Oh, Yes. It’s Been A While….
Oct 20 2013

It’s been a while for many things in my life but as it relates to this blog, it’s been a an extra long while since I’ve posted. Many good and time consuming things have happened (and keep happening) that have kept me slightly preoccupied.

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That doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading some really good stuff (mostly short articles):

It’s True: You Talk Too Much – How to achieve the optimal 50-50 conversation flow - A Wall Street Journal article written by the writer of The Simpson’s.  It’s a very true and funny read!

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box (Amazon link) – A co-worker recommended this fiction book.  It’s written in a story-like fashion and is very applicable to creating a positive work and home environment.

Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy? – The Atlantic

IBM Watson fires its own cancer-fighting ‘moonshot’ – Venturebeat.  Extra interesting to me since I know the guy leading the Watson project for IBM.

Below is an image about self service customer support tools created by Salesforce.  I am wondering about beginning to write more formally about best practices in client services in a start-up, technology environment on my blog.  It’s what I do for a living.  I generally run client services and operations from beginning to end. I have managed all kinds of internal and external customers. I’ve been told (who knows if it’s actually true) that I’m a strong business networker with a credible reputation.  Two of my Strength’s Finder strengths are “Woo” and “Communication” so it might be a good idea for me to start sharing some of my ideas on customer service. I will continue pondering…

Click to Enlarge Image

Self-Service Portal: The Essential for Fast-Growing Companies — Brought To You By Desk.com
Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, fundraising, networking | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 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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South By Southwest Interactive – 2012
Mar 9 2012

This is the first time in 4+ years that I don’t have a badge to SXSW Interactive (March 9 – 12, 2012).  I attended for the first time in 2008 and then did a panel in 2009 called Building A Web Business After Hours.  My last few years of posts on this event can be found by clicking HERE.  I’m using a picture (facebook, twitter, myspace) in this post I took last year of a woman’s t-shirt that almost perfectly describes the last few years of the SXSW experience.

I’ll be in and around the scene at parties (starting March 8) when and where I can.  I’ll do my best to support my entrepreneur friends in their shameless self promotion and wild depravity.  I’m looking forward to networking and running into people I haven’t seen in a while, including some of my loyal readers. :-D

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One Person’s Common Sense Is Another’s Quantum Physics
Dec 27 2011

Bullet Train - China

How many times have you wondered why someone does not see what you see or get what you get?  How many times have people questioned you when you didn’t do something the way they might do it?  Just as you’ve wondered why certain people are clueless, people have probably wondered the same about you.

I’ve had the opportunity recently to take some career assessment tests.  They are like those tests you took in high school with a career counselor that told you that you should become a nurse, a teacher or you had no worthwhile skills at all.  Well fortunately or unfortunately, I happen to have some skills/talents but some of them seem to be opposing.  In other words, I have an unusual mix of abilities that can cause internal angst (surprise!).  Most of them label me as someone who can do multiple things (Jill-Of-All-Trades) or in other words…shudder…an entrepreneur.  This means I can be a geneticist, a trial lawyer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a recruiter, a coach/counselor, sports writer (I have no clue about professional sports) or even a barista at Starbuck’s as long as they let me rearrange the entire operations at the coffee shop.

I did the Kolbe Career Index A with business coach & friend Michelle Ewalt.  She gave me things to think about and questions to ask about potential career opportunities.  I did the Affini-T assessment with a new Austin company called Affintus, and that one tested my math problem solving skills that I’d half forgotten since taking Algebra many moons ago!  Earlier this year, I did the Strength’s Finder assessment.  All presented similar results but presented them in very different, unique ways.

I think the most important takeaway for me was that we are all so very different in how we view and approach the world, our responsibilities, and careers.  I have more understanding of someone when they don’t “get” how the things they do or say (or don’t do or say) can profoundly affect others, they don’t speak their mind, they can’t connect with people to form networks, or they get stuck and stay stuck instead of looking for alternative paths (common sense to me).  I hope to develop more patience with myself & others when I or they aren’t able to research something completely, execute to completion, or build a magnetic based bullet train (quantum physics to me – ouch that hurts my brain).  If we as parents and managers appreciated the differences and strength’s in people and let them do what they do best, we would create and build better, more sustainable businesses.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, networking | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Going With The Flow – SXSW Interactive Days 3 and 4
Mar 14 2011

Following up on my Day 1 and 2 post on SXSW Interactive, I continued days 3 and 4 following my zen-like strategy.  On Day 3 (Sunday), I went to the Girl + Guy party hosted by Guy Kawasaki (well known in the tech start-up world and a big supporter of women entrepreneurs) and companies like Culture Map.  Last year, I got a picture with Guy at the party they hosted at Allen Boots which I think was why I was wearing a pink cowboy hat.  Afterwards, I went to eat Indian food with some new friends that I met at the party and one of them emailed me the picture of her friend wearing the t-shirt that I put in this post because it’s pretty funny.

Today, I caught a panel led by my friend Thom Singer called You Can Impact Charity Without Being Rich.  Eugene Sepulveda (also a friend), who runs the Entrepreneur’s Foundation of Central Texas (where our company’s at ATI donate a portion of their equity) was on the panel.  I caught most of the keynote with Felica Day, a former World of Warcraft gamer who created an online TV series called The Guild, and although I had no idea who she was before I walked into the room, I was impressed with her youth and energy.

I walked the Trade Show (a whole separate blog post to come about that experience) before going to a panel run by another friend, Enrique Ortiz, on mobile development and applications.  He had the founder of Rovio Mobile, which makes Angry Birds on the panel.  My kids love playing Angry Birds so I asked him if he had a couple of those stuffed animals he could give away.  He didn’t have the big ones, but he gave me two small ones.  He was also giving away t-shirts that said “Chillin’ Like A Villian” with a St. Patrick’s Day theme.  My kids thought I was awesome for a few short moments.  He said they have surpassed $100 million in revenue, Angry Birds was the 52nd game they made, and it had 1.2 billion hours of played time last year.  Amazing!

Then it was off to the ATI co-hosted Entrepreneur’s Lounge to network with a bunch of folks and I got a Fandor (facebook fan page) video/flip book done with one of my co-workers that is supposed to be uploaded to their facebook fan page sometime tomorrow.  Then a few of us headed over to the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB)/NEA party which was pretty rockin’.  The CEO of Groupon was there playing the keyboards for one song that apparently had to do with some lost bet.  I’m not sure who the singer was, but it wasn’t his best voice night.

Overall, this year’s SXSW has been pretty low-key for me.  I think I tweeted (@aruni) more these past few days than I have all of last year.  I’ve been home by 10:30 pm each night despite the lure to stay at the parties longer and go to yet another party afterward.

One more day to go…

Author: | Filed under: conferences, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, networking, social networks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

SXSW Interactive – 2011
Mar 11 2011

It’s that time of year again.  The time in Austin, Texas where South by Southwest and Spring Break combine.  Thousands of people descend on Austin for SXSW Interactive, Film, & Music.  I think the attendees for Interactive surpassed that for music last year.

I’m approaching the experience in a more zen like fashion this year and seeing where the tides pull me.  I know I’ll be at the Entrepreneur’s Lounge, co-hosted by The Austin Technology Incubator (where I work) a few times this week and a few other events including Ignite Austin this evening thanks to the Entrepreneur’s Foundation of Central Texas.  I plan to attend some panels and meet up with people I haven’t seen since last year.

Some of you may remember that I coordinated a panel a couple of years ago called Building A Web Business After Hours.  My advice is don’t do it unless you have a clear path to get out of your day job, don’t have young kids, and aren’t going through personal turmoil.  So this year I’m going to float and see what happens.  I haven’t even uploaded my picture online for my badge so I’ll get an on site picture if I can find parking this afternoon.

Thankfully, the weather is gorgeous with high’s in the upper 70′s predicted for most of the week.  I hope to see some of you (my readers) during my floating around…

Author: | Filed under: austin, austin technology incubator, conferences, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, networking | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

10 Questions to Answer as You Work to Build Your Blog Brand
Nov 17 2010

This post is a stop along Tanya Peterson’s Blog Tour 2010.  Tanya is the blogger behind Blogelina, where she writes about blogging your way to success.  Be sure to check out all the other stops along the tour and enter to win $100 to use in improving your own blog!

10 Questions to Answer as You Work to Build Your Blog Brand

As you seek to make your blog known, there are several important questions to consider and answer:

What is the end purpose you want to accomplish?

First and foremost, when considering how to build your blog name and brand, you need to answer the why question.  Why are you blogging?  Having a clear idea – for yourself – of what you are seeking to achieve through all your hard work will focus your branding efforts and make your work more effective.  Define your vision and all the other questions below will fall in line to make your branding efforts a success.

What are your goals to get to that purpose?

Now that you know more specifically what your vision is for you blog, decide on two or three goals for your blog.  Make them as specific as possible.  Where do you see your blog being in 5 years?  Dream big.  Is there a blog that you admire and want to emulate?  Decide what goals would help you do just that.

What steps will you take to reach those goals?

Now that you have a couple of overarching goals, what steps are you going to take to reach those goals?  Determine what you want to accomplish on your blog this year, this month, this week, and so on.  Write down your goals. Revisit them often and revise them as needed.

Who is your target audience?

Now it’s time to do a little research and determine who exactly it is that you want to reach with your blog.  Who are you seeking to benefit?  Try to be as specific as possible.  Instead of just wanting to reach moms, decide to reach stay-at-home moms who blog.  The more focused and specific that your niche is, the more success you will have in marketing to your reader.

Who are your competitors?

Do a little more research to answer this question.  Look at the other blogs reaching your target market.  What are they doing that works?  What doesn’t seem to be working?  If the occasion arises, ask the bloggers in your niche about their success.  How did they get to be where they are?

What do you have to offer above and beyond your competition?

Again, take a look at the other blogs in your niche.  What are some things that you can offer to your readers that isn’t already being offered?  What about your blog will make readers visit it instead of the hundreds of others out there?  Be sure to determine the answer to this question – and then use it in your advertising.  Let people know why your blog is different… and why they’ll love it!

When people think of you, what do you want them to think of?

When someone remembers your blog, what do you want to come to mind?  Do you want them to think of how informative it was, how fun it was to read, how beautiful your design is, etc.?  Pick one or two specific things to focus on and put your efforts into standing out in those ways.

How will you market your brand?

Will you use a recognizable image?  Do you want people to know your face?  What will be your elevator pitch?

Where will you market your brand?

You can have the best blog that features the most helpful content out there – but if you can’t get it in front of the people who want to read it, it’s going nowhere.  Think about your target audience.  Where are they hanging out?  Where can you get in touch with them?  Do some research and brainstorming to find out – and then get there and start talking about your blog.

Have you considered doing a Blog Tour?

Guest posting is a great way to get the word out about your blog – and to build your brand!  If you’re interested in going on your own guest posting tour around the blogosphere, you can find more information at my Blog Tour homepage.

Taking the time to answer each of these questions clearly in your own mind will focus your efforts in marketing your blog.  More focus will then result in more success.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, networking | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Staying Connected With Your Network
Feb 28 2009

Unlike my friend Thom Singer, I’m no subject matter expert on the topic of networking by any means, but I am a strong believer in the power of building and maintaining a solid network of both personal and professional friends.  I’m an extrovert by nature and an ENTJ on the Meyer’s Briggs personality typing test (link to Wikipedia) so networking and relationship building usually comes easy for me, and I enjoy it.  According to Wikipedia, only about 2% of the  population are ENTJ’s (a.k.a. Fieldmarshals.)  When I was getting my MBA, which was when I was last tested, I think about 30% of our class were ENTJ’s.   Only about 20% of our class were women, so it’s probably an even rarer type for women.  I’ve been told by more than a few people that I exhibit some typical male characteristics.  Go figure!

I also believe the time to cultivate and reach out to your your network is not ONLY when times are tough.  I’ve been amazed at the number of people who I haven’t spoken to in years (not just one or two years but five or more) who have been contacting me to help them with their job search.  I mean, come on!  How can I put my reputation on the line and refer them when I have no idea what they’ve been up to?!

There have been people I’ve worked with who I’ve stayed connected with in one way or another over the years who I’m more than happy to help introduce to people I know, but when I don’t hear a word from someone and the first contact I get is “Can you help me find a job?” or “Can you introduce me to so-and-so?” I literally roll my eyes.  I love helping people so it pains me when people don’t get how important keeping up your network is when times are good.

Apparently no one (or no one will admit it) could have anticipated the economic state we find ourselves in worldwide, and despite the inordinate amount of angst I felt before taking on a day job, in hindsight someone (possibly the Flying Spaghetti Monster) was looking out for me and my family.  Somehow I had the foresight (a.k.a ESP) to take drugs beat the angst into partial submission and accept the job which I’m now grateful for.  I’m still trying to figure out how to get to what usually ends up being a good result without beating myself up inside to almost a bloody pulp before I realize the decision was not such a bad one, but that’s a topic for another blog post a whole novel.

There are four professional groups I meet face-to-face with fairly regularly throughout the year that mean a whole lot to me for a variety of reasons and they are:

B2C CEO/Founder Group – A small group of us meet monthly for lunch to discuss the challenges and joys of running a business that sells products to consumers (i.e. B2C), which is completely different than selling directly to businesses (i.e., B2B).  I happen to be the only woman in this group, but in my career that has typically been the norm.  The format is that we share something good and bad that has happened to us both professionally and personally since the last time we met.  I really like this format because it allows us to get to know each other as human beings…not just business people.  This month we discussed all the challenges some of us are facing with money, employees, and finding other creative ways to keep our businesses going.  One person in the group had to put his business on hold for a while due to the economy.  Sadly, he also recently discovered that one of his key technical people committed suicide which really threw him for a loop.  Most of the rest of us are just taking it a day at a time and trying to keep our businesses alive.  When I shared during our meeting last week, they all told me I shouldn’t give myself such a hard time and beat myself up for not being motivated to do some of the things I need to do after my day job and family commitments.  I really needed to hear that because I have a lot of respect for them and it gave me some room to breathe.  Last month we discussed mid-life crises since I seem to be in the middle of one (middle of my mid-life crisis sounds about right) and one guy said the way he dealt with his was to start a business!  One thought he had to be married with kids to experience one but the rest of us who were married with or without kids quickly assured him that was not the case and he then said he’s been experiencing one for most of his life. :-)

