LuminAID

I tweeted about this recently, but want to dedicate a post to this product as it deserves all the exposure it’s getting.

I heard about LuminAID through my grad school because one of the co-founders, Andrea Sreshta, is currently getting her MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

From the product website: The LuminAID Solar Light is a solar-powered, inflatable light that packs flat and inflates to create a lightweight, waterproof lantern. Safe, Sustainable and ultra-portable, the LuminAID provides up to 16 hours of LED light and can be easily recharged in the sun, ideal for recreational use outdoors or in the home as an extra light source.

LuminAID has huge implications for charitable organizations and bringing light to areas devastated by natural disasters.

Recently, the founders presented the product on the show Shark Tank. They are first up in the episode here. I don’t watch the show, but all five investors wanted to invest which apparently rarely happens. This product is winning awards and getting a lot of recognition. One is on its way to me as a gift for donating to my school. I’ve also bookmarked this as a great, inexpensive present.

Greetings from Sunny California

I’ve got a backlog of photos that I need to share. Given that the rest of the country is in bad shape, weather-wise, I thought to post some sunny pictures of our Golden State. It’s 74 degrees in San Francisco today, but the pictures below are from the Batteries to Bluffs hike that Dean and I did on Presidents Day last month.

I am really itching for a vacation. We are still living in half a home (contractors working on the place now), and both Dean and I work so insanely hard we barely have time to talk to each other.

A friend is heading to Shanghai and I went through my travel journals so that I could give him a list of all the restaurants / art galleries / museums / clubs that I visited when I was there in 2010. I’m nostalgic for those days when I used to travel all over the world. But at least we live in a place like this! Can’t beat these views.

Recap: 2015 Lead On Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women

I am bursting with information to share from the inaugural, sold-out 2015 Lead On Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women. It was hands-down the best conference I have ever attended. All the speakers, panelists, and moderators were incredible, not to mention famous. I sat in the same room as future President Hillary Clinton!

While the conference exceeded all of my expectations in terms of content, many of the logistics can be improved for next year. One day is not enough. There was only wifi in certain areas of the Santa Clara convention center. I suggest that the organizers (considering we are in the mecca of techland) serve up free wifi for the duration of the conference to all of its attendees. Those of us with laptops took a hit to our productivity trying to ascertain where the free hot spots were. And what is up with the severe lack of food? Chicken salad and a dixie-sized cup of dessert were all that were served the whole day! Not a single granola bar or piece of fruit could be found. During lunch, I heard at least a thousand women grumble that they were starving.

Poor logistics aside, the conference was highly-motivating and inspirational. Here are the top things that I learned.

Connect offline. Go to conferences. Call your mother!

During a Q&A session, one attendee talked about how she was an entrepreneur, but felt stuck. The speaker told her, “That’s why you’re here. Come to conferences like this. Be inspired. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs or like-minded people who can motivate you.” She’s right. There is great power in connecting with others. Stop staring at your iPhone and go to a meetup.

Be your authentic self. Share the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

No one likes a Pollyanna. Because seriously, who is perfect? One of the speakers talked about how we tend to compartmentalize our lives and share only parts of who we are: partner at a law firm, Ivy League… Rarely do we talk about divorce or being a single mom or overcoming depression. But what a great service we would be offering up to our communities and to each other if we reflected on our collective past and how that made us stronger? Not only does that convey strength, but it’s also our authentic selves. The speaker encouraged us to bring all of our different personas to the table, and not pick and choose our highlights. Another speaker echoed this same theme. She said that authenticity is at the heart of your power, and that when you bring your authentic self, people will trust you.

“What you might consider your weaknesses can become your strengths.”

That’s a quote from Candy Chang. I believe she characterized herself as an introvert and as a way of dealing with a sudden death of a loved one, she painted chalkboard onto the side of an abandoned building in New Orleans and stenciled the words “Before I die I want to…” It became an art sensation with 550 walls created in over 35 languages in over 70 countries. Through a simple idea, Candy has changed the way people in communities exchange information. She is one to watch as she is doing some amazing things as an artist and a proponent of building more cohesive and interactive communities.

Get help.

I think the most important thing I learned from the conference is that all of these amazing, successful women had help and a lot of it. It seems simple enough, but I think a lot of us try to do way too much on our own. One partner at a law firm said she was always so embarrassed at how many helpers (maids, nannies, babysitters, personal assistants) she had marching in and out of her house, but all of that help is what allows her to succeed in life. Another speaker very quotably said, “When you put yourself first, you put your family first.”

Find it online. 

The conference was $245 which isn’t chump change so I totally understand if people can’t afford to attend. You know what? No problem. If there’s a conference you want to go to and you can’t afford it or it’s too far away, I swear all of that information turns up online. For this conference, just search #LeadonCA. You can find Kara Swisher’s fantastic interview of Hillary Clinton here.

Also, a lot of the speeches were recycled or upcycled Ted Talks.

Here are a few to get your started.

Brene Brown

Candy Chang

There, I just saved you $245. You’re welcome.

Next up, I’ll post on my exclusive interview with the World and Olympic figure skating, and Dancing with the Stars champion Kristi Yamaguchi.

Happy Single Awareness Day

Six years ago, Dean and I met on Friday February 13 at Amelie wine bar in San Francisco, then went out to dinner for Valentine’s the following day, and were engaged within months. We’ve now been married for almost 5 years and have a 9-month-old son. Swear to God, I find it mind-boggling because I thought I was going to remain single forever! I truly thought I’d date casually for the rest of my life, keep on going to Burning Man year after year, and take trips around the world with my girlfriends and gay best friend.

At the time, I had this ‘woe is me’ mentality and cried myself to sleep as if I were the only single person left in the whole universe. If I could go back in time, I would slap that girl silly. I was leading an INCREDIBLE life. I could stay out past last call, sleep in, go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I may not have been partnered up, but I always had a friend to accompany me anywhere. And even if I didn’t, I was perfectly fine sitting at the bar by myself, enjoying a glass of wine. I met lots of guys that way.

My advice to singletons on this contrived day of love: While it is normal to long for a committed relationship, don’t let it get in the way of enjoying the present. Trust that if you were meant to be with someone, that it will happen at the right time.

And in this digital age, how challenging can it be to meet someone…anyone? Back when I was dating, there were only a few sites: Craigslist, Match, eHarmony. Now there’s OkCupid, Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, It’s Just Lunch, Tawkify… I’m always curious and amazed to see how many different data apps there are. There’s no excuse.

So what if the dates don’t work out or the relationship ultimately comes to an end? Yes it can be sad and depressing, but there’s something so magical about getting dressed up and going out. Isn’t it nice to flirt and hold hands? I’m still friends with the majority of guys I dated because even if I didn’t end up marrying them, there was still value in those connections! Romance is magical. Seize the moment.

Lead On Watermark’s Silicon Valley Conference for Women

A few weeks ago, I wrote that my word of the year is Rejection. To remind me, I purchased a customized ring on Etsy yesterday. The jeweler had all these samples of her work, engraved with words like Love, Peace, Believe, whereas I emailed and asked her to customize mine with Rejection! Ha! There’s no silliness involved because my laser-focus on rejection is working.

I’m thrilled to report that I’ve been selected to be part of the social media team for the inaugural Lead On Watermark’s Silicon Valley Conference for Women on February 24 at the Santa Clara convention center. It’s going down in two weeks.

The one day schedule is jam-packed with keynotes, workshops, panels, and roundtables led by experts on leadership, career advancement, negotiation, personal development, social media, small business, and entrepreneurship.

Check out just a few of the speakers. Hillary Clinton…Swoon! You all know how much I love Hillary, right? #Hillary2016

Kara Swisher? Love her. There isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be than this conference.

I believe there are still tickets available, but the conference is definitely going to sell out soon.

I will be live-tweeting the event with VIP access. Mark your calendars Tuesday February 24th and follow me here. #LeadOnCA