Monday, July 07, 2014

Crowdfunding:  What's the Big Rush?

I'm in the last week of another Kickstarter crowdfunding project and was thinking about why these projects are so intense. Crowdfunding is new and strange still, as it was two years ago when I did my first successful Kickstarter program, and much has changed as it gains visibility, but one thing about it has not changed from the beginning. It needs to be urgent. It needs to go fast.

What's the big hurry to raise money in a very short month and jump into #making and #prototyping so quickly? Well, #makers understand something it took me a while to learn. There is no limit to problems in this world and equally no limit to great ideas, smart people, capable makers and money in this world.

You've heard it before: the only limited resource is time.  Time. Why are we rushing to get things built and invented and in the hands of customers?  Because these things are solutions to problems.  And these problems need solving as quickly as possible. Because there are many more problems to solve after we solve these. Why do we keep asking for your financial support?  Because "With a little help from my friends" is the leverage point that makes crowdfunding take off fast.

WrightGlidersSideBySide.jpg

"WrightGlidersSideBySide" by Wright Brothers -
Library of Congress. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

With the impatience of youth and the wisdom of age, we need your help to fix things now because time is wasting. And it is a rush to hit your goal and then fly into #maker mode. And backers can be equally proud that they are changing the world.

My first project was raising money to write a book about women entrepreneurs. I felt it was urgent to get more women into technology, make them believe they could be founders, show them it wasn't such a mysterious business, encourage them to join startups and accelerator programs. If I convinced one woman to start a startup, I'm thrilled. She's out there solving more problems just like us!

This project is about #LED lighting adoption. It's not going fast enough. My team at MIT has integrated #LED light with sound and made a beautiful way of marrying the two called The Q by Belleds.  It's important that people start using this amazingly low-cost, green, beautiful way of lighting their lives. We also want hackers to join us in developing new ways to use The Q.  We need this to happen fast!  As we reach our goal, we feel an enormous rush, just to see our ability to fix things in this world take hold.  Please don't make us wait!

Labels:

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Entrepreneurs, Get Ready to Adore The Tour de France



Day 1: Tour de France: Victory to Marcel Kittel
If you're an entrepreneur, I'm going to make you a giant fan of the bike race known as the Tour de France (#TdF) this summer, because nothing comes as close to life in a startup as this crazy month-long race of short- and long-term challenges.  Nothing can teach you how to crash better, how to get up, dust yourself off and get back in the race fast, how to build and work with a team and most importantly nothing can teach you how to endure and just keep going.

I've been an entrepreneur for many years and I've been a CEO, a CMO and a founder.  I've been in startups that were successful with exits that included a sale, a stock swap, a merger, as well as in startups that flopped and died a sad death. But until I spent the summer of 2011 sitting in a fifth-floor walk-up apartment in Grenoble as the breeze blew the cold mountain air through the big French windows, waving the gauzy white curtains like race flags, watching the race day after day on a small French black and white TV with no remote, as well as going to stand in the rain for several stages to watch the race live, did I finally get it.  The race includes every up and down any start-up team member can ever face.  It's perfect that we took  the word "entrepreneur" from the French to describe the insane enterprise of startups.

Watch the first few days of the Tour de France as the terrain is mostly flat and reasonable and the riders are fresh and strong -- doesn't it look like fun?  Anyone can do it! Then watch the second week as they hit the mountains and the fair-weather players start to drop, peel off, crash or have to give up due to injury.  And then, by the third week, you'll be sitting there watching how each team works together or doesn't -- and you'll understand in a deep visceral way what a team is, why they matter, how they work (or don't) and why they can do more together as a team, than one person ever can do.

And if you're lucky enough to be sitting in a bar in a quiet dusty town in the south of France for the last week or in Lyon or Limoges or LeMans or Lourdes, you'll be be blessed to watch it in the hot afternoon with some Frenchman or woman who will get a little drunk with you and a lot more philosophical and tell you what the race is all about.  "Il s'agit de ... " they will start to explain to you and then pour you more Pastis or Pouilly Fuissé and you don't have to be a student of existentialism or Sartre to get it -- the bike race and the race you're running are both about enduring.  Enduring and keeping on the course.  It's about the amazing grit and strategy and luck (or lack of) and how you face it.  It's about the pleasure and the pain (equal parts) of staying in the race. It's about the trade-offs each rider has to make every day of a long, long race. They might fall back one day and rest in the slipstream of their team's unsung heroes the next day, so they can live to fight another day.  They might take crazy chances when a downhill speed can put them way ahead today in an early stage, gaining them 30 seconds, which later turns into a sheer 2 seconds they need to win the whole race and stand on the highest perch at the final ceremony in Paris on the last day. They know how to face danger, and when to avoid it. They learn to be courageous, decisive and act quickly. You need to pick up every skill they have, if you want to thrive as an entrepreneur.

