Making Things Convenient
Oct 11 2008

How important is it to make things convenient for your customer, your friend, your boss, your co-worker, your employees, your spouse, your family?  Do people even think about that?  Do people wake up every day and think to themselves, “How can I make life easier for someone else?” I know that I don’t wake up every day thinking that, but I have seen the positive results when I accidentally or on purpose try to make others lives just a bit easier and fight some of their battles for them so that they don’t have to. 

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Sometimes people notice and other times people do not.  Sometimes they say ‘thank you‘ and sometimes they say nothing leaving you wondering if they noticed or not.  I’m probably guilty of not noticing what people might be doing for me because sometimes I get too caught up in moving from one thing to the next to appreciate the little things.  The busier we get sometimes the harder it is to notice except for when your expectations are exceeded. 

I recently had my expectations exceeded (nay blown away) and by a government entity no less.  It almost made up for my traffic court tribulations!  I recently received the annual mailing about renewing my car registration.  I’m already grateful that I can pay $1.00 extra to do this by mail.  This time I saw that there was a notice on the renewal form that said something like “You need to order new plates.”  It was in all capital letters but no where on the notice could I find instructions on how and when I needed to get them. 

First, I wondered why the heck I needed new plates even though my current ones were 7 years old.  I guess I haven’t owned a car for 7 years before and it didn’t (and still doesn’t) make sense why I needed to replace perfectly good plates.  I groaned inside thinking that now I’ll have to figure out how to get new plates.  I decided not to think about it and mailed in my check.  I figured I’d deal with the bureaucratic mess of calling and/or going to multiple government/city offices to get these new plates sometime in the not so distant future. 

To my absolute amazement and utter surprise, I received in the mail from the County Tax Collector – Travis County, Nelda Wells Spears, two new plates!  I almost fell over with excitement because I was now relieved of having to figure out how to get them.  I could literally feel a small weight being lifted off my mind.  I can only hope that whoever wins the next US presidential election, they wake up every day thinking about out how they can make all of our lives just a little bit easier!

As a busy, working-mom, when someone makes my life easier I am ever so grateful.  I don’t know how to personally thank the Tax Collector’s office so I’ll thank them with this blog post.  Maybe Nelda has a Google Alert set-up for her name, and she’ll see this post. :-)

So if you have nothing better to do or even if you do, go try to make someone else’s life just a little more convenient…even if they don’t say anything, I bet they smile a little inside.

Author: | Filed under: FYI, random stuff, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

MBA Class: Mom’s Business Acumen
Jul 15 2008

And now for a very cool guest post from Michelle Yozzo Drake author of a newly released book: “From the Kitchen to the Corner Office:  Mom’s Wisdom on Leadership.”

MBA Class: Mom’s Business Acumen…Or, “How to Take Skills Learned From Mom to Kick Butt at Work” 

As Aruni braves the balancing act that returning to the “formal” workplace brings for a working mom, I was thrilled that she asked me to do a guest post for entrepremusings.com. 

I love to work with women…they just get it, even if they don’t know it!  Generations of women have been successfully running the home-based business that we call “The Family”.  They have had to utilize all of the skills needed to address the same issues that Fortune 500 companies struggle with. And they’ve done it with grace, style and, okay, maybe a few bad hair days here and there! 

My version of an MBA class focuses on “Mom’s Business Acumen”: 

Risk Management-The art of baking bread, taught to me by my Aunt Giovanna Yozzo Fanelli (Aunt Jennie), yielded a surprising class in risk management, crisis management and plan-failure recovery. As I made loaf after loaf of bread (according to Aunt Jennie’s half Italian/half English instructions) and failed every time, I had to learn how to push past my fear of failure and create new plans to minimize my risks of future bread baking failure! Hours of work sometimes yielded sub-par results (a.k.a “lead-bread” – this made Aunt Jennie laugh as she encouraged me to persevere and continue on my quest for the perfect loaf of bread).  My ultimate victory (at least 20 loafs and 80 hours later) was the title of Bread Maker in my family’s eyes.  And after Aunt Jennie died at 96 years old, she passed her pans to me. I had become the bread and the baker, and she would be proud! 

Mergers and Acquisitions-My sister and a few of my sisters-in-law now have new “blended families”.  With divorce rates and remarriages at an all-time high, there are new things today’s mom has learned. Creating a family with kids from previous marriages and new ones with new husbands takes a lot of hard work and effort…no wonder the idea of running a newly merged company is child’s play for the mom that has balanced issues with siblings, half-brothers, step-sisters, etc.! 

Cultivating Strong Teams and Leaders-Lessons learned from the women in my family who are masters in the kitchen – my mother Mimi and my Aunt Marie, specifically – have been priceless in developing my ability to coach my clients on building strong teams and leaders at work.  Have you ever watched two strong women in the kitchen putting out a holiday meal for the family?  Mimi and Marie were masters at leading and following as they consistently put out a quality product (the seven-course Italian holiday meal) for their customers (35 family members and a few stragglers). The big news is, I never remember a moment of tension in either of their kitchens…but always lots of laughter! 

Budget Cuts-My mother-in-law Marty used to take her twelve children (my husband Rich is number NINE) to the beach on the ferry every Wednesday…because kids ride free on Wednesdays when accompanied by their parent! She knows how to work a budget! Examples like that guided me during my family’s lean years – when I was sewing shorts for my two young sons out of my husband’s old shirts – and during the first crucial years of my businesses when breakeven was only a dream. 

Sales and Product Issues-Have you ever negotiated with a four-year-old over why Oreo cookies are not a breakfast food?  Successfully selling those eggs over the Oreos takes a sales master! How easy negotiating with a customer over the price of your products or services is compared to “selling” bedtime to a child! 

So when I meet a mom getting ready to return to the workplace and she’s fretting over her perceived “resume gap,” I see the opportunity to educate a sister on how to talk about her degree from the “Mommy Management Training University!” 

What have YOU learned from your mom, “mom-figures” in your life, or being a mom yourself? 

Michelle Yozzo Drake is a management consultant who has just released a new book: “From the Kitchen to the Corner Office:  Mom’s Wisdom on Leadership.”  Her Workplace Wisdom Blog is hosting Lipstick Leadership Week -July 14-18 – where Michelle is highlighting other women’s stories about what they have learned from their “moms” or as a mom that helps them succeed at work!  Submit your story (and get a plug for your website!) at LipstickLeadership.com or KitchentoCornerOffice.com 

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, mom, mother, parenting, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Contest for Innovative Moms
Jul 13 2008

I recently received the following email from one of Whirlpool’s PR reps.  Although I don’t recall being upset (maybe disappointed) about not knowing about the program (which I can’t recall at the moment) she was referring to, I figured I’d share her email about this contest because it seems like a cool idea.  I do have a vague recollection of commenting on a Washington Post article and if I didn’t, she’s a pretty good PR rep to tell me about this contest, because I like to post about programs that support entrepreneurs! 

The cool thing is that if you win you not only win cash but also appliances!  Also, upon reading their site you cannot submit a company/idea for a new appliance.  Your business idea has to be totally unrelated to Whirlpool’s primary business of appliance creation and manufacturing.  

I also noticed that one of the guest judges is Julie Aigner-Clarke, founder of Baby Einstein

I haven’t figured out yet if I can apply for Babble Soft (no issue about us being an appliance :-) ) but I haven’t read all of the fine print yet.  The application looks pretty simple and straight forward so chances are I will apply.  I encourage you all to check it out too and tell other mom-inventors out there about the competition. 

Hi Aruni,

I saw that you commented on a Washington Post blog entry about a grant program and that you were upset you didn’t know the program was going on.  Just wanted to share with you another grant program that I thought might be of interest to you and your readers.

Whirlpool brand has recently kicked-off the fourth annual Mother of Invention Grant Program. In the past three years, Whirlpool brand has recognized and helped more than 15 moms turn their innovative ideas into reality.

