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Want to Meet Cool Entrepreneurs in Massachusetts?

 Entrepreneurship is alive and kicking in Massachusetts! While there are entrepreneurs of all types throughout the state, Mass Innovation Nights introduces you to some that are brand spanking new and some that want to show their shiny new toys. Last Wednesday, I attended my first Mass Innovation Nights. After hearing from Betsy MacKinnon (@thebetsy) that it was an ideal place for me to network, I wanted to go see. I did not leave disappointed!

Mass Innovation Nights is the brainchild of Bobbie Carlton of Bobbie Carlton PR and Marketing. Her goal is to connect investors, media, people who want to purchase products and services, and entrepreneurs. The events are held at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham, Massachusetts and are free and open to the public. (There is an after-party at Biagio’s for even more networking.)

I got to meet presenters from a number of different companies. Viralskool just launched a week ago and this startup focuses on crowdsourcing viral video production. There were two innovators that specialize in SMS text marketing; KaOoga and Jittergram. Another business provides an interesting service for people who are planning how to use new space, SpaceMax. Consider this as the liaison who thinks of about the efficient use of space that you have forgotten or were not aware of and the architect thinks you have already considered. For wine drinkers, there is a new app for iPhone and iPod Touch users. Check out Drync and you can remember and even get that great wine you loved at the restaurant. At the after-party, I was introduced to Bobbie who explained to me that these events are marketed solely through social media. Considering the size of the crowd, the message is getting out! The great thing about networking at the event and later at the after-party is that you get to put names to people like Jeff Cutler, Ari Herzog, Chuck Tanowitz, and so many others. (There are some people I need to meet properly as we somehow skipped the introductions.) If you are interested in new ideas, innovations, and entrepreneurship, definitely go to Mass Innovation Nights.


The Kindness of Strangers

For the most part, people want others to succeed and I saw that generosity of spirit the other night at my daughter’s school concert. The boombox playing the music Hand Reaching Outcut out while the teachers were doing their grand finale. The audience just kept clapping the beat and the teachers kept dancing. The synergy was palpable!

“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” Aesop

The line from Streetcar Named Desire about always depending on the kindness of strangers has been echoing in my head since that night. Since I started on Twitter, I have been struck by one overwhelming theme. People want to connect and help you! We imagine that somehow chatting on the computer would be more isolating and less genuine. (To be truthful, there are people who are unpleasant and selfish on-line too.) And yet, there are so many instances of people sharing compassion and expertise on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites.

We depend on the kindness of strangers when we are conducting business. This really is where networking becomes a key part of how we do business. There are many times when the music of our business cuts out on us. We need help with our blogs, our administrative tasks, our financials, and other aspects of growing our businesses. Other people know who is best to help us resolve our problems. When we ask for some ideas, we usually get help. (I know the list of people I have to thank from both in-person and social networking is incredibly long! ) We have heard the BNI mantra about “Givers gain.” It is truly remarkable how many people, at all levels of business, simply give because they can. They give their time, knowledge, and resources because you asked.

“What goes around, comes around.” Modern American proverb Maybe some people are looking to create good karma. Others may not know the value of what they give. I have had well-established business people tell me that “it’s just good business” and also they are creating a legacy. No matter what motivates the giver, the act of kindness and generosity is remarkable!

What do you share?

How much do you give away without expectation of a return favor?

How do you tell the difference between genuine sharing and a sales pitch?


On Business, Life, and Networking (Podcast)

Tom Gray, The Evolving Internet Marketer, hosted this interview with Elli and had a great discussion on the process she uses to engage her clients in a dynamic partnership that creates business growth while restoring life balance. Elli also shared how she employs the power of networking, both online and off, to develop effective and rewarding business and personal relationships.

Listen in if you’d like insight into how to have it all; a great business that doesn’t require you to sacrifice family, friends, self, and community to the bottom line. And if you are considering whether a business coach makes sense for you this will give you a hype free view of the coaching process from a very passionate practitioner. 


I want to sincerely thank Tom Gray for making this interview fun and easy. This is someone worth checking out! ~Elli


Networking is Beautiful!

Business networking sounds so cold and impersonal. People in a Networkingbunch of suits in a hotel conference room talking at each other with banal elevator pitches. This does happen in real life, sadly. There is another way and it is worthwhile to evaluate how your approach reflects both who you are and the values and purpose of your small business or startup. So, what makes networking beautiful? In a nutshell, letting go of your desired outcome. But I need to grow my business, you say. Of course you do. Most of us go to find clients or someone who can further our small business or venture in some way. However, our desire for a successful business can shortchange our opportunities. Recently, I  had a conversation with someone who organized a networking event that was very well attended and he asked rhetorically why he was even there since he was getting “nothing” for his efforts. Frankly, I was surprised to hear his question. His subsequent response explained everything. I noted that there was a large group of people in the room and the possibility of developing relationships which could benefit his business and he said that was not what he wanted. He wanted something akin to instant gratification. What is he missing? His focus on outcomes clouded his vision and possibly prevented him from seeing some connections that would build his dream business. Desire has its positive aspects but it can get in the way by creating over-focus or even obsession that blocks us from connecting with other people. What could happen if we come  with our goals in mind and then disengage from looking only for lucrative results. Allow yourself to stop acting hellbent on finding customers, investors, or whatever. Get to know a few people in the room and see what unfolds. You will get your desired outcome. When we relate with someone, there is a mutual joining which leads to better referrals, better alliances, and possibilities we dream of. How is networking beautiful to you?

Hurdles, Obstacles, and Beliefs

Earlier in the month, I commented on a post, “Take Time To Remove Hurdling businessmanHurdles” on the Inspired Startup blog written by Andy Liu. (This is a good blog with other posts that make you stop and think.) Like a lot of blogs that I read, the comments really fill out the post. There was one theme that seemed to dominate the comments that seemed unrealistic for most of us. This is the theme-We create our own hurdles and we should get out of our own way. I have no problem with the idea that we create our own hurdles. We do. We act out of some kind of fear or anxiety. We want to seem attractive, intelligent, or competent and we worry that we will appear unworthy in some way. The idea that we can simply decide that the hurdles are not going to exist anymore and we can get out of our own way is not realistic for many of us. So, when we keep messing up, we get to feel more horrible or ridiculous than when we started. Our beliefs are steeped in our national culture, our families, and our peer groups. Americans are regaled with stories of people who picked themselves up by their bootstaps and succeeded against difficult odds. These people do exist but…they are a minority. Is it wrong to have help from friends, family members, or colleagues? Is it wrong to hire a coach, a consultant, or work with a mentor? In business, we network so we have opportunities to develop clients or customers and resources that make our businesses more effective. Many successful entrepreneurs have mentors who encouraged them to act on their dreams. There is no right or wrong way to act. There may be a question about your beliefs and if they are creating distress for you. So, what do you believe about overcoming your hurdles?

Celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week

Did you know that today is the first day of Global Entrepreneurship Week?  All over the world, there are activities that focus on making entrepreneurs successful.  78 countries are participating!  Right here in my own backyard of Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University is hosting a conference that includes workshops and networking events.  You can check this out at  They have attracted keynote speakers such as Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine, Steve Wozniak, and John Cleese.  That’s just in Flanders. Get tips from Oli Barret on speed networking.  If you can’t actually go to any of the in-person events, there is Mentoring Madness, a webcast on Friday, November 21, 2008 hosted by the New York Stock Exchange.  It is a panel discussion moderated by Alexis Glick of Fox Business News.  The panelists include Russell Simmons (Hip-hop pioneer and serial entrepreneur), Linda McMahon (CEO, World Wrestling Entertainment), and Peter Thum (founder of Ethos Water).  To watch the webcast, go to  This webcast starts at 9:45am.  One thing I did notice as I was checking out the website, there are some very interesting people and companies involved.  It’s worth checking out just to see the mix of people.  I’m definitely celebrating the excitement and creativity that comes with entrepreneurship.  The can-do attitude that we bring to our work is energizing and life-affirming!  We are audacious and tenacious.  We seek new information and are willing to test our theories in in the real world.  Who knows, you or I could be building the next big thing!  Celebrate your choice to live the life of an entrepreneur by learning, connecting, and building!