Came across this Quora answer, written by Paul DeJoe, on his description of what it's like to be CEO of a startup. You can read the full post here, but in case you don't have a Quora account, here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

Very tough to sleep most nights of the week.  Weekends don't mean anything to you anymore.  Closing a round of financing is not a relief.  It means more people are depending on you to turn their investment into 20 times what they gave you.  

You start to respect the Duck.  Paddle like hell under the water and be smooth and calm on top where everyone can see you. 

You start to see that the word "entrepreneur" is a personality.  It's difficult to talk to your friends that are not risking the same things you are because they are content with not pushing themselves or putting it all out there in the public with the likelihood of failure staring at you everyday.  You start to turn a lot of your conversations with relatives into how they might exploit opportunities for profit.  

You feel like a parent to your customers in that they will never realize how much you love them and it is they who validate you are not crazy. You want to hug every one of them. They mean the World to you. 

Of all the things said though, it's exciting.  Every day is different and so exciting.  Even when it's bad it's exciting.

*Paul is CEO at Ecquire and Entrepreneur in Residence at Fairbridge Venture Partners, CRM implementation consultant and Steve Winwood enthusiast.
 
 
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A few weeks ago, Mashable put out an article on how to customize a few real life treats via the Internet. Among them: mix your own chocolate bar, smoke your own jerky, create your own pet-food, shoes, handbags, shirts. And the one that stuck out the most to me (other than the jerky): customize your own jewelry.

Say what?

Every girl likes diamonds right?

And boys (in many cases) are the ideal deliverers.

Thanks, pop culture. It’s because of you that I have this grossly generalized fantasy in my head:

Girl meets Boy.

Boy is smitten.

First date.

First kiss.

Move in.


“Dear Boyfriend,

When you propose, it will preferably be on a cruise to Costa Rica.

Think that’s too cliché? I’ll ask again when our mouths are full of lobster, and we’re riding a horse named Steve through the rainforest.

But most importantly, I would like you to present me with a 10 carat, princess-cut diamond in a platinum  setting . . . or was it a marquise in white gold with two emeralds on the side. Or maybe I . . .

On second thought. Don’t propose until I consult my jeweler to find out what the heck it is I want.

Love, your adoring, baby darling, shmoopie.”



Well, this is how it used to go in my head anyway. Except now, I want a wedding on the beach, and maybe a proposal that takes place on a ferris wheel. And the ring. Jewelry is either supposed to be extravagant or sentimental, right? So maybe expecting a bajillion-carat Harry Winston is a bit much. So, let’s go for sentimental. You know, like a test of how much the boy knows me. (It seems the boy never wins in my fantasies)

Except I haven’t found any jewelry that’s quite up to my taste and sentiment. Until now. Which is where Gemvara steps in – with the perfect combination of two things I love: bling and tech.

Everyone’s a critic and I am no exception. Owning a domain name and fingers with which to type a blog suddenly makes me an expert consumer, right? Well, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. I want my cake and eat it too. That sort of thing. Which makes it no surprise that one of the first things I asked Cheryl Kremkow, Gemvara's VP of Content and Merchandising, was whether customers were uncomfortable with the idea of creating and buying jewelry online because they couldn’t try it on. I mean, half the fun of buying bling is putting it on and imagining the subsequent avalanche of compliments. Luckily, Kremkow was incredibly sweet, especially when pointing out that even if you are creating custom jewelry at a store, there is no way to actually visualize or touch the exact piece until it is too made – which is sometimes too late. But on Gemvara, you can pick and choose until you get it just right.  In fact, each gemstone has 16 different varieties, and there are eight different metals to choose from. So, take a standard ring, let’s say – a diamond with two supporting stones – add 16 different choices for each stone, and eight different metals, and thousands of designs: you do the math. The possibilities are endless. And here’s the cool part: you can SEE every single one of those possibilities, as long as your patience matches the number of times your index finger can click the mouse.

In fact, the endless customer stories Kremkow receives on a daily basis is proof of the platinum pudding that Gemvara is feeding a very hungry niche.

“One of the surprises for me, is the different colors of engagement stones. People want something different, and we can give that to them. Sapphire, amythest, emerald – even a black diamond. We’ve seen birthstones, and if it’s a second marriage and there are kids, the ring might even have the birthstones of the kids. I’ve discovered that people want to do so much more than just a diamond. There really are no rules. We want to help our customers express themselves. If you’re only going to do this once, you should do it right!"


So, I went online and expressed myself. Here is my wish list:

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Ok, so I happened to choose the most expensive engagement ring of the bunch. Lucky boyfriend.
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Thangka Pendant in 14K Rose Gold
Picture
So many colors, so little time!
So that’s the bling part. Now the tech.

One of the reasons Gemvara is doing so well is because this sort of thing has never been done before. And one of the main reasons it’s doing so well now is that the technology is just starting to exist for jewelry designers. The CAD cam (computer aided design) is just now becoming more accessible. And along with CAD comes a whole new community of designers who are becoming well-versed in this tool. And that’s what tech is for right? A niche need surfaces; a tool is built to aid that need; a community is born to aid that tool; everyone goes home with a nice piece of bling.

And the women in tech? No women developers yet, although their Chairman of the Board is female, and a lot of their designers are women. But Gemvara is looking to expand their team, looking for: online marketers, graphic designers, front end developers, and people who are familiar with the CAD system, particularly those who use Rhino and Matrix design and manufacturing platforms. So if any of you ladies (or gents) are partial to the industry of bling, you might want to consider a Gemvara career. And if not, you can just join the rest of us who are relishing in the luxury of creating our own treasure troves of diamonds, sapphires, rubies and rivers of yellow gold. Not a bad way to indulge in a few hours online, I’d say.

For more info, visit Gemvara’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

 
 
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This past Saturday (May 8th) saw the Launch of Girls in Tech China

WHAT an experience:

Because I planned the entire event in Beijing . . .FROM New York.
Because I have an amazing team (special shout out to @acrosstheC and @eiyssa for being excellent mid-wives for the deliverance of #GITChina).
Because we launched an amazing #GITChina cocktail: Girls in TECHquila by @beijingboyce.
Because we had an amazing panel of female Influencers (Tudou, Wall Street Journal, Mobinode, Zebra Media) moderated by Twittamentary's @sioksiok
Because we officially announced the 2010 Search for Girl 2.0 (to be launched on June 1st).
Because it's history in the making. 


Video of the event will be out soon. Watch this space. 
 
 
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In my line of cross-border work, I meet a lot of frustrated Western managers. Many have stepped straight off the luxury-boat from countries where land is made of gold, and citizens are actually armies of critical thinkers, attacking problems with endless amounts of strategic common sense.  In those lands, time is money, business is business, and contracted employees are expected to have experience and street smarts.  At the same time, those expectations have created a fleet of senior managers who take for granted what it actually means to manage (i.e. being involved beyond mere delegation).  Sail that fleet to China - where bosses find themselves surrounded in a sea of tiny, polite, circuitous citizens -and there will assuredly be (and already is) a sub-culture of supervisors who have replaced communication in the work place with indignant grumbles and long-distance therapy sessions.

The Problem: Stunted Results

The sales managers, of the catering department of an international five-star hotel chain in a second tiered city, were flat-lining in performance. Despite their failure to deliver, they left their boss, Steve*, the Marketing Director–a charismatic fellow from Australia–in the dark. Luckily and unluckily, cash-flow exposed the situation. Having no luck in clarifying things with his staff, Steve called us.

 
 
Picture
A few weeks ago, Mashable put out an article on how to customize a few real life treats via the Internet. Among them: mix your own chocolate bar, smoke your own jerky, create your own pet-food, shoes, handbags, shirts. And the one that stuck out the most to me (other than the jerky): customize your own jewelry.

Say what?

Every girl likes diamonds right?

And boys (in many cases) are the ideal deliverers.

Thanks, pop culture. It’s because of you that I have this grossly generalized fantasy in my head:

Girl meets Boy.
Boy is smitten.
First date.
First kiss.
Move in.

“Dear Boyfriend,

When you propose, it will preferably be on a cruise to Costa Rica.

Think that’s too cliché? I’ll ask again when our mouths are full of lobster, and we’re riding a horse named Steve through the rainforest.

But most importantly, I would like you to present me with a 10 carat, princess-cut diamond in a platinum  setting . . . or was it a marquise in white gold with two emeralds on the side. Or maybe I . . .

On second thought. Don’t propose until I consult my jeweler to find out what the heck it is I want.


Love, your adoring darling baby cakes shmoopie.”

Well, this is how it used to go in my head anyway. Except now, I want a wedding on the beach, and maybe a proposal that takes place on a ferris wheel. And the ring. Jewelry is either supposed to be extravagant or sentimental, right? Well, maybe expecting a10-carat Harry Winston is a bit much. So let's go for sentimental. You know, like a test of how much the boy knows me. (It seems the boy never wins in my fantasies)

Except I haven’t found any jewelry that’s quite up to my taste and sentiment. Until now. Which is where Gemvara steps in – with the perfect combination of two things I love: bling and tech.

Everyone’s a critic and I am no exception. Owning a domain name and fingers with which to type a blog suddenly makes me an expert consumer, right? Well, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. I want my cake and eat it too. That sort of thing. Which makes it no surprise that one of the first things I asked Cheryl Kremkow, Gemvara’s VP of Content and Merchandising, was whether customers were uncomfortable with the idea of creating and buying jewelry online because they couldn’t try it on. I mean, half the fun of buying bling is putting it on and imagining the subsequent avalanche of compliments, right? Luckily, Kremkow was incredibly sweet, especially when pointing out that even if you are creating custom jewelry at a store, there is no way to actually visualize or touch the exact piece until it is made – which is sometimes too late. But on Gemvara, you can pick and choose until you get it just right.  In fact, each gemstone has 16 different varieties, and there are eight different metals to choose from. So, take a standard ring, let’s say – a diamond with two supporting stones, 16 choices for each stone – you do the math. The possibilities are endless. And here’s the awesome part: you can SEE every single one of those possibilities, as long as your patience matches the number of times your index finger can click the mouse.


In fact, the endless customer stories Kremkow receives on a daily basis are proof of the platinum pudding that Gemvara is filling a very hungry niche.

“One of the surprises for me, is the different colors of engagement stones. People want something different, and we can give that to them. Sapphire, amythest, emerald – even a black diamond. We’ve seen birthstones, and if it’s a second marriage and there are kids, the ring might even have the birthstones of the kids. I’ve discovered that people want to do so much more than just a diamond. There really are no rules. We want to help our customers express themselves. If you’re only going to do this once, you should do it right!”

So, I went to express myself. This is what I just added to my wish list:
Picture
Ok, so I happened to choose the most expensive engagement ring of the bunch. Lucky boyfriend.
Picture
Thangka Pendant in 14K Rose Gold
Picture
So many colors, so little time!
So that’s the bling part. Now the tech.

One of the reasons Gemvara is doing so well is because this sort of thing has never been done before. And it's being done so well Now because the technology is finally starting to exist for jewelry designers. The CAD cam (computer aided design) is just now becoming more accessible. And along with CAD comes a whole new community of designers who are versing themselves in this tool. And that’s what tech is for right? A niche need surfaces; a tool is built to aid that need; a community is born to aid that tool; everyone goes home with a nice piece of jewelry.

And the women in tech? No women developers just yet, although their Chairman of the Board is female, and a lot of their designers are women. In fact, Gemvara is looking to expand their team, looking for: online marketers, graphic designers, front end developers, and people who are familiar with the CAD system, particularly those who use Rhino and Matrix design and manufacturing platforms. So if any of you ladies (or gents) are partial to the industry of bling, you might want to consider a Gemvara career. Or if not, you can just join the rest of us who are relishing in the luxury of creating our own combinations of diamonds and sapphires and rubies and rivers of yellow gold. Not a bad way to spend a few indulgent hours online, I'd say.


For more info, you can also visit their Facebook or Twitter pages.