South By Southwest Interactive – 2012
Mar 9 2012

This is the first time in 4+ years that I don’t have a badge to SXSW Interactive (March 9 – 12, 2012).  I attended for the first time in 2008 and then did a panel in 2009 called Building A Web Business After Hours.  My last few years of posts on this event can be found by clicking HERE.  I’m using a picture (facebook, twitter, myspace) in this post I took last year of a woman’s t-shirt that almost perfectly describes the last few years of the SXSW experience.

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I’ll be in and around the scene at parties (starting March 8) when and where I can.  I’ll do my best to support my entrepreneur friends in their shameless self promotion and wild depravity.  I’m looking forward to networking and running into people I haven’t seen in a while, including some of my loyal readers. :-D

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, networking, social networks, twitter | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

Opportunity Knocks…
Oct 23 2011

Elephants at a Buddhist Temple in China

When opportunity knocks where will you be?  I imagine I’ll be at my son’s soccer game, making sure my kid’s take baths, cooking, or I’ll be doing their laundry.  How do we recognize when opportunity knocks?  Entrepreneurs are supposed to create opportunities, right?  But really, I think we see an opportunity and we try to take advantage of it.  Ideas are a dime a dozen.  People who can validate the idea are rare but those who can execute against those ideas to profitability are even rarer.  It’s not easy to execute against most ideas or take advantage of most opportunities.

One day I want to write a novel.  I want to write a fiction novel and I’d like to write a novel about business.  But right now I’m working full time, making sure my kids take their baths, watching their soccer games, going to swim classes, making sure they do their homework, doing dishes, and folding laundry.  It’s certainly all great material for that novel I’m going to write one day which may or may not ever see the light of day.  I recall my grandfather wanted to write a book.  I think he started writing something, but he was too busy doing great entrepreneurial things, helping kids, hanging out with grand kids, dealing with a sick wife (my grandmother), and helping other people so he never finished putting down in words the wisdom that was in his head.  He died of leukemia at the age of 82.  I bet if he could have blogged, he would have tried it out.  He was a brilliant, yet flawed man like most of us humans are.

Opportunity knocked and I went to China.  Opportunity knocked and I found a guy who I used to work with, Brian Hurdle, to redesign my blog who just redesigned my twitter page.  While flying to China, I read Little Bee: A Novel (about a refugee girl who escaped from Nigeria to England) and The Secret Life of Bees (about a White girl who runs away from her abusive father to live with a bunch of Negro women in the southern US in the 1960s).  The first was written by a man, the latter by a woman.  The overarching theme of both books from my perspective was “men suck!”  Interestingly, little boys did not suck and they too needed protection from men, who ironically were at one point in their lives little boys themselves.  What happens between cute, sweet little boyhood and manhood?  I don’t know, but I hope my boy stays sweet, thoughtful, and caring.  Of course both fiction novels were written for the female audience, which is kind of distressing.  But as I was reading them, I thought these are well written novels.  Not as superbly written as others I’ve read but well written overall.  So after doing some calculations, I figured I need to be a millionaire by the age of 45 to even think of having the time, resources, and health insurance to write such a novel.  I’m not too far away from 45….

Any benefactors out there?

Author: | Filed under: book review, books, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, parenting, travel, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Twouble With Twitter
Jun 7 2011

I’m sure that’s not a unique blog post title.  I’m trying to figure out if I can get back engaged in twitter.  It was a useful tool and a great way to stay connected when I was working on Babble Soft from home.  Now Babble Soft is up for sale by my business partner, and I’ve been at a full time job day job for three years.  I was a relatively early adopter of twitter (@aruni), and I think I started losing my interest in it probably about two years ago.  I’ve hardly tweeted much the past year and half or so except for when I’m at events like SXSW Interactive.  My blog posts feed automatically into my twitter stream as well as into my facebook account.

I currently have over 2,200 followers on twitter who probably a) really don’t read my tweets, b) are happy with links to my blog posts, or c) think I’m somebody else.  I guess I was somebody else back then and I’m somebody else right now.  I’m just wondering if the somebody I am right now has the time or use or I guess more importantly the ability to contribute meaningful tweets to my followers.  I guess time will tell…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, twitter | Tags: , , | 7 Comments »

entrepreMusings – New Blog Design
May 9 2011

It’s finally here!  I have a new blog design and it’s really cool.  It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s pretty, it’s fabulous and it was designed by Brian Hurdle, IT/network guy by day, wedding photographer extraordinaire by night/weekends.  I’ve changed the subtitle from “babbling about business, babies, and parenthood” to “babbling about business, parenting, and music.”  My kids aren’t babies anymore.  I realized it’s been closer to 4 years since I started blogging (thanks to Connie Reece) and a blog redesign was way overdue!  And my current entrepreneurial endeavor is music related.

The design incorporates musical notes, buildings, paisley type designs, and of course elephants!  Elephants are my favorite animals, and I have a collection of various elephant figurines.  My songwriting partner and I have been making progress on music creation, and we have 5 songs in various stages of completion.  We even have a band name, a facebook page (if you are really curious to know the name, you’ll just have to click that link), and a YouTube channel.