In 2011, I had the amazing luck to spend most of the month of July in France and watch the Tour de France up close with my then 16-year-old son Jackson who incidentally was already an experienced bike mechanic and bike lover.  As any parent knows, just to have your teen want to go on any vacation anywhere with you is miracle enough, and you treasure every precious minute of the trip together knowing they will probably won't travel with you as their first choice ever again.

When Jackson was 13 and the economy was ridiculously bad, he told me he wanted to get a job as a bike mechanic.  I looked at him like he was crazy.  He was an entrepreneur in the making too, so he ignored me, had already done his research and found a great guy to apprentice to and asked me to drive him over to Paramount Bikes in Somerville, MA near Tufts where he went in and got a job fixing bikes.

I'd learned French in grammar school all through college and lived there on and off as a student, so when our friends in Grenoble asked us if we wanted to visit three years later in July 2011 and watch the race with them, I was all in.  Jackson was just learning French, but he was already an accomplished biker and mountain climber.  Since Grenoble was in the foothills of the Alps and many of the most important days for the Tour de France would take place in that town, we were over there as fast as we could scrape together enough Euros. Grenoble is also the home of Petzl another of Jackson's favorite companies, as they make world-class mountain climbing and rescue equipment, so he was the proverbial kid in a candy shop.  He climbed, he biked and we watched the race day in and day out with our friends.

One more entrepreneurial lesson -- it's never over until it's over.  One of the most important days for the Tour de France 2011 took place in Grenoble, the penultimate day of the race where the game-changing "time trials" happened and we walked over to watch them.  Cadel Evans delivered that day, go read about it. Of course my kid didn't want to get a photo with the famous bike racer, he wanted to pose next to the pit crew cars that were filled with mechanics, especially the Mavic Wheels yellow sedan. The day after the time trials, as the teams went to Paris, we took the TGV train to Paris too, to follow them and watch the last event, as the conquering heroes finally reached the capital to ride around the Arc de Triomphe.

Have I said enough to make you love the race yet?  Okay, I give up.  Take a shortcut.  Go to France and fall in love with some French "ami ou amie" who adores their national race and can teach you how to love it too.  You'll drink their wine, fall in love with the peleton and Pau and Paris, and if you're lucky, dance late into the night to old Piaf records, as she sings, "Non, je ne regrette rien," because whatever race you're running, entrepreneurs and riders who stay the course rarely regret it.

Labels:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Patriot's Day


I wrote this a while back, but here goes.  This year we're celebrating the big day on April 21. Notice I used the words "cell phone" when I would use "smartphone" today.  

Patriots Day in Lexington, April 15, 2002

I saw a Minuteman,
Get in a minivan,
Down by Battle Green.
I saw a Redcoat,
Chatting on a cell phone,
Press one for land, two for sea.

The Regulars are coming!
The Regulars are coming!
To our town on a regular basis,
On a regular day in April
They bloom in colors bright
Poppies red,
Crocuses blue,
Snowdrops white,

They've come complete, with fife and drum
Just to remind us
That behind us, at Buckman's Tavern
They'd had enough of April Tax Time.
And from that day, as shots rang out,
Tea would pour free
And brave they could be
To make a new place for you and me.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Aquent's 3 floors of content




Content is a word that means too many things. It takes so many forms.  It requires so many hands on to make it bright, shiny and correct. This cool graphic from Aquent will show you all the folks creating content in an organization.

I like the way it shows how much content is percolating through three floors of a small company and then imagine a much bigger organization and all the content they have to deal with.

I've written nearly every kind of content they mention and run a most important content department -- Proofreading -- at Communispace where we were generating gorgeous and fascinating content every day.

