If You Think Zirtual Was a One-Off, Think Again

by Francine on August 12, 2015

The disingenuousness of the Silicon Valley culture is revealed in the collapse of virtual assistant service Zirtual this week. Read this from the founder and this from Paul Carr for the background.

Several common Silicon Valley myths caused this:

1)An inexperienced entrepreneur can make it big in an ecosystem like Silicon Valley without help

2)Users are more important than revenue

3)Capital is easy to get

4)Go big or go home.

Where were the board members? Where were the mentors? Where was the person teaching Maren Kate Donovan to read her financial projections? Over fifteen years of advising and mentoring have shown Phillip Blackerby and me that the most passionate and dedicated entrepreneurs do not show up on the nights when our Mesa Entrepreneurship MeetupGroup talks about financials, budgets, and planning. Their eyes glaze over, blinded by the vision of being big. And in the Bay Area, that easy initial capital lulls them into complacency. But I’m thinking of offering a new course called “How Not to Go Out of Business” and forcing people into financial literacy about their own businesses. Rant over.


Dog at Large

by Francine on August 9, 2015

I have three rescue dogs. They are all trained as service dogs under the international Public Access and AKC Canine Good Citizen training programs. Training them involves doing the same thing with them day after day so they get the picture of what’s required. So I’ve come up with two awards programs: Dog at Large and Dog of the Day. My tongue is firmly in my cheek as I relate my experience with these programs. Don’t try this at home.

Dog at Large is the dog allowed to be off leash while the other two are held on leads during our dawn walk. The Dog at Large has to prove that if we get a ticket, he’s trained to sit, stay, and go down, doesn’t bark at the officer, and is clearly being obedience trained during his sojourn ten feet from me. The City of Phoenix has given Dog at Large tickets to all the dogs at one time or another, a pastime they must find as amusing as I find the times I spend at Municipal Court defending them as service dogs in training, because they keep repeating their behavior.

One of my dogs is an 11-year-old golden retriever, one’s a sort of American Eskimo dog (spitz) mix, and one’s a shitzu-poodle mix. All different sizes, shapes, and personalities.

Buppy, the golden, is a zen dog. He vanishes for minutes at a time, sneaks into the lake to have a swim, and appears to be sleep walking. Don’t be deceived. He never fails to present for a walk or a feeding. Never. He hears food from a half acre away. But on a walk, he presents like an old man who can barely keep up with us. He’s been ticketed for lying down in the park.

Sammy, the spitz, is a whack job. Even at 7, he has so much energy and anxiety that he chases his tail half the day. The other half he chases me, so full of separation anxiety that he even sleeps on the other pillow on my bed, eyes open, in case I sneak out on him during the night. Sammy has been ticketed for Dog at Large, although he never leaves my side.

And Bruce, the little white dog, is 12 pounds of 2-year-old puppy. Piercing small white dog bark, and the knowledge that he can do anything a big dog can do (he plays regularly with my roommate’s German shepherdess). Bruce has been ticketed for Dog at Large when he was sitting at my feet.

Dog of the Day is a different story. I instituted Dog of the Day so I could get more steps toward my 10,000 steps in the morning. After we all come home from the group walk in the park, I take one lucky dog with me around the neighborhood. I rotate them in a specific order that seems quite apparent to me. First Buppy, then Sammy, then Bruce. You can call it according to age, or you can call it according to size. But it’s a rotation.

However, the dogs don’t know that. After the first few days, when I started to leave the house again, each one flung himself against the door yelling “I just know I’m Dog of the Day.” Buppy jogged to the door like the puppy he used to be, Sammy hurled himself, and Bruce snuck around the outside like a point guard. I had to institute a policy in which all of them can run out of the house together, and I choose the DOD outside, conveying the other two back in on their leashes.

Dog of the Day appears to be the award with the most fierce competition, although the DOD always walks on a leash because he’s perambulating in the neighborhood. It’s the DAL that gets to sniff around in the park and pee wherever he wants. This has taught me that it’s not freedom that makes DOD so special, it’s spending quality time in training with mom.

{ 1 comment }


August 7, 2015

One of the unintended consequences of rising health care costs is that consumers have awakened to the fact that they have choices. They can choose to prevent disease, and to pay people who actually make them feel better — hence the proliferation of massage therapy, yoga, physical training, nutrition information, and other preventive health services. This change […]

Read the full article →

ReadWrite Announces Crowdfunding at #WWC15

May 20, 2015

You have to hand it to Redg Snodgrass of Wearable World. First he went out on a limb with Wearable Wednesdays, Now he has taken a huge, cavernous white elephant of a space in San Francisco, the Palace of FIne Arts,  and made it into an accelerator for companies involved in wearables or IOT.I can’t […]

Read the full article →

Roadrunner 1-Apple 0

May 12, 2015

Apple is the quintessential example of superb luxury brand merchandising, right? But I have just been sold $259 worth of athletic shoes (one pair) by Roadrunner Sports. Not your idea of a luxury brand. Better try-on experience than the Apple Watch, and the store actually had what I wanted to buy. In all my years […]

Read the full article →

Apple Customer Service Suffers Along With Everyone’s

May 3, 2015

Remember when the biggest complaint about customer service was the guy in the call center in India whose accent you didn’t understand? I long for those days now. Call centers all over India have been shuttered as brands push their customers to the online FAQ. You now need a Ph.D to wade through the options […]

Read the full article →

We Have the Education System we Deserve

April 27, 2015

This past weekend I spent the morning as a volunteer for SySTEM Schools at a job fair for teachers called the Great Arizona Teach-In. Sponsored by the Arizona Department of Education, the Teach-In is an in-person exchange where new teachers and teachers who wish to change jobs — or have to change jobs because of […]

Read the full article →

The MisMarketing of the Apple Watch

April 15, 2015

By the time I woke up April 14 at 5 AM PDT and logged onto the Apple Store, the delivery date for the Apple Watch Sport was June. My first clue to the mis-marketing of this product was the fact that I could even get into the store. When the phones and the IPad launched, […]

Read the full article →

What Can Ellen Pao Teach Us?

March 30, 2015

I mentored women this morning. Not a novel activity for me, because I’m often asked to do it and I always say yes. But this morning was different. I had the Ellen Pao trial on my mind. As you already know if you don’t live in a cave, Ellen Pao was a venture capitalist who […]

Read the full article →

Doesn’t Anyone Realize Silicon Valley is About Business?

February 2, 2015

The most disingenuous aspect of Silicon Valley right now, and by extension the rest of the world because the Valley is a trendsetter, is the disregard for “business” in the technology business. In all the startups that define the bro culture thepublicity goes to the guy who builds the product, forgetting that a product is […]

Read the full article →