We haven’t done much promotion of any of these because our songs aren’t ready to publish, but we may begin promoting at least the facebook page so we can get support from folks to help us make sure we do complete what we set out to do.  This will be no easy task given both of our busy schedules and different worlds.  He’s a professional musician and I’m a professional “wondering what to do with my life next while wreaking havoc in some small business” type of person.

Thanks Brian for exercising your creative muscles to come up with a design that makes me happy!  Next he’ll be updating my twitter page (which I rarely use but may one day be worth something since I was a fairly early adopter) to match the blog design.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneurship, FYI, marketing, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Signal to Noise
Jan 30 2011

A couple of years ago someone I know mentioned the term ‘signal to noise’ when talking about social media and my tweet stream in particular.  His comment indicated that he thought I was putting out more noise than signal, which was probably true.  I used to tweet a lot more than I do now and he said this during South by Southwest Interactive when everyone was tweeting.  Currently, most of my tweets are just links to my blog posts.  I had already been using twitter for some time and he was new to twitter. I had close to 2,000 followers and was following maybe 700 people at the time and he was probably following 50 people so, in proportion, my tweets appeared more often in his twitter stream than most people’s appear in mine.

It’s true that social media tools have provided a platform for noisiness.  People put out a lot of noise and seemingly irrelevant information about themselves and others.  But people are noisy in person whether they are talking a lot, writing a lot, or paradoxically not saying anything at all.  There can be a lot of ‘noise’ in silence.  When I say ‘noise,’ I mean information.  Some people can decide that what a person is saying or not saying is irrelevant and dismiss it as mere noise, but, in my opinion, there is always ‘signal’ in there somewhere.  Whether we want to spend time or care to understand the signal and what it’s telling us is another thing.

Interestingly, a company called Mass Relevance (Austin Startup blog post), recently launched and funded here in Austin, seems to me to be trying to separate signal from noise based on one of the executives answers to a question in the blog post:

Q: Only a small fraction of social status messages (like tweets) get viewed. Is there real value in that data?

That’s exactly the point. More user generated and social content is being created than we can consume. The future is in finding relevance, curating for context, and syndicating this to the right audience at the right place. A good analogy of the value of all this data is like web analytics. If there’s only two web analytics report you view about your web site, is there value in the rest of the log data? Of course there is, you’re just not getting at it. We know that there’s tremendous untapped value in data, as there is in social content. The value is in how to aggregate, curate, display relevant content, create participation around the conversation, and analyze how it drives real business metrics. And it’s more than just technology. We have the expertise, service and support to make this work for large companies.

I wish them luck in finding relevant, poignant signals for their clients.  I just hope people don’t stop looking at and listening to people directly instead of just sifting through their words on a social media platform.  If you pay attention, you can pick up very strong signals directly from a “noisy” person that can help you work with and manage people and even understand your customer better than just what they write down in 140 characters or less.  As they say, close to 80% of human communication is non-verbal and never gets put on a computer screen or paper.

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

Your Online Image. Your Real Life Image.
Jun 27 2010

Human Statues on the Ramblas in Barcelona

Yesterday after I checked out facebook and updated my profile picture to one of my daughter wearing a flamenco dress that I bought her during my recent trip to Barcelona where I got to explore a little bit of my poetic side, I began thinking about people’s images.  I like facebook because I can see what is going on with friends & family who are all over the world.  I check it once every couple of weeks…sometimes once per week depending on the notifications I get.  I set all my privacy settings so that only the people in my network can see my pictures, comments, etc.  I used to use twitter almost daily but in the last year, my usage has decreased drastically.  Most of my tweets are just my automatic tweets when I publish a blog post.  Even the frequency of my blog posting has decreased mostly because of lack of time, I haven’t been inspired to write, and I’m writing more offline.   LinkedIn is another site that I’ve checked out periodically.

The reason I started using twitter was first because I had wanted everyone to know I had gone to a Duran Duran concert, and then more importantly to see what it could do for my business Babble Soft, that is now run by Nicole Johnson, who was my business partner and who thankfully was able to take over the company and run with it.  Twitter is a valuable tool to meet people and get the word out about your business.  Most of what I tweeted was pretty upbeat or business related.

As I was looking at some facebook pages (mine included), it’s clear that what we show online and often what we show people even in “real” life isn’t really what’s going on with us.  We often show a rosy picture with glamorous photos of us or our kids/family smiling, and we tweet about events or fun things.  There are a few crazies out there who let it all hang out, but soon they are ostracized even online.  Sometimes even those closest to us in real life don’t really know what’s going on with us because we’ve been told it’s not good to share too much of the hard, ‘real’ stuff.  So we stuff it inside or say to ourselves ‘who cares’ or ‘I’ll get over it.’  I agree in one sense that we should keep some stuff to ourselves if we can (but sometimes as crazy as it sounds we just can’t), but I’ve also discovered that not sharing at all, which is what I used to do, meant that people didn’t really know me and after I started sharing things like others shared with me, I realized how strange things sometimes sounded.   When I started talking and writing, I and others started to hear and see me differently.  Even the greatest writers of all time couldn’t tell us explicitly through their writing what they were processing because of social pressures, which is part of what makes their writing so provocative!

