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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to Enlarge Image

Self-Service Portal: The Essential for Fast-Growing Companies — Brought To You By Desk.com
Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, fundraising, networking | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Who Has Your Back? In Life and Business…
Sep 8 2013

best-thing-worst-of-life I saw this image on facebook a couple of weeks ago and thought how appropriate the quote was for life and business.  “The best thing about the worst part of your life is that you get to see the true colours of everyone.”

When things get really tough in life, you see who is really there for you and others.  Whether they understand why you are going through what you are going through or why you are saying/doing what you are saying, they do their best to help you out or at least not get in your way or judge you.  If they don’t care and are more interested in the trajectory of their lives, they might abandon you or look the other way.  They are likely more worried about how they look or feel or just don’t want to exert the effort it takes to care and help you through a tough spot.

I’m grateful for the gem-like people who surfaced during the hardest times of my professional and personal lives.  I know I will do the best I can to have their back, should the need arise.  What goes around comes around as they say…

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The Entrepreneurial Life
Aug 11 2013

musical_note_4188It’s been a busy summer and an extremely busy year.  Since late last year, we sold our old house, leased back/lived in a remodel that wasn’t ours, lived in a hotel for 3 weeks, I started a new job (yes another start up!), bought a new house that has required a lot of patience to get the builder (oh, I so want to link to the builder!) to do what was promised, worked on my songs, attended indoor soccer games, hung out with friends, managed not to take a real vacation, juggled multiple summer camps, and dealt with some heavy kid-related personal transition stuff.  Just par for course in my life apparently.  If I had not been exposed to the vagaries of the entrepreneurial life, I’m not sure I would have emerged in the functioning state that I have.

I like things to be somewhat loosely organized and have some sort of structure/plan, but it seems like life and other people don’t really care so they pile things on based on their life and not mine with no regard to whether the kids or I can handle it or not.  I remember someone once told me that people dump on people because they know they can handle it because they have survived bad treatment before.   So, if I (or others) became a puddle on the floor (as my realtor once told me I had every right to do) when really hard stuff happens, they would treat me with more consideration?  That is weird logic if you ask me!

My kids have seen me act mostly with grace and on a few occasions express some natural human frustration, but overall I hope I’m modeling pick-yourself-up-and-move-on habits for them.  Life isn’t fair.  It’s not easy.  Business isn’t easy. People completely abandon you.  You lose your job.  Teammates leave.  The market changes. BUT, really great people show up to support you if you are genuine, try hard, and you smile in the face of adversity. I am lucky beyond belief in that area as big-hearted people have shown up for me constantly & consistently.  Ironically, the people who I thought would be there for me and/or the kids disappeared.

I’m excited to start blogging about the new start-up I joined and plan to do so in a few months after we get through a funding round.  It is a good job (link to post about what a good job is) with the potential of more than adequate comp should the risk we are taking pay off some day.  So far the team, the location, the idea, and the market are all amazing!  Time will tell.  And even though I like to have some organization in a world of chaos, I love going into work not knowing exactly what I’ll be doing that day.  I am 95% sure that having a job where I knew exactly what I was going to do the whole day would bore & irritate the heck out of me.  I guess you have to be careful about what you ask for (or are programmed for) and what you do when the universe decides to give you a complicated present!

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Austin and Virginia Beach ranked most business-friendly cities
Jul 6 2013

I received a request to post this info back in April, but just now had the time to get it on the blog.  It’s a bit dated but still useful especially since Austin, Texas made the list for being one of the most friendly places for small businesses!

Small Businesses Rate Utah and Alabama Friendliest States, California and Illinois Among Least Friendly. Austin and Virginia Beach ranked most business-friendly cities.

 (San Francisco, Calif.) April 2, 2013:   Thumbtack.com, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, today released the second-annual Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey showing that Utah, Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho and Texas rated as the top-five friendliest states for small business. In contrast, small business owners gave Hawaii, Maine and Rhode Island an “F,” while California and Illinois rounded out the bottom five, both earning a “D” grade. The top performing cities were Austin, Virginia Beach and Houston.

The Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide universe of job creators and entrepreneurs in order to determine the most business-friendly locations. While there are various “business climate rankings” that rate locations as good or bad for business, there are no others that draw upon considerable data from small business owners themselves.

“Small businesses are top-of-mind for lawmakers nationwide, but too often their needs are more a matter of conjecture rather than actual evidence,” says Sander Daniels, co-founder of Thumbtack.com. “Some 7,000 businesses owners across the country have told us that they care about a lot more than just taxes – for most businesses, simple licensing regulations and helpful training programs are even more important to their success.”

Some of the survey’s key findings include:

  • Texas had three of the top five cities (AustinHouston and San Antonio), while California was home to three of the bottom five (Los AngelesSan Diego and Sacramento). Newark, NJ finished last in this year’s rankings.
  • Professional licensing requirements were 30 percent more important than taxes in determining a state’s overall business-friendliness, confirming the findings from last year’s study. Furthermore, this year’s research revealed that 40 percent of U.S. small businesses are subject to licensing regulations by multiple jurisdictions or levels of government.
  • Small businesses were relatively unconcerned with tax rates – more than half of small business owners felt they pay about the right share of taxes.
  • African-American and Hispanic small business owners were significantly more likely than their white counterparts to encourage others to start a new business.
  • North Carolina was the most improved state, making strides across multiple categories and rising from a “C+’” to a “B+” grade overall.
  • The ease of obtaining health insurance was an important factor for many businesses. One-third of small business owners rated obtaining and keeping health insurance as “Very Difficult,” versus only 6 percent who rated it “Very Easy.”

“It is critical to the economic health of every city and state to create an entrepreneur-friendly environment,” said Dane Stangler, director of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation.  “Policymakers put themselves in the best position to encourage sustainable growth and long-term prosperity by listening to the voices of small business owners themselves.”

The full results can be seen here and include full sets of rankings, dozens of easily searchable quotes from small businesses nationwide, regional comparisons within states, and Census data comparing states’ and cities’ key demographics against those of other states and cities.

 “The relative ease of running a business where I live is a direct reflection of the way our city and state operate and enforce the rules. They are very orderly and have very clear laws that are easy to follow.  It leaves me with more time to focus on actually running my business.” Trainer – Salt Lake City, UT

 Survey methodology

Thumbtack.com surveyed 7,766 small businesses across the United States. The survey asked questions about the friendliness of states and cities toward small business, such as:

  • “In general, how would you rate your state’s support of small business owners?”
  • “Would you discourage or encourage someone from starting a new business where you live?” and
  • “Do you think you pay your fair share of taxes?”

Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation evaluated states and cities against one another along more than a dozen metrics. The full methodology paper can be found here.

What is Thumbtack.com?

Thumbtack.com is a place where you can hire help locally. Need a DJinterior designer,wedding photographer, or house cleanerTell us what you need, and we’ll bring you 3-5 bids on that job to your email inbox within 24 hours. More than 275,000 small businesses and freelancers have listed their services on Thumbtack nationwide.

Media Contacts:

Barbara Pruitt, 816-932-1288bpruitt@kauffman.org, Kauffman Foundation
Sander Daniels, 415-547-0579sander.daniels@thumbtack.com, Thumbtack.com

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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, 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

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.

 

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