10 Takeaways From My Day in Prison

10 Takeaways From My Day in Prison

Personal Development Uncategorized

Yesterday I went to prison…

I spent the day at a women’s prison with Defy Ventures for their Business Coaching Day. Along with a powerful and warm-hearted group of women (and a few good men), I provided live coaching/feedback to underdog aspiring entrepreneurs in prison to help empower them to transform their lives.

Spending the day with 100 female prisoners (most were mothers, some had been in gangs, one had an MBA from my alma mater and another was a 74 year old who signed up for the program to work on a business idea), re-enforced the following:

1) We are all more similar than different. Our hearts all beat from the same place.
2) We should not be defined by our past. We have all made mistakes.
3) We must forgive ourselves and others to heal and live in peace.
4) We must never ever give up hope.
5) We must learn to be as gentle and compassionate with ourselves as we are with those around us.
6) We must live in the present, as the only time we have is NOW.
7) We are never too old/it is never too late to change, grow, learn.
8) We must avoid making assumptions about others backgrounds, experiences.
9) Empathy is the key to a more harmonious world.
10) Entrepreneurship is color and gender blind.

Many volunteers have written about their day in prison in moving detail. Google them – they are all worth reading and deeply moving. Just keep in mind, reading about others’ experiences can not quite prepare you for how emotionally impactful and rewarding the day will be for YOU. The only real way to understand this is to volunteer! There are several prisons that are part of the program in LA. I plan to stay involved with my new sisters at the women’s prison and will likely be organizing a bus for the next visit. If you are interested, please LMK.

To learn more about Defy’s awesome work and meet some grads (who turn street hustle into legal startups), check out www.defyventures.com.

SCale Talk with Sarah Harden of Otter Media

SCale Talk with Sarah Harden of Otter Media

Founders/Startups

Last month was USC’s inaugural SCale conference (read more here).  I had the honor of interviewing  Sarah Harden, President of Otter Media, the digital video joint venture of The Chernin Group and AT&T. We had a great conversation about Otter’s vision and its various business units, which include Fullscreen, Crunchyroll, and the recently announced Reese Witherspoon partnership called HelloSunshine, among others.  In addition, we discussed cord-cutting, the growing number of OTT players, and the future of ever-changing media landscape.

Sarah is a #BOSS. You can listen to the entirety of our conversation here:

VC Discussion on Diversity & Walking the Talk (SXSW 2017)

VC Discussion on Diversity & Walking the Talk (SXSW 2017)

Diversity/Equality Founders/Startups

Last month, I had the honor of curating and moderating a VC panel at the TFQ Girls’ Lounge at SXSW.  If you take a look at the video thumbnail below, you will see that this was not your typical investor panel. It was a truly diverse group, made up of:

Christine Herron, Co-lead – Intel Capital Diversity Fund
Sean Jacobsohn, Partner – Norwest Venture Capital
Suzy Ryoo, Venture Partner – Atom Factory and Cross Culture Ventures
Aditi Maliwal, Corporate Development – Google (formerly w /Crosslink Captial)

Much of our conversation was focused on fundraising but, as we were in the TFQ Girls Lounge, we also spent time discussing diversity, or the lack thereof, in the tech industry. I purposefully opted not to recite the dismal statistics of how many women VCs there are or how little money goes to female founders. Constantly regurgitating the numbers is not a way to encourage up and coming entrepreneurs or investors.

It is clear we need more diverse folks at every level of our ecosystem – LPs, VCs, Angels, Founders, Board Members, etc. It will take some time to see significant change but I, for one, am very optimistic. There are a handful of amazing organizations and groups focused on tackling these issues, like Project Include, Pipeline Fellowship, and The Boardlist. Over the past 18 months, just about every major tech company has published diversity numbers, and has committed to finding best practices for attracting and retaining women and people of color. In addition, many notable VCs have been focused on bringing more diversity into their partnerships. There are also more women than ever out raising funds of their own. Again, none of this is easy or happening overnight. As Christine Herron points out, funds have a 10 year life cycle so our industry doesn’t lend itself to quick change. At the end of the day, this is an industry that is driven by returns, and research has proven that women-led companies and companies with women (and other minorities) on their senior teams perform better. The numbers are driving the change and the numbers cannot be ignored.

In our panel discussion, we also talked about diversity and inclusion on a micro level. In other words, what are the steps that each of us can take on an individual basis to impact change in our ecosystem. Suzy Ryoo offered up some specifics, which she had recently shared via a thoughtful blogpost entitled, “The Only Woman in the Room”.

Special thanks to Sean Jacobsohn for joining us on the panel.  As we say at TFQ, if we could have done it alone, we would have by now. It takes men and women working together to impact change.

You can listen to the entirety of the conversation in the video below.

 

 

 

SXSW 2017 – Fundraising Advice From Top VCs

SXSW 2017 – Fundraising Advice From Top VCs

Founders/Startups

This past SXSW, I had the honor of curating and moderating a terrific and diverse panel of investors at the TFQ Lounge.

Christine Herron, Co-lead – Intel Capital Diversity Fund
Sean Jacobsohn, Partner – Norwest Venture Capital
Suzy Ryoo, Venture Partner – Atom Factory and Cross Culture Ventures
Aditi Maliwal, Corporate Development – Google (formerly Crosslink Captial)

Some key takeaways for founders that are fundraising:

  • Be thoughtful in your outreach to VCs – customize your emails (it is obvious when you do not).
  • Do your HOMEWORK – know about the firm and partner you are meeting.
  • Be prepared for your meetings and do not be dependent on your deck. You should know your business and your market inside-out.
  • It’s great you have a plan to get to $50M, but we also want to know how you will get to your first million.
  • Know your market size – bottom up, not just top down.
  • Know your why and be prepared to speak to it.

Watch the clip below for more great advice.