Boss Ladies Group – Another small group of only women about my age (all with small children) that meets monthly for lunch.  When one of us has a baby, we work around their schedule if we can.  We talk about our businesses and balancing our interest in building them while balancing our desires to be great mothers and wives.  One of the women who formed this group invited me to speak to them probably a year or so ago, and I liked the group so much that I asked if I could become a member!  Unlike the B2C and Web CEO groups, most of the women in this group do not have technology businesses.  The businesses range from restaurants, to event planning, to consumer packaged goods, to marketing consulting.

Web CEO Group – This is a larger group that meets probably once every other month and there are a handful of other women CEOs in that group.  We typically meet during a weekday afternoon.  The format has typically been that we pick a topic and present what we’ve learned or questions we have that we pose to the group in that topic.  Topics have ranged from internet marketing, to fund raising, to how to stay alive.  A couple of us in the group have taken on outside jobs to continue moving our businesses forward.

Tuesday Ladies Group -  This is another small group where we tried to meet bi-weekly but after a good start, many of us couldn’t make it consistently so we meet more sporadically.  This group typically meets in the evening so I have a harder time making these meetings given that I’m the only one in the group with small kids.  I’m actually the youngest one in this group with the others ranging in age from their 40′s to 70′s!   Some of the women are entrepreneurs and some of them work for larger organizations but in my mind they are all very entrepreneurially minded.  They have such wisdom to share not only in business but also in life.  I get to hear and feel their life experiences, and I get such perspective from them both personally and professionally!

I had to take a hopefully temporary break from a weekly Blog Mastermind group that I’m involved in that I mentioned in my Giving Things Up post.  Even though the calls are held over lunch I had to take some things off of my mind’s plate and that was one professional group I had to cut.

I also try to stay connected over email or phone with my family and friends when I can because without that support network, I surely would have lost it (more than I have) by now. I would do what I could to help pretty much all of the people in these groups if they needed it, and I’d like to think they would do the same for me.

So for those of you who are still employed, cultivate your network now but please be sincere.  Just like on any of the social sites (e.g., twitter, facebook, linked in, etc.), people can detect insincerity or even desparation.  If you always have a ‘what’s in it for me‘ approach, you won’t get as far as if you have a ‘how can I help you approach.’

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, networking | Tags: , , | 15 Comments »

Some Assembly Required for Women
Sep 7 2008

A couple of friends of mine recently released a book called Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women and for some bizarre reason, they actually included me in their book!  I guess that means I’m a good example of how to network. :)

I’ve known the authors, Thom Singer and Marny Lifshen, for probably close to 8 or 9 years now.  I met them somewhere along the journey of my first high-tech startup and we’ve remained in touch off and on since then.  In fact, Marny was one of the very first beta testers of Baby Insights when her daughter was born! 

For long time readers of my blog, you may remember that Thom Singer did a great guest post called Networking and the Stay at Home Parent that continues to get a lot of eyeballs.  If my 2009 SXSW interactive panel idea is selected, then Thom will serve on the panel with me because he is building his speaking and writing career after hours just like I’m trying to do with Babble Soft

The book is easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, and a great reference guide for those looking for some tips on how to network.  Although it’s written for women in mind, much of the advice they share is great for men too! 

I attended an informal book party they held this weekend at Marny’s house and gladly paid for my autographed copy.  Check it out and look for my name in the Acknowledgements and in a nice little vignette on page 172.  See below for a link to buy their book at Amazon:

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby insights, networking | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

A Yellow Car and Women 2.0
May 14 2008

So I lost the memory stick with the pictures I had taken while in the Bay Area for the Women 2.0 conference.  That’s why it has taken me this long to do my first post about it.  OK, so it’s not that long because I got back Sunday and it’s now Wednesday, but it feels long in Internet/blog time!  I had to harass the friends I stayed with to email me the pictures I took with their camera because, yes, I forgot to take my camera with me.  I guess when your brain is also trying to keep up with two kids, things like cameras get forgotten from time to time.  Thank goodness we live in a time where lost memory sticks can be backed up by good friends and email!

As you may know, I was selected as a semi-finalist but not a finalist, and decided to go to the conference anyway.  I’m glad I did.  I saw the 5 finalists present and was quite confident that my company, and several others I met while there, would have probably been better (i.e., more fundable) than at least 2 of the teams that presented.  But hey, it would be hard for most people to decide what teams are the best based on a one-page summary and 2 minute video.  

