Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

What are you starting and what will you leave behind?

Friday, February 19th, 2010

I am in a history book club, which I’ve talked about before on this blog. We met last night, and the topic was winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Everyone read about a different winner, all amazing people. But the most interesting thing to come out of the meeting was the story about Alfred Nobel and why he may have started the Nobel Prizes.

Apparently, Nobel and his brothers were the most famous inventors of their time. Most notably, Alfred Nobel is credited with the invention of dynamite. In 1888, Alfred’s brother Ludvig died when visiting in France, and a French newspaper incorrectly published an obituary for Alfred reporting, “the merchant of death is dead” and claimed that “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” (As an aside, there is an interesting list of other premature obituaries here.)

Alfred NobelMany speculate that it was this bizarre and premature report of his death that led Nobel to (unexpectedly) leave the majority of his money in a trust to fund the Nobel Prizes.

Fast forward to today. One of viagra online shop in uk the best things about being an entrepreneur is the ability to create new things. But the implications of inventing or building or creating something that didn’t exist before can be serious. I’m certain that the founder of Craigslist didn’t anticipate it being used for murder, that MySpace’s founder didn’t plan for it to lead to suicide and that the inventors of these top 10 inventions that went bad for mankind didn’t plan for them to be used the way that the ultimately were.

Nobel’s invention has been used in mining, quarrying and construction to great results. But it has also been used to kill, murder and maim. That was a legacy that he wasn’t comfortable in leaving – so he did something about it.

I am an entrepreneur, but more specifically, I like to build things that didn’t exist before. I get a lot of joy out of envisioning something new, and then bringing it to life. This story of Alfred Nobel, though, was a good reminder to consider the cost. I’m also thinking hard about what I can to leave a legacy of which I can be proud.

Quizzes, weddings & fancy men's shoes

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Today we launched a new application at Pure Incubation. It’s an assessment/quiz tool. The application allows us to create multi-page quizzes or assessments with a wide range of question types, point values and responses, and then build results based on the answers that were given by the person taking the test. It’s exciting to launch something new, and I can’t wait to start publishing quizzes, assessments and Websites in a whole range of markets to take advantage of the application’s capabilities.

Like I said, the app launched today and the first quiz is out – What Style Wedding Gown is Right for You? Although this quiz will clearly be the most useful for anyone planning a wedding (and I hope that you’ll forward the link to any bride-to-be that you know), I would love for anyone vigrx reviews reading this post to take the quiz and send me feedback. You can find my contact details here or post your comments to the bottom of this post. Seriously – I want to know what you think about the whole thing, specifically the application, but also about the content of the quiz. All comments, both positive and negative, are welcome.

Since I’m talking about the wedding Websites, here’s one more random bit. On the March 12 episode of The Office, Michael Scott (the show’s “hero”) is talking about a business idea that he has planned. Although his imaginary company is called “shoe-la-la,” I couldn’t help but find it humorous that I actually HAVE a site called Shoella. The names are eerily similar. Here’s the clip – enjoy.

And please send me your comments and feedback!

My favorite posts of 2008

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

I’m finally back and getting into the groove of 2009 after heading to my hometown to spend time with family for Christmas, and then taking off time over New Year’s, as well. It’s good to be back. But before I start looking forward to all the very good things that are coming in 2009, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on 2008. Here are my favorite posts (for a variety of reasons) from the past year.

2008 blog posts

 

10 less-than-great personality traits of entrepreneurs (2/25/08)
“Here’s a look at 10 qualities that some entrepreneurs share that may help them be great at starting a company, but not so great at existing in normal society.”

The board meeting & the business plan (1/25/08)
“No matter how solid the plans are in your mind, you’ll find holes when you write things down. This is true in about 99.9% of the cases. I’m sure that there are exceptions; other people like Jack Kerouac who famously wrote On the Road on one long scroll, but in general, things get clearer when they are written down. ”

What Skymall can teach you about user testing (1/23/08)
“Basho the Sumo Wrestler table will go well with any decor, unless you’re sitting behind it.”

What’s going to happen to the music industry? (1/8/08)
“So this puts the music industry in this strange position. The indie artists, who are making some money on their small but loyal audiences and the Long Tail, but often not enough money to live off of, would be psyched to get a record contract because the record companies have the marketing and distribution capabilities that they don’t have access to. The big (and already famous) bands, are trying to get out of their contracts in favor of the freedom that the indie artists enjoy. And the record companies are panicking. This is creating a weird, wild situation where everything is about to totally implode if change doesn’t happen quickly.”

7 ways to raise money for your start-up (2/19/08)
“The good news for anyone who has limited resources when starting a company is that entrepreneurs seem to agree that this can be a good thing. The need to conserve resources often leads to creativity, hard-work, and a drive to succeed that can be missing when money is available and things are easier and more comfortable. So the first piece of advice when you’re thinking about raising money is to make sure that you really need it before going after cash.”

Four hurdles to jump after starting a business (2/13/08)
“When you start a business, you may be trying to hold onto faith that it will be a success, but you don’t really know that it will be. Along with that, you don’t always know where you’re next client will come from. Or employee. Or dollar. So you have to come to a point of accepting the not knowing, embracing the uncertainty. For me, it’s kind of a thrill to be working this all out as I go because I have come to believe that no matter what I face, I’ll figure it out. It might not be today or tomorrow, but eventually, I’ll either determine a way to get around the issue, find someone to help me with it, or overcome it in some way.”

4 reasons media companies are so far behind in social media (3/25/08)
“One issue that the tech publishing companies have is that they are stuck with legacy systems that were created before the term “social media” even existed. While blogs that are newcomers on the scene were built from the ground-up to support social media, the big publishers are struggling to make the smallest changes to their massive publishing systems that will allow them to play in the social media space. These companies have millions of pages of content – all stuck in ancient content management systems that they adopted in the 1990s. This digging out of legacy technology and making the transition to Web 2.0 technologies is not going to happen quickly, easily or at a low cost for these companies.”

5 ways to make sure that skimmers will read your email message (3/13/08)
“The life of a skimmer is treacherous. They go to meetings and get asked a question “about that email that was sent yesterday” and have absolutely no idea how to answer. They never know what time the party is going to start, or who was invited, or what day it is going to be held. Skimming causes problems. But for whatever reason, skimmers can’t stop. They might just think it’s ridiculous that people send long email messages. They might be “all about efficiency” or “impatient” or “don’t care.” The list of reasons is long.”

The rare women tech start-up founder (4/30/08)
“Although it may have been said many times in many ways, I think it’s a mistake to gloss over the issue of having kids…For every start-up founder, I think, balancing a career with the rest of life is something to think about. But as a woman, the issue rarely leaves my mind. It adds urgency, pressure and stress. And I’m sure for some women, this trifecta of bad emotion is enough to keep them from starting that start-up.”

10 reasons entrepreneurs should take more vacations (4/17/08)
“You are getting boring to be around. This is happening to me. I meet with friends for a drink or dinner, and they ask me what’s going on, and pretty much the only thing that I have to tell them about is my business. And to me, it’s really exciting and fun and interesting to talk about my work. But I can tell that their eyes are starting to glaze over at times.”

I like Twitter, but it has a big problem (4/11/08)
Everyone was writing about Twitter. I knew that I had to figure out how to use it, but I was struggling. I personally knew only one person who used Twitter. My friends (mostly non-techies) and business colleagues (behind in Web 2.0) weren’t using it. So I started “following” people, just in an attempt to see how Twitter worked.”

Stop scheduling meetings on Tuesdays and get to work (5/8/08)
“I might be the last person to know this, but Tuesday is the most productive day of the week. I was alerted to this fact by this blog post, which pointed to some research by Robert Half International. But then when I went to dig in deeper, Tuesday-is-the-most-productive-day-ever was all over the Internet.”

.anydomainnameyouwant soon to be available for purchase (6/27/08)
“I have heard a lot of people making the case that the only domain name that really matters is .com. Although I agree that the .com domain name will stay the strongest for the foreseeable future, this thinking is really short-sighted. Although technology is advancing quickly, the Internet is still in its infancy. It’s hard to predict what will happen in two years, let alone in 20 years. I think that there is a very good chance that other gTLDs will become important. I’ve seen evidence of this in other countries, and honestly, it’s even possible that the gTLD system could eventually go away entirely.”

10 tips for building a killer Facebook app (6/5/08)
“Do the “addiction test.” Can someone use your application once and then never again? Not good. Do they use it once and then feel compelled to immediately use it again? That’s good. Do they want to go back and use it the next day? And the next? That’s even better.”

Patience is a virtue that I just don’t have (but I’m working on it) (8/21/08)
“I have fought a life-long battle with patience. I know that this story is not unique – very few people like to wait. But I’m writing about this now because I have enduring a trial that is requiring patience that I never thought I could muster – the patience needed to start a company.”

Five things your business can learn from Disney (8/13/08)
“Fake it ’til you make it. When Disney introduces a new potential star to its audience, it makes sure that the nobody looks like a somebody from the first moment they are introduced. The singer is usually introduced in a short-clip music video or concert during a commercial break on the Disney Channel. That video shows a huge crowd of adoring, hip, teenage fans screaming and swooning for the “star.” This crowd is made up of paid and wannabe actors, and the music video is usually shot in a studio. But it looks like the singer is a star, and more importantly people believe the singer is a star, even before it is true.”

Five reasons to start delegating more today (9/10/08)
“Believing that you are the only one that can do a task isn’t helpful for you and isn’t helpful for your business. And it’s probably not true. This is the most common protest made by over-achievers and perfectionists who think that they can do the work the best or the fastest or without any help. And this notion is dangerous because trying to run a business completely alone will not work.”

10 ways to stay positive when times are tough (11/4/08)
“I am an optimist, but I’ve been feeling this slump like everyone else. As an entrepreneur, I feel a little bit like I have a split personality, reminding myself of all the reasons that starting a company during a recession is a good idea, internalizing all the reasons that owning a business in a recession is a very difficult prospect. It’s emotionally draining.”

Babel Fish, Google Translate and human go head-to-head (12/5/08)
“To me, it looks like the human with moderate Spanish skills won, hands down. But if you aren’t lucky enough to sit 3 feet away from someone who is willing to indulge your translation needs, I would go with Google Translate. At least in Spanish-to-English translation, with these examples, it had a slight advantage.”

Nativity sets from around the world (and Happy Holidays!)

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Today is the last day that I’ll be working until after the holiday, so I’ve spent the day exchanging gifts and listening to Christmas music as I’ve worked. I also did some decorating this weekend, and wrapped a ton of presents, which means that things are very festive here at Pure Incubation. (Of course the decorating was minimal, because when your apartment is your office and you live in your office, well, there isn’t much room for too many decorations!)

One item that I did pull out was an awesome nativity set that I got from my friend Maria a couple of years back. I have looked for this set online multiple times because I have gotten so many compliments on it, but have never found it anywhere. You can’t really tell from the picture, but the characters are tiny, only about an inch tall each.

Awesome nativity set

Cara also sent me a link to some really cool nativity sets from around the world, and I thought I would share some of my favorites here.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday season. I’ll be back at the end of December!

From Mexico

Mexico nativity

Peru Nativity

Peru nativity

From Haiti

Haiti Coconut nativity

Nativity from Honduras

Honduras nativity set

3 surefire ways to save money when shopping online

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I realize that the online holiday shopping season is drawing to a close, but I thought I would share these three money-saving tips that I discovered this year when shopping online. I hope that they will save you some cash. Oh, and if you have any other online shopping, money-saving tips, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks!

1. Group a lot of items into one order to take advantage of the free shipping deal. I hate paying shipping costs. Paying for shipping is actually the only reason that I do ANY of my shopping at the malls these days – I just can’t bear to pay $20 in shipping for my $20 item. A lot of sites offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount. Amazon.com (my favorite online retailer) offers free shipping for orders over $25. Crate and Barrel has free shipping on orders over $100. If you group a lot of items together and buy them all from one place, the shipping charges are erased.

Crate and Barrel free shipping

2. Comparison shop using awesome online tools. There are a number of shopping sites that will allow you to comparison shop if you know what you want, but not necessarily where you want to buy it. For example, I bought Chris (my husband) a Ray Allen Celtics t-shirt for Christmas. To find the best price, I used a number of sites to compare prices. I looked up Ray Allen t-shirt on Amazon, I checked out prices on Google Product Search (which used to be called Froogle), and BizRate, which is an online shopping comparison tool. This not only let me get a quick look at all the various styles of shirts, but it also let me find the price that fit my budget. (Don’t worry, I can write this with no fear of Chris seeing it because he doesn’t read my blog. If you know him, please feel free to give him a hard time about this fact when you see him next, as long as it’s after Christmas!)

Ray Allen Comparison shopping

3. Make sure you do a search to find coupons. I’m not a big coupon clipper. Don’t get me wrong, I love when I have a coupon. But it’s rare that I take the time to pour through ads to find a coupon for something I might be buying at some possible time in the future. I am, however, a huge user of online coupons.

I was turned onto the online coupon tactic through buying domain names. I always register my domain names through GoDaddy.com, and it has a perpetual coupon (code: OYH3) that lets me buy .com domain names for $2.50 off. Since my company owns almost 400 domain names, you can see why this cost-savings is appealing.

UPDATE: The “perpetual” GoDaddy.com coupon is no longer working! So try this one: OYH7. Although if this doesn’t work, make sure that you search Google for “GoDaddy coupons” before buying. (Hat tip: @longest)

This year, I tried out this tactic with online shopping. Online coupon hunting doesn’t have a 100% success rate – sometimes I could find a coupon, and sometimes I couldn’t. But if you do find a coupon that works, it will be worth the time you spent looking. There are many sites that are dedicated to online coupons (Coupons.com, CouponCabin and CoolSavings are just some of them). But I prefer to use Google and type in my search, such as “Coldwater Creek Coupon.” In that real-life example, I found a coupon that saved me 40% off my entire order, which was as good as $20 in my pocket.

Coldwater Creek Coupon code

Happy shopping!

It's official – we're in a recession. But you can still stay positive

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Although it probably came as a surprise to no one, the National Bureau of Economic Research announced today that the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007. But even with bad news about the economy, it is still possible to stay positive.

This is the third and final post in this series, you can read the first two here:

10 Ways to Stay Positive when Times are Tough
3 More Ways to Stay Positive

7) Read a book. Books have been my drug of choice since I was young. That might seem like a strange thing to say, but books are the best and primary way that I alter my mood. This strategy works best if the book is uplifting, but even if it’s just engaging, a book is a great way to help you stay positive. Books are kind of like vacations – they give you new experiences, out of the ordinary, away from your routine. I remember one time when I was going through a particularly low time, I read the entire Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan. Granted, this is not high literature (or anything remotely close). But there are approximately 10 books in the series, and each of them has about 900 pages. By the end of those 9,000 pages, I had a newfound appreciation for the Fantasy genre, and I had mostly gotten over whatever it was that had gotten me down in the first place.

Girl reading a book

8) Take a longer view. Sometimes, when things aren’t going well, it feels like they will never change, like what is happening currently in your life will go on forever. But this just isn’t the case. Change happens. And if you can keep that fact in mind during the tough times, it can help you stay positive that things will get better one day, that what is currently happening won’t be the same forever.

9) Take one day at a time. On the other hand, sometimes a situation seems so overwhelming and so exhausting that the best thing to do is to take each day as it comes. Difficulties can become smaller if you just tackle one day at a time, and by focusing on today, you can help to alleviate worry about tomorrow.

10) Call (or see) a friend. When times are tough, sometimes it’s best to talk to someone who loves you and knows what you need to hear to cheer you up. I had dinner with four of my high school friends on Friday night, and the glow off the conversational therapy will last me a solid couple of weeks.

BONUS 11) Exercise! There is plenty of research that shows that exercise not only helps us be healthier, it also helps improve our mood. But even with all the data, only 22% of Americans get the recommended amount of exercise, while a full 25% live a sedentary lifestyle. You may not be used to exercising, it may be hard at first, but go do something to move your body. Start with a short walk around the block or down the street and work your way up to something more vigorous or rigorous.

You’ll stay even more positive if you can find somewhere to exercise that’s aesthetically pleasing. For example, walk near a lake or the ocean, bike down a street that you like in your town, or jog in a nice neighborhood that has beautiful flowers. Pick a spot to exercise where you feel happy to be when you’re not exercising. It will make the experience more pleasant and you more positive.

Photo by frankjuarez

3 more ways to stay positive

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

The beginning of this blog series starts with the post titled 10 ways to stay positive when times are tough. Below are reasons 4, 5 and 6…

4) Take a break from work – and life. I have often written about the importance of taking vacations from work, but sometimes it’s also helpful to take a bit of a vacation from life. You can do this by spending BSOa day doing something totally out of the ordinary, away from your regular routine. Two Fridays ago, Chris took me to the Symphony for a matinee performance. This was the first time that I had been to the Boston Symphony, and it was great. By shaking up my normal life and seeing something new, my mind started exploring all kinds of things that I don’t think about on a daily basis. For example, the day opened my eyes to the world of senior citizens (the majority of the attendees were over 70). It also brought me back to high school, when I spent many hours playing in a multitude of bands (an experience that I completely dropped after leaving high school but really enjoyed). It was also the first time that I had seen (or heard of) Leonidas Kavakos, the featured violinist, and a man of amazing talent who played a Brahms Concerto by heart that lasted nearly an hour. It was astounding.

Any event that takes you out of your ordinary life will get you thinking about new and interesting things, a very positive experience.

5) Start a new venture. Your venture might come in the form of a company or an exercise routine. Your venture could be a book or cooking club, or even an online course. Whatever you decided to do, starting new things usually comes with optimism and hope – all things that help fight negativity.

6) Do something to help resolve one negative thing in your life. On any given day, most people have a number of things that are getting them down. For some people, the list is long. Pick one item on the list that you can do something about and tackle it. I handle the finances for my family, and I recently realized that it was taking so much time that I was getting frustrated. I decided to look for an online tool that would help me better manage our money. I found Quicken Online, which has simplified things immensely and helped change my entire outlook about money management. Doing that one thing didn’t solve all my negative issues, but it did help resolve one thing that was getting me down.

Up next – ideas 7 through 10.

Photo by Rich Moffitt

10 ways to stay positive when times are tough

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

When times are tough, one of the hardest things to do is stay positive. But being positive is important for every aspect of our lives. It improves our health. It improves our outlook on work and family. And it makes us more pleasant to be around.

Right now, the economic news is bad. Lots of companies are laying off employees. The housing market in the U.S. is continuing its slump. These definitely qualify as “tough times.”

I am an optimist, but I’ve been feeling this slump like everyone else. As an entrepreneur, I feel a little bit like I have a split personality, reminding myself of all the reasons that starting a company during a recession is a good idea, internalizing all the reasons that owning a business in a recession is a very difficult prospect. It’s emotionally draining.

But the optimist in me has been fighting to the top. So instead of dwelling on the bad, I came up with this list of 10 ways to stay positive, even when times are tough. Here are the first three tips; I’ll be posting the rest throughout the week.

1) Spend time doing something that makes you happy. What do you love to do? What is something that makes you happy just because you like doing it so much? Anything that has an ulterior motive attached doesn’t count. For example, I am happy when I go jogging because I know that it will help me get in shape, but I don’t really like jogging, and I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t have positive health benefits.

I usually would cite playing basketball as something that I love doing just for the sake of it. When I play, I get to hang out with friends, be competitive, exercise, and be social. It also takes my mind off everything else.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I got an even better example to use. My brother Matt and his wife Michele had their first daughter – my first niece – Willow. The only way that I can describe her birth is complete joy. Focusing my attention on her and my family is something that helps keep me optimistic and positive in a way that few other things ever have. Figure out what it is that you love, and spend some time doing it.

2) Vote! Living in the United States, the election is top of mind for me and most other Americans today. Being part of a larger movement of people who are all doing the same thing on the same day is empowering and gives you a sense of belonging. Today, a record number of voters are heading to the polls, and we will end the day with either a black President-elect or a woman Vice President-elect. History will be made either way.

voting in the United States

Get out to the polls and you’ll feel the energy and optimism there that is inherent in the voting process. Voting will give you a sense of optimism and hope for the future.

3) Volunteer. There are always opportunities to help people, especially in a time of economic uncertainty. There are volunteer opportunities for every personality type and skill level. My sister-in-law has donated her time to helping non-profits put together professional business plans. A co-worker is part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. A friend and his family have donated their time in helping to raise Great Danes that are used for rehabilitation. Not only does helping others help you feel better about yourself, but it also reminds you to look outside yourself to put the needs of others first.

Up tomorrow on 16thLetter – reasons 4-6 to stay positive when times are tough.

*UPDATE: I obviously missed the “tomorrow” deadline! I should have said “Up next week…*

Photo by mudpig

Two fun apps: Yearbook Yourself & Mosaic Maker

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

It’s the weekend, so what better thing to do than to procrastinate using fun online apps? There were two that I have been eager to try – Yearbook Yourself (discovered via TechCrunch) and Mosaic Maker from Big Huge Labs (discovered via Non Society).

What can I say? These apps are fun. With Yearbook Yourself, you can upload a recent photo, and use it to find out what you might have looked like if you graduated in the years 1950 through 2000. Some of the images of me are frighteningly close to home. And I kinda wish that 1966 would come back because it turns out that I look groovy with a giant ball of hair on my head (second row from the top, fourth picture). I took the images created from Yearbook Yourself and uploaded them to Mosaic Maker to come up with this great grid of images.

Small mosaic

Both tools are fun. And if you Yearbook Yourself, please do share.

Checking out for a week

Friday, June 13th, 2008

IrelandI am getting ready to leave tomorrow for a week-long vacation in Ireland with Chris. We’re really looking forward to it. If there is anything that we MUST SEE when in Ireland, please leave me a comment. I’ve been twice, so I have some ideas, but Chris has never been. The best thing is that after the first two nights in Dublin, we’re free to do pretty much anything the rest of the trip. Once we figure out how to drive, that is…!

I’ll be back in a week, hopefully rested, filled up and ready to write some really creative and interesting posts. Here’s hoping.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some relevant posts if you’re interested:

10 Reasons Entrepreneurs Should Take More Vacations
(Today I figured out another item to add to this list. When I go on vacation, it makes me tidy up all my loose ends and finish projects that I have been putting off for weeks – or months.)

Becoming an Entrepreneur & the Things that Inspire Us
(Can’t wait to find all the next adventures and places and people who will inspire!)

Some interesting facts about globalization
(Thinking about the state of Internet business in Ireland – and wondering if I’ll run into any or anyone that’s a part of one.)

Have a great week!

Photo by atomicpuppy68