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Diving Head First Into The Next Chapter

14 Aug

Last Friday was a bittersweet day for me, from both a professional and personal standpoint. For almost the last two years I have been a part of a wonderful community of people (mostly women) working with the common goal to give women a voice online.

My life is all about stories – telling them, listening to them, and creating them. When I learned about what DivineCaroline was doing in the online space, I immediately knew it would be a perfect match. There is no value that could equal the amount I learned from being submersed in this environment. A job is nothing without the team of people you work with each day. I could not have picked a more brilliant and inspiring group of women to work with.

Next week I will be starting a new job working in a similar role but branching out and working not only in the women’s lifestyle space, but also in green, gaming and entertainment. After a short time training in San Francisco, I am moving to NYC. Leaving a job is always a crucial and difficult decision to make, however there are a few things that led me to my decision.

Over the course of my job I know that I contributed greatly to the culture of the company and pushed the quality of work that we produced. I learned so much about the role and about the industry in general and I was lucky enough to work closely with the founders and the CEO which put  me in a rare, yet wonderful place.

When the opportunity to expand my horizons and the chance to move came together, I listened to my gut and knew it was the right move to make. When we are young we have so many chances to take and new opportunities before us, without much to lose and only the world to gain. As we get older we have more responsibilities and people to think about other than ourselves, it becomes more risky to just get up and move and try something completely new and out of our comfort zone.

As this chapter in San Francisco and my current job comes to an end, I feel good and confident about the mark I will leave with the company. Monday I embark on a new journey, one filled with uncertainty and challenges, I am so grateful and feel so lucky to be exactly where I am right now.

When transitioning from one job to another the most important person to listen to is yourself. Take you time when looking and don’t settle for anything but the best opportunity for you. Remember money is always a nice incentive, but the chance to learn from the best and be a part of a organization with big goals and forward thinking minds is priceless.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
Walt Disney


I am on LinkedIn…now what?

22 Jul

Many people are on LinkedIn, around 35 million to be exact but I would venture to say that only a small percentage of those people are using the website to it’s full potential. LinkedIn can work for you in numerous ways, but like anything, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

LinkedIn is becoming a great place to find jobs and connect with others for various projects, networking events and potential partnerships. I have been trying to get better about utilizing LinkedIn and here are, in my opinion the top 5 must do’s on the site.

1. Fill out your profile 100%. This includes, a picture, summary of work and all relevant work from your past positions or at school. Any clubs you were in, awards you received etc. Do not skimp on your profile as this is your public online resume

2. Add everyone! This is not facebook, if you meet someone at a networking event or worked with them in the past it is okay to connect with them. Even if there is someone you want to meet, write them a quick note asking them to connect, it won’t hurt.

3. Use LinkedIn as a job board. This is by far one of the smartest strategies for online job searching. Through LinkedIn you can search for jobs and often connect directly with the hiring manager. If not, you can see who you are connected to that might have a connection to the hiring company and request a referral!

4. Get recommended! If you have ever helped anyone with some significant work or volunteered for them – request a recommendation.  This will add some serious credential to your profile and move you up in the rankings for scoring that next job.

5. Join groups. By joining groups that are in your field of interest you can stay up-to-date on all upcoming events and connect with others that are in the same industry.

LinkedIn is an online paradise for networking so take advantage and let it work for you!

An Electric Idea

7 Jul

A friend of mine Stephan always had the entrepreneurial spirit bursting inside him. Despite his degree from UCLA, his MS from Stanford and a very high paying job, he was always calculating some exciting projects on the side.  His current endeavor,  Scroller Bikes is something he cooked up with a close friend of his. Below he gave us an insightful look at how he found a need and took a risk.

Shortly after graduating from Stanford, I returned back to to L.A. from San Francisco. One of my close friends from my UCLA years, told me about electric bikes he had seen during his travels through China. After doing some research and checking on legalities, we realized that electric bikes would be ideal for the congested southern California’s beach communities. We also thought they would be perfect for the overcrowded LA campuses such as UCLA or Santa Monica College.

My friend Robin always had a passion for motorcycles and had been riding since he was a  kid, and I over the years had developed an interest in green technology, so both of us had a natural interest in the bikes.

As both of us were just starting our professional careers and had intentions to getting into the business world, it seemed to be an interesting and fun project and an opportunity to create something that could actually make a difference. Our goal was to create the best looking and most user-friendly electric bike that would satisfy the needs of many user groups. (students, LA tourists, surfers, short distance commuters)

We started our business out of our garage in Hermosa Beach. We started working on our website, pictures, promotional material, did mechanical work and repairs. Things were not easy initially and we had many quality and communication issues with our Asian manufacturers. However, we were able to make it through the difficulties, probably because we were passionate about a product we had created and believed in. This was different from work you would perform at a regular job just to satisfied the management’s need.

Despite all the problems and issues we had, it was encouraging to see the customer’s positive feedback after their purchase. Now, after having sold a couple of shipments of Scrollers we are getting ready for a trip to China to work on an upgrade to make the bike even better than before. We are about to take another risk and make a bigger investment into this project.

Both of us will be starting our MBA studies in Los Angeles this coming fall.  We are not sure exactly how we will be able to continue this start up parallel to the school load, but for now we are just approaching the next challenge and are excited to see what the future will bring.

A little about the Scroller bike itself:

The Scroller is fully electric and does not produce any emission. It can be recharged at a regular power outlet and lasts for about 20-25 miles per charge. The Scroller is really easy to use (not much harder than a regular bicycle). It does not require a license, registration or insurance to operate, since it is classified as a motorized bicycle.

Check out the website of Scroller Electric Bikes to find more information, videos and pictures of the bike.

Thanks Stephan for your inspiration!

Two Cent Tuesdays

29 Jun

Back again for Two Cent Tuesdays and today we have a fairly common question from a recent graduate.

Mad Grad,

I’m just graduated, moved home and I am starting to look for a job. I’ve been hearing a lot about the dismal job market though. Should I be concerned? Help!



Trust us when we say you are not alone in this question. Although the tumultuous economy over the past few years has lead to numerous layoffs and businesses closing their doors, things are finally starting to look up. It is often thought that during a decline in the economy people are more apt to introduce new ideas and entrepreneurship has a chance to thrive. I think we have seen many examples of that recently, especially with the help of technology and social media. With that being said hundreds of new companies have sprung up over the past year because people were willing to take a chance when they had nothing left to lose.

From what I have seen lately there are a lot of jobs out there. On top of that, many of the openings seem to be for fresh out of college motivated and anxious young people. As you mentioned you are starting to look and looking is only half the battle. You could search job postings online for months, instead try to be strategic. Even if you can narrow down the type of work you want to do your search will be much easier.

Target specific companies that are appealing to you and even if they aren’t hiring request an informational interview so you can get a foot in the door and an idea of what it would be like to work there.

The number one thing to do right now is network! I cannot express that enough. Reach out to everyone you know send them your resume for feedback or to pass along. Ask questions to friends, parents anyone who has crossed your path and see if they can help you land a job. Be bold,  courageous and above all don’t be afraid to ask for help! (Seeing as how you emailed us, you are already past that stage!) Good luck and let us know if we can offer any more advice!


The Mad Grad

What are you waiting for? Get out and see the world!

2 Jun

Backpacking through Spain with a Spanish friend

“People need to see that far
from being an obstacle, the
world’s diversity of languages,
religions and traditions is a
great treasure, affording us
precious opportunities to
recognize ourselves in others.
– Youssou N’Dour”

If you haven’t heard me talk about my experience studying and living in Spain during college, then we probably haven’t met yet. Living and going to school in another country has been the most valuable learning experience of my life thus far. I feel so fortunate that I was able to have the opportunity to assimilate myself into another culture and know that because of that time in my life, I am who I am today.

Now, having been of college for a few years and constantly reflecting on that experience I wish I could go back and spend more time in other countries. With graduations currently happening across the U.S. I would ask each and every graduate to consider spending some time in another country. I know money is always an issue but that can be worked out and payed back, you will never get back the time.

With graduation comes the pressure and responsibility of proving to the world that because you have a degree you need to immediately join part the workforce and head straight for the cubicle lifestyle. To counter this, I believe this is the perfect time to travel, volunteer abroad or just spend some time figuring out what interests you outside of a college environment.

Once you start working and piling up the responsibilities it will become more difficult to flee for six months or a year. From what I have seen no employer will look down on someone who valued spending time in other countries and it could potentially help you get a job.

Here is my list of why traveling is important not just for your well-being but also for your future:

Learn another language: Becoming versed in another language will open up doors during your travels, give you an advantage when trying to get a job, and will allow you to work in another country. Learning a language will help you better understand and appreciate political, cultural and social differences.

Improve adaptability: Traveling and living abroad you often find yourself being thrown into new and diverse situations and having to acclimate accordingly. This will improve your ability to take initiative in new environments and open yourself up to experience more outside your comfort zone.

Insight into another culture: Gaining insight into another culture gives us a clearer image of our world as a whole. Seeing how other people live, love and experience life can open your eyes in many ways. It is also fascinating to see how other cultures view the U.S. and being able to create a personal unique stereotype for them.

Find yourself: Traveling and navigating through foreign countries not only helps you learn and meet new people but it is also a chance to learn more about yourself. Instinctively seeing new places and having astonishing experiences makes you think more about what matters to you, and can be a chance to reflect on who you are or who you want to be.

Become more connected to the world: Something I witnessed that is so beautiful it is difficult to put in words is how similar and connected we all are to each other. Whether you live in Spain, Denmark or Istanbul and whatever language you speak, we all laugh, love and have dreams we are chasing. Forming relationships abroad and sharing  your life with someone halfway across the globe is priceless.

With that said, take my advice to see as much of the world as you can because experiences are the best investments and time doesn’t wait.

Just Say No

1 Apr

Image Credit: Cornell University news:

I always hated the word no. Maybe because I’m an only child, or maybe because it immediately takes me back to the checkout line when I was 6 and asked for 5 packs of zebra-striped gum (you can guess the answer), but the word itself still makes me cringe.

It’s no surprise then, that when I first graduated and entered the working world, I said yes to just about everything. Need extra copies? Sure I’ll help! Need someone to cover the front desk for you while you go on a cigarette break for an hour? Sure, why not! But it wasn’t until my last job that I realized saying yes all the time was only hurting my career. Spending so much time helping others out, (even though I was busy) was forcing me to have to work longer hours and make mistakes.  Sure, it’s very important to be a good coworker and help others out in a bind, but only if you are available.

When you first start a job, (especially right after college) and are in the honeymoon stage, it’s hard to realize when people are taking advantage of you. It’s like being in college all over again- you are the “fresh meat,” the newbie, the person dressed head to toe in your school colors standing in line for a keg cup. If you are firm and comfortable saying no from the beginning though, people will quickly move on to the next target. If you are tempted to give in,  imagine being in a meeting with your boss and confessing you didn’t finish the project, because Sarah needed help on hers. Sure, your boss will think you are a nice person, but they probably won’t be too happy with you for failing to meet the deadline.

I’ve found the easiest way to approach a situation where you are asked to help, (is it just me, or always the same people?), but swamped is this:

1. Say you are busy right now, but give your next time of availability. For example,  “Sorry Joe, I’m in the middle of several projects right now. I’ll be available to help at 4pm though when I am finished.”

2. Reach out to them first to offer help, when you have some down time.  If you have some extra time on your hands (hey every moment counts), instead of going on PerezHilton, let your coworkers know you have some time if they need help with anything.

Most importantly, stay strong my fellow people pleasers. As much as you think it is helping you, taking on more work than you can handle (especially if it is not yours) will only hurt you down the line. The good “users” will sense your weakness and beg you until you burst, but hold your ground and give them a firm answer. BUT, while you don’t want to be the Yes-man, you also don’t want to be the excuse maker. If assisting is part of your job description,  your hardworking coworkers are sick, overwhelmed or in a pinch, give them the help they deserve. Chances are, you will need their help one day as well.

Breaking the Routine

27 Aug

We have all been there; you get into a position that requires a lot of time and energy. Especially these days it seems everyone I come across is putting in a lot of overtime every week. You are exhausted and come home stare at the TV or even at the computer for a few more hours until you attempt to pass out and toss and turn thinking about all the work that needs to be done as soon as you wake up.

For a while many can get by with this way of life, in fact it becomes mindless and your days blur into months. I for one have been guilty of this. Having only been out of college two years and in my second job I remember thinking to myself when I started my current job I am going to take on new things with this new job and strive for change. After being in my new role for six months and almost turning a year older I got to thinking what have I done in the past six months to break this redundancy that clouds my life.southern-adventure

Yes I joined a new gym and some new networking groups but other than that what do I have to show for every 24 hours in my day. Once we start a job and begin to see it as a career it is easy to forget about the endless possibilities that come with being young. This is a time when we are still figuring it all out and we can try new things and fail and get right back up. This is the time when we can explore new career paths or think about going back to school, volunteer, relocate to new cities and learn a new language.

Although work often time can seem like it is taking over your life I would ask you all to take a step back and ask yourself, how do I fill my 24 hours a day? Am I satisfied going to bed feeling like I am living my life to the fullest? I personally am publicly committing to do this and I hope that soon I will have something exciting and inspiring to share you with. In the mean time how do you break your routines? What are the things that drive you outside of work?

Guest Post by Author and Entrepreneur Robert Tuchman: Embracing Entrepreneurship

7 Jul

Young Guns Cover

Graduation from college carries such ironic emotion: you have spent four years yearning to graduation, but as soon as you do, you spend your remaining days nostalgic about your school days.  College is a great time, but with graduation comes reality.  You are now armed with all that you need: you are the fuse and your diploma is the match.  Let the fireworks begin!

Many leave college and send out applications to tens of corporations looking for a job. But there are others who take a bit more of a risk: they seek entrepreneurial pursuits.  Know that what lay behind you and what lay in front of you is trivial compared to what lay within you.  Have courage.

If it is entrepreneurship you desire post graduation, there are several thing you must consider.

An entrepreneur needs to be someone who can both visualize and actualize.  He needs to be able to visualize something—and once he has that “something”, he needs to see exactly how to make it happen.  In order to make it happen, there are several steps that you as an entrepreneur must take on your way to entrepreneurial success.  Do not just enhance what is, but advance towards what will be: keep the long term in sight.

It is essential that you are able to marry your work and what you love. When in sales, there is no right or wrong way to sell: all you need is passion and enthusiasm for your product. This passion will ignite the minds of your potential client, facilitating connections, and connections between will be made.  Your passion and enthusiasm for your product will be what encourages the sale—not the rote duplication of someone else’s selling system. It takes courage to grow up, form your own philosophy, and become who you really are. What you do to sell and promote your business has to be a reflection of what you are already willing to stay up late for and get up early for.  It has to connect to your “why” and be a part of your own experience.

Second, you must start working your plan, whether you are ready nor not.  Know the four good things that you are about to do: first, that your business is going to be built on a great idea; second, that great idea is going to connect you to a market; third, that you will create a plan based on what you learn, on an ongoing basis, about that market; fourth, that you will adjust that plan over time.

After you have visualized your plan, find the right partner… and avoid the wrong one!  You will have a significant advantage over one-man businesses if you come together with another person regularly to make important decisions.  Find someone with whom you have good chemistry, someone who fills your blind spots.  Successful partnerships are based on the idea of taking different perspectives in a discussion and having different talents.

Once the groundwork has been established, set priorities for the absolutely crucial first year. Concentrate on why you are doing something—not how.  Your “why” will keep you closely connected to your company and your product.  As soon as you lose sight of “why,” you will also lose sight of your driving force and your motivation.

Through your first year and beyond, court clients—and keep them coming back! In order that you become a successful entrepreneur, it is essential that you are the person who is willing to pick up the phone and call people to talk about making deals and doing business. When you make this phone call, make sure you are absolutely certain about the product that you are selling.  With this certainty, you can use confidence to build up a network of contacts.  The network cannot be established overnight—it is going to take a lot of phone calls.  You cannot just wave your magic wand over a corporation and change them into a profitable client.

In order to keep your client base, you need a great team to work with.  Make sure that your company has shared values, that there are rewards for quality improvements, and that there are strong internal and external relationships.  Empower the best, lose the rest!

Inevitably, there will be failure.  You must learn from failure: use it as a stepping-stone.  Do not forget what mistakes you have made, but do not allow yourself to dwell on them.  Take from your failure: take the lesson learned—do not let it take anything from you: not your energy, not your time and not your space.

Finally, in order to keep your company going and keep your clients happy, maintain good relations with your vendors.  It is essential that you support the people who support you.  If you are making a big commitment to a client, make sure you have a solid relationship with your vendor.

In the end, take energy from taking risks.  Live in the spirit of the entrepreneur!

Robert Tuchman is living as an entrepreneur and has recently published his first book Young Guns where he gives young people guidance on taking your dreams and making them into a reality in this step by step book that will arm you with the tools you need to take your idea and make it a career.Check out Robert’s website:

Guest Post: Taking the First Steps in Your Adult Shoes

27 May


Graduating from college is a huge step in life. The question changes from what do you want to be when you grow up to  a more realistic one- now what? The first steps you take after college are the start to your adult life. I started thinking about this in light of a friend deciding to move back home.
My friend Matt went to college in Oregon and moved to San Diego upon graduating last summer- to live with his best friend and start a new life. He got a job as a waiter to pay the bills while he looked for a job. He felt like he didn’t fit in here and talked about it often. He was constantly reminiscing about the college days and how he was the “big man on campus.” After less than a year, Matt has decided to move back home. I have mixed feelings about his move, because he did give it a shot, but I don’t think he was open minded enough.

Here’s a few pearls of wisdom for the new grad out there:

1. KEEP AN OPEN MIND: Be ready for new experiences and new challenges. Be ready to LEARN. Managing my own money and supporting myself financially was something I had to adjust to.

2. EXPECT TO BE DISAPPOINTED: You will be let down at some point, that’s life so just be ready. You might not get the first job you interview for. You may not get the salary you expected. All I’m saying is be realistic. Especially in this economy the game is totally different.

3. CHANGE IS INEVITABLE: Even if you stay in the same city you attended college, your life will not be the same. Friends will leave and life will be different. There are no “mental health days” allowed at work like in college. You need to change your method of thinking and remember that you are being paid to be there and your company values your time so you should too.

4. TAKE RISKS: If not now, then when? Move somewhere new. Apply for a job you might be under qualified for. Travel and work somewhere exotic for a while. Go out and meet new people- NETWORK! This is probably the most valuable take away networking will do wonders for your career in the present and in the future.

5. TAKE YOUR OWN PATH: This is your time to be selfish. By that I mean, you need to make decisions for yourself  about where you will live, work and play. Don’t make your plans according to what your best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend is doing- you will be left thinking what if. Go with your gut and make sure that you are doing something that you are proud of and are in a place that you feel excited about going to work and being part of the company.

Starting off is both frightening and exciting and you will never get another first chance to decide what the first thing you will do after college is going to be so make it something great and do not be afraid of listening to your heart!

-Nicole LaVelle

Nicole LaVelle is a recent graduate from San Diego where she studied graphic design she has also studied in Florence Italy and she is now working as a Designer at a marketing company. You can see her work here

“Seek Week” on LinkedIn

23 Apr

If you aren’t a subscriber to the LinkedIn Blog, you will be after you check out their excellent series “Seek Week.” This two week series (as of this past Monday) focuses on helping Recent Graduates in today’s Economy, with advice from students and professionals. They discuss a variety of topics from using LinkedIN to find Internships,  adding more “oomph” to your job search,  paying back your college loans and Do’s and Don’ts for 09 Grads.

LinkedIn is an incredible networking tool, that if used correctly, can connect you with the right people. My good friend got a notification the other day that he had a message on LinkedIn, and was joking about how it was probably just spam and he never really used it. That was until he found out the message was from someone that graduated from his University and Fraternity and owned a successful company in the Bay Area in the field he specialized (and was job searching in!) A similar story is told on this series by a recent college grad, who landed an incredible position at Microsoft through LinkedIn.

Go to LinkedIn’s blog, to check out this excellent series. This is a great resource, not just for recent grads, but for everyone interested in expanding their Network.