Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The check is in the bank!

$$$$I GOT PAID TODAY!!$$$$

The check was deposited this afternoon. I took a picture of it. I should have taken a picture of me kissing it.

Unfortunately, the bank informed me that because we have a new account and the check is from a bank in NY, it'll take another 5 business days to clear. Ugh.

Hang on, freelancers--your money is on its way!

Future selling

Went to a capabilities presentation today, and although it went well, I'm looking forward to having some virtual world examples to show. I'm doing pretty well at selling the idea, but people want to actually SEE what I'm describing. I've been thinking of this as future selling, but honestly, I think the future is now.

Time for some screenshots. I can almost taste our first virtual world sale.

The best happy birthday

Lots of birthday wishes yesterday--family, friends, even Macy's and my insurance agent. Thought my favorite was the My Little Pony card from two of my partners in crime. But then my middle son, as I left his room after kissing him good night, whispered as he drifted off to sleep, "Happy birthday, Mama." It doesn't get better than that.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The last day of 33

Back in 1997, when I got my first email account, I was shocked to find that there was actually already someone who had koreen@hotmail.com. (I've long assumed that I'll never run into another Koreen and so when faced with the fact that there are other Koreens out there, I'm still always a bit surprised.) I had just finished up an online quiz on which I had scored a 33. And so for 11 years, I've been koreen33.

Last year when I turned 33, I had no idea what a big year it would be for me. In the past 12 months, I've managed to figure out more of a balance between home and work. I figured out, for the time being, what to do in the education of the two oldest Olbrish kids. My grandma passed away from colon cancer. I started writing my first book. I started this blog. At the 11th hour I had my first surgery. Oh, and I left my job and started my own company.

Today's the last day of my 33rd year. Farewell, 33. I'll look back on you fondly, for the chapters that closed and the new ones that began. 34 has a lot to live up to...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Everything you do is branding

Yesterday I reviewed an interface for an upcoming e-learning deliverable with a ridiculous timeline. I was upset because I knew that I was going to be a problem--there were numerous usability problems that I couldn't let go. One way or another they needed to be fixed, even if it cost us more money to fix it, even if I need to go explain to the client why its going to take more time.

I just can't afford to be sending out crap. For any reason. We're only two months into Tandem, and everything we send out represents us as a company. We don't have a reputation yet--we're building one. Everything we do is branding our new company. Every conversation we have. Every deliverable we send to the client. Every typo, every mistake, and yes, every interface design. It says something about who we are.

Even if we had been in business for 10 years, its the same. If you put out a product you're not proud of, that tells your clients something. It tells your prospective clients something.

So, I'm not settling for just ok. We've got to be rockstars in everything we do, or we're just rockstars in our own minds.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I want it now!

I'm not a particularly patient person. Last night, for example, we resumed our weekly Rockstar meeting, and we had a list of business to attend to. None of it, in my opinion, fun. Stuff that needed to get done, no doubt, but not stuff that gets me riled up with the excitement of possibility. 401k options just don't do that for me. We did decide last night that next week we're planning our first product: focusing on a business need, developing a strategy, etc. All leading up to a design document.

Now THAT is exciting. Unfortunately, I have to wait a week.

Tandem still hasn't gotten paid. I have assurances from a very reliable source that I'll get checks in my hand next Tuesday. Tick, tock, tick tock.

I'm planning to have my book done by the end of the summer. If I could write as fast as I talk, it'd probably already be done. Damn my typing skills.

My server still hasn't arrived. I won't be able to finalize benefits until next week.

Why does everything take sooo long?

I'm going to try to remember this feeling when one of my clients expects an unreasonable turn-around time. Because sometimes there are really good reasons why things take time.

And hopefully its true that good things come to those who wait.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

401k benefits for small businesses

401k benefits--I found this website from the Dept. of Labor--pretty good info, but I really need to find a company to coordinate all of this for me. http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/publications/401kplans.html

Waiting to get paid

It looks like the end of the waiting is near, but good lord, this has been the most stressful part of the wait. I've got bills to pay, expenses to reimburse, and I'm hoping that Friday will be a check writing fiesta. But the money needs to actually make it into my bank account first. C'mon funds transfer!

Cashflow is a much bigger issue than I thought it would be starting Tandem. I underestimated how long it would take to get paid, and how much money we'd be initially putting out to get stuff done. We were coming to the end of our money reserves, and if I had to do over, it would have been nice to save another $10k or so as a buffer for expenses.

I can see how this is an issue that I'll be revisiting throughout the management of Tandem, and one that I didn't have a lot of experience with before. It's been a good learning experience.

As long as I get paid this week...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I pried myself out of my recovery bed to vote in the PA primary today. I'm not spilling my selections, but I am a registered Democrat so I had a chance to jump in on the Hillary-Obama smackdown.

Whoever you vote for, I really believe you should make every effort to vote. But what sways your opinion of who to vote for?

I happen to live in Chester County, which was designated by the media and whoever else pays attention to this stuff as a key battleground in PA. I have been inundated with communication from both Hillary and Obama. Heck, Bill even called me (ok, it was recorded, but imagine you pick up the phone and you hear Bill Clinton on the line? And he was inviting me to a party. Wait...maybe this wasn't an election call?)

Neither Barack nor Michelle called me, but they did send some Obama Girls to my house. They were nice, not pushy. And some other Obama canvassers left an AWESOME voting info door hanger.

Overall, Obama wins the marketing campaign on personal attention and quality of contact and information. Hillary did pimp out Bill though. But I didn't make it to the party last night.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Virtual world news update

So two big stories in April in virtual world news...first, congress held a hearing on virtual world technology. Oh, I would really have paid to have been there. You can read the Washington Post overview of the proceedings here.

And, you should expect no less really, Jon Stewart did a Daily Show segment on the proceedings. I laughed so hard that I hurt my incision. You can't help but laugh at a talking dolphin with breasts. Take a look for yourself.

See, Jon Stewart and the government are even talking about this stuff. You've been warned.

Obviously there's something to gaming...

Saw this article and thought--THAT is motivation. Gas prices soaring, inflation at a 17 year high, people losing their jobs...and yet people love playing games. The real question is, will they like the games as well if they know the purpose is to learn something?

Finding young talent

Even though another birthday is rapidly approaching, I'm still pretty young to be doing what I'm doing. So writing about finding "young" talent might seem odd coming from me. Let me clarify; when I say young, I mean right out of college, never had a job before rockstars. It would be easy to be successful by staffing up with people who are proven rockstars--but very expensive. See, most rockstars actually know that they are good, and valuable, and ask to be compensated appropriately. And you should compensate them appropriately (or they will soon enough be someone else's rockstars). But paying senior people what they are worth cuts into your profitability, increases the prices you need to charge clients, and staffs you with a lot of chiefs but no indians.

You can balance this out by looking for fresh talent. I've been partial to recruiting out of college--I had particular success with this at my last job (shout out: Penn State quad!). I've mentioned previously that I don't really read resumes. I should clarify, though, that in looking for young talent, it helps to actually look for them--its probably not enough to post a job up on Monster. Most people graduating for college are not skilled in job searches and they haven't been sufficiently networked to find them on LinkedIn. I trolled college online career centers and browsed resumes. For hours and hours. Then I contacted the people I was interested in talking to, to see if they were interested in talking to me.