Koollage was the winner and their tag line is Kool, Kolorful snippets of your digital world to go.  The People’s choice award was Gaiagy and offers residential and commercial building owners recommendations for how they can most economically make their operations more eco-friendly. To see a full write-up on the winners on TechCrunch go here.  But I digress.

It all started with a yellow car.  I reserved a car at Hertz and got a pretty good $22/day rate and the lady at the counter asked me if I wanted a yellow car.  I had expected a compact Hyundai or something so I said sure, but what do you mean by yellow?  She said it was sporty and the notes said it was yellow.  She told me if I didn’t like it I could exchange it for something else.  I half expected it to be some sort of light yellow, champagne color, but it was in fact bright yellow and here’s the picture to prove it.  I smiled when I saw it and figured everyone could see me so chances of my being hit in California traffic would be significantly reduced so I took that Chevy Cobolt, sporty, 2-door with sun roof car and headed towards highway 101!

 

Stay tuned for the rest of the Women 2.0 and yellow car story by subscribing to this blog.  I’ll be writing about who I met and what I learned in the days to come.

Author: | Filed under: conferences, entrepreneurship, networking, silicon valley | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Moms Gone Viral
May 2 2008

I was planning to write a post updating everyone on our search engine optimization experience today but the real world injected itself with a sick kid at home.  High fever and rescheduling meetings doesn’t leave much time for writing long, heavy posts.  Plus I had to sneak in a nap in the afternoon while our daughter napped since we didn’t get much sleep the night before. :)

So instead, while my husband takes care of the kids this evening, I thought I’d write a post on the example of an unanticipated, viral marketing story with a mom twist.  So here it goes…

Once upon a time I met a friend on the Internet.  I found her blog and commented away.  After some time, we realized we had similar visions and she invited me do a guest post on her blog called Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse.  We kept in touch, spoke on the phone a few times about ways to work together, became twitter pals, and finally met in person at SXSW here in Austin back in March and clicked even more. 

While at SXSW she got further proof of what she already knew which was that the name of her blog, then called eMoms at Home, was not really reflective of the demographics of her readers and would-be readers so she had a mini-meltdown, picked herself up and came up with a cool new name called Sparkplugging!  Since she was and still is an advocate of entrepreneurs and especially those who work from home, her cool, new name opens the door wide open to many of us who are moms or not but like to spark up ideas and play with them until something happens.

So after SXSW, she went home and saw a post about dads on twitter and decided to do one for moms.  Within hours she got tons of replies and created a post called The Ultimate List of Moms on Twitter that started with 250 moms.  I commented and subscribed to comments on that post and every day new moms would leave a comment with their twitter name until May 1, 2008 that is.  Twitter sent out an email to everyone yesterday, May 1, and in it they included:

Mother’s Day: On The Way

We’ve noticed a trend of parents twittering the moments of their baby’s birth so we know there are some new moms on Twitter. Are you a mom on Twitter? Is your own mom on Twitter? Maybe you even made “The Ultimate List of Moms on Twitter”? Mother’s Day is just around the corner so don’t forget to @reply the moms you know with a thoughtful phrase–but keep it under 140 characters, moms are busy people.

List of Moms on Twitter: http://tinyurl.com/6cxgp5

And today I had 150+ comments in my inbox and they are still coming.  Now she has close to 400 comments on that one post! Did she do anything extraordinary to make it happen? Not really.  Did she tell people on twitter about it? Yes, of course.  Did she know others would tell and re-tell more people about the list? Possibly.  Did she know twitter would pick it up in their mass email to everyone? Doubtful (but I don’t know what went on behind the scenes).  So in hindsight what played in her favor to have a post she wrote on April 8 (before her name change) take on a life of its own?  Here’s what I think:

  • She took the initiative to do something that ended up being quite time consuming, but she saw from the responses it resonated with hundreds of moms on twitter that it was a worthwhile endeavor. 
  • She told her friends about it who re-tweeted and blogged about it. 
  • The tweeters kept the link going within twitter and in the blogosphere. 
  • Mother’s Day was around the corner and the guys (I think they are all men) at twitter saw the activity and might have said to themselves “Hmmm. How can we mention a major holiday, get brownie points with our wives/mothers, and promote twitter at the same time” and voila a mention was born!

UPDATE: I sent a link to @Biz to this post and he informed me there are several women who work at twitter!  So of course I followed them.  Here is his tweet: 

biz @aruni awesome! I included the moms list because it was noteworthy – also, women who work at Twitter: @crystal @krissy @alissa @lane @sara

In case you haven’t guessed who this friend is, it’s Wendy Piersall.  I guess only Wendy can tell us if she planned all of this, but to me it’s another example of viral marketing that in hindsight makes sense but when started, the current result would have been highly unpredictable. 

To me, this is why it is so hard to orchestrate a viral campaign.  You can plan everything down to the “t” and still not have it work out the way you wanted.  It’s hard to predict when there are so many variables.  You can also just do something you enjoy doing that helps others and see a “spark” turn into a flame!  Way to go Wendy! :-D

Oh and by the way, I am @aruni and Wendy is @eMom on twitter…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, mom, mother, mother's day, networking, seo, social networks, success, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Johnson & Johnson Invited Me to Baby Camp!
Apr 7 2008

jjbabycamp.gif

So if you are plugged into the blogosphere you no doubt heard about Johnson & Johnson’s baby camp.  I was one of the lucky ones invited but either a) my email filter ate the first round of invites or b) I was one of the mommy bloggers who was added to the list later. So by the time I got the invite and responded, they were already full…plus I couldn’t go anyway.

I did want to blog about it when I first got the invite but since I wasn’t able to attend, I didn’t want the world to know why I couldn’t attend.  All were good reasons: 1) my husband was out of town, 2) my cousin and family were visiting from New York on a trip planned quite some time ago, and 3) they were full.

I haven’t read a lot about the outcome of the camp yet.  A few posts on the blog storm about the invite process, who was not invited, the fact that babies weren’t allowed to come, and why some were uninvited because of various reasons including they were attending the BlogHer business conference or were nursing can be read here:

Queen of SpainSo you want to talk to mommy bloggers?

City MamaNeeded something to talk about at the BlogHer conference.

Maryam ScobleFirst Night and Going to Camp

Mom 101Johnson & Johnson Baby Gate

Robert ScobleJ&J ‘breaks into jail’ with baby camp (check out the comments on this one for a nice letter from J&J trying to explain the situation)

I have met in person or communicated via email with all of the above bloggers except for one.  I’m anxious to see what happened at the camp.  Right now when I type in “Johnson & Johnson Baby Camp” into Google I only see links on the first page to posts about how they mishandled the invitation process.  I’m anticipating that they ‘saved face’ at the camp and the bloggers who attended will have much to share with us when they have a chance to write about it.  The coordinators said they would send me information after it was over so I’ll most likely do another post on this soon.

Overall, I think it was a great move on J&J’s part to make a visible first step to ‘friend’ the mommy bloggers.  Yes, they made a few mistakes but, just like starting a new business, trial & error is part of the game. If they learn from their mistakes, I’m sure it will all end up on a positive note!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, networking, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

SXSW Interactive – Monday, March 10, 2008
Mar 10 2008

It’s been a long, fun filled day at SXSW Interactive today.  So this post won’t be as meaty as my previous SXSW post.  I met tons of people today and many people who know me and who I know from twitter.  It was so cool to have so many people come up to me and say, ‘hey, aren’t you @aruni on twitter?’  I guess I kind of stand out in a crowd. :-)  I probably gained about 30 followers just from tweeting about the panels I attended.  Here’s a quick overview because honestly I’m kinda worn out:

The Care and Feeding of Your Startup
This panel was made up of some local entrepreneurs from Unwired Nation as well as a venture capitalist from Texas based DFJ Mercury and a couple of others.  Some key insights:

  • Someone needs to serve as the “Belief Engine” for your startup which I took to mean the “evangelist” but I thought that was a unique way of saying it.
  • Make sure your product fits into your users way of life and they don’t have to drastically change what they are doing
  • Understand if your concept is a feature or a business.  It could be a feature that expands into a business.
  • You should aim to exceed investor’s expectations.
  • 9 out of 10 entrepreneurs can’t go the distance so they really should identify a strong mentor.
  • Make sure the people you hire have ‘karmic velcro’ which means they have the fortitude to stick around when the going gets tough.
  • There are 3 key people you need in a start-up.  1 in charge of product, 1 handling business development who can close the early deals, and 1 evangelist.
  • It’s not appropriate to go to VCs in the first 2 years of a business, because in the first 2 years you are still assessing the market risk.  Almost all the VC deals that occurred with Web companies in early stage have not worked out and they are struggling to get their money back.
  • Keep two sets of books.  One you show your investors and one with even more aggressive numbers that you aim for internally.

True Stories from Social Media Sites

This panel was moderated by Guy Kawasaki, who was so kind to put my blog near the top of his new AllTop Moms site.  It was notably a panel of 5 women and 1 guy.  Two of the women were twitter pals so when I got up to ask a question and say ‘hi’ one of them was tweeting about me.

I had my son with me at this panel because he’s home for Spring Break so I wasn’t able to take a lot of notes or do many tweets because half way through he wanted to play a game on my phone!  He actually did really well, scribbled a bit, and then drew a funny looking dinosaur who he felt the need to show was pooping.  Such a funny kid!  He wanted me to go up to the mic and say something, but when I tried to get him to come with me, he got shy…he is only afterall 5 1/2.

