How to Get S&*t Done in 5 Steps

Posting for Guest Author: Alyssa Simpson

I think one of the most under-valued and important quality in evaluating candidates for a new position is measuring their ability to “GSD” (Get Shit Done) or even better GSDR” (Get Shit Done Right). It’s not about how smart you are, what you’ve done in the past, who you know, or even being in the right place at the right time. It’s how much I think you can accomplish with the least amount of guidance and overhead.

1. Know what’s important – and what isn’t important.

Most importantly – know where the goal posts are. How will you know that you are checking items off the list if you don’t know what is on the list to begin with? In starting a new role, or evaluating how to succeed in a current position, make sure you know what is important to accomplish and how you know you will have achieved it. Most positions aren’t as clear as hitting a sales quota – having a clear direct conversation with a manager can quickly put you on track to hit the right targets and leave you both feeling reassured and aligned.

2. Don’t be afraid of trying and failing.

So the goalpost might be really far away – and daunting. It is easy to feel overwhelmed. You need to start somewhere. Breaking up big items into smaller items will get you closer to checking items off. Start small and don’t worry about not getting everything exactly right. It’s okay to get it wrong the first few tries. Recover quickly and move on to a better plan.

3. Ask for help

Teamwork is by far the easiest way to accomplish anything hard. These days most anything of value comes from the hard work and dedication of a strong team – no one individual. Be clear on what your value is, and where you need help from others. Don’t be too proud or embarrassed to ask for help – everyone needs help.

4. Have perspective

So the goalposts moved half way through…bummer but no sweat! The world is changing fast – being accommodating and flexible to new ideas, goals, and requirements makes it easy to move on quickly to the new goal. It’s okay to change course (hopefully not every time) and re-evaluate a plan to meet accommodate an unforeseen obstacle or success.

5. Be grateful

Don’t be afraid of accomplishing more then you set out to accomplish. Often your goal will creep up on you from behind and remind you that you just knocked it out of the park and achieved even more then you set out for. Be grateful to those who helped along the way, and don’t forget to celebrate the win as a team!



Silicon Valley Linguistics or an American Abroad

And we’re back… Bienvenue to 2014!

Can you believe it’s already February? Just like that, we’re into the second month of the year and it’s time to return to the telling of Silicon Valley Tales.

Today’s tale is a story of linguistics. I was once again traveling abroad. This time for my work at  I had the opportunity to visit England, Belgium, Switzerland (briefly) and the French Alps. My colleagues were generous, kind and hospitable. We toured Ghent, Belgium and the French Alps for a little winter time fun. It was a great trip.

Every day we spent a few hours in group meetings and in working sessions. We talked about needs for each market and my co-workers would seamlessly switch back and forth from one language to another. I just stared at them in wonder. I started to play the, “let’s see if I can guess what they are saying,” game. Surprisingly I got some things right. This was more from body language and inflection than anything else.

But when it got right down to it, I felt more and more like… a stupid American. Not on every topic but definitely in my communication abilities.  Most of my co-workers speak at least three languages, Dutch, French, and English. I took French for a year in high school and three semesters in college.  I still can’t speak French. I can barely understand people speaking French.  It’s the only subject I ever got less than a passing grade in.

During the team outing, a small group of us were standing on a mountain top in the ski-resort, Flaine. Our very rigid, French instructor asked if she should speak English. Everyone looked at each other and then looked at me. “Uhh… no go ahead and speak French, I’ll try and keep up.”   She shook her head a little bit. After all, she already explained to me that my ski boots were on the wrong feet. (Oops. It’s been 10 years since the last time I went skiing.)  After an hour of kindergarten style instructions, she started calling me, “Madame Americain.”  I felt like there was a dunce cap on top of my head for the whole lesson, but nothing a little European style apres-ski drinking wouldn’t take care of.

While enjoying some warm spiced wine at the bar, I asked my co-workers how they achieved their linguistic success. They all pointed to that media source that Americans love to hate: TV.  Over and over, I heard, “oh I learned English from watching American television. It’s even better now that you can pick shows to watch on-demand.”  Huh. Really? Maybe I need to start watching Telemundo more often.  Parents of small children take note! Maybe a little foreign TV isn’t so bad for your children after all!

We continued to talk about cultural differences and the fact that you couldn’t drive more than two hours in any directions without having to speak a different language. No one really cared that I couldn’t speak an extra language.  They really wanted to know why Americans got upset when foreigners spoke badly about the US government.   I looked at them and said, “I can’t blame you for speaking badly about parts of our government, I do it  almost daily. Maybe we’re just mad we can only do it in one language.”

Welcome back. Looking forward to a slew of new tales from our authors.

Just Breathe, It’s only the Holidays

You might have noticed a lack of tales from our little Silicon Valley gang in the last few weeks. Actually if your life is anything like ours, you probably didn’t. Just as we passed Thanksgivukkah, many of the authors and I got wrapped up in the day-to-day turmoil of pre-holiday life while working on Community in the Digital Age.

I see little things every day. San Francisco is full of shopping tourists and the highways are clogged with Sunday drivers every day of the week. I’m reminded that Long Commutes are Normal and that there is No such thing as a Reverse Commute.  There are daily parties filling my calendar and I’m feeling a bit sleep deprived.  Maybe that’s why I even find myself worrying about Mo Money, Mo Problems.

How much is that doggie in the window?

Everyone is looking for some stress relief whether we’re Hitched to a Startup Cowboy or have the Unglamorous Reality of a Working Mom. My preferred stress relief is walking by the Macy’s holiday windows to look at the cute puppies and kittens. I wonder if I should consider becoming a Dog-Sharer?

The great thing about the holidays is everyone wants to catch up.  I’ve been able to speak with a lot of the SiliconValleyTale authors. With some, I discuss how to find meaning and a job in Silicon Valley. Most people just need A Stroke of Luck with Big Data to avoid The Accidental Tech Career. A lot of us have landed in great situations because we Treat Job Hunting Like a Venture Capitalist. We use Millennial Real-Time Lessons and consider the possibility of being a Serial Entrepreneur.

While I am firmly planted in my Silicon Valley tech roots, some of the authors will use the holiday break to reconsider priorities.  They will think about flipping a coin to say “Heads, California. Tales, Michigan,” figure out the way to Finally Write That Book or switch industries and see Google Alerts in a whole new light.

There just doesn’t seem to be any type of technology to help sort out the holiday angst. Maybe Task Rabbit? I’ll keep looking for another moment to add to the list started in Congratulations, It’s a Technology Marketer.  For now, I’ll just have another eggnog and wait for an opportunity to get some Remote Appreciation in 2014.

In the meantime, we wish you and your families all the best in this holiday season. We’ll be back in February with more Silicon Valley Tales.

Remote Appreciation or What I Did on my Vacation

Just before Thanksgiving, I vacationed in Nicaragua with some friends. I love traveling to other countries. New experiences spark my creativity and give me a refreshed appreciation for the things that I have in San Francisco.

Concepción Volcano Located on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua

Three things I love about Nicaragua.
1. Volcanos as skyscrapers
One of five active volcanos will always be in view instead of skyscrapers. No one wants to live above the first floor, since a horrible earthquake in 1974 caused many building to collapse. (Ok there are a few exceptions)

2. New and old juxtaposed
We sat in the back of a truck with bench seats and no seat belts. We bumped 30-minutes down a rutted road to a surf camp with minimal electricity that used ice for refrigeration. They did have a really decent WiFi signal for the entire length of the mile long beach.

3. Nature
I have to give this one to the turtles. In a four hour period, I saw about 200 Olive Ridley “Mom” turtles laying thousands of eggs and just as many babies turtles crawling out of their sand nests to trek to the ocean. (There was some trauma with the momma turtles trampling some of the babies turtles.)

Hanging in the nursery

Three things I appreciate more about San Francisco.
1. Clean water / proper sewage treatment
I really like cleaning my toothbrush under the sink faucet. I also really like not having to remember to keep my mouth closed in the shower. It’s a shame that Nicaragua has some of the largest unusable fresh water lakes in the world. They have started recovery projects, but some lakes are so polluted they will take seventy years to clean.

2. Employment
In Nicaragua,the average worker makes about $350 a month if they have a job at all.  Most of the new buildings in Managua (the capital city) house call centers that service North America. This is helping people get a better start and drives more adoption of English (which makes it easier for American tourists). Having just started my new job at , I am thankful this holiday season for the employment opportunity.

3. Fog
If you are on twitter, I recommend following @karlthefog. Who knew that I would miss fog? After the ninety-degree temperatures with seventy percent humidity, it was a blessing to get off the plane and see Karl’s cool blanket . Especially now that I wish that Karl was sheltering us from the freezing temperatures.

Some days I want to throw everything about this place out the window. The traffic, the cost of living, the hipsters. Then I travel away for work or vacation. One of the best things about living in the Bay Area is coming home. There’s really nothing like flying into SFO and seeing the fog roll into the city. It’s nice to be home. It’s especially nice to be home with my family at the holidays. I wish you and yours all the best.

Google Alerts Can Cause Cancer

As the HMPIC (Head Marketing Person in Charge) of several wine brands and business entities (, ,, , , , and  to be exact), I have a Google News Alert set up for each of my charges.  If any of my “babies” are mentioned anywhere on the web in a news outlet, I get an email telling me where. It’s pretty intuitive and saves me a lot of time. Back in the dark ages of tech bubble number 1, my fellow public relations interns and assistant account managers used to scan all the actual print publications for coverage of our clients. It made for a long day looking for clips about executives, software and servers. Fortunately I escaped that world many moons ago and went into booze. Wine is so much more fun than a CD-ROM game called “”(one of my actual clients back in ’97) on so many levels. image

I digress. Back to Google Alerts. I get a lot of, hmmm, interesting notifications from time to time. The most common—articles about drinking wine and its correlation, or lack thereof, to cancer. I read them all—scared out of my mind or jumping up and down for my good decisions.

One article covers a study that young . But then upon Googling that, another article references a study that claims no— and then another that insists alcohol in general will raise your life expectancy.

WTF?  Do I freak out and overhaul my lifestyle or do I celebrate my choices? I need to know!  Google, help me!

Information is all around us—and it is becoming increasingly difficult to weave out good from bad, fact from fiction, important from the drivel, truth from bullsh*t—you get my drift. What comes out one day is often contradicted the next. The.  Can I sue Google?

Oh, and as an alcohol industry professional, my recommendation for a long and happy, healthy life: everything in moderation. Like what  says. Note the reference to my  in that link—my inspiration for today’s blog and received via Google News Alerts. Looking forward to coming full circle when this blog comes up in a Google Alerts.

Startup Job Hunting – Act Like a Venture Capitalist

If you work in Silicon Valley in technology, sooner or later you find yourself job interviewing. So what happens when you are at one company for so long that you forget startup assessment criteria?

Job Search

I had the luxury of staying with one company for seven years. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about how businesses mature. In the meantime, my startup assessment skills went by the wayside. Not to mention that as I looked at more senior roles, the questions I needed to ask were different.  It took conversations with my mentors and about 30 different businesses to figure out all the considerations. Here’s what I learned.

Do you want to be part of a team or create your own team? This was a new question for me – and as I thought about it more, I realized that there were a lot of ramifications. Would I have to figure out the structure? Would I be inheriting someone else’s biases or problems?  I talked to a lot of companies with different reporting structures, so I could figure out which type of role was going to bring me the most satisfaction.

Business Health:
This is especially important in smaller companies. You need to understand a company’s monthly burn rate and how much runway they have. You don’t need to look at the accounting ledgers, but get an idea on how to predict the financial worst-case scenario.

TIP: Check out company profiles on Crunchbase to see where they are in their recruiting and funding efforts.

KPIs and Business Goals
The company should have some goals with key performance indicators (KPIs). How are they measuring success? If it’s revenue, have they met their goals as predicted? If you have this data point and know how much runway a company has, you can understand their appetite for risk.

TIP: Some people suggested asking for the company’s presentation from its previous funding round to initiate this conversation. Those presentations are also full of clues about business health too, of course!

Great Product and Happy Customers
I can’t stress this one enough. This might be the most important assessment point. Always get a product demo and talk to at least one customer. Then ask about the churn rate. It  should be less than twenty percent in a mature organization. If it’s a SaaS product with a free trial, download the product and go through the set up process.

TIP: Try articulating the product message and value proposition to one of your parents. If it takes you more than one try to explain, you might be facing some red flags.

If you are going to work at a startup, be prepared to put in the hours. You will probably spend more time with your work colleagues than most of the other people in your life. It helps a lot if you like them. It’s hard to tell this in an interview process but pay attention to any flags no matter how small. Even a small issue can be indicative of a larger problem down the line.

TIP: If there’s been a lot of employee turnover especially at the executive level it’s usually indicative of a bigger problem. See Hitched to a Startup Cowboy for a different perspective.

Bonus: Executive Experience and Investors
You might come across companies that have very seasoned executives or investors that have a lot of previous winners (IPOs or acquisitions). People who have gone through the process before know where the hidden issues are and can avoid traps that sink less experienced companies.

TIP: Companies seem to be looking for teams of people who’ve worked together at successful businesses. Is it in your best interest to find your own opportunity or follow a business leader that you respect?

Even if you have great data points, there’s always inherent risk with going to work at a startup. The more you can look at a business opportunities the way venture capitalists do; the more likely you are to find a great and profitable experience. Regardless, you’ll always take away important lessons to apply to the rest of your career.

There is No Such Thing as a Reverse Commute

Twenty-two years ago when I first came to the bay area, we were (apparently) in the midst of the worst economic downturn ever recorded outside of the depression years.  Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration.  But in 1991, as a recent college graduate, everyone told me that I would be *lucky* to find employment.  And I put little asterisks around the word *lucky* because that is exactly how people would say the word, with heavy emphasis and waving of hands, arms and other limbs when they stated *lucky*.

Despite all the naysayers, I did wind up gainfully employed (after a two month stint in Emoryville at a chocolate manufacturer) at a leasing company located in Burlingame.  I happened to live in San Francisco and was curious about my commute.  Having spent a couple of months braving the bay bridge and downtown San Francisco traffic – I had no experience with highway 101.  Or, as I now refer to it, the 101.  I have other names for the 101 that are more colorful but may include profanity, so I won’t share those here.  And before you add a comment that says only people from LA call it the 101; I know, I’m aware, and I’m still calling it the 101.

The important takeaway here is that all of my new acquaintances told me that traffic would be a breeze, because I was doing a reverse commute.  And in 1991, before most of those .coms and non-.coms had launched themselves and started building out property up and down the 101 corridor that was kind of a true statement.  But ladies, it is most certainly not the case today.  So don’t be fooled by those misguided but well-meaning individuals who tell you how *lucky* you are that you have a reverse commute, because you live in the city and drive to work on the peninsula or vice versa.  And if you are new to the area, and trying to figure out where best to set up your domestic headquarters, there are some things to consider before settling down.  In the end, you will need to decide what is more important to you – time spent in the car, or time spent living your life.  I do realize that this is a difficult decision (everyone in California LOVES their car) so here are some pointers to help guide you:

    1. Do you thrive on darkness?  You laugh, but this is an important question.  Because if you live somewhere in the east bay or even San Francisco and work in Silicon Valley (let’s say between Sunnyvale and San Jose), your commute will often start in the dark and end in the dark.  In case nobody told you, a typical work day in the world of high-tech could be 10-12 hours.  Heading to work at the crack of dawn usually guarantees a pretty good flow of traffic.  And at night, you need to look at leaving after 7pm when the car pool lanes open up.  This is going to be a really long day, so you better make sure that you are thrilled with this job!
    2. Are you a type A personality?  Do you find your blood pressure slowly increasing as you try to maneuver in stop and go traffic?  Do you get agitated because nothing is moving?  Is there a specific time limit, that if exceeded will push you into full-fledged road rage?  If so, I would think hard about that time limit and make sure that your worst case scenario (ie:  one hour commute) is tolerable.  I would be sure to locate my home within that one hour radius from the workplace.  This will benefit not only your own personal well-being but the safety of other drivers around you.
    3. Is one of your requirements to have the big house with the big yard, but for a teeny-tiny price?  If so, you need to talk with your handlers about telecommuting.  Because that kind of real estate option is located on the outer fringes of the bay area (think Tracy).  This is especially true if your high-tech job is somewhere on the mid-peninsula.  Many companies these days actually have a category of employee labeled as telecommuter.  Generally they have no designated space in the office and there may be some other restrictions on activities, depending on your job.
    4. Are you crazy about San Francisco?  You dig the bright lights, the trendy restaurants, and wearing black?  (In case nobody told you, everyone in San Francisco wears black.)  Anyway, my suggestion for you hipster types is to find a job in the city.  That way you can avoid the 101 entirely, maybe even take a cable car to work.  Infinitely more satisfying than slogging down the peninsula.  And these days, business is booming in SF as they are constantly luring high-tech ventures there with tax breaks and other goodies.  The danger of living in SF and working 20 or 30 miles south of there, is that you won’t really get to live in SF – you will only be living on the 101.

To wrap this up – my ultimate suggestion to those looking to live and work in the bay area – find a home as close as possible to your workplace OR a home as close as possible to some form of rapid transit (BART or Caltrain come to mind).  The best commute I ever had was living within a mile of my office.  Yep, I could literally walk – it was even too close to bicycle.  Talk about a reduction in your stress levels.  Life in the valley is challenging enough without squandering precious moments sitting in traffic.  So, if you have the opportunity, locate your domicile in the nearer vicinity of your office and spend that extra time doing something more rewarding, like writing a blog?!  Feel free to share your best advice for eliminating or greatly reducing commute time, or better yet, what you would do with two more hours in the day….

A Glimpse into the Unglamorous Reality of One Working Mom

I launched a site the other weekend. Yup, it had to go live in time for a conference, so it had to happen on the weekend. Of course, this was just the icing on the cake – I had just been through a whirlwind messaging update, content creation and review process, and many days of QA. I love this kind of work, but it is really tricky to balance its demands against the really loud ones that come from my family:

“You were on your computer during my whole swim class. Did you even watch me?”

“Can I get picked up with the kids who don’t go to aftercare, just once?”

“Did you remember to have the cleaning lady water my plants? “

“Why are you always doing chores? I want to spend more time with you!”

“Are you really doing email and cooking dinner at the same time?”

I have explained to my kids that I work so they can go to college (which they don’t entirely understand) and have books and beer (which they do understand). They are beginning to realize that all of the good things in their lives cost quite a bit of money. But ultimately, they need their mommy. And when they drain my emotional energy or keep me up at night during the same weeks that my clients do, my sanity may hang on a very thin thread.

Things that help me keep it all together:

  1. Remembering to be thankful for what I have. It’s easy to think that someone always has it better than I do. I listen to people that imply that I’m selling myself short if I don’t “lean in,” when I know it will mean sacrifices that I’m not willing to make. But I am good at what I do; I enjoy doing it; and my clients value the results. At the same time, I treasure the time that I have with my kids, even if it seems like a race at times (OK, a lot of times).
  2. Investing in relationships with a diverse group of friends.  Listening to the perspectives of everyone from stay-at-home moms to single colleagues from three jobs ago and being a part of both sets of lives helps make #1 happen.
  3. Great emotional support from the spousal unit. An obvious one, but one that I can’t leave out, or live without.
  4. Limiting childcare hours to the work schedule I want to keep. As a recovering workaholic, it helps me to set screaming limits. This can be particularly painful during peak work periods, but it keeps the moderate periods moderate. I am just forced to look at bit harder at how much work I can really take on.
  5. Early rising. Confession: I’m a morning person. Like every working mother, though, it’s tempting to work late every night. For me, that always ends in exhaustion. The quiet hours and minutes in the morning, on the other hand, bring clarity of mind and the few good insights that end up really moving my projects forward.
  6. Cutting a few corners, when I know people won’t notice. Nope, I’m not going to tell you which ones..
  7. And of course, a bit of luck, in the form of great clients and great kids.

So what do you do to stay sane in the crazy world of tech?

Heads, California. Tales, Michigan.

Yes, I’ve got it right – the usage of “Tales” in the headline. I thought it appropriate, since this is my first post with this power group of Silicon Valley women, for us to get to know each other a little  better by sharing a few stories about what makes living here different than my home state of Michigan. So here it goes:

“You can take the girl out of Michigan but you can’t take the Michigan out of the girl.”

I spent the first 30 years of my life living in within 10 miles of where I was born. I survived K-12, 4 years undergrad at Michigan State University, and post-college, a practice marriage, 3 jobs, my own design firm and a gorgeous daughter. All of this took equal amounts of energy to get through as the 30 winters I endured as a warm-blooded resident in my arctic ecosystem (anyone reading this from Michigan – or any other bordering Midwestern state understands – there is something just terribly wrong about trying to scrape ice off your windshield in a horizontal snowstorm with 50 MPH winds and sub-zero temperatures. WRONG. It causes crying, trust me.)

I never thought I’d end up in California. Living in the Bay Area was so off my radar; if you would have told me 15 years ago where I’d be today, I would have called “BULLSH*T!” and challenged you to a game of Euchre in my basement. But the planets aligned somehow after meeting my now husband and business partner – Bryan Kramer,  a rare San Jose native, and the addition of our son, Henry – and  I’ve never looked back. That was 13 years ago February.

It’s not to say that the transition was , well, seamless. Here are some of the differences between living in Michigan and California that have stuck with me:

Our amazing weather

Home prices vs. the Weather:  I remember having a conversation with some acquaintances at dinner shortly after I arrived in San Jose, and the first thing they opened with was “Do you own a house? How  much did it cost? Ours was $600,000 dollars, can you believe what a deal we got?!” I.was.mortified. Who talks about their mortgage? Where I came from, that was as secret as information got. I countered with how much my first home cost in Michigan – a mere $90,000 dollars for a 3-bedroom/2 bath house on an acre of land – and got them off topic. What I realized later on was that they weren’t trying to show off or boast; it was that people always lead with what ails them the most. It’s why those of us from the Midwest start conversations about the weather. We’re not trying to be trite, it’s just that we’ve been conditioned to be concerned about the weather and what our plan “A” and “B” was for the weekend’s activities. In Michigan, it literally can swing from 85° to 45° in a matter of minutes. That is no exaggeration, hand to God (or hand OF God, in this case.) I can’t tell you how awesome it is still to be able to plan a trip to the water park in the summer months in advance, knowing that not only will it not rain, it will be a gorgeous, sunny, mild day. Weather does not ail me anymore.

Bugs: Computer bugs we have; massive, giant, “carry-you-into-the-sunset” mosquitos we do not.

The 87 at dusk

Traffic: Tracy posted a great, in depth post about the traffic here in the Bay Area. People have to commute crazy distances to get where they’re going. Distance is measured in hours, not miles. Parking is as elusive as Beyonce tickets. But as crowded as it is, it keeps moving. In Michigan, when traffic is stopped, it’s STOPPED. It means there’s been an accident, a cow blocking the way or a tornado crossing the road that people have pulled over for – not for safety, but just to watch it go by.

Cultural Diversity: There was one Asian guy and one African American in my high school. Even though I grew up five miles from a major university, the choices in our town to be exposed to any other culture were few and far between.  I grew up eating a consistent weekly diet of Mac and Cheese, Pizza, Burgers, Salmon Patty’s and Dinty Moore Beef Stew out of a can.  And believe it or not, I never tasted sushi until I was 30 (not because I didn’t want to, because we had no sushi restaurants in East Lansing until one opened when I was in my late 20s.) I drank Labatts and Molson and Falstaff beer and the wine I’d tasted was probably made of cherries or blueberries. Don’t get me wrong – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things – but I am so grateful my kids are being raised in such a culturally diverse environment, being exposed to other ways of thinking, eating and playing. They love sushi at 9 and 15. My son’s favorite foods are oysters and lobster (including the eyeballs.) I am also thankful that they will never make the mistake of calling a Taqueria a “Ta-KARE-ia” because they’d never seen the word before. Yes, that happened to me, when i was 31.

My friend Cheryl’s winery Clos La Chance – delish!

Time travel: Not in the Orsenian Wells way; in the rate at which progress, well, progresses. I am continually fascinated by the speed of business here in the Bay Area – start-ups emerge every day, ideas are iterated and iterated upon, getting more exciting as they morph into technologies that enhance our daily lives. There is a palpable spirit of innovation and creativity in the air here that’s addictive, contagious and delicious. Maybe living in the Midwest is for people who need a higher sense of continuity and consistency to survive? I just know that for me, moving too slowly causes me to lose interest and attention, which doesn’t serve my entrepreneurial spirit whatsoever (and another reason I am grateful for wine – it pairs well with us distractible personalities.)

So, as we often say at our marketing firm, PureMatter, “All roads lead back to Michigan.” Try it sometime; even if you have no ties back to the mitten state (of which I would have a hard time believing), I bet someone in the room with you right now does. I guess it goes to show that those of us who managed to get out brought with us the solid values and quirky sense of humor we all share, albeit transplanted into  a paradise of perfect weather, tasty wine and food and opportunity for miles. I can be at the beach from my front door to the water in 30 minutes. Yes, that.

I love being connected to so many other Michiganders here in the Bay Area (and for my favorite University of Michigan alumnus , and , so sorry about the football game last weekend, I have a green and white tissue for you to cry into if you need it). I’m sure, like me, you’re so happy to call California home too.