Mean Girls

I’ve dealt with some mean girls in my time.  I’ve been bullied.  Even as an adult.  I’m constantly “getting over it.”

Yesterday I was indulging in one of my favorite pastimes, people watching, in Union Square in San Francisco, this time observing ice skaters.  In particular a group of young teens, not very good at skating caught my attention because they were holding on to the edge and I could hear them talk as they inched their way by.

The first thing I heard is undoubtedly what caught my attention, and likely that was her goal in saying it so loudly.

“No, I won’t slow down to make you look better.”  Actually, her friend hadn’t asked her to slow down at all… and ironically, her friend was actually a better skater.  This girl now had my attention because I had her pegged as a mean girl.  I later saw her trip another friend with her scarf, which she “accidentally” had dropped.  It was somewhat comedic and the thing I found the most interesting is that these other friends with her didn’t see it — or, who knows, maybe they did, and just didn’t choose to make a big deal about it because they were having fun.  Maybe they’re not even really friends.  In any case, it was fun to watch for an hour.  Someone else’s drama.

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It’s been a while!

As I applied for a job this afternoon, there was a question about whether I had a personal blog.  I realized that it’s been a while since I posted…. oops!

So I graduated in July and by August, the endeavor I mentioned in several previous posts was over.  One of my business partners had rose-colored glasses and despite his true age, was acting like he was 14.  Not showing up to important meetings, using the bank account for personal use, and wanting to get paid.  That just doesn’t happen in a start-up hemorrhaging money that can’t attract investors because of past accounting issues.  Nothing I did could change that.  I didn’t “give up,” but rather I decided I wanted to do something for me — not for someone else.

So rather than hit the ground running on the next big thing, I decided to take some time off.  I think that lasted about a week.  I took on an “Assistant to the Producer” job organizing an event for 400 people at a venue in SF.  We had three major A-list performers to organize, which was a lot of fun.  The event was hugely successful and everyone came away feeling good.  I got the nicest letter from the Producer, who thanked me with a sweet bonus for all my hard work.

Then last week I went to Cancun, Mexico where I got some true down time with my favorite Canadian friends, and new East Coast friends.  We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving, we got to watch baby sea turtles hatch, and then we released the turtles into the ocean.

Now I’m ready to find that next career move.  What will it be?  I honestly don’t know.  I think I’ll know it when I find the right people.

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An open letter to the new Oakland MBA Cohort:

As you’re just getting started and maybe already feeling a bit overwhelmed, I wanted to welcome you to an experience that will change your life.  I wanted to give you some advice as you get started.

Take time to bond with one another and treat one another with respect.  Try to find something you like in every single person and focus on their strengths.  At some point you’ll probably look back at this and say that someone has no discernible strengths, but make an effort to draw them out.  Be kind to one another – the world is tough enough.  You can always agree to disagree and you don’t have to be besties.  But if will be much more pleasant for everyone if you can at least be courteous to one another.  Trust me, by the middle of the 2nd quarter, the gloves come off.

Some of you will already have a field of interest whether it’s tech, healthcare, non-profits, etc.  But look at other options during this time when there’s nothing at stake.  You might find something new that is way more exciting just where and when you least expect it.

Driving and parking.  If public transit isn’t your thing, there’s a $3/day parking lot underneath 880 at Webster.  It’s tricky to get to the first time with one-ways and rush hour traffic, but it’s worth the walk to save money.  Use the money to buy anything but a donut.  That donut will result in a 30 pound addition you don’t want to have to recover from at the end of the year.

Show up on time every single day, even if you don’t feel like it.  I know it seems like no big deal to come in late or skip a class every now and then.  But it creates resentment from others and it gives the impression to others that you aren’t taking it seriously.

Don’t work unless you absolutely have to.  I was bored after the first two quarters and then took a job.  Hah!  Those who work find it very hard to be productive teammates and you should really take advantage if you can of having a year of frugality.  It builds character!  That’s what I told myself…

But be smart with your frugality.  Don’t spend $10 on parking, yet turn down a networking event that costs $10.  This is your best networking time EVER.  When you tell people you’re working on your MBA, they will want to know more and it will open doors to new opportunities in fields you may not have thought of, or thought you weren’t qualified for.  Go to those same events as an employee and people don’t show nearly as much interest.

I mentioned networking, but seriously… check out Eventbrite and MeetUp.com.  Dare yourself to go to at least one event each week.  It’s a worthy investment of your time – almost as much as going to class.  (Sometimes you’ll find it more so, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the class.)  It’s incredibly hard to go solo, so start by going with a friend or two and build up to going on your own by the end of the year.  And don’t just go and sit there.  Force yourself to say hello and meet new people.  You’ll want to make new friends that aren’t your classmates.  Diversify your friends and contacts!  I started interning with Keiretsu to see different start-ups pitch their ideas and now I have my own start-up and I’ve met lots of potential investors that never would have talked to me had I not built up that relationship.

Take time to walk through Chinatown at least once.  Find the green coconut waffles at the Vietnamese café (there are several on Webster between 9th and 11th). 

Take the Free B shuttle up and down Broadway and Telegraph.  It’s the green bus.

Take the initiative to organize a speaker to come in – I brought in a serial tech start-up CEO, a venture capitalist, an environmental policy executive… and we went on office visits to Pandora and Autodesk.  You wield power as an MBA student, so use it to ask people to come and talk or to go visit their offices.  Just having that exposure is useful, even if you don’t see it at that moment.

Gather some friends and head to Jack London Square, the Kaiser Garden, or Lake Merritt for a picnic lunch on a nice day.  Take advantage of the nice days early on in the program to form friendships and take in the weather.  By February you’ll be missing it.  The lack of windows in the classroom can make you a bit crazy, so take precautions.

Watch a business documentary, business-related movie, or TedTalk (YouTube) every week.  Here’s a list of ones I recommend:

Naked Brand

Indie Game: The Movie

OfficeSpace

Kinky Boots

Okay, those are the ones I can think of without going to look, but Frontline shows on PBS.org are also good.  I’m sure you’ll find some worthy movies with a tiny bit of effort.

Don’t cheat.  Look up the word plagiarism in the dictionary.  Be fair to your fellow students.  Do you want to run for President 30 years from now and have it come up that you copied something from online?  You might think that you’re never going to have to worry about that, but you never know what might be important to others for even the least important job later on down the road.  Don’t let something so silly haunt you.  Do the work and do you own work.

Alright, I’ve probably taken up a fair amount of your time and your interest is probably waning, but keep this and read it again every now and then.  Challenge yourself to do more.  Make the most of this investment in your future.

Cheers,

Joanna

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Graduating by Numbers

And so the end has come to counting the days until graduation.

In three and a half years (with one summer off), I managed to do what typically is done in 6+ years.

Degrees:  AA in Business with honors, BS in Accounting & Corp Management, and MBA.  I had been so close to finishing a BA in Management 25 years ago, but they pretty much made me start over.  Only two classes from 25 years ago counted towards my final degrees – English Composition and Algebra.  Ouch.  No credit for time served!

Days:  1,240 from my first class back to school to MBA grad day.

Classes:  60 compiled from Laney College (18), Alameda College (1), San Jose State Univ (1), & CSU East Bay (40).

Campuses:  5 — Laney, Alameda, SJSU, CSU East Bay Hayward, & CSU East Bay Oakland.

Most classes at one time:  8 spread out over 3 campuses.

I was involved in the Associated Students at Laney College, where I uncovered fraud that had been going on for eight years.  At CSU East Bay (Hayward) I was involved in Beta Alpha Psi for a few quarters.  At CSU East Bay (Oakland) I ran the Entrepreneurship Association.

I had (have) an amazing friend support group, and they really helped remind me that there are sane people in the world.  My biggest supporter is in the photo below.

I won’t even think about all the money I spent, because it was worth it, even if it didn’t always feel like it.  The letters at the end of my name are now there, so that’s the important bit.  What I do with all the credentials and experience is what will really matter going forward.

I already have a job lined up.  I hired myself.  Stay tuned for how that works out!  The night before graduation was a huge peak in that endeavor and I’m hoping to share some really exciting news soon.  I’m floating on cloud 9 and I’m going to enjoy it for a while.

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Cheers!

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Growing Up in Tornado Alley — Oklahoma

Tornadoes are a way of life if you live in Oklahoma.  My dad was a ham radio operator who worked for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.  I remember when my brother and I were little, being in our PJ’s in  the car with my mom & dad going out and storm tracking.  My dad always felt it was safer being able to see where the storms were, rather than being at home and not seeing them.  The coolest thing I saw after a tornado was a pine tree covered in soda bottles.  There was also a cow who had been killed by a single straw.

We weren’t always out with my dad.  There were several times that we got into the bathtub at home, which in our house was the safest place to be.  Afterwards we’d stomp in the puddles and I remember the sky was very cool turquoise-green.

I keep hearing people ask how you could ever live in a place like that without a tornado shelter.  Well, many people do have shelters, and I think they’re more popular since the huge May 3, 1999 tornado.  But shelters aren’t cheap and there are public shelters that you can go to.  The problem is that people don’t listen to the warnings – the sirens go off a half dozen or more times a year, and how often does a tornado actually touch down?

And honestly, tornado shelters are pretty creepy.  The few times I went down into a shelter to play at my grandmother’s house, it was smelly and there were lots of spiders.  I’m sure there were snakes in there.  ::shivers::

A tornado touched down yesterday just a few blocks from where I grew up.  And now today an even bigger tornado has devastated in Moore, Oklahoma.  Check out the red in this radar screen grab:

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I had gotten online after coming home from school and a friend had posted the link to the live news feed on KFOR.com (when I grew up it was WKY, then it was KTVU).  I clicked on the link and other than turning the television on and putting the news feed there, I’ve hardly moved in 3+ hours.  I saw the tornado as they were filming it live from a HELICOPTER (crazy, eh?!).  It had been going for half an hour at that point, and I couldn’t stop watching.  Here’s a screen grab:

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It’s quite heart breaking watching the storm unfold, especially the school situation where the majority of fatalities appear to be at the Plaza Towers elementary school.  If you are looking for your loved ones, you can check www.safeandwell.org.  The site is run by the Red Cross and also includes a link where you can make a donation.

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The Creativity Post

I recently discovered a blog/website called The Creativity Post.  I’ll forgive the professor/author for teaching at ORU, which growing up we referred to as “Jetson’s U.”

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But back to the blog, which is the real find.  There’s a great article on giving your brain a workout;  multi-tasking turns out to be bad for learning; and practices from innovative organizations.  Take a few minutes to check out the site.  I’d like to hear back from some readers on whether you find it as interesting as I do.

 

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An unexpected update on @LostChalkKitty

I was getting ready to take down @LostChalkKitty’s Facebook page and I saw something that looked funny.

ImageWhat happened to the graph?  Why the sudden spike up and why wasn’t the spike there on Saturday night?  Turns out that from May 4-10, the number of people reached spiked up to over 88,000 people!  The previous spike was from April 26-May 2, reaching almost 5,000.  Wow.

So check out this graph showing the people talking about the page and the viral reach:

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And just to check in on the YouTube video, I was able to pull this graph:

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Interesting!  I’d still feel more excited if someone I didn’t know had posted that they’d been to the festival and had seen @LostChalkKitty.

I think I’ll keep it up for a while and see whether anyone checks it out a month from now… (calendar marked).

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