Anger And Fear
Sep 25 2011

I’ve written a lot about love, laughter, and heartache on my blog, but not much about anger or fear.  Those are hard emotions to write about.  Most of us were taught not to let our anger show and that we should control it.  But we’ve seen a few people in our life and on TV lose their cool.  We’re told there’s no reason to be afraid.  There’s no such thing as ghosts.  There’s nothing under your bed.  It seems to me that those two feelings/emotions have big hairy monsters in our minds associated with them.  They can sometimes be more irrational than real because most of us are not being chased by sharks or big hungry bears, but when we feel these emotions, they feel so real!  They can paralyze us.  They cause stress.  They cause health problems.  They can make us think we are not good enough or not worthy of love and happiness.

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Entrepreneurs and pretty much anyone who has a job and/or is a full time parent face these demons every day.  It’s how we deal with it and how we treat others that counts.  Compassion can alleviate fears.  Empathy and encouragement can help people achieve things they never thought they could.  Fear and Anger can make people get things done (e.g., dark ages, torture, and slaves who built the Egyptian pyramids) but it can make them sick and unhappy at the same time.  It can cause a ripple effect on society, on their spouse, or their kids.  If people are unhappy at work, it has been shown they are more abusive at home and don’t treat their co-workers well.  I believe encouraging, loving environments create exponentially better outcomes.  Is it because I’m a woman?  I don’t think so.  I think Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, many great business leaders, and Gandhi felt the same way.  Maybe they don’t get as much media attention but go find the places in your city that are consistently voted the best places to work and you’ll see successful businesses with great leaders who care, trust, and believe in their employees.

We are all flawed humans, but the thing that keeps us connected is empathy and love.  Without that connection and belief in each other, we might as well be on an island alone or dead.  We can start businesses and scare people to do what we think they should, but the best will leave because in the modern world they have other choices than to be beaten & downtrodden and to lay bricks while being whipped.  You’ll end up with “yes men/women” who are too afraid to tell you what’s really going on because they are scared for their livelihoods.  But you’ll be surprised at the psychology of some of us humans because a lot of us don’t realize our genius.  I’ll leave you with a quote from Jeffry Fry’s daily email he sent out July 16, 2011 that’s still in my inbox and printed & pasted to the pillar near my cube at work:

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.”    –Albert Einstein

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

A Song To Sing
Mar 3 2011

I hired someone recently to update (way overdue) my blog design.  His name is Brian Hurdle (photographer extraordinaire), and I think it’s going to look very nice, clean, and professional…oh and cool.  He’s going to add a musical element to it since my current entrepreneurial endeavor is songwriting related.  He’s going to remove the clip art girl on the phone, change the font, put a nice graphic, move it to a 2 column theme, etc.  I can’t wait for it to be ready as I’m hoping it will inspire a new wave and direction of blog writing for me.

Speaking of songwriting, I forwarded a quote from Jeffrey Fry’s quotables to my songwriting partner, Brett Jason Wintermeyer that said:

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” –Chinese Proverb

To me it meant that a bird sings because she is born to…because the bird cannot be herself without singing her song.  Or maybe it’s boy birds that sing…well, it doesn’t matter.  He replied by saying “Reminds me of someone I know who has a song to sing  :-) “  I was not expecting that response as I had not connected that saying to one of the songs we are working on based on my lyrics.  The title of the song is called “I Have A Song To Sing.”  I don’t know why I didn’t connect the two, but the second line in the song after “I have a song to sing” is “But you won’t let me sing it.”  That lyric is (c) copyright 2010-2011 Aruni S. Gunasegaram by the way!

I guess that’s why it’s important to have a songwriting partner or talented people in your life…to help you connect the dots…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, music, singing | Tags: , , , , | 5 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 »

Encouragement
Apr 17 2010

Back late last year (November 21, 2009 to be exact) this quote fell into my in box from Jeffrey Fry’s daily quote email list: “The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged.”  –Ovid. I think I’ve met Jeffrey (also an entrepreneur) twice, but we’ve exchanged several emails about our life’s journey’s.

That quote hit me for some reason.  And I just now realized that quote came in almost exactly a year after I stood at the Entrepreneurial Ledge (I wrote that post on November 20, 2008 with tears in my eyes) after having heard that the first company I founded had gone out of business.  I subsequently heard that the assets had been sold to a manufacturing company and some of the people went to work for that company so the technology in some form has survived.  I know that some people might find it cheesy or maybe even ‘girly’ to be so affected by such news because after all, it’s just a company.  But to me it was like a baby.  The people were important to me and I cared about them.  I have heard many of my entrepreneur friends refer to their businesses as their baby.  They equate the experience to one of giving birth to and nurturing it as best they can.  Starting a business is a wild financial, emotional, and physical ride very much akin to rearing kids!

At any rate, after letting that quote sit in my Outlook Inbox for a few days or weeks…I can’t really recall, I sent the following email to my fellow Director’s at the Austin Technology Incubator.

I think this [encouragement] is an important part of what we do.  As an entrepreneur (spirited horse) you have so many forces trying to bring you down, being critical, double guessing you, etc. that even the slightest amount of encouragement can keep you going and running faster.

Because our incentives are not set up like most investors/VCs, we can be liberal with our encouragement which I think is a huge intangible benefit we offer towards the success of our companies/entrepreneurs.

Giving someone (or a group) positive energy helps them see things they might not have been able to see or better said makes it easier for them to see things because they don’t feel threatened by criticism/limits.  I’d say a good example of this is what’s happening with [XYZ Company] with their big business model change.  But I can point to a few more companies as well who when encouraged and highlighted have increased their odds of success.

But that’s just me.  I believe in energy flows/vibrations at the sub atomic level and if you’ve noticed scientists have been proving and writing about this phenomenon.  And as someone who broke her arm at the age of 13 riding a big, black ex-race horse (whose name I think was Jude) who was inadvertently encouraged to run faster by another horse, I speak from experience.

I do believe that encouraging someone can go a long way to the success of that individual and/or the company.  Of course, encouragement has to be tempered with reality.  I don’t believe in the “let’s all win a medal for lifting a cup to our mouths” encouragement that some kids are subjected to because I think that sets them up for huge disappointment later.  As we all know, we don’t get medals just for showing up to work.  In fact, I like playing board games with my kids because someone has to lose and they have to realize that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and in many cases the person who wins is determined by who draws the first card (e.g., Candy-land)! Plus when one of them starts to say ‘that’s not fair,’ it’s prime teaching time to let them know many things don’t seem fair in this world but they just have to deal with it.

But the right amount of encouragement, with a nice side helping of humorous perspective, can help someone (e.g., an entrepreneur) immensely especially during times when it seems like the rest of their world (investors, board members, employees, family) is pulling them down or doesn’t see or feel what they do.  I think the mere act of believing in someone, helping them focus on their strengths, and being there for them during a tough time, can have a huge impact on their ability to reach their full potential.

As usual the gorgeous photo is by my good friend Sandy Blanchard. When I look at it, I see a flower that was encouraged by the right amounts of sun, rain, and nutrients to open up and present such stunning beauty to the world…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, parenting | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »