up in front of the stage and my practice partner ended up being another woman who was there supporting the band so she already knew how to dance salsa.  She was older than me and really sweet.  She just got back from Hawaii and was wearing a pretty flower in her hair.  We took turns being the man in the practice sessions as did others because it was mostly women who came up to participate in the free lesson.

The Brew has a sound similar to the Gipsy Kings so beautiful and romantic.  Musicians are entrepreneurs and I’m always impressed when I see a band who is able to seemingly make a living sharing their talent.  To me, hearing them after watching Salt was a nice way to calm the nerves after watching an intense movie!  I look forward to hearing them again sometime soon.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, movie reviews, music | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Resurfacing, Recovering, and Creativity
Jul 18 2010

One of my favorite female singers is Sarah McLachlan.  My lifestyle doesn’t really allow me to keep up with all the latest things going on in the world of music, but I picked up a copy of a recent M-Music & Musicians magazine at my voice teacher’s studio, Octave Higher, this Saturday because she was on the cover.  The title of the article is called Resurfacing. She just released a new album after 7 years called Laws Of Illusion (Amazon link).  At the bottom of this post is a video of one of her new songs called “Loving You Is Easy,” which is probably the most upbeat song that I’ve heard from her.  She says “It was based on a new relationship, and on hope and excitement and the fact that it is possible to feel this way again.  I didn’t think I could.  It was about the thrill of possibility and, quite frankly, lust.”  She said she is 42 and that she’s going to have “fun” tattooed on her arm because she’s determined to have more of it!  She also said (and I agree) that “Writing about happiness and giddy love is tricky.  It’s not as easy to write about as sadness and heavier things….happiness is quite fleeting.  It’s very light and it’s not something that you can pinpoint.”

She got divorced a couple of years ago and says her music reflects much of her emotional life.   I think most singers/writers works reflect their emotional lives.  I know my writing does.  She has two daughters named India and Taja, whose father is Indian.  It’s nice to see that she has been able to use her emotional experiences to write songs.  She admits it’s harder now with two small kids because “being able to have long periods of time to focus on nothing but myself and writing is long over.  I live in a pretty ADD world right now.”

She is also reviving the female musician focused Lilith Fair tour that she helped start many years ago.  Successful musicians to me are the ultimate entrepreneurs.  They are betting against the odds of making it big that are probably 100 times greater than a technology company making it big.  There are so many more people trying to be successful singers (e.g., just look at American Idol) than there are business entrepreneurs.  I was reading the article and wondering how it would be to go to a studio every day of the week to work with someone as talented as her musical partner, Pierre Marchand, who helps her complete her songs.  I have to say I was day dreaming a bit while I was reading the article.  She has the benefit of great successes behind her before she had kids and she can play the piano as well as the guitar.  I can’t play either…but there’s hope!  They also featured Ozzy Osbourne in the magazine and he says he can’t play any instruments either. :-)

I sing one of her older songs called Ice Cream (you tube link) to my kids sometimes.  I drop them on the couch during the part where she sings “It’s a long way down” and they laugh hysterically.  It makes me laugh while I’m singing it to them.  “Your love is better than ice cream…your love is better than chocolate.”

I wonder if it’s possible to find someone out there who could be my music partner who is looking for a lyricist/singer like me and if we could both take a month or so off and create music.  A nice little dream…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, mom, music, parenting | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sandi Aitken – Success To Me
Oct 24 2009

I interviewed Sandi Aitken (pdf) for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, for an article that was published in the Sep/Oct 2006 issue.  My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together a while back and you can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog.  You can see the full article on Sandi by clicking HERE (pdf).  I haven’t connected with Sandi since the interview so I’m not even sure if she’s still at Freescale, but here’s an overview:

Sandi was/is a benefits manager for Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. in Austin.  Previously she was Director of Wellness and work/life programs for Motorola and health and fitness coordinator for Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp.  She was also health and fitness program coordinator, director of nursing, critical care instructor, and director of the cardiac rehab and pulmonary education center for St. David’s Community Hospital.  She was awarded Texas Nurse of the Year and held a Chair position for the Seton Cove board of directors.  She received her MS from UT Austin in Nursing.

She shares:

Success has a lot to do with being true to your life’s purpose, vision, and goals. Often, that means running counter to what our culture’s definition of success is, because so often in our society, success is defined by your material worth or the initials behind your name. Making money is  important on a certain level, but what’s really important is to know your heart, to find your passion. Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.” Like so many things in life, it seems so simple, but there’s probably nothing harder to do.

She goes on to say:

Finding that alignment between your head and your heart, while at the same time not getting caught up in external pressures, is critical.

Oh, if everyone could be true to themselves, what a world this would be.  But as Sandi noted it is so hard to do because being true to ourselves doesn’t always go over well with other people in our lives.  Aligning head and heart is something I struggle with as do many others because what your heart/passion wants you to do in your career and life doesn’t always mesh up with what is practical given life’s responsibilities and other people’s expectations.

I’m working on trying to mesh some of my passion/heart’s desires with life’s practicalities.  Today I scheduled a make-up voice lesson with my voice instructor, Gene Raymond, who I really enjoy working with, and brought the kids with me.  I’ve brought them to a lesson once before.  I bring them coloring books and they color without fussing at all.  I think they think it is funny to hear mommy sing scales and do vocal exercises.  Some of the vocal exercises are quite funny.  :-)

A few of the songs I’m working on right now are Killing Me Softly With His Song (Roberta Flack), Play Me (Neil Diamond – changing the ‘she’s’ to ‘he’s’), and The Rose (Bette Midler).  I have the opportunity to take a lesson with a teacher at a level higher than Gene in this particular style of coaching called Speech Level Singing in a couple of weeks.  This teacher has sung with Bette Midler and trained several American Idol singers.  I’m looking forward to it and hoping I don’t choke!

Author: | Filed under: music, singing, success, success story | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Diane Birch – Meet and Greet
Aug 10 2009

aruni-diane-birchI’m on a winning streak!  Not only did I just win a bunch of I-Spy stuff, but I also got a call this morning from our local radio station Mix 94.7 and they told me I won a special viewing with Diane Birch, a great up and coming singer.  I first saw her at SXSW earlier this year at Guy Kawasaki’s AllTop party.  She really has such an amazing voice which is so mature for someone in her mid-20’s.  She’s been on David Letterman and played with Prince.  Fortunately, I could shift my schedule to make it there for about an hour in the late afternoon before I had to pick up the kids.

Last week I got an email about her visit to Austin, so I went to the site and signed up for a chance to win.  I didn’t really think I’d win so when I got the call I was pretty surprised.

I even got a picture with her and an autographed little poster, that I’m not really sure what I’ll do with.  I’m wondering if I should take these unusual wins as a sign that I’m on the right path in my life journey right now or just chalk it up to mere coincidence?

I have been really interested in learning more about music, getting into the music scene and my kids could certainly use some more brain exercising games so they are both nice coincidences.

Many great things in life and business can only be attributable to luck.  But you have to be open to the opportunity.  There’s a difference between the person who walks by a $5 bill and sees it because she’s looking around and open to opportunities and the one who walks right on by because she’s looking straight ahead absorbed in the incessant thoughts in her head.  I often wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed because I’m too caught up in thinking and worrying too much about things I probably shouldn’t.

Author: | Filed under: music | Tags: | 1 Comment »