Welcome to the world-famous board meeting for Brazen Careerist.

For those of you who have not been to a board meeting since I had a miscarriage in the board meeting, let me tell you, this one will not be so interesting. At least at a biological level.

What's interesting, maybe, is that there is always tension in the board meeting because who knows what I'll do next?

But I am trying to be on good behavior. I am trying to be a more reliable person. Not so much of a wild card. I just read this study that the five most career-limiting habits of smart people are:

1. Unreliable

2. “It’s not my job”

3. Procrastination

4. Resistance to change

5. Negative attitude

I think we each must know what ours is, because I knew right away that mine is unreliability. I have been sort of telling myself that I am so clever, bright, and witty that unreliable doesn't matter. But it does. I feel bad that so many people are reliably there for me and I'm a wild card. So I decide I'm starting to be reliable today. I am going to be dependable and well behaved in the meeting.

I can't sit still. Some people have to rock back and forth or use a squeeze thing. I have to think about something else and write it.

We review how our ideas at Brazen Careerist were too early and now the world is catching up. I think about how I am too far ahead about goats. Goat will be the new beef. Forget cheese. The melting pot of America will be filled with goat meat. Read more

Thanks to American Express OPEN for sponsoring this post as part of the Big Break for Small Business program. Visit FaceBook.com to learn more about the Big Break contest. Enter your small business for a chance to win a trip to Facebook headquarters for a one-on-one business makeover and $20,000 to grow your business with social media. See Official Rules for complete details.

Since Melissa is living on the farm full time, she has farm jobs. Her job is to get my younger son to take care of his lambs. Technically raising and selling two lambs is his business. He wanted to earn money like his brother, and his eggs selling is no longer high enough stakes for him.

But if the lambs are a small business, Melissa is a co-founder.

Imagine my five-year-old with his two front teeth missing and his blond curls still flat from the last night’s bath.

Imagine Melissa sitting next to him. Each with dark black lamb in their lap, each lamb the size of a kitten and each is drinking out of a bottle.

Cute, right?

But here’s what it is, really. My son is swinging a bat, threatening every living thing with accidental decapitation as he walks sort of to the lamb house and sort of not, as I shout, “Get your butt to those lambs!” Read more

In case you don't remember, I really got exhausted doing Brazen Careerist. The pressure was insane and it made me nearly lose my mind multiple times. Now Ryan Healy is running the company in DC, and I sort of miss the startup life — sort of like women endure labor and then a year later they are pregnant again.

So I have been sort of bored and lost all winter, trying to think of what to do next. And then, one night when I was visiting my neighbor, her son propped himself up in his TV-watching chair and told me that he wants me to help him do a company this summer. For his summer job.

I said, “OK, but what do you want to do?”

He said he wants to pave driveways. Like, put tar on them.

So I asked, “How will you get customers?”

“I don't know. That's what I need help with.”

“I think you should start out with a list of ways you can get customers and then see which way is conducive to starting a business. So, if you could get customers for dancing on your head, then you should dance on your head rather than pave driveways. The customers are the hard part.”

“So what should I do then?” Read more

Here’s an interview of me in Inc. magazine. John Warrilow did the interview. The topic was how to know if you’re an entrepreneur. I basically said that you know you’re an entrepreneur if you are crazy, in a manic way, and you are willing to risk the health of your family and have no chance of a stable income, ever.

Then John sent his book to me. It’s called Built to Sell. It turns out that John did a startup and he sold it, and his book is, basically, how to be so smart about doing a startup that you are aiming for a reasonable, not-pie-in-the-sky exit from day one.

I spend a lot of time talking about how startup life is completely crazy, and the founders are crazy for choosing it. But in fact, the lower-stakes, lower-risk entrepreneurship, where, instead of having investors, you use your own time and energy to make money on the side while you are doing other things – that’s a great way to structure a life.

