Group gifting trivia from the world of GiftStarter:
My heart hurts. A lot. To say goodbye.
I pushed and pulled and fought as hard as I could to create something out of nothing. I met some very talented and inspiring people along the way. Thousands to people were part of this journey, and I could not have gotten anywhere as far as we did without everyone.
In the end, the 10 big lessons for 2014-2018 are...
Knowing when to walk away.
Spring to Summer of 2016 was really hard. I thought I could be superwoman, having just given birth to my Lentil - that with the help of my awesome team, we could pull through this together. Deep post partum depression. I spent the summer of 2016 in a deep depression. Deep despair. My husband often had to peel my salty existence off the floor and into bed. I did not feel like I even deserved to be alive. I often thought the world, my husband, Lentil, everyone would be better off without me. A waste of space. Unworthy of the air I took in. I looked at the sweet innocent face of Lentil and would end up crying because I felt I did not deserve to be his mother.
My advisors and investors starting sitting down to give me the "talk" in 2016. They told me it was okay - to close it down and give them the write-off. They told me to get going on the next startup because that one was the one they wanted in on. I tried for one last hurrah in the fall of 2016, with my "AJ" by my side (thanks to my investors, especially Rudy, for giving me that one last swing at the ball). Fall of 2016 was not the season of generosity and giving. Power was changing hands - and the air was filled with emotions between the Clinton versus the Trump camps.
January - March 2017 I spent most of it on the verge of tears or crying my face off or finding a place to belong. I'd be fine, and then while brushing my teeth with my husband in the bathroom, I'd tear up. Standing in the kitchen I'd tear up. I tried to get "out there" and involved in the community to pick up my spirits. I tried to do this "Red Scarf" thing which was all about giving it forward to another woman entrepreneur. I spent a bit of time doing office hours. I put together events. I volunteered to help the Riveter launch. I did consulting on the side. I advised any startup that came our way. I really wanted to help this tiny little startup company called CakeCodes (which later became Storm and one I am part of today).
And here we are. May 2018. I should really have called it quits back in the Winter of 2015/Spring of 2016. I definitely should have in the Summer of 2016. I absolutely should have sometime in 2017. It is now officially May. We are in the first week of May 2018 and I am finally officially and publicly - calling it done.
Hope this post helps someone out there. If you ever want to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. It is so lonely being an entrepreneur, a founder, in startups, being a founder CEO, raising funds, doing the grind, having employees, figuring out how to be a mom as a founder, all of it. The emotional depression and the depth of despair that one experiences is so great, I wonder how many of us are suffering silently.
Hugs to you out there trying to change the world.
You'd think that a founder of a company called "GiftStarter" would be AWESOME at gifting. I'm not. Especially when it comes to husband. Remember, I really dislike gifting for the sake of gifting. I really dislike "junk" gifts. Good gifts I think take a lot of time or a lot more budget. ... Sigh.
Here are examples from my husband-gifting my track record so far.
He's my best life's decision I've ever made joining forces to live life together. Forever.
Top of mind. Crap, it's my husband's birthday and we're in the middle of a crazy ICO. Trying to setup our corporate entities and all that fun legal operations stuff. Not fun at all - all this not-so-awesome-fun detailed stuff is what separates the doers from the dreamers. Lots of chasing down people left and right, paper signatures, documents that have to be couriered to so-and-so place, notaries, and more.
And it's my husband's birthday week. Thankfully, the StormX team jumped into help make it special by getting him a cake and also signing a card for him too. He literally singlehandedly changed the course of many lives and companies, because he believed in the vision whole heartedly.
It's my husband's birthday next week... and in the midst of doing an ICO. For his birthday gift, we are making the trip down the Oregon coast to see the once in a lifetime solar eclipse happen. Long drive down. Some cheap hotel because they're all sold out. Long drive back up. We're doing it.
I'm trying to calm myself into thinking it'll all be ok. It'll be ok. It'll be ok. Husband will be happy. We'll have good memories. Yes, it'll be ok.
This is the aftermath of my 1 hour session with Heather Redman of FlyingFish VC. She's an investor in GiftStarter (my startup I've been quarterbacking since 2014). Usually we meet over coffee or drinks, and I give her my update. She gives me feedback, helps answer questions, and connects me to helpful people. This week, we met and got our nails done. My nails are bright purple (as inspiration to myself to be like a purple unicorn!)!
After three years of wooing, and then continuing to woo our investors (GiftStarter), I've learned that really, when it comes to all meetings, it's completely always about the relationship. Not just, do I like this person, do they like me back? Honestly, do we like each other as people? Do we respect each other?
All I can say, is that I LOVE the investors that invested in me/GiftStarter - investment of dollars, time, and resources. Some really really really (emphasis on really really REALLY really) awesome people. I am so appreciative of the opportunity, the opportunity to go to battle with a very tough set of cards, and the opportunity to have learned all that I have gotten to learn (and continue to learn). To all founders out there, investors are people, too (not just dollars).
It's my birthday week, so the family and a couple friends, we flew down to Cabo, Mexico for the week. This is a photo of our #Lentil bean (though, now he's much much much larger than a lentil bean now) at one of our favorite places to eat in Cabo, the Office. We devoured guacamole and chips, salads, tacos, steak and lobster, and coconut shrimp. Momma, of course, had a few margaritas (Lentil stuck to drinking whole milk).
(While traveling with an infant/toddler isn't the easiest, the memories afterwards definitely make the trip worth it.) Both momma and daddy came home, EXHAUSTED. Took us a week to get the family back to a normal sleeping schedule.
And now... we're all taking turns getting over a cold of some sort. :(
This evening, I was on a panel titled, "The Growing Gender and Race Gap in Seattle's Startup Scene". I got to share the panel with some amazing people. Then as I was on my ride home, it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, the challenge with the whole not enough "minorities" getting funding (across the board from arts, nonprofits to startups), is that this game we are in is actually like dating.
Seriously, humor me for a minute.
Fundraising is like dating. There's usually two players in dating - one doing the pursuing, one doing the being pursued. Sometimes you go back and forth in playing a role.
MAYBE women (for example) are struggling to get funded because we (most of us) are not used to doing the wooing, like men are. Maybe women have less practice and socialization with this. Maybe? Some of us are able to understand how to woo and attract very quickly. Some struggle. I personally love it.
Simple dating tips applied to fundraising:
Maybe it's a stretch, the dating analogy. Let me know what you think.
I saw my "coach" yesterday.
I see him every so once in awhile these days. He's a wizard. I hadn't seen him in a very long time, at least a year. He asked, "so... you're depressed. You've been depressed for about a year and a half, huh?" Funny thing is, yes, I have been depressed. For that long. I'm currently depressed. My body aches and hurts, ALL THE TIME. So much aching. I've tried everything from massages to Advil. I've even signed up to try acupuncture to stop the pain. And yes, I definitely had postpartum depression. It was really hard. I wondered, "how did he know?" Then he proceeded to stress that I start taking 5,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 asap. ASAP. Take it every day for two weeks and I'll see a difference he promised. He insisted I walk across the street to Walgreens and pick some up right away.
So I did.
So today marks Day 1 --- I'll report back in two weeks (maybe before) on if I notice anything that I credit to the Vitamin D. I want to feel well again.
That's it for now.
Motherhood is hard. There's so many changes that I've gone through to list, and while not everyone has the same experiences, here are mine (not in any particular order of importance).
Motherhood is hard:
Often, I'll share and say something like, "wow, motherhood is hard". You learn a lot about who people are with the responses. Now having been in this for over a year, I've noticed a most definite pattern. I will always get one of two responses to that question. They go something like this:
Supportive fellow human being:
A) Yes. My gosh I can (or cannot) imagine. With the follow up of, let's go grab some coffee or I'd love to share more with you on this journey. I want to show you that you are not alone and I am here to feel shoulder-to-shoulder in life with you. I want you to know that it'll be okay.
Judging oppressive human being:
B) Of course it is. And, isn't motherhood the most rewarding thing you've ever done? Isn't it completely and totally worth it? There's only one right answer here and you better say it. Motherhood is amazing and that's the only thing any mother should ever say. Ever. Because it is completely worth it.
We get to be the guardian of a brand new fresh pure amazing human life, to guide him (or her) to grow up to be a kind, generous, strong, empathetic, respectful and respected adult. It is hard work. Both ideas can exist.
I wrote this post because often I find that we silly humans can get carried away with expectations around what's really important on "holidays". Whether you're single or coupled, the most important thing to remember is the value of the relationship with those most important in our lives. It's not about getting a gift of a fancy $800 shoes from your husband or a $500 Valentine's Day dinner at an expensive restaurant or romantic diamond jewelry. It's not. (Though, if that's what makes it real for you - go have fun and enjoy for sure.) For many others, let's remember to keep it real. It's all about the simple thoughtful gesture to the ones we love in our lives.
1. Embrace your inner cheese.
Seriously. Keep it simple. Simple. Get or make a sweet card for the one (or ones) you love. Who says Valentine's Day has to just be about significant others, and spouses? Send some love to your girlfriends, your guyfriends, your favorite siblings and teachers, bartender, concierge, coworker and/or mailman. :) (Ideally, buy/make/prepare the card in advance.) ---> And a simple <3 text is a great gesture, too. That's super easy to do, so go share the "<3" and text away to all those you love.
2. It's the thought (and hug) that counts.
There's really NO need to break the bank for Valentine's. Unless you REALLY want to go all out, THEN GO ALL OUT. Sweet crystal stud earrings, small delicate bracelet/necklace --- all nice. Just as nice as half a dozen beautiful delicious macaroons or a small box of 4 decadent chocolates. Or go eat at your favorite dessert place - get that big slice of white chocolate strawberry cake. Or hell, grab a bottle of wine, cuddle up with your fluffy dog, your babe (or BFF) and watch a movie. It's the planned thought and the time that counts, NOT THE DOLLARS. A really big big big warm snuggly hug is super amazing, too. :)
3. Have your plan ready.
About 1-3 days before, ideally, have your plan ready for Valentine's Day. Don't leave it to the day of or last minute because that's unnecessarily making it stressful to both you and the recipient(s). Whether it's for your girlfriend or wife or a bunch of BFF's, know what you're going to do. Send her/him/them all a loving text message or voicemail at the start of the day to tell them you're thinking about them. Have the card ready before Valentine's Day. Know whether you're going to cuddle someone with a glass of wine and watch an old movie, go out to get some delicious dessert, or go all out with dinner out on the town + roses + chocolates + and then some. (Stressing should not be part of the plan.)
Alrighty. Don't stress. Valentine's Day is simple - just follow the above 3 steps.