Category Archives: Work

Good to Great – Can any company make the leap?

“Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t” by Jim Collins, recommended to every business person, entrepreneur and non-profit, . I read it while I was consulting with a “good company.” One of their partners said to me “It bothers me that we don’t do anything great.” I could see it in the passion in his eyes that he could see the potential in his company but for some reason couldn’t make it there. The answer was so obvious to him once I passed along this book to him. I believed in this company, one of the partners DID in fact have the potential to be a “great” leader. However, he wasn’t “The Man” in charge. Funny enough, leadership styles is what was most discussed during my time at this company.

I watched patiently as “The Man” exuded with brilliance but also thrashed around in anger making rash judgment calls, burn bridges, make up facts and figures with each sales pitch, etc. Around the same time, I saw within The Man’s circle of friends, they were achieving some astronomically amazing feats in this world, changing history forever.

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My Fifty Shades of Grey at the Office

After reading one of my favorite new books Fifty Shades of Grey, I somehow manifested my fifty shades into my professional life. (Mind you, everything was non-sexual just purely done for correlation sake.) Like Anastasia, I was seduced into a professional relationship with a powerful man infamous in his industry for his “quirks.” Needless to say, when given the opportunity to work alongside this phenomenal businessman, I jumped at the opportunity. My mentor and advisers all tried to steer me away since his reputation is big in this area. So, I assumed there will be some growing pains as I learned from him.

As uncomfortable and sometimes painful as the learning experiences were, I somehow enjoyed the growing experience. I felt much like Anastasia through much of the book, even though I had 10+ years of professional experience it was my first time in this industry. So like the virgin bright-eyed bushy-tailed character I pranced to work each day. Each evening I would return and emotionally bruised but somehow found a way to enjoy nugget of knowledge gained that day.  I guess I was looking at the long-term benefits through rosy glasses.  Throughout the book, Anastasia discovers her own powers and starts to take control of the situation as I did. Just needed to stick it through to be able to learn what I needed to learn.

All this made me question what other people are putting themselves through for what they believe is the long- term benefit. Here in the bay area, seems like every twenty-something person has a tech startup. The stats are shocking when it coming to the success rate and long-term success rates of these entrepreneurs. I have watched countless people sacrifice today for a perceived benefits in the future. They coin it with cute terms like “bootstrapping a lean startup living on ramen noodle budgets.” They are dreamers hoping to become the next Zuckerberg and Dorsey by meeting Conway and McClure by coding all night and pitching until they are blue in the face. They are know the stark realities of the startup world but they the push on. They push on because each have a dream they he or she can change the world. They are willing to suffer now for the benefit of tomorrow. Each are hoping to change the way we all live in some way so their names can be revered like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Everyone has their fifty shades of grey learning experience. Seize the day. Dream big, dream hard or go home. To each entrepreneur and dream out there…”Never Give Up” ….the tattoo on my butt.

Cultural attache for Founders in the Bay – Singapore

One of my favorite roles is “cultural attache” to visiting tech founder from aboard. I truly enjoy sharing the uniqueness of the Silicon Valley Bay Area especially San Francisco’s culture and tech scene. It’s always a buzz with startup and tech meetups and activities. This is why the Silicon Valley remains the tech Mecca of the world. I love the events, demos, pitches, hackathons, meetups, happy hours, conferences and so many more.

Tomorrow starts my escapades with the Singaporeans visiting for Founders in the Bay. They are a select group of future tech entrepreneurs here for the 11th Founder’s Showcase with Kevin Rose, Aaron Levie & Hilten Shah.

The Founder Showcase is a quarterly seed-stage startup pitch and networking event that gathers Silicon Valley leaders to hear talks from top CEOs and investors, and help launch a promising startup to greatness.

The 11th Founder Showcase is scheduled for Wednesday, July 25th at the Microsoft Mountain View Campus. Guests will be treated to an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 8 promising seed-stage companies, as well as talks by Kevin Rose (Founder of Digg and Venture Partner at Google Ventures), Aaron Levie (Co-Founder & CEO of Box), and Hiten Shah (CEO of KISSmetrics). Appetizers and drinks will also be served in a networking hall full of other hot startups demoing their wares in the Demo Table Competition.

Organized by Battle Ventures, Founders in the Bay (#foundersinbay & #fib2012) is an invite-only immersion program for Singapore-based technology startup founders to learn about the burgeoning technology market that is Silicon Valley.

I was happy to assist with their itinerary. Check out a few of the great events and meetings we have arranged:

If you would like to join us feel free to register for the public events. Or for lunch or happy hour, please contact me.

Startup Incubator & awesome neighborhood cafe in the Mission

780 Cafe – I/O Ventures
780 Valencia St
(between 19th St & 18th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Neighborhood: Mission
(415) 552-2040

Great little spot in the mission where I have visited a few of my startup founder friends from time to time. Upstairs is the incubator portion where the selected tech founders in the I/O Ventures incubator group works. Downstairs/Street level is the cafe where anyone could come, sit, enjoy the cafe while hashing out their plan on becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg. The decor is hip, lofty, modern, urban. The noise level makes it hard-to-focus but other than that it has great ambiance for a meeting over coffee or lunch. This spot is highly recommended for the visiting entrepreneur for sure.

Tip #1 – The cucumber basil lemonade is so refreshing I ordered 3.
Tip #2 – Monthly on certain Sundays there is a local street fair on Valencia right outside of the cafe.
Tip #3 – Not too far from the BART.

Here’s what they have to say for themselves:

“Located in the heart of the Mission District, 780 Café is quickly becoming the brightest new cyber incubator café on Valencia Street. The spacious, modern architecture is ideal for a Blue Bottle Coffee in the morning, business meeting in the afternoon, or charismatic event for the evening. In our lounge, you will be amongst i/o Venture start-up companies and be able to mingle with some of the tech industries finest. Formerly “The Summit”, 780 Café opened in late February of 2012 by owner Jose Ramos and his family. Moving into a new direction with optimism and New York City bred taste, Ramos plans to make this site flourish with social activities and memories for all of San Francisco. Click and discover more about this multifaceted cyber incubator locale.” http://www.780cafe.com/

Co-working – NextSpace & Sandbox Suites

NextSpace-SF

  • Location:
    •  In the heart of downtown SOMA financial district. Conveniently located near the BART & public transportation. This space has 2 levels on the 2nd and 3rd floor.
  • Ambiance:
    • Well decorated capturing the tech start-up feel with their open space plan, brick walls, primary colored walls mixed with neutrals, bright furniture & cool art
    • Hotdesking – shared desks and tables so you could work just about anywhere.
    • Comfy couches to lounge or work
    • Windows bringing in natural light to help energize members
    • Not too crowded and not too quite. Perfect place to work if you like hearing others around you. Not the best if you want a quite space to yourself. Small offices would be ok for that.
  • Great for networking:
    • Other founders and startups work there and the vibe is good, you could chat with other without feeling like you are in a library.
    • On Fridays at 4:45 pm they start their Member’s Happy Hour which are sometimes sponsored by local companies.
      • I was there when Tropo sponsored the beers and brought in reps to chat it up with members.
    • Conference rooms hold events that are free for members to attend.
      • I was there to attend a Brown Bag Lunch: Attract More Clients Now! by Coach from Clarity Unlimited
  • Tips:
    • Free trial day when you come for a tour
    • They have cubbies to stash your stuff
    • Office Manager was very nice and provided a Mac power cable when I forgot to pack mine.
    • They have a variety of membership levels to meet your needs & budget.
    • Members could use any other their other locations as well as the
    • They are members of a collaborative union…so members could use other Coworking spaces they are affiliated with.

 

Sandbox Suites:

I checked out 3 of their 4 locations. 

Union Square @ 567 Sutter

  • Location:Union Sqare
    • They had limited availability and had some opening up.
    • Conveniently located near everything.
  • Ambiance:
    • First thing that struck me was how quiet it was, especially being in Union Square. Great for those who want to quiet space to think and work.
    • Open space plan using bright colors, some accents and art.
    • Private offices have windows and general area has skylights bringing in lots of natural light.
    • The “Digital Bedouin” are the general hotdesking are in the open but the members are very quiet and network a bit less than other Coworking establishments.
  • Networking:
    • Free trial day in any of their multiple locations throughout the city.
    • They do hold Member Tea and events in the open “Atrium” there so there are chances to network.
  • Tips:
    • As a member, you could use and attend events at any of their 4 locations
    • Near a tons budget eateries, restaurants & bars.
    • They have a variety of membership levels to meet your needs & budget…when they become available.

  SOMA/SOUTH PARK @ 404 Bryant St

  • Location:
    • SOMA/South Beach/South Park near a many other Tech companies…where all the action is.
    • Near freeways and public parking. Bit of a walk from nearest Muni lines-Less convenient to public transportation
    • In the Basement – some windows provide light into the space, private offices which have glass walls bringing in the natural light to the general area.
  • Ambiance:
    • Open space plan using Modern & Minimal Mondrian-inspired decor-stark whites with bright primary colors
    • The “Digital Bedouin” are the general desks are in the open, generally lit using florescent lighting. Has a library feel to it.
    • Great productive space, members are quiet and network a bit less than other Coworking establishments
  • Great for networking:
    • Free trial day in any of their multiple locations throughout the city.
    • Open “Atrium” was used as an event space – members attend free.
    • I was there for a Funders & Founders Meetup event – “Crowdfunding Your Startup – The Future of Startup Funding” where they brought in relevant speakers and 75+ people in the startup/tech industry attended.
  • Tips:
    • Free trial day in any of their multiple locations throughout the city.
    • Office Manager Laura was very friendly and helpful.
    • Not near very many budget eateries like in downtown, however, it is near nice restaurants & bars.
    • South Park is a great place to take a break or eat at a nice restaurant.
    • They have a variety of membership levels to meet your needs & budget.
    • My favorite of the 3 Sandbox suites visited.

SOMA @ 123 10th Street

  • Location:
    • SOMA convenient to the BART & Muni lines, near Civic Center.
  • Ambiance:
    • Kitchy – College decor using off-white walls and brightly colored Ikea furniture & accessories.
    • Loft upstairs allows the space to have a more open feel.
    • The “Digital Bedouin” are the general desks downstairs, generally lit using florescent lighting.
    • Private desks and conference rooms upstairs – lack of natural lighting is a bit oppressive.
  • Tips:
    • Free trial day when you come for a tour
    • They have cubies to stash your stuff
    • As a member, you could use and attend events at any of their 4 locations
    • They have a variety of membership levels to meet your needs & budget.