Perspective 2012
Mar 20 2012

When I wonder what it’s all about, why I am where I am, and whether all my decisions or in/out-of-control direction changes in life were good ones, I usually need to drink lots of red wine and stay away from the hard liquor!  When my 6, soon to be 7, year old daughter tells me to take a break from cooking dinner and see what she made  and affixed to my home office desk (photo to left), everything makes sense for a few moments.

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I tell her that I need to save all these precious notes and drawings she makes me because when she’s a teenager she’ll want nothing to do with me.  She denies it adamantly and tells me she will always love me.  I tell her I know that’s true but she might not express it the same way as she does now, but I will always love her which thankfully she believes. I doubt she’ll be writing me the same heart warming notes and drawing me butterflies when she’s 16, but the fact that she thinks she will is sweet.  Although I’m sure her peers and society might think it weird if she’s drawing hearts to her friends and mom when she’s older, I hope she continues to be comfortable expressing her love for people because it’s not an easy thing to do without judgement when you get older.

I don’t recall my now 9 year old son writing too many “I love mommy” notes when he was 6, but I do have a few of those that I’ve saved and stuck to the fridge or put in his box.  He mostly wants to play with my iPhone and the Wii runs into me to show his affection and randomly hugs me sometimes in odd places like Office Depot.  He still likes me to sit next to him when he’s watching TV and cuddle with him for a bit before he goes to sleep.  When I ask him why he is hugging me in a superstore, he says “I don’t know, I just wanted to.”  I sigh, laugh, roll my eyes a bit and say “Ok sweetie, I’ll take it when and where I can get it,” hug him back and muss his hair.

I’m so lucky when it comes to my kids (knock on wood) and I guess I am where I need to be right now for them.  If I’m penniless in my 80s, I’ll show them the notes and see if they remember writing them and the feelings they were trying to express at the time.  Deep stuff, I know.

Author: | Filed under: parent stories, parenting, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments »

Memories On Memorial Day Weekend
May 30 2011

I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend.  I certainly spent a lot of time reminiscing about old memories with long time friends while the kids played during the day and into the wee hours of the morning when the kids were asleep.  We created new memories with old and new friends.  My kids had fun playing, swimming, playing games on the iPhone and Wii, eating hot dogs, seeing Kung Fu Panda 2, etc.

It’s great to have old friends to ground you and remind you of who you were back then and talk about how we have all changed and/or stayed the same.  It’s good to have new friends who  know you now (i.e., after kids).  New friends open you up to new and different experiences because they don’t know who you are supposed to be, and they don’t let your old self hold back your new self.  Under their influence you may be able to see and experience things you never have before.

But Memorial Day weekend is about remembering those Americans who died for our freedom.  So, thank you to those who serve, who have served, and whose families support them while they continue to protect us so people like me can hang out with our friends during this long weekend.  I’m ever so grateful that I live in the United States and have had the opportunities that I have had, including the ability to express myself on this here blog.

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

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence
Dec 21 2010

I mentioned I had a post brewing in my head about this fortune cookie “statement” (i.e., not a fortune) in a prior post.  I actually did see a real fortune the other day that said something like “The love of your life is just around the corner,” but sadly I did not open that cookie, our office manager (who has been married almost 20 years) at work did, so maybe she is re-discovering the love of her life. :-)

Love is a strange emotion or thing or state of being.  It can be like a drug just like in the movie Love and Other Drugs I just saw.  It doesn’t often make sense.  People love Apple’s iPhone but if you did the practical analysis, the Google Android phone might be better.  In other words people’s imagination of the iPhone triumphs over hard data (i.e., intelligence).  Or there might even be a better phone option than that.  But people fall in love seemingly all of a sudden and sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why but some people like Steve Jobs seem to know how to push the buttons of a significant enough portion of the population and get them to fall in love with his ideas/products.  Selling to consumers is a tough job because we are fickle.  We can fall in and out of love (or is that “like”) of products pretty easily.   Probably because society doesn’t look kindly on us falling in and out of love with people, so we project that piece of our humanity onto objects.  No one will judge you or make you feel guilty for falling in and out of love with certain products.  I just came up with that piece of philosophy/wisdom so take it for what it’s worth!

Hugh McLeod (@gapingvoid) loves to cartoon about LOVE and I love the poignancy of his love cartoons.  Jeffrey Fry sent out a quote recently: “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” –Mother Teresa.

When people fall in love (infatuation), they certainly overlook the practical/potentially annoying things about something or someone (e.g., you have to keep re-booting the phone, but it looks pretty, it gives you good info on how to get places, and it gives you games to play or if it’s a person for some period of time you don’t see their flaws because he or she makes you feel special/noticed or it seems like they really see or understand you.).

The very few times I’ve fallen in romantic love in my life, I’ve been completely blind sided by it.  Knocked over like a ton of bricks.  Silly and stupid.  And on some occasions, I never even had a relationship with the guy – guess I’m just a romantic at heart and they somehow happened to connect with the combination of my mind/heart, which is very hard to do.  When I’ve fallen out of love, it seems to have happened over time and not suddenly after disappointment, disconnection, pain, and just the exhaustion that comes along with daily living.  I’m not trying to say I believe in ‘love at first site’ because I don’t, but that moment when you realize you love someone or ‘something’ seems to just happen without any warning.  One day you don’t have much feeling toward someone or you don’t know what you feel and the next you find you are in love with them.  Which has led me to the conclusion that we are not meant to love just one person (romantically) our entire lives.  I can see Jeffrey Fry reading this and thinking that I don’t know what true love is yet because he has studied it and apparently knows what it is.  He’s probably right, I don’t know.

There are people in ‘arranged marriages’ who grow to love each other and there are people who had ‘love marriages’ that didn’t work out.  It’s all that stuff that happens (and doesn’t happen) in between the years, the kids, the jobs, behind closed doors, etc. that I guess makes some marriages “work” and others don’t.  The same is true for business start-ups but currently the odds of a marriage making it to “death do us part” is higher (4o to 50%) than a small business making it 50 years (< 10%).  Plus, more people change their jobs and companies they work for now than they did 30+ years ago.  Go figure.

But the closest I’ve come to experiencing true love is the love I feel for my children, and yes the intensity of my love for them did surprise me at first.  And although they sometimes annoy the heck out of me (any parent who says their kids have not annoyed them at some point is a liar), I cannot even imagine a day where I would fall out of love with them.  I can see a day I may not like them sometimes, especially if they do something naughty or talk back to me, but I believe that I will always love them and do my best to support them.

I wonder if it’s harder to fall in or out of love?  That is the question.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, Just For Fun, marketing, marriage | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

And Then An Egg Explodes In Your Face
Sep 11 2010

You’re going about your weekend morning breakfast routine.  The kids are having fun and doing fine.  You boil eggs for them except they turn out a little runnier than one of your kids likes so you put it in the microwave to harden up the middle a little for 30 seconds.  The egg white was already slit and you remark that you hope it doesn’t explode in the microwave.  You pull it out and it looks fine.  You place it in front of your 5 year old daughter and take a fork to it to cut it for her and BOOM, it explodes all over your face, her face, the table, the chairs, the floor, etc.  You are stunned, she’s stunned, her brother is stunned.  You can’t see because there are egg pieces in your eyes and your daughter starts crying because she’s startled and scared.

You stand dumbfounded for a moment wondering what happened when you realize there are pieces of egg everywhere.  You wipe her face and your face and she walks off to sit on the couch nearby because she doesn’t want to be anywhere near the disaster and she wants to recover.  Your 8 year old son keeps walking around where the egg pieces on the floor are despite being told at least 5 times not to walk there, but he’s kind of amused by it all.  He keeps saying “sorry, I didn’t realize it was here.”  And you roll your eyes at him not comprehending why he couldn’t remember you just told him not to walk there.  You start laughing at the craziness and then after a few minutes you all start pointing at each other and laughing at the fact you all have pieces of egg in your hair.  You ask your daughter if she’s still hungry and she says she is so you offer her a bagel with cream cheese (which is her favorite) and she says she wants to eat it while sitting on the counter and you let her so you can finish cleaning the breakfast table area.  Her brother also wants to sit on the counter and eat a bagel so you let him do it too despite the fact he ate all of his egg because he likes runny eggs.

You clean up, you take them to your voice lesson where they color and play on the iPhone while you have your lesson, for lunch you cut them some apples and make them cheese & ham quesadillas that get slightly burned because you discover more egg pieces and get distracted trying to clean them up, you listen to them complain briefly that their lunch is slightly burned but you don’t get too upset because they are playing nicely together with some board games and staying out of your way while you continue to eradicate the kitchen of random pieces of egg, you take them to your daughter’s swim lesson where your son wants to download more free games to your iPhone, and then you come home.  You let them watch TV because you are tired and you lay in between them and fall asleep for 5 minutes before their Dad comes to pick them up.

Then you attempt to catch up on hundreds of emails, housework, paperwork, busy work, eat cereal for dinner because nothing else appeals to you, watch a recording of Mad Men, write this post and then go to bed.

Yes, that was my day today and I wouldn’t trade it for any other because an egg exploded in my face for the first time in my life and my kids were there to see it and everyone is OK. :-)   And I’m grateful that it was just an egg and not an airplane exploding in my building like what happened 9 years ago in New York on this very date, September 11.

There are so many ways to tie an egg unexpectedly exploding in your face to life as an entrepreneur or parent, that it would take too long to write about here. So I’ll just leave it up to you all to come up with your own egg exploding business start-up and other parenting analogies.

Author: | Filed under: Just For Fun, parenting | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Hate Is Not The Opposite of Love
Aug 3 2010

Most people think the opposite of love is hate, but really it isn’t, and I think most people know this if they take the time to think about it.  If people love your products, you do great.  If you have a group of people who hate your products, you are still likely to do OK.  Take for example the iPhone.  People love it because Apple somehow convinced many of us of its greatness.  Then there are those who hate it (see iPhone4 vs. HTC Evo YouTube video) and it still does great and its main competitor the Android phone is doing well because people love it.  They just spread the word in a less visible/audible way.  Another example is twitter or facebook.  Some people love them and others think they are a complete waste of freaking time, but they are both doing well from an adoption if not a profitability standpoint.

The same is true of people.  Some people love Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) and some hate him for his megalomaniac ways.  More often than not people apparently hate Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle) but they still keep buying Oracle products.  Some people love president Barack Obama but some hate him for the change he represents and for his sometimes questionable political decisions.  The same goes for Rush Limbaugh and former president Bill Clinton for his promiscuous way.  Everyone seemed to love Lady Diana and despise Prince Charles because he loved another woman not nearly as beautiful and sweet as Lady Di.  The vast majority of people adored Mother Theresa and Gandhi.  Some people love hard rock or country music and some can’t stand either.  So the products, people, and genre’s that people don’t care about are the one’s that no one gets emotionally charged about either way, and they disappear or have a very small niche.

So the opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy.  What kind of company, product, person are you or do you represent?  One that people love or hate?  Do they not care enough to pay attention?  Do they care if you throw your products into the sea or a landfill?  Do they care if you throw yourself into the sea or a landfill?  Will they notice if you walk out the door?  If they don’t care and you are feeling like furniture (song lyric alert), then maybe it’s time to build another product, start/join another company, transform yourself so people notice you/your products, change your life situation, and/or buy new furniture!  All of these things are much easier said than done except, of course, for ‘buying new furniture.’

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, marketing, steve jobs | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Portuguese Food, Culture, and Technology
May 29 2010

I’m still in Portugal and luck has shined on me.  The weather has been great, the people have been great, and the experience has been new and adventurous.  I’ll do a post on my Portuguese incubator, tech transfer, and entrepreneurial experience next but part of that has to do with the culture and possibly the food.  In the interest of time, here are some highlights because I don’t have time to make the bullets work with the pictures:

The food is good but not the best in the world.  They are known for their salted cod dishes, and I think I tried cod twice.  I’m not a big fan of cod.  The joke is that they have 1001 cod based dishes. However, the best meal and wine I had was at a restaurant called Fernando in the city of Porto recommended by one of my colleagues and we did have to bust the bank (our per diem for meal reimbursements was long overshot) on this meal but it was worth it.  The grilled prawns were probably the best I had ever had.  The red wine that another one of my colleagues selected was outstanding.  The multiple ways they prepared the huge crab were delicious.  I even took a picture of it and it’s the one accompanying this blog post.

The customer service is over the top.  We in the US think we have good customer service but outside of maybe Nordstrom’s you don’t see this kind of customer service.  They go out of their way to make sure that you have what you want.  The best example is that the restaurant I mentioned above gave another of my colleagues a free bottle of the white wine he liked.  They also let me try what they called a different kind of shrimp which was really a barnacle (I have pics of that too) despite me making a funny face at how weird they looked.  Another example is a shop owner opening up especially for us to look at her knick knacks and port.  A third is the Director of the Digital Media incubator spending the late afternoon with me to find some things for my kid’s school and good port!  Her name is Fatima which I found a little coincidental because the girl Santiago falls in love with in the desert in The Alchemist (which I just wrote about) is called Fatima.  Barely a touch was exchanged between them, yet they both knew.  The book ends with Santiago finding his treasure and then going back to be with her.  I know it is a fable, unrealistic romance, but us humans (especially us girl humans) fall for that kind of stuff.  My whole point is (please excuse that aforementioned little reverie) is that you feel very much included in this culture.

I was disappointed that I never made it to a port/wine cellar in Porto.  I hear they are lovely, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get to try several ports and wines.  I tried their famous Vinho Verde (green wine) and even though I don’t usually like white wines, I liked it.  One of my colleagues recommended a type of white port tonic drink (can’t recall the name) that was really nice and refreshing.  I am going to bring some port home!

They love their sports teams (i.e., football/soccer) and the gear is expensive but my son wanted a Portugal team shirt so what is a mom to do but buy one! :-)   Their loyalties on the different soccer teams are fierce in different regions in Portugal so be careful what you say.

It’s been over a decade since I’ve traveled for business to Europe and technology has come a long way from internet connection, to Wi-Fi, to Skype.  I can use Skype on my iPhone to call my kids for something like 2.1 cents per minute compared to $2 per minute if I used my regular plan.  Of course I have to be in a free Wi-Fi spot and it’s not always clear but to me that is amazing.  I’m sure I’ll still get phone charges because people have called and texted me and I don’t have a plan (and it wasn’t worth upgrading for the time I’d be here because international plans aren’t cheap).  However Wi-Fi is in places I never thought it would be.  I find this particularly cool because Wi-Fi Alliance has been headquartered at the Austin Technology Incubator for a few years now.  The hotel I’m about to check out of has ethernet connection to the Internet but the microphone on my laptop isn’t configured/working so I can call out on Skype but people can’t hear me.  Sigh.

The people still smoke a lot here.

They don’t take American Express in most places except for the hotels.  Ah well.  I guess I could have left home without it.

Now, I’m off to Spain…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, food, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »