Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Full Circle Moment / SCale: The Future of Tech & Entertainment

March 23, 2017 Entrepreneurship, Startups, Technology, Uncategorized, Venture Capital

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Yesterday was a special day for USC and the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, as it held its first full-day tech conference at Shutters in Santa Monica. It was also a special day for me. You see, when I was 14 years old I confidently announced to my parents that I would be heading West for college to study entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California.

My announcement caught my parents off-guard because: 1) in Indiana, my hometown, the expectation is that you go to IU, and 2) studying entrepreneurship was not commonplace at that time. It was my sophomore year and I had gotten my hands on the college rankings edition of U.S. News and World Report. I was fascinated by a lengthy spread that discussed a new type of business track, called “entrepreneurial studies,” that was only offered at two schools – Babson and The University of Southern California.  A family trip up the California coast as a child had sparked a love affair with the West Coast so USC became my #1 target.  And a campus visit with my Dad (a Notre Dame football fan who was not thrilled to be on enemy grounds) sealed the deal.

Cut to almost exactly 20 years later (yikes and shhhhh!) and I consider my decision to go to USC to study entrepreneurship the most important and impactful decision of my life to date. I have spent my entire career working with entrepreneurs in the early stage tech space.  Having held just about every role (operator, consultant, advisor, investor, coach), I truly could’t imagine doing anything else.  And as a bonus, I get to co-teach one of the entrepreneurship classes I took two decades ago.

This past year, working on the SCale event, has been surreal and also an incredible honor. With only a small team of amazing Trojans, we pulled off a tremendous day of content and community that perfectly highlighted both the university and the city I love.

SCale covered entertainment, digital media, gaming, esports, AR/VR, and more.  We were fortunate enough to get Bob Iger (Disney), Sarah Harden (Otter Media), Adam Cheyer (Siri, Viv), and Brandon Beck (Riot Games) to join us – to name just a few of the amazing folks we had on stage.  And Eric Garcetti,  the most tech-forward Mayor in the country, also stopped by.  It was truly surreal to have it all come together so wonderfully.  Thanks to all the amazing founders, investors, techies and media & entertainment folks who spent the day with us.

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Yesterday was no doubt the kickoff of what will be an amazing yearly event. USC, with its world-class schools (business, engineering, film, gaming and beyond), has a tremendous impact on the talent and innovation here in Los Angeles. I am both #LongUSC and #LongLA. I cannot wait to see what the next 20 years brings.

#FightON

PS – David, Jeymi, Anthony, Suzy – you are the best! #dreamteam

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PSS – Thanks, as always, to my mom & dad for always supporting me.

My New Year’s + Ideas for Being Your Best in 2017

January 2, 2017 Books, Company Culture, Self Work, Startups, Uncategorized

This New Year’s Eve I went to bed at 10:15. Yup, you read that correctly. I have never been asleep on December 31st before midnight…..at least not since I was a small child. And, if you know me, you know I heart ALL the things about celebrating the New Year – friends, wine, music, dancing, shouting, etc.  Well…. I love those things no matter the occasion. But this year, I purposely approached both the end and beginning of the year differently. I celebrated, just in a much different way.

On the last day of 2016 and the first day of 2017, I did a bunch of things that my 30-year old self would have scoffed at. These things, which included Tai Chi, a nature walk, meditation (which, thanks to Headspace I have been practicing consistently) and a drumming circle, culminated in my big New Year’s Eve plan – partaking in my first Sound Bath. Yup, I know I stunned many of you last August when I shared that I went to a Numerologist. And now I have been to a Sound Bath – on New Years Eve no less!

Why? 

My goal was to end 2016 and to begin 2017 with “presence.” When I shared my 30 Days of Self Work Challenge at the end of this past summer, I highlighted 5 things I was working on, with the first being “Dialing back my “doer” and nurturing my “be-er.” I also shared that meditation and spending quiet time in nature were two ways I was getting in-touch with my “be’er.” What better way to truly be present than to create time and space, in a peaceful outdoor space, to spend the final and first days of a year in peaceful reflection and mindful meditation.

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Truth be told, part of the reason I was able to “be” over the Holiday is that I had already laid out much of what I aim to “do” in 2017. So, as I floated in the hot springs bath staring up at palm trees and mountains, I was able to focus on breathing in the moment and manifesting my intentions.

Goal-setting

As a Type A personality (like many of you reading this), I am a born goal-setter who relishes the coming of the New Year as a time to assess performance to last year’s goals and create next year’s (whether company or personal).  I don’t really believe in or make resolutions, as they tend to be “loosey goosey” and fade quickly. I am, however, a huge believer in goal-setting. And as a business nerd, my personal goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound). This year I set up my goals around the “Pie” I made last August – where I prioritized the time I aim to allocate to most important areas of my life. I am not going to get into my goals here, only to say I have them and to suggest that goal-setting (short-term and long-term) is a very healthy and worthy exercise. I actually have written my goals, by category, on the first page of my journal (also a new practice) so that I review them nightly.

Intention Setting

This is the first year that I have actually written down my intentions alongside my goals.  If you don’t know the difference:

  1. Goals are focused on the future. Intentions are in the present moment.
  2. Goals are a destination or specific achievement.  Intentions are lived each day, independent of reaching the goal or destination.
  3. Goals are external achievements.  Intentions are your inner-relationships with yourself and others.

If you are like me, and tend to be constantly focused on future achievements, setting intentions is a great way to balance your “do-er” with your “be-er” and to make sure you are prioritizing fulfillment along with achievement (see Tony Robbins). My intentions are also written in my journal for nightly review.

5 Books to Read NOW!

Much of my goal, intention and activity-setting for 2017 was colored by the reading I did in the second half of 2016. I discuss some of the most impactful content in prior posts, but am adding 5 books suggestions here. Reading these will make for a meaningful and empowering start to the New Year and can definitely help you manifest your intentions and achieve your goals.

1) The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
2) The Internet to the Inner-Net by Gopi Kalliyil
3) The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (well-worth a re-read once a year IMHO)
4) Designing Your Life by Stanford Professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
5) Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

These books are chock-full of insights, suggestions and exercises for designing all aspects of your life. Shout out to Tim Ferriss for saving us all a bunch of time and effort by consolidating the thoughts and practices of myriad successful folks across the topic areas of Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.  (Note: 80+% of the Titans in Tim Ferriss’ book meditate)

I couldn’t possible share all the take-aways I plan to implement in the New Year, but I will share one that I just came up with on my “Presence New Year’s” trip. I am sharing it: 1) to hold myself accountable, and 2) because I think it will be a great way to check in with yourself – your work self, your friend self, your relationship self…..your whole self.

Something to do starting NOW

Journaling can be tough. What the hell do you write at the end of the day? Some days there’s lots, some days…. not so much. One element I am adding to my end of day journaling (if you have yet to commit to journaling, you will once you read Tools of Titans), is a nightly review of how I did with the Four Agreements. I read this book 5 years ago and just gave it a re-read. This is profound stuff to live your life by. And Founders, this is stuff to build your company culture upon.

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Stay tuned for more posts on things I am trying out this year.  Some will work, some won’t. The goal is to find what works for you and stick with it. Also, if you have new practices you are testing out in the New Year, please share!

Lastly, if you are in need of a break from the cortisol-inducing startup world in 2017 (mini-breaks and saunas are also popular amongst the Titans), I suggest checking out Two Bunch Palms.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
#dobetterbebetter
#manifestthebest
#crushyourgoals

Marissa Mayer – “Game On”

July 30, 2012 Business, Business Development, Entrepreneurship, Internet, Technology, Uncategorized, Women in Business

I, like most folks, was thrilled to learn that Marissa Mayer was chosen to be the next CEO of Yahoo!  And they chose her knowing she is pregnant. Go Yahoo!   Mayer, only 37,  is the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500. Go Marissa!

If anyone can bring Yahoo! back to prominence, it is Marissa Mayer. She is not only muy inteligente (she is an engineer who holds patents in Artificial Intelligence), she is young, hip, fashionable and feminine . The second half of that sentence may seem silly to point out, and even irrelevant, but it is absolutely NOT.  It is relevant to both  the “what to do with Yahoo!” conversation and the “how do we get more women into technology” discussion.

Let’s start with what to do with Yahoo!

Yahoo! has had 5 CEOs in 5 years.  Holy crap,!!   For years, it  has been a company in turmoil,  struggling with loss of talent and slowed growth.   BUT,  on any given day, Yahoo! has upwards of 20 million article views and, in any give month, 700 million people visit the site.   Though it will be a mighty challenge, the opportunity to reboot Yahoo! is HUGE.  So what should the company do?  I think the answer is to focus on WOMEN.  A nd who better to lead that charge than a pioneering woman in tech like Marissa Mayer?  I had some thoughts about this, and then I came across a spot-on post,  titled “Pink is the New Purple“, by Dave McClure.  Here are some highlights from his post:

“….  what if Marissa used Yahoo as a bully pulpit, to address the needs of a market that is roughly 50% or more of the global internet population? What if Yahoo began acquiring or partnering with properties specifically relevant to women, like Pinterest, ShoeDazzle, Gilt Groupe, BabyCenter, EcoMom, Oprah, ……Martha Stewart (or BritMorin.com),……?”