The Whirlpool brand Mother of Invention Grant Program provides seed money and expert guidance to moms to turn their invention, business or service ideas into full-fledged businesses.  Contest winners receive:

  • A $20,000 grant for the grand prize winner
  • $24,000 in grant money for the four runners-up
  • Appliance prizes
  • Invitation to business boot camp where winners will receive guidance from Whirlpool and industry experts

This year, we are greening the program by adding a new category focused on moms who create an environmentally friendly product/service or use natural/recycled materials to create their invention. 

More information and entry forms can be found at www.whirlpool.com/moms. Entries are accepted through July 31, 2008.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information about the program.  I’d also be happy to share information about our past winners, should you be interested. 

Best,

Laura

Author: | Filed under: competition, entrepreneurship, FYI, mom, mother, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Calling All Breadwinning Moms!
Jun 22 2008

Work It, Mom!Nataly Kogan, founder of Work It, Mom!, just told me about a survey they are doing for working mothers who are the main breadwinners in their family (i.e., they have higher salaries than their husbands and foot the majority of the bills).  If you are a breadwinning mom or know someone who plays one on TV or real life, go check out the survey HERE for a chance to win a Sony Reader prize pack. What a cool prize!  Check out Nataly’s post called Breadwinner moms, listen up

Since I took time off and then started working on Babble Soft from home, I have not had the opportunity to experience being the breadwinner mom.  Prior to having kids, my husband’s and my salary was the same until I left our first company to teach, consult, and have kids.  I’ve been wondering if I’ll ever make that kind of salary again!

I have a few breadwinning mom friends and the one common theme amongst all of them is that their husband a) either stays home with the kids or b) has a very flexible job whereby he takes off if the kids are sick, takes them to doctor appointments, buys the birthday gifts, helps with meal planning, etc.

Now, that I have my first come-to-the-office everyday job since the kids were born, I’m working my way back up the salary scale.  However if I find a way to grow my company to the point that it more than sustains us, or if it gets bought by some fabulously generous company, then maybe I’ll get a taste of what it’s like to be the breadwinning mom in the house. ;-)

If you are a breadwinner, regardless if you are a mom or not, please share how that affects your frame of mind or if you don’t even give it a second thought.

Author: | Filed under: working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , | 9 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 »

Nine Tips to Recession-Proof Your Career
Apr 21 2008

I saw this great post in Renee Trudeau’s recent email update and asked her if I could re-publish it on my blog and she agreed!  Given what we are seeing happening around us in the economy, I thought this article was extremely relevant. 

reneetrudeau300x349.jpg

Nine Tips to Recession-Proof Your Career
By Renee Peterson Trudeau

“You have the choice between being the victim of circumstances or being empowered through them.”  Carol Orsborn, author, Inner Excellence: Spiritual Principles of Life-Driven Business

Many of our clients are asking how to respond to the volatility and uncertainty in the current job/economic market. Here are some insights to support you:   

  • Move into the driver’s seat. Job stability (and loyalty) are a thing of the past. Take control of your career path. You’re in charge, don’t hand your power (or your future) over to someone else. Read the book “Work Less, Make More,” by Jennifer White.
  • Pause. Then, take time to plan. Now is a great time to hit the pause button and ask the important career questions: What do I most want at this life stage? What do I do best? What type of work/environment is a fit for me? (Consider attending our Career Mojo Workshop to help you hone in on how to determine what type of work is a fit for you. Click here for more information.)
  • Be prepared. It can take days to create a really outstanding resume. Update your resume (and cover letter) now and be thinking about references, even if you’re not ready to leap. Make sure and highlight recent awards/accomplishments/promotions.
  • Stay connected and make time for networking. Over and over again I meet professionals who were so consumed by their current jobs, they lost touch completely with their community and contacts. Take time to build and nurture relationships and attend professional organization and networking meetings. Read the book “Never Eat Alone,” on authentic networking by Keith Ferrazzi.
  • Know-and leverage-your strengths. Ideally, 80% of your time at work should be devoted to activities that you naturally excel at. Know where your brilliance lies and leverage your innate strengths. This is how you can bring the greatest value to your company AND how you substantially increase your income.
  • Save and live lean. Give yourself as much financial flexibility and breathing room as possible over the next 12 months. Live below your means. Cut out unnecessary expenses. Enjoy free or low-cost leisure activities (there are hundreds in Austin!). Create a budget and stick to it.
  • Be open to new possibilities. Layoffs, mergers, buyouts and outsourcing decisions don’t have to signal bad news. How can you take advantage of these changes? Where are there opportunities for new products/services? What niche can you fill? What problem is not being solved that you can address? Are there new internal opportunities within your company you should consider?
  • Stay in the loop on changes in your field/industry. What are the biggest challenges facing your current industry? How has your field changed in the last three years? Where are the employee shortages in your profession? What are the reoccurring themes or headlines at your professional conferences or in industry publications? Learn to be agile.
  • Take time to enhance your skills/talents. This is a great time to brush up on leadership or management skills, receive career or success coaching, reach out to mentors for guidance or sign up for in-house mentoring or training programs. Don’t isolate yourself-reach out and ask for help. People have a genuine desire to help others-we’ve all been there.

Finally, be kind to yourself. Realize that there is a lot of fear in the air right now due to all the uncertainty. Be discerning and own your feelings, not others’.    

Renee Peterson Trudeau is a career/life-balance coach and president of Austin-based Career Strategists, and author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life.  Visit http://www.reneetrudeau.com/ to start/join a self-renewal circle using the Guide, receive monthly self-renewal and life balance tips or order the book.   For more information on Renee Trudeau click here.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, mom, mother, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Why Keeping a Daily Journal is Important for Moms and Nannies
Apr 15 2008

I see the world of childcare changing before our eyes and having a place to keep up with your baby’s precious moments and activities can be a great way not only to share with your family and friends but also to make sure your baby is getting what he or she needs.  More often than not, these days there are many people involved in childcare from dad, to nannies, to sitters, to grandparents, to aunts, and communicating effectively with everyone about when your baby ate, slept, or had medicine can be extremely important!

One of the ways I am currently trying to get the word out about Babble Soft is through marketing relationships with nanny and sitter agencies, and I recently had the honor and priviledge to write the following article for the International Nanny Association.  

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Why Keeping a Daily Journal is Important for Moms and Nannies
By Aruni Gunasegaram, President and Founder of Babble Soft
Written for the International Nanny Association Spring 2008 newsletter

When a new mom leaves her infant in the care of a nanny or newborn care specialist, what are her concerns? What does she want to know? How can a nanny help her feel more connected to her baby and help her deal with possible feelings of guilt over leaving her baby?

A new mom’s perspective
As a new mom, I was so concerned about leaving my baby with anyone else … even my husband! When I returned, I wanted to know when he ate, if he slept, and practically everything he did. Now that I have two kids, I still ask their teachers and care providers what they did during the day. It’s so comforting to have an idea of how their day went. I sent our son to a home care on a part-time basis when he was a baby. I felt frustrated by the vague answers I received when I asked about the details of his day; but I bit my tongue, felt guilty, and walked away wondering what I had missed.

It was difficult to leave my son with someone else and thereafter, leave my daughter – but I wanted to work. My career is very important to me and I knew I would be a better mom if I was able to pursue my passion. However, I still wanted to stay connected to my babies. It would have been a pleasure to receive an email, a text message, a picture, or even have the ability to log in to a website to see how my babies were doing. It would have made my life so much easier if I was assured that although they might have cried a bit when left them, they were eating well, sleeping well, learning and having fun.

I was still breastfeeding when I returned to work, and I made every attempt to time my pumping sessions so that I could nurse my babies when I picked them up. If I arrived only to find out they had just been fed, I would have to go home and pump instead of feed them, making me feel very disappointed.  On the other hand, it was nice having breastfeeding support and knowing that I had expressed enough milk for them while I was away made me feel more connected to them.

What moms want to know
In the “old days,” moms had no choice but to stay at home.  They could get advice and make decisions based on one-on-one face time with baby, family members, and friends. Nowadays, moms rely on their nannies to communicate their baby’s daily activities, issues, fussy periods, smiles, and schedules. When moms are not present, having the opportunity to review their baby’s activities at a glance in a daily journal or report is not only powerful, it helps them and their nanny make better baby care decisions. It is also a great way to provide records for their pediatricians, which can aid in making medical decisions. Here are more examples that illustrate the importance of keeping a daily journal:

  • A new mom misses important milestones. While she is at work, baby shows off her biggest smile or makes a first attempt at crawling. Imagine a caregiver who captures the moment via a picture, includes a milestone caption, and emails it to the mom. What a way to brighten her day. Although the mom is not present physically, she can take delight in knowing that the true “first” was captured.
  • An infant spits up often but with no discernible pattern. Both the mom and nanny are busy and jot down handwritten notes, which might be stained or misplaced by the next day! Maintaining an online daily record of the baby’s feedings (with corresponding spit-up times) can help to establish a pattern of feeding times and a correlation between the feeding quantity and spit-up periods. The mom can forward the reports to the doctor to aid in a decision regarding whether her baby needs medicine for acid reflux or if there is a need to simply change the baby’s feeding schedule.
  • A baby has difficulty sleeping. Mom (or dad) puts the baby down in a specific manner and in a specific place during the weekends. The nanny arrives and puts the baby down in a different manner, thus she witnesses a different outcome. The baby appears confused, which results in additional stress for both the nanny and family. One solution is to review online reports that are designed to track a baby’s sleep patterns and reveal how the baby was put to sleep. The reports can serve as physical proof that specific baby sleep positions or methods work better than others for the baby. The reports can also give parents the assurance that their baby is okay, and shifting their behavior or the nanny’s behavior can make life easier for everyone.
  • A baby needs regular medications. Administering medications is a critical part of providing childcare. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a central place where medicine doses are recorded. This procedure can allow both the mom and nanny to ensure medicine doses, reactions, and duration are properly recorded and timed. Proper daily record keeping can help to avoid accidental overdoses and ensure a dose is not missed.
  • The nanny runs out of expressed breast milk for baby. If the mom keeps daily pumping records and both the nanny and mom keep daily bottle-feeding records, Mom can adjust her breastfeeding and pumping schedule to ensure there is enough expressed milk for her baby.

There are many more sound reasons to keep daily records. However, the most important reasons in my opinion, are for the health and well-being of the baby, and improved communication between the nanny and family. Although moms today have many more opportunities than they did in the past, they also have more decisions to make and more balls to juggle. Keeping daily records of an infant’s activities helps nannies and moms make better baby care decisions – and it helps moms feel more connected to their baby. A happy mom means a happier baby!

Aruni Gunasegaram is the President/Founder of Babble Soft and she blogs at entrepreMusings. To learn more about Babble Soft, please visit http://www.babblesoft.com.

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby advice, baby care, baby sleep, baby tips, breast milk, breastfeeding, breastfeeding schedule, mom, mother, nursing, parenting, sleep, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The Blogger Mom, In Your Face
Apr 12 2008

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece on Thursday, April 10, 2008 called The Blogger Mom, In Your Face written by Sue Shellenbarger featuring none other than the most well known mom blogger on the Internet today: Dooce.  She has been blogging for close to 7 years now…before most people (including myself) even knew what a blog was!  I got the opportunity to meet Heather Armstrong (a.k.a Dooce) at SXSW and exchange a few words with her after she finished her panel.  She is such a down to earth person.

I think it’s great that the WSJ has chosen to highlight a mommy blogger who according to the article might be making as much as $40,000 per month on ad revenue for her blog!  Wow!! It’s not without its downfalls though because full time blogging for that kind of money is a crazy, often stressful job.  I blog very part time (3 or so posts per week) so I can’t say I can relate to the stress of full time professional blogging, but I can certainly imagine it…especially if I had to post original, often personal content every day like Dooce does.

According to the WSJ article, “Among the Web’s 200,000-plus bloggers on parenting and family, few have succeeded to the extent of Ms. Armstrong; countless at-home parents would love to be in her position. But less obvious is the behind-the-scenes price an at-home mom pays to shoulder her way to prominence in the blogosphere — giving up her privacy, sustained time off and any remnants of work-family boundaries at all.”

Sue Shellenbarger did a fantastic job with this article by illustrating both the ups and downs of professional blogging, unlike the recent New York Times article called In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop which emphasized primarily the negative aspects of blogging as a profession and inferred that full time blogging can be fatal.  If they had mentioned how many journalists had died in the same period, then I think it might have made the article a bit less biased against blogging.  Check out Marc Andreessen’s funny take on this article called The New York Times Covers Blogging including statements like “Bloggers Have Bad Breath,” “Bloggers Have Herpes,” “Hitler Probably Blogged,” and “The Bloggers Have WMD.”

Other mommy bloggers that were highlighted in the WSJ article are:

5minutesformom.com
designmom.com
parenthacks.com
scribbit.blogspot.com
fussy.org
notesfromthetrenches.com
stirrup-queens.blogspot.com
izzymom.com
suburbanbliss.net

Asha Dornfest at Parent Hacks linked to a guest post on my blog about traveling with a baby and I saw a significant amount of traffic because of her mention, which goes to show that she definitely deserves to be on this list!

If you think there are a lot of mommy bloggers, you should check out Twitter because there are a ton of mommy tweeters out there.  In fact, Wendy Piersall at eMoms at Home just did a post listing the Moms on Twitter and the list is still growing! 

I have to say it’s much easier sometimes to come up with 140 character or less tweets than full blog posts!  I wonder if we can monetize our tweets.   Anyone want to pay me $10, $5, $1, 25 cents for a tweet? :D   Twitter are you listening reading?

Oh and if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my feed because if I survive the next 5 years of motherhood, maybe I’ll end up being one of the top mommy/entrepreneur bloggers!  Unlike Dooce, however, I will have to hire someone other than my husband to help me figure out how to monetize my blog…

Author: | Filed under: blogging, mom, mother, twitter, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Randi Shade Running for Austin City Council
Apr 2 2008

Randi Shade, a long time friend of mine, is running for Austin City Council.  Check out the UT Alumni profile my writing partner and I did on her.  She started a tech company around the same time I started my first tech company and now she’s running for Austin City Council.  Randi has done some amazing things in her career from founding AmeriCorps in Texas to starting a company called Charity Gift, that let people give gifts that others could then use to donate to their favorite charity.  She is also a mother! 

She’s hosting a high-tech happy hour to inform the Austin technology community about her vision and reasons for running against an incumbent for Austin City Council.  If you live in Austin and want to hear her tech related thoughts, stop by!  I’m one of the hosts along with several others, including Thom Singer who did a very popular Networking and the Stay At Home Parent guest post on my blog a few weeks ago. 

Check out the page HERE and send your RSVP to HighTech@RandiShade.com.  I hope to see you there!

randi-shade-hightech.jpg

Author: | Filed under: FYI, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

5 White Men, Rebranding, and Dads
Mar 22 2008

What do 5 White Men, Rebranding, and Dads have in common?  Well other than the fact that Dads are usually men, probably not a whole lot.  These are just some of the interesting things happening around the blogosphere.

5 White Men Talk About Social Media was written by Connie Reece at Every Dot Connects.  Connie is a huge presence in the world of social media especially here in Austin, yet was overlooked for a panel on Social Media the Chamber of Commerce was putting on.  She voices her frustration at women still being “invisible” even when they are playing a major role in the world of social media.   Connie got me started in blogging almost a year ago!  She is also one of the main reasons the Frozen Pea Fund initiative got started as a result of Susan Reynolds struggle with breast cancer.  Here’s a quote from her post:

This afternoon I got an email from fellow Dot-Connector Brenda Thompson with the subject line: “Five White Men Talk About Social Media.” That got my attention and I opened the email right away. …

It irked me too. It’s not like the organizers would have had to look very far to find some outstanding women to speak, and I’m not just referring to myself. In less than 30 seconds, Brenda and I came up with a list of five or six local women who would have made great panelists.

See, lists are easy to make. But women on lists are still invisible if conference organizers aren’t looking for the list.

Looking Minnesota. Feeling California and The Gaping Void Between Our Brand And Our Audience were two recent posts written by Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home.  After her recent trip to SXSW Interactive, she realized she needed to rebrand because many of her readers are not eMoms or even parents!  I love Wendy’s blog for a variety of reasons but mostly because she is open and honest about her experience as an entrepreneur and she readily shares her blogging and business tips.  We met through our blogs, had a couple of phone conversations and when we finally met in person at SXSW, it was like we just “got each other” as entrepreneurs and as moms!  I’m not sure if she has come to a decision on the new name, so go check out her posts and give her your 2 cents!

AllTop Dads launches.  Thanks to Guy Kawasaki of How to Change the World my entrepreMusings blog is near the top of AllTop Moms blogger list.  It’s a great place to go to check out all the top mommy and daddy bloggers.   If you don’t know Guy, he was once asked to interview for the CEO position at Yahoo! take on the CEO position of Google and he turned the opportunity to interview down thinking there’s no way Google Yahoo! would amount to much.  He often refers to it as his $4 billion dollar mistake, but he reflects back and realizes that instead he was able to be involved in his children’s lives, which is priceless!  

So as I said when I began this post, there isn’t much in common between these links, but all are great reads!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, dad, diversity, father, mom, mother, parenting, random stuff, social media, working dad, working father, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The Entrepreneurial 7 Year Itch
Dec 16 2007

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Picture by Sandy Blanchard

As I contemplate a plan to raise angel financing for Babble Soft in 2008, I have begun mentally preparing myself for the inevitable ups and downs of the process.  I have raised funds to the tune of $15 million as founding CEO of my first start-up, Isochron, back before the first Internet bubble burst, so I have that experience to leverage.  But that was just over 7 years ago and a lot has changed since then. 

Isochron, which we started as part of a business plan competition back in 1997, was sold in 2002 after the bubble burst.  I had already left in 2001, but Erin stayed on for two more years until 2003.  The Founders/employees were washed out (i.e., got nothing) and the Investors got only a small fraction of their invested capital back.  At that time many companies were just disappearing all together.  When it was sold, Isochron was on its 4th CEO with me being the first.   Now it’s on its 5th, is still operating and as I understand it doing reasonably well, but not the high growth trajectory we had hoped for back when we started.  Looking back, if we (and our investors) had truly understood Porter’s 5 Forces we would have approached the business differently or maybe even run the other way because with a customer like Coca-Cola you don’t have much negotiating power!  But hey, we were young entrepreneurs (I was 27 – what did I know? ) who felt we could conquer the world of distribution to and maintenance of vending machines and other equipment after that.  Mostly because we were tired of going to school vending machines and them being out of stock of what we wanted so we figured we could help sove that problem with creative technology.

Since then, I have taken time to decompress, teach entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Austin business school, have two amazing kids, consult, and dabble with the notion of Babble Soft.  Erin and I did some development and had a beta product ready in 2005 to use when our daughter was born, but it really wasn’t until 2007 when we launched our Web application and she started full time care, that I became serious about committing to the bigger vision of Babble Soft.  I quit straddling the mental fence probably around October of 2007 and jumped squarely onto the side of the fence that has a vast open field with mountains, land mines, cool rivers, placid lakes, tornados, sunny skies, rainy days, ego bruises, good decisions, bad decisions, no money, fun, and most importantly a yet to be discovered journey!

After Isochron, I didn’t think I’d ever want to do a tech startup again.  It was hard.  It was tiring.  I aged.  It was stressful.  I was disillusioned.  It didn’t end like I had hoped/planned it would.  But if you read my Entrepreneurial Self Portrait, you’ll see that I since discovered that it is in my blood.  Looking back, I wouldn’t trade the experience and lessons learned for anything!

Do I wish I had made the decision earlier to dive head first into Babble Soft or another tech company?  Sometimes, because I spent money on the wrong things due to not being focused/committed, which leaves us less money to spend now and means I have to raise funds sooner than  I might have had to.  But I know deep down I will not regret the decision I made to stay home with my kids when they were babies, work from home, and maintain a fairly flexible schedule for them.   So maybe now’s the right time to really scratch my 7 year entrepreneurial itch! :-)  This time I want to make sure I laugh a lot more…which is not hard to do with little kids around.

Stay tuned for more stories about my start-up journey.  Next up in this series will be a subjective post on the pros and cons of raising outside capital.

If you are interested in reading ‘the rest of the story,’ you might consider subscribing to this blog’s feed (tell your friends too) so you won’t miss a thing!  Even if you just can’t bring yourself to subscribe right now because you have a boulder on your head, would you mind helping me increase my chances at winning $50K from Intuit in their Just Start competition by clicking on the Quickbooks widget on the top right hand side of my blog or clicking here.  Thank you!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, competition, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, fundraising, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Mommy Track’d Ecards
Sep 4 2007

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I  just heard about these fabulous Ecards at Mommy Track’d.  They are hilarious!  Comics are a great way to make fun of things — especially us working moms!  :-D

Fortunately for me, I get to work out of my home!

Here are two of my favorites:

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Author: | Filed under: Just For Fun, working mom, working mother | 3 Comments »

Working Mother Conference in NYC
Jul 21 2007

I’m going on a trip ‘on my favorite rocket ship!’  Well not really a rocket ship but on my not-so-favorite cramped plane.  I am attending the Working Mother Magazine Conference on Multicultural Companies in NYC next week.  I was planning to go anyway to help my cousin with her new baby and wasn’t sure I would even get into the conference but after I booked the tickets, they emailed me to let me know I could attend on a scholarship basis.  Yay! :-D

I’m looking forward to meeting some amazing women at the conference but most of all I’m looking forward to meeting my new little nephew! :-)

With all the recent press about flying with kids, I’m kind of glad my kids are staying behind with their Dad!

So, as you may have guessed, posting will be light next week unless I have a brainstorm of ideas that I can write about and schedule for future posting.

Aruni

Author: | Filed under: blogging, travel, working mom, working mother | 1 Comment »

Most moms actually prefer to work part-time! I didn’t realize this was news.
Jul 12 2007

Part-Time Looks Fine To Working Mothers 
By Donna St. George at washingtonpost.com
A new majority of working moms in the United States would be happiest in part-time jobs, with fewer seeing full-time work as an ideal, according to a study released today.

Fewer Mothers Prefer Full-Time Jobs:
Percent of mothers who said working full time, part time or not at all would be ideal for them.
Fewer Mothers Prefer Full-Time Jobs

I feel the same and that’s why I think working from home (even though to be honest my kids go to pre-school/care during the day) so that I can balance my time with my family is important.  Most of the time, I love my entrepreneurial career and I love hanging out with my kids.  :-)

I can take a day and spend it with my kids when I want.  When one of them is sick I can stay home with them.  I can also pay bills, clean the house,  do dishes, do some household shopping, etc.  Fortunately, my husband is a great Dad so if I have an offsite meeting to attend (like I did today) and he’s not traveling, he can usually stay with them if they are sick.

The one thing to be careful of is that sometimes when working from home and/or part-time, we end up working a lot more than we realize because we work on & off during the day thereby defeating the purpose of working part time/flexible hours to spend quality time with the kids.  It’s a tough balance that we moms (and dads) continue to strive for.  The Lactivist said it well in her Sucking it Up and Admitting You Aren’t Wonder Woman post.

Aruni

Author: | Filed under: mom, working father, working mom, working mother | 2 Comments »