4
Nov
2014
0

The book everyone should read…

Do your Sunday evenings look a lot like you Monday mornings? 

No – Then, read this book.

Yes, but I wish they did not – Read this book.

 

Do you wish you could be doing something else, 75% of the time?

No – That’s awesome!

Yes – Read this book.

 

Do you have a huge to-do list of places and things you want to see or do and have yet to mark 5 things off?

No – Start making a list.

I already have a list and have been checking things like a boss – You are awesome!

Yes – Read this book.

 

I am not going to tell you much about this piece of literature, more than you will need a pencil, paper and a calculator (don’t worry the little math you’ll have to do will excite even those of you – like me – who hate numbers). I will also tell you that after reading this book you will need to make a choice between pretending you never read this and changing your life!

Jax and I read this over a year ago, we are still working on applying its theories and although it is not necessarily the path that we have chosen to follow with our current project, it is one that we strongly believe in.

 

tim_ferris

 

Some reviews:

 

“This engaging book makes you ask the most important question that you will ever face: What exactly is it that you want out of work and life, and why? Tim Ferriss is a master of getting more for less, often with the help of people he doesn’t even know, and here he gives away his secrets for fulfilling your dreams.”

—Bo Burlingham – Editor-at-Large, Inc. magazine

“Part scientist and part adventure hunter, Tim Ferriss has created a road map for an entirely new world. I devoured this book in one sitting — I have seen nothing like it.”

—Charles L. Brock
Chairman and CEO, Brock Capital Group
Former CFO, COO, and General Counsel, Scholastic, Inc.
Former President, Harvard Law School Association

“If you want to live life on your own terms, this is your blueprint.”

—Mike Maples
Co-founder of Motive Communications (IPO to $260M market cap), Founding Executive of Tivoli (sold to IBM for $750M)

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1
Nov
2014
0

Here for 36 hours…

Last week, we were honored with my dad’s presence for 36 hours! He came to Chicago on his way to Amsterdam, followed by Marrakesh, where he will be representing the most amazing eco-resort in the world, Hacienda Zuleta (yes, I’m a bit biased). In Morocco, he will meet top representatives from different high-end tourism destinations, network and attend exclusive parties.

Very few people are invited to this event and for the second year in a row, my dad has been one of them. As I write this post, he is probably mingling with CEOs of companies that for 52 million dollars will take you to the International Space Station, owners of hotels that will give you a room for $10,000 + a night and eating exquisite food. Yet, if you talk to my dad you would never know this about his trip, for he is as modest as one can be. So, I have to brag for him! I am so proud to be his daughter and constantly awed by what he accomplishes.

With his laugh-inducing inappropriate comments and strong personality, there are few who do not look back when we walk by. It was so incredible to have him around. Mila fell instantly in love with him and their bond felt strong. We were sad to see him leave, but glad we had some time together. We also got to see Jaxon’s parents Mark and Ellen, who joined us in the windy city for half a day while my dad was here! Getting intercontinental in-laws together is not an easy thing and these quick visits are often our only opportunity.

Life is so good right now! We get to see Mila grow every day, have decided to go for number two, the dogs are healthy and spoiled! Everyday of the week Mila gets to do fun things with her best friend Rebekah and their nanny Louise and we get to do what we love the most (relatively speaking), work together.

 

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23
Oct
2014
0

Is there ever a good time to have another child?

There are two things that have been on my mind recently… among about a hundred others. But two that consume my peace every time I watch Mila, entertain herself while I go about my day. As a recent baby-in-arms-free mom, I constantly experience an unexpected party in my head every time my daughter chooses to walk anywhere by herself, rather than being carried there. It’s not so much that I have terribly important things to do with my arms since they must be free to catch her in case of a fall, hold her tiny hand to cross the street and restrain her from chasing a squirrel that is headed towards cars, trees or people’s houses. Nonetheless, what I love about watching her toddling about, is that it symbolizes my freedom. As she takes steps into toddlerhood I gain restful nights, multitasking while she is awake, a peaceful exercising routine and cooking with both hands.

As I begin to imagine my life without a baby, a question hunts me, should we have another kid?

As the wife of a single child, Jaxon is quick to respond that “not necessarily”, but he also spent his childhood days seeing his best friend every day. As for me, I cannot imagine my days without my sister. She had an enormous impact in my life since day one and I am most definitely a better person because of her. As our parents get older, some day in the distant future, I am sure I will also be extremely thankful that I have someone to bear the responsibility with. So, giving Mila a sibling is of top priority to me. But when?

Is there ever a good time to have a second child?

As I look back into motherhood this last year, it pretty much seems like there is never a good time to have a tiny being hack your brain and rewire it to become your most precious priority. The sleepless nights, the day’s daze, the guessing what could be wrong game, as we enter Mila’s toddler years we are slowly creeping out of the most unpleasant parts of being a parent of a baby. The cuddling while nursing, the harmless dirty diapers and her first 100 + smiles are all engraved in my head, but I am glad that she now is my little awesome friend with her little personality.

So as November approaches, I have an important question to ask. Will I ever feel ready to have a second child?

Why November? Are you ready to be mesmerize by ultimate silliness – for lack of a better word. Jaxon and I were both born in August, so was Mila (unintentionally) and if possible I would like my next child to also be born in August as well. This would avoid me any future dramas about birthday jealously and who knows if the next child would end up being sensitive to the fact that he/she is not born on the same month as the rest of the family. Or maybe he/she would rather be born in a total different month! I don’t know! I hope the latter is true since we actually do not have a lot of control over when the baby chooses to come. Still I feel like we should at least try… – Yes, Mila’s independence has left my brain with enough time to consider even the most remote possibilities.

We have switched working gears now (for the most part) and cannot be happier. The future of our new enterprise looks incredibly promising and unlike our last endeavor, we look forward to every step that will be required to make it the super power we believe it can be. So, in a way having a kid now would be a distraction. On the other hand my good friend Delna is having her baby soon and Kelly, a close friend of mine and the mother of Mila’s tiny best friend, Rebekah, is also thinking of number two… so i think whether or not we want it, we’ll be getting baby fever soon.

What does the father think? Good question

Oh yeah! Forgot that I cannot make this baby by myself! Fortunately Jax already has baby fever and has had for a while, so I can call the shots. All he wants is another girl in his life, that I can’t promise.

And now a photo drop of the few photos I have taken this past month!

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7
Oct
2014
2

The G-Spot and the food cart you can start in college.

This post is going to ignore food safety regulations – so do your research before you take my advice. If you decide that you still want to pursue this idea do some more research on how your campus deals with student entrepreneurs and their crazy ideas. If you go to an University, it would probably be more complicated to get away with what we did, but if a small liberal college is where you are at, then you probably already know that putting up a food cart on a Sunday afternoon is not a problem at all.

So this is what we did:

It was late summer of 2009, Jax and I were driving a gigantic green and purple bus back from Ragbrai, a bike ride across Iowa. We were seated at the helm, it was a finicky machine to drive, plus you really felt it could break at any point and since Jax had converted it to run on veggie oil he was the only one who knew how it worked. As I fulfilled my childhood dream of sitting right against the windshield of a huge vehicle, Jax and I talked about life, which eventually brought us to the realization that unless we wanted an un-sailable sailboat to cruise the waters upon graduation, we would have to save some money to buy our boat. This meant we needed to start another “company”, one that was more profitable than Beloit General, Jax’s online general store, Beloit Tea Source, his tea business, and Yapa, my recycled-crafts line.

Towards the end of the eight-hour long drive we decided that we would use our last week of summer break to build and furnish a crepe and bubble tea cart. The Spring before we had quickly put together a cart called “The Peanut Stand” where we sold donuts and bubble tea to students. Having had tested the idea, this time we were going to go all out. With a drawing, that would insult any engineer in-hand, Jax, I and fortunate help Jaxon’s dad who is an architect started building the cart. We designed it to include a mini fridge, two crepe griddles, space to store all of the toppings, a cd player to play french music, hanging lights and a space to deal with the money.

It took us about 3 days to build the cart in Jax’s dad woodworking shop. We called a friend’s dad who we knew had closed his coffee shop and offered to buy his cream whipper, coffee thermos and syrup flavors. We read about crepe making, purchased the tapioca bubbles online, along with cups, straws and huge mixing bowls. When we got to school we painted it, assembled it and drew the terrible logo that would mean that no one knew it was “The G Spot” rather than the SPGT (pronunced by people spigot) or the Crepe Stand.

Our first night was a complete success.

We hauled the cart to the middle of a concert in campus and had a constant line from when our lights went on, at around 6:00 pm until around 1:00 am. It was a summer night, so the bubble tea sold as much as the crepes. After we had exhausted most of our ingredients we hauled it back to a basement kitchen that once, many years before, had “probably” passed FDA inspection and spent the next 3 hours meticulously cleaning every inch of the cart with bleach water. We really did not want anyone to get sick.

The next day was a Saturday, we spent most of our day buying ingredients, preparing the batter, preparing the cart and at around 9:00pm we went to our college’s main street, where all the fraternities hosted their parties. Somewhat intoxicated students would roam the street looking for food and we were in the perfect place to please them. One crepe, two crepes, some singing and a generous tips later, most student would be on their way. We stayed up until 12:00 to 1:00 am, most nights we sold out. Then we would clean for about two hours, walk to our apartment and go to bed at around 4:00 am, only to start the whole thing again the next day.  We ran Spigot G-Spot every weekend for about three months, almost every night we made a profit, but by the end of the season we were sick of Nutella, crepes and having the same conversation every weekend with the same drunk student.

Intoxicated student who bought crepes from us last weekend: Wow! Crepes! I’ve never seen you here before! This is an awesome idea!

Us: Hehe, thanks! What would you like today?

Intoxicated student who bought crepes from us last weekend: What do you recomend?

Us: I bet you’ll love Nutella with banana

Intoxicated student who bought crepes from us last weekend: Yes!! How did you know that? I love Nutella and banana.
We parked the cart in our driveway and said goodbye to the G-Spot. With some savings under our mattress and a business that had made more money than any of our previous had, we decided that we loved our weekend nights too much to continue with this venture.

So, that’s what we did… Now, this is what I would do differently:

I would replace the crepes with pomme frites. For those of you who do not know what pomme frites are, they are pretty much a snobby way of saying french fries, although some would argue that they are much longer and delicious – I agree. Anyway, drunk college student do not know that. So, I would buy two deep fryers like this one, a bunch of sauce containers like these and fill them with delicious sauces like bbq, ketchup, mayo, mustard and siracha (if you felt so inclined you could even look up some recipes and make your own – yum!). Instead of the crepe griddles I would put the fryers, make sure the cart is extremely stable and that no drunk college students can get to the hot oil, as to avoid any accidents. I would serve them up on these, add some salt and voila you are done.

Let the people get all excited about the sauces, they – for the most part – are drunk and hungry and fries are much more fulfilling and cheap than crepes, so they will eat. You would need an initial investment to buy or make the cart and furnish it, but most colleges would be happy to fund their entrepreneurs. The cleaning would also need to happen, but hey, you are running a food business you better be into cleaning if you do not want to get shut down or even worse sued.

To test out the idea you could go to Cosco or any of those destroyers-of-small-businesses stores and buy some frozen french fries, that way you minimize the amount of time you spend peeling and cutting potatoes. Once you think you have a profitable business in hand, probably the cheapest way to have a bunch of fries would be to buy them and cut them with something like this. If you are into locally sourcing ingredients, you could talk to a local farm and ask them to give a deal on a bunch of their potatoes.

Anyway, just an idea…

…for any dedicated college-aged entrepreneur who is willing to work rather than party their weekend nights. Although to be fair, you could always be the party. Put some good music on and your friends will stick around – at least until it gets cold, then move inside.

 

I am posting these against my better judgement! But I just want to show you how not legit you can look and run a business! And even make a profit!

Internal rambling:

I know the short-hair is not my best look! But I apparently lacked friends to tell me at the time lol!

Yes, the logo was that bad! Yes, Jaxon warned me that it would not read G Spot, but I won…

 

Below: The awesome veggie oil beast of a bus!

thebus

2. The Peanut Stand! (Validating our idea)

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Yes people did this for us! I’m so sorry dude! We didn’t know better!!

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3
Oct
2014
0

Can a credit card fit in a cassette tape?

Two weeks into our relationship, Jaxon had convinced me that I could make goods out of recycled junk I found at thrift stores, mark it up and sell it at our college town’s only “green” store, Bushel and Pecks. After buying a whole bunch of old cassettes, recycled fabric and new zippers I could not wait to get started. On our way back to the dorms I had decided I was going to make wallets out of them, I envisioned the whole thing in my mind and I could already tell they were going to be perfect! Lucky for me, Jax had class first thing that Monday and I could use “our dorm” (yes, we moved in together in the first week of knowing each other, a crazy move in retrospect) to spread out the goods and get to work. The entire two weeks that had just passed I had seen Jax struggle to efficiently launch the online store he was running from our dorm, so I quickly came to the conclusion that if I did my wallet project efficiently he would be impressed when he got home, hence find me a more suitable mate.

I started by cutting all of the fabric into rectangles, using previous cuts as markers for next cuts (first mistake). I wanted to get them all done by the time Jax got back, so I had two hours to finish 15 wallets (second mistake). After cutting the fabric, I chose zippers and cassette cases for each fabric and sewed all of the zippers to their respective fabric (third mistake). Then I grabbed the cassettes and realized I had yet to envision  how I was going to attach the fabric to the cases. I sat down and thought for about 2 min and decided that hot glue was the only option (fourth mistake). So I lined up all of the cassettes and laid out its respective fabric with zipper on top. A hot mess later, the 15 wallets were done! They were not the prettiest things, but hey! People were buying recycled goods, what did they expect! I had 10 min to spare before Jax came back! So I cleaned up, laid the wallets on the table and nonchalantly sat to read a book in bed.

After complimenting me on my work he asked me “so, how do they work?”. Shit, I never really tested them I quickly realized! I mean, I had tested the first and second one and they opened, you couldn’t really fit a credit card in, but that wasn’t my fault that was the fault of the cassette manufacturers who had not thought ahead. “They work well” I replied, explaining that people could use them for spare change and bills. “Cool! Can I have one?” he asked! I was flattered, my product was already selling and not to just anyone! To the person I was trying to impress! “Yes, choose your favorite”.

Jax’s favorite did not open all the way, nor did his second favorite but on the bright side, the third did! The fourth did not, nor the fifth or sixth, but the majority of the rest did. A margin of error I thought, not too bad. Next set of questions Jaxon asked me were related to research. “So, what tutorial did you find before making them?” I thought to myself, tutorials? what are those?.

At the end I sold about 3 wallets, just enough to cover my expenses and make no money on my time. So, my failed wallet example is a bit extreme, but that day I learned key things about entrepreneurship that I would not fully understand I learned until years later when we were running our web development agency.

Patience, perseverance and research.

Follow those words like a dogma and do not do it because I am telling you, do it because they are.

 

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”  –Babe Ruth, Baseball Legend

“If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.”  –Ray Kroc, McDonald’s Founder

“Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.”  –Seth Godin, Author

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”  –Steve Jobs, Co-Founder and CEO, Apple

“Never, never, never give up.”  –Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

Ok, so after you have read some established personalities tell you to just keep on going. I am going to tell you why these three words are extremely important to an entrepreneur, right after just doing it! Yes, actually doing it is the first step and I’ll write a post all about that soon. For now, I’ll just bring you back to my wallet example.

If I had had the patience to analyze various ways in which I could have made the wallets, I would have quickly realized that I could only come up with about two ways and that I needed to research other ways. Maybe, one of the 7.7 billion people in this earth had already run into my credit card not fitting problem and might have had a solution. Becoming an expert on the field you are entering is essential and this requires research – Do NOT mistake this for using endless research as an excuse never to start. Set a strict time limit on research for very specific questions and once you reach that limit, make a decision and stick to it.

Finally, perseverance is probably the most important of the three words. Had I taken my complete failure as a granted, I would have not gone on to develop my recycled goods line, Yapa, which sold a jaw dropping  total of $110 in about a year. That’s about less than $10 a month… so I could count it as another failure, but I don’t. I just decided that crafts was probably not my strong suit, unless I wanted to invest a lot of time to gain the skills. So, instead I joined forces with Jaxon and we headed into the cooking world and started our G-Spot Crepe Stand.

 

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”  –Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder

Jake_Hills

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2
Oct
2014
0

Ready to be an entrepreneur?

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into smaller manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”  –Mark Twain

As we are about to start working on our second big venture, Jax and I have been once again diving into entrepreneur literature, reading everyone who-is-anyone’s advice on startups, stories of success or failure  and even Valleywag, Sillicon Valley’s incredibly well written gossip blog. We have devoted hours upon hours of our life to discussing what we learned about investment distribution, time management, stress and partners with Invento and all the mistakes we should try incredibly hard not to repeat but rather use them as teaching tools. We have talked about our personal goals with the new company and even if we actually want to go through the hassle of creating a new stress-factor in our life. Yet, there is a part in our personalities that is high in curiosity and chooses to ignore its salt-life counterpart and pushes us to want to do this all over again.

In the coming days, if Mila permits (#lifeofamomtrepreneur) I will write a post on each of the following points. They will be based on what Jax and I have learned throughout our years of running our own business and reading about a library-full of inspiring books. I will be listing resources to further explore each theme as well.

Buckle up people! For those of you who have no interest in starting a new business, taking unlimited time to travel the world, sustaining yourself freelancing while sailing, etc. this might be a boring week in the blog. For those of you who have been waiting for some inspiration and direction, here is your chance.

 

Things to know:

You do not need a degree, you just need to have a lot of patience and perseverance.

Have a clear vision of where you want your company to head, but be open to the way you get there.

Do not fund it yourself, validate your idea with customers and outside investment. (If you can’t convince a target customer or investor that your idea is good, you need to do some thinking before proceeding.)

Do not sacrifice your life over it, the work will never end regardless of the hours you pour into it. Enjoy the process and celebrate small successes.

Work on something you enjoy, if not you will not succeed or not be happy – both of which will bring stress into your life.

Everything takes about 3-6-9-12 months longer, so count on that. (at least in technology).

It’s almost all about attitude.

 

Things to think about as you enter this new world:

Power vs Money.

The co-founding dilemma.

No need to a create a huge company, just enough to sustain your lifestyle.

 

trying

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1
Oct
2014
1

I’ll stop being lame…

It has been over two years since we stopped sailing and I feel like one of those people we used run into in marinas (when we were sailing) holding on to their sailing years like their first born child. I refuse to be that lame (ok not all of them were lame! They were with no exception actually very nice… but it would be lame of me to keep writing about that). Yes, one day we will go back to the ocean and from there I will be longing for a hot shower, a washing machine and a life without worrying about an anchor, but for now I will just focus on my current state of affairs.

Apart from holding the tiller and watching the weather, I also hold some other valuable skills, such as being a mother (FYI, it takes a lot of skill to pull that one off – for real, yes, go call your mom and say THANK YOU!!), I am also an entrepreneur and not just in any field! I unintentionally landed in technology (a world dominated by men) and have been pretty actively advocating to bring more women into this sphere by… doing nothing.

That is right… I have done nothing to spread the techpreneur love, but that is about to change. I hereby promise I will become a more useful part of society and share what I have learned about tech, motherhood, living with the same guy in small quarters for a long time and how we ended up In this entrepreneur deal.

 

Anywho… here are A LOT of photos of my family!

Oh yeah! I almost forgot! The blog has changed… I got bored of looking at the last one… hope you like it!

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4
Sep
2014
0

John, Emma and our life

So, our life is once again changing. With our awesome nanny going back to college, our new endeavor becoming Jax’s full time gig and Mila growing to be an awesome little human being, we have decided to change our daily routine. Jax will now work from a nearby co-working space, giving most of his attention to work, and Mila and I will stay home doing what we do best, cuddle, dance, be mesmerized by the animals at the zoo, baby yoga, baby music classes and gang out with other mama friends. That is one scenario… The other would be finding a new nanny, so that I could work part-time and keep working alongside Jax, doing what I love – also in a co-working space though. That our current dilema.

On another note, I have been reading “The Pearl that Broke its Shell”, a novel by Nadia Hashima, that deals with the struggle of women in Afghanistan, interweaved with the story of a girl named Rahima. The book accompanies her through her years as a bacha posh, which is when a family who has no sons “turns” a girl into a boy so that she can be helpful to the family (since women in many areas are barely allowed outside the house). After having the freedom of a boy, Rahima is married off at the age of 13 to a men three times her age.

Her story is one of sorrow and hope and although I have yet to reach the end, I am endlessly happy to not have to face the struggles that Hashima’s character encounters. I am so thankful to be able to have arguments with Jaxon and know as a fact that he will not beat me, sell my children or be disappointed if we do not have a boy. Life is not easy for so many women around the world, I am glad to have been born into the family and society I was.

Our friends John and Emma are taking off to Jordan tomorrow. We have had an amazing month with them and are sad to see them leave. Nonetheless, we feel so blessed to have been able to spend so much time together this summer. Thanks for the great visit guys!

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Photo credit: Emma Horton

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27
Aug
2014
0

Randomness of thoughts

Today I just want to write! There is so much to write about! Like the fact that I went to see my mom in Miami for 5 days, or the fact that our awesome friends, John and Emma, have come to visit us all the way from Jordan for a whole month. There is also the fact that our last (well almost last) website will be completed this week and that we will finally start working in our next venture this coming week. There is just so much to write about! Nothing important – just life… Like the fact that I finished an awesome book and now miss the characters deeply. Yep, that’s right all of these are facts… I hate repeating a word so much in ONE paragraph… Today, I’m a lazy writer. Anyway…

Mila has taken off, so my life has gone from a week of freedom where I got to watch her walk around the house being harmless, to guarding everything from her explorative touch and cleaning the floor constantly to prevent her from eating EVERYTHING she finds on her way. No dog water can be at her reach, for she will dip her fingers and suck on them (yuck)!!

Life is so exciting some days, other days we just miss sailing. So we have set our adventure deadline. We will give this new venture 6 months to flourish and if we are not satisfied with its course, we will ditch this life, buy a boat and explore the seven seas. That is what I keep telling myself! It helps me feel a little bit less domestic. “That’s right I do not need a changing table, playroom, a conveniently located grocery store or some awesome farmer’s markets! What the hell, I don’t even need stable ground! We can take off and be just as happy” – hopefully Mila agrees with all of this…

Even though we are so ready to take off, we are as ecstatic to start our new business venture! In the last year a whole bunch of planning and questioning has gone into the validation of our idea and it has survived all of our attempts to scratch it and take off. In the last few weeks we cannot help but to smile when we think of what is coming our way. It is so comforting for us to know that if we want something, we just have to work to get it – it is powerful to have that control.

My house is a mess right now… Time to make food… Goodbye stream of consciousness…

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