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Archive for February, 2011

The Power of the Straw Dog

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

I’ve got a buddy of mine who limits all his crazy, off the wall ideas to one piece of paper.  He calls it a 1 page brain dump.  I call it–the Straw Dog.

Make no mistake – that is not my original term.  The Straw Dog came from several managers of yesteryear, who tended to use this term when they were having brainchilds of their own and needed to get something on paper.  The straw dog is that stage where you have an idea and you put it down just to get it down, then develop a bit about it, but again, limit it to only one page.  I did that for several of my books.  My friend does it for educational and vocational stuff relative to his business.

I think there’s tremendous power in limiting an idea to only one page.  It’s hard, because one usually has a cloud of ideas bursting from that one original idea.  However, it is the written equivalent of an elevator pitch, limited by marginal bounds rather than merely time boundaries.  Yeah, a bunch of data is good too, to feed the science nerd in me, but really–at the end of the day, if I can’t get a really awesome idea down in one page, I’m not quite sure that idea is quite so awesome after all…

Next time you have an amazing idea – create your own straw dog.  You, too, might find it a powerful tool to bring new ideas into the world – and we all know we could definitely use more of those!!!!

Random Favorites at the Book Launch Party for Single. Women. Entrepreneurs.

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Here they are, in random order, before I go to sleep and forget!

*Photos by Mike Barnhart and Sunshine Chris Rucker!
*Catering by Thyme for Food
*The women in the book who either wanted to join us and couldn’t, or those who did join us this evening!  We had women from California to DC join us!
*The PEOPLE – I was shocked by how many people at the party I didn’t know!
*The Flowers – LOVED the wristlets by lilly lane flowers!
*The amazing help – between the women at Butterfly Consignment, to the Mary Z. and her crew, to everyone who came early and helped out – you rock!
*To all the friends who came that I had not seen in a long time – thanks for coming!
*To all my super exhausted law school friends who gave up their Friday night to come out and support the party and the book, DESPITE being tired!

You. All. Rock!

Favorite question of the evening: “What’s your next book about?”

My favorite answer: “Just one…?”

Ecosystems, Tribes, and the $948 Enigma

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Right now, I’m typing in bed with 3 things on top of me.  Before you get too excited, they are: 1. my laptop (obviously), 2. the new book I traded with Guy Kawasai for my new book, (his book is: Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, and my cat, Bob (it’s the only time of day he gets even remotely ‘snuggly’.)

But I just read Guy’s passage on Building an Ecosystem in his book, and how someone who read his book only thought that concept applied to big companies.  And, every time I hear ecosystem, I think of Seth Godin and his concept of ‘Tribes’.

This then leads me to the $948 engima I had earlier today.  Yesterday, I was explaining to an advisory group about the study I previously read about and posted at this very blog about the MIT/IBM study, where they researched IBM employees and found those who had larger social networks outside of IBM actually brought a lot more value to the company.  They even quantified it.  Each outsider that an IBM employee knew was valued at $948 to the company.  I love that data, but couldn’t recall where I read it.  So, of course I reached out to my network and got the answer to my question!  The Bloomberg post explains the study.  (And of course, I was wrong and posted $984 last time, but what’s a few dollars among friends?)

Ecosystems or Tribes – whatever you wish to call them–I hope you’re trying your best to build them.  We all need a good ecosystem around us, dollars and cents tied to it, or not. The bottom line is that we’re all in this together.  What happens in Libya really does have an effect on us.  What happens in Wisconsin also can happen in Indiana.  And most importantly, we become who we surround ourselves with.  So choose your ecosystem…wisely!

The Only Certain Thing

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

We’ve got legislators from Indiana hiding out in IL right now.  Wisconsin has the same.  Guess IL is the get away paradise for lawmakers that want to avoid their work these days.  We’ve also got union workers in both states showing up at statehouses demanding the status quo.  Gas is skyrocketing too.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, we’ve got people rising up against their leaders demanding democracy and some fairness for the people.

I saw a map of the United States the other day on someone’s blog made out of various words – like a US map word cloud – and the word that stuck on the most?  “Uncertain.”

The only thing one can really count on these days is uncertainty.  It is ubiquitous.  It is in the air we breathe around us.  But, at times like these, we get the chance to celebrate the good, the decent, the interesting, and the novel.

Today, Prof. Jeff Cornwall in his newsletter asked where all the women of entrepreneurship are, and you can read his newsletter here. I LOVED THIS!  Here’s why: that despite all the chaos, mayhem and uncertainty, there are women out there, starting and running businesses and getting. Things. Done. DESPITE the chaos around us.

I admire these women.  They provide some of the calm among the storm of our times.  I am grateful for them, and thankful that we have some people who dare to press onward, rather than giving up, doing nothing, and reverting.  The only thing worse than uncertainty, my friends, is apathy.  The women entrepreneurs I know simply don’t have this word in their vocabularies.


There Comes A Time…Part Deux

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

And in follow up to my previous post, let me also be clear.  There’s only ONE person who gets to determine your limits on what you can and cannot do: and that’s Y-O-U.  Never let others determine your own limits.  Determine your own!

(That also comes with the cape! ; )

There Comes A Time…

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

…in every woman’s life, where she just doesn’t sugar coat anymore.  I think I had one of those breakthrough moments today.

Rumor on the street is this typically happens around age 40 for a woman (I’m frighteningly near that age)…that is, she knows who she is, she knows what she wants, and more importantly, she knows what she does NOT want.  Such was the case for me today, while interviewing for a law school student position.

I didn’t sugar coat.  I just shared my strengths, where I think I could benefit the organization, and was absolutely blunt about what I was NOT interested in doing.

This was big for me.  Usually, (and I think a LOT of women ‘suffer’ from this)–we like to take on everything, because we feel sometimes that we HAVE to.  Let’s face it–we have options and opportunities today that our moms NEVER even could consider.  That is awesome, but with that comes a little guilt; in that sometimes, we feel although we have all these options, we must then also DO them all, if given the opportunity.

Today, that was not the case for me.  I said it like I saw it, I didn’t sugar coat anything, and bluntly, it was what it was.  Take it or leave it.

If I get the position I was going for, great.  If not, that’s fine too.  At least I won’t get roped into something I do NOT want to do.  This is important, and I’m posting this one in particular for the Superladies out there who feel obligated to do it all. With the cape comes some extra guilt; but I’m here to tell you do NOT have to do stuff you don’t want to do, just because your previous generations didn’t get the chance.  It is OK to say no.  As I’ve shared before, one of my friends tells me liberally that there is a reason the letter “N” is next to the letter “O” in the alphabet.  And, I’m getting to the age where I just don’t have the time or the energy to do anything but cut through the BS.

BS slicers – now there’s a product we could all use!

EE = mc2

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Today I had the pleasure of listening and learning more about one of my favorite subjects, entrepreneurial education.  I didn’t even have to travel anywhere – just in front of my laptop!  I attended a web conference of the Future of Entrepreneurship Education Summit, which technically is going on right now in Orlando, FL.  In fact, it is STILL going on!

Here’s some really cool stuff I learned and re-learned by watching today:

1.  HALF (yes, 50%) of the people employed in this country have a job in a small business.

2.  ALL (100%) of the people employed in this country have a job thanks to an entrepreneur! (This seems like a duh, but it was good to be reminded of this!)

3.  There are still NOT enough women in entrepreneurial platforms and venues.  The conference, while awesome today, just didn’t have enough women there actually talking about starting their own businesses.  Ladies, we’ve got some more work to do!

4.  Teaching entrepreneurship shows students what freedom can look like, AND gives them tools on how to be free, should they choose to try entrepreneurship.

5.  Entrepreneurship needs to be a cross-school and cross-campus cultural phenomenon.  NOT solely housed in the business school, and NOT accessible only to a handful of business majors.  ALL. Students. Need. This. Exposure.

The entrepreneurial mindset and culture is what is going to give the energy back to our country, not waiting for our entitlement to kick in and someone else hand us our jobs.  That is important to remember and VERY important to instill in our future generations.

I was inspired by this conference.  And, I hope I’ve inspired you to at least think about it.  Not everyone is made to be an entrepreneur, but I want to make sure that all of my students at least consider the question of – should I start a business?  A “no” well considered I consider a success.  And a “yes” – even better!!

Resistance May be Futile, But Enchantment is Everything

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Admittedly, right now I should be clawing my way back through the IN Medicaid provider manual to find the process for “overpayment” for my class tonight – but I looked at it Sunday and I just honestly can’t bring myself to look at it again.  In two words: not enchanting.

So instead, I’ll bring you an interesting story from my day.  I got to school (work) this morning and had a fat envelope in my inbox, (which, I always LOVE fat envelopes, because that usually means books!) and sure enough, it was from none other than Mr. Guy Kawasaki himself.  YAY!  If you’ve been on Mars or another galaxy and don’t know who Guy is, here’s his 411.

We actually TRADED new books!  I sent him a copy of S.W.E. and in exchange, he sent me a copy of his new book, Enchantment.  He even autographed it for me, to which he inscribed the following:

“Erin, Resisting you is futile!  G. Kawasaki.”

While resistance may be futile, enchantment really is everything.  When was the last time YOU were enchanted by something?  This is the subject of his new book, which I have sitting right next to me now and can’t WAIT to dig into and read.  Don’t worry – I’ll keep you posted on my thoughts on it right here at the good ol’ blog – which I’m certain will be that the book. Is. Awesome!

–The Borg

The Flavor of…Success

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Ever since I asked the 30 ladies in my last book what success meant to each of them, and had they achieved it yet, I’ve been thinking about my own personal definition, and whether or not I have achieved it.  I also learned that success is kind of like choosing between 31 different flavors of ice cream.  On a hot summer day, I really find it tough to pick just ONE flavor.

I don’t honestly have a clear picture of precisely what that looks like for me, yet.  Therefore, I can’t really let you know if I’ve gotten there either.  But, I do have fleeting glimpses and notions of what I think success might be for me.  Here are a few:

1.  Waking up without an alarm clock – the ability to give one’s body the sleep and rest it needs is a truly opulent luxury to me right now, but it really shouldn’t be.  Success to me would mean that I get up when my body tells me it is time to get up, instead of having to set the alarm 30 min before the time when I actually NEED to get up so I can hit the snooze button at least twice.  Maybe one day when I’m a “success,” I can chuck the alarm clock.  That sounds and looks like success to me.  (Provided, of course, I’m not poverty stricken, broke and/or without any kind of meaningful work.)  High school and pharmacy school in college tried to pound me into being a morning person with 6:40 am and 8 am classes respectively for 9 years.  It never worked.

2.  Freedom – yes, in the liberty Constitutional sense, (something we’re all taking for granted these days), but also the freedom to work when I want, set appointments when I need to, get stuff done when the muse hits me, rather than on unreasonable time and space.  Generation Y really values freedom even more, and I think it is going to be the future of work anyway–working regardless of time and space.  The companies that force their employees to stay in a cubicle all day (when they don’t have to in order to get their work done) are nuts, because their workers can get MORE done potentially with a little more inspiration around them!

3.  Ability to go off on creative tangents – to find the ‘superstar’ in all of us (as Lady Gaga said tonight), we really need and I personally desire the ability to learn new stuff, go down cool new avenues, and seek out answers to unanswered questions.  Similarly, that leads me to:

4.  Collaboration – I’m noting that a lot of the Record of the Year Nominations this evening on the Grammys are collaborations between different stars.  I like that.  The ability and freedom to work with really top shelf people on awesome projects is another sign of true success to me.

5.  Enough $ to pay my bills – I don’t need to be a gazillionaire.  But I do think a key to success is having enough money in the bank that if the you-know-what hits the fan, I’m good to go for awhile.

That’s all I really have for now.  Besides, I’m not trying to rush to some kind of endpoint on the big picture.  Maybe a project or two, but I definitely am trying to enjoy the ride.  That, too, is part of the golden secret formula of my personal flavor of success.

Chasing and Tackling…Ideas

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I was sitting in class this morning (yes, I have class on Saturday morning AGAIN this semester)…and had a GREAT idea for a new book!  I have about 3 other book ideas cooking too, so I have to decide which books I’m going to pursue first.  It came, admittedly, at a time when I should have been paying attention in class, but I think I was just so in my zone of hunting new ideas, I couldn’t believe this one just popped into my head while sitting in class.

Although I’ve never had kids, my guess is that picking a new book idea to pursue is kind of like picking your favorite kid, if you have more than one.  It’s a really tough call.  I’ve blogged about this a bit before–when you have a LOT of cool ideas, which one should you pursue first?  Or, can you really take on more than one idea at a time and pursue many ideas?

I don’t know.  Generally, I’ve felt that my books and writing must be nurtured independently and linearly, if that makes sense.  I tried starting on book 7 already a few months ago, but it fell by the wayside because of my obsession in getting book 6 completed.  With all the other aspects of life, it is tough for me to chase down more than one book simultaneously.

If you’re out there in the wonderful world of the wide web, and you’ve written a lot, I’d love to hear from you on how you handle multiple writing projects, and by projects, I mean books.  (Yes, I have a lot of ‘writing’ projects going on right now, but most don’t qualify as books.)  I think there’s something extra challenging to tackling a book vs. a peer reviewed piece or a law review note.  They aren’t as challenging, at least to me.

Good ideas, some say, are a dime a dozen.  However, I’ve always thought ideas were much more valuable than .10.  Ideas and thoughts can have the power to become things, at least in my experience.  Turning those thoughts into things is a very powerful and fun challenge, but which ones to tackle first….?