Social networks enabled millions of people to share things about themselves…their daily lives that in some ways validated the mundane lives we often live.  I used to share things about where I was going or notes on events, etc.  Thankfully not things like people joked about (i.e., going to the bathroom)!  But people shared, continue to share, and make connections to individuals they might not have otherwise in a mostly safe environment.  twitter is a fire hose, or as I like to describe it a river, of information sharing.

Social networks have given people a medium to be heard and you cannot argue with the fact that it has fundamentally changed the way many people interact with each other and think of each other.  Tools like twitter, facebook, and LinkedIn have brought customers, job seekers, stay-at-home parents, entrepreneurs, and companies closer together and it has shown a very large side of humanity that craves attention & connection that they apparently weren’t/aren’t getting in their real, offline lives.

I think we will see and are seeing an auto-correction on the use of these tools, but I believe these kinds of human connection tools are here to stay.  When you tap into an aspect of someone or a group of people that needs/wants to be heard, they can often overdo it, spin out of control and then just like in the financial and political markets there will eventually be an auto correction that when it happens seems huge and out of control in a different way.  Although markets are supposed to behave rationally, just like people who drive them, they often don’t.

I still remember this guy I knew at a Southern Baptist church I went to during junior high and high school.  He was older (i.e. in college), wiser, and I think he was one of our Sunday school teachers.  I looked up to him and adored him.  There was so much going on in my life that I wanted to share with him pieces of it and get his advice, yet I couldn’t because I felt if I did he would think differently of me.  Like most teenagers, I already felt I was different enough.  I remember sitting with him somewhere alone trying to tell him something that seemed so ominous at the time and now is just a fact of my life, and I think because he could sense my angst he said ‘some things are better off left unsaid.’  I suddenly felt relieved because it took off the pressure, and gave me a sense that he understood, but it still left me feeling the same, different person.

So, yes some things are better off left unsaid except for when they aren’t.  If by saying them online, offline, to people you trust, to people you don’t know if you can trust, you find a kindred soul, someone who can help you figure it out, or someone who changes you or your path for the better, or even realize that you really aren’t that different because there are other people out there kind of like you, then it’s better to say it and take the risk.  Unless of course you are saying & texting things like Tiger Woods. :-)  You certainly learn who you can and can’t trust when you are at your most vulnerable.

But when you consciously or unconsciously take that risk, it will have an affect on your online image and/or your real life image.  The type of affect (positive or negative) will depend on what’s going on around you and how you deal with the aftermath.  It’s important to manage your online and real life image/reputation but if you over manage it, no one really knows the real person like Bernie Madoff, who everyone thought was a great guy…until they didn’t.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, social media, social networks | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

SXSW Interactive Days 4 and 5
Mar 16 2010

Just to round out the series of posts on SXSW Interactive, I feel I must finish this one.  I’m not particularly motivated to do so, but here’s a recap.  On Day 4, I showed up and checked out one of the Accelerator panels where companies were pitching in the personal social media category.  One was about sharing your favorite foods on the iPhone and another one was about getting opinions on what you were wearing before you went to a big event by sending people pictures of what you were wearing.  Both were interesting, but I couldn’t really see how they would scale and make significant amounts of money.

Then I went with my friend Cindy Lo who runs Red Velvet Events to a keynote speech by Gary Vaynerchuck who hosts Wine Library TV.  He was mighty entertaining and dropped the f-bomb several times.  He wrote a book called Crush It that he mentioned a lot and was overall very motivating.  Then Cindy and I went to go hear the keynote of Umair Haque of Havas Media Lab, who I think also wrote for Harvard Business Review, interviewing twitter founder Evan Williams.  About 10 minutes into the interview, I was bored to tears because Umair was so low energy and the questions he was asking were so dry.  I was wishing that Gary was interviewing Evan instead.  We left.  Because I had a headache and had to go pick up my kids from a friend of mine’s house who was so wonderful to watch them because they are off from Spring Break, I left the conference all together.  For some reason, the fact that there were seemingly thousands of people watching this unenlightening talk, made me feel kind of sick and I couldn’t stomach being there.

I sometimes get overwhelmed in crowds of people and the sensory overload of colors, sounds, and desperate people seeking meaning and attention in this world gets to me.  I couldn’t deal so I left. I decided not to go back on Day 5 (today) and instead go back to work where the desperation is slightly easier to handle. :-)  Then I had dinner with some great long time friends who were visiting from Dallas at another one of our friend’s houses in Austin.  I had a wonderful home cooked Indian vegetarian food while catching up with friends who accept me for who I am…even if I don’t really know who I am at the moment.