Do you like this graphic?  I think it's great. BTW, I don't know the folks at Aquent but I think I'll have to wander over there and learn more about them.

Labels:

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

My new job -- Director of Publishing at Techstars Boston start-up Litographs.com

I'm really excited to announce I'm joining Litographs as Director of Publishing, one of the #TechStars #Boston startup companies this session. We put the text of books on t-shirts, tote bags and posters. We have many classic books but we will now be taking living authors and helping them get their designs out there and reaching more readers -- my favorite thing!

Danny Fein, his brother Corey Fein and their long-time friend, Jack Neary are the guys at Litographs. They make beautiful … wait … I mean,  WE make beautiful stuff. Check it out.  
Alice in Wonderland takes a fall on our Litographs poster.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

California Here I Come

I'm speaking at BlogHerPRO '13!
Join us by registering HERE
I'll be speaking at BlogHer PRO next week on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct 22-23. You can still join and attend.

Just click here to register and you'll be in full-on "California Here I Come" mode. Would love to see you there.

I'll be speaking about self-publishing, how I used Kickstarter to fund my book, Founders Less Than Three and signing copies of my book as well. Here's my book on Amazon, check it out!

Monday, September 09, 2013


The TechCrunch Scandal (featuring the embarrassing TitStare and CircleShake apps) was a big deal this week as it "outted" the ugly sexism and locker room atmosphere of the high tech community, but it's never the big stuff that really makes high tech a terrible place to work for women.  It's something far more insidious that never gets called out.

It's the little stuff.  It's the quiet, hostile, uncomfortable moments which women endure in all tech companies, on an ongoing basis that are difficult to pinpoint and then call out as unacceptable. There are hundreds of daily put-downs, dismissive shrugs, disrespectful responses from men you get so used to, you actually stop noticing them.  There's always an accepted atmosphere of women not being taken seriously, often being interrupted in meetings, or likely as not, not being even invited to meetings, parties, lunches, trips where men are free to share plans, future scenarios and job leads.

The tolerance for intolerance is suffocating. How ironic that something called CircleShake was there to conveniently remind everyone that tech culture is one big male circle jerk? There are so many little cultural misdeeds committed against women on a regular basis, you stop noticing and just get tired of the whole thing. For one thing, the culture of high tech accepts developers and entrepreneurs coming in late and staying late which is another disconnect between men and women. If you are a woman with responsibilities at home, as many women are, being able to hang out late with your fellow geeks to learn new things is not an option. But many of these guys are also parents -- why aren't they home?  Men are the ones who can change this by pointing it out to good managers and insisting on changes.





Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 08, 2013



Slow Down Please

Founders Less Than Three
by Halley Suitt Tucker

My purse is littered with receipts, business cards, brochures, bookmarks, boarding passes and matchbooks from restaurants 3000 miles from here this morning. I'm tossing things and straightening out what I mean to keep. I've been going here, there and everywhere promoting my new book, inviting people to take a bookmark so they'll recognize the title and cover art next time they need to read a new book.  I hope they'll buy my book, but I really hope they'll find time to read it.

But the go-go-go-everywhere blah-blah-blah side of me is at war with the SLOW DOWN PLEASE side and I know who wins this Civil War. The slow down part of me is the reader and the writer and always wins out in the end. I'm a binge reader. I read like it's a dirty little habit, sneaking the time when no one is looking and I don't care who walks in on me while I'm in the act. Just can't help myself. I've been reading like crazy since I finished writing this book. But I've got that itchy finger feeling about wanting to start writing the next book too.

All of that requires silence and endless hours going nowhere in the world and everywhere in the world in my head. It's about slowing down and taking the time. Some people can write anywhere, but I find it best to be firmly planted at my desk in my house.

As for my "readers" I am wondering if they have the same crazy need to read that I do. When people show genuine interest and even buy the book, I know it may take them a while to actually read my book. I know many will buy it, but not read it. I suppose I should be fine with that, but I'm not. It seems a little sad for them, not me. I'd much rather have someone read it and not like it, than not read it at all.

Sometimes I imagine my characters on a bench like a little baseball team, all ready to take the field. But they can't even get on the scoreboard unless a stranger -- a new reader -- slows down enough to read about them. They are so pumped when that happens, lining up proudly in their mismatched uniforms, ready to "PLAY BALL!"

Meanwhile, they just hang around the dugout with nothing to do, wishing they could take the field to bat one out of the park. Please don't make them linger too long.  I know the the alpha male characters will end up in a fight, showing off in front of the alpha females, or end up bullying the background characters to stand up and fight like a leading man! I can hear them slamming empty lockers in the locker room and that means trouble. Give these guys a chance to show off their stuff.


[The book:  Founders Less Than Three -- right HERE on Amazon.]

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, September 01, 2013

See You In September

A man asked me why I don't blog more often, he missed my blogging. So here I am. There's an easy answer as to why I haven't been blogging very often.  Lately, all my early morning writing has been poured into a book, not a blog.  It's pretty tricky to pull off both. Think of the plate-spinning guys.  Yes, I suppose you can do it, but does anyone like the sound of plates crashing and smashing?  I don't.

From Vogue: Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane
Photo by David Sims
There's one thing I want to write about this September morning, the 902 pages of the new September Vogue magazine. Actually, I just want to write about the first fifty pages or so.  I like the Saint Laurent girl Hedi Slimane has dreamed up in those pages. She reminds me of my heroine Monica Kroy.

She's got clunky boots and skinny legs and a short skirt with a big wool sweater thrown on top that doesn't match.  She's headed out on some amazing heroic adventure (think Hunger Games girl, Jennifer Lawrence, who happens to be on the cover of the magazine this month) and the romantic and sexy men who might long for her, really can't keep up with her. She's impromtu and spontaneous. She has an inkling of something far away she needs to find, wants to visit, might even invent, a world to conquer. The loose wool sweater or cute jacket she throws on doesn't need to match, she just needs to get out the door.

She might wear the scent of the horse-back riding Ralph Lauren woman, page one, inside the cover of Vogue -- called Romance -- but she's not that girl.  That girl is all passionately wrapped up in a guitar-playing man and pretty children.

Saint Laurent's girl is the lead guitar player. By 50 pages into the magazine, you see her peering out a very large castle-size window at the ocean. She's got a large, ominous vision. The next page she's gone from full-color to black & white, from looking at fish to sporting fishnets, clunky mini-dominatrix duds and an impatience for the guy taking her picture that says, "Let's just get on with it. I have places to go,"  But "it" is not about romance or sex. It's something larger.

She is not looking for a hero. She's the hero. She's not looking for a man.  She'll pick one out when the spirit moves her and she can take any one of them she wants.  She's got a very wide world to investigate. Get out of her way guys.


Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Are You Good At Bouncing Back?


After reading Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha's The Start-up of You where they point out that our lives, resumés and certainly our LinkedIn profiles will show lots of ups and downs in this global and turbulent economy, I've been thinking about resiliency.  By the way, it's a great book. Even if you aren't the least bit entrepreneurial, we're looking at a world of work where you better be good at bouncing back. I'm saying it twice. You better be good at bouncing back and quickly.  You must be resilient.

When you get down, do you know how to get up again quickly?  One thing I learned from sales was getting back up quickly after being rejected.  Seriously, sales is all about being rejected and the most successful salespeople have proven strategies for bouncing back. And bouncing back FAST. I was taught that nine "no's" usually meant the tenth time might be a "yes" -- so after I've been rejected about eight times, I can get excited and happy as I think, "Yes, yes, yes!  I'm closer and closer!  I'm almost there!" I really do think that way!

Studies have shown a most fascinating metric of success -- the shorter the time it takes people to recover from a failure or disappointment and get back in the game the better -- and it is predictive of overall lifetime success.  In sales, you have to have strategies for bouncing back, or you'll never make it.

Sometimes, you just get down and feel a little hopeless. Everybody does. I have a mental list of things to do that get me back on track, and I think we all need to make that list and revise it every few years. It's more important than revising your resume.  We need to build out a foundation of resiliency, like a foundation for a house we plan to build. The foundation of resiliency for me is reading, exercise (dancing in particular), being with friends, being in nature, faith and more than anything, having a very supportive partner.

I know so many people who are not happy in their relationships and since I've "been there, done that" and did get divorced, I know it matters a lot to have a good partner. I bet you didn't think I was going to talk about divorce (or break up) but honestly, maybe it's time to downsize your partner. If they don't make your life and home a place to rest, relax, restore yourself and bounce back, you need a new partner.  It makes a world of difference. Make a list of ways to bounce back today and if your partner isn't on the list, well ... you know where I'm going. Time for them to appear on someone else's list.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 25, 2013

Kawasaki's Books

If you haven't read Guy Kawasaki's last two books -- APE, Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur -- and of course -- What the Plus: Google+ for the rest of us -- get over to Amazon and check them out!  Today's the day!

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Brrrrr ...

Miss the beach?  It's definately winter!  Brrrrrr ...  


Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, December 10, 2012

Going Bananas about APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch


I know a few million of you have probably already bought and read APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur - How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch which came out last night at midnight Pacific Coast Time, but for the rest of you, what's taking you so long? Just kidding, a little, but this is a book that so many people will find
FUN
FUNNY
INFORMATIVE
INSPIRATIONAL
INSPIRING
THOUGHTFUL
VIGOROUS
VISIONARY and
WONDERFUL!
Full disclosure, I know Guy and Shawn and worked with them on the last book, What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us, so I am a friend. Guy gives me cred in the acknowledgements section of this new book for just about forcing him to write it, so I am biased. But this book has so much more to offer than I thought it would in the beginning, I'm seriously impressed. It's so useful and practical, as well as amusing and inspiring, which you can count on from any Kawasaki book. As I wrote in a review of the book on Amazon, I can't think of anyone who shouldn't read this book. If you're a reader it's a must own. If you're a writer, it's essential. If you're a publisher, you can't live without it. And of course, entrepreneurs will love it.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Crossing i's and dotting t's -- I mean ...

Ever think about all the work that went into getting these books on a shelf?!   I do!   That's all I've been thinking about lately.

Exciting times here with my Kickstarter book project.  Again, thanks so much to all my supporters.  I've been meeting with editors and proofreaders to line them up -- a bit like finding a good midwife for a baby due in a few months.  They make it or break it honestly!  And as the title suggests, I can write the thing but I need someone else to cross the t's and dot the i's thank you very much.

Picture Credit:  CalTech Library


Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 01, 2012

We Blog the World relaunching!

I was glad to hear what Renee Blodgett of We Blog the World has been up to lately.  She's just done a relaunch of her site and I asked her about it. 

1.       Why did you do the relaunch?

Renee Blodgett at We Blog The World
At We Blog the World, we realized that while there’s a lot of content for travelers out there on the web, there’s not a lot of content that is tailored around events, festivals and culture, specific to so many different countries under one umbrella. In other words, there is a wealth of resources on tourism sites for events and festivals specific to a region, however that content is hard to find and you have to do serious digging every time you want to go to a specific country or city. The content is fragmented at best.

Secondly, a lot of travel sites focus on either high-end luxury or they focus on adventure travel for backpackers when most of the world falls in between the two. Where does the discerning traveler go who’s already been to the popular hot spots and is yearning for more? We want to provide that content and a community that supports that interest and desire.

2.       Who’s your best audience and who do you want to reach?

We are trying to reach an educated savvy traveler who has done a lot of traveling but is yearning for more. We’re after those who think and ask:  I want to experience cultural events around things I care about most that will expand my mind: food/wine, arts, culture, entertainment, music and green/sustainability and what’s out there that I can experience beyond the traditional tours where I can expand my horizons, meet interesting people, grow and make a difference in the world? In other words: Renaissance thinking meets travel and cultural events. We are a catalyst that will connect the forces at play: those creating the experiences and those wanting to experience them and this is obviously worldwide not just in the U.S.

3.       Are you a global social media site? 

We’re not really a "social media" site, we’re a travel and culture site that is social media savvy. Our readers are heavy technology and mobile users who spend a lot of time online but also yearn for adventure. They also like to travel and want to expand their minds through new and unique experiences. Social media is a catalyst to help make that happen. Because We Blog the World heavily engages on a number of social media networks, we engage with our readers regularly and learn about what works and what doesn’t. Social media mobilizes things so much faster and we use social media to engage with our readers and to learn about what people love and don’t. We Blog the World readers come from the U.S., England, Canada, India, Australia, France, Singapore, Germany and the SE Asia in that order, although South America is growing organically.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,