Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tara Hunt: Shy, retiring wallflower?

Tara Hunt from horsepigcow, Pinko Marketing and, oh yeah, her actual day job, Riya, has a problem: her boyfriend Chris Messina is getting sole or more credit for ideas/actions that are jointly theirs or even mostly just hers. As she puts it in this lengthy post:
"We talk about being "Partners in Crime" (that's what the PiC stands for - cat is out of the bag), but people most often credit Chris with our co-projects and either totally dismiss my involvement or chalk it up to being somewhat lesser."

Tara gives highly visible examples of this happening to other fine Silicon Valley women. Tara also thinks of herself as non-self-promotional, and therefore is quite willing to go down this path:
"None of the above examples makes anyone bad or's just a continuous perception problem that persists through changing times. And truly, I don't want to become an aggressive self-promoter."

I'm no Tara-stalker; I don't follow her every move, but I've seen her in action. She spoke on a BlogHer panel at SXSW Interactive in March, and just Tuesday she and I (and her PiC Chris) shared a panel at the NetSquared conference.

I was going to leave a comment on her blog, but it so easily broke my "3 paragraphs or more, and a comment needs to become a blog post" rule that here I am with this to say:

Tara: you are neither a wallflower nor a whiner. I think of you as extremely vocal and visible. How many speaking engagements have you had this year? How quickly has your blog become successful and well-read? To my knowledge you are widely known, sought after, quoted etc. The bottom line is that you have made yourself one of the least invisible valley denizens there are this year. And if you accomplished that via self-promotion I say: good for you! You have ideas and strong beliefs, and obviously they resonate with people. The only time people get offended by the aggressive promotion of one's ideas is when they happen to disagree with the ideas! Silicon Valley thrives on ideas. Bring on the ideas. Who is ANY blogger to complain about aggressive self-promotion, after all, when we're all busily working our own "personal printing presses" (as Jay Rosen dubbed blogs, I believe.)

Why are you (and actually everyone else) so quick to say: "None of the above examples makes anyone bad or sexist"? Are we trying to be polite here?

If they're not bad or sexist, I guess the alternative is that people were too lazy to do their homework. I think it is pretty obvious Pinko Marketing is yours. I think it was pretty obvious that WineCamp was a co-production. Just as it should have been obvious that Kaliya (otherwise known as IdentityWoman for god's sake) was a co-producer of the identity event and Rashmi the co-producer of DCamp. All you had to do was look at the event web sites.

Stopping after the man's name isn't an accident or unavoidable. People should be called on it, and if they're not bad or sexist then they'll correct themselves, damnit, and are embarrassed into not making that horrible gaffe again, not making the assumptions that led to their erroneous statements or actions.

And if I hear the "aggressive vs. assertive" thing one more time my head will explode. Look, all people can be assholes. Men and women. Don't be one. Or be one, and live with the moniker. Larry Ellison does, right? Clearly it doesn't bother him. But I dont buy that "women have to learn to be assertive not aggressive".

Women have to do what they think is right to get what they want and live with the consequences of how they did that, just like men. You can be the nicest, most ladylike gal on the block, and someone is going to find some reason to call you a bitch. Same goes for men of course. Although they might call you something else.

You get more than one woman in a room, and amongst ourselves we will often talk about our personal experiences of sexism, harrassment or just plain marginalization. Everything from Carly Fiorina being called a "token bimbo" to women who aren't invited to certain company "team-building" functions (read: golf outings or bar-hopping.)

When I went to have a serious one-on-one with my CEO about my advancement path in the company, he started by asking me how old I was. No-no number one, no matter the gender. I knew the question was coming, and I was ready.

"I'm 5 years older than you were when you founded this company and became its CEO" said I.

His response? "Really? What's your secret? You look so young."

"Drink lots of water and stay out of the sun" said I, "but back to my question."

His response, with a figurative pat on the head: "Come on, don't you think you've done pretty well for yourself already?"

"Yes, and now I am looking toward my future path."

And I sat there and tried to imagine this guy asking any ambitious, go-getter junior exec man how old he was and why he wasn't satisfied to sit tight where he was.

The point is that even if some of us haven't personally been there, it's not really surprising when another woman tells us her story.

And we have to be willing to tell those stories in mixed company. Because most men would find them as appalling as our fellow women.

My favorite moment of the recent movie "North Country", which starred Charlize Theron as a miner fighting persistent, sanctioned sexual harrassment, was towards the end when it became obvious that most of the men in the mine were also appalled by the treatment the women were getting and were willing to stand up with them.

Because it is not "female trouble" when this stuff still happens. It is trouble for us all!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Lisa talks BlogHer on KCBS Radio

OK, I didn't actually hear it, but a friend called me today to let me know that Lisa's interview with Patti Riesing from KCBS was aired today.

Here's the brief written recap of the interview.

Friday, May 26, 2006

De-nise, De-nise, De-nise is on fire!

Denise Howell is on a blogging roll these past two days.

First, visit her over at Corante, where she pretty much skewers the NY Times column entitled Interns? Bloggers need not apply..

See the article pretty much assumes this is a generational issue of young people being all personal and transparent on their blogs, and having it backfire. Denise accurately points out the tiny little fact that there are plenty of us grown people talking about our pet peeves, our weekend escapades and our orgasms online. (That's the royal "our", as I never blog about my orgasms.)

This came up at SXSW when we were talking about our BlogHer survey about the boundaries between the personal and professional in blogging. Someone in the audeince made the very incisive point that in the not-too-distant future the people in charge will be people who are used to being able to read someone's blog and get the sense of who they are. They will be suspicious of those without a transparent online presence!

But to Denise's point about the cliche of thinking this only applies to the quite young...sorry, but some of those who have been Dooced, including Irma La Dooce herself, are not 21 year old college kids. Sheesh!

Then, to top off a good week's work, Denise dissects the Apple vs. Does decision at her own Bag and Baggage. (That's the one where Apple was suing a couple of blogs to try to find out who their sources were for some posts revealing info pre-public announcement. Looks like it's good news for bloggers on this one.

So, Denise, I hope you're taking the weekend off, because you were a busy and brilliant blogger this week!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

NetSquared NextWeek

You can see the little logo in my sidebar there, yes Lisa and I are both speaking at NetSquared next week.

Lisa is speaking on Gender and the social web.

I am speaking on The distributed grassroots marketing team.

Here's more info on how you can participate...remotely:
On May 30-31st in San Jose, CA the NetSquared Conference will convene early adopters, technologists, corporations, philanthropists, and nonprofit and non-governmental leaders to discuss and take concrete steps towards using social web tools like blogging, vlogging, tagging and podcasting for social change.

You can participate in the conference remotely in 3 ways:

1. Participate in the NetSquared chatroom where speakers like Mike Linksvayer of Creative Commons, Scott Heiferman of and Robyn Deupree of Bloglines will be sharing info. and answering questions.

2. Chat it up in the Conference Hallway chat room. We're using for both chats which is super easy and user-friendly.
3. Post a question to be asked at a conference session, or write a blog post to start the conversation online. Just peruse the conference sessions and click on a theme and session topic that interests you. At the bottom of the session description you can add your question or blog post.

Also, we will have folks recording the conference for you on our blog:


and vlog:

So you don't have to miss a moment!

For more information contact

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Online Q&A with BlogHer starts now

For the next two hours Lisa, Jory and I are standing by with the Contra Costa Times to answer your burning questinos about BlogHer.

You can join in the fun here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Latest BlogHer announcement: Day Two keynote speakers

Don't miss this announcement of the BlogHer Conference '06 Day Two Keynote speakers.

Short list:

Arianna Huffington
Caroline Little
Mena Trott
Grace Davis
with Chris Nolan moderating

But check out the announcement to check out their bios and links.

I am, needless to say, completely thrilled.

Day One is already sold out, but there is still time to register for Day Two.

How can you miss it? :)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cross-post: BlogHer(s) in the News: Contra Costa Times article, audio interview and online Q&A Tuesday morning

Ignore the scary photo, and check out this lengthy feature on women blogging and BlogHer in today's Contra Costa Times. (The CCTimes is like the SJ Mercury for the East Bay.) The writer, Jessica Guynn, spent an inordinate amount of time working on the article...more than two months...and it shows.

She quotes notable blog commentators like Clay Shirky, danah boyd, Jeneane Sessum and Rebecca Blood. To play up the local angle she also interviewed numerous BlogHers who live in the East Bay, including Maria Niles, Britt Bravo and Melinda Casino.

Ms. Guynn also conducted an audio interview with us that can be found here.

And the Times kindly printed representative samples of our blogging here. (Yes, the formatting on that link is odd. The excerpts are from me, then Lisa, then Jory respectively.)

Lastly, the Times has planned an online Q&A with us for Tuesday morning from 10AM-12PM. You can start submitting questions now, actually, and here is where you go to submit them, and then to come back on Tuesday morning to see what we say. We invite you to come participate, so we don't feel lonely!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Minti giving away two full BlogHer conference passes

Considering that Day One tickets are no longer available, this is one of the few ways left to get in on Day One's techie goodness. From my Personal Blog:
Minti, a "parenting-powered" online community, based in Australia I think, bought a couple too many BlogHer passes and are giving them away.

Very few rules :) And here they are:

Just send me an email to with a paragraph of why we should give you 1 of the 2 tickets.

You don't even need to be a member of Minti !!

Note: We will be choosing the 2 winners on Thursday the 25th of May 2006... ie: yes very soon! I will email the winners and also do a blog post around that date announcing them (if they wish to be disclosed).

Other info...

1. the conference is in San Jose
2. on the 28th - 29th of July 2006
3. you do not need to be a female
4. we will not be paying for accomodation or flights etc. We are just giving away 2 seperate tickets.
5. you do not need to do anything for Minti

Go for it folks!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

BlogHer, Jory and I are in today's San Jose Mercury

Sue Hutchison has done a great job of distilling quite lengthy conversations with both me and fellow BlogHer founder Jory Des Jardins in this column in today's Mercury News.

Basic focus: how women bloggers will talk about a lot of things, but shy away from talking money. Inspired by both our BlogHer survey that showed money to be a very taboo subject on blogs and our recent ad network press release, Hutchison has really woven together a great commentary on women, money and openness.

Friday, May 12, 2006

BlogHer announces new business venture: the BlogHer Advertising Network

Check out yesterday's press release.

Key excerpts:
The BlogHer Advertising Network will launch June 1st in partnership with more than two dozen parenting bloggers and a featured advertiser, new Sweet Simplicity™ Sweetener - a premium, all-natural zero-calorie sweetener (

The BlogHer Advertising Network introduces sponsors directly to the Web’s most sought-after consumer demographic—women who write and read weblogs. A demographic survey conducted across BlogHer’s introductory set of parenting blogs reveals a deeply loyal and highly educated readership, with 93 percent “certain to return” and 94 percent having a greater-than-high school education. (Review full demographic survey results at “Our parenting bloggers have the kind of readership that most web sites only dream about,” said Elisa Camahort, Co-founder and President, Events & Marketing. “They’re spending money online, on everything from gadgets to gardening tools. And 53 percent have their own blogs with which to publish and amplify their recommendations, opinions and referrals.”

With the BlogHer Advertising Network, BlogHer LLC sells and delivers the only graphic media advertising on participating blogs. Participating bloggers retain their own URLs, traffic and communities and agree to publish according to editorial guidelines.

Lisa, Jory and I have been giving (and I do mean giving) our time to BlogHer for 15 months now, and in the nine months since the Conference that has been pretty much a full-time job (on top of our existing solo consulting practices.)

We want to be able to continue to do that, and we know a lot of women bloggers who want to find ways for their blogs (on which, God knows, we all spend a lot of time and energy and talent) to contribute to their financial well-being.

The BlogHer Advertising Network is the answer.

More links:

The BlogHer Ad Network
Results of the BLogHer Demographic Survey
A letter from Lisa, Jory and me about the Network
Lisa's post on Surfette about the Network
Ad Network article on
Ad Network article on MediaPost

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Worker Bees Discount: 50% off 42nd St. Moon's Annual Gala

There are a limited number of half-price ($50) tickets available for the 2006 42nd St. Moon Gala and Auction.

Those tix can be purchased online at either Goldstar Events, or at the Theatre Bay Area half-price tickets booth (in person or online.)

PS-You have to register as a member of Gold Star Events to take advantage of the offer via their site, but that's not true re: buying tix via TBA. I'm just sayin'.

Can't say $50 ain't a bargain for cocktails and hors d'oeurvres and a silent auction and a 90-minute show, now can you? Especially when it's tax deductible :)

It's this Monday night, up in San Francisco. Some of my favorite Moonies are performing, including guest star, cabaret diva Klea Blackhurst, and Moon regulars like Bill Fahrner, Alexandra Kaprielian and Steve Rhyne.

Full details here.

I'm going...hope I see you there.

Monday, May 08, 2006

OPportunity to pray to the God of peagans (sic)!

My personal finance blogging friend, Jeffrey Strain, decided to start a fun little blogging game that combines the virtual world and meatspace. Along the way, if oyu participate, you get to receive some good luck yen coins, make a wish to the "God of Wealth" on them and pass them along to the next blogger.

Nefarious, no?

Well, yes, according to his first commenter who says:"peagan (sic) false gods do not have the power to give wealth."

Damn. There goes my entire plan for my retirement!

Sigh. I have nothing to add.

Friday, May 05, 2006

How women try to get to BlogHer

Last year's BlogHer revealed to me exactly how real a community bloggers can form. Women were offering their spare rooms, their frequent flier miles, and yes, cash, to help blogging friends (most of whom they had never met in person) to get to BlogHer.

The same thing is going on this year. You can troll the web and find women selling T-shirts and women who are feeling flush better offering to sponsor women who culd use a little help.

And this morning you'll also find two business BlogHers looking for sponsorship to make the trip.

Jeneane Sessum wants to go to BlogHer, and she's looking for a partner to help her...a corporate partner.

Yvonne DiVita is the subject of a terrific interview over at the blog Synergy, and mentions the same proposition.

Now what's in it for a corporate sponsor? Well, Jeneane has done it before and has this to say about it:
We were humbled and thrilled when Qumana decided to sponsor our SXSW trip. I had been using "Q" for several months before that, and I am the kind of user who generally has some opinions and ideas about the products I use. Sometimes I'm even right. ;-)

And I enjoy writing about the space, because Qumana is, in my mind, a writer's tool first, a thinker's pad, a way to make it easier to get the thoughts from head to pixels so that I can do it more often and without having to take as many naps. You can quote me.

Was the sponsorship worth doing? I would defer to Jon Husband for Qumana's perspective. For me, I wish I could sponsor them right back--in fact I am sort of am in the way that works best, because I continue to use Qumana and provide insight, ideas, and sometimes even good jokes, to the folks there.

Isn't this exactly the kind of customer evangelist savvy Web 2.0 companies say they want to cultivate?

I know, I know...some of you are going to think corporate sponsorship is evil. I so disagree. There are certain services and products with which I have fallen in love. Could I without a qualm in the world represent Apple? Yes. For that matter back when I used a Sony VAIO I was pretty enraptured about that too. Did I used to feel that kind of passion for my Palm? Well, despite how I take it for granted now, once I certainly did feel that thrill. TiVo? Don't even get me started! The list goes on.

When Guy suggested that companies who made blogging tools and services ought to be exhibiting at BlogHer, one clueless commenter assumed he meant because "women like to shop"! What a doofus. Guy had the perfect comeback: "Companies should exhibit at BlogHer because it is an inexpensive way to reach hundreds of bloggers who can spread the word about products and services."

And I would submit that sponsoring one active blogger like Jeneane and Yvonne would cost you so little (probably less than $1000) and get you one very talkative customer evangelist in your corner.

And as Yvonne likes to say: what's not to like about that?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

This month's Silicon Veggie: Feeding a crowd, vegetarian style

Somehow they never got last month's column up online, but here is this month's, in which I muse about large catered events. And whether I am obligated to feed people meat should I ever host one.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Guy who gets it (and a diversion into commenting policies)

Not to beat the Kawasaki drum too hard, but I posted over at BlogHer about meeting Guy Kawasaki over breakfast yesterday. I have both needled and praised Guy, but the bottom line is that I'm a fan.

And more so now.

Check out his post about BlogHer. Short but sweet.

But also...check out his comments. Guy is doing something really interesting there, and something I can't remember seeing other bloggers do:

When someone questions or challenges him in a comment, he actually edits the comment to post his reply at the bottom. Now, I think it's clearly identified as such, and that it makes the conversation seem much more logical. I often get frustrated trying to even follow active commenting threads. Since Guy makes a point of actually responding actively to his commenters this at least makes that portion of his comment threads crystal clear.

So, will it catch on? Will purists say he's "altering content"? I'm quite sure he doesn't care if they do, but I'm curious what you think.

It's only fair: Kawasaki on Marketer's Lies

Last week I got all hot and bothered by Guy Kawasaki shining a light on the Top Ten Lies Engineers Tell.

It's only fair that I should point out he followed up that post with The Top 10 Lies of Marketers. Sigh.

I hate to tell Guy though, that one of his commenters came up with the best one (which to his credit he moved up into the post):
"Our product is so unique that it has no competition." (Maura Welch).

It has no competition for two possible reasons: (a) You're clueless and don't know how to use Google; (b) there's no market for it so no one else is dumb enough to do the same thing.

This just makes me laugh because it's soooo common.

Being on the consultant side of life now, though, I have to say I hear this more often from founders of start-ups than I do from Marketing folks. Last year I had a potential client who went on and on about his product's uniqueness, and how it was going to be a Godsend and simply everybody in his target market would want it, no question. Then about 4 weeks before the official product launch it turned out there was a HUGE competitor, a market dominator, in fact.

How could this person not know about it? Because this person had simply invented a product that would help him in his job, and he didn't use that competitor's product in his job. And he didn't use that product because clearly wasn't tasked with sourcing applications for his company of employ. So he had the kind of mind that wants to come up with solutions from scratch, not seek answers that already exist. Nothing wrong with that, of course, we need people like that. But a little market analysis wouldn't have hurt the guy!

[And in case you're wondering: no, he wasn't seeking a proposal for such analysis. He had it all figured out and just wanted to tell the world!!!]

Of course the lesson in all these Top 10 lists is that in every walk of professional life there are common lies...and they all start with the lies we tell ourselves!

Follow-up: How sketchy blog outreach goes over the edge into bad practices

Last week I blogged about a sketchy blog outreach effort.

What they got right: Yes, I was actually intrigued by the product they were pitching to me.

What they got wrong: Lack of personalization in the message and a site that discouraged blogging by embedding their product images in flash.

Now, what they got really wrong:

1. Two days after the original email, they emailed me again after I had already blogged both here and at hip & zen about this pitch, reminding me that they'd like me to write about their product. Um, chica, I guess you don't do anything to track whether the blogosphere is actually alking about this product you're pitching to it, do you? Loser move.

2. They emailed me yet again a few days later to pitch me a different, but related product. Still no personalization, including no acknowledgement that I did write about their first pitch. So, now it's clear I'm on some list, and they'll be spamming me regularly...but they won't know whether their hard spamming work has any actual outcome or not.

I am now emailing this publicist to ask her to remove me from her list, and to oh, so gently, suggest she might want to monitor the blogosphere if she's going to try to play in it.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Carnival of the Capitalists is up at interim thoughts

interim thoughts is a blog on business in India, but this week's Carnival of the Capitalists takes you all over the world. From China to Washington DC to my post about presenting at SLAC.

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