Saturday, May 1, 2021

Write? Right! Write!

Thinking about writing today in May 2021.  I've been writing for a very long time, since I was ... maybe 5?  I was good at writing the alphabet, especially with a red crayon.  

I had an unusual name for a kid in kindergarten -- Halley.  I could write the big "H" and all the other letters quickly and cleanly. But nobody could pronounce my name!  

So I got in the habit of saying "Halley rhymes with Sally" and many years later, "Halley like Silicon Valley" when I worked there.  

Finally Halle Berry came to my aid, as her name and mine were pronounced in the same way. People were finally guessing the right pronunciation, the first time, without me coaching them. 

When I first learned to write my letters, I was not impressed with the alphabet.  I found an alphabet that put a letter with one hump -- "n" after the letter with two humps -- the letter "m" -- just made no sense.  If I were building the alphabet, I would have put "n" first and then "m" obviously.

They did the right thing when they put "v" and "w" in the right order. You start with one "v" and then 2x of that letter  "v v " equals "w" so it should come next, just as "w" does. No complaints there. 

I understood writing early on. It was a courageous army of 26 soldiers, ready to do battle for you any way you desire!  They could change the world for you, if you configured them just right.  They were at your command, if you knew how to best inspire and rally their strength and courage. 

The hardest working soldiers were the famous a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y.  You needed those helpful vowels at every battle, especially "O!"  They did the dirty work in every campaign. They saved the day!

Since age 5, my writing has included stories, poems, essays, theses, marketing copy, PR, social media, white papers, love letters, case studies, shopping lists, editorials, letters to the editor, podcast scripts, novels and many blog posts. My army continues to deliver on all fields of battle in wartime and peacetime. 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Gotham Gal: Recapping A Round But No Naming Names

Joanne Wilson // photo credit: CNN
Joanne Wilson wrote a blistering post last week about a conversation she had with another VC on recapping a round. Don't miss it.
Brad Feld and I had a quick email over the weekend about recapping a round.  He had heard that I agreed to do it with a company and he was surprised that I said yes.  I told him that I am beyond pissed, annoyed and angry over the entire thing but once I took a deep breath I did it because I wanted to do right by the entrepreneur.  I was pretty much the first dollar into the company at a very low valuation.  I have been there ever since from more capital to many conversations.  Probably not enough questions from their end because maybe this would not have played out as it did.
Here's the link to follow the story.  I thought their decision to not name the offending party was wise. Life is long.  What goes around comes around.  And as they mentioned, most people know who operates like this and if you're an entrepreneur, you should be smart enough to smell a rat, or at least, know a bad deal from a good one.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

30 bullets: Need a job? How about thirty jobs rolled into one?

A friend and I have a fun game we play about job postings. Every morning we get our coffee (or tea in my case), jump online and swap laughable jobs links, trying to beat the other for most ridiculous job posting.  Some are howlers. Playing "Beat the Bullets" is easy.  Just share the most ridiculous job posting you can find; one that requires people to be good about at 3000 different skills, listing each one after a bulletpoint.

Photo Credit: WordPress
I found a great one today -- 30 bullets -- including being good at iOS and Android programming and QA and writing and graphics and answering the phone and doing social media across 10 platforms and "other responsibility as needed."  We laughed long and hard over this one. Needless to say, this job probably pays minimum wage.

The economy has started to come back slowly and so many people I know have been out of work.  People need jobs.  Wait, let me clarify that.  They need A JOB -- not thirty jobs all rolled into one!

We know these jobs are an obvious conglomeration of the jobs of 4 or 5 people who have been let go.   Are the hiring managers so clueless as to assume we don't know this?

Who wants a job that is the work of five different people with completely different skills and then also gives you the chance to earn LESS than any one of those five people earned originally?

A bulletpoint that really makes us laugh out loud is the "must be a team player" bullet. Team player?  What are they talking about? There's no team left to play with!

So when we speak of "finding a job" it would be nice to find a job that was once the job of ONE HUMAN BEING, not several. These jobs are jobs for robots who never get tired, get hungry, go to the bathroom, or call in sick, since there is no time for any of those activities with this kind of job.

What you find is a GLOB of JOBS with ridiculous expectations. You know going in that it's going to be essentially impossible to do all these jobs at the same time. You know from the start that the pay is embarrassing and untenable.  You know that the same job five years ago would have had fairly reasonable benefits, but likely now has none. Who wants "a job" like that?  Who wants to bother working like that?

The only people who think that these "glob jobs" are okay are people who have never had real jobs to compare them to -- aka, young people.  And the most insidious part of this exploitive situation is how many of these young people have massive college debt and would take ANY job at ANY rate. They know some perky intern will do the job for free if they don't take it first.  This is making the job market essentially cutthroat. This is turning these kids into slaves.

It's time to push back and say "no thanks" to these glob jobs.  And if you are hiring, take a look in the mirror and be honest, would YOU ever take a job like the one you are posting?  I have colleagues in other companies who have posted such glob jobs and they should be ashamed.  I just want to say to them, "Don't you get it? The people you are interviewing may personally know the three people you fired, those poor jerks who used to have those three jobs!"  Those new candidates likely talked to them before interviewing with you.

We know how exploitive this HR strategy has become. Working to create a "master/slave" work environment is keeping the economy from growing.  It's unfair to the people you are trying to hire and bad for your business and others. People with good jobs buy things -- like the things you are selling.

So try this for a new HR innovation: do the right thing and go to your management and explain that you need the budget to hire three people to do the work of three people. Even writing that sounds ridiculous -- but someone needs to say it.  All that cash companies happen to be sitting on?  Try using it to hire some "team players" -- after actually building a team and paying them a fair wage for a reasonable day's work.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Patriot's Day

Happy Patriot's Day

I wrote this a while back, but here goes.  This year we're celebrating the big day on April 21. Notice I used the words "cell phone" when I would use "smartphone" today.  

Patriots Day in Lexington, April 15, 2002

I saw a Minuteman,
Get in a minivan,
Down by Battle Green.
I saw a Redcoat,
Chatting on a cell phone,
Press one for land, two for sea.

The Regulars are coming!
The Regulars are coming!
To our town on a regular basis,
On a regular day in April
They bloom in colors bright
Poppies red,
Crocuses blue,
Snowdrops white,

They've come complete, with fife and drum
Just to remind us
That behind us, at Buckman's Tavern
They'd had enough of April Tax Time.
And from that day, as shots rang out,
Tea would pour free
And brave they could be
To make a new place for you and me.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Three Floors of Content by Aquent

Aquent's 3 floors of content 
Content is a word that means too many things. It takes so many forms.  It requires so many hands on to make it bright, shiny and correct. This cool graphic from Aquent will show you all the folks creating content in an organization.

I like the way it shows how much content is percolating through three floors of a small company and then imagine a much bigger organization and all the content they have to deal with.

I've written nearly every kind of content they mention and run a most important content department -- Proofreading -- at Communispace where we were generating gorgeous and fascinating content every day.

Do you like this graphic?  I think it's great. BTW, I don't know the folks at Aquent but I think I'll have to wander over there and learn more about them.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Halley Tucker -- Describe Yourself!

Halley Suitt Tucker
Someone asked me to describe myself the other day.  There are a lot of biographical details floating around the web about me, but I decided I should give you a five-word bio. Here goes.
1. Evangelist
2. Funster
3. Writer
4. Reader
5. Enterprenerd

Evangelist -- I like to throw my enthusiasm around. If I like a product or a person or a place, I love to just go crazy about it and tell anyone who will listen why it's just so grrrrrrrreat!

Funster -- The secret's out, I love to have fun.  I have a crazy sense of humor and would rather be laughing than doing just about anything else. I find the world pretty darn funny.  Also I love to dance.

Writer -- Love to scribble. I've been blogging since 2002. I just wrote a book. I even love to write letters -- you know, paper ones, with stamps.

Reader -- Like some folks binge eat, I binge read. I never go anywhere without a book. I never end one book without knowing what my next book will be. I have 3 Kindles, that should tell you something. I love very long books.

Entreprenerd -- I love tech and I'm an entrepreneur, TechStars alum and Boston nerd and I just can't help falling in love with programmers (like my husband.)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Paul Graham is MOSTLY correct about #FemaleFounders

Adora Cheung with her co-founder brother. (SJ Merc News)
Paul Graham has addressed the issue of why more women founders aren't given a chance to thrive -- and particularly why his YCombinator accelerator program doesn't have more women graduates.  What he writes is worth reading and well thought out, except for one thing. Women can run businesses without being geeks and many startups are run by non-geeks.

But let's read what he wrote. He pulls the problem apart carefully and brings up the girl geek problem -- they're definitely are not enough women geeks.

I realize though that with female founders, efforts at our stage are not enough. We could in principle have fixed the problem for young founders by ourselves. If we funded enough young founders who went on to succeed, both investors and other would-be founders would learn from their example. But it would be naive to assume we could get the percentage of female startup founders to 50% so long as the percentage of female programmers is so much lower than 50%. Though this is less the case than it used to be, many startups still have a big technical component, and if you want to start that sort of startup your chances of succeeding are higher if you're a programmer. Adora Cheung is a programmer, for example. Software eating the world is still software.

So how would you cause there to be more female programmers? 
That's an important question which he continues to address and I say, good, yes, there need to be more female programmers. But seriously, are all start-ups run by technical CEO's? Seems to me, no one is faster than the VC's to remove a geek CEO and replace them with a person who's background is in Sales or Marketing or Finance. It's the classic story, how the poor little geeky founder gets pushed aside and the company is run by a BUSINESS PERSON.

So that said, are there really not enough women business people to run start-ups? Are there not enough female business majors at colleges or MBA programs to run 50% of all the startups founded? Obviously most VC's have already cast their ballots about having business people in CEO, CMO and CFO slots in startup companies. They make sure their business buddies are put in those places. That's what women business people are having trouble with. We see what goes on.  We know how it works.

To say we need to go back to age 12 and become better girl geeks is pointless. Yes we should all support young girls in getting tech skills now.  But women in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and beyond need opportunities to use their excellent business skills to run companies. We need to be given a chance to be Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at fancy VC firms (jobs I've seen given to men with very thin experience) now.  We need to be that buddy who's put into place to run a startup when the geek founder is floundering, now. We need to be the CEO or CMO or CFO now when we might have 20 years better experience than some 25-year-old kid who was given the gig over dinner because he is the VC's son or nephew.  We need to be on actuals boards and advisory boards of startups now to get inside these positions of power where we can help decide if other qualified women are considered for jobs.

Let's get real. These jobs are very lucrative. The experience is very valuable. As they say about the lottery, you've got to be in it to win it.  And women are outside and not invited in.  And there are many ways they can participate in the tech community with the skills they have today if they were considered for VC, CEO, CMO, CFO, board seats, advisory positions, EIR gigs, just to name a few places where the ratio of men to women is laughable.

So let's have an honest debate. Getting into the tech community in a position of power and wealth, is like having a big bunch of candy and some men don't want to share the candy. But it's time to share the candy.