Author: | Filed under: conferences | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Interesting Reads Around The Web
Apr 18 2009

Here are some links to some interesting reads relating to entrepreneurship, people, parenting, and even Oprah!  I’m mulling over a couple of other blog posts in my head but until then check these out:

The Fine Art of Catching Liars – an interesting read on Time.com about research done by a psychologist on how to determine if someone is lying.  Might be useful for those of you who have older kids.  My kids haven’t started lying yet as far as I can tell.  My son just told me that he told some people at last week’s Easter Egg hunt that he ate some candy in one of the eggs when he didn’t.  I asked him why and he said he didn’t know but he seemed to think it was funny.  I’m honestly not even sure why he confessed that to me randomly.  I told him well that could be lying unless he was joking around with the other kids.  I think I’ll have an easier time detecting if my son is lying than my daughter.  I can already tell she will be pretty good at spinning a believable story and hide her true feelings.

Venture Capital Down 50%. It’s Not Just The Recession Folks – an article on TechCrunch analyzing how the decrease in venture investing is different this time around than in the post bubble bursting era of 2001-2002.  They say that clean-tech investing is down because so much more time and research is needed.  Health care investment is holding or not falling as fast.

Susan Boyle – The Biggest YouTube Sensation Ever? – an article on Mashable that links to the most viewed YouTube video of all time.  It’s of Susan Boyle singing on Britain’s Got Talent.  She shocked the world with her voice given her age and appearance.  A true “you can’t judge a book by its cover” story.  What an amazing voice.  She’s 48 years old, never been married, and his been taking care of her mother for quite some time.  Even Simon Cowel (American Idol judge) was blown away.  Go HERE to see the video.

Capsula Music – My brother-in-law sent this to me.  It’s an album of funky, psytrance music that is supposed to work in the background of your mind while you go to sleep.  I’ve listened to it while working on my computer but haven’t tried it yet before going to sleep.

How To Nail An Interview – for those of you looking for a job.  This was linked to in a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin.  It lists 22 tips on how to do well in an interview.

Ashton Kutcher and Evan Williams (Twitter Founder) talk on Oprah – a post on Mashable about how last week Oprah joined twitter.  She interviewed Ashton who became twitter’s first user to gain 1,000,000 followers!  He was competing with CNN and he won.  Yes, I followed Ashton and Oprah!

Enjoy the videos and articles.  There is so much going on in the world and probably these links are some of the more trivial pieces of what is truly happening but that’s what I see and what people are sending me.

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

How Dooce Changed My Twitter Reputation
Apr 8 2009

dooce-8apr09I went to Heather Armstrong’s (a.k.a. Dooce) book signing for It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margaritatonight only because one of the interns, Laura Benold, at my day job happened to tell me about it.  She’s been following Dooce since she was 18 years old.  She’s not much older now, but still.

Yes, I was feeling kind of pathetic since I’m sort of a mommy blogger and Dooce is the top mommy blogger on the planet making reportedly up to $500K per year from her blog.   I am grateful that Laura took an interest in what I was trying to do with Babble Soft and asked me if I knew about it.  And my lame excuse is I’m doing way too much, have two kids, thankfully no pets, and I haven’t found a way to get her blog to come to me in email form like the other blogs I read.  Believe me I have tried several times to figure out how to get her blog in email…I’m going to blame it on the proverbial ‘mommy brain syndrome.’

I almost didn’t make it because our son has been home sick the last couple of days.  I was thinking about taking him and our daughter with me and I am SO glad I didn’t.   Fortunately their dad was able to rearrange his schedule to watch them.  It would not have been fun at all because they would have lost their patience and my son would have been worn out in say 20 minutes.

Heather is an awesome and hilarious writer!  She curses profusely, swears, and talks about all the things people don’t talk about but should on the topic of motherhood and life.  So I began tweeting about some of the things she was saying and reading from her book and here are some of the more colorful tweets (corrected for iPhone typing errors):

@dooce about to talk about sex after vaginal birth.

Took 7 months after baby born before they had sex. 6 weeks is bs. Says @dooce

Her vagina was ready after she wore a tampax and her husband wrote a thank you letter to them.

Then @dooce says she got a urinary tract infection.

@dooce now talking about her dog called Satan and when they took the dog coco hunting.

All of a sudden I started getting tweets and direct messages on twitter asking what was going on with me.  A few people thought my account was hacked since the tweets were very out of character for me.  I was sure I had lost some followers, but I think I actually gained a few.

I’m so glad I went!  I met her husband Jon (@blurb on twitter) and chatting with him for a while.  He is on tour with her and manages the back end of her website.  He was so cute and funny about how he took pictures of her and then sat in the audience listening to what I assume has to be the umpteenth time she’s spoken at a book signing on this tour.  He participated a bit in the Q&A portion and then stood off to the side while she signed books.  I checked his twitter stream when I got back and saw that his two tweets were:

@dooce is lookin fine. Damn fine.

@dooce kicking ass! http://twitpic.com/30ynn

I went to chat with him for a while and gave him some gift subscriptions to Babble Soft web and mobile software (which is iPhone ready – I noticed Heather was reading something to the audience from her pink cased iPhone), and he seemed genuinely interested in checking it out.  I gave him extra ones to give to any of their friends or readers if they wanted to.

