30 January 2008

Pearls of Wisdom

video

We must understand the importance of sharing. Often it is as simple as passing on the words of wisdom that we ourselves know. This clip is a beautiful expression of some of the women that have shared wisdom with me in the last few months. Thank you for sharing and keep it up.

29 January 2008

Where are the Women at Davos?!

I am disappointed to see such a poor showing of women at Davos, yet again. Yes, all good things come in time. I do know that because of my work, I am aware of far more women doing amazing things in their communities, companies and countries than the average person. But, my goodness, can't they be a little more creative. I am not saying they should invite women that are not of interest or qualified. What I am saying is that they should look around. If the old boy's network at the World Economic Forum wants to stay ahead, they need to let women have a greater voice and participation. They would have benefited by participation of Riane Einsler, Amany Asfour, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Hon. Sarmite D. Bulte, to name a few who work with passion to advocate the economic empowerment of women and reverse the human brain drain. Let us be sure that in the future, the voices are heard, not only at women's conferences, but at all. As we are in this together.

28 January 2008

Gone mobile

Finally online with the mobile application for my blog. I look forward to keeping up to date, on the go.

24 January 2008

Women are the Ultimate Entrepreneurs

All this talk of women being nurturing has been getting to me lately. Not in an annoying way, but rather in a contemplative way. I spend a lot of energy on women in professional transition understand the importance and relevance of their skills outside the workforce from a business perspective. It is actually quite interesting to see that some of the most desirable skills (or shall I say talents) in entrepreneurship. Managing a family, renovating a home, relocating, raising children, supporting a partner, volunteering, the list goes on,...

Take the analogy of building a business from scratch and motherhood. Begin with conception, the idea, or even more cliché, shall we say, "the twinkle in your eye." Now to have a successful gestation period, you must suffer a little, be denied restful nights of sleep thinking about what the future holds and all the things you need to do to make this little twinkle a successful being. You might even have a few torturous setbacks that require you to start again with the same passion for the outcome, but a little more caution and and realism as you proceed. (This of course, will only make you appreciate the end result for more).

The first trimester can be rather stressful as this is creating the foundation and laying the groundwork, setting up the team that will help you in our journey. If you are lucky you have a good partner to help you through this journey, if not, you find other support to fill in the gaps. The second trimester, feeling great, on a bit of roll, feeling the excitement, eye on the goal. Third trimester, getting ready to launch this being into the world. You have to suffer a little, or a lot, more here. Sleep seems to be interrupted again with thoughts of the future, what needs to be done, what have you missed. You are pulling together all the bits and pieces so that this being will have a grand welcoming on its arrival.

I will skip the gorey details of the actual arrival, as this is where my analogy falls apart momentarily. With the exception of the fact that the seratonin in our amazing bodies has a way of tricking us into rememerbing this as a joyous experience, let us leave it at that.

Now it is here, it has a name. You introduce it to people with pride in our hearts at a job well done. And yet, you have this helpless infant that is not fully formed, and certainly not self sufficient. You not only are still tired from the last months building up to its arrival, but now you are denied even more sleep for taking care of its needs at all hours of the night. This is where post-partum depression kicks in.

You have this beautiful thing that is just the beginning and will need so much more loving and caring and stimulation and ....and you are the mother of it. It is yours and your identity is now tied to it. You are now the creator of it in other's eyes, not whoever you were before. You are proud (and tired). You must learn to delegate those things that will enable you to do what you do best. You must take the time to take care of your health, for what good are you to it, if your health fails.

You surround yourself with women who understand what you are going through right in that moment. You seek out others who have been there who can provide wisdom and guidance. You bring it to experts to check when things go wrong and to ensure that it is healthy and shall remain that way. You study about what you can do to enhance its special talents that make it stand out as an individual. You teach it how to relate to others and yet, be its own entity. You feed it to let it grow and provide it direction and stimulation to help guide its path.

I could go on, but you get the point. Rise with the passion and conviction to turn a twinkle into a success. Don't be afraid of setbacks and failures, as life is a continuum from which we learn and become wiser with each experience and opportunty. Remember to seek guidance from peers and from experts, but remember that what worked for them may not work for you or your entity. You have what it takes in you.

23 January 2008

Altruistic giving

It is a truly beautiful thing when one takes the time and energy to give out of the pure goodness of their heart. A gift, whether it kind words in a moment of need, a helping hand when one's lost their way, or something more physical is hardly of relevance. The treasure is in the act and the thought, even unconscious thought, that is behind that gift. I have been blessed in my work to have been bestowed with many gifts. Each I wish to celebrate in turn and thank for their intent.

I write of this as I recently had lost my way, and was given the gift of direction and a helping hand. It was given in the form of a reminder in why I do the work I do and who I do it for. I do it, because I believe it will make the world a better place. I do it for my children and their children. I am passionate about supporting women who have the desire to be change agents, because they have shown me such altruistic hope. We have the gift to give in sharing what we already have, with so little effort and so much satisfaction.

This is simply a thank you to those who remind me everyday, who I am and who I aspire to be. I do not claim to be entirely altruistic. I bask in the warmth of the smiles and appreciation of those that my work will help. That is my reward. So, I wish to remind each of you what my grandmother always taught me, the importance of the words "thank you." A little goes a long way.

22 January 2008

Technical failure

So much for being tech savvy. I had my assistant put all my stacks of accumulated business cards from conferences, workshops, presentations and general networking from the last two years into my new computer loaded into my Business Contacts Manager. I felt such a relief to finally have them all in one place and organised with notes as to their affiliation and conversations, etc. That same program has decided that I need permission from my system administrator (that would also be me, as I am the only one using it) to get access. I have been wrestling with this for over a month with no results from Microsoft or Dell (who Microsoft says I should deal with).

Needless to say, this has been a very frustrating experience. After my LinkedIn disaster, I might think that technology was just not on my side these days. All this to say, backup and communication is key. I am still going through the stacks to continue the follow up. If anyone knows of the secrets to unlock this, please feel free to pass them on.

I am reminded that this year begins with the image of a phoenix rising from the ashes. With re-organisation, developments migration to Sweden and carpal tunnel to boot, I turn inward to focus on the reason I started this whole thing in the first place, balance. Finding the connection between self and surroundings where we are at peace with our ourselves and our environment. So, breath deep, exhale. As my dear friend Peggy would say "Poof" it away. Start 2008 fresh with what we have and continue stronger and wiser. Nothing is lost, wisdom is gained.

18 January 2008

LinkedIn disaster apology

I would like to publicly apologize to all those who have received an invitation from me on LinkedIn recently that I was not directly connected with. I made the mistake of uploading my contacts to extend invitations to my network. What I did not expect was that the system trawled through all the cc:s and Bcc:s on all the emails that I have sent and received and invited them as well. It was not until I started receiving acceptances on LinkedIn from people that I did not know (but that had attended the same business school, or shared contacts with mostly) that I realised this had occurred.

I did not catch this when it went out. I am sincerely sorry. I am quite annoyed when I receive invitations to link with people that I do not know and have no reason to connect with. I value my network greatly and I work hard to maintain the quality of the relationships in it. I, therefore, apologise to those of you who are in my network as well. I appreciate you and respect you professionally and personally. I assure you, I will be far more careful in the future.

I wish you all the best. Please let this be a warning to all of you who use simple tools (or build them) for uploading contacts and inviting to networks. It has certainly been an eye opener for me. Now I know what to avoid when building this feature into 2BalanceU.

17 January 2008

Ariadne Capital's Investors Forum

It is an exciting time to be involved in the development of social media. I have just returned from Ariadne Capital's Investor Forum in London. The presentations were very thought provoking and well presented. It was encouraging to see an organization like Ariadne and Julie Meyer pulling together the strengths of such an interesting mix of entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers. After working in the solitary isolation of start up phase living in a culture that loves the idea of entrepreneurial success and ingenuity but frowns deeply on failure (even if it is learned from). I found the forum refreshing in content and atmosphere. So, thank you Julie for pulling that together and inviting me to take part.

As social entrepreneur in "isolation" I found it refreshing to get feedback on the financial side and monitising of the business from straight talk. I realised from the feedback that I had steered away from our original model for 2BalanceU in order to appease our network members. But in the process we had given away some of our most critical features that support the members, who essentially the site is for and remove our critical revenue streams. Frustrated at first, I am delighted to see that the insight has brought us back to the core of what we started out to do and believe in. So thank you, Dr.-Ing. Jörg Sievert (SAP Ventures), Thomas Schulz (Ariadne Capital), and Candace Johnson (Johnson Paradigm Ventures) for your straight talk and insight. Thank you also to Arjo Ghosh (SpannerWorks) and Carl Uminski (trutap) for your inspiring entrepreneurial spirit and great ideas.

The past month has been a true test of my own entrepreneurial spirit and willpower (yes, stubbornness, diplomatically put). We closed down our US operations and moved everything to Sweden. We are reviewing the next steps to get us back on track. Thanks to the forum, I am renewed with new ideas to get back to the old. Always good to go back to the original model for vision and what it will take to get there. There has been a lot of learning along the way, and I am sure there will be more. But each in turn makes us stronger. Out of the ashes rises a phoenix. So that is how we shall commence 2008, rising to flight when we can expand our full wing span and follow where the wind currents take us.

09 January 2008

Happy New Year

Now back to work. Yes, it has been a wonderful time to be offline, reconnecting with my family and friends. I must admit, once I was weaned of the pinging and vibrating of phones and Blackberries (this took a few days), I thoroughly enjoyed it. For those of us whose lives rely so heavily on the use of technology and the connections they provide, this is far more difficult than we expect. I was amused to hear that even my non-techy family members were trying to reach me on Skype and shocked to not find me there. I thank all of you who send me encouraging messages about health and being offline being good for the soul.

My vacation report: I relaxed. I made fresh tracks in the powder off Grands Montets, laughed wholeheartedly at my children's (and my own) silliness, made snow angels, ate delicious food (enjoying every bite), drank delicious wine, enjoyed intense fireside conversation solving the world's problems (and a few of my own) with friends, slept, learned a few new tricks, read books ("Eat, Pray, Love" - highly recommend it), freshened up my French, and just breathed in the mountain air and sunshine.

Lastly I must report that I have made a New Year's resolution that I hope you all will share with me. "Listen to my body." For someone who has studied the art of understanding my body's communication both inside and out, I have been a very bad listener. Without my health, I cannot achieve my greatest potential in any shape or form. So, I promise, I will make the effort to take better notice of, and to act on, those messages going forward. I hope that you all will too.