Taking 60 seconds a day to make it a better one

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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?


Why cyling 620+ miles in 7 days is like founding a company

Day 1.

I have a GREAT idea!  Something that will change the world!!

Day 2:

Nobody knows how my bad ass idea is going to make this world better, and millions will be better off because of it.  I might even charge for it.

Now, I need a logo.

Week 3:

(Or earlier)

Holy crap, how am i going to… [hire people, develop this product, build a website, file my taxes so i don’t get ripped off].  This is a bit harder than I thought it was going to be…


My first day on a 620+mile journey down the rocky, windy, hilly gorgeous California coast, to support the Challenged Athletes Foundation, has been 88 miles of delicious energy.  it all started with 150+ people from around the country ready to ride in support of challenged athletes, with about 14 of those challenged athletes on the ride with us.


It was like Day 1 of starting my company GOTRIbal.  The fire in my belly. The excitement to build something powerful and influential. The constant onslaught of ideas exploding in my brain.

And then the first hill.

And the second.  The long second hill. The one I’ve never ridden, so I don’t know when it ends, or how steep an incline it will be around the next corner.

All this as I’m supposed to be enjoying the journey, and I see the “Group A” speedy riders flying by me.

I can’t help but think about the similarities between participating in an endurance event like this, and founding a start-up.

Random challenges I’ve never encountered (hills!), not knowing how long the challenge will last till I get over the hump (Hills!), and watching other Founders get investor funding, building awesome teams of people, and killing it with their product (Damn “Group A” over achievers!).

But the best thing about endurance sports (or a start-up) isn’t about speed. It’s about all the intangibles you sometimes lose sight of.  The really cool things you build to be better.

Like, the strength and smarts about your equipment, your body and your threshold for pain ….


Then, it’s what you do with that development once you build it, like mentoring other founders or speaking at events, or writing blogs, making your business case smarter, your pitch deck more influential, or your financials cleaner….(or like a 620+ mile ride for Challenged Athletes Foundation).

Ultimately, doing any endurance event, like founding a start-up, is more about how persistent, tenacious and mentally strong you can be and not just how weak or strong you are.

And in this journey down the coast, I’m reminded [AGAIN!] how nobody succeeds in realizing a dream (starting a company, riding 620 miles, or running 1 mile) without the full blown support and belief of the people you surrounding you.


I can’t wait to see what Day 2 has in store.

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.

damn it feels good to be a founda

ate 3 cupcakes.

one at 12:30.  that kept my eyes open for 20 minutes until I needed another one at 1:00 – a.m. – when my hubalicious made a drive-by and asked if i was coming to bed tonight.

Uh no… hello, cells E3-E5 on my Assumptions sheet weren’t going to magically jibe with the ones on my Advertising model sheet for FY 2013 and 2014 by themselves. (maybe he needs a cupcake)

hitting the rack at 2:30 has it’s benefits.

But getting up at 6:30 to prep for a 7:30 call doesn’t.  So i’m going to watch this again to change my mood and call that my preparation. I think Nightingale would’ve been proud.


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.

looking inward

being outside, on a crisp and sunny morning, pedaling up and down hills with a good friend is one of those delectably tasty times in life when i wish i could drink the air and sunshine —  with a straw.  it would be my only form of control. otherwise i fear i’d just gulp it all too quickly.

On a recent ride with said friend, and despite my sore bum, and increasingly waning energy, i kind of wished for more miles, more hills and more time.

we humans are amazingly complex beings.

what i know to be true is, we each hold amazing strength within our core.  sadly, sometimes, our very strengths cannabolize our desires and become our  nemesis. they flip and can quickly become our Achilles’ heels. a very odd circle of events unfolds from this.

if we’re lucky to be aware of this paradox, it introduces a crueler fate. the introduction of internal hypocricy. we are strong, and yet, we may be weak.

and if we care about [or are aware] of this paradox, that is, what we know about ourselves is likely different than what others know (or believe to know) about us, we must find courage to address that and take it head on.

the continuous challenge lies in how we move forward, how we believe in the love and strength of others to help us grow, while still recognizing that we are human. not JUST human. But simply and beautifully – human.

and all this, from a simple bike ride.

onward and upward, always.

Just say no, maybe.

I’m on the verge of another hell-acious suffer fest ride. But this one will be accompanied by happy birthday yodling peeps. Tomorrow is my hubalicious’s birthday, and the joke is bound to be on the rest of our roast-the-old-guy crew. (well except for my coach, Les Paterson, who will not only be lapping us, but doing it with a heart rate that is holding steady at 140 bpm while she grinds in her biggest gears)  you see, my hub will be riding this mountainous ride on his archaic mtn bike — sure, with slicks on — and he’ll still be puttin’ a hurtin on us.

but this post isn’t about that.  it’s about what you do when you’re deemed “extra healthy” by your doc, and yet, you (the patient) want to set a benchmark of what “extra healthy” looks like. So that when you’re not, you know what it used to look like.  So this post is yet another proclamation about my impatience with the status quo.

can we agree the healthcare system is broken? (don’t worry, this isn’t a 60,000 page manual on how to fix it)

When a patient (me) knows there are physiological changes going on, but none really ‘medically’ problematic, I search for understanding. Ever interested in data, I go to where I can gather that data. In this case, it’s a blood panel. Suck out my blood, and test everything. Let’s get a baseline shall we?

Well, not according to my doc – Dr. Kim.  “It’s not medically necessary”. (is this her talking, or the insurance company?) I learn after a rather uncomfortable conversation that:

a. I have a doc that is rather disgusted by naturopathic or homeopathic methodologies.
b. Openly shows disdain for said professions
c. Will not willingly (i.e. without out of pocket payment) look beyond the ‘traditional’ things swimming in my blood that might indicate why such changes I’ve noticed are occurring.

Why was this even an uncomfortable conversation? Why did I feel powerless? When did having an educational conversation with your doc turn into a contentious discussion about the “wayward” professionals guiding your thinking about YOUR health?  I’ve had an enormous, and unwelcome, amount of exposure to doctors and their practices in the last six years of my life. I wonder why I’m so disappointed NOW.

I’m getting ready to say NO to my doc and bid her adieu. Maybe. I’m a girl who gives people a chance. So I’m going back for a second blood panel, per her request, to double check on a few ‘traditional’ things from my first one. I can’t say I have too much hope for her though.

How am I going to dump my doc?

Again, the status quo rattles my cage.




Suffer Fest

A loving term referring to the entry, and decidedly difficult journey through, the Pain Cave during any  athletic pursuit. Usually ends in sweat, grime and other slimey fluids covering every inch of spandex and skin.

This event is followed closely by some enormous blended concoction of random powders, seeds, fruits, and/or veegetables.  Then, shortly after said blended-concoction, a feast of the ‘normal’ variety (something requiring a ginormous plate).

Today my trusty steed did its best to support me up hills that felt like walls. Adding insult to my injured ego were the dry gusty winds sucking every last drip of gusto i had in my weakling legs (and any bit of saliva I was savoring while trying to remain quenched as i gasped for air on said hills). 

When the salt came off my withered bod, I found [again] that the parallels between the challenges of sport and starting a company were remarkably similar:

Exhibit A:    

Necessary and Best are two words endurance athletes tend to get confused on when choosing gear.  Case in point: I have a dear friend who loved using her road bike to train for triathlon races — for 15+ years. For those not in-the-know, this is basically blasphemy in the sport of triathlon.

And yet, she won a lot of races. Despite not getting the “Best” gear for doing so. She even went all the way to the World Ironman Championships ….. winning the 1st place Overall Amateur Champion there(2008).  She wrote a great article on the very things she practiced to not mix up “Necessary” and “Best” … and most all of it was budget-driven. Because if there’s one sport more ridiculously expensive than golf, it’s triathlon.

This pix is of my trusty steed; and yes, it IS a triathlon-specific bike. What I know now is, I got lucky. I wasn’t smart like Wendy. Only after a year or so of training did I learn I perform really well in conditions that play to my strengths on this bike.  But a lot of people don’t get lucky, and then they’re selling the bike to someone like me for a nice discount.  [I bought a one year old model that hadn’t changed in the new year I purchased it. And I saved a bundle]

Lessson?  In starting a company, don’t get “Necessary” and “Best” mixed up.  Necessary is not only always mandatory, but it’s also ‘good enough’.  You might just find that after 10+ years of uisng what was “Necessary”, and/or modifying it where needed, the $$ you might’ve spent on “Best” has earned you “Best Company to Work for in 2012”.

My next lesson learned comes tomorrow….   It’s all about the Peeps.

Onward and upward, always.

Paying it backward

Crying while you run is really hard.  at some point, you either stop and wail…or keep running, and the faucet just shuts off.

Crying, during a hellish swim set in the pool, is almost as hard … fog and leaky goggles add to the mess.

At some point it gets hard to stay sad.  Especially when you get to look at some things like this on a regular basis —

This watercolor painting, the home-made pendant hanging from its corner, and the beautiful thank you cards peeking out from the top, are gifts from incredible humans I barely know, but remind me of the power of the company that was created for them. What moves a human to create such beautiful works of art; whether in watercolor, jewelry or the written word?

The same thing that might move us to tears when we run. Or write the best article we’ve ever written. Or do 20 push ups when we’re 75, on a dare. Or cross the finish line when we thought we’d never be competing in a race.


We are moved by it.  Positively.  Negatively. But rarely, are we neutral when the emotion is strong enough.

I’m proud to have started a company that moves people to do such wonderful things for someone they barely know.  I like to think they do it because the company that supported them to do something wonderful for themself has inspired them to Pay it Forward….. or, backward.  

i’m eternally grateful for the payback. 

Onward and upward, always.

Save the girl talk

Look… I’ll be the first to sign up for a girls weekend to San fran to gab, grub and gab some more. [been there, loved it] the clothes, the shoes, the food, the lounges, the clubs, the SHOES.

The ladies though, do a disservice to our gender when we start bringing a few irrelevant topics to more gritty scenes.  Like tech meetings or business panels.

We have a tough time as it is in these male dominated spheres, so why dig deeper holes for ourselves?

Women business executives, brilliant researchers, tech founders and software developers, scientists and athlete managers are just as serious about their craft as the next guy. So my frustration is heightened when I hear a female tech-founders panel moderated by someone asking questions like “Star wars or star trek?” and “Tell us if you’re married, or have children” [and then the moderator calling attention to the single women on the panel for any guys in the audience who might still be paying attention].

I tend to see opportunity in most things and so rather than whine, i thought of a few things for how we can all be better moving forward:

1. Your personal life is irrelevent….unless you’re on Dr. Phil. Moderators: I, the audience member, came to learn about how this woman, or women, tackled a major business hiccup, met a tech-founder, persuaded an angel to invest, or what resources were the most valuable as she scaled her business from the launch phase to the growth phase.

2. The “Balancing life and work”  issue. I’ve never seen a tech panel of men who’ve been asked how they handle ‘work/life balance’ while they coded, or did biz dev, for 17 hours a day.  I know this is a common topic amongst women, and it definitely has relevance for women more than men, but not when the audience is at an event to hear about how someone grew, started or sold their tech business.

3. Lose the “ums” and put your hair back if it’s in the way.  I’m not asking for a Steve Jobs-like presentation, but lose the “ums”. or at least 37 of them. Speak to us with confidence, not arrogance and respect us as an intelligent audience who came to learn from your experiences. Oh, and we’re not in a bar trying to get a date with you. Casually brushing your hair around and finishing every sentence with a question mark doesn’t engage us, it revolts us.  or, maybe just me.

At one event i attended, there were 3 men having a full conversation in the back of the room, near where I sat. This while the moderator continued through her discussion with the panelists. They exchanged smirks when the panel was prompted to talk about their marital status and what gadget they couldn’t do without if they were on a deserted island.

At first i was frustrated by their continuous banter. And, no I’m not about to excuse their rudeness. But I did realize, that that was just the by-product of them not taking the conversation happening in the front of the room seriously. And we have every ability, and responsibility, to learn from that and make it better next time.  

*For a great talk on women in tech and business, watch Sheryl Sandberg. COO of Facebook, also named the fifth most powerful woman in the world.

Onward and upward, always.

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