Ramit Sethi has great advice on how to do this. Its called Earn $1K On the Side. And now I bet a ton of you are going to sign up for his program, and I should have negotiated beforehand to get a cut of whatever he earns from this post. But I am stuck thinking about insanely risky businesses with high reward and so I forget to do things like earn $300 when it’s just sitting there. Read more

I have two new goats.

In a nod to Tom Sawyer and his fence, I told my sons the goats are for me only, and I want to take care of them. When my sons thought of 100 names for each goat, I told them that the person who takes care of the goats gets to name the goats.

So the goats are named Samuel and Snowflake. And I am supervising feeding instead of feeding.

I know you’re not supposed to name farm animals you are planning to eat. But last summer my son bottle fed a calf that did not have a mom to take care of it, and now my son seems to be fine with the idea of killing the calf. Read more

This was originally posted on TechCrunch.

My company, Brazen Careerist, is moving from Madison, WI, to Washington, DC, where our new CEO lives.

Running the company has been absolute hell. Not that I didn’t know it would be hell. It’s my third startup. Each has had its own hell before we were solidly funded, but this one was so bad that my electricity was turned off, and I really thought I was going to die from stress.

So while my company moves its center to DC, I’m staying in Wisconsin. I just married a farmer and my two young sons and I are learning to live among the wonders of pigs and cattle and corn.

I thought I would be sad that the company is moving. It’s weird to be the founder of a company and not be where all the action of the company is. But honestly, I’m relieved.

There is good evidence that you have to be crazy to do a startup. Jeff Stibel, writing in the Harvard Business Review, calls entrepreneurship a disease. Because you are not likely to make money — you are likely to die broke. And you work insane hours — longer than any other job — and you do it over and over and over again. This is not sane.

In fact, David Segal reports in the New York Times that there is a mania that entrepreneurs exhibit that is very attractive to investors. The trick is to make sure you’re investing in someone who is on the border of insane, but not insane.

So I had a going away party. To say goodbye, but also to acknowledge that I am officially not crazy enough to spend another year missing out on being with my kids. There is still an office in Madison, but the company is running well enough that I don’t have to be the center of it.

It’s hard to not be the center, but I want to be the center of my family. There are enough articles in the last year alone to fill a book (not to mention conference panels) about why women don’t get funding for startups. But really, you could tell that story on one page: Startups move at a break-neck pace, under a lot of pressure to succeed bigger and faster than any normal company. And women don’t want to give up their personal life in exchange for the chance to be the next Google. Or even the next Feedburner. Which is why the number of women who pitch is so small, and, therefore, the number of women who get funding is small.

Did you know that in Farmville, women make colorful, fun farms, and men make big, sprawling farms? And I don’t think it’s a social pressure sort of thing. My sons are under no pressure from me to beat each other up with anything that they can turn into a sword, which is everything. And the girls who visit are under no social pressure to sit quietly and watch. Boys and girls are fundamentally different even before they get to Farmville.

Women are under real pressure to have kids, though. They have a biological clock. So women who are the typical age of entrepreneurs, 25, need to be looking for someone to mate with. Think about it. If you want to have kids before you’re 35 when your biological clock explodes then you need to start when you’re 30, allowing for one miscarriage, which is more probable than most young people think. If you need to start having kids when you’re 30, you probably need to meet the guy you’re going to marry by the time you’re 27, so you can date for a year, get married, and live together for a year before kids. If you need to meet that guy by 27, you are very distracted during your prime startup time. (I have done years of research to come to this conclusion. Here’s the post.)

And I’m not even going to go into the idea of women having a startup with young kids. It is absolutely untenable. The women I know who do this have lost their companies or their marriages or both. And there is no woman running a startup with young kids, who, behind closed doors, would recommend this life to anyone.

For men it’s different. We all know that men do not search all over town finding the perfect ballet teacher. Men are more likely to settle when it comes to raising kids. The kids are fine. Men are more likely than women to think they themselves are doing a good job parenting. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Men have to trust that the kids will be okay so that they can leave and go get food or make more kids.