I was in the 3rd group of people to get the book signed and somewhere around 8:30 p.m., I knew I was not going to make it to 9:30 after having been most of the day with a sick kid, and I started to leave.  I was almost out the door when I said to myself, I don’t really want to leave without a signature at all do I?  So I went back up the stairs and asked Jon if he would sign it since I had to go, and he graciously did!

So I’m wondering how many people have a copy of It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margaritasigned by Dooce’s husband!  That’s got to be extremely valuable. :-)

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, working mom, working mother | Tags: , | 9 Comments »

The Entrepreneurial Ledge
Nov 20 2008

I had to talk myself off the entrepreneurial ledge yesterday.  Of course there is the often publicized glamour of entrepreneurship and then there is the unsung story of the not so glamorous side.  I think most entrepreneurs are a little bit neurotic, myself included, so when I heard that the first company I was founding CEO of officially shut down recently, I entered a state of…well I still haven’t figured out what state that is.  

The company was alive for 11 years.  For 11 years it provided experience, salaries, products and services to employees and customers.  I left in 2001 and my husband, Erin, who was the CTO left in 2003, and we have had nothing to do with the day to day operations since.  But the profound affect it has had on me cannot be reduced to mere words.  In many ways, it was like my first child (without the diaper changing).  It was a difficult parting of ways for me both personally and professionally.  

I knew a few good people who were still there and through the years they have reached out to me to help them find another job or share their experiences about working there.  Good people came and went.  Some bad ones came and went and some bad ones stayed, but overwhelmingly greatness was among us.  I heard about the company shutting down a few weeks ago but just mentioned it to a group of college friends on an email group I’ve been a part of since 1995 (pre-social networking sites for people who love mushrooms, pre-blogging, pre-twitter).  I had convinced one of the guy’s in the group to join us for the journey and he replied by saying this: 

Aruni – I know I’ve poked at you and Isochron since I left but I have to say it was the best business class I could have taken. This piece of Oil Field Trash was polished quite a bit while in Austin. I do want to thank you and Erin for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it. From that trial I learned sooooo much. I’m not sure I ever put it together sufficiently for you guys to know what the experience meant for me. Thanks! You and Erin were a rock I could depend on during my time in Austin as well. It meant a lot.

When I read his note on my phone before going in to an invitation only IBM Women Entrepreneur’s Webcast event held at IBM, the flood gates cracked a little.  I was sitting in my car in the parking lot so I had to pull myself together and go in.  The rest of the day I was on edge and I still am. 

I had to walk into my day job after the IBM Webcast and deal with bureaucracy, with people wanting 5 approvals to get something done, with collections, with employee allocations, and with being extremely underpaid because I’m doing much more than I was hired to do.  I had to suspend reality to make it through the day.   I repeated to myself “floodgates don’t open at work” over and over.  If I was a man and punched the wall, it would be more acceptable.  I had a “What am I doing with my life?” moment.  I had a “I’m working for ‘the man,’ I have two kids, I’ve been married for 7 years, we have a house and car payment, I have to keep our insurance benefits, our savings have sunk due to the crazy economic situation, and I feel trapped” moment. 

I had already committed to guest lecture at an executive MBA class yesterday evening so I went in not knowing what would come out of my mouth.  I shared the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and received several questions about Babble Soft and my day job.  I was surprised at how calm I felt giving my talk given the emotional roller coaster I had been riding all day.  One of the students took my card and said he wanted to see if he could help me get introduced to someone for a possible opportunity for Babble Soft.

I also happened to receive an email through facebook from one of my former students (I taught entrepreneurship at The University of Texas at Austin) who happens to be expecting a baby.  He sent me a link to a new book by Randy Komisar who wrote The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living (a book I made required reading in my class) called This I Believe.  Komisar writes about the Deferred Life Plan and how we make excuses about not doing what we want to do and putting off things until the time is right.

So despite all of that, I talked myself off the entrepreneurial ledge because I live in the real world.  The real world is where I have two beautiful children who smile and laugh.  A world where I tell my son after he ate a big dinner tonight that he was a ‘hungry hippo’ and he immediately replies and says in a comedian (trying to make his voice sound deep) tone “There’s a Hungry Hippo in the House!“  My daughter laughs, and I look at him with a smile on my face and know instantly he got his sense of humor from me. 8)

[Hippo photo by my friend Sandy Blanchard]

So I take solace from some words my day job boss told me the other day.  When I asked him why he wanted to hire me he said ‘because he heard I was a natural entrepreneur and he wanted one on staff.’  When I thought about those words later in the day, my soul said ‘thank you grandpa’ because he is who I gained my natural entrepreneurial tendencies from…I just happen to be a woman girl.

I hope both my children will be able to express themselves throughout their lives in ways I was never able to in the past but aspire to in the future.