FashionTech / Fashion 2.0 / Social Commerce (whatever you want to call it) is crushing it right now.  There are tons of new online businesses aimed at girls/women/mothers that are generating a tremendous amount of traffic, revenue and profit.   And if they were not founded by women, they tend to have lots of female employees.  As a whipsmart businesswoman, a self-proclaimed online shop-aholic, and a mommy-to-be, I know Marissa has gotta be all over this.   She has, in fact, angel invested in several of these companies, including OneKingsLane and  Brit Media.  Mayer is the leading “Woman on the Web” right now, and she has a kickass opportunity to partner with kickass businesses for women (that are often by women) and turn Yahoo! into the leading destination for “Women on the Web.”

Now let’s hop from the impact Marissa could have by focusing Yahoo! on women, and discuss the impact she is already having on helping to attract women to the tech industry.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t come across an article that discusses the lack of women in technology.  Marissa was already a stand-out role model for this cause.  Now, as the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500, she is even more prominent.  And she is definitely not shy about using her status as a platform for encouraging young women to get into technology. Below is one of numerous quotes from Marissa on this topic.

‎”One of the things I care a lot about is helping to… show girls that you can be feminine, you can like the things that girls like, but you can also be really good at technology.”

Marissa Mayer is a hip and fashionable female that young women can relate to.  With women now making up over 50% of undergraduates,  lots of young girls will now look at Marissa and her accomplishments, and be more inclined to study math, science, and programming in pursuit of a powerhouse career in tech.

Go Marissa!

Hopefully Marissa is reading this (ahahahaha!), or, more likely, Dave McClure’s blog.  Ms. Mayer – you are the right woman, at the right time, and the right place to have a powerful impact on women (students, consumers, employees, founders) all over this world.  C’mon sista, you got this!  Us women are watching you eagerly!

 

 

Female Investors – “Ladies, we got this!”

July 26, 2012 Business, Entrepreneurship, Startups, Uncategorized, Venture Capital, Women in Business

Per usual these days, much is being written about the lack of women in tech and the difficulty for women to get funded. The always honest and entertaining Dave McClure (his 500 Startups blog is a must read) had some hard-hitting words this week in an article titled “Women in Tech: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.” While I don’t agree with the entire piece, and the problem is much bigger than the lack of female investors, I do give kudos to Dave’s new project, Women Investors NOW.  WIN challenges women to publicly commit to invest a total of $15,000 in three start-ups over the next year. Per Dave, “I’d like to CHALLENGE every woman in tech who’s a) got a nice care, b) owns a nice house, or c) is making over $125K a year to start thinking of themselves as the next Ron Conway or Esther Dyson in the making and commit to investing in startups…”

I often talk (and write here) about the need for women to help women. And this is a GREAT way to do it. Once I get a few months of my new gig behind me (more on that soon!), I am totally up for this challenge – and I hope you are too.  Click here to learn more about the WIN Challenge.  Personally, I plan to be a force in the LA Angel Investing community.  There are definitely not enough women funding and advising companies in Silicon Beach.  Yet, there are a ton of  successful entrepreneurial women here.

Speaking of kickass chicks, I am adding Kirsten Green to my list.  Her female-only VC, Forerunner Ventures, announced is raised $40 million today.  How do you like that, Mr. McClure!  I had not heard of Forerunner before, but they already have a stellar portfolio that focuses on consumer facing ventures that are predominantly in the digital commerce space.  They have funded a number of companies I love, including Warby Parker, Birchbox and Chloe + Isabel.  Also, I went into online stalker mode on Kirsten and discovered she is married and has a kid.   This might upset all the authors/bloggers who took part in the “Women Can’t Have It All” meme a few weeks back.

 

BetterWorks, My New Adventure

December 14, 2010 Adventurer, Bootstrapping, Business, Business Development, Entrepreneurship, Startups, Uncategorized

Last Tuesday I started a new gig at yet another early-stage company.   The company is called BetterWorks, and we are located on 3rd Street Promenade (very close to where I live – this is always ideal when living the “startup” life).  I did not, of course, take on this new adventure solely due to location.   I was an immediate fan of the idea and business model, but was truly sold upon meeting with the founders.   After all, building a successful company is not about the idea, it is about the execution.   And the three founder of Betterworks have a long history of “crushing it.”  BW was founded by three serial entrepreneurs: Paige Craig – founder of The Lincoln Group and LA’s most prolific Angel Investor, Zao Yang – inventor of Farmville (sold to Zynga), and George Ishii -co- founder at Yammer and Geni.com.

The below is a ThisWeekInStartups clip of my former Docstoc CEO, Jason Nazar, talking with my current bossman, Paige Craig, about investment themes, startups, and Paige’s military background. Watch, listen and learn as this is a good one!

You are probably wondering what we do at this point.  I can’t share that yet, but look forward to posting more about our offering and our progress soon. For now, you can learn some info by checking out www.betterworks.com and following our blog.

BW is moving faster than any startup I have either worked at or with. Pretty exhilarating!  I have been moving at lightspeed since the second I walked in the door and I am loving every minute of it.  Speed is key in building a successful company, particularly in the tech space. In fact, it is a part of the 8 key drivers of the BW culture (TIP: if you do not have the defining points of your culture written down and shared with your employees, do so now! And while you’re at it read Delivering Happiness by Zappos’ CEO).

One last share- for those that think the early startup life is glamorous, check out the below photo.  That is our office – 4 people in 100 sq ft. room with cardboard tables and empty computer boxes for desks.  Nothing like a little sacrifice to make the reward of building a kickass company that much sweeter.

PerfectBusiness Summit 2010

October 21, 2010 Bootstrapping, Business, Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

Wow!  I’m exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.  Just got back from The Perfect Business Summit 2010 in Las Vegas.  It was the first-ever national conference for Entrepreneurs & Investors  and, by all accounts, it was a huge success!  The Summit was produced by Dan Bliss, co-founder of PerfectBusiness.com, a  site dedicated to entrepreneurship that provides professional business planning software, startup resources and inspiring interviews with leading entrepreneurs.  PerfectBusiness was one of our first Docstoc partners so I have gotten to know Dan well.  He is a scrappy entrepreneur from the Midwest, as am I, so we have become good buddies.  When Dan shared with me his intention for the Conference, I immediately hopped on-board. 

 As we all know, there is no lack of Conferences or Trade Shows these days.  But they tend to be industry-specific.  There really was no broad-based, national conference addressing the key issues any entrepreneur faces when launching a new venture, regardless of whether he/she is opening a store, has invented a product or is delivering and product or service via the Internet or mobile app.   My role was to wrangle kickass speakers, VCs and angels to participate and solidify marketing partners.  Basically, it was a Bus Dev role for a startup Conference that was focused on starting businesses.  A dream come true for someone passionate about entrepreneurship and fascinated by entrepreneurs and their stories.

 The speaker list for the Conference was outstanding.  We had over 60 great entrepreneurs, across many industries, discussing all manner of relevant concepts from bootstrapping to how to get your invention into stores and how to drive traffic to your site.  Some of the keynote speakers and panelists were:

Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com – his book Delivering Happiness is a must-read.  This is my favorite Tony quote: “Profits are like oxygen. You need it to survive, but ultimately what matters is passion, growth, and a higher purpose.”

Jeff Taylor of Monster.com – this guy is wildly entertaining and lists being a DJ as one of his best talents.  According to Jeff, “Some people think that they’re great at everything. I happen to know that I’m terrible at a lot of things, but I’m good at a few things. So I had the advantage as an entrepreneur of hiring into my weaknesses.”  Love this statement as it is so important to hire a great team that fills your “holes”.  Of course, being able to actually delegate to them and let them take ownership and shine is also another great skillset of successful entrepreneurs.  For more info on Jeff and his fellow panelists on the CEO Roundtable, check out this great article from moderator Laura Petrecca of USAToday.

Kimberly Fowler of YAS Fitness Centers – Kimberly was the lone female entrepreneur on the main stage.  Her talk on bootstrapping and perseverance was inspiring and educational. If you want to learn from her story – check out her amazing DVD Overcoming Obstacles.

You can check out the entire line-up and a schedule of all the break-out session topics here: http://www.perfectbusiness.com/summit/

For more insight into the successful entrepreneurs that shared stories of their “start”, check out this great blogpost from Tina Ong

Hope to see you at next year’s Summit!

 

I’m back – FOR GOOD

October 21, 2010 Uncategorized

Um…yes, it is October 21st, 2010 and my first and last post was February of 2009.  Being a Bus Dev Exec in the Internet/Tech startup space, I very much understood the importance of personal branding via blogging……But being a Bus Dev Exec at one of the fastest-growing LA-based Internet startups also means I was laser-focused and uber-busy building a business.   Still I should have made the time and I did not – and I do regret it.   One of my favorite entrepreneurs and new media personalities, Gary V, is correct in his preachings that all businesspeople and businesses should be blogging.  His book, Crush It, is one of my favorite books this year.   I highly suggest reading it.  All I can say now is that I am back and committed to regular posts about my adventures in entrepreneurship as well as my adventures in life.

Here are some of my adventures these past 20 months:

Docstoc –
Fitness Instructor – Intensati, YAS
Hanggliding – life list