Before you tell me there are exceptions, I’m going to let you in on a secret: I’m a magnet for high-powered women with stay-at-home husbands. And when the men aren’t listening, the women always tell me that their men don’t pay enough attention and they (the women) are really running the household. They would never say this to the men. It would de-motivate them. So even the most child-oriented men are not as child-oriented as their wives.

And this is why women don’t have startups: children. It’s not a complicated answer. It’s a sort of throw-back-to-the-50’s answer. You could argue the merits of this, but you could not argue the merits of this with any woman who has kids and has a startup.

There’s a reason that women start more businesses than men, but women only get 3% of the funding that men do. The reason is that women want a lifestyle business. Women want to control their time, control their work, to be flexible for their kids. This seems reasonable: Women start more lifestyle businesses and men start more venture-funded businesses. This does not, on face value, seem inherently problematic.

But wait, let’s ask why so many men with kids are doing startups? Why aren’t they with their kids? A startup is like six full-time jobs. Where does that leave the kids? We use social service funding to tell impoverished families that it’s important for dads to spend time with their kids. But what about startup founders? Is it okay for them to leave their kids in favor of 100-hour weeks? For many founders, their startup is their child.

My startup is me and a bunch of twenty-something guys. And if you’re a woman launching a startup, my advice is to stick with this crowd. They never stop working because it’s so exciting to them: the learning curve is high, they can move anywhere, they can live on nothing, and they can keep wacky hours.

The problem with that mix is that someone who is not a guy in his 20’s has different priorities. And that’s something we saw really clearly at Brazen Careerist. The more I became focused on my personal life, the more annoyed everyone got with me. Sure, they understood, but they were pissed also.

I think our new setup will alleviate much of that stress. I’m on the farm, Ryan Paugh is in Madison, and Ryan Healy is in DC. It’s not how I imagined the company evolving when we started it, but that’s part of the fun of entrepreneurship: you never get what you imagined, ever.

 

Brazen Careerist is opening offices in Washington, DC. Our CEO lives in DC, so Ryan Healy is moving there — along with Photis, the developer (who I convinced to move from Philadelpia to Madison by telling him that his life would suck and he would die a slow, painful career death if he did not come work at Brazen Careerist and he said forget it and slammed the car door in my face, but then he moved to Madison anyway.)

You’d think I’d be panicking that the center of the company is shifting to DC. But really, I have been aiming to remove myself from the center of the company for a while. Read more

Recently, I covered my hallway in wallpaper I bought online (via Wallpaper Weekly). Everyone I showed the wallpaper to said the it would be too busy a pattern. But I loved it. So I bought it anyway.

There are a lot of problems with my hallway now — most notably, I used Elmer’s glue instead of wallpaper paste and I’m going to have to pull down the wallpaper and start over. But every time I walk through my hall, I think about how important it is to take risks with my house — because that’s what makes it mine. Which, of course, is very similar to a life. You can live someone eles’s tried-and-true template for a life, or you can make your life your own. Read more

The majority of people in the US would like to be self-employed, according to Dartmouth economist, David Blanchflower. This makes sense because people who work for themselves are happier than people who work at someone else’s company, according to research from Estaban Calvo at the Harvard School of Public Health. However the majority are not self-employed, and one of the most important reasons for this is that people do not know how to come up with an idea for a business.

1. Read all the time, among broad sources and materials.
In a study spanning sixty years of economically underprivileged Harvard graduates, psychiatrist George Valliant concluded (in a great article in the Atlantic) that the only consistent indicator of who will be happy later in life is who did chores as a child.

This information should make almost everyone happy, since obviously just graduating from Harvard isn’t enough to guarantee happiness. It also gave me a burst of hope for our new life on the farm. The type of farm we live on has big cash flow and little incomes. I’m not sure if this qualifies us for the Harvard study demographic, but just in case, my kids do a lot of chores. They take care of farm animals and get rewarded with computer time. Not quite American Gothic. But still, maybe a path to happiness.

Read more

I think its safe to say that for the majority of people, Thanksgiving is not about goodness and gratitude, but rather, family drama