Thursday, April 29, 2010

To Friend or not to Friend?

In his runaway hit book The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell suggests that little things can spur major societal change. He goes on to describe three kinds of people who can precipitate this kind of change: connectors, mavens and salesmen.

I enjoy Facebook, I really do. It’s been a great way for me to connect with my friends, reconnect with old friends, and even rediscover people I may not have been able otherwise find again.

But make no mistake, I am not what Gladwell would describe as a “connector” – the people who link us to each other. You know the type – the people in your own Facebook network who have 500+ “friends.”

I, on the other hand, fall more into the “maven” camp. I love to know things: what’s the hottest new restaurant, where to buy the right pair of summer shoes, and which summer camps give you the most bang for your buck. I also love to know what’s going on with my friends and acquaintances on Facebook. (I just haven’t gotten into the habit of posting information about myself yet.)

Because I’m a totally passive Facebook user, I rarely invite people to be my “friends.” Assuming I've met the person, I will always accept a “friend request” though – until recently.

A friend request landed in my Inbox from someone I knew a long time ago. We were “friendly” then, but literally have not spoken to one another in two decades. I clicked on his Facebook page and found that he had changed a lot in twenty years. His Facebook profile told me about his very strong political and religious views – ones that were really, really different from my own. And I didn’t know what to do. I was reticent to “accept” this old “friend” as part of my network because I was concerned that including him in my network would associate me with his more radical beliefs.

So the question is: Is more really more? Do you want more friends on Facebook so that you can connect with others? Or are you happy as a maven – knowing a lot about just a few?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Companies we love

Company Name: Red Thread Design

Company Web Site:

Owner: Devorah Miller

What they do: Children’s clothing using Asian and retro-inspired fabrics. Red Thead makes clothes for girls aged 1-12 and boys aged 1-6 that are comfortable, practical, and fun.

Why we love 'em: The clothes are beautiful and cool with an aesthetic that’ll appeal to you as well as your kids. Better still, everything is made ethically in Canada.

What you can get: Red Thread’s famous caterpillar dress named for its ability to transform from a baby dress on a one-year-old to a shorter dress on a two-year-old and then a swing top on a three (or sometimes four)-year-old. And, you’ll love it so much you’ll want it in the closet for 3 years!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Life's Surprises

One bonus of having a school-aged child has been the unexpected boost to my social life. I never anticipated that when my daughter started school, my husband and I would be exposed all these parents - so many new and interesting future friends.

One family we’ve befriended has touched me deeply. Their smart and quirky son is in my daughter’s class. And their younger son is, quite simply, a miracle child.

Jonathan is this amazingly sunny kid. But Jonathan is also a really special kid. He was born with a roster of health issues. He spent the first nine months of his life in hospital. His parents traded nights sleeping at the hospital so that their newborn son would never be alone – all this while juggling the needs of a feisty toddler at home.

Over the past three years I’ve watched this family go through way more than their fair share of challenges. They were told that their son would never walk. (But he did.) Then they were told their son would never talk. (Their response? “We’re going to prove them wrong.” And they did.)

One time Jonathan’s mom was telling me about another little boy they knew from the hospital. This kid’s health issues were even more devastating that Jonathan’s. And do you know what Jonathan’s mom said to me? She said,

“I can’t believe we’re so lucky.”

Lucky? You could have knocked me over with a feather. That she perceived her family as lucky despite everything that they had been though just blew me away. Were I in the same situation, I feel certain that I would have just fallen apart.

This has been a big week for my friends. You see, Jonathan experienced so much trauma in his early months that he was never able to swallow on his own. He required a feeding tube for all his nutrition. He needed it to survive.

Well, yesterday, this kid who has been told “no” so many times had his feeding tube removed.

For the first time in his life, he’s truly on his own. This family IS lucky to have had the medical help to get Jonathan to this point. And Jonathan IS lucky that his loving parents have brought him to where he is today, standing on his own two feet.

And I’m lucky too. I’m lucky to have these amazing, new friends.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why Moms Become Entrepreneurs

We know that moms are starting businesses in droves, but what is it about self-employment that makes entrepreneurship such a compelling choice?

We’ve given this question a lot of thought, and we’ve asked around. Ultimately, the reasons women opt to juggle motherhood and business are as varied as the women themselves. We have, however, observed some general categories of reasons.

  1. New Boss vs. Old Boss: All moms know that the “real boss” is the child at home. The problem is this new, little boss is making the old boss hard to manage. No workplace boss is going to love that you show up late because you had to change your puked-on suit, miss days of work for ear infections, or nap under your desk Costanza-style from sleep deprivation. The tension between the two “bosses” ultimately drives many women to strike out on their own.
  2. Fulfilling a Dream: Many women tell us that they started their businesses in order to fulfill a passion, or because they had a great idea, or because they just wanted to work for themselves. In all cases, these women have used mom entrepreneurship as an opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
  3. Big bucks or Pocket Change: Some moms want to make a zillion dollars and believe entrepreneurship is the best way to do it. Many others are would-be stay-at-home-moms who need (or want) to supplement their family incomes. Any entrepreneurial venture is going to be a lot of work, so getting into it for the money is a pretty solid motivation!
  4. Identity Crisis: As much as some women want to be home with their kids, many fear that a total immersion means the loss of their own identities. Having a business is an opportunity to remain engaged in the adult working world while still being available to your children. With a foot in both camps, mom entrepreneurship can provide the perfect middle ground.
You probably have your own distinct reasons for contemplating mom entrepreneurship, but odds are that at least one of the above motivations applies to you.

What we believe is that your motivations only need to work for you. Want to make gobs of cash? Excellent! Want to engage in a business project while the kids are small? Also great. It really doesn’t matter what brings you to mom entrepreneurship. But here’s the caveat – and we can’t stress it enough: Know what your own motivations are. Mom entrepreneurship is too hard to juggle without clearly articulating to yourself why you’re doing it.

Whatever your business, it will involve a lot of work and sacrifice. You will come back to your reasons time and time again – so know why you’re making the leap.