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, social networks, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

I Wanna Write A Blog Post, But I’ll Settle For A Haiku
Nov 12 2008

And I wanna be a cowboy too, but given my crazy self-inflicted schedule of two, three, four, five (yes each kid, the husband, and the house are also job-like at times), I can’t seem to find the time to get all those deep and meaningful posts written.  So, I’ll have to settle for a haiku and hope I win a MacBook Air.  Copyblogger is running a contest where the person who writes the winning Haiku on twitter will win a MacBook Air.  The second and third prizes look interesting too, but winning the MacBook Air will impress my husband more than the Epson printer I just wrote about. :)  

Not being one who writes haiku’s often (i.e., probably not since 5th grade), I had to rely on these examples from the Copyblogger post:

“Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. It consists of 17 syllables broken up into three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.

Here are two quick examples found on Twitter Search with the tag #haiku:

Been up way too long / Need about a week’s more sleep / Might not be enough

~ @MFlanders

The furnace is fixed / breath invisible again / how much is the bill?

~ @badboc

Got it? Obviously, the more clever, comedic, or compelling your haiku, the better your chances of winning.”

So here’s my haiku:

Working day and night / To change the world for parents / One diaper a day

I was going to write at the end ‘one diaper an hour’ but since it’s late and my brain isn’t at 100%, I wasn’t sure if ‘hour’ would be read as one syllable or two depending on what city/state/country the judges were from.  So I changed it to ‘a day’ to avoid any controversy.  Plus it can be a stinky (wish you could change that diaper more often) experience in a a start-up/small business/Internet endeavor so I figured if the diaper shoe fits…

Author: | Filed under: blogging, Just For Fun, twitter | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Printing and Tweeting – A Good Combination!
Nov 8 2008

I never thought I’d be that excited about a printer, but here I am writing about one.  The main reason it’s so exciting to write about this one is because I got it free!  That’s like getting $350 (including ink) of stuff you can really use! 

I bet you are wondering why I got it free. Well it’s because I (@aruni) and Barbara Jones are both on twitter.  Barbara runs a company called One2One Network – The Women’s Word of Mouth Marketing Network and she discovered me on twitter and began following me a while back. 

OK, it’s not just because I’m on twitter, but part of getting lucky is being somewhere where people are looking for people like you.  So she probably thought since I write reasonably well in English and my blog is read by many entrepreneurially minded women, men, moms, and dads, that my experience with the printer might provide an interesting perspective. 

When she first asked me if I’d like an Epson Artisan 800 All-in-One printer, I tweeted back something like “heck yeah!” I then told my husband and he being the one that manages our home IT set-up as well as being our resident rocket scientist, was immediately skeptical.  First he grumbled “Well, what’s wrong with our current HP Photosmart 3210 All-in-One” that we’ve had for a few years.  The only response I could meekly muster was that the scanning feature didn’t work well.  He then asked if it was network ready (not just wireless…it had to be able to be plugged into with an Ethernet connection).  He also said it had to be Mac compatible.  Of course Barbara cheerfully tweeted it met all of those requirements.  She was probably wondering why I was looking a gift horse in the mouth or at minimum what kind of man I was married to. 

When it arrived and he opened the box, he took one look at the design and features and cracked a half smile (a rare occurrence when it comes to technical items – unless it’s a new Mac, Blackberry, or other Apple product) and said “You did good.”  I nodded knowingly thinking to myself ‘don’t I always!:-)  

He set it up and the last few weeks we’ve been using it for a variety of things from printing work related stuff, to kid’s birthday cards, maps, to scanning documents.  I have to say I’m impressed and here are the top 5 reasons why: 

  1. My husband was impressed making it easier to get it installed and tested!
  2. It has a document feeder just like a copier.  This is such a *HUGE* feature for scanning or copying multiple pages.  I no longer have to put one page down, open the lid, put another page down, etc.  I just set the pages I want to scan or copy on the top and press a few buttons.  It also scans to .pdf which I love!
  3. It’s Mac compatible (see also item #1 above)
  4. It’s WiFi and Ethernet ready (see also item #1 above) [Interesting side note: the Wi-Fi Alliance is headquartered at the Austin Technology Incubator, which is where I work during the day]
  5. The design is very cool, modern, and sleek and fits perfectly on top of my little file cabinet.  It has a touch screen front interface for one touch copy and scanning.   

The only issue I’ve had with it is printing pages with heavy color and that’s probably because we use newspaper cheap paper.  A few months ago (for some cheap wad/had a coupon unknown reason) I bought a case of Office Depot premium multipurpose paper and it’s pretty thin.  I think I just began printing on it using the HP and now with the deep colors in the Epson, the pages sometimes come out feeling wet.  I changed the setting to draft but then it kind of dulls the color.  I guess I’ll have to suffer through some wet pages until I finish this case of cheap paper! 

So, although inertia (and the economy) might have prevented me from replacing our HP printer, I can honestly say that the ability to scan multiple pages easily would have swung me over to the Epson Artisan 800 All-in-One printer side of the camp quite some time ago. 

So thank you Epson, Barbara, and oh yeah twitter!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

A Vote for Brown, Brains, and Change!
Nov 4 2008

I haven’t written about politics on my blog for a variety of reasons but mostly because I think everyone has a right to their own opinion and my blog is primarily about business and parenting…not politics.

