52 Books in a Year: Week 14

Sequel to Week 13’s Mourning Becomes Cassandra, The Littlest Doubts continues the fun, and at times comical, plot line.  The book also ties up a few loose ends, but not in the way one expects.  Dudley keeps you guessing until the final pages.  And as you finish the book, you’ll wish that the sequel continued into a trilogy.  But stay tuned for next week’s post…a stand alone book to finish my triathlon series!

And in the meantime while you wait for Week 15’s post, check out Dudley’s Urban Farm Junkie blog featuring posts about Farmer’s Markets (the Bellevue Farmer’s Market, in particular).

What else have I read during my yearlong reading project?
–> Week 1  –> Week 2  –> Week 3  –> Week 4  –> Week 5  –> Week 6  –> Week 7  –> Week 8  –> Week 9  –> Week 10  –> Week 11  –> Week 12  –> Week 13

 

52 Books in a Year: Week 13

CD_1Week 13 marks the start of my “Christina-Dudley-triathlon!”  Three weeks in a row, I will read (correction: re-read…because yes they are that good!!) books by the acclaimed Seattle author.  The following is said about Dudley: “Despite dropping out of the Stanford PhD program in English Literature after two piddly years and going don in flames on Jeopardy! in 2008, she still somehow gets speaking and writing gigs.”  Her manner and writing are witty, humorous, and heartfelt.

This week, I read Mourning Becomes Cassandra.  Why do I love this book (so much so that this is my fourth time through it)?  There are two main reasons.  First, the book takes place in Clyde Hill (where I spent much of my youth, attending Bellevue Christian School), so I already feel like an insider to the storyline as well as demographic.  Second, the book is about how our best made plans don’t always go according to plan, which I completely resonate with.  You’ll laugh, cry, and be overjoyed when you find out that it has a sequel (stay tuned for Week 14).

What else have I read during my yearlong reading project?
–> Week 1  –> Week 2  –> Week 3  –> Week 4  –> Week 5  –> Week 6   –> Week 7  –> Week 8
–> Week 9  –> Week 10  –> Week 11 –> Week 12

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thinkspace Named Best 100 Companies to Work For by Seattle Business Magazine

seattles-best-100-companies-to-work-forWe were just named one of Seattle’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Seattle Business magazine. thinkspace was ranked 25 in the small company category, competing against hundreds of other companies in the Puget Sound area. It’s great to be chosen for this competitive award along with so many other notable companies. A big thank you to my employees for being a part of this company. I certainly enjoy working with smart people who really work well as a team.

The Soft Part is the Hard Part

2013-Best-Companies-logoOver five years ago, I wrote down that I was going to strive to have thinkspace listed as one of “Seattle’s Best Places to Work”. This award is a nice milestone as it marks setting a goal and achieving it. It actually means so much to me because it’s an award that comes from the employees of the company. It’s one thing to set revenue goals and hit them but controlling work place environment is a soft skill. Back during my Entrepreneurial Masters Program there was a lot of emphasis put on how the soft part (human interaction and work place culture) is the hard part.

Company Culture is Critical

For me, I want to come to work every day, laugh, have fun, and be excited about what I’m doing. I want to work around people that I like. Being in a small company and startup there are times where there is frustration with huge challenges and it literally can be a roller coaster within the same day. Small companies have huge challenges. You have to do amazing things with a small team where there is always more stuff to get done than seemingly resources to do it. To put time towards the things that we were judged on is not easy. The Seattle Business awards were judged on benefits, communication, corporate culture, hiring and retention, performance standards, responsibility and decision making, rewards and recognition, training and education, and work environment. As a small company and startup, who has time to focus on all those things?!

Best Way to Impact Workplace Culture

tinypulse-happiness-indexOver the last 12 months, the single best thing that we have done as a company that directly relates to us being named as one of the best companies to work for is implementing TINYpulse (<--my referral link). TINYpulse allows us to capture anonymous feedback from employees to reveal insights, trends, and opportunities to improve retention, culture, and results. Every week employees get a survey that asks a unique question like “On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?” 1 being extremely unhappy and about to quit – to 10 being extremely happy and jumping for joy. Each week I have no idea what the question will be or how will my team respond and reply. Each week I have to deal with being comfortable with something that makes me uncomfortable. The TINYpulse website says “Don’t try TINYpulse unless you’re a leader who’s committed to 1) Change; 2) Sharing; 3) Action”. TINYpulse has given me an opportunity to listen to the things that can be really tough to hear but allows me to take action. When you are open to receiving the feedback it can be truly transformational. Having a great place to work is not a once-a-year kind of event. For us it’s a weekly feedback loop.

52 Books in a Year: Week 12

horseLast week, I read Half Broke Horses, a true-life novel by Jeannette Walls.  It was fabulous, as I knew it would be because the first book I read from Walls (her childhood memoir called The Glass Castle) I read in one sitting.  Within reading the first few pages of both books, Walls captivates you with her incredible story-telling skills.  Previously a MSNBC.com columnist, Walls knows how to craft a story, especially when the content is all about her family’s history.  Half Broke Horses tells the tale of Lily Casey Smith, Walls’ grandmother.  The novel is “Laura-Ingalls-Wilder-esque” in its unbelievable (but true!) accounts of living off the land, surviving tornadoes, draughts, and flash floods.  I have two recommendations for you (of which you can thank me later for): 1) read both books, and 2) read them chronologically. Start with Half Broke Horses (featuring Wall’s grandmother) and finish with The Glass Castle (featuring Wall’s mother as well as herself).  Let me know what you think, and I’ll chat with you in the comments below!

What else have I read during my yearlong reading project?
–> Week 1  –> Week 2  –> Week 3  –> Week 4  –> Week 5  –> Week 6   –> Week 7  –> Week 8
–> Week 9  –> Week 10  –> Week 11

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Free Coworking in Seattle, and the Winner is Dan Goldgeier!

seattle-fremont-01On June 12th at Turnstone’s SmallTalks event in Seattle, thinkspace announced that we are launching our 2nd location in Fremont (#thinkspaceSEA). We are so excited to be opening in Fremont, as they say it’s the “center of the universe.” During SmallTalks we offered up a free month of coworking in our Seattle office to the 10th person that retweeted our announcement.

“What’s the big announcement?! @Thinkspace is opening Seattle in September! #thinkspaceSEA /thinkspace.com/seattle-sign-up/

dan-goldgeierCongratulations Dan Goldgeier,  freelance copywriter and author of  View from the Cheap Seats! You’ve won one free month of coworking at thinkspace Seattle. Along with an amazing view of the canal you’ll be surrounded by the top startup and entrepreneurial talent in the city. We want to thank you for retweeting us and welcome to the thinkspace community!

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All the Answers in the World

card for blogI’ve always thought people have multiple selves – meaning your actions and reactions vary based on people and settings. It’s hard to be one personality all the time. For example my “personal self” loves horoscopes. A horoscope or fortune is a slight glimmer of hope of what might come tomorrow, or at least a positive placebo. My “work self” would not admit my guilty-pleasure-like love of horoscopes (but apparently I just did). A horoscope, something that predicts the future, is silly and fairly juvenile. But sometimes life feels scattered and so undefined; sometimes I DO want to know what to do with my life.

Enter my favorite horoscope ever.

I had only lived in Seattle for a month when I started working at thinkspace, a coworking community in Redmond. My horoscope said to write the word “creator” on my business card, and synonyms of that word. Then, turn the card over and write “May 2013,” and wait. Was this a silly gesture? Of course it was silly and nonsensical. But I didn’t just want to know what would happen…I NEEDED to know. The words that I wrote as synonyms on the card were: architect, designer, founder, originator, author, initiator, generator, and inventor. These are words with so much gusto and big meaning, words that aren’t thrown around lightly. These are the words that describe entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are people that do what they want because they believe in what they are doing. Doors will be slammed in your face, phone calls will go un-returned, and rejection is inevitable. So what keeps entrepreneurs creating, inventing, and originating? It’s the hope of knowing that what’s around the corner will be their legacy and their mark on the world.

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Member Spotlight: Dan Vache of United Fresh Produce Association

UnitedFresh_logo_orange2

Last week, I sat down with Dan Vache, who is a long time member of the thinkspace community.  Dan works for the United Fresh Produce Association which is a trade organization.  Since 1904 they have been representing all parties involved with handling fresh fruits and vegetables – from the grower to the shipper to the distributer.  Dan heads up one of two remote office locations, with the headquarters being located in Washington, D.C.

In talking with Dan, I asked him a number of questions about his job at the United Fresh Produce Association.

Q:  What is a core value for the United Fresh Produce Association?

A:  A core value is protecting consumers, and trying to expand the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy lifestyles.

Because the United Fresh Produce Association is primarily located in Washington, D.C., they deal with a lot of legislative issues.  A major campaign that they are currently working on is to put salad bars in every school cafeteria.  They recognize that many children don’t get exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables, and exposing them at an earlier age can help overturn current challenges and patterns with health and lifestyle (diabetes, childhood obesity, etc.).  The United Fresh Produce Association is a strong advocate for the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and believe that a lot of those health challenges go away when produce is consumed (rather than starchy, processed foods).

Dan concentrates on the supply chain.  Basically anything to do with fresh produce once its been planted and harvested (read more about that here).  Because of this, he has the opportunity to travel quite a bit.  This year he has traveled to Peru and all throughout North America.

Q:  What are three things you never leave home without?

A:  My laptop, my phone, and my running shoes.

In a few weeks, Dan will travel to Brussels to take part with the International Standards Organization as they redevelop standards for certain aspects of the produce industry.  For example, the labels on produce have a code on them so they are easily tracked through the system and retailers can ensure they have the correct pricing (read more about that here).

Q:  Is it true that the labels on fruits and vegetables are edible?

A:  Yes they are.  It’s food contact, so it can’t harm anyone.  You can eat those, and its biodegradable.

Q:  Speaking of things that are edible, do you have an opinion on the “dirty dozen?”

A:  There is a lot of misinformation on that.  The group that puts that out, probably in their own mind is well-intentioned, but they are very misleading.  They tend to overstate some things and leave out some good factual information.  And quite honestly, some folks that read that do not do additional research and its detrimental to themselves because they then consume less fruits and vegetables….and from my standpoint that’s not the right approach to take.

Q:  So at the end of the day, it’s probably better to just eat your fruits and vegetables?

A:  Yea, exactly.

Thank you Dan, it was a pleasure talking with you!  I’m off to go blend a nice green smoothie, filled with fresh kale, mango, banana, and carrot juice (thanks for the inspiration!).

52 Books in a Year: Week 11

niloferThis week I re-read #SocialEra by Nilofer Merchant.  Reading this book is a rite of passage to work at thinkspace.  I was actually given the book before I accepted the job here (probably to make sure I aligned with the community’s core values…which I do).  The book outlines everything thinkspace strives to be – a connected community of entrepreneurs that create value for each other – and it was definitely a worthwhile re-read.  Fast Company calls it one of the best business books of 2012.

What is the social era all about? Connections.  Today, in a post-industrial era, connections are what create value.  “If the industrial era was about building things, the social era is about connecting things, people, and ideas,” she writes. “Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that can produce returns for any company that serves their needs.”

The book lays to rest the ideas from the industrial era – where organizations were encouraged to be unique and set apart from competition – and raises up community, collaboration, and consumers as co-creators.  This book is a tool and resource that all entrepreneurs should consult as well as put into practice.  Reading (and re-reading) the book opened my eyes to the continued need for openness – “It’s the difference between holding our ideas in a tight,closed fist or holding our hand, open to what happen next.  We might imagine that if we hold an idea tight enough, we’ll end up with a diamond.  But when we hold open an idea as if in an open hand, we are unlocking the vault of limitless human capabilities to create new and better ideas that are owned together.”

What else have I read during my yearlong reading project?
–> Week 1  –> Week 2  –> Week 3  –> Week 4  –> Week 5  –> Week 6   –> Week 7  –> Week 8

–> Week 9  –> Week 10

[Double-header!] 52 Books in a Year: Weeks 9 & 10

bcDue to Memorial Day weekend, I am late on posting Week 9 (my apologies!). For Week 9, I read the novel Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.  The book is a beautiful blend of cultures.  The setting takes place somewhere in South America, and the two main characters of the book are Mr. Hosokawa and Roxanne Coss.  Mr. Hosokawa is a successful Japanese entrepreneur and lover of opera music.  In particular, he follows the talents of world renown soprano, Roxanne Coss.  Their two worlds collide at a birthday party held in Mr. Hosokawa’s honor.  During the birthday celebration, held at a Vice President’s home in South America, a group of armed terrorist make an entrance.  The aftermath of the invasion creates unexpected bonds between hostages and terrorists, and it unfolds cross-cultural friendships between people from different cultures.This book was the perfect read for a three-day getaway, and I definitely recommend it.

giltDuring Week 10 I read By Invitation Only by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founders of the Gilt Groupe.  The book gives a storyline of how the Gilt Groupe went from hosting two to three sales per week to now hosting more than forty sales per day (including newly added sales for home, city, and travel).  Maybank and Wilkis Wilson boil down their success to two things: relationships and execution (which the book goes into with greater detail).  Maybank and Wilkis Wilson grew up together, and because of their existing relationship, they believe that helped them succeed as they launched their fashion/e-commerce site (especially while other fashion based e-commerce sites were also launching).  They write that “we believe that our relationship helped us execute better than our competitors.”  The book is insightful, and I read it in one day.  I foresee myself re-reading this book, and using it as a resource.