The interview is where things really become clear in the search for the next rockstar. Here's what I look for in someone with no actual work experience:

  • Passion for what they did in school--How excited to they get about talking about their classes? What classes and experiences do they mention? How does that complement what you are looking for?
  • A little ego--Ok, you don't want to hire someone who thinks they know everything already, especially when they probably know nothing about what you do. But they should brag a little. One rockstar that I interviewed for a writing position told me flat out she was a great writer, after she had been modest about the rest of her accomplishments throughout the interview. I loved that she was confident in her abilities and after I hired her, found out she really was a great writer.
  • Modesty and willingness to learn--I'm looking for young talent who knows that they are young and talented, and are looking for a chance to learn and grow. I like confidence, but not false confidence. You are talking to someone who's never had a corporate job before, and he or she should approach the interview as a chance to learn an incredible amount.
  • Who's interviewing who?--I think this is true of any interview, but more impressive in young candidates--the interview should go both ways. Young prospective rockstars should be interviewing you as much as you them to make sure the job is a good fit.
  • Would you want to get a beer (or coffee for you teetotalers) with him/her?--Just like with any candidate, personality is important. You need to be painstaking in building your company's culture. That is NOT to say that everyone should be the same; on the contrary, quirks make life interesting. But you will be spending time with this person, and its important that you like him or her. Try some dinner party conversation in the interview and see how it goes. Ask some only slightly interview-related questions. Among my favorites are favorite movie, favorite book, magazines you subscribe to, and the legendary "what food would you bring to the company picnic?" These should really just be conversation starters, and the answers don't really matter--except they do. Because you can gauge a lot from how people talk to you when they don't feel like they are being interviewed.

I'm on a quest for a few young rockstars. I'm looking forward to finding the next "Corporate Idol."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What's not getting done

I'm still in a bit of recovery mode, and what's making me crazy is all of the things that aren't getting done while I'm sitting waiting for my incision to heal.

It's not that I'm doing nothing, it's really just the long mental list of to-do's that is making no progress. What am I doing instead of checking stuff off my list?

  • Blogging (obviously)
  • Following up on LinkedIn messages
  • Watching old episodes of tv shows that were still saved on TiVo
  • Celebrating my son's 5th birthday
  • Surfing college job boards online for resumes

What isn't getting done?

  • Workshops that I'm going to design
  • Demos for upcoming presentations
  • My book
  • Tandem's mission/vision/values statements
  • Finding new office space
  • Etc, etc, etc.

Besides my son's birthday, you see the "not getting done" list is definitely more important. Guess its time to stop using my surgery as an excuse, since most of these things could definitely be worked on during my recovery.

So, take a look at your to-do list and your getting done list. If they aren't the same, what's your excuse?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Small pain, big problems

I had been in pain since Sunday night but was choosing to ignore it. I didn't even tell anyone about it until Tuesday, assuming that it was probably nothing and would go away. I don't like to be sick, I don't like to go to doctors, and frankly, I was just too busy. By Wednesday, the pain was getting a bit worse, I was feeling a little queasy, and I decided to work from home. I was getting peer-pressured to go to the doctor and so out of guilt I made an appointment with my doctor. He ordered a bunch of tests, including a CT scan of my pelvis and abdomen, but told me as I was leaving that he didn't expect that they'd find much of anything and this would probably just go away. I laughed and told him that's what I'm always hoping for.

The problem was, as I was shocked to find out as they rushed me off to emergency surgery after my CT scan that evening, that my appendix was actually 4x its normal size. I was lucky to be walking around, they were shocked that I had been working even up to my appointment, and it could have burst at any point, causing a MUCH bigger problem.

That's really the problem with small, consistent problems. If its not enough to disable you, then you will probably ignore it to deal with the bigger and more immediate problems. Until that small, consistent pain blows up into a much bigger problem that could have been avoided with just a little attention. I'm wondering what other little problems at Tandem I've been ignoring that have "appendix-bursting" potential.

BTW, appendectomies evidently require less recovery time than childbirth--I was discharged in less than 24 hours and am back working at home. Just don't ask me to lift any heavy objects yet.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

social networking at work

Saw this video on CNN Money; talks about importance of social networking for business purposes.

Commentary is interesting for Twitter--not sure why people think any of these tools are any different than e-mail. If people haven't learned to think before they type by now, well, good luck with that.

