Perspective – April 2013
Apr 10 2013

“If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”  –Regina Brett (Thanks Jeffrey Fry for sending out that quote on Feb 23, 2013).

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When things get challenging and life seems overwhelming, there is generally always someone worse off than we are.  I think being educated in the United States means you have mostly a privileged life.  We lose perspective when we think our troubles are “not fair,” we haven’t achieved what we thought we wanted to achieve, or everyone else has it better than we do.  I think a big part of the reason Reality TV has taken off is because it gives people insight into other people’s messy lives.

Success is not a straight line not just in a start-up business, but also in life.  How you define (and redefine) success also matters as it constantly evolves based on where you are in life.  Sometimes success can mean getting the kids up and out the door in the morning on time and other times it can mean closing a multi-million dollar deal!

Here are some morbid articles I recently read that gave me perspective.  Most of us can’t imagine dealing with the situations mentioned in the articles.

SKorea: NKorea may be preparing to test missile -  Associated Press

Six Americans, including three civilians, killed in attacks in Afghanistan – The Washington Post

Suicide bomber kills 20 at political rally in Iraq – Associated Press

Man kills 13 people in Serbian shooting rampage - Associated Press

I do feel really sorry for the individual who might be at the bottom of the “life sucks” totem pole, but my guess is that even they can think of someone worse off than they are because what’s important to them may not be important to someone else….

Author: | Filed under: parenting, random stuff | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

In The Interest of Time…
Apr 2 2013

Congratulations to Eric Tung, a former undergrad student of mine from my adjunct lecturing days at The University of Texas at Austin, for winning the Jackson 5ive video!  It’s strange to know that my former students already have kids of their own, and he has far surpassed his Intro to Entrepreneurship teacher in the world of social media!

There is much going on and my entrepreneurial life juggle has (again) taken precedence over blogging, so I leave you with these interesting reads:

How to Deal with Negative People – Texas Enterprise

Decision making for the indecisive – The Washington Post

Advice for CEOs in We Are Austin Tech Video – The American CEO

Make room for A players: Stars don’t always turn up on your schedule – The American CEO

The loneliness epidemic – Seth Godin

Studying entrepreneurship without doing it – Seth Godin

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Win a Jackson 5ive Cartoon DVD!
Mar 17 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

150,000 Miles
Mar 10 2013

I wrote a post on October 19, 2009 when my car reached 100,000 miles.  I don’t know why I wrote that post, but it was a milestone for me since I’d never owned a car with that many miles on it.  Oddly, I remember a few minutes of the morning of the day I went into work after writing that post as well as what I was wearing along with a conversation I was having with the office manager at the time.  Here are a few quotes from that post updated for now:

And now here it is 8 [11.5] years, 2 kids, 3 [5] jobs, several written articles, 381 [600] blog posts [1,977 comments], and one mid-life crisis later and the car has been solid (knock on wood).”  I did just have to spend about $1,500 to fix a timing belt tensionar pulley issue and a side engine mount thingamabob a week ago…the timing (pun — or whatever — intended) wasn’t great from a cash flow perspective, but hey it’s still running!

I was too busy chatting with my [best] friend [driving to/from SXSW] at the time to notice when it hit the 100,000 [150,000] mile mark.

I wonder for how many more miles I will own this car…

Not that 99.5% of most people really care about my car or it’s mileage, but let’s just say these last 50K miles on my car have felt like a 100K miles in my life.  The amount of change that has happened in my life personally (myself and my kids) and professionally has been astounding.  And sometimes I’m surprised I’m still standing, but since the kids and I have regular check ups with friends & doctors and an active social life that keeps us driving around, I guess the life maintenance plan is working okay so far… I think I need to get an oil change.  How does one get a personal oil change? :-)

Author: | Filed under: Just For Fun, random stuff | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments »

SXSW – 2013
Mar 8 2013

South by Southwest is upon us here again in Austin.  There are tons of people here.  They’ve expanded it to include an Education category, followed by Interactive (for the geeks), followed by Film and Music.  There may be some other categories, but it’s gotten too big for most of us here to keep up with.  I don’t have a badge this year. I attended a few parties last night including the annual High Tech Happy Hour at Molotov and the Start-Up Crawl.  My perspective on the evolution of sxsw interactive is that it’s starting to get unwieldy.  It’s a great time to catch up with many friends and business connections that I don’t normally get to see during the year, but there is so much noise that it’s easy to miss the substance.

Welcome to everyone who is here visiting our fine city!  We have a lot of a lot of interesting entrepreneurial activity going on here and a very open/collaborative community.  I hope the new, viable start-ups get lucky, make some great connections, and generate some good buzz that will sustain their businesses for another year.

 

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.
Mar 4 2013

Poe-Quote“I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.” – Edgar Allan Poe   Someone on facebook shared that quote recently.  Subsequently, two of my girlfriends told me that Poe was one of their favorite authors.

I saw The Raven last year and it was a dark film.  Reading about Poe’s life it sounds as if his heart must have been “touched” often.  There are more than a few entrepreneurially-minded individuals who had similar characteristics and as we see in the media there are also some famous actors and singers whose sanity has been questioned.  Your heart/passion has to be touched to take on the “insanity” of starting a business!

My guess is that most of us keep our hearts protected, otherwise there might be a lot of “insane” people running around.  Or maybe we could all do with a bit more insanity (i.e., non status-quo) in our lives…without the judgement and cowardice that often goes along with it. As Albert Einstein said, the true definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Poe doesn’t say whether the touch is one that caresses, holds, scares, confuses, or breaks his heart leaving us readers to wonder what he meant or what touched his heart the most.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, random stuff | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Much Ado About Women
Feb 27 2013

teach-to-fish-400x478There have been some interesting articles floating around about women and our roles in business and leadership lately.  I’ve posted a few on facebook and wanted to share here:

Richard Branson on Why We Need More Women in the Boardroom (a.k.a. 12 Angry Men) – Entrepreneur

Sheryl Sandberg’s Radically Realistic ‘And’ Solution for Working Mothers - The Atlantic

Are our colleges equipping women to be leaders? - Washington Post

Why I Was Never a “Feminist” – Stealthmode

Why Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s work from home ban is the wrong approach – The American CEO

4 Reasons Marissa Mayer’s No-At-Home-Work Policy Is an Epic Fail - Forbes

Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office – New York Times

The Most Powerful Women in Tech – 2012 – Forbes

There are have been many advancements to support women in the workplace and yet women still don’t have equal representation in many areas of senior leadership.  For the first time ever, women are earning more college degrees than men.  Yet at the senior level of most organizations, women are not very visible (i.e., “heard”) and sometimes their actions are deeply scrutinized by both men and women.  It seems to be the ongoing price of progress, and I’m glad I’m living in the year 2013 versus 50 to 100 years ago.  I think women have clearly demonstrated their value in the market place…now if they could earn equal pay for equal work across all job functions, that would be another step in the right direction…

To those men and women who take the time to teach women and young girls how to be leaders and provide them support as well as access to your networks to help them grow and learn from their failures & mistakes, thank you for your foresight, interest, and encouragement!  “Give a man/woman a fish, he/she eats for a day. Teach them how to fish, they can eat for a lifetime.”

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 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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Groundhog Day – February 2, 2013
Feb 2 2013

groundhogHappy Groundhog Day!  According to the Washington Post: Groundhog Day 2013: No shadow for Punxsutawney Phil, so spring is around the corner.  It feels like it’s been Spring in Austin, Texas for a while now.

Like the main character in the movie Groundhog Day (wikipedia), I find that February 2, 2013 has some de ja vu elements to February 2, 2012.  In others it’s completely different.  I think I have grown & learned a lot since last year but apparently I, like many others, still have much to learn.  Guess that’s what makes life worth living: the new & unexpected adventures around the corner vs. being trapped in the same day-to-day experience unable to even drive yourself (while holding a groundhog) over a cliff to escape.

Author: | Filed under: FYI, guest post, Just For Fun | Tags: | Comments Off

The Art and Science of Dreaming
Jan 21 2013

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

Thanks For Dreaming Mr. King was the post I wrote last year on MLK day.  I posted it verbatim below. Many of our dreams have come true because of the risks he took.  Why are people so scared of some people’s dreams that they feel the need to kill them?  Many of us are still dreaming and our dreams don’t always come true in our lifetimes.  Maybe one day all of us will dream of good things happening to everyone instead of dreaming of killing others based on their beliefs, ignorance, or desire to change the world to something slightly different.  I’m glad my light brown kids are growing up hardly thinking about the color of their skin.  How much more they should be able to feel and do without someone judging them based on something they were born with.

***

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a big dream. He had more courage and vision in his pinky than most of us have in our whole bodies. Here is an except from his speech “I Have A Dream.” (Go listen to the recording of his speech at this link).

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Thank you for dreaming Mr. King. You helped changed the world with your courage and the risks you took to make life better for all of our children. Today I will remind the kids what dreaming big can mean.

Author: | Filed under: national holiday, success, success story | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

The Impermanence of all That Exists
Jan 13 2013

mandala-tibet-jan2013This weekend I went to the Blanton Museum of Art exhibit that showcased Tibetan monks building a sand mandala.  After spending days and hours creating this mandala out of fine, colored sand, they “dismantle the mandala, sweeping up the colored sands to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists.”

I wonder if entrepreneurs who achieve the most success, not only in dollars but also impact on the world, truly understand that everything is impermanent which results in a shift in how they perceive risk.  Steve Jobs could have floundered in his business in the early days, as most entrepreneurs do, instead of becoming a household name for founding Apple and Pixar.  I’m sure he and his team threw away many designs or product ideas that they spent countless hours on, but they kept on painstakingly placing the grains of sand on each next iteration. If a few grains of sand shifted in some of the most popular designs he had envisioned in his head, we may never have known he existed.  And now even he is gone but his company lives on…for now.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun, steve jobs, success | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Imagine That. It’s 2013!
Jan 6 2013

Happy New Year!   From what I’ve observed at this point in my life, it seems to me that there really is no telling what awaits around the corner with regards to jobs, kids, health, love, or whatever, so I’ve given up on resolutions for the time being.  We are living in interesting times, and I have been fortunate/unfortunate enough to experience many things…some of my choosing and most not of my choosing.  Maybe I will live long enough and happen upon the right muse(s) along the way to enable me to write more about it…

So in 2013 I’ll just do my best to breathe deep, laugh with my kids, and spend time with people who support/love me & my kids (i.e., no fair weather friends or family).  I’ll continue to do my best at whatever I’m attempting to do and support others even if I find myself in less than ideal circumstances or around negative people, which seems to be happening less and less.  I also will continue to come to grips with the reality of my busy life (e.g., it took me close to 5 days to actually finish writing this short post because of work, facebook, watching TV, words with friends, going to the movies, spending time with real offline friends, downtime, and kid stuff!). :-)

May you experience the most peace, love, and joy possible in 2013!

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

Happy Holidays – 2012
Dec 25 2012

Merry Christmas.  Happy Hanukkah.  Joyful Kwanzaa. I hope everyone had a very Happy Holiday season and was able to spend time with people who you like and love and who like and love you right back.

Our Christmas was really nice and peaceful.  Lots of great presents under a small tree.  Tasty lunch at a Japanese restaurant.  An afternoon of putting legos and other toys together, followed by seeing Cirque du Soleil at the movie theater. I wasn’t sure if the kids would enjoy the show, but they did and were fascinated by the flexibility, strength, and costumes of the cast.

Happy Holidays!

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Broken Hearts and Broken Minds
Dec 16 2012

I try not to get too political on my blog, but sometimes an event happens like the killing of 20 six and seven year old kids and 6 educators by a mentally unstable individual, who had access to a semi-automatic gun, that compels me to write something.  The stories about their little bodies riddled with multiple bullets, make me shudder.  I can’t imagine the horror and pain those parents must feel.  I am partly in shock and cannot even wrap my mind around dropping off my 7 year old daughter at school to subsequently find out some lunatic shot her and her friends.  It makes me sick to my stomach.

There are so many random shootings by mentally unstable people and it seems as if this one is really striking a different chord.  People are tired of this nonsense.  There are no easy answers. I believe people have rights to own a licensed hand gun or even hunting weapons, but semi-automatic and automatic weapons just don’t make sense.  The people who fill out the right paperwork and clear the background checks aren’t usually the crazy people.  It’s their friends, relatives, or others who have access to the places the law abiding people keep their guns who have the potential to wreak havoc.  Can we feasibly check everyone that could potentially come in contact with a gun that someone is legally registering for?  Probably not.

I heard America has the worse statistics (behind Somalia) on gun related murders per capita in the world.  Some say we should arm our teachers like they do in Israel or Switzerland.  Others say the problem with that solution is that both of those countries require military service by all young people who get solid gun safety training as well as psychological screening.  Plus, who wants our kids going to school with teachers who have guns strapped to their backs?

I signed a petition at Whitehouse.gov to make discussion on this topic around the proper interpretation of the 2nd amendment a high level priority.  The petition is HERE.  Based on my understanding, the 2nd Amendment was primarily made to enable the common person to protect him/herself from the government, not insane people.  Advanced US Government weaponry is no match for anything available in the civilian market these days.  I mean, who is going to say it’s okay for Joe Blow to own a nuclear missile or an armored tank?

There are no easy answers but in my opinion, questions and potential solutions need to be asked & examined that include gun regulation combined with mental health screening.  What is going on in our society that enables mentally ill people to hide their illness so well from others?  Why is it that those closest to them do not speak up to get them help?  Hard questions to answer because of the numerous human, financial, and psychological variables.

My thoughts, prayers, and well wishes go out to those families dealing with so much heartache and pain right now.  They can no longer hug & kiss their little darlings good night. :-(  I hope our country will come up with some solutions that prevent something like this from ever happening again!

Author: | Filed under: father, mother, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

How People Believe in God
Dec 3 2012

Buddha Stone Statue in China

A movie and a book intersected in my life recently with stories about how God is experienced and perceived by us humans throughout the ages. Life of Pi (the movie, released in 2012) was made from a book written by Yann Martel in 2001.  A book written by Deepak Chopra called God: A Story of Revelation(Amazon link) happened to come to my attention through a marketing email, and I read it on my iPhone Kindle reader over the last couple of months.  I have been fascinated with stories about God, psychology, and philosophy since I was about 11 years of age.

The movie is intense, full of metaphors, and starts with the statement that once you hear Pi’s story, you will believe in God.  I don’t want to ruin the punchline, but it’s worth noting that Pi says “and so it goes with God” when he finishes telling the two versions of his story about the time he was lost at sea and the character listening to his story tells him which story he prefers.  One is a magical story of triumph with God’s help, the other reflects the darkest side of humanity and “survival of the fittest.”

Deepak Chopra’s book described the lives of several people of differing faiths and the paths that led them to profess that they heard God speak to them.  The people he writes about are: Job, Socrates, St. Paul, Shankara (similar to Buddha), Rumi, Julian of Norwich, Giordano Bruno, Anne Hutchinson, Baal Shem Tov, Rabindranath Tagore, and Einstein.  It’s interesting to note that all except one are men.  I guess women were too busy raising kids and taking care of their husbands to have the time to wander the streets, write poetry, or be thought anything other than heretical/batty if they proclaimed God spoke to them.

Those on a path to find God usually lead pretty persecuted and misunderstood lives where “bliss,” for lack of a better word is only sometimes achieved after much affliction combined with not “fitting” in to the time they were born.  But they all seemed to have felt as if God was within them and inside all living things.  Even probably 50 years ago saying things like God was anything other than someone up on high looking down on us (randomly helping us), would result in persecution.  However, now as Eastern philosophies blend with Western, it’s not so odd to think that we and everything on this planet are pieces of God.  Science has even started to prove that we are made up of vibrating energy.  His book states that science moved us away from mysticism/faith to cold hard facts and is now moving us back to the unexplainable and cohesive universal force that keeps things in order.

It seems that our belief in God and what & who God is evolves and changes based on the stories we tell about the human condition. Apparently, the more we explore ourselves & the universe and the more we share our stories, our relationship to and with God changes.

Author: | Filed under: book review, movie reviews, poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »