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.
Row, row, row your boat
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream
[Full lyrics here]
(I am late to publish my #postaweek2017 for last week.)
In general, when it comes to life, the best way to live, is to not expend more energy than needed to accomplish a goal. Rowing a boat against the current, or upstream is WAY HARDER, than just sitting in the boat and letting the river take you.
This "Row, row, row your boat" thinking can be applied to:
Lately. I have been applying the "Row, row, row your boat" principles to the topics that are coming up a lot lately in the ecosystems I am part of. The topics of "Women in ___" (be it in the workplace, in tech, in startups, in leadership, in the C-Suite, etc...", and "Diversity" (be in race, gender, etc...). My current belief is that we're missing a purposeful coordinated focus on identifying and influencing MIT in what'll really move the needle in a meaningful way. That's why the whole topic of gender, of women in ___, of social equity and many similar topics have been so slow to change.
Happy international women's day 2017
Happy international women's day 2017. Maybe happy isn't the right word. I'm observing this day. I don't know if we should quite be celebrating. The state of humanity is teetering on the edge of being truly broken. I don't know about wearing red, marching, resisting, or any of that. What I do know is the following actions we can do each and every day to honor women, respect women, and be respected as women.
18 Ways to celebrate women and each other on International Women's Day 2017:
and a pen. Take notes.
Having worked for over a decade in management consulting, and now having been running this startup marathon for over three years, I always am bewildered by people that show up to meetings completely empty-handed. Bring a notebook. Always. Perhaps the training I received in consulting was just that good. Perhaps it's training that everyone should follow.
An "Employer" perspective: I once worked with this bright engineer who would nod vigorously in meetings, actively and delightfully participate in product meetings, and then a few hours after the meeting, have no recollection of what the meeting was about. We suggested she bring a notebook and take notes during the meeting to help - she never did. We soon parted ways.
Here's an "Employee" perspective: One of my first memories working at a "Big 4" management consulting firm was sitting in a very large intimidating conference room with the CFO and my firm's Partner level "big wigs". I was an Associate sitting in the back with the other Associates all furiously writing notes. At one point during the meeting, the client pointed to one of our Partners and then to one of the Associates that had stopped typing. A few moments later, he (that Associate) was escorted out of the room because he was not "adding any value" just sitting there. I learned at that moment, never let your guard down in meetings and always strive to add value.
Simply put: Bring a notebook, and take notes = you will auto-magically become WAY more effective.
Always take notes in these 3 situations:
If you're not used to carrying around a pen/paper always, other ways of accomplishing the same effect are: 1) add calendar items toward the end of the day and take notes in there, 2) send yourself emails with the notes, 3) voice record the meeting (not recommended for many reasons.) If I'm at a party for instance, and a situation comes up where I need a quick note, I will send myself emails when I'm not with my notebook.
My favorite method now is to carry a large black artist's sketchbook filled with large sheets of blank paper. I write notes, I draw arrows and connect meetings and thoughts. I emphasize some notes with extra underlines, circles and asterisks. Always bring a notebook.
I picked a really hard one to go after. Really hard. Every investor or advisor or whomever I meet with has told me so. I believe them. I'm 10 years in on this journey and we're still going. This is our story.
This is my first time telling this story - actually put it together from scratch the day before. And it was so refreshing to share it.
Thank you. Feedback welcome.
... I wrote this post... twice... and it for some reason has had trouble saving. [So to be honest, I'm writing again a third time, but now am just going to upload whatever comes to mind instead of trying to rewrite the post.] Sometimes, the world is telling you that is was not meant to be.
Along those lines, what is meant to be anyways? Sometimes, despite ourselves, things have a magical way of finding their path into existence. You mess up, you try and will it away, it doesn't seem like it would be, but it is.
Now about 6 weeks into the 500 Startups program, it's been an emotional roller coaster. What startup journey isn't? Now about a year after we incorporated, we're taking the time to reframe and rebuild pieces of the business in terms of culture, processes, all the fundamentals that'll help us move faster in the long run. We've had to make some really tough decisions. I mostly feel like my body isn't my own and I'm the "ass" on behalf of the company. The deliverer of tough news and feedback. The one to punch the wall down with my bare fists sometimes so we can go through. Having so many of those uncomfortable conversations a normal human would go shrinking into the corner at... here we are, taking them on, head on. Each week, we're getting better and stronger. This week, I think we actually broke through the darkness and I see the glimmer of light ahead.
Into the light we go. Appreciate that you are cheering us on.
PS, try out GiftStarter. Feedback always welcome. Use the promocode "GiftMe!" to try the GIft Concierge service for free.
On July 6th, we received an offer to join 500 Startups in San Francisco.
Jumping high for joy our @GiftStarter team was SUPER thrilled. It was only the week before, June 30th, 2015, that Christie and I were in San Francisco interviewing with 500 Startups. We wanted this so badly - we truly believe that 500 will help us take GiftStarter to the next level and accelerate.
On July 14th, Christie and I were in San Francisco for our first day of 500. Marvin is the head 500 guy running the batch (Batch 14). Funniest line from him was something to the effect of, "this is like a Chinese buffet. I can say that because I am Chinese. We are not here to serve you. We are available for you. It is up to you to take what you need and want." I LOVE THAT LINE. LOVE the candor. I think LIFE is like a Chinese buffet too - it's up to YOU to figure out what you need and want. It is up to YOU to make it happen. NO CODDLING!!! NO WHINING!
(Side note, 35 out of 800 companies were chosen for this batch. Of the 35 companies chosen, only 2 have women CEOs. It's a sea of tall Caucasian men. I was looking for the Asians of course, only a handful as well. Lots of opportunities ahead.)
We had our first pitch night on Thursday, July 16, 2015 last week. Man... was very nervous. It was great to have the full support of Christie in the audience. Dave McClure standing right by you ready to pounce on the mike, throw random questions and comments your way, ... Fortunately (or unfortunately) all he said about our 60 second pitch was that it was just slightly too long. Mr. McClure is definitely a funny man. LOVE the straight up no BS complete candor of this environment.
Lots of changes will be coming. Our newest hire, Joel just joined the team. We are so excited to have him onboard - high hopes and charging on forward.
From a Press Release that was written about a month ago:
Arry Yu, CEO of Giftstarter.co, selected to PSBJ’s list of 40-Under-40 Business Superstars
Seattle, WA: GiftStarter (www.giftstarter.co), a collaborative gifting experience platform, is proud to announce that the Puget Sound Business Journal named Arry Yu to its 40 Under 40 List of Business Superstars for 2014. The list recognizes dynamic business leaders under the age of 40 for their contributions to their companies and to the Seattle community.
GiftStarter (www.giftstarter.co) recently announced the launch of its gifting platform GiftStarter, which makes it easy for friends and family to come together and purchase a gift for a loved one from a growing list of online retailers which already includes Nordstrom, REI, Best Buy and Amazon.com. Contributors write special notes with each pitch-in, all of which are compiled into a beautiful card for the giftee on the campaign's completion. GiftStarter’s mission is to bring back the humanity, personality and the joy of real life interactions, using technology as an enabler – not a focal point.
“I am very excited to be recognized with this award. At the end of the day, people do really matter and that human-centric focus is exactly what we are trying to bring back with the GiftStarter platform”, said Arry Yu.
Arry and her GiftStarter team were also recently invited to join 9Mile Labs, Seattle’s B2B startup accelerator. “We are thrilled to be working with Arry and her team in the upcoming program,” said Sanjay Puri, partner at 9Mile Labs. “Arry brings an incredible combination of entrepreneurial skills, irrepressible energy and a unique ability to engage and influence others,” added Puri.
Arry got her start consulting with some of the most recognizable brands in the world including Microsoft, Google, and L’Oreal and has spent the past 8 years building businesses with an emphasis on corporate culture and innovation. She’s recognized as a change maker and is sought out often for her leadership and creative skills.
To see the PSBJ's 40 Under 40 Article on me (Arry Yu), CLICK HERE.
I will post more pictures from the event shortly. I think my husband even captured some video that we can share too. :) Pretty exciting - and what an honor to be on this list with all the other amazing honorees!
To be video'ed via Google Hangout and then have a video interview "out there" is quite an interesting experience. I've always wanted to move to the world of video-blogging, or "vlogging".... BUT! Wow.... that step is SO HARD to do to put yourself out there. Many would say I personally put a lot of stuff out onto the interwebs... To me, a person that is much more introverted than most people realize, that is a GINORMOUS leap to make.
I'm working on it.
Jamarie is a wonderful person I met a few years ago, through my brother. Quite funny how things happen - he had just moved to Seattle and was renting a room in a friend's house. Jamarie and her husband had just moved to Seattle from the east coast as well, and they were subletting a room in that same house for the month until they knew where they wanted to go next. My brother pulled me inside one day after we had dinner out together saying, "you have to meet my new housemates!" I was reluctant and feeling shy.... I went in... and then POW! WOW! Jamarie and Thom are AWESOME HUMANS! Even funnier, Thom grew up in the same hometown I did. Thom has the actual same birthdate as my husband, too!
Opportunities and people come into your life when you least expect it. Those are the gifts that life give to us.
Anyways, it's an honor that Jamarie decided to include me with this community of amazing women of entrepreneurship and leadership. I learned a lot from this experience - and watching all of the videos of the other women, I know I have a lot more to learn. Luckily, I like learning and I have a great group of people (family, friends, advisors, mentors, investors...) that continue to be part of my team in life.
I've focused my energy this week on getting to know the people - particularly the partners/director/mentors of 9Mile Labs. Seriously. What an amazing group of caring, kind, passionate, wonderful humans. People come first. For a B2B + Technology + Startup accelerator ------> that is a wow! One of the main reasons the GiftStarter.co team (myself, Stuart and Christie) were so excited to have the opportunity to join the program as part of Cohort III.
I will be posting on Instagram, tweeting, blogging on both this personal blog and our GiftStarter.co blog about our journey.