September 11, 2011
Sep 11 2011

Ten years have passed since that fateful day in New York City.  Many people have been born and many have died.  The 9/11/01 smashing of the World Trade Centers and attack on the American way of life is being talked about and shown on most news networks.  Today is 9/11/11 and so much has changed in the last ten years and yet so much is still the same.  When it happened, I had just been married 5 1/2 months and didn’t know I would be pregnant with my son a couple of months later.  I did a post back in May 2011 when the Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden.

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A decade.  A marriage.  Two kids.  A new school.   A family implosion/disruption.  A few jobs.  Money in.  Money out.  Baby teeth in.  Baby teeth out.  Love.  Loss.  Understanding.  Misunderstanding.  Tears.  Anger.  Fears.  Laughter.  Confusion.  Joy.  Pain.  Sadness.  Health.  Sickness.  Awakening.  Words.  Songs.

I wish you and your family lots of Love and Laughter for the next 10 years and beyond.  I think if those who orchestrated and conducted the attacks 1o years ago had more true Love and Laughter and less Sadness, Confusion, and Anger, we might not be celebrating the anniversary of such a horrible day.  I wonder, though, if we as a nation, species, and world have truly woken up yet.

Author: | Filed under: marriage, new york city, parenting | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead
May 2 2011

I don’t watch the news often because most of it is depressing, and I get most of my news by reading articles online.  But last night I just happened to switch to CNN around 10:00 pm CST after seeing a recording of one of the few drama shows I watch and saw the news about Osama Bin Laden’s death.  I checked out FOX News as well…just to make sure both stations were reporting the same thing.  Lo and behold they were except for they spelled his name “Usama.”

The strange thing was that I happened to be watching TV the morning of the 9/11/01 twin towers disaster.  2001 was a BIG year of change for me personally and professionally and for some reason I was up early watching TV when all of a sudden I saw planes flying into the World Trade Center in New York.  I couldn’t believe my eyes at first and thought it must be some weird kind of movie, but it was true.  I had family and friends who lived in New York.  One of my friends was in the Merrill Lynch building just before the planes hit but fortunately, he made it out safely.

It’s been almost 10 years since that crazy day.  It took 10 long years and a lot of money to find him and kill him.  Who knows if al Qaeda will retaliate.  I hope they are as tired as we are at all the stupid killing over things that really do not matter.  I can’t imagine that God, however anyone chooses to believe in Him/Her would condone such senseless acts since we are all His/Her children.   “9/11″ was before either of my children were born so when I talk to them about it they don’t really understand and I guess they never will.

I’m glad he’s gone and I hope wherever his soul goes it gets a good hard deep cleansing with extra strength bleach and a huge dose of painful reality.  That way if he comes back again to earth, he will be highly sanitized.

Now onto the next chapter of humanity…

Author: | Filed under: FYI, new york city, random stuff | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Eat, Pray, Love, and Vacation
Aug 15 2010

Hamilton Pool

I just got back from a week long part stay-cation and part away-cation with some friends who live in two different cities.  We visited some local Austin famous places like the Oasis and Hamilton Pool.  We also saw The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (nice movie).   I always feel so blessed after I get to spend time with these particular friends because I’ve known them for 20+ years now.   Our kids have virtually grown up together and at one point in each of their lives, they thought they were cousins.  It didn’t matter that we looked different, to them they just felt like family.  I feel lucky to have them in my and my kids lives.

During this time, I read a very interesting book (that most of the rest of the world already knows about because the movie is now out starring Julia Roberts) Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (Amazon Link) by Elizabeth Gilbert.   It was if the author was writing parts of my story!  It got enough positive reviews to warrant a movie starring Julia Roberts but it certainly touched a nerve with some of the Amazon reviewers who decided it was self indulgent!  One of the moms at a water park we went to  saw I was reading it and told me how great it was and she loved it.  She told me “just wait until you get to the part when she’s in India.”  This is obviously a book that elicits very different responses from people depending where they are in their life/spiritual journey.

I won’t quote some of passages (that I desperately want to) here because my blog is read by many people…not just women age 30+ going through a mid-life awakening and search for meaning.  This is a non-fiction account of the author’s experience of taking one year ‘off’ to find God/herself.  She does not have kids and received a hefty book advance which makes this a much easier endeavor.  She spends 4 months in Italy (eating), 4 months in India (praying), and 4 months in Indonesia, specifically Bali (loving).   She writes about divorce, marriage, God, spirituality, crushes, love, food, different cultures, depression, not wanting to live, yoga, meditation, physical intimacy, soul mates, etc.  The only character in India who the author says she uses his real name is Richard from Texas.  Richard has an interesting take on soul mates (see quote below) and apparently he builds houses in Austin.  I SO want to run into Richard from Texas some day!  Given I live in Austin, it might happen.  Now for some quotes:

“Sincere spiritual investigation is, and always has been, an endeavor of methodical discipline.  Looking for Truth is not some kind of spazzy free-for-all, not even during this, the great age of the spazzy free-for-all.” p. 2.

