Day two- mission accomplished.

The mission of day two was to avoid all touristy spots, and that we did. We ran into two or three tourist but we were pretty emerged in local culture.

Our first stop were the Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens. Even though they are some of the oldest (est 1662) and most beautiful gardens in Tokyo they are not often frequented by foreigners. We did have plenty of company though— couples taking a stroll, elderly men and women taking a million pictures of the blossoms and young kids roaming around. The gardens offer a certain peace that can only be found in holy places. But that peace is easily interrupted by the roars coming from the nearby Tokyo Dome where the Tokyo Giants later got an ass-whopping. Unlike American fans though, the home crowd did not fade away, neither did the roaring.

Baseball, along with video game arcades, seems to be the national pastime. It was quite a cultural experience to attend a game. Each team has a fan club section fully equipped with a band, and, what I can best describe as, an orchestra director. Each fan club takes turns chatting cheers, signing songs (some of which Jesus sang the rest of the day), while the other team sits quietly, almost like statues.
We got a nice surprise after the game on the way to dinner— a plaza filled with teens decked out in their Sunday best. From the more conservative pink wig, to a full-on Dragon Ball-Z costume. Many of them were happy to pose for my camera, others not so much. We had to fight sleepless bodies demanding rest, but we made it to the Kagurazaka neighborhood.

This neighborhood is full of cute shops and some the best French restaurants in the city. It’s one steep hill to the top where a small, modern Shrine sits. Each side street up the hill offers a quiet reminder of Edo period Tokyo. We finally settled on crepes for dinner along one of the side streets— a great choice indeed.
The physical body finally overpowered my mind and we are home at last.

Day two was quite a great day— where among other things I learned just how precise and respectful and methodical Japanese people are. Even my new clothes were precisely placed inside the shopping bag- sweaters at the bottom, tights on the side, dresses on top.

Day 3 awaits along with a Sushi breakfast at 6am.

Tokyo- night one

The first night in Tokyo has already revealed so much of what is Japan. The flight was long but with so much good food, adult beverages and movies, it seemed much shorter than 14hrs.

The streets are a maze and have no names or numbers. Even if they did, it wouldn’t help me much. We got lost tying to find our airbnb apartment but two young Japanese folks walked us a couple of ‘blocks’ to our building. That’s the first thing I have seen- Japanese are nice, welcoming and friendly.

Unless you are trying to grab a drink at a bar that is Japanese only. They turned us down politely, only saying it was a ‘private party’. Second thing I learned, Japanese are nice but still try very hard to keep things Japanese.

So off we went to eat Ramen at a pretty small, crowded place filled with locals. It was delicious. Next, a Sake bar where we made some new friends. Everyone’s response to us being from New York is ’ wow, I want to visit’.

Lastly, even in Japan I found Harlem. A cool, hip hop place. And to our surprise an all-girl teen band made an appearance and the crowd went nuts. Our clue to try and get some sleep— hard when your body thinks it’s lunch time.

Tomorrow Japanese baseball awaits.

Jesus is pretty entertained watching Japanese soap operas at the moment. It’s funny hearing his deduction of the events on the screen.

The lessons of Who Moved my Cheese

If you haven’t, you should so yourself a favor and read this quick, small, but impactful book.

Life is all about adapting to change, moving when things are shaken up. Sometimes when the rug is pulled from under you, that’s when the best opportunities present themselves. If you get caught trying to question why everything happened to you, why ‘they’ did this to ‘you’, you might just miss the boat for a brand-new, shinny opportunity.

A book full of wisdom says that there is time to mourn, and there is a time to dance, and I think there is also a time to change.

Dreams come true

Our scholarship fund is finally launching.  That’s my dream come true.  I am so excited, so proud, so happy that we will now help make other’s dreams come true!

I attribute any kind of success I’ve had to my education. But education shouldn’t be a privilege, it should be a right.  And yet so many kids, hard working, deserving kids can’t access higher education.

I am so proud of the people that have come together to make this scholarship fund  a reality.  There are few things that have made me smile and feel so proud in my life. 

Our official launch event is happening soon!  February 27th @AinsworthPark  Come helps us make dreams come true.

Life comes at lighting speed

I have often struggled with living and enjoying the present.  Always worried about tomorrow, but tomorrow comes too quick and then there is another tomorrow to worry about.  Living in the present is much easier said than done.  But why is that?

I have found that it’s easy to get stuck in the past, continue to remind myself how others hurt me, or how much fun it was when I was doing this, that or the other.  Then I think, yes the past has hurt but it was also awesome.  Many awesome things happened in the past and I have beautiful memories, feel proud of my accomplishments.  Then why does my anxious mind constantly asks what’s next?

It’s Monday, why am I thinking about the weekend.  It’s winter, why am I worried about summer plans.  Sure, there is some level of planning that is necessary.  You can’t live life entirely impromptu.  But I find that as a human, I am constantly haunted by my past and (at best) motived by my future or (at worst) afraid of it.  

As a Christian, I am taught not to be anxious about anything.  C.S. Lewis says that the present is where time touches eternity, where we are closest to God (since he is eternal).  Many other religions and philosophies teach the same.  Meditation teaches to quiet your mind, and in quieting your mind find peace and be filled with God.  

I want my mind to know what my sprit already knows.  Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is no yet here.  I only have right now, and right now is good, lovely, and lacking nothing.  It’s ok to sit in silence, to be at peace.


The word community has become a very popular word as of late. Community financing, community banking, etc. Everyone talks about the importance of community but I have really seen its power this weekend. The power of a college community, the power of my HBSA community. I humbled by the number of success stories. The success stories are a direct result of the support we lent each other, the encouragement we gave each other and the challenges we offered one another. There may be other places where people cultivated this kind of community, but I am in awe of all our stories. So many of us, first generation college students. I see us now, not only successful professionals but successful husbands, wives, parents. I truly enjoyed our conversations this weekend and I look forward to our yearly Dallas reunion again next year. Keep giving me stuff to brag about, because your success makes me feel special.

Why living in the present is the only way to live.

An excerpt from C.S. Lewis Screwtape Letters. 

Letter 15. 

The humans live in time but our Enemy (i.e., God) destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.  Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure. 

(2) Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity.  It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men’s affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future.  Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.


by McBride/ Warren/Warren

You can spend your whole life building 
Something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
When I pray it doesn’t  always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away 
Love ‘em anyway

You can our your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway. Yeah, sign it anyway
I sing, I dream, I love

A 360 turn? A year Ago.

The last year of my life has been quite a ride.  I left my wall street job, tried my hand at starting a travel startup, put that on hold.  I joined as co-founder of another startup, I got kicked out.  I traveled to Italy for almost a month, spent a month with my family in Mexico.  Fell in love.  Mentored kids who want to be on wall street.  Met incredible people with so much passion for what they do.   

I am not sure that I had clear goals for the last year, I just wanted to try new things, build new things and learn new things— that I did.  What happens next, I am not sure.  

But what I do know is that if I had not left, I would still be sitting at my desk wishing I had the courage to go and fail and get back up.  

I am up, and ready for more.  What more is, I am not sure.  But I am so optimistic about the future (do I really have another choice?).  

For a while I thought that if I went back to wall street, I would be making a 360.  But how can it be a 360, when I have gotten so much more perspective!  I did not start and end in the same spot. I am actually excited about the possibility! I count myself lucky for the opportunities that I have been afforded.  

Onwards and upwards with no regrets.  After all, someone very smart did say:

' Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want'.  

Stillness vs. Action

There is a time for everything.  A time to sow, a time to reap.   A time to listen, a time to talk. A time to sit still and a time to take action.

I have the hardest time staying still.  I always want to be doing something.  But there is a difference between being busy and being a busybody.  I don’t want to be a busybody, but I want to be busy doing productive things. 

I have found there is a beauty that can only be found in stillness.  I am discovering that there is productivity in being still.  I haven’t mastered it yet, and it’s a struggle.

But I am learning to listen, to be still and find “Beauty in the dessert”. 

The right timing

I am a firm believer that things work out only when we are ready for them.  An opportunity comes and if you don’t have the right experience, or the right education, or if you are not in a place in your life when you can take advantage of it; Or if you are not willing to take the risk— then it will pass you by. 

I am sure it sucks when you let an opportunity pass by and only later you realize that you should have readied yourself for it.   Because there are some opportunities that do really only come once in a lifetime. 

I think I have taken every good opportunity given to me, and I’ve made the best of it, and have very little regrets about that.  So if it hasn’t worked out, I am at least happy I tried.  And if they haven’t worked out, it’s because as good as it was, it wasn’t right.  

The right one is still out there, waiting to be taken advantage of.  In a good way of course. 

My love for Airbnb

I have long been a fan of Airbnb, the not so little startup, which connects people who have extra space with those that need a place to stay.  But now I more than a fan, I have become an avid supporter of the site.  Airbnb helped me to keep the apartment I so love.  It’s surprising how many people don’t know about the site or are still afraid to use it. 

I had a little dilemma a few months ago- a two bedroom apartment and no roommate.  I didn’t want to move when my lease was up because I love my apartment- the space, the big windows, the nice doorman, the great neighborhood.  And to be honest, I had no energy to move.  So I renewed my lease with the believe that I could find an awesome roommate.  Major fail.  

My Craigslist roommate turned out to be the combination of everything I feared.  She left after only 4 months, and even that was too long to live with her, so I was back to having no roommate and still a two bedroom apartment. 

Airbnb to rescue!  I had signed up for an account last summer, and as a concept I loved it.  But I had never actually used the site.  A bit out of necessity I decided to give it a try as a host.  Best decision ever.  

I posted a few pictures of my apartment, described the place, posted some house rules and like magic the requests starting coming in.  The quicker I respond, the more request I accept, the more requests I receive.  It’s fun to manage all the request, to figure out which ones make more sense.  For example, if I have a request for May 3-6, but I also have a request from May 5-15— it makes sense to decline the May 3-6.  This only works if the request come in at the same time, otherwise I never cancel on my guest. 

Every single one of my Airbnb guest have been tremendous!  I have hosted 5 different couples so far, not a lot yet.  But the rest of March is booked, April too, and May is filling up quickly. 

I am getting more cash than what I could rent my room out on a monthly basis.  If any of the guest did suck, they would only be here for a few days, and I there are consequences— a bad review, so guest want to be good!

Most of my guests have been European, I think this is because they are so used to hostels and Airbnb is most definitely a few steps up from a hostel.  So I think Europeans are first adopters.  It has been so nice meeting people from all over the world.  I love to travel and this makes me feel like I am helping my fellow travelers. I give them tips on where to eat, what to see, and they bring me swiss chocolate, and tell me about their countries.  They are the best kind of roommate, they are out and about all day, and when they come home, they are fun and happy. 

There are a few things that I would improve at Airbnb, some as simple as a big link on top of the dashboard for My Reservations— they are hard to find.  Others like creating a meetup group for hosts in the same city, and a way to share tips with each other— like a FB group where people can post, or better yet, a Quora type interface.  It would also be awesome to swap spaces— So If I want to go to D.C., for a weekend and someone wants to come to NYC, let’s just do a house swap (Airbnb can still charges a fee).  And it would also help, a lot, if we could post videos introducing ourselves.  I think more people would be comfortable if every posting had a video. 

Overall, I am a huge fan of the site, I’d love to work for them in fact.  But in lieu of that, I’ll just continue to be an avid supporter and fan, and host of course. 

If you have not tried Airbnb, save yourself some money and stay at a home instead of a hotel.  And if you have a crazy roommate, ask them to leave and rent out your space on Airbnb! 

uninspired lately

I haven’t been writing much lately, I hadn’t been inspired and nothing interesting had happened in a few weeks.  I’d been waiting on some news for a few weeks and the anticipation was killing me.  While it wasn’t the outcome I wanted to hear, I am glad to know the answer and move on.

The best part about not getting the outcome I was hoping for, is that it energized me even more.  I forgot that defeat (if this can be called that) can be invigorating.  

I often learn lessons from my little brother.  He’s had a rough patch the last few weeks and he feels like nothing ever turns out the way he wants.  He’s 18 and going through the stressful process of applying to college.  

But talking to him yesterday about his latest defeat (breaking a door after getting locked out), I remembered that it is the tough times that define us, the tough times that make us.

And I reminded him that mom and dad never gave up.  They always did whatever they had to do to make it happen.  My mom at her age always tells me about her plans for her jewelry store, the plans she has to make it bigger and better.  If there is one lesson I l learned from mom & dad is that it’s not over until it’s over.  My dad was still working a week before he passed.  

I needed to be inspired, I was feeling like I was on cruise control.  Now I am ready to take the wheel and stop living on the passenger seat.    

One thing at a time

I was pretty overwhelmed with my (mental) to do list earlier this week.  I really need to start writing things down.

But a thought came to me- One thing at a time.  

What is the number one, most important thing I have to do this week?  Focus on that. Once that is done and over with, focus on the next thing.

Multi-tasking can be overrated.  And don’t get me wrong, multi-tasking is important. But if there are multiple things that are super important, but do not have the same urgency— then focus on the most important, most urgent thing first.  

My friend Katie told me of these quadrants.  Important, Not Important going across, and Urgent, Not Urgent going down.  Try and stay in the Important and Not Urgent quadrant, but when things are in the Urgent and Important, take care of those first. 

Talk to the lonely person....

If I can avoid it, I try not to go to events alone.  It’s more comfortable to network when you have a buddy.  You don’t look creepy standing in the corner looking at your phone as though you were really checking new messages.  In reality what you are doing is texting people to see if anyone is coming, or checking your twitter feed, or FB wall.

It’s easier to talk to strangers when you are not alone.  But if you do happen to find yourself alone at a networking event, then go and talk to the other lonely people there. It’s hard to introduce yourself to a group of people who are already engaged in conversation. But the lonely person will be more than happy to talk to you.  You then make a buddy and you can work the room together.

Today, I talked to the lonely person at the event, who unbeknown to me was the keynote speaker.  No one was talking to him.  I should have known he was the keynote speaker since I was at a women’s event and he was the only guy, but I digress.  It was great to approach him, and get about ten minutes of one on one conversation.  

Just don’t sit in the corner looking creepy, go and talk to the person that is doing that, and work the room together! 


Guest post on TechCocktail 

In the rapidly expanding world of incubators and accelerators, TechStars stands out as the Yale of law schools or  Harvard of business schools.  More than 1,200 companies will apply for the 12-15 spots available in the New York 2012 spring class.

This past Saturday, about 70 companies were invited to participate in TechStars for a Day (TS4AD), and my co-founder and I were lucky enough to score an invitation.  Being invited to TS4AD provided a bit of validation, but we were quickly told that the day was in no way a semi-finalists round – only 5-7 of the companies in attendance will be accepted by TechStars for the 3 month program.

I was more than impressed by the quality of the speakers and candidness of their talks.  The day featured venture capitalists like Fred Wilson, Jay Levy from Zelkova Ventures, and Adam Ludwin from RRE.  More impressive than that were the numerous TechStars alumni that lent their time on a snowy Saturday to share their experiences with all of us aspiring TechStars.

If TS4AD is any indication of the quality of the program, then those lucky enough to get in will have the ride of their life, and they will get to “Do More, Faster.”  As Fred Wilson said, “TechStars will help you to rise above the noise.”

Here are the top pieces of advice we received at TS4AD, divided into 1) General and extremely helpful startup advice; 2) How to get into TechStars advice; and 3) How to get the most of out of TechStars if you are lucky enough to get in.


1. Most startup fails as a result of product/market fit.  Make sure your product solves the problem in your market, and make sure the market exists.  Explore the depth of your market and the willingness of that market to try a new product.

2. Filter the advice you receive.  As an entrepreneur, your job is not only to seek advice but also to filter it.  Do not take all advice at face value – you have to take the advice and evaluate it in the context of your own situation.

3. Associates at VCs are extremely important – do not take them for granted.  Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of going right around the associates and straight to the partners, but associates can be your biggest advocates.

4. Don’t jump the gun with marketing.  Be ready to get a lot of attention.  What you want to avoid is getting attention too soon when your product is not ready and your systems are not ready to handle the increased traffic.


1. Team is the most important thing in the application.  Show the “source of passion” embodied in the founders.

2. Do not cold-email mentors and alumni.  A big mistake applicants make is to reach out to all mentors and alumni in search of a recommendation.  Helpful recommendations come from people that you have a long-standing relationship with.

3. Show progress throughout the application process.  Post updates to your application as you make progress.  If you do not post any updates and show no progress at all, then the likelihood of getting in are slim to none.


1. Make a plan before the start of the program.  Create a roadmap with specific goals that you want to achieve during the three month period.

2. Do not send all of your team members to every mentor meeting.  Send one person who can debrief the rest of the team.

3. Get lots of rest and tie any loose ends up before the program starts.

This is a long-ish post with lots of information, but I get the sense that the program is just like that: A lot of action, and a lot of results in a short period of time.  If fast and furious is not your style, then TechStars is not for you.  But if TS4AD is any indication of the effectiveness of the program, then I want to be a TechStar.