However, given that a historic, unprecedented event has just happened in our lifetime, I felt compelled to write this post.  I am SO excited that Barack Obama was elected to be the next president of the United States!  Not just because I agree with much of his political philosophy, but also because he’s brown, has brains, and has the potential to heal wounds created throughout the world.

If you are someone who has not grown up with brown skin, this might not make sense to you but in my opinion this is a huge affirmation of the American dream.  My uncle, a geography professor, was turned away from a restaurant while visiting Virginia New Mexico because of the color of his skin.  When I was 8 or 9 years old, a blonde little boy turned to me in the walkways outside my elementary school and yelled at me calling me the ‘n’ word.  I had never heard that word before, yet I felt the hate emanating from this young boy, and I still remember the fear I felt standing there all alone wondering why this boy hated me so much. 

I’m not even Black (I’m South Asian), but I (and other members of my family) were lumped into the non-White category.  When I lived in West Texas, the difference was even more pronounced.  I grew up self conscious of my skin color and even now I have moments where I wonder if I truly fit in…despite being married to a White man!   Women and Black men have had to consistently work twice as hard and be twice as good to be recognized at the same level as White men in this country. 

Time will tell if Obama was the right pick, but the fact that he was picked in this country in 2008 means to me that we’ve reached a turning point in our history.  People who are not White and not even men (thanks to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin) now have a living breathing example of how it can be done.

Obama, to me, epitomizes working hard (no riding daddy’s coattails), focusing on education, prioritizing family values, and taking a thoughtful analytic (that man is smart!) approach before acting.  As an added bonus, he appears to know how to speak proper English! :-)

Not only has he broken color barriers, he has broken social media barriers.  He has run the biggest, first, and most effective political campaign that has ever been run (oh what money can buy)!  By his campaign’s avid use of twitter, YouTube, blogs, MySpace, email campaigns, etc., he has single handedly affirmed an entire new industry and demonstrated how using the Internet and social media can have a huge impact on the success of campaigns, businesses, and causes.  If there was any doubt by individuals and big companies as to the efficacy of social media, it has now been shattered!   

I was 3 when I came to the United States with my parents, and we landed in Pennsylvania.  I was 21 when I became a naturalized citizen in New Mexico.  I am now many years older, live in Texas, and tonight I saw the window of opportunity open wider for my light brown kids…

God Bless America!

Author: | Filed under: competition, diversity, parenting, social media, success, success story, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments »

The Tooth Fairy Came To Visit
May 22 2008

Our 5 ½ year old son just lost his first tooth yesterday and the tooth fairy paid a visit to our house last night for the very first time.  He lost it at school and had it haphazardly carefully wrapped up in a paper napkin when I picked him up.

He was so excited to tell me about it!  He held the mangled paper napkin and kept fussing with it in the car.  We came inside and I opened the napkin and it wasn’t there!  I was probably more upset than him and asked him if he thought he dropped it at school and he assured me he hadn’t.  I kept asking him a million questions and he said it was probably in the car.  I was nervous that it wouldn’t be there and I would have to deal with a very upset 5 year old (and huge feelings of mom-guilt), but he climbed into the door and he looked around his booster seat and he found it.  Talk about breathing a million sighs of relief!

He didn’t want to tell his dad (who was out of town) about it until we picked him up at the airport last night.  And even then he wanted to keep the tooth at the house until we got back from the airport.

It was a very exciting milestone in our house! Not being sure what the going rate for the tooth fairy was, I put the question out on twitter and got some great replies:

LifeCandy @aruni – you’re lucky! my son (at 5) surfs and blogs regularly – he would’ve found the tooth rate himself eventually :) about 3 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

thomsinger @aruni A SB Anthony or Sacagawea dollar is what the tooth fairly leaves for the Singer Girls. Unique & we get to lecture about strong women about 3 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

dpenna @aruni $1 sounds fair to me! about 4 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

dpenna @aruni hope I’m not too late: I gave $5 for the first, but after that $1.50 is all she gets :) about 4 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

prCarrD @aruni I know a tooth fairy who leaves $10 per tooth! Crazy! about 4 hours ago from txt in reply to aruni

wendywood @aruni – my son just lost his first tooth and the tooth fairy left him a dollar as well. According to my son, going rate should be $100 each about 5 hours ago from twhirl in reply to aruni

NikkiPilkington @aruni When my daughter was young, 50p (a dollar?) so i think you have to allow for inflation ;) about 5 hours ago from TwitterFox in reply to aruni

BeckyDMBR @aruni Not sure about the going rate, but congrats! ;-) about 5 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

LifeCandy @aruni – a quick online search last autumn when DS lost two at the same time turned up $2-$5/tooth! I was stunned! about 5 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

clgoodman @aruni Our tooth fairy leaves one gold $1 coin. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

abunslife @aruni Tooth fairy left 5 bucks for my son’s first tooth a few weeks ago, but she will leave a dollar from now on. Congrats! about 5 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

mgenovese @aruni My son just lost his first tooth last month. We were told $2 = going rate. So far he’s earned $4. Lots of teeth left though..hmm.. about 5 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

dpenna @aruni OH congrats on it being the first! Be sure to take a pic of the empty hole! about 15 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

dpenna @aruni We are doing the same tonight – for the eighth time! How many do they lose anyway? LOL about 15 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

infinitypro @aruni Wait on the post, but don’t forget the tooth fairy! :) about 16 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

zenaweist @aruni don’t forget to do the tooth fairy thing. We’ve forgotten a few times! DOH! about 16 hours ago from twhirl in reply to aruni

ShamaHyder @aruni-maybe tomorrow. sounds like a fun post! about 16 hours ago from web in reply to aruni

We ended up giving him 4 quarters which he seemed very happy with.  He put them in his piggy bank right away.  I asked him if he wanted to buy something with it or save it and he said ‘save it’ which made me happy.  I’m not sure what he’s saving it for though.

His other bottom tooth is loose, so I’m guessing it will fall out soon.  I’m not sure how long it takes for all the baby teeth to fall out, but he could make quite a bit from the tooth fairy by then. :-D

Author: | Filed under: Just For Fun, parenting, random stuff | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments »

Moms Gone Viral
May 2 2008

I was planning to write a post updating everyone on our search engine optimization experience today but the real world injected itself with a sick kid at home.  High fever and rescheduling meetings doesn’t leave much time for writing long, heavy posts.  Plus I had to sneak in a nap in the afternoon while our daughter napped since we didn’t get much sleep the night before. :)

So instead, while my husband takes care of the kids this evening, I thought I’d write a post on the example of an unanticipated, viral marketing story with a mom twist.  So here it goes…

Once upon a time I met a friend on the Internet.  I found her blog and commented away.  After some time, we realized we had similar visions and she invited me do a guest post on her blog called Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse.  We kept in touch, spoke on the phone a few times about ways to work together, became twitter pals, and finally met in person at SXSW here in Austin back in March and clicked even more. 

While at SXSW she got further proof of what she already knew which was that the name of her blog, then called eMoms at Home, was not really reflective of the demographics of her readers and would-be readers so she had a mini-meltdown, picked herself up and came up with a cool new name called Sparkplugging!  Since she was and still is an advocate of entrepreneurs and especially those who work from home, her cool, new name opens the door wide open to many of us who are moms or not but like to spark up ideas and play with them until something happens.

So after SXSW, she went home and saw a post about dads on twitter and decided to do one for moms.  Within hours she got tons of replies and created a post called The Ultimate List of Moms on Twitter that started with 250 moms.  I commented and subscribed to comments on that post and every day new moms would leave a comment with their twitter name until May 1, 2008 that is.  Twitter sent out an email to everyone yesterday, May 1, and in it they included:

Mother’s Day: On The Way

We’ve noticed a trend of parents twittering the moments of their baby’s birth so we know there are some new moms on Twitter. Are you a mom on Twitter? Is your own mom on Twitter? Maybe you even made “The Ultimate List of Moms on Twitter”? Mother’s Day is just around the corner so don’t forget to @reply the moms you know with a thoughtful phrase–but keep it under 140 characters, moms are busy people.

List of Moms on Twitter: http://tinyurl.com/6cxgp5

And today I had 150+ comments in my inbox and they are still coming.  Now she has close to 400 comments on that one post! Did she do anything extraordinary to make it happen? Not really.  Did she tell people on twitter about it? Yes, of course.  Did she know others would tell and re-tell more people about the list? Possibly.  Did she know twitter would pick it up in their mass email to everyone? Doubtful (but I don’t know what went on behind the scenes).  So in hindsight what played in her favor to have a post she wrote on April 8 (before her name change) take on a life of its own?  Here’s what I think:

  • She took the initiative to do something that ended up being quite time consuming, but she saw from the responses it resonated with hundreds of moms on twitter that it was a worthwhile endeavor. 
  • She told her friends about it who re-tweeted and blogged about it. 
  • The tweeters kept the link going within twitter and in the blogosphere. 
  • Mother’s Day was around the corner and the guys (I think they are all men) at twitter saw the activity and might have said to themselves “Hmmm. How can we mention a major holiday, get brownie points with our wives/mothers, and promote twitter at the same time” and voila a mention was born!

UPDATE: I sent a link to @Biz to this post and he informed me there are several women who work at twitter!  So of course I followed them.  Here is his tweet: 

biz @aruni awesome! I included the moms list because it was noteworthy – also, women who work at Twitter: @crystal @krissy @alissa @lane @sara

In case you haven’t guessed who this friend is, it’s Wendy Piersall.  I guess only Wendy can tell us if she planned all of this, but to me it’s another example of viral marketing that in hindsight makes sense but when started, the current result would have been highly unpredictable. 

To me, this is why it is so hard to orchestrate a viral campaign.  You can plan everything down to the “t” and still not have it work out the way you wanted.  It’s hard to predict when there are so many variables.  You can also just do something you enjoy doing that helps others and see a “spark” turn into a flame!  Way to go Wendy! :-D

Oh and by the way, I am @aruni and Wendy is @eMom on twitter…

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, mom, mother, mother's day, networking, seo, social networks, success, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »