Hi. My name is Mollie Vandor, and I’m a stalker.
No, I haven’t boiled any bunny rabbits lately. My particular brand of stalking has nothing to do with my romantic life, although it is all about passion — my passion for my career, and for the industry that I work in.
You see, I don’t stalk ex-boyfriends or old high school friends — at least not that often, and never without a few glasses of wine in me first. I do, however, regularly stalk strangers. And by strangers, I specifically mean people I consider to be mentors. Now, I’ve never met most of these mentors, and the ones I have actually met have generally been via brief handshakes against the background of a loud, crowded tech conference, which isn’t exactly prime real estate for establishing a deep, involved relationship.
Even though I’m not personally in touch with most of these mentors, I do maintain a strong personal relationship with them. Their successes are inspiration for my future successes. Their failures are lessons I learn for myself. And, their blogs, tweets and posts about these topics are the conversation that keeps me learning and growing from their example — however one-sided that conversation may be.
Celebrities — not diamonds — in the rough
For example, I’ve considered Danielle Morill a mentor ever since I met her at the Twiistup tech conference a few years ago. Danielle made her name as one of the driving forces behind the hugely successful company Twilio. When we met, she and I had a frank discussion about being young women in the tech industry, maintaining relationships and busy schedules and general tech trends and topics. I’m sure the talk meant a lot more to me than it did her, and I’m pretty sure she barely remembers it, if at all. Since then, although we haven’t talked personally, I’ve followed her on Twitter and via her blog, where she recently posted about the decision to start her own company, Referly.Her post – a timeline of the process to take her idea from conception to full-blown company creation — is a blueprint for me, not just in terms of the specific steps she took, but in terms of the way she was thinking and feeling while taking them. It’s not just about following in her footsteps, it’s about understanding how and why she decided which steps to take in the first place.
I feel the same way about my other mentors. That list — and yes, there is an actual list I maintain on Twitter as well as a list of blog and Facebook bookmarks in my browser — includes Sheryl Sandberg,Marissa Mayer, Joel Spolsky, Leah Culver, Molly Holzschlag, Rand Fishkin , Gina Bianchini andBethenny Frankel. Yes, Bethenny Frankel. I may not necessarily want to emulate all of my mentors’ careers. But, I do learn an awful lot from following their day-to-day thoughts and actions via Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere. In fact, that’s where most of the value of my mentorships comes from.
Case in point: I’ve been following Gina Bianchini’s career for years, and have consistently been blown away by her ability to keep her eyes — and her hands — on multiple tech industry trends, before the rest of the world even knows they’re trending. Sure, I could simply watch her moves as they’re breathlessly reported by the industry press. But frankly, that’s not what I find interesting about her. What I find most fascinating is her Twitterstream, where she talks about everything from Fifty Shades of Grey to The Wall Street Journal‘s paywall. It’s not necessarily always about the big moves she’s making, it’s about the mosaic of little thoughts that end up informing those big moves.That’s why we love social media in general — it’s a voyeuristic look inside someone’s day to day life, a sort of Rear Window in 140 characters or less. And, it’s why social media stalking makes for such great mentorship. Not only do I get to follow what people I admire are doing. I get to follow what they’re thinking while they do it. Which, by the way, makes me feel much better about my own doubts and decisions, and helps inspire me in countless other ways as well.
Democratization and infinite possibilities
Sure, a traditional mentor might take me to lunch, check in on me once in a while, or help me out with a job recommendation. But, my social media mentors are available 24/7, providing all of their wisdom and support without even knowing it, simply by living — and sharing — their own lives. And, in fact, I’d argue that they share an awful lot more with me without ever knowing it than they would in a more traditional, formal and professional mentorship relationship.Now, some people might not call my particular brand of ‘aspirational social media stalking’ mentorship. They may say I don’t have mentors, I merely have role models. Or people to look up to. But, the dictionary defines a ‘mentor’ as “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.” In contrast, a ‘role model’ is simply “a person regarded by others, especially younger people, as a good example to follow.”
The difference is clear. A mentor is someone who counsels and teaches, not necessarily by being a paragon of perfection as a person or professional, but simply by being someone with wisdom worth listening to. Often, the best of that wisdom comes from the moments when a mentor is being the opposite of a good example — the times they take risks that don’t work out, make decisions they regret later, or accidentally admit to something they probably shouldn’t have. That’s when I learn the most from my mentors. They’re not role models, and they’re certainly not perfect. But they are teachers. Even when they don’t know it.
This article was originally published on the Exclusive Resorts blog, the online destination for all things luxury travel, from the world’s leading private club for luxury vacations.
Nothing says luxury travel quite like a beach vacation. Relaxing on the sand, smelling the salt and the suntan lotion, listening to the sound of the waves in the background. From private villas in Puerto Vallarta to beachside retreats in the British Virgin Islands, Exclusive Resorts has plenty of options to offer the traveler craving some sun and surf.
Of course, a perfect beach day requires more than just a good beach read and a great big cushy towel. There’s logistics to be considered. From curating the perfect tan to making sure you stay well hydrated while you surf, swim and sunbathe. Fortunately, since nobody wants to do that much thinking while they’re on vacation, there’s a suite of apps out there to help you track your tanning, stay safe in the sun and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water — all so you can sit back, relax and enjoy your time at the beach.
UV Detector is an iPhone app that helps you have fun in the sun safely. It checks the UV index in your area, and gives you forecasts for the coming weeks, helping you plan and prepare for plenty of beach days to come. Similarly, the Environmental Protection Agency has apps for Android, iPhone and Blackberry that give you the official UV forecast on an easy-to-read scale of 1-11+.
If you’re not afraid of a little sun — or if you’re actually seeking some of it out — there’s Suntan Watcher, which helps you time your tan, and gives you helpful reminders for when to turn over, reapply lotion and the like. Once you’ve got your tan going, use Tan Plan for iPhone, to track the progress of your gorgeous glow and share it with your friends.
Of course, all that sunbathing means you have to stay hydrated. High-end water bottle maker Sigg has an app that helps you track your water intake during the day via a simple sliding scale measuring how much you’ve drank. There’s also an Android app that lets you input the amount of water you’d like to consumer over the course of a day, and sends you friendly reminders to actually do it. So, you can be sure to swap a few glasses of water in between all those delicious drinks with the tiny umbrellas. Cheers!
Mollie Vandor has worked in the technology industry for years as product manager for online companies including BetterWorks.com, Ranker.com, and Cooking.com. She is also a regular contributor to technology and lifestyle sites across the web. She served as the Media Director for Girls in Tech LA, and is also a member of Women 2.0. When she’s not working, she enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, sharing meals with friends and dominating at Scrabble. You can find her on the web at mollievandor.com or on Twitter @mollierosev.
You’re on vacation – warm and sunkissed from a relaxing day spent sitting poolside at your favorite resort. After a long, luxurious shower, you take your time getting yourself groomed and gorgeous before a big night out. And then it happens. You realize you’ve got a full suitcase and nothing to wear. Never fear,Style For Hire is here.
The new web startup from famed stylist and TV personality Stacy London connects a network of hand-picked stylists directly with those in need of style intervention. Whether you’re looking for a special outfit or an entire wardrobe upgrade, Style For Hire has 35 stylists in 24 U.S. cities waiting to help you out. You can even search by specific style, price point and more.
The service also offers a Shopping Tourism program. As they say on their site, “Your Stylist can meet you at your hotel or a retail district for some shopping like a local. Whether you’re looking for vintage, local or designer duds, your stylist will hook you up.” There’s also Personal Shopping services, a closet audit, corporate and group packages, and even a package to help you shop for new looks in your own closet.
Services start at $65. As Co-Founder and Stylist In Chief Stacy London says on the site “I am a true believer in the idea that personal style is just that personal and unique. Our stylists will help their clients find their OWN style, and perhaps a bit of extra confidence in the process.”
Of course, stylists don’t necessarily have to be expensive, or even cost any money at all. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the wisdom of the crowd is now perfectly capable of functioning as your own personal arbiter of what to wear — and more importantly when you’re on vacation, what not to wear.
Far from your friends, and not sure if the outfit you packed is exactly right? Just snap a pic and upload it toFashism or Go Try It On. Both websites will post your clothing pic, and let your discerning fellow fashionistas weigh in on whether they love it or hate it. You can also post specific questions about accessories, color combos or anything else you’re wondering about your wardrobe. And, they both have mobile apps, so all that advice will fit nicely into your carry-on luggage too.
Mention Gina Bianchini’s name at any gathering of geeks and technophiles, and you’ll get the same reaction – respect, admiration and maybe even a touch of envy. As the co-founder of Ning, an Executive-In-Residence at the prestigious Andreessen Horowitz venture firm and the leading lady at social networking startup Mightybell, Bianchini has done what few folks — and especially few women — have been able to. She’s made a career out of being at the forefront of what’s next in technology, and done it all with an extremely high profile and an even higher level of respect from her peers.
Of course, Gina Bianchini is a natural role model for all women. But, for us tech geeks in particular, she provides a perfect case study in the kind of success that most of us dream about. And, in the pursuit of my own personal dreams, I’ve picked up a few extremely valuable lessons from following Gina Bianchini, courtesy of the very same social web she helped create.
1. Always Stay Ahead Of The Curve: Gina Bianchini is a master at the art of anticipating what’s next, and at getting there before anyone else does. A decade ago, she was at the forefront of the social media revolution, launching Ning the same year Facebook went live. Now, she’s the first to admit that social media is an oversaturated market, and that the revolutionary industry she helped to create is ripe for revolution itself. With MightyBell, Bianchini is looking to capitalize on the next generation of social – using the online experience to inspire offline experiences. And, once again she’s at the head of a trend that’s barely begun to take root for the rest of us.
2. Diversify, Diversify, Diversify: From co-founder to CEO, blogger to board member, Gina Bianchini always has her hands in a lot of proverbial pies. She’s been published everywhere from HuffPo to the New York Times, and worked on projects ranging from her current stint on the board of Scripps Interactive to a past life as a Financial Analyst. All of that experience adds up to a well-rounded resume that gives her the extra edge of wide-ranging experience, and keeps her — and her numerous passion projects — in the public eye to boot.
3. Choose Your Partner Wisely: From Harmonic Communications Mark Kvamme to Ning Co-Founder Marc Andreessen, Bianchini has always made it a point to work with people who complement her skills. In her own words, “When working with a co-founder, it helps to have the same core values and complementary skills. I know advertising and finance, and Marc is obviously strong in technology, among other talents. Neither of us wants the other’s job, there’s a lot of mutual trust, and we share the same approach to work.”
4. Perception Is Not Reality: This is a direct quote from Gina Bianchini herself, taken from an article she wrote for CNN disproving the point that you have to be a geeky guy to make it as a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur. In a nutshell, her argument is that the stereotypical geek-in-a-garage founder myth is just that — a myth. Sure, it rings true for the Zuckerbergs of the world. But, is just as easily disproven when one looks at Steve Jobs. Or Gina Bianchini for that matter. Both of whom stand as proof that the stereotypes don’t have anything to do with actual success. As she says in the article, “While it’s true that women don’t sit in the upper echelons of the corporate universe — and I’ll let others speculate on why that is — I know this about succeeding as a consumer Internet entrepreneur: The key is to focus on the data and bury the stereotypes that signal to women that the game is not for us.” There’s no data that says you have to fit a certain mold to make it big in this business, and no reason anyone with the right skills, smarts and savvy can’t follow in Bianchini’s forward-thinking footsteps.
5. Don’t Get Hung Up On Gender: One of the most valuable things I’ve seen Gina Bianchini reiterate time and again is the importance of removing gender from the entrepreneurial equation. In her words, “We’re not doing anyone any good by talking about some of the unique challenges of being a woman entrepreneur. If you’re a male entrepreneur, you’re faced with a certain set of challenges. If you’re female, you’re faced with a potentially different set of challenges. The most important thing you can do is say, ‘I don’t care what the challenges are, I’m going to tackle them, take them down, and keep going where I’m going. Don’t think about yourself as a woman entrepreneur. Think about yourself as an entrepreneur.”
Forget awards season. For LA techies, it looks like Caltech’s June commencement ceremony might be the hottest ticket in town, now that the Pasadena-based university has announced Elon Musk as the official commencement speaker.
Musk, who co-founded PayPal and is also the founder behind SpaceX and Tesla Motors, will be keynoting the school’s graduation ceremony on June 15th. According to SoCalTech, Musk will be discussing the ways ”brilliant, big ideas can and will have a positive impact in the world.”
Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau said the university reached out to Musk because of his game-changing work. “Elon Musk is a visionary business leader and innovator who is spearheading revolutionary ideas in three global industries—automobiles, energy, and space exploration. He is a powerful proponent of science and technology, and will share with Caltech graduates his perspective on how their brilliant, big ideas can and will have a positive impact in the world,” Chameau said. ”Musk has demonstrated how talent, intelligence, and active leadership—notable traits that Caltech graduates also share—are vital to shaping the future of our world.”
SoCal Tech also pointed out that Musk is a great fit for Caltech thanks to one of his pursuits in particular — SpaceX. SpaceX develops commercial rockets, and is currently gearing up for its first mission to the International Space Station, to commence in February. Caltech runs the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which helped develop some of America’s first rockets.
Angelenos — and the world — can watch Musk talk about SpaceX and much more when he takes the stage on June 15, as Caltech live streams the ceremony on their website. No caps and gowns required.
This post was originally published on Lalawag.
From Elizabeth Taylor to Ryan Dunn, the list varies greatly in terms of content and content creators. But, in this age of unprecedented access to the private thoughts of Tweeting celebrities, it’s a fitting tribute to some of the great icons we lost in the past year.
In fact, the poignancy of this list comes from the fact that the Tweets themselves aren’t particularly poignant at all. They’re mostly mundane, observational or outright self promotional. In other words, these last tweets aren’t any different from any other tweets. Which makes them that much more interesting — and affecting.
A few examples:
- “Somebody convince me to stay with ATT. What do they offer that’s better than even metro pcs? #effit” – Patrice O’Neal
- “American Idol Finale May 25, Gaga & Big Man “The Edge of Glory” Really look forward to this one!!! much love” – Clarence Clemons