I’m not going to type it all here, but the top of p. 49 she talks about how she tried to make sense of her depression and why she would feel this way from chemical, diet, seasonal, to being an artist/writer, to her situation, to her parents, to xyz and she concluded it was probably a little bit of everything and things she didn’t even understand.

“Virginia Woolf wrote, ‘Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword.’  On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where ‘all is correct.’ But on the other side of that sword, if you’re crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, ‘all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course.’  Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a far more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will also be more perilous.” p. 95

“The Bhagavad Gita – that ancient Indian Yogic text – says that is is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” p. 95

“The classical Indian sages wrote that there are three factors which indicate whether a soul has been blessed with the highest and most auspicious luck in the universe: 1. To have been born a human being, capable of conscious inquiry. 2. To have been born with – or to have developed – a yearning to understand the nature of the universe.  3. To have found a living spiritual master.” p. 124

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants.  But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.  A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.  But to live with a soul mate forever?  Nah.  Too painful.  Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.  And thank God for it….[they] shake you up…tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you [have] to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it.” p. 149

“To know God, you need only to renounce one thing – your sense of division from God.  Otherwise, just stay as you were made, within your natural character.” p. 192

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.  You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.  And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” p. 260

“The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy.  We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash.  We get seduced by our own mantras (I’m a failure…I’m lonely…I’m a failure…I’m lonely…) and we become monuments to them.  To stop talking for a while then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras.” p. 325

Yes, this is a great book to read for those of you on a journey ‘to understand the nature of the universe’ which is a means to understand yourself.

Author: | Filed under: book review, books, new york city, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

SXSW Interactive – Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Mar 12 2008

Yesterday was the last day of SXSW Interactive and I have practically a desk full of business cards.  Our son came yesterday (yes, it’s Spring Break here) for part of it as well but went with husband this time to a panel he attended.  I was only able to make one panel yesterday and spent the rest of the time networking.  Check out my posts on events I attended on Sunday (including my take on the Zuckerberg/facebook interview) and Monday.

Robert Scoble even did an interview of me that was posted to Qik but for some strange reason (due to the 3G connection) it got broken down to 16 different few second clips.  Here’s the first one, here’s a middle one, and here’s the last clip.  They are going to try to see if they can string it together, but it’s looking doubtful.  Guess that means we’ll have to do a more official one next time!

UPDATE: Qik was able to string pieces of the video together and you can see it HERE.  Once they get Robert’s phone, they will see if they can fill in some of the missing gaps using the files on his phone.  Once they do that, I’ll embed the video in a future blog post.

The Insiders Guide to Angel Investing
angel_button_frame.jpgThis panel was not really a panel because the only speaker was David Rose.  David is the founder of New York Angels and Angelsoft, a software application that helps angel investing groups manage plans received by entrepreneurs.  He had some great info on angels and angel investing.  He mentioned that he would make his slide-show presentation available and I will update this post if and when he sends the link, but here are some highlights:

  • There are 600K new companies started each year.  Of those 350K are self-funded, 200K are funded by friends and family, 50K by Angel investors, and a mere 1200 by venture capitalists.
  • Angels are generally about 57 years old, they have a master’s degree, 15 years of entrepreneurial experience, have been involved with and/or started on average 2.7 ventures.
  • To be an accredited investor you must have $1 million in assets and have to have made $200K of annual revenue for the past 2 years.
  • The average angel investor has spent 9 years investing, had done 10 investments, had 2 exits (profitable or lost their money), and 10% of their wealth is tied up in angel investments.
  • Angels look for companies with Scalable Business Models, an “Unfair Advantage,” a Great Entrepreneur, External Validation, Low Investment Requirement, Reasonable Valuation ($1 to $3 million pre-money range),  and a 20 to 30 times return on their investment within 5 to 7 years.
  • The single most important characteristic an Angel investor looks for in an entrepreneur is Integrity.  Then they look for Passion, Experience, Knowledge, Skill, Leadership, Commitment, Vision, Realism, and Coachability.

David said most angel investors don’t end up making a ton of money from angel investing.  In fact most lose money.  Many invest because they want to give back and help other entrepreneurs.  He even offered us a joke that goes like this:  How do you make a small fortune angel investing? You have to make a large fortune first! :-)

He then went on to talk about the process of applying to an Angel network and described what the entrepreneur as well as the Angel investor sees if they are using the Angelsoft software application tool.  If you are an entrepreneur, he suggested you submit your plan at www.angelsoft.net/entrepreneurs.   They will soon be launching a site called Open Deals where entrepreneurs who don’t have access to a local angel group can submit their plan.  For a full list of angel groups, check out the Angel Capital Association site and their directory of angel groups.

All in all, I had a great time at SXSWi.  I look forward to attending next year and maybe even being a panelist!

Author: | Filed under: angels, conferences, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, fundraising, new york city, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

I was Enchanted by the Movie
Nov 25 2007

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Enchanted (2007) – Rachel Covey, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Amy Adams  

My husband and I went to see Enchanted this weekend without the kids.  I was a bit skeptical at first, but it ended up being a very cute, funny movie!

I initially suggested Stephen King’s The Mist, but my husband said The Mist looked too depressing, and he was already depressed because the The University of Texas at Austin Longhorn football team lost to Texas A&M’s Aggies this weekend, so he didn’t want to see it.  He then suggested we see American Gangster with Denzel Washington.  I said well if The Mist is depressing then how is people killing each other (on the streets of New York back in the day) not depressing?  He said that he didn’t think that kind of action was depressing.  After some annoying discussion, we settled on Enchanted.  I think he would tell you he liked it too even though it might be considered by some a teenage girl, chick flick. 

Enchanted is an attempt by Disney to bring a little bit of realism into its fairy tale stories.  I think many people now feel (and know from experience) that things don’t always work out like they do in fairy tales.  The princesses don’t always find their prince (or vice versa), princesses can rescue themselves in many cases, princes need rescuing too, princesses and princes come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.  My high-level observations:

  • Although Princess Giselle quite obviously had a life full of privilege and wanted for nothing except a handsome prince in a place where ‘happily ever after’ was the norm, when faced with adversity she adapted.  When rats, pigeons, and cockroaches heeded her call for help in New York she flinched a bit and then said ‘oh well, I’ll take what I can get’ and went on singing. She was also able to make fabulous dresses out of curtains and blankets at a moments notice (quite a trick because there was never a sewing machine in sight!).
  • Patrick Dempsey who plays Robert, a divorce attorney, seems to play characters who are as close to a real-life Prince Charming that you can get in this day and age!  Kind, caring, good-looking, smart, rich, etc.  He also plays Dr. McDreamy (a.k.a. Dr. Derek Shepherd) in Grey’s Anatomy where he is pretty much Dr. Meredith Grey’s prince charming but she doesn’t know how to accept him in that role.
  • Prince Edward was portrayed as a slightly slow, kind hearted guy.  I found this curious because Princess Giselle was smart and he was as they say ‘a little behind the eight ball.’  Maybe they did this to illustrate that a true princess not only wants good looks but smarts too.  Interestingly, he left back to fairy tale land with Nancy, Robert’s girlfriend (who they didn’t give us any reason to believe wasn’t smart) when both of them lost their loves to each of their loves.  A bit confusing but this part of the plot lent itself to the ‘happily every after’ goal of the movie.

Despite all the twists and turns, everyone still lived ‘happily ever after!’  Until of course Enchanted II comes out. :-)   Overall it was a fun movie that had me smiling throughout mostly because of the impossibility of it all!

Author: | Filed under: Just For Fun, new york city, random stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Fred Wilson on Venture Capital Fund Performance
Nov 10 2007

For those of you interested in venture capital, you should definitely check out Fred Wilson’s blog called A VC – Musings of a VC in NYC.  He’s been doing a series of articles on Venture Fund performance that is very interesting.  Although I’m not currently looking to raise venture capital, it’s good for entrepreneurs to understand the history of venture financing because these venture funds might be investing in future partners or competitors.

I am currently evaluating the opportunity to raise angel and strategic financing to take Babble Soft to the next level.  I am reaching near the end of my pocket book (or purse strings) and I have so many ideas that I want to implement that will mostly likely require outside capital.  The interesting challenge I have with Babble Soft is that we are not only a Web 2.0 (ACK!$%#) play but also a web portal, thingamajig, mobile application, [invent new word here] play.  Most of these plays are in my mind, scratched out on paper, or mocked up in PowerPoint and the only things lacking are the money and the people to bring them to fruition.

Anyway, check out:

VC Fund Performance – Some History

VC Fund Performance – Selection Bias

The Rise and Fall of the Venture Business

VC Fund Performance – Sample Size

VC Fund Performance – The Ugly Years

A VC – for future posts that I’m sure Fred will be putting up on the subject.

I’m excited about the prospect of raising angel funds because I had a good experience with the two angel rounds I raised for my first tech start-up.  However, having raised funds before I know how long it can take and how many doors will be slammed in my face before getting to the right investment partners and I’m not looking forward to that.  For my first company, we raised money in 1998, 1999, and 2000 (just a few months before the bubble burst) so I know that things went faster than they normally do in ‘fundraising land.’  Isochron survived because it has a solid product/service that companies like Coca-Cola were willing to pay for but let’s just say we as Founders were washed out when it was sold in 2002.

I’m a little bit wiser now on how to play this game, however, now I’m leading a company that has a Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) business model compared to my last which was purely B2B.  Plus even though the Internet has been around for a while, things are evolving at a lightening pace making last years, last quarters, or last months strategies in some cases no longer repeatable.

Interesting times ahead!  All I know is that of all the deals out there, Babble Soft will one day be in the top 10% of ‘why didn’t I think of that’ ideas!  Ah yes, spoken like a true high-tech entrepreneur who might one day wish she had invented those little, cute Croc shoe accessories called Jibbitz instead of trying to do a high-tech startup!  Yeesh…I don’t even own a pair of Crocs, but I know that mom who invented Jibbitz is sitting back laughing all the way to the bank!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, new york city, technology | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Working Mother Multicultural Conference Summary
Sep 18 2007

carol-evans.jpgI have finally finished my posts on my experience attending the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. USE IT. SHARE IT.)  Since the posts have been stretched out over the last couple of months, I thought it might be helpful to do a summary post for new readers.

I was given the great opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend the conference that was sponsored by JP Morgan Chase.  Thank you!  Thank You!  THANK YOU! JP Morgan.  Since we are bootstrapping Babble Soft, any money we can use to help our company grow is truly appreciated.  It was one of the best (dare I say best!) conferences I have ever attended in my life, and I’ve been to many of them. 

The picture (taken by Rohanna Mertens of Doug Goodman Photography) shows Carol Evans (in the fabulous pink suit), founder/CEO of Working Mother Media shaking hands with conference attendees and speakers.  Thanks to Carol for envisioning and implementing such a great conference and helping create such a fabulous experience for all of us! 

I recently got notice that Working Mother’s Media 3rd Annual Multicultural Women’s Town Hall meeting will be in Houston, Texas on October 18, 2007.  Unfortunately, I can’t make it because that is the same week my husband, Erin, who is chair of the Austin Wireless Alliance, is coordinating the Texas Wireless Summit here in Austin and boy has he helped to get some amazing speakers for that event!  The Who’s Who of Wireless is scheduled to be there.

Now for the good stuff.  Here’s a summary of all the posts I wrote about my trip to New York and the conference experience:

Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC

Planes, Trains, and Subways

Working Mother Conference Opening – POWER

Dr. Bertice Berry, author of When Love Calls, You Better Answer and I’m On My Way, But Your Foot is On My Head

Instant Polling, sponsored by Ford Motor Company a downright fascinating summary of how the 700 attendees identified themselves and their thoughts about Power.

Exploring Power Dynamics in the Executive Suite, VP and C-level executives discuss their personal experiences on rising to the top

The Art of War for Women, written by Chin-Ning Chu

From the Mouths of Men, VP and C-level men discuss what it takes to put women in the corner office.

The Time Has Come for the Woman’s Century, a book review on The Art of War for Women

The Asians Shine, summarizes how the Asian attendees use or don’t use their Power in the workplace

The Hub Factor: Charisma, sharing Julia Hubbel’s thoughts on networking

Phew!  I want to thank all of the people I wrote about who helped me make these posts as accurate and informational as possible.  Your insights will help other people with decisions they may be making right now in their lives! :-)

Author: | Filed under: books, conferences, networking, new york city | Comments Off

The Hub Factor: Charisma – Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC
Sep 17 2007

Now for the final workshop post on the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. USE IT. SHARE IT.) I attended back in July.  It has taken me quite a while to get to it.  It’s a good thing I don’t have deadlines on blog posts because my other deadlines would get in the way.  :-)  

THIS IS THE CENTURY OF THE NETWORK.  ARE YOU READY? 

The last workshop I attended was called The Hub Factor: Capture Your Charisma and Make Your Connections Count!  It was led by none other than Julia Hubbel, President of The Hubbel Group, Inc. and creator of The Hub Factor.  I met some amazing people at this workshop including the two thought leaders who helped her lead the workshop:

  • June Archer, VP Global Business Development and Licensing for GODIVA Chocolatier (Mmmm.  Chocolate. They provided the chocolate covered strawberries at one of the breaks)

  • Patricia David, Managing Director and Global Head of Diversity and Talent for Citi Markets & Banking.  

Julia was a wonderful and engaging speaker.  She opened the workshop by asking those of us who enjoyed networking, meeting new people, mingling, etc. to raise our hands.  In a room of say 50+ people about 7-10 of us raised our hands (I was one of them).  She then said: “You are the crazy ones.  You are the weirdoes.  Most people are scared stiff of meeting new people and speaking in public!  So for the rest of us normal folks, here’s what we’re going to do…” 

She then had us do an exercise where we wrote down three things that people would never guess about us and instructed us to meet other people in the room and ask them questions about themselves.  It was a very interesting exercise and I learned a lot of neat things about people in the room. 

She emphasized the importance of creating a space where the people we are talking to feel valued and powerful.  People don’t want to hear your 30 second sales/elevator pitch…you first have to earn the right to give them the 30 second pitch by creating the right space.  Some people can do this easier than others but she felt anyone could do it if they are genuinely interested in getting to know the other person.   

I have seen this work first hand.  I know that if I’m in a rush and want to get results right away, I won’t get the results I need, but if I give it a reasonable amount of time and really listen to the person I’m communicating with, the chance for doing business together increases even though it might take longer for something to happen.  If nothing happens, at least we both made a postive connection in the world.  Sometimes I get impatient and don’t stop to think what might be going on in their lives and forget that “an emergency on my part doesn’t constitute an emergency on their part.” Live and learn.  Live and learn.  :-)

Julia had run out of business cards and had to rush out to catch a plane, but she asked for my card and promised to get in touch.  I knew I was going to do a post on her workshop so I figured I would find her contact information from her website, but before I could do that a beautifully handwritten note showed up in my mailbox with her business card inside.  I was pleasantly surprised and emailed her right away.  She must meet tons of people so I was flattered that she would take the time to write a personal note to me. 

I have also since communicated with both Pat and June.  When I met June and told her what I was doing she said she knew people and had worked in the baby marketing world in a prior life and that she would connect me to some people who might be able to help.  When  we make it big (thinking positively), I’ll definitely order some of their chocolate covered strawberries for one of our events…primarily because I met her!

Pat told everyone in the workshop that she regularly schedules time to talk to anyone who wanted to talk with her and get her advice.  She gave me her card and I left her a voice message soon after I returned to Austin half thinking I’d probably never hear from her again.  Shortly thereafter her assistant emailed me to set up a 30 minute phone meeting.  Amazing!  She has already passed information on Babble Soft to a few people in her company.  I’m not sure how I can help Pat, but if not her hopefully I can help someone else who will pass it on…

Needless to say I was impressed with this level of follow through by Julia, Pat, and June.  I try hard to keep my commitments and am often surprised when people say they will do one thing and then don’t do it or don’t let you know why they weren’t able to do it.  I’ve seen that happen so often that when people do follow through, I instantly know how they got to where they are today.   

If you are interested in the topic of networking, check out Julia’s site.  I’m a bit biased (he’s a friend) but you should also check out the blog of one of our local Austin networking gurus, Thom Singer, at Some Assembly Required. :-)

Author: | Filed under: conferences, networking, new york city | Comments Off

The Asians Shine – Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC
Sep 3 2007

Following up on The Art of War for Women written by a Chinese woman Chin-Ning Chu post, I am now going to write about the “Same-Race Discussion Circles: How Are You Powerful?” session that I referred to at the end of the post called From the Mouths of Men.

aruni-headshot-sep07-200×150.jpg

After we completed the Instant Polling session at the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. USE IT. SHARE IT.), we separated into groups (e.g., Asian, African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Caucasian, and Men) and met in different rooms.  I was born in Sri Lanka (i.e., South Asia) so I was part of the Asian group.   In our rooms we then broke up into several groups of 6 to 8 people and were instructed to do the following:

  1. Introduce yourself by saying your name and briefly answering the question: How am I powerful and where do I leverage it the most?
  2. In the workplace how does my racial identity affect my power?
  3. In the workplace what are the things I do to limit or trade off my power?

We discussed those questions in our smaller groups and then shared our answers while the moderators (Deepika Bajaj, President of Invincibelle and Janice Won, Owner of Inclusion Strategies & Diversity Solutions) could write them on a big flip pad.  They then asked who would be interested in presenting our findings to the large group (i.e., 700 people) during lunch.  Of course I volunteered because I try to take on any opportunity I can to practice my public speaking skills.  Two other women also volunteered.  One was from India and the other was from China.  I volunteered to share our findings on question #2. 

We ran late in the breakout session so I was starving!  I sat down to eat thinking they would call us up when they wanted our group to talk.  When I got up to go to the ladies room…thinking I had some time…I saw one of the other women on my team already standing in line next to the stage.  My jaw literally dropped!  I had to delay my trip to the restroom and make a beeline to the stage.  We went on after the Hispanic, African American and Native American groups.  The Indian woman started first, then I went second, and the Chinese woman addressed the third question.   Usually when I speak, I’m lucky to remember anything else that’s happening and unfortunately since I didn’t take down the summary notes for questions 1 and 3, I can only share with you the Asian group’s thoughts on question 2 which were:

  • It’s a great thing to be Asian in a global environment
  • When we do speak people tend to listen (I jokingly asked the question “Are you listening?” after I made that statement which got a chuckle from the audience) :-)
  • When we are in higher positions people tend to give us more credibility as they feel we ‘know our stuff.’ (e.g., Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo)
  • We are hard workers and don’t tend to need a lot of help
  • We are generally perceived as doers vs. leaders; specialists vs. managers.  In other words ‘worker bees’ vs. ‘queen bees.’
  • We are underrepresented in the minority model of many companies.  Asian groups/networks don’t usually exist like they do for African American or Hispanic groups.  Therefore, we don’t tend to offer as much support to each other as we should.
  • Many people aren’t clear what the term ‘Asian’ means.  For example Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) or South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc.).  Usually when you say ‘Asian,’ people think of Oriental Asians.

I experienced the last point during the conference itself.  The next day after the From the Mouths of Men session, I was asking an African American woman a question in the lobby area, and she said something like ‘weren’t you the one wearing that bright blue shirt that spoke on behalf of the Asian group?‘  I say ‘yes‘ and she said ‘the first thing that crossed my mind was: why is she up there, she’s not Asian!’  I smiled and said that’s why people don’t know what to do with us South Asians!  But hey, I wouldn’t want to be anything else. ;)

Next up on the conference:

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Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – From the Mouths of Men
Aug 20 2007

 
Picture by: Rohanna Mertens of Doug Goodman Photography

Soon after discussing The Art of War for Women at the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. USE IT. SHARE IT.), we headed into another room to listen to speakers on a panel called From the Mouths of Men: What it Takes to Put Women in the Corner Office.  This was the first time they had a panel of men at the conference, and I hope they do it again next year.

The men were put on the spot on several occassions with questions ranging from Why aren’t women included in men’s social get togethers (e.g., lunches, dinners, golf outings, etc.)? to Why are women overlooked for certain promotions?

The speakers from left to right are:

They did a great job at answering the questions honestly.  Michael admitted as a young staff that he was ‘clueless’ for quite some time on the diversity issue.  He thought he was being inclusive but after time had passed, and having banged his head against a wall a few times, he realized that he just didn’t get it.  While rising up through the ranks at Ernst & Young, he and others saw women disappearing over the years so that by the time they were approaching Partner status there were very few women around.  He said about 8 years ago, Ernst & Young started helping its people focus on inclusiveness issues.  Through the many gender/ethnicity programs Ernst & Young delivered around inclusivity, Michael said he finally “GOT IT.”  He, personally, came to the conclusion that men have to understand that women use different language to convey their interest in a position.  For instance, if he asked a man if he wanted to be a Partner, most often he would get a “Hell Yes!” answer but if he asked a woman the same question she would respond with “I’m not sure.”  Now many of us women have been trained to act like men and say “Hell Yes!” when we really feel like saying “I’m not sure,” and he admitted that it’s up to the men (and everyone in the workplace) to make sure that the “I’m not sure” response is addressed.  For example, he has learned to ask “What information do you need to help you make your decision?” before jumping to the conclusion that she is not interested.

Tyronne was hilarious!  When someone asked the question regarding “How do we get more women in higher positions” he said “Tell them to go start a company!”  Of course I smiled at that one because I am an entrepreneur!  He also answered the question regarding “Why aren’t women included in men’s social get togethers?” by saying “Just show up!” Many of us felt like we couldn’t do that but he said that if his boss schedules a meeting that he was not invited to and he knows he can add value, he just shows up! 

Ron (who is holding the Power wand) admitted that women are measured by different criteria and have a different playing field.  It is still not a level playing field, but his group within IBM works constantly to change that.  He also said that part of the reason men rise faster in corporate America has to do with their portrayed confidence and their inclination to watch each other’s back.  They are more likely to spend time understanding the company’s culture and tell another guy “Hey, don’t wear that shirt.  The boss hates that color” than women are.  Women tend to feel that the other women in the office will figure it out eventually, but in the meantime she’s hurt her chances and also made others wonder why no one told her not to dress that way.   If you came to an interview dressed in a nice business suit, you should not show up on your first day wearing hardly any clothes and big hoop earrings.  The company didn’t hire that person…they hired the person they interviewed!  That makes total sense to me.  Finally, he emphasized the importance of women networking together to coach and mentor each other as well as support the development of colleagues who are earlier in their careers. 

As the moderator, Stephen was asking all of the hard questions and keeping the talkative panelists on track, so we didn’t get to hear his perspective on things, but when I met with him afterwards he gave me his card and told me he would introduce me to someone at Diversity Business.

All in all, a great panel.  I stayed well after it was over to meet each of them and exchange cards.  Now is where I tell the story about the blue top I was wearing.  After the panel, I spoke at length with Tyronne and he asked me “Weren’t you the person wearing that brilliant blue top during the ‘Same-Race Discussion – How Are You Powerful’ presentation yesterday?”  I said “Why, yes that was me!”  He said when he heard me speaking he could tell I had confidence and power and that I should not have uttered the words “shameless plug” when talking about my business.  He told me that I was here at this conference to network and to make people aware of my company, and I should not be ashamed of plugging it!  I agreed and said I did that because one woman before said the same thing about her business, and I was worried that the audience might think I’m being too ‘out there’ with my business.  He said don’t apologize, “seize your power and share it with the room!”  OK, I don’t think he said those words exactly, but I felt empowered after hearing his words of encouragement and a little relieved that the 700 (yes 700) other people (of which 96% were women) in the room might not have been saying ‘Tsk. Tsk. Who does she think she is? Does she think she’s better than me?‘ under their breath while I was speaking and that I might not have been judged too harshly. :-)

I feel fortunate to have met these great men!

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Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – The Art of War for Women
Aug 15 2007

woc-2007-018-small.jpgAt the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. USE IT. SHARE IT.), I skipped the morning of the 2nd day to play with my nephew, but I made it just in time to hear Chin-Ning Chu, author of the new book The Art of War for Women – Sun Tzu’s Ancient Strategies and Wisdom for Winning at Work.   I am glad I did!

Deutsche Bank was the sponsor for that event so we all got a free signed copy of her book!  Amazing, right?  I started reading it on my return flight home and sadly, hers was the book I left in the back seat pocket in front of me after arriving 3 hours late around midnight.  As I mentioned, I called Delta Airlines Lost and Found a few times and guess what?  They NEVER returned my phone call even just to tell me they had not found it.  I guess what they say about the airlines is true..’customer service?  what’s that?’  Sigh.

So I ended up buying it from Amazon and it just came in the mail this weekend.  I was hoping to have been able to read the book before doing this post, but this post is next in line.  I’m already optimistic that it will be a great book though!  I will update this post later for any insights I gain.  You can buy her book by clicking on the Amazon link below and if you do we’ll get a small piece of the transaction pie.  :-D

Based on her presentation, Chin-ning struck me as a very intelligent, insightful, and humorous speaker who was comfortable with her inablity to speak proper English!  Thanks to her editors, she joked about how if she, who writes and speaks broken English, can be a best selling author then we could do anything we set our minds to. :-)

Picture by: Rohanna Mertens of Doug Goodman Photography

More posts to come on the conference…

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Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – Exploring Power Dynamics in the “Executive Suite”
Aug 14 2007

At the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. USE IT. SHARE IT.), I attended a fascinating workshop called Exploring Power Dynamics in the “Executive Suite.” Some very high level women discussed their experiences on their way up the ladder.  The workshop was coordinated by Dr. Vanessa J. Weaver of Alignment Strategies, Inc.  Dr. Weaver is wearing the wonderful royal blue suit on the very far left of the picture below.  I’m the 6th person to the right of her wearing the lighter blue/turquoise top (in a future post I’ll mention this top again).

executivepower.jpg

The primary thought leaders of the group were:

JoAnn Heisen, Chief Diversity Officer and former CIO at Johnson & Johnson
Susan J. Onuma, Partner at Kelley, Drye & Warren, LLP and President of the Japanese American Association in New York
Aida Sabo, Director of Diversy at EMC
Sheryl Tucker
, Executive Managing Editor at Time, Inc.

They shared openly and honestly about their experiences in corporate America…the good, the bad, and the ugly…from personal to professional stories.  I was fortunate to shake hands with each of them and have since exchanged email with some of them.  I wish them all continued success and appreciate them sharing their POWER with us during this workshop!

We discussed:

  • Key Power Dynamics Impacting MCEW: The Good and The Not So Good
  • Power Dynamics between Diverse Women: Challenges/Successes
  • “Cultural Power Taboos”, “The Vulnerability Factor”
  • Creating an “Executive Master Power Success Grid” for Multicultural Women
    What a wonderful networking opportunity. :-)Aruni
    Author: | Filed under: conferences, networking, new york city, working mother | 2 Comments »

    Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – Working Mother Conference – Instant Polling
    Aug 7 2007

    Soon after the Opening Keynote with Dr. Bertice Berry at the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. USE IT. SHARE IT.), they did a fascinating Instant Polling session sponsored by Ford Motor Company.  To view the pdf version of the full PowerPoint presentation courtesy of Working Mother Magazine, please click here: Instant Polling Presentation.

    Some of the slides I found most interesting are as follows: 

    demographics-slide.jpg       wherework.jpg

    most-powerful.jpg     intimate.jpg

    underplay.jpg    salary.jpg

    super-power.jpg

    I was thrilled that over 55% of attendees made more than $100K!  We’ve come a long way baby!  I am in in the 7% group making under $49K because I’m starting my own business.  In the early days of a startup you are lucky if you make anything!  If luck smiles on us, then I will be in the > $100K category some day!

    Women feel most powerful at home because that is where they have seen/been told their role is in society.  Even top executive women generally feel the same according to this poll.  Also, unfortunately if they feel they do have power in the workplace, it presents challenges in their intimate relationships (i.e., we have a hard time finding an equal partner who is comfortable with our power.)

    It was interesting to see what super power each person would like.  I think I voted for the ability to time travel, but I remember it being a toss up between that and reading people’s minds.  I guess I figured if I could time travel I would figure out how to read people’s minds. :-)

    Other things I found interesting:

    + 42% of attendees did not have children (despite it being a Working Mother Conference)

    + 32% were mid-level executives and 15% were senior level executives

    + 43% of Asian-Americans, 41% of Caucasions, 35% of Latinas, 40% of Multi-racial women, and 46% of Men felt “My confidence in my skills and knowledge makes me powerful.”  Whereas 38% of Black/African American, 100% of Native Americans, and 46% of Men felt “My belief in my purpose in life is my source of power.”  Keep in mind I think there were about 5 guys and 2 Native Americans.

    More posts to come on the conference…

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    Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – Working Mother Conference – Dr. Bertice Berry
    Aug 3 2007

    Bertice BerryThe opening keynote speaker at the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. USE IT. SHARE IT.) on July 23, 2007 was Dr. Bertice Berry, Educator, Lecturer, Sociologist, and Author of:

    When Love Calls, You Better Answer
    I’m On My Way, But Your Foot is On My Head
    Straight From the Ghetto
    You Might Be Ghetto If
    You STILL Ghetto
     

    She is downright hilarious!  She had us practically rolling on the floor laughing!  Oh and she’s also a beautiful singer.  She sang for us and the room was still.  She is famous for saying “When you walk with purpose, you collide with destiny!”

    I was only able to speak to her for a few seconds.  Sadly another woman blatantly interrupted our 45 second conversation making my conversation with her a bit disjointed.  I’m not sure why people do that.  I try to stand back and let people open and finish a dialogue with a speaker out of respect.  I also try to find times when the speaker is not so overwhelmed with people trying to talk to her to introduce myself. 

    Despite the interruption, I could just feel the POWER she exuded.  I plan on getting her recent book When Love Calls, You Better Answer.  She was selling books at the conference but the table was so crowded, I figured I’d better buy it on Amazon.com later.  Maybe she’ll see this post and let me buy an autographed copy directly from her! :-D


     

    Pictures by: Rohanna Mertens of Doug Goodman Photography

    More posts to come on the conference…

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    Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – Working Mother Conference Opening – POWER
    Aug 1 2007

    Flower GirlsWhat a fabulous opening!  I don’t think I have ever attended a conference with such an energetic opening.  Believe me…we were ALL awake at the end of it.

    The Drum Cafe got the audience involved by asking us to use these wonderful different colored musical tubes called Boomwhackers that we had in front of us.  The leader of the group had each table use their boomwhackers to create harmony in order to help us begin the process of getting in touch with our Power.  The theme of the Multicultural Women’s conference was POWER: OWN IT. USE IT. SHARE IT.

    The flower girls from Drum Cafe were beautiful!  Several of us felt quite confident that we would not be able to wear those outfits and look as great as they did! :-)


    The picture below is of the dancers dancing to the music we were making with our boomwhackers.Dancers
     


     

    Pictures by: Rohanna Mertens of Doug Goodman Photography

    More posts to come on the conference…

    Author: | Filed under: conferences, networking, new york city, working mother | 1 Comment »