Entrepreneur and Small Business Consultant
What I do now: I work with small businesses and individuals to create and implement new lines of business, design products, websites, content, custom software apps (working in conjunction with some developers). Current projects: To accommodate the production of content, I started Leaving Madmen Publishing and I am in the process of starting up an online estate sale business with a mobile app.
What I did before: I started my first business in the mid-80s. I was very young and while my 2-year-old son banged on pots and pans on the floor (that’s him in the advertising photo), I created patterns and cut fabric on the kitchen table. I designed, manufactured and sold one of the first child’s shopping cart seats.
My husband at the time (we were divorced a couple of years later) hated the idea up being in “children’s products” so I gave in and got a “real” job in technology marketing. Although I do not consider myself a marketing person (come back to read the books coming up: Marketing Fails and Marketing While Keeping Your Soul), for the next 10 years I clawed my way to a VP position in advanced technology marketing. I learned a number of things from this experience.
- You do not have to like something to be good at it, but if you want to be happier, find your niche in both work and love and stick with it.
- You should not give up on something you know is a good idea and don’t take advice from people with dumb reasoning.
My next business was an international public relations company called Tech Tours, Inc. The company started as a Silicon Valley tour company because of my knowledge of the Bay Area and technology. Admittedly, I was a bit of a technology history nerd and had created a website for fun that incorporated old technology pictures and information, dates of the first computer, controversies between Britain and US developments, all about Shockley and the transistor, original inventors, etc. I said I was a nerd…
One day I got a call from the San Jose Convention Center who wanted me to do VIP tours of the Valley for visiting journalists, television companies, and high-profile tourists from other countries. I would take small groups of five to seven people in a limo to see and hear the stories about Stanford University, the Hewlett-Packard and Apple garage, the old Shockley Labs, Fairchild, Intel, etc. I even got to see, and take a few of my VIP clients, to the secret warehouse on Moffett field that housed some old tech equipment like parts of the Eniac and Baby, a Cray mainframe, and the old Xerox kitchen computer (it was the size of a small desk) created so that the ladies could pull up recipes (because that’s what they thought personal computers would be good for)! That little tour company made me smile a lot. All that old equipment is now at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.
The primary part of that company was bringing international technology journalists to the US on an all-paid press tour of multiple technology companies. After the dot-com crash, technology companies tightened their belts hard on marketing and PR spending. By 2012 marketing and public relations were making major technological advances into digital content, production, and media outlets. Everything was changing. Adapt or die. Eventually that business took a new shape as I focused my skills and interest on design, small business consulting and support, which is what I’m still doing.
As a consultant and organizer, some of the more interesting projects I have been involved with include:
- Writing an international public relations guidebook.
- Writing a 50 page environmental impact report for law firm clients in construction.
- Working with a nonprofit start-up. I wrote the entire 501 c3 documentation which was approved by the IRS the first time.
- I then organized a live and online auction of artwork for a fundraiser engaging over 70 artists from as far away as Australia. This included collecting, organizing, and transferring all the artwork donated between San Francisco and Chicago to be displayed in two live shows.