I just went public…

I just bought the domain to this word press blog. Let’s see if that changes how I write. This blogging/journaling here is a bit confusing. No one reads it so I really only write it for myself. And yet I felt this need to be able to just go to the site.com to view it whenever I want to access it. So I bought the domain. But a part of me wonders, what if it somehow gets found and some people start reading it? Now or in the future. The internet is a vast place. All sorts of things can happen. It’s really a great reflection of our universe, massive and never-ending. I wonder what it feels like to be a hacker who knows how to really take the rocket and take off into cyberspace, to places others have never visited before. My experience of cyber space is so limited. I’m going to keep writing assuming no one is reading and we’ll leave it at that.

By the way, two things to share (it might end up being more than two as i’ve learned in the past…):

  1. I kinda have a thing for domains. I like buying them. I like owning them. One of my favorite things is to hop on one of the domain-buying sites, usually GoDaddy, and “window shop” for domains. I start going down rabbit holes, thinking of random ideas and seeing what related domains are available. In each session, I end up stumbling on ONE that I like and buying it. I’ve never gone to great lengths to get one; i just register available ones. But I did win an auction once for an awesome domain (or so I think) for $10. I own a couple of 5-letter domains with vowels in them and they’re not half bad. Bought those back when I thought I was going to start a social shopping app. They’re the acronyms of two phrases: I Need Your Opinion Please (inyop) and Which One Should I Pick (wosip). See? You can pronounce them. You can probably deduce from those phrases how the app was meant to help shoppers. I still think it’s a good idea, but social networks are tough to build so I didn’t pursue it.
  2. The founder of TripAdvisor once shared some really good advice with me. At the time, when I was thinking of launching the social shopping app, I wondered how he build trip advisor. He was speaking in one of my hbs classes so I asked: When you first launched, how did you deal with the classic chicken-and-egg dilemma where users won’t come to the site if there are no reviews and reviewers won’t leave a review if no one is using the site? His answer: He realized that there was a wealth of review content already out there on hotels, mostly through articles, travel books, blogs, etc. They populated hotel names, addresses, photos supplied from the hotel, and then “reviews” from articles/publications/books. As people started to leave their own personal reviews, they started to clean up the site and delete that old content. I thought this was brilliantly simple and made a lot of sense. It can be applied to a lot of other ideas. There’s always a “starting point”, an MVP that gets you going.
  3.  I watched Hidden Figures last night. The story is obviously amazing and I’m glad it’s finally being told. I had never heard of the women who helped land a man on the moon, and it was difficult to watch the racism in the story. More difficult knowing that MUCH of it still exists today. Maybe we don’t have “Colored Restrooms” or separately labeled coffee pots. Sure, the blatant labels are gone. Great, give ourselves a pat on the back, we removed some signage… But so much of the internal thoughts and fears are still there. White people still avoid blacks and a lot of the judgment still appears superior. And blacks still feel the judging eyes on them in anything they’re doing (and definitely fearful when a police car pulls up, like it did in beginning of movie). Let’s be honest: IT STILL EXISTS. Goodness gracious, what is it going to take to make this a problem of the PAST? So fucking sad. I really don’t know how we can redraw the lines, start over. Sometimes I wish we could reinvent the world and start over. Get rid of all the biases, against skin color, gender, any differences. Imagine a world where…

Maybe what we need to do is found an island or planet with a new society. That’s the entrepreneur in me wanting to “start” a new world. We’d have to be super fucking picky about who gets to live on the island to begin with, because their biases are bound to become the foundation of this new world. I vote for all the mindfulness gurus to be the first inhabitants. 🙂

Okay major digression there. LIKE MAJOR. What I really wanted to share was: did you know where the word computers comes from? COMPUTERS comes from human computers, people who used to literally compute, run long-ass mathematical calculations. Who fucking knew?! It’s a word we’ve become so accustomed to hearing and using. “Do you have your computer with you? I’m bring my comp. My computer needs charging.” etc. etc. But we’re actually referring to a profession, people who did math for a living! So kewl.

Okay, i think that’s enough for today team. Gotta go back to saving the world. by the way, when that movie ended, i realized “holy fuck, some people did something with their lives”. some people were firsts… first woman to attend a college… first african-american woman engineer… first judge to do xyz… first person to orbit earth… first person to walk on the moon! first first first… trail-blazers… pioneers… leaders… life-changers…. leaders of living beings… amazing inhabitants… what am I doing with my life? it makes everything we’re doing seem so damn tiny. We gotta dream bigger, dream for the MOOON (and since we’ve been there already, you really shld be dreaming past the moon actually ;).

Today i’m working on launching our product in stores. Fucking amazingness. Retailers have been super excited about our product. The imposter in me doesn’t totally get it, “do they really like it? what do they like about it? hmmm, do they do this with every vendor they come across? do they say this to everyone?” etc. etc. Ummm, the simple answer is no, they really like it. The CEO of a multi-billion dollar public company doesn’t ask to meet with you, and then meet with you again. And to be fair, it’s CEOs with an “S” so it’s not even one crazy outlier. And YET, the imposter in you is one dumba$$ who can’t stop talking. Anyhow I’m excited to bring our products, my babies, to families across the country and eventually the world. I can’t think of anything more special than selling a product that kids grow up with. Something that becomes a part of their childhood, their formative years, their very identity. It’s so special and such an honor to be able to create this for them. And can you imagine these products, this brand, outlasting me? That would be cool too. I love the idea of creating something whose essence is evergreen. The details may evolve, but the spirit of it could be relevant for generations to come. Here’s to this launch being a home-run…

*I swore a couple of times just to remind myself that this is my site, for me, no one else, and I don’t need to be p.c. I just need to be me. Nice.



Did I ever mention that I have a baby girl?

During the one year absence from writing, I’m pretty sure I forgot to share some important news…

I have a baby girl! And get this, she’s now a whole year old! Yup, it’s true, this past Sunday, she went from being 0 to 1. Nuts to think a year went by, but at the same time she evolved so much every day that I can’t say I didn’t feel the change/growth happening. I felt it. And when I look back at the year, it doesn’t necessarily feel super fast.

In any case, she is adorable. I know all parents say this. But let’s for a moment pretend that’s just a biased assessment, tottttaaally possible, I think there’s one thing no one would disagree on: she’s a ridiculously easyyyy baby (which means she’s adorable). At least so far. I might totally be jinxing the situation by saying this and she might totally being a crazy toddler, but I’ve know that all along so I can still acknowledge the now. Ever since she was born, she has slept through the night, woken up at a decent time (ok, 7:30 still feels early but is liveable), never cries. No, like never. Unless she falls and hurts herself but that seems pretty fair. She loves people, lets everyone hold her, just stares at them until she’s memorized their faces/their scents and then finally looks up and says her first and only word “hiiiiii”. Can you think of a better first word than that? Hi. It’s brilliant. You can’t get too far with “Mama” or “Dada”. They’re kinda pointless. Especially since your parents are usually right in front of you and you don’t really need to call their names. But “hi”, that opens up a world of possibilities. Anytime someone asks her any follow-up questions, she switches up the tonality of her “hi” and usually gets by. Exchange goes something like this:

Baby: Hi!
Friend: Oh hi there. How are you?
Baby: [Big smile] Hiiiiiii….
Friend: Hiiiiii…
Baby: [Big smile] hi hi hi

You get the idea.

Anyhow, we’re so darn lucky that she’s been such an easy baby. Apparently this is how they get you to have a second one. Then that one ends up driving you bonkers. Trying not to fall in the trap yet but it’s hard to decide to have an only child with no siblings. Parent guilt big time.

Ok, that’s all for today. I’m a mom. Now you know it. I still have a really hard time saying that out loud. Regardless, I don’t feel like a mom AT ALL. Sadly, we’ve made the word “mom” have this almost boring / negative association. So I don’t really relate to it. What happened to motherhood being cool and awesome? Gotta bring that back, or just bring it if it never existed.

Peace out homies.

See, now would a mom have said that? Probs not. But deep down inside, I’m still that 10-year-old playing dodgeball in the playground and smokin’ the shaaaat outta anyone on the other team.

I used to be able to do a mean one of these to dodge the ball (and could also catch those really hard balls that the strong boys threw, straight in my belly. Sometimes it hurt so hard, I couldn’t breathe, but I didn’t show it. And who cares, it meant they were out. Neeeeext.)…

Star Jump

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What’s going on…

OMG this coffee shop is freezing. Not sure how much I’ll get through. Sure my hair is a bit wet still since my shower this am and that’s probably not helping. (My hair has this unique quality of staying wet for hours on end, practically all day really… thank you Mediterranean heritage.) But wowza! Brrr.

Anywho i have so much to share, so little time! Where do I begin…

Last Monday, we had our usual team meeting and then on-on-ones. After the team meeting, I can’t remember what prompted the thought but I told R that I think we need to do a serious strategy meeting. Not a regular strategy meeting where we set goals for next few months/weeks and make sure we have the best execution plan. No, this needed to be a much higher level strategy plan like WTF is going on? How are we really doing? I think I got the thought in the shower that morning, it hit me like a rock. Like whoooa, wait a minute, we’re moving along but we are faaaar from thriving. Something really big needs to change. Thankfully, R was very responsive. Sometimes, she can try to tame me down, telling me to stay focused, that we know what we need to do and to keep working on our goals. (I have a tendency to constantly be questioning what we’re doing so I do sometimes need to be reminded that we decided to do xyz already and to stick to it). But in this case, that was not here response. She said right away: “You’re right, when can you catch up? How about this afternoon?” That made me realize that shit, she’s so on the same page which means this so needs to happen, probably needed to happen a while ago.

We started talking briefly that afternoon, mostly mapping out how we would tackle this conversation in a way that did NOT result in much of the same. Let’s face it, strategy meetings can feel like history repeating itself… same issues, same solutions, same lack of real change, same ideas being thrown around, same lack of real progress. SO the first thing we decided to break the cycle was that we needed to be out of the office, somewhere new, somewhere different, and maybe even somewhere inspiring. We considered the local university. We used to do some of our best strategic thinking there when we first launched the company, before we had a team, before we had our own office. The next morning, we opted to meet at a new coworking space instead (the university felt far and too quiet over the summer).

Within one hour, basically at record time, we decided “Holy shit, we need to stop our subscription channel.” This is our bread and butter, the very foundation upon which our company/our brand has been built. 95% of our revenue comes from subscriptions right now. So this decision was no joke, and may ultimately prove to be the end of this project. I know that statement is supposed to be scary, but it’s not! We had finally gotten to a point where we realized that it doesn’t matter why this part of our business is not growing rapidly enough, why it has “failed”, what the implications of this decision would mean, etc. None of this matters. The only thing that matters is that “It’s simply not working, and we need to face reality.” We had tried endless ways to grow it and it just wan’t prospering enough. We were in many way dying a slow death. Had we tried everything? Maybe not. Could someone else come in and grow the heck out of it? Sure, that’s possible! But who cares!! The truth is we don’t know what else to try and we don’t know the person who would come in to rescue it. Could we continue to search for those? Sure, and you might find them on your death bed. So this was the reality we had to face. Something had to change and NOW. Enough was enough.

We had previously had this conversation. “The subscription is not growing enough, what should we do about this?” And every time, the answer was basically the same. We would come up with some epiphany, a reason why it wasn’t working, and we would get to work trying to fix it. Reasons have included everything from “We need an influencer! Every successful brand these days is backed by a celebrity. True.” or “We need to become brilliant at email marketing! Our email performs best. We need to build crazy personalized drip campaigns, follow people’s paths on the internet, make them fall in love with us, then convert them into customers.” Sure. But how will you get people’s emails to begin with? And I don’t mean thousands of leads, I mean millions, so you can convert some small subset of them and build a real business. Grow your list to millions. Riiiight. One heck of a bet you’re making.” “We need to raise more money! Growing a subscription business is capital-intensive. Our issue is that we don’t have enough to spend on marketing, offering free trials etc.” And the list of epiphanies goes on and on. “We’ve never hired an amazing marketer! We need to find a digital mktg rock star.” Right, you and the rest of the tech world. “We need to be the faces of the brand! People want to see more of us. We need to be out there more.” Right, so you made some videos, you got some shares, people liked them. Now what?

Anywhoooo anywhoooo, boy do I digress. Just trying to remember the things we had come up with to share with you hurt my head. Because it’s really all useless at the end of the day. It’s just not working! Period. End of story. Get back up, shake it off, and come up with something different.

SO we set out to figure out what our business would be about if we are going to discontinue our major revenue generator. We started writing down ideas. Frantically looking for the best path forward. Then we had to pause for our CEO coaching call. This felt like an interruption. What we were working on was so important. But alas, it’s on the calendar, we must hop on the call. Do we share the decision we had just made? Well obviously we should, that’s the whole point of having a coach to talk to. But what if he tries to talk us out of this as many have tried before? “You can’t stop your subscription business! That’s what’s so brilliant about your company. That’s what makes you so unique! blah blah. Stop that talk. Get back to work.” We couldn’t afford any push-back right now, we needed to stay strong and stay the course on this difficult decision. Of course we shared the news… Hot off the press, we’ve decided we need to shut down our main line. He shared that he felt confused and scared. We had anticipated this. How did we feel? We feel scared and anxious of course, but we also feel empowered, emboldened, and hopeful. Hopeful because if we don’t do this, we now know we have no chance of building a billion-dollar company. Hopeful because now that we made this decision, we have a chance at building something awesome and lasting!

(He has been trying to teach us to be more mindful and aware as leaders, hence the questions about how we feel in our bodies. It was a good exercise to realize that more than feeling fear, we were feeling genuine excitement…)

We needed guidance on how to tackle the next question of what shld we focus on. How should we spend our afternoon tackling this? Woaw woaw, slow down, he said. An afternoon? The next day? That’s way too fast. What would it feel like if we took 6 weeks to explore the question of “what’s next”. 6 weeks? WHAT? That’s an eternity.

And after much back-and-forth (how do we keep our team motivated? how can we afford to do this? etc. etc.), we ultimately realized, HOLY SHIT, he’s so right. In what right mind did we think we could answer this in a few hours? We’re so far gone in never taking breaks that we thought it was a good idea to answer this within the week. BAD IDEA. This is how you end up jumping into the wrong shit and running around blindly chasing the next shiny thing. Oh and not to mention how you lose a shit ton of sleep feeling deathly anxious about your start-up, not wanting to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night because that will wake up your mind and it won’t stop racing…

So here I am, at the beginning of my six weeks. Lost, dazed, and confused. Staring at a blank canvas with no paintbrush or paint jars in hand. Not even sure if those are the right materials to fill up this canvas.

I don’t know the best way to tackle this next phase. But this is the poem that two coaches have separately shared with me to guide this exploration. Here it goes…

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