Happy 4th of July – 2013
Jul 5 2013

Happy Independence Day for those of you in the United States of America.   I am thankful to be living in a country that has given us so much opportunity.  I’m grateful for those who fought and sacrificed for our way of life.  I know I’ve been able to do things personally and professionally (entrepreneurial-ly speaking) that would have been 10 times harder, if not impossible elsewhere.

Happy Birthday America! I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July.

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Happy Father’s Day – 2013
Jun 16 2013

Happy Father’s Day to all the great and dedicated dads out there.  It seems to me the role of “father” has become much more complex in the first world.  They have much more responsibility for parenting than they used to when I and my friends were growing up.  I think that increased role will have a very positive impact on our kids.  It may even create more empathy for both the mother and father roles in our society.

My life has been very busy, so blog posting has dropped down on the priority list.  I have many parenting, business, and music related things to write about so with any luck, time, and breathing room, I will be able to start writing more frequently.  But until then, here are a couple of thoughtful links on this Father’s Day:

Parenting – A VC by Fred Wilson

Daniel Dennett’s seven tools for thinking – The Guardian

Angry is a habit – Seth Godin

Author: | Filed under: Father's Day, parenting | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Happy Mother’s Day 2013
May 12 2013

mothers-day-rosesAnother year has passed and another Mother’s Day is almost over.  Apparently my Happy Mother’s Day 2012 – Keep Up The Good Work post had several hundred views the last few days via google searches.  I still find that “greeting” card I took a picture of and put in that post humorous in an ironic kind of way…not even sure that makes sense or not.

This Mother’s Day, we find ourselves living in an extended stay hotel for a couple of weeks while we wait for our new home to be ready.  We’ve already had several friends over to eat and swim with us. Our new home was supposed to be ready in January, and we are crossing our fingers & toes that we will be able to move in soon.  So many amazing things have happened on this journey and invariably they involved wonderful people with big hearts who have gone the extra mile to make this transition as smooth as possible given the other unexpected changes in my life.  I really can’t thank some of these people enough.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be a grandmother with some of the best First World war stories ever!  :-)

So today for Mother’s Day, my son played soccer, the kids did their homework, they took me to Firebowl for lunch where mom’s ate free, we saw The Croods, they went swimming in the heated & nicely shaded hotel pool, they took me to Macaroni Grill for dinner (using gift cards the buyer’s of our house gave us), and they listened to me 90% of the time without me having to repeat myself multiple times.  All in all I’d say it was a very good day with the only downer being me having a cold.

I told the kids that I would share the fortunes (or statements) from the fortune cookies we chose at Firebowl in this post, so Happy Mother’s Day and here they are :

  • Embrace change, don’t battle it.
  • Don’t be so critical and overly concerned about details.
  • Don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens.
  • Drastic means are not as necessary as you think.
  • Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.
  • Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent.
  • Help people reach their full potential.

 

Author: | Filed under: mom, mother, mother's day, mother's day, movie reviews, parenting, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Lemonade Day Austin – May 5, 2013 – Entrepreneurial Kids
May 5 2013

Every year there is a nationwide effort to encourage kids to think like entrepreneurs called Lemonade Day.  This year it was held in Austin on May 5 (cinco de Mayo), 2013 and both of my kids participated with some of their classmates.  One location was at the Rookie Triathlon and the other was at Mueller Lake Park. My daughter’s team made a profit of $91.  They split $90 three ways and gave $1 to the 3 year old sister of one of the girl’s on the team.  Her younger sister is so cute and had a sign that said “buy my sister’s lemonade” that she held while yelling the words on her sign.  She drew in many customers by her sheer cuteness and confidence! Although she deserved more than $1, she is only 3 and thought $1 was an amazing amount of money.  My sister and her friends are 7 and 8 years old…oh what a few years of living does to change your perspective on the value of $1. :-)

My son and his buddy are still calculating their returns, but it looks like they made money after deducting costs.  I’ve told both my son and daughter that no gloating is allowed. I have a feeling my daughter’s team performed better mostly because of Location, Location, Location!

Lemonade Day is a great way to teach kids about the economics of running a little business and was started to help teach kids about entrepreneurship.  The kids create signs and are supposed to figure out what supplies they need and how many drinks/snacks they need to sell to make a profit.  It’s fun for the parents too and gives us an opportunity to talk about business, marketing, and selling with our kids.  Those are skills that will serve them well for life!  Gone are the days of steady jobs that last 20 or 30+ years.  Here are the days where most people will hold 10 to 20 different jobs [infographic] at different companies in their lifetime.  Might as well teach them how to pick themselves into the job/career that they want!

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CELEBRATING 18 Years of BiG BUSINESS, BiG IMPACT AND BiG PARTNERSHIPS
May 4 2013

big-austin-gary_hoover-may 2013CELEBRATING 18 Years of BiG BUSINESS, BiG IMPACT AND BiG PARTNERSHIPS

Acknowledging the past, Celebrating the present and Ushering in the future is the theme of BiGAUSTIN’s 18th birthday celebration.  On Thursday May 9, 2013 from 6pm-9pm, BiGAUSTIN is inviting friends of the past and present who have been instrumental in establishing BiGAUSTIN’s status as a leader in the small business development sector.

This event will engage past and present clients, instructors, supporters and all whose stories have inspired 18 years of adventure for BiGAUSTIN.  This interactive event will consist of food, live music, raffles, and networking opportunities for all in attendance.  The BiG celebration will feature the unveiling of BiGAUSTIN’s training room and updated picture displays of current clients and their businesses.

This is a free event and all invited guests are encouraged to bring guests as well.  Attendees will have the opportunity to increase their business visibility and forge new partnerships by sponsoring BiGAUSTIN’s training room.  Sponsorship packets will be available at the event.

BiGAUSTIN is delighted to have distinguished entrepreneur and speaker Gary Hoover, one of the nation’s foremost experts in small business success having created pioneering book super- store BOOKSTOP, which helped change the nature of book shopping in America. This company was sold to Barnes & Noble for $41.5 million when it was just 7 years old. RSVP HERE…

About BiGAUSTIN

BiGAUSTIN is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing training services, one-on-one assistance, and loans to individuals who want to achieve self-sufficiency by starting their own small business.  BiGAUSTIN assists small businesses to successfully grow by providing comprehensive education, tailored business counseling and flexible loans.  BiGAUSTIN’s office which houses most of our staff and our training facilities is located at 5407 N.IH-35, Suite 200 on the 2nd floor.

Media Contact:
Happiness Kisoso
happiness@bigaustin.org

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Do You Have The Guts Not To Fight?
Apr 21 2013

42 film poster.jpgI saw the movie 42 this weekend and it was *very* inspiring.  The theater was packed and people applauded when it was over.  Based on my movie going experience, it’s not often that people applaud after a movie.  It was about Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player.  The movie portrayed what he went through to make a name in America’s top sport in the 1940′s.

One line from the movie that resonated with me was said by Branch Ricky, a team executive, played by Harrison Ford in response to Jackie saying “do you want a player who doesn’t have the guts to stand up from himself?”  He responded and told Jackie he wanted a player with the “guts not to fight” (or something like that), when people would surely treat him awfully because of his race, in order to make history and become a baseball legend.  It would be extremely hard for most people to sit back and experience the horrible, racist things he had to endure from slurs to being denied a hotel to stay in when he was on the road with his team.  Yet, he apparently had the strength to “turn the other cheek.”

Yes, sometimes it takes more guts not to fight as people like MLK and Gandhi have demonstrated.  Fortunately for Jackie, he had talent, desire, a little luck, and passion for the sport of baseball.  He knew he wanted to win at baseball more than he wanted to rightly punch somebody or stoop to their level.  Like many entrepreneurs, he focused on the end goal and didn’t let the mean spirited, those scared of tolerance/change, or the onslaught of scathing words get him down.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, movie reviews | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

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).

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….

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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

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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? :-)

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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