The Crossroads of the Persona

I stayed away from Facebook for years because I just could not see how to reconcile all the different parts of my life in one time and place

The inner sorority sister in me enjoys a good joke with more than the hint of risqué. The parent in me uses passwords to make sure my own kids don’t find these jokes. The web developer in me processes and stores images that would never pass PG or any regular film rating. But they are ‘art’. Or so I am told. I respect the passion of  my faith filled friend but I have come to believe that all my neighbors deserve the same legal protections from their marriages as I have.

As a woman in business, I am old enough to remember taking rings off our left hands for interviews and being grateful for laws that banned employers from asking  how many children we had. Maybe not old enough to remember that in American business, but I came from  Europe where sometimes we still did not get jobs because of our children. Or lack of them, which apparently indicated their likelihood to appear in the immediate future!

With all that baggage how on earth did I deal with Facebook and its tell tale trail of family photos, partying, political ‘likes’ and religious options?

It took me a while. But Oscar Wilde said it best

“Be yourself: Everyone else is taken”.

Just like in the workplace, I stay away from politics and religion. If you ask, I may tell you but I don’t go shouting it. Like the workplace, I stay away from swearing and drinking. Just like offline, I am in private groups where I can do a bit more of the swearing and drinking.

Just like offline, to keep myself popular, relevant and  interesting, I tailor my posts. I use the little box next to the posts button send different posts to different lists of people and to stop posts from reaching certain lists.


SV Parents:          Who else wants to hear a request for help at a local fundraiser? Really?
San Rafael Area:   Local people in general
Contact Sphere:    Local business interests.
Scrapping:            A hobby – I know the rest of you could care less!

I am not saying I do this every day for every post, but sometimes it is a very sweet feature. Do you use it?

Ancient Trade, Modern Business

“What did most every early civilization have in common?”

No, I wasn’t smarter than a 6th grader. I was sitting in a class of 11 year olds, wondering how I would answer the question. None of the kids got it either. The answer was “located in a fertile river valley”. I thought that would be good for farming, but the teacher wanted them to say the river would enable trade. And the ability to trade with other groups appears to be what bumped them out of random and into civilization.

My mind drifted a lot when I was in school the first time, and this classroom visit was no different. Looking at the map, with its lonely dots of nascent civilizations, they I saw current small business owners. It is all very well developing goods and services, but if we don’t have anyone to sell them to, what does it do for us? Early rejections and initial sales show us what to improve in our products. Strong sales enable us to buy from others and build their businesses up.

What about a business with a great product but no sales? Why would that be? The pat answer is wrong place, wrong time. I used to think that myself. But my personal experience tells me ‘wrong person, wrong approach’. I’m not talking about the infamous Betamax / VHS we have all know about, but the local electrician / florist / business coach. I have seen a handful of businesses with a great product or highly skilled service who just could not make sales or keep their customers. Not because of being bad at selling either. More because the business owners were so difficult to deal with one every level that no one wanted to get involved with them.

No trading partners in times gone by? No trade = no survival.

No business contacts today? No business = no survival.

The access to barges and rivers of days gone by are replace by acceptance and credibility in the town of today.

Did I mention that my mind was drifting?



Celebrating 21 Years

An ordinary day in 1990. London, England; cheerful voices, tea and toast, traffic and gridlock. A Friday evening out on the town to look forward to. Cycling to work – as always. 10 miles, but consistently the fastest and easiest way to get around. Visitors from the US office milling around when I got to work. So? Nothing to do with me. Never had been, never would be.

That was how it was until mid morning, when we were suddenly separated into what looked exactly like a set of lay off meetings. The sort where you find yourself in a room full of your peer group with one member of senior management and a suit you’ve never seen before nervously waiting to get every one in and the door shut.

But this was not a lay off. At least not for me. Apparently some UK investors had sold their share of the company to some US investors. Who intended to move the hub of the company from London to California.  I was being offered a place on the move. A US work visa, a plane ticket, a corporate apartment, my old job in a new place. Really? Me? It had looked like such an ordinary day up until then.

Six weeks later, 21 years ago to this week, I found myself on a plane, totally ready to start the new life that had been so suddenly and unexpectedly gifted to me. I was twenty something. Old enough to welcome the change, young enough to have nothing holding me back. I had been to New York but never California. That one day, my plane took a flight path that I have never experienced again in dozens of landings in San Francisco. It flew South down the Pacific Coast, over the iconic Highway One. As we reached the Golden Gate, it flew in low, right over the center of the bridge. It was a perfect October day. I felt that I could reach out and touch the windsurfers on the Bay.

I had actually moved town and even country before. But never had I felt such a perfection of arriving just where I knew I belonged. I would have that moment once more in life; when I met my husband and ‘just knew’. No drama, no problems, it just was. Right.

Living in America has been fantastic for me. I love the beautiful county of Marin I went home to that night and have stayed in ever since. I loved the clean air, outdoor lifestyle, mountain biking, ski weekends, sailing on the Bay.

Working in America has also been great for me. There were a lot of assumptions made in England about who you were based ion where you came from. Good, bad or indifferent, it was a label that you carried. Working in America I found that my new ‘You are English’ label was a huge upgrade. 19 out of 20 people will be nicer to me because of it to one 1 who carries negative baggage. And I found that I had left my own false authority figures behind.

So at 21 years, this week is a time of ongoing gratitude for the circumstance that made it happen, the opportunities that I have been given here and the wonderful place that I now call home.

Malware – Real similar to getting nits on the Internet

Waking up to find your site covered in malware feels mighty similar to finding nits on your kid. Major ‘Euuuuch!’. Both situations bring an immediate need to ”Drop everything, already and DEAL with it.” Even procrastinators need to move fast on nits or malware.

Both events can bring out the desire to wallow around in various stages of grief, but both blights call for immediate action in the middle of emotion

Emotion Nits Malware
Denial No, it’s not really!… Maybe there is just one?… Maybe it’s a boy?… Maybe it’s a gay boy nit, all on his own! That sure is an ugly graphic telling people to stay away from my site…Maybe if I hit refresh it will go away? Heck, it’s not showing up in IE! What does Firefox know anyway?
Anger It’s that stinkin’ **** kid she caught it from! Why do they have to be in our school anyway? Who DID this to me?!? What did I do to them? I bet I can track them down if I try!
Guilt I should have braided their hair every day. I should have kept it cut shorter. I should have sprayed them with tea tree oil/ I should have read those emails. I should have applied those upgrades. I never should have sent that stuff in email…
Bargaining If I just give the kid a really good bath, maybe that will get rid of them? If I throw out all that clutter maybe that will do it? If I clean under the bed every week they’ll never come back I know, I’ll call the hosting company. It’s on THEIR servers! I think they should clean it up for me!
Depression Oh this is going to cost so much money and be so much work and it is such a loss of face… Oh this is going to cost so much money and be so much work and it is such a loss of face…
Resignation OMG! 24 hours to wash & fold every item of clothing in the house, pick up and quarantine every soft toy and vacuum every floor multiple times. 24 miserable, unavoidable, lonely, consecutive hours. OMG! Aargh! Send the site off to the professional site-scrubbers or rebuild it from scratch on a new server.…… Figure.out.point.of.entry……
Expense I love the Nit Pixies of San Rafael, they call themselves a Mom’s best friend and they may be ‘cheap at twice the price’ but they are still seriously COSTLY! You mean, I need to pay someone to clean this up or replace it? And I need to do it right now?

Seriously though, I have had 2 new clients come to me with malware in the last couple of months. Just like nits, malware can be quarantined, removed and blocked. And just like your house will be truly deep cleaned and de-cluttered after a nit attack, so will your site and your files be cleansed with all the old trash moved out. Gleaming, perfect and locked down against all intruders. Unfortunately, the similarity ends there. Nits are WAY more likely to come back, and nits are way more likely to come from your friends than from some random hacker.

If you built cars, what would they be?

“If the websites that you build were really cars, what type of cars would they be?”

This question came to me from a member of my local co-opetition. The lady beamed at me. “My company builds Cadillacs” she announced proudly. Like that was meant to be the end of it. I mean, how could I compete with that? Well, let’s not get into what Europeans like me think when they first see a real Caddy. Let alone a pink Mary Kay Caddy!

I was flailing for an answer… “Hybrids?” Because we are efficient and cost effective? VW Beetles or Mini Coopers because we are kind of friendly, funky, fast and a tiny bit alternative? Morgans because we have style, Baby, style? Maybe I’d better dig deep and come up with an American car.

Umm… No.

My final answer is that the question itself is wrong: Cars – at least those on the road – are an incredibly narrow subsection of the overall world of ‘Vehicles’. Vehicles range from  broken down $5 skateboards up through kid bikes, performance bikes, motorbikes, family cars,  sports cars, SUV’s, luxury cars, commercial trucks, HGV’s, earth movers, tunnel diggers, light aircraft, commercial jets, space rockets.

Cars tend to have a new / resale value somewhere between $2,000 for a used beater to $75,000 for new luxury. I know that there are a few up in the $200,000’s but they are a real rarity. Any running car has a certain real or donation value, if only for its parts.

Websites on the other hand? Not only is the sky the limit at the upper end with the big retail stores investing tens to hundreds of millions annually, but there is a lower end to the web world that not even wheel-less shells of old cars sitting on bricks in the front yard can lower themselves down to.  You’ve seen some of these sites… yellow, purple and striped survivors from 1997 who are somehow out there still at the lower end and at the high end.

So back to the original question – what kind of vehicle do we build? Let’s just say we are more like the manufacturer than the vehicle. Volvo builds cars, trucks, buses, boat engines and aeronautical components. And that is what we will do for our customers: give them the vehicle they need for the journeys they plan to take.