Thank You For Keeping Me Smart

Thank you 2015

In my constant quest to stay smart I’d like to wrap up 2015 by thanking:

Gary Vaynerchuk for ‘walking the talk’ and hustling like no one. #genius.

Michael Moe of GSV Capital for publishing #AtoApple which I read religiously each Sunday evening to understand market analyses and perspectives on innovation.

Wayne Breibarth for his free LinkedIn tips and constant value.

Twitter (Lists) for the ability to save me TIME in organizing my information so succinctly. Here are the 111 VCs I follow daily.

ChicagoInno for keeping an ‘ear to the ground’ on the Chicago innovation scene.

Kendra Olvany, my Up n Running Co-Founder and co-researcher/curator for The RUNDOWN for her insights and attention to detail.

Built in Chicago for a thoughtful, organically  grown community covering this great city of Chicago.

Technori for impactful monthly pitch nights here in Chicago and for recognizing that people still want to get together in person.

theSkimm for bite-size but intelligent supplements to my daily news reading.

The Muse for its ‘Companies Hiring Like Crazy’ emails and Sunday Inspirations. Even though I am not looking for a new job it is critical to see who is hiring, where they’re hiring and why they’re hiring.

Business Insider for ’10 things in tech you need to know today’.

Mattermark Daily for its compiled Sunday Weekend Edition.

Medium for daily digests and to see what is trending.

Re/code Decode Podcasts by Kara Swisher for fantastic in-depth interviews with tech leaders. I listen while bike riding or walking and always learn something meaningful.

The Information to fill in gaps.

Blue Sky Chicago for attempting to cover innovation in Chicago (part of the Chicago Tribune).

Kellogg Insights for research coming out of Northwestern’s Kellogg School.

McKinsey Insights for the occasional alert/report on technology and the internet.

The Broadsheet from Fortune mag for boiling down c-suite female news.

Simply Measured which provides valuable insights on Instagram trends with meaningful industry reports.

Skillcrush newsletters and the brilliant Adda Birnir for reminding me of the importance of coding.

Lastly, the obvious ‘go-to’ reads: Wall Street Journal, Crains  NYTChicago Tribune (special shootout to Scott Kleinberg who always shares social media tips.)

It’s been a great year of growth and staying smart. Here’s to a 2016 of keeping up!

My Upcoming 30 Day “Print Diet”

I tried the ‘digital diet’ thing. Sadly, I flunked.

I really enjoy learning and being online. Moreover, managing a house of 7 requires that I be online; from my experience there’s simply no way around it.

I recently decided to try a ‘print diet’: no Chicago Tribune, no Wall Street Journal, no New York Times, no Crain’s Chicago Business. I suspended all print delivery for 30 days in August.

Newspaper dietI’ll try to go entirely digital and mobile in my news reading. Also, I’ll supplement my digital subscriptions by adding in more “religious” reading of my favorite digital sources via either subscription or Twitter feed:

The Skimm, Business Insider, TechCrunch, Mashable, OZY Media, Re/Code, etc

Why? Print is getting too costly, and I am becoming more aware of the environmental impact of print media. Further, I should be able to digest all of my news via mobile phone.

Before the commencement of my “print diet,” I must confess that I have several concerns:

1) Will my children be bothered that my nose is buried more often in my phone? YES. I’ll need to be super disciplined and awake early as if I was reading the newspapers. Nothing else.

2) Will I miss the “little things” from the Chicago Tribune that I love so much…Mary Schmich? John Kass? Blue Sky Innovation? The obituaries? My daily horoscope? Sudoku? In the NYT, Thomas Friedman? In the WSJ, OP-Ed page and the weekend WSJ?

3) Will I be able to really dive deep into a subject? Will I resort to sound bites and headlines?

4) Will The Skimm, Twitter, etc. be enough to fill in the gaps?

I LOVE and APPRECIATE the “little things”. For example, I want to be able to hug an acquaintance after a loved one passes away; I want to commend a neighbor who is working hard on a start-up; I want celebrate the local kid who advances in his sport. Most importantly: if I miss my kids little things, then I’ll miss everything. If I sense that it is happening, I’ll go back to print.

 

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault

 

My “Stay Smart” Quest: 7 Tech Lessons Learned in 2013 + 7 Goals for 2014

Lessons learned in 2013:

1) Following/learning from/watching Gary Vaynerchuk (aka @GaryVee) is worth every moment. And it’s free. I think he is a marketing genius and is one of the few people who seems to “get” it.

2) Learning to code is important. Duh. It’s where the jobs will be. It’s what our kids need to understand.  If there is one thing to teach your children – start talking about computer code. Learn about toys like Goldieblox, or apps like Tynker, Scratch, Hopscotch, Daisy the Dinosaur, etc. Don’t believe me? Have a daughter? Check out  Girls Who Code.

3) Taking the time to learn to improve your digital literacy (and even code yourself) is worth it. OK – maybe not learn to code – but learn the language! In my quest  – or even mandate – to “innovate myself” I just “finished” taking Skillcrush 101 How to Get Started in Tech. For what equated to about $6/day I enrolled. [In retrospect, my move was not perfectly timed as far as the calendar goes: Oct 21-December 6th…when running a household of 7, hosting 16 for Thanksgiving and prepping for Christmas – a different month might have been better..but I really did not want to wait!] Several online places offer some free coding or courses for a fee: codecademy and general assemb.ly, coursera, and, of course, Skillcrush. In my opinion, the founder of Skillcrush, Adda Birnir, is someone to watch! BTW, Skillcrush uses Mightybell as its community platform (similar to Chicago-based Big Marker) – working in a community platform is a learning experience in and of itself~

 4) TRYING is still the best way to see whether a new technology makes sense. Don’t just read about something new: try it. When peers in my Up n Running group suggested I try several time-saving apps I did just that. As it turned out, Mosaic is now one of my “go-to” apps to create photo books from the camera roll on my iPhone. Even my kids have started using it and creating gifts for their friends. Cost per book: $25.

5) USE Twitter lists – it saves time. I think the lists are the absolute best feature of Twitter. I have spent some time creating several lists and my personal “required reading” every morning comes not only from my go-to news sources but also my Twitter lists.

6) Try something new..and be willing to pay for it. I bought a one month subscription to TheInformation. Why? I want to “try before I buy.” The world is noisy. I read a lot; the firehose of information is coming at me – I am trying to simplify by going digital..but I still like print, too. When I received my Chicago Tribune renewal notice and saw the price increase – I immediately was willing to try spending $ on The Information. Why? Because I hope to “swap out” some expenses (maybe I’ll unsubscribe from the Trib and be willing to pay for a different form – or even type – of news.)

7) Unless I make change a habit it will not happen. When my sister turned 50 last year and we went on a yoga weekend (I had never even done yoga OR meditation) I returned refreshed and willing to change my patterns to include meditation. That lasted only a few months. I tried meditating each morning before the kids awoke. No luck – I found myself praying. And thinking. In my most recent email from Lift I was reminded that 1) I need Goals Beyond Habits  and 2) Finish Lines  – I guess if I want to impact a certain change and make it a habit, I really need to “own it”!

In conclusion, to me, it is all about leveraging myself to save time. We all know time is our most valuable resource.

Goals for 2014:

1) Continue to follow/learn from/watch @GaryVee and I will read his latest book (Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook)

2) I will re-take/review my  Skillcrush material, which is still available to me from prior enrollment – this time, I will sit with a friend and learn together. While I am not committing to building a site per se, I did learn through my Skillcrush class that I am not good at learning technical material sitting alone at my computer.  Thankfully, I ran into a friend who took the same course: this time we will sit together to review the material!  

3) Install 1Password on my computer. Our Up n Running group reviewed the various options for secure passwords and concluded that 1Password is worth the $.

4) Increase my security/identity theft coverage – especially after the Target breach. Whether through Identity Guard or others, I will make it a priority.

5) Get on Snapchat (reluctantly) It’s where kids are spending their time…which means it is where brands will start to be. I need to understand firsthand how brands are using social.

6) Improve my Hootsuite use to save time.

7) Last and most importantly: continue to stay smart; (stay Up n Running) by reading about/curating and trying new technologies, apps, platforms. Reading includes but is not limited to private equity/venture capital reports, blogs, print and online news sources, local magazines, etc. If I do not “own” my skill set no on else will!

Have YOU Ever Gotten a Retreat From Tory Burch?

Several months ago I woke up to this text.

TBtex

Oh my goodness? Did I win some sort of contest?! Did my husband surprise me and give me a retreat weekend with Tory Burch, a woman whose business acumen I really admire?! How thoughtful. [Frankly, I didn’t even realize there was a Tory Burch retreat for businesswomen or mothers.]  I happen to be fairly impressed by Tory Burch the brand. The woman, too. She built a very successful company and, since its inception in 2004, she has not only built a desired and recognized brand but also become a millionaire in the process. Her former husband and business partner, Chris Burch, recently launched C. Wonder in New York and is trying his hand at building a brand without her. Between prior marriages, they have a combined six children…and unfortunately a very messy divorce.

The day prior to receiving the aforementioned text I was sitting in the airport reading the Wall Street Journal waiting for a flight departure. When I turned the page I saw a full-page highlight of Tory Burch, WSJ Startup of the Year (“SOTY”). I didn’t realize it at the time, but the WSJ was beginning to feature startups and chose to highlight various entrepreneurs and mentors.

Tory Burch

Clearly Tory Burch was on my mind.

After hours of trying to figure out the ‘surprise’ I burst out laughing!!

THIS is what my friend was referring to in her text:

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 11.24.33 AM

A RT.

A RETWEET!

I laughed to myself. I guess I should have been “happy” that Tory Burch “retweeted me” but to be honest – I was merely doing what I like to do: celebrating others’ success. In observing on and offline behavior I mostly look for beauty. Beauty in good times – but also in bad times. There’s beauty all around us – you just need to look for it. In reading  about Tory Burch and tweeting a picture of the WSJ/SOTY feature, I was merely trying to celebrate and share one woman’s success. I know that her success has come with a price – but isn’t she like any other female (or male) in the world: trying to figure it all out? Cute that my friend called a RT “‘cool”. I think it’s much cooler, though, celebrating success and knowing that each woman (and man) out there shares a common bond: we are all doing the best we can! That’s cool.

How to Keep Up When Business is Changing SO Quickly? Just Do It. Dive In.

The technology explosion is forcing us to move quickly. Really quickly. The world is changing SO quickly that it’s hard to stay on top of the constant change – especially when it comes to technology, and its impact on business. “Old ways” of doing things are being disrupted. What to do?! Just do it. Just hop on. If I can do it anyone can!

Do WHAT ?!

Read. Open. Follow. Check it out. Huh?

Here’s how. Read. Read. Read. Whatever you happen to be interested in, follow it. Probe. Dive in. Somehow I seem to think I am managing to keep up with “the new” ..maybe I am fooling myself – but I feel good about my own personal “continuing ed” program!

Here’s how I keep up:

1) Read anything you can get your hands on. I read in the morning before the kids are awake, read while waiting for carpool,  read in the bathtub (true). My favorite categories happen to be business, start-ups, digital, anything Chicago and parenting.

2) Keep your iPhone handy. If you read something cool go directly to Twitter and follow it. Even better, if you are near your laptop, press the url once you get to the Twitter handle and check out what the company does.

3) Use your “Peter Lynch approach” and take a look at the company. (Peter Lynch: Fidelity Investments stock-picker whom I’ve always admired for his no-nonsense approach to understanding what a company does and how it plans to make money. )

4) When you have extra time (say on a weekend) dive deeper. Whatever your category is, dive. Look at lists. Again, I like business. Maybe I’ll spend extra time checking out TechCrunch’s top 25 start-ups in CA. Then I’ll probe – see what they are, get my iPhone so I can follow them on Twitter, etc Maybe I’ll look at Crain’s 40 under 40 and dive deep; maybe I’ll read a few articles in Barron’s or Fortune and get out my iPhone again. Or, if the computer is nearby, I’ll go check out the start-up and watch its 1 minute vimeo/company promo – I just love seeing how and what a new company is doing!

EVENTUALLY, a pattern will emerge: you will begin to see similar sectors experiencing growth. You’ll begin to see certain areas that entrepreneurs are “going after”. You’ll see real live age-old problems trying to be solved. (Example: EDUCATION!) The race to use technology to disrupt “old ways” will begin to make sense for you – at least some sense. Maybe you love fashion  and once you begin to see trends emerge (the box/club/whatever of the month) – start thinking about your habits. What do you think? DO you like the idea? Is it passe? Is there room for exponential growth? We are in an incredible period of growth right now – why sit on the sidelines?!

So jump in. Fasten your seat belt. And join the crazy fun that is this ever-changing world we live in!

 

Attended my first blogtalkradio show tonight via social revup.

I’ve attended Twitter parties. No joke.

Tonight was different. I was able to listen and follow via twitter feed #bbradio and #bbsummit12 at the same time! What a great format. To LISTEN, follow along AND learn about all participants at the same time was just great! My husband and kids are watching the Bulls versus the Heat while I have my headphones on and am listening to @Bethrosen host three bloggers: @EvolvingStacey @hannemaniacs and @maritramos. Each was genuine, insightful and real. I am friends with bloggers both on and offline. Sounds crazy?  It’s not. When you get to know someone online the offline time together is simply that much more powerful!

If anyone had asked me years ago if I’d be doing this?! Any of this?! Social anything?! No. However, I feel as if Twitter is an incredibly powerful tool – and I am a total convert. It’s amazing. Mostly I follow business (VC, Chicago based start-ups, anything digital) and mom-related people and bloggers (remember: being a good mom is my first priority.)

The only way I feel able to really understand the different angles and values of Twitter is to simply jump in. That’s why and how I attended those first few Twitter parties while at Plum District: I felt the only way I’d learn was by doing. So I did just that. If I can do it anyone can! Jump in. You do not need to like it, or even want to ever do it again -the point is to simply try. Learn by doing.

So give it a try. Connect on and offline.