i’ve grown up… (a tat)… but very much still an addict

Not too long ago I had updated my Facebook with:

Containing excitement … I love banking (you know that) … but I <3 <3 <3   start-ups to bits (a few of you know that)… whooooohooooo! Counting breaths 2 Silicon Valley …

I ended up with 5 PMs within 50-ish seconds, and a few whatapps over the next 30 minutes;

Am I pitching?

What’s the deal?

Will it be cradl-ed? VC-ed?

hmmmm … {and frankly none of your business*}

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<<REWIND: few days

I got a call from an acquaintance applying for a cradle fund and needed a reference. I said, sure. why not? … and within 3 seconds I was shouting down the mouthpiece in Kinokuniya: WAIT!!! WHAT’S IT? CAN I EVALUATE?

And in 48 hours, I am in the vortex again … flipping the idea and biz plan, looking at the projections, not sleeping. Having perpetual migraines.

This got me thinking it was that lousy cup of latte I shouldn’t have. More so when I had not slept the day before from anxiety of presenting a rather straight forward analytic findings to one of the largest client I have this year. But I mean, there’s no need. The client is a friend (that however, makes it tougher to even remotely entertaining the idea of presenting less than perfect work). The results are simply amazingly simple and directional. The fact that 1/2 the report that was delayed would be covered by a colleague had no relevance to me or should be of my concern didn’t curb me from worrying endlessly.

But hours later I recalled a chapter in Marcus Buckingham‘s Go Put Your Strengths to Work – it’s not the bad tasteless latte that swirled on my lead tasting tongue. It’s not the fact that I was sleep deprived (which, again to put things into perspective is normal in my books).

It’s the missing/ broken link in the “SIGN” <quote unquote Mr. Buckingham>.

I know deep down, I shouldn’t be doing this. This VC, cradle, techno-prenuerial shite.

I retch thinking of endless of pasta, tuna, nuggets, oatmeal and instant noodles meals – they sell them in bulk [read: cheap].

But like loads of you, I am swayed.

But unlike loads of you, I am not swayed by the magazine covers are full of people who have given up their lives to grow a billion dollar tech company.

But unlike loads of you, I am not swayed by the fact (?) that the world needs more female entrepreneurs (here’s one by Jean Brittingham). Or the  fact (?) that there are funds out there for those without the Y-Chromosome -> WSJ takes a stab at guys with the deep pockets for not helping womenBut really? is that truly the case. And if so, why aren’t there enough women in the field?

My hunch is: entrepreneurship is long hours, huge tradeoffs and it’s far worse than swimming with the sharks – it’s entering the hardcore boys club; more so when you’re talking about techno-prenuership.

And for this reason, women are generally not interested. Fact is, women tend to downshift career wise as they progress with age, often trading success for children. This is so blatantly true that my precious tax payer money (which would have gone to far better use by deriving pure unselfish love for myself via the acquisition of a couple of Chanel a year or Birkin) has to be funneled towards questionable initiatives like TalentCorp’s Retaining Women in the Workforce/ Gender Diversity.

Thrown in techp-prenuership …  women simply don’t pitch (enough) is my general observation. It’s a boys club out there.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Whilst the equation of children does not exist for me, I’ve discovered that I am corrupted.

I can do long hours and trade-offs.

I do long hours and trade-offs anyways as an intra-preneur. But the hard truth is I can’t do the long insane hours filled with insecurity and a very dim flicker of hope any more. Not at my age.

I’ve come to realize that pure, undiluted, uncorrupted entrepreneurship is only for the intrepid few: the young with no responsibility. Or the rich with huge paid or unpaid support system.

And if anyone so much as comes and tells me that the secret to success once found can be replicated, i.e. surely I can conceive, build and sell another one again (having done this twice), I will laugh. Fact is:

  • it takes way more than a brilliant hair brain idea.
  • it takes way more than skills, knowledge and smarts.
  • it takes way more than tenacity and perseverance.
  • it consumes you. it takes away your life.

At this point of my life: I dream of the day a PE approaches me … I am ready to sell out my current venture.

At this point of my life: I derive joy creating platforms and opportunities to nurture and cultivate ideas for others.

But also at this point of my life:  I can’t shake off the addict in me. I probably won’t be pumping caffeine and dragging eye bags around, but I probably can’t resist the temptation of looking at good ops to invest. It’s just hard press for me to start over from scratch.

I am (after all) an addict.

.

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* I don’t mean to be rude, but <<REWIND: couple of years – I had taken a huge bite of humble pie and reach out for help from a fellow woman techno-prenuer (there aren’t many in my market/ geography). Let’s say, for this particular instance, I would like amnesia – ok well, ok, I’ll settle for that ‘Men In Black’ Memory Eraser moment.

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a dachshund memory = maira kalman + kate spade + rakuten

{be warned . this is a rather girlish entry . enuf said}

My weekend {or whatever is left of it, not counting} was a disaster.
It all started with a memory being evoked recently by a silly four {way too short} legged mammal with a {way too long} body wagging its tail and looking mournfully at me.
There’s just something about dachshunds I can’t put my finger on.
And if my OCD isn’t bad enough, the mis-wiring of my brain got me thinking down the lines of Maira Kalman … and naturally Kate Spade. Oh yes, I do recall my obsession with Maira Kalman’s Kate Spade or Kate Spade’s Maira Kalman whichever way you want to look at it.
BOTTOMLINE: it was a great partnership.
The only thing not-so-great about the entire incident was me.
I was dumb.
I should have just settled for both. the baby blue. and the fuchsia.
end of story
Life’s really too short for regrets. 
More so when it comes to totes. 
Totes with a sketch that somewhat resembles a dog on it.

Sketches by Maira Kalman and a Kate Spade Advert – what I found on the internet while trying to look for the Maira Kalman-Kate Spade tote picture …


and I finally found a photo in my archive of my “brother”s Jake Spade and my darling Kalman side by side taken on a lazy weekend afternoon in my patio while we drank tea with mom.



Noted, it was a substantially larger proportion of my monthly pay cheque back then, but … great things don’t come along often. And to continue to habour regrets some 5 years later … that’s pathologically sick.
Sure, I’m known to be the kind of lazy shopper where if something fits well or tickles my fancy, I’d get all the reasonably acceptable colours there are. I own at least 4 identical black pants of the same cutting that fits well multiply by 4 different cuttings, 8 pencil cut dresses in different shades of grey and subtle variations like pin stripes on them, strings of pearls of same diameter and lengths in 3 different shades … and if you recall the identical Gucci handbags that travelled from Italy to London to Malaysia and back to London to end up in the garbage heap
But bags being bags, I never repeated the Gucci 2-in-1 purchase purely because I had forgotten in the first place I had a black version of the Gucci bag when I bought the ivory version!
I digress
The point was, as my brain had it, the dachshund got me down an obsessive path of:

 “I must get the Kate Spade Faylyn”
So for the entire lousy weekend I searched the physical stores for a Faylyn.
I search the website for aggregate shopping sites that would send stuff to Malaysia for a Faylyn.
I found these two … the only problem is I’m not willing to dish out close to MYR 1,000 for a pair of thongs and I doubt I’d ever wear a shoe with a heal that Louboutin makes for Lady Gaga; although noted this is not as ludicrous! I had wanted the ballet flats Faylyn … badly, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
While searching for the desired Faylyn online, I stumbled upon Rakuten. A site that appears to be eBay gone wriggly with a different colour palette.
But that’s not the interesting bit.
Hours letter I received an email from a rep of Rakuten in Malaysia requesting a meeting on some business prospects involving Scrap-n-Crop.com. The details I am vague, at the moment.
With a meeting scheduled in a few days, I sure am checking the site out again in search of Faylyn … oh how I desire thee!
Speaking of desire … and desiring {material} stuff here’s something from Maira Kalman. Note the dachshund!

8 diverging POVs on digital age entrepreneurship

A few days ago I was asked if I had any advice for young entrepreneurs in one of those bedroom-to-bedroom low quality video and audio recording interviews.

The person asking me those questions is a young entrepreneur himself (i.e. those who gets me  retching when I spot the first three numbers in the year they were born; i.e. “198”-x).

He’s in the business of utilizing social media to assist and market other entrepreneurs… but {refer to point #3 below} 

What was interesting is the following facts below – during the course of the ‘interview’ – got my eyeballs rolling (notwithstanding I roll my eyes a lot!) and me realizing the age gap between us and hence the difference in our respective point of views (POVs):

point #1
Google Earth vs. Conference Calling 
He was trying to get me onto Google Earth to conduct an interview – seriously what the heck is Google Earth? Too embarrassed to admit my ignorance, too lazy to discover it and not wanting yet another application installed to vacuum away more of my already limited time, I suggested conference calling. Finally two generations met at a mutual grown called “the land of Skype”.

point #2
Pinterest did not P{ique my}Interest 
I was lectured on my non-existence on Pinterest.
I was given an elaborate spill of why Pinterest will augur well with my target market; and promptly he sent across a link with a simple infographic supporting his arguments. 

Wait. 
The infographic was from one of his website’s blog.

Wait. 
He didn’t create the infographic; just re-blogged, which means many others are pique by Pinterest.  

{OK to be fair, I am/ was pique by Pinterest’s logo. I love the font. I never realised I am a font-spacing person until el Jobso (God Bless him) died}

Truth be told, I wished I had created Pinterest.
Bummer!!!
point #3
Social networking means exactly that!
In just 31 mins : 24 sec of being “hooked” up with otherwise an utter stranger, he lets on that he’s not too keen on a mutual acquaintance;  one that has, like it or not, carved a name in the social networking, social-entrepreneur, young-entrepreneur, go-2-guy if you want to create a big BANG introductory of self or cause or venture in the webbed-digital space. A household name in this arena, if you like.
In this arena where network matters, the more social-able you are, the more “pixel time” you get.
So dish-ing others is really not the game. 
More so a household name in the local scene.
While the prize is evident, what’s the price of being social?
A few seconds of your time. 
A few muscle twitching to click the ‘mouse’, Ctrl C + Ctrl V to copy each other’s links.
That simple … and oh, biting one’s tongue.

point #4
Forums … (are) for???
I don’t get forums.
I don’t waste time there.
Mostly opinionated people who have not mustered the art of bitting one’s tongue resides there.
Sure, he argues that it’s a platform to encourage two-way conversations and customer-to-customer endorsement and word of mouth. I agree. But I can’t let this go by, by not highlighting that there are lot’s of noise to go through before getting to the crux of it.
I’ve shut ours down.
Then, I outsourced it.
I’m not one to moderate fights.
I’m a Libran.
I don’t want a forum. Period.
I’m not saying I will NEVER have a forum.
When the need arises and the returns overshadows the ‘pain’, I will be the first to embrace it.
Until then … 

point #5

e-Biz is the future
e-Biz is just a channel. Everything else around it is a fad.
This is synonymous with the brick-and-mortar physical business with multitude of latest  management thinking and business ‘tools’.
Fundamentally, at the very core lies the same business acumen needed.
The same attitudes and strategies.
The same risk-benefit, cost-returns.
e-Biz is just faster and wider.
As with machineries revolutionising the industrial age with faster productions and further market expansions with the growth of logistics.  
Like the industrial age, then the knowledge management era, this is another phase that undergoes Darwin’s natural selection … move on and embrace without letting off a firm foothold of the ground and you won’t be another sorry fossil. 

point #6

profits matter 

Ahhh… who wouldn’t want them?

But where’s the case for social establishments? 
What’s truly important is: cash flow 
Every Accounting 101 student will tell ya that!
It’s all about sustainability with the old adage of the last one standing; not the highest margins. not the biggest ‘kill’.

point #7
sell services to win
Like the Grade 4s lemonade stand, the most prevalent business amongst college kids since the 1960s are in no order of priority: t-shirt, pizza and inter-varsity thesis writing/ plagiarism. I won’t go into the latter but suffice to say I could afford to lose my scholarship and still pay my college fees.  
The borderless, digital world have added some colour with service based business with web-site design, IT  programming, copy writing and editorial (including content generation for websites and blogs), and arms-length consulting (including bookkeeping, legal services, HR services) topping the list. 
With both over-saturating the market, and thus a squeeze in margins, let’s just say being in the latter is more problematic as it is an intellectual-embedded knowledge/ skills and experience game which will wind you up with scalability challenges.

point #8
time management is crucial to success
There’s really no concept of time management. 
Just sacrifices.
The clock ticks on … you can only ‘manage’ it so much.
But you CAN trade some stuff off for others whom you prioritise.
fact is:
I’ve not seen a movie in ages.
I’ve not read a friction in ages.
I watch, hear and read summaries of everything … 
I’ve not gone out and do nothing for kicks.
I had to think for 5 minutes what was the one fun thing I did over the weekend when the question was posed to me… 
fact is
there’s not one weekend I am not working professionally.

– – –  the interview Q+As to follow – – –