I'm still surprised that some people aren't on LinkedIn, and that more people aren't on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Should you stay or should you go?

Reasons you should stay with the vendor you're currently working with:

  1. They understand your company and processes, making projects more efficient
  2. Their pricing is transparent
  3. They hit their deadlines
  4. They fix problems as they arise
  5. They show up when you need them
  6. They do things as well as or better than you would do yourself
  7. They pay attention to little details
  8. They are proactive in identifying prospective issues
  9. They have good ideas and make good suggestions
  10. You're happy to see them

Reasons you should find a new vendor:

  1. Even after working with you for awhile, they still don't get your processes or company culture
  2. You don't understand how they price things and they aren't clear when you ask
  3. They miss their deadlines
  4. Fixing problems is a problem
  5. They are hard to get ahold of when you need them
  6. You do most of their work for them
  7. They only do what's in their contract, nothing more
  8. They don't see the problems on the horizon until they smack you in the face
  9. They are yesmen (or women) that don't offer insight of their own
  10. You dread spending time with them

What other reasons make you stay or make you go?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Job descriptions

I had two things crop up today around job descriptions. First, I'm trying to get a college student or recent grad to help me write a book and in general help with a bunch of odds and ends at Tandem. I was posting the job on a local university job site and it prompted me to write a job description. Should be easy, right? No, its not.

Later I had a conversation with someone who I would love to hire who asked me what positions I was hiring for. My answer was the same as what I wanted to post on the college job board. I'm not big into job descriptions. I'd rather find really smart people who want to be successful, who I'd like to work with, and figure out how to help them be successful, with them in turn making Tandem successful. Win-win.

Now how do you write that in a job description...

Location, location, location

I had a very nice trip to the zoo with my family and some friends this weekend. The weather was cool, the animals were lively, and my baby got to see elephants up close for the first time (to say she was excited would be an understatement). As we were leaving, some activists were asking people to sign a petition to send the elephants, who are about to be relocated to the Pittsburgh Zoo, to an elephant sanctuary. There was a person in an elephant costume with tears sewn on under the elephant's eyes that was waving to the passing kids. We all signed the petition, and as we were leaving, my oldest son asked me why the elephant was crying.

Ugh. I really just wanted to have a nice day at the zoo with my family.

What I realized later is that they picked the perfect location to recruit petition signatures. Lots of people go to the zoo to see, and for their kids to see, animals that we otherwise would have not opportunity to observe. As you're leaving the zoo, you are much more aware of the awesomeness of these creatures. You want the best for them. You'd like to think that they are happy in their confinement, being gawked at. And if for some reason they aren't happy?? For goodness sakes, get them someplace where they can be.

Its the same with my business, to a certain extent. Location, and timing, is critical. If you are in tune with a client's issues and available to discuss them, they are much more likely to "sign up" for your solution.

Then its up to you to prove to them that they made the right choice.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tandem updates

I realized that most of my posts have not been update-related. All of them have been related to what's been going on, but not direct commentary. Its hard, in a way, to directly comment on the company's progress and keep things appropriately anonymous. But for those inquiring minds who want to know, here's a peek at where we are with Tandem.

  • Really busy with client projects--Tandem was lucky to be awarded some projects shortly after we started, and with some spectacular freelancer support, we've been doing well at delivering
  • In process on our mission/vision/values statements--we've been spending time on our weekly Rockstar Wednesday meetings working on this, although the last few weeks have been a bit more focused on tactical concerns
  • Designing our demos/proof of concepts--this is exciting. We've been getting closer to actually getting some of our product ideas developed in demo versions to show to people. Can't wait for this.
  • Figuring out our PR/communications plan--we've got a list of conferences we're planning on attending. We've been plotting to present as much as possible. Have some white papers in progress. Working on a new plan for our website.
  • Figuring out strategy for the next year--I've been trying to review the info I gathered at the VW conference, need to catch up with a ton of people
  • Starting to schedule sales/capabilities meetings--did our first yesterday. Have several more on the books.

That's it in a nutshell. Seems like everything is in progress. No wonder I feel so overwhelmed at times. I'm looking forward to putting more checkmarks on the to-do list.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Happy is a choice

As the saying goes, work would be great without clients and employees. But honestly, what fun would that be? I'm always reminding myself that, more often than not, issues arise from bad situations, not bad people. Smile more. Remember that almost always, things work out just fine. Even if they don't, its really not the end of the world. Don't take the day to day stuff so seriously. Enjoy what you do. Work with people you like. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Decide on this as your attitude every day. You'll have a lot more good days if you do.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Saying I love you (in a corporate way)

During a recent business trip, I was part of a conversation with some of our client folk about the different tones of flirting. Our discussion focused on flirting as a negotiation strategy and in a business context. A few of our conclusions were:

  • There are people who flirt and people who don't.
  • Of those who do, there are different kinds of flirting--the "could you do me a favor?," the "I think you're pretty cool (or interesting or funny, etc)," the "if I met you at a bar we'd definitely hook up," and the always creepy unless you're into that sort of thing "let's actually hook up."
  • Of those that don't flirt, they don't see a delineation of flirting for business purposes and just flirting.
  • Corporate flirting is gender agnostic and is not limited by your sexual orientation. You know you've seen straight guys chatting up other straight guys.
  • Corporate flirting can be a powerful and fun tool if not taken to extremes or used for evil. See your latest corporate sexual harrassment videos for tips on this one.

Sure, some people use flirting to manipulate situations or gain an advantage (we used to joke that we ladies would need to show more cleavage and shorten our skirts to hit our sales numbers). Sex sells, as any marketer will tell you, and many people get very successful using flirting as a means to an end. But most flirting is not so strategic or sinister.

Even though people are often brought together for work purposes, sometimes you actually develop strong friendships, relationships and feelings for people that transcend the work experience. Sometimes you actually grow to love people. Not in a "leaving my spouse and kids for you" way but definitely in a "I really care about you as a person, even with all of your faults and quirks" way. It's nice to work with people you like, respect, and care about. It shouldn't be so hard to tell them you love them (in a corporate way).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Inflammatory statements

In the past two days, I've read two news stories that focused on a one-two punch of inflammatory issues: medicine and kids. The first was written about the FDA probing a possible link between the asthma drug Singulair and suicide risk; the second reported data on how drug errors hurt 1 in 15 hospitalized kids. Wow. Shocking, right? After reading these headlines, you'd take your 4 year old off his asthma maintenance program and be nervous about the care your child might receive when hospitalized.

I don't want to minimize risk, and certainly everyone should be vigilant when it comes to the health and care of their children, and themselves for that matter.

But what irritated me about both of these articles was the content that you eventually got to within them. Regarding Singulair, Merck and the FDA are working together to analyze data based on anecdotal evidence that has been received. No clear connection, just an investigation that could frankly go either way at this point. Merck released a statement:

In a cumulative analysis recently provided to the FDA of Merck's randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials -- which included over 11,000 adults and children in over 40 studies who were treated with Singulair -- there were no reports of suicidal thoughts or actions and no completed suicides in the patients who received Singulair," the statement read. "Additionally, in a cumulative analysis recently provided to the FDA of Merck's randomized, double-blind, clinical trials that compared Singulair with other active agents to treat asthma [which included over 3,900 adults and children who were treated with Singulair and over 3,400 who were treated with other asthma therapies], there was one patient who attempted suicide who received Singulair, and there were three patients who attempted suicide who received other asthma therapies [including inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists].

If this is true, there's no sight of a smoking gun.

As for the drug errors data, while it does seem that subjective reporting has resulted in underreporting of incidences, the article says (way down towards the end of the article):

While 22 percent of the problems were considered preventable, most were relatively mild. None were fatal or caused permanent damage, but some “did have the potential to cause some significant harm,” said Sharek, who is medical director of quality at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.While 22 percent of the problems were considered preventable, most were relatively mild. None were fatal or caused permanent damage, but some “did have the potential to cause some significant harm,” said Sharek, who is medical director of quality at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

I realize that people make inflammatory statements to get peoples' attention, often feeding off initial reactions of anger or fear to elicit a response. I know that headlines are developed to hook in readers, sell newspapers or get higher traffic and ratings. But I wrote my Master's thesis in media literacy, so I have a bit of experience weeding through the hype.

If you'd like help in figuring out what to look for to help you weed through medical news articles, read this.

Happy (and more analytical) reading!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What's your blogging style?

I've been reading a lot of other people's blogs, especially after attending the Virtual Worlds Conference last week. I've noticed a few unique styles:

  • Totally personal, informal, basically updates on what happened during the day
  • Academic, look how much I know about this topic
  • Somewhere in between--anecdotal with a message

I hadn't really thought about my style before I started blogging. I knew I wouldn't fall into the first category because I'm just not going to blog about my kids or my clients. If I had lots of time, and perhaps a more serious personality, I have a lot of respect for the academic blogs. In fact, a few of them I read today I was really envious of--long, descriptive passages about the potential for virtual worlds that made me wish I had written them. Except part of me just thinks these blogs are trying too hard to impress people. I know a lot of smart people who fall into that trap of wanting to always prove they are smart and end up seeming pretentious. I'm well past feeling the need to prove my intelligence.

Which is why maybe I've fallen into the third category. I like reading blogs that make a point through storytelling. Or at least stories that make you think. Or interesting people that share unique perspectives. So maybe I've ultimately been trying to write stuff that I'd like to read, in the style that I'd prefer to read it in. Emphasis on trying.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

My inspiration goes mainstream

A month ago I wrote about Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who was dying of terminal cancer, and his last lecture. I was completely moved and inspired by his lecture, both for its meaning and its content.

I'm happy to say that lots of people seemed to share in my feelings, and today when I opened the Sunday paper, Randy Pausch graced the cover of Parade magazine.

I'm sure when he did the lecture, he had no idea how he would touch people. Through the magic of YouTube, anyone can access his presentation.

It's a brilliant example of word of mouth marketing, as well. It's even better that Randy is hanging in there to see the effect that his words have had on people around the world.

Virtual Worlds Conference 2008, Day 2

I am happy to have made it through this week, and frankly, I feel like a different person. A lot of things that were fuzzy and unfocused are crystal clear, and things that I hadn't even thought of before yesterday are filling my brain with so many decisions to be made that I'm not sure where to start.

But I am ecstatically inspired. So much so that I can't think of anything else for too long before I get back to one distinct mantra: I am going to lead the way for virtual worlds and learning.

So, day two at the conference. Got there in time for the morning keynote. I was totally impressed with what MTV is doing, and the presenter was good. Neopets and Nicktropolis, however...wow, the woman who spoke for them sucked. She was very much like an egotistical, self-promoting robot. Quite creepy, actually.

I went to the first session in the enterprise track, a panel discussion. It was during this session that I had my biggest epiphany of the show: the technology is being developed and virtual worlds being pushed by people too disconnected from corporate applications and their needs. I had numerous conversations where someone from a company would say: we want to do this or we need a virtual world to do this, and they're developing them to do that. We don't want that.

Here's where I got excited--I can be the bridge. I understand this and that. I can make that work for this. And I can see what it looks like in my mind. I just need to pull it all together. I can feel the excitement welling again as I write this.

I skipped the second session to do a final loop around the exhibits. I understood a lot more on Friday than Thursday. I was on a mission. I collected an enormous amount of information and I can't wait to debrief with my Rockstar Wednesday cohorts.

I went to the third session before I skipped out of there to get home at a reasonable hour. Gaming and social communities panel. Actually wasn't too relevant to what I do, but the moderator of the panel was from IBM, a younger guy (maybe even younger than me...). He mentioned during the session that IBM had just launched its own internal virtual world, including training. I approached him after the session and asked about it--he asked for my card and said he'd put me in touch with the guys who are heading up the learning efforts. I am totally stoked.

Then I hopped in the car to get home to my fam. I had enough self-awareness to realize that I had just had a life-changing experience. One that will shape my future, the future of Tandem Learning. Oh, I cannot wait to rock this out. And I can't wait to go to the next conference in September.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Virtual Worlds Conference 2008, Day 1

Today was the first day of the Virtual Worlds Conference in NYC. I got in a little late (missed the opening keynote) because I was flying in from Orlando. When I got there, I was struck by a few things. First, its a pretty small conference. Second, men outnumber women something like 10 to 1. Third, some of the coolest people I've ever had the privilege to talk to are here. Total confirmation that I want to be doing what I'm doing at Tandem.

First session, I went to a round table discussion on social clouds. I was a little late getting in, and the tables were all full when I got there. There were a few other people late as well; we had a more informal discussion at our "overflow" table. Ironically, there were actually two guys there from a company that used to compete/collaborate with at my old job. Had some interesting discussion about virtual worlds for learning, how to incorporate community/collaboration features. The reports out from the other tables were really interesting, and I wanted to catch up with another company owner who sounded like he does what I want to do.

After that session, I did get to talk to him--he showed me some of his company's work over lunch. Really interesting design choices. I was totally energized.

Second session, I went to a platform comparison talk. Some good info. My favorite part was when the presenter said the apps "worked in tandem." I realized that I really need to have a better technical understanding to hang in these types of conversations, or bring someone with me who can.

I skipped the third session to circulate around the booths. I got some good info on artificial intelligence, companies who have custom platforms, platforms I could buy and share revenue. Companies all over the US, Australia, and the UK. I also realized that most of these companies work virtually. I asked a few how they managed it, no one had any better ideas than the ones we're already employing or putting in place.

The last keynote was great, forward thinking. I must have had at least a dozen new product ideas while I was listening to the presentation. Good storytelling, good insight into future trends.

After, while in line for a drink, I met another woman that was from a UK company that designs training for Universities in Second Life. Also really interesting. And a really nice guy from a CA company scored us a soda.

Then I walked back to my hotel, exhausted. The 3:30am wake up this morning to catch my flight finally caught up with me. Can't wait for tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Age matters

Relative to other company presidents and business owners, I guess I'm pretty young. I've had to hear lots of comments from people about my age, mostly from people who are older than me, insinuating that somehow my age is an impediment to my value. Of course, it probably doesn't help that I'm a female, either--somehow young, ambitious men get more credit and credibility for their ideas and drive.

I've been thinking about this in relation to the Clinton-Obama nomination battle. Clinton is touting her experience and Obama his fresh perspective. Both are seen as serious contenders for one of the top leadership positions in the world. I am curious how this will play out, since Clinton and Obama have touted very similar views. Let's say Clinton wins--experience would seem to be the key factor that people believe makes a good leader. If Obama wins, he would actually be figuring some stuff out as he goes along, opening up the possibility for mistakes, yes, but also to create something new--new processes, new ways of looking at old problems.

I'm trying to create something new. I don't think my age inhibits me, I think it helps. And I hope that 20 years from now, I'll still be positioning myself as a proponent of "new" and not just relying on my experience to give me credibility.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Talk to people on planes

My mom likes to talk to people, all kinds of people. She meets really interesting people everywhere she goes. I've been trying to follow my mom's example and its really been helping my networking.

Airplanes are a good place to start because you're stuck next to strangers for an extended period of time--the last two flights I've taken, I've met really interesting people. People who I hope I'm able to stay in contact with.

You just never know who you'll be sitting next to on your next flight. If the person gives you an opening, try some in-flight networking.