The panelists discussed their great and not-so-great experiences using social media.  What funny and sometimes unbelievable stories they shared!

I met up with my husband after that panel and we took our son for a late lunch at Bennigan’s and then he took him home, and I went to the BlogHaus to network with more bloggers.

Online Adulation: Use Don’t Abuse Your Fans

This panel had an editor from CNET as moderator and some pretty fabulous bloggers including the infamous Dooce whose current post is called Fueled Entirely by Advil.  

I was sitting next to Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home during this panel and she was twittering away.  She had her laptop so she could do it much faster than I could so I let her take over so go read her twitter stream if you want to read all about it.

Went back to the Bloghaus after this panel and met none other than Darren Rowse (aka Problogger).  Someone took a picture of us and said he’d email it to me so I’ll post it when I get it…assuming he remembers.

Conversation Starters

This event was hosted by DELL and Federated Media and they booked the entire Iron Cactus restaurant on 6th and Trinity.  Richard at DELL was the lead blogging rep from DELL, who I had met a few weeks earlier at an Austin Tweet Up.

Because I’m twitter friends with Kim Haynes, I volunteered to help with registration since it was an RSVP only event.  Of course, that meant I had access to extra drink tickets and people wanted to get to know me! 

The key speakers were top blogger and FastCompany.tv producer Robert Scoble (aka Scobleizer) and Shel Israel of Global Neighborhoods.

I met so many twitter buds at Conversation Starters, including the famous Chris Brogan, and throughout the day that it would take me all night to type up their names.  Already, this post is longer than I thought it would be!

Stay tuned for my next SXSWi post on Tuesday’s events.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, conferences, entrepreneurship, networking, social media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Networking And The Stay-At-Home Parent – Guest Baby Tip
Feb 21 2008

I babble about business, babies, and parenthood on this blog, so those of you who come here to read my posts on entrepreneurship but do not have babies, please forward this post to your friends and family who do have babies. For those who have babies and dabble in business, these tips might be right up your alley.  If you have babies and no interest in business, then send it on to the folks you know who are knee-deep in business and encourage them to have a baby!  :-)  To read other great baby tips, check out the baby tips category.

Thom Singer, our very own Austin-based networking guru, bravely accepted my invitation to write a guest baby tip.   Thom Singer is the director of business development for vcfo in Austin, Texas. He is also a professional speaker and the author of two books on the power of business relationships and networking: “Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships” and “The ABC’s of Networking.“  He is currently working on “Some Assembly Required for Women” with co-author Marny Lifshen. He also blogs at Some Assembly Required.  And now here is his fabulous baby tip:

Networking And The Stay-At-Home Parent

thom-and-family-crop.jpgHaving children changes everything. It doesn’t matter what kind of life you lived before or how your family handles the arrival of your bundle of joy(s), introducing kids into the equation shakes up all of your priorities.

When my first daughter, Jackie, was born I was thirty years old. I was working in a sales position, making decent money, and building my professional reputation and network of contacts. I was ambitious, and did not think that being a parent would make my life all that different. My wife had planned to quit her job and stay home with our children, and I figured I would continue along my career path un-affected by fatherhood.

While on maternity leave my wife received the word that she was being promoted to the job she had desired for seven years with her employer. While she did not make as much money as I did at the time, the opportunity was too good to pass up, and after much discussion and soul searching, I found myself quitting my job to become a stay-at-home dad for two years.

Being a full-time parent is hard work. Don’t kid yourself unless you have taken on this responsibility for more than a few days. There are no days off, no coffee breaks, no business trips, expense accounts or anything else that is an accepted corporate perk. I had never thought growing up that I would be a stay-at-home dad, as there was no such job description or role models who did such a thing. In the late 1990′s the concept was still even more rare than it is today.

I found this time to be very challenging, but also extremely rewarding. Eleven years later Jackie and I have a very close relationship and we share a wonderful bond from those early days of always being together. However, I also knew that this was a temporary role, as my wife would have preferred to have been at home, and I longed to have a blossoming career. Thus I spent much of the time continuing to network and cultivate relationships that would allow me to one day return to the work world. Although there were some naysayers who warned me that my professional career would never recover from the two years away, the reality was because of the active networking I was able to bounce right back into my career when the time was right.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you decide to take on the role of stay-at-home parenting while your children are young, you need to keep your professional relationships alive. This will not happen by accident, and it takes time and effort (things in short supply when babies are teething, learning to walk, getting sick, and just being cute as all get out!), but neglecting your network can make it much more difficult to transition back to the workforce when that time arrives.

I was very proactive and made sure I had one breakfast and one lunch meeting each week. I was lucky, as Jackie was a very agreeable baby who was happy to sit quietly on my lap or in her stroller while I talked business with friends and former co-workers. While some people are self-conscious about bringing their kids along to business meetings, I never looked at this as a negative. Caring for Jackie was my job, and it was just as important (or more important!) as being a lawyer, accountant or financial planner. As she got older and was more mobile, I would often need to be more creative on setting up these meetings, working around my wife’s schedule or trading babysitting with a neighbor in order to have such appointments. However, there is always a way when you realize that something is a priority.

When it came time to return to work it was easy to put the word out that I was looking for a job as I was still a visible part of the business community. This was as much a state-of-mind as it was a result of my actions.

Choosing to leave the work world to be home with your kids can be both difficult and rewarding. The isolation of not having other grown-ups around can leave one feeling very disconnected. If you can relate to these feelings, then you need to take charge of your networking efforts and get back out into the world. Your future opportunities will all come from people, so you need to make, grow and keep your business relationships.

Have A Great Day.

______

If you like this tip, you might be interested in these great ones too:

15 Tips for Traveling with Baby by Maryam Scoble at Maryamie

Throw A Baby Kegger For Your Buddy by Clay Nichols at DadLabs

Keeping a Baby Food Journal by Neena at A Mom’s Life at NeenMachine.com

Increasing Milk Supply by Carole Hayes at Alias Tex

Note to new readers: these tips are based on our experiences, as well as those of our friends and readers. Please always consult with your doctor before implementing any tip that might impact the health of your baby. If you have a tip you’d like to submit please send an email to blogger at babblesoft dot com.  Please check the ‘baby tips’ category to make sure your tip (in some form or fashion) hasn’t already been posted. If it has been, feel free to comment on that post and support the tip. We also welcome respectful challenges to the tips because as is noted in our inaugural baby tip ‘everything is relative!’ We will, of course, give anyone who submits a tip we publish credit and lotsa link love!

Author: | Filed under: baby, baby tips, networking, parenting, stay at home dad | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

2007 Sweet Blogging Candy Connections
Dec 27 2007

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Picture by my friend Sandy Blanchard

Liz Strauss did a post asking us how we thank our blog friends and it got me thinking as Liz’s posts often do.  As 2007 comes to a close, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank and recognize all the amazing connections with amazing people I’ve made as a result of starting this blog this year.  Your posts and comments have made me laugh, shed tears, smile, raise my eyebrows, share, grow as a person, and most importantly LEARN.  Thank you!  In no particular order (except for the first one), they are:

Connie Reece of Every Dot Connects – She is the one who got me started with blogging!

Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home.  She gave me the honor of guest posting on her blog with a post called Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse?

Liz Strauss of Successful Blog – she called me an SOB (Successful and Oustanding Blogger)

Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz – check out her mini case study on Babble Soft

Pearl at Interesting Observations

Neena of A Mom’s Life at Neenmachine – check out her guest baby tip on keeping a baby food journal

Carole Hayes of Alias Tex – check out her guest baby tip post on increasing your milk supply

Bryan Mennell of Austin Startup – check out my guest post called Parenting a Startup and Kids.

Carleen Hawn of Found|Read – check out her post about one of my posts called Sometimes, You Gotta Ignore the Experts

Nataly Kagan of Work It, Mom – she mentioned me in one of her posts on her personal blog Learning Optimism that she later posted on Huffington Post.

Thom Singer of Some Assembly Required – He recently did a post on passion and mentioned me.

Lee Aase from Lines from Lee – he helped me with setting up the Babble Soft facebook page.

Robb at the Robblog – long time friend.  I think I forced him into blogging or something like that.

Clay Nichols of DadLabs – fellow Austin entrepreneur in the parenting area.  If you haven’t seen it (and aren’t easily offended) check out their Manly Breastfeeding Video.

Eric Doggett of DogBlog - a fellow Austin entreprenuer/photographer

Shane & Peter of Shane & Peter - because of Shane’s post requesting us to interview ourselves I wrote a post called An Entrepreneurial Self Portrait.

Maryam Scoble of Maryamie – don’t be surprised if you see me on the Scobleshow in 2008!

Char at Casual Keystrokes

Randa Clay of Randa Clay Design

Jennifer Laycock of The Lactivist- nursing out loud

Karen Rani and Vicki Maxel of Swank Webstyle – they did my entrepreMusings blog design and implementation as well as our current corporate site.

We have exchanged meaningful (at least to me!) emails/blog comments, spoken on the phone, or met in person this past year.  They have helped me in my journey and I hope that I’ve been able to help them too!  I apologize if I’ve forgotten someone as I’m typing this up before we head out for the holidays.  If I have, let me know and I’ll add you to the list. 

Thank you all for enriching my life in 2007!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, networking | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »