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Archive for the category “Life and Times of…”

Love-Hate relationship with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is getting on my nerves. Sometimes I feel a bit schizophrenic about it all.

You see, in the beginning, I kind of liked them for their sense of purpose, their niche, their focus.

They weren’t for everybody to find everything. It was for professionals (mainly business/office types) looking for other professionals. Period. Simple.

But then things started feeling bad for me.

You can’t totally blame LI.  We humans have a certain way about us.

We have weird needs; cognitive & psychological needs, if you will. One of those, of course, is the need to be liked. To be popular. To be cool.

Linkedin connections

LinkedIn popularity

Facebook friends number

Facebook popularity

Twitter followers

This need has a bad way of making networks smarmy.

Pretty soon, the networks erode our trust in it and its purpose, and some start jumping ship.

I’m starting to look for the lifeboats.

This love-hate relationship has really intensified as I started using the network more over the past three to four years and I discovered why my L/H relationship is so intense:

1. LOVE:  I like the focus and purpose of LI. For business professionals to connect, share introductions, help people move along, even accelerate, in their careers and professional development.

2. HATE: User experience. On mobile, on desktop.  Just not intuitive in spots you’d think a company the size of LI would be able to produce on. (Why can’t I remove a connection when I’m looking at it on my iphone?)

3. LOVE: Ability the platform gives those of us who have some real specific reasons to talk with incredibly accomplished and awesome executives the slim chance to get connected.

4. HATE: The growing number of members (including senior LI employees) who connect to others willy-nilly and when the time comes to connect others to their network, their replies are: “Sorry, I met them once at a Conference two years ago and I really don’t know them” or my favorite “I don’t know Suzie”.  (gotta give it to him for his honesty)

What happens in the digital world of socializing and networking, we know, is downright nuts compared to what we’d do in real situations.  In the world of events, conferences, meet ups, sales dinners, etc, just tossing someone you don’t know your business card, walking away, and expecting to be “connected” afterwards, is a bit ridiculous.

But in the LI world, accepting a request from someone you don’t really know, probably won’t stay in touch with, or don’t care to, happens all the time.

Even as LI has given us all a means to ignore the request entirely. 

[Don’t get me started on people who send requests without even a charming “Hello, great to see you here old friend!”, or a couple of sentences about why I should consider being connected to you]

The latest string of #4’s have gotten me particularly snarled, but in a good-fired-up-want-to-build-something-better kind of way.

As I continue to build my startup, a curated connection service built on trust and personalization, I’m reminded of the supreme power of the under-served and the open holes of opportunity these tiny pet-peeves present for the entrepreneur. For it was only one very specific thing that differentiated Southwest Airlines, Virgin, Dyson, and so many others from their competition.  And they each continue to leverage their respective competitive advantages all the way to the bank.

Yes, there are lots of other reasons besides popularity to keep connecting with people you barely know. But I wonder, when – or how – will we be able to control for these so our online networks don’t lose their value for the purposes in which they were created?


You are not alone

“At the beginning of a novel, a writer needs confidence, but after that what’s required is persistence. These traits sound similar. They aren’t. Confidence is what politicians, seducers, and currency speculators have, but persistence is a quality found in termites. It’s the blind drive to keep on working that persists after confidence breaks down.”

American Novelist, essayist and critique, Walter Kirn said this about writers, but it’s just as applicable to people who build something out of nothing. Whose empty canvas isn’t a page with a blinking cursor, but an idea floating amidst their wrinkled grey matter.


Kirn could have easily been describing all of those people who lost limbs and go for a run every day anyway; kids who hear “You’ve got cancer” and smile through Christmas, and mothers with four kids under 10 and still make time to prepare for  running, walking, swimming, triathlon or cycling events each year.

Being alone and persistent is a fairly difficult proposition.

I’m not suggesting you need someone physically present with you at all times to help you maintain your persistence; in fact, Dr James Fowler and Dr Christakis Third Degree of Influence rule conclude it’s not necessary.

But being persistent becomes incredibly easier when:

– You start to realize little wins

– Others see those little wins

– The impact of your persistence starts affecting others around you {positively}

And, in all of those, others are necessary.

Who and where are your ‘others’?


Haunted houses

Starting a company is like being in a haunted house with those characters following you around with big knives…


a. It looks scary at first. But I’m still somewhat intrigued by what’s inside.

b. The best ones have a huge line of people wanting to go in. [nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, right?]

c. And they come out with smiles on their faces, even though somehow they were scared to death going through it.

Despite all that, and knowing I’d likely freak out in the dark not knowing who or what is around the corner, [sometimes even wishing to get out as fast as I can], I can’t stop thinking “Nobody’s gonna kill me in there, and it is pretty dark , so who’ll know if I poop my pants a few times?” – so I keep moving forward.

Onward and upward, always.


Going with my inner Buddha

I’m a big fan of the “and” philosophy.  Meaning, any time I hear an “either/or” option coming, the wheels in my head are usually contorting the image into an “and” option.

Why not butter AND parmesan on my popcorn?

Why not gnocchi AND a milk shake?

Why not have sushi AND pizza for dinner?

Hmm, food seems to be a theme in my thinking.

It isn’t always that way – in business, too, I’m a fan of  “And”.

Like, Why not a mobile device option AND opportunities to meet in person?

Sometimes there are caveats to the rule (I like caveats, too).  Like, will it make me sick? Is death a possibility?  Will my customers be confused, unhappy, or bored?

But, recently, a chain of personal events have made me question the value of “and”.

My sister is enduring and valiantly fighting a rare form of cancer – stage IV PNET Neuroendocrine carcinoma. AND, it’s throwing some really bad punches right now.

(2010) Me: on left  Sis: wishing she still lived in San Diego where natural Vit D was more prevalent.


My parents are separating …. after 41 years.


My father’s mother is 96, and dying. AND, my aunt (his sister) passed away from cancer in July.

Not sure I want to add another AND to this list. So i’ll stop there.

Surprisingly, I feel a bit Buddha-like in all of this.  A weird sense of calm. Through crocodile tears (do crocodiles cry?) yesterday I thought about this, and came to the conclusion, the desire for control and the realization that  there is absolutely nothing I can do or control to change anything in all of these situations, was oddly comforting.  It made me stop — and cry more.

The feeling of calm doesn’t lessen the grief. It just lessens the angst around “What if I…?” “What if they…?” “What can i do to…?”

I have given as much and wherever I can to my family. AND will always do so whenever they call on me for more love.

For now, and into the foreseeable future, I just lean into the discomfort and trust I’ll make it through.

Onward and upward, always.

Making hairy audacious goals happen

Finishing 620 miles on your bike over the course of 7 days would’ve made me vomit on the spot a decade ago.

Fortunately, it isn’t a decade ago.  It’s now.

And in 2012 I made a hairy, audacious goal:  Raise $10,000 buckaroos in support of the Challenged Athletes Foundation – and then ride my bike 620 miles down the coast of Cali with 100 others who did the same.


Note to self:

There are perks to working your ass off.

The training wasn’t ‘work’.  Meeting your buds for rides around San Diego county every Sunday doesn’t qualify. Neither do the other 4-5 days a week of jumping in the saddle for some QT with my steed count as work.

The fundraising can be qualified as work. And it’s not for the faint of heart.

Fortunately, I’ve been fundraising for my business.  Unfortunately, that act doesn’t get any easier, no matter if you’re doing it for charity or for corporate investment opportunities.

In the end I learned a few important nuggets:

1. Hairy audacious goals are hairy for a reason. Hair = friction And there will be plenty of that on the way to reaching a worthy-to-reach-goal.

2. You’ve got to surround yourself with the best peeps you know (and ones you don’t know yet) in order to realize your goals.

3.  A huge portion of optimism, Can-Do attitude and endurance goes a really long way during those hairy, rough patches that come along during the journey.

Onward and upward, always.


Hills were made for climbing

A lot of us who play outside on our bikes or in our running shoes, tend to get a bit antsy around ‘hill training’.  There’s a good portion of people who question our angst, saying instead “I love hills!  Bring em on!”


We might like to have a Love-Hate relationship with those folks, [love em cause we wish we could have the same attitude, hate-em cause we don’t], but hills – like broccoli and spinach – are just really really good for us.

You are stronger, more confident, more efficient and yes, even faster, when you do more of them. Whether you walk them, run up em, or cycle them, hills help us just be better moving bodies.

In 2 days, I’m starting a journey to support athletes who’ve had their own personal hills to climb.  Kids and adults who have lost limbs due to war, tragedy and illness. I will ride 620 mile from San Fran to San Diego to support the Challenged Athletes Foundation in their mission to give equipment, clinics and mentors to those who can’t play outside and climb their favorite hill just outside their back doors.


And in my journey, I’ll be climbing California coast’s very real, sometimes long, and I’m sure exhausting hills. But I’ll be alongside challenged athletes with one arm, or some that can’t see, or some missing both legs — and hopefully I’ll be able to keep up. [don’t think for a second these athletes aren’t FAST]  I look forward to the challenge, and welcome your comments on the hills I roll over ….  they’ll all be posted here for your viewing!

Onward and upward, always.


Saddle sores and the meaning of life

Recently, the never-ending-running-machine, Dean Karnazes quoted Roger Bannister (the first human to break the 4-minute mile barrier) in his reference to how the ancient Olympic Games are so different than today’s modern Games:

the Greek ideal was that sport should be a preparation for life in general, this increasing professionalization and corruption in concert with burgeoning emphasis on individual victory has led to the decay of the ancient Olympics.

He brings up more than one good talking point in this simple quote, so I’m not going to spend an entire post on all of them.

One in particular, is powerfully poignant.  That whole bit about ‘preparation for life in general’ hits a chord.

In less than 10 days, I am taking on a new athletic journey that will have me sitting on my bicycle for 620 miles down the coast of California. And as much as I’d like to say I’m just doing this of my own free will and desire for adventure, alas, I just don’t have that kind of cajones. I needed a reason other than ‘adventure’.

I am riding with a group of 100 other people who are raising money and awareness for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a nonprofit that gives equipment, prosthetics, hand-cycles, mentorship and clinics to those who want and need to get back outside and keep playing.

As an able-bodied, somewhat obsessive-compulsive athlete my entire life, I have intimately experienced and understood the inherent values – be they physical, emotional or psychological – that comes from practicing a sport (or many, in my case) for competition.  And barring good parenting, sport is most definitely one of the best things an individual can do to prepare themselves for success in life, health and emotional well-being.

I expect musicians, classic painters, and other artists to disagree.  I mean, you don’t become a Yo Yo Ma without discipline, commitment and focus.  But what you miss in those disciplines are the physical benefits you receive by moving your body on the field, pool or running trails; and understanding of how nutrition impacts your ability to move, focus and concentrate, and the experience of seeing how your behavior impacts others who are counting on  you.

So thank you Roger B. and Dean K. for stating the obvious.

And as I ready my tubes of chamois cream for the ride of my life, I’ll be thinking less about my saddle sores and more about who will experience the benefits of sport as a result of my efforts.

Onward and upward, always!

When it rains it pours

When it rains, it pours.

it’s a proverb that is dripping with negativity.  just the imagery of it implies grimness….

But what if the image in our heads looked like this instead?

Totally different mental image. Totally different perspective. How does that change someone’s behavior?
Anyone who knows me well knows the raining dollars image doesn’t do much to motivate me to do anything. Yes, it’s part of “The Necessary’, but it’s not the Raining  Money that gets me up in the morning.  It tends to be more of the “I’m going to make the world a better place today” variety.

As a firsty-start-up founder, I’ve been lucky to experience things that I don’t think the hardest of criminals could take. and yes, I said lucky.

I’m speaking metaphorically of course. I’m not one to judge, normally, but if they are taking cool drugs, driving fast cars and shootin bad guys all the time, that’s stuff I can’t really stomach. What I mean is the mental toughness required to be hit where it hurts (the heart) and be told in many ways, shapes or forms that what I’m creating isn’t great, or great enough, or big enough, or it’s too small.  I can’t just punch back. [would a hard criminal if their egos were pummeled in public?] I have the stomach to smile, ask for more, and then walk away with a promise to follow up.  And it’s all done with authenticity.

And lately, all the start-up biz has been met with some very personal challenges; making my resolve to turn the rain — as in the water —   from a torrential downpour in my mind, to a more positive outlook on the road ahead.

Take a look at this last week, and tell me your perspective on ‘when it rains, it pours’….

My aunt, my father’s sister, is dying from complications due to aggressive form of breast cancer.  She doesn’t tell anyone about how aggressive it is until she is transported home from the hospital under hospice care. She passes away Saturday.

My sister, recovering stoically for 2 years due to severe traumatic brain injury due to a car accident, and then diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer (for which she is given treatment the last 3 years), is given some life-threatening news.  She goes underground. Our family, a very close one, does a tailspin.

Two dear friends surprise me within a few weeks time with a dozen cupcakes delivered from Georgetown Cupcakes, which i devour each time within a few days.  I feel guilty about it for about 30 minutes – before and after the carnage.

I am an endurance athlete – which basically means i find joy in running, cycling, swimming and sometimes doing all those things together for long distances, even at a relatively fast pace.  I’ve had a hip injury that has caused me more anger, angst and anxiety than normal, and kept me from running for 2 weeks. This is cause for drug-use, and not the kind you get at CVS or Rite-Aid.

My own attempt at turning the rain into a positive?

Riding with friends for 75 miles, over 5500 ft of hills and gorgeous roads, in blazing sunshine.  Celebrating my health, my friends, my ability to mish-mash a crazy lifestyle of starting a company, caring for my family and staying true to my goals of  living an active, healthy lifestyle.

And the mental reward? My friend, Nick, pictured below (a world class triathlete and runner), saying to me “Tanya, you really can ride that bike up hills can’t you?”  (my response: “Well when you only have one bike, and it’s not a road bike, you kinda gotta make do”)

— intermission  —-

(boring clarification:  I was riding a triathlon specific bicycle. they are not ideally suited to lots of hill climbing rides. The other 15 or so riders that day were on road bicycles, the kind you see the guys riding in the Tour de France)


What is special about this ride, and others, was that it’s also a celebration of my ability to focus on giving back, or paying it forward. I’m a fundraiser for Challenged Athletes Foundation, and will be riding 620 miles from San Fran to San Diego in 7 days in October. If i can raise another $6K, I can do the ride. If I don’t, well, none of my training miles goes to waste…. I’m still smiling on each and every ride and loving the fact that I can. And if I can, I’m not going to waste that. It’s a gift.

Any ideas you have for me on changing the rainy imagery to the positive, I’m all ears.

call backs

If you’re an actor getting a ‘call back’ is probably nirvana.


But getting a call back to put your boobs [back] in one of these….

…isn’t what a girl waits at home for.

But the icing on the cupcake is that when the [woman] technician uses a poor choice of words to explain next steps:

I wanted to ask her if she fell asleep during her “How to deliver unwelcome news to patients 101” class.

yes, i put emphasis on “woman” in the sentence above.  Because in this case, it shoulda mattered.

The silver lining?

I am excited for the amazing things coming down the pike for GOTRIbal and the people that are coming around the table as a first management team.

Besides, I am going to be celebrating Independence Day by riding my bicicletta up and down some mountains with my hub-alicious. And THAT is scrumptious.

Onward indeed.


Cupcakes and mammograms

My Tweet (almost 4 weeks ago):   “You can’t talk about those without sharing with US”  (i’m referring to a friend who was talking cupcakes on Twitter)

His Tweet:

Crickets. Nada. Not even one of his characteristically witty quips. Not one peep…or tweet.

Today the reply came.
The Delicious Box.

After I exhibited 5 seconds of mandatory patience (where I thrashed at The Delicious Box with a pair of scissors), I wiped my brow with a workout towel and saw The note:

Be careful what you Tweet my friend! It just might happen!!! Hope you are well.


Then, this:  The Gorgeous Box.

Cue the drooling.

Now, anyone who knows me well, {and my Tweety-bird friend here is one of them} knows that my kryptonite is something decadent, delish, and if it’s wrapped in chocolate, even better.  And the only thing preventing me from tearing into The Gorgeous Box above was my deep desire not to mess up that Gorgeous Box.

But a dozen of deliciousness wrapped in shoog was awaitin’.  And now, their scrumptious aroma has filled the air of my pad and I have a whole new perspective on my mammogram appointment tomorrow.

I’ll bring 3 of these lovely cupcakes with me to the appointment tomorrow, in the hopes that the technician is gentle…. I can’t really afford to be any more flat-chested….so hopefully the ‘cakes will persuade him (or her!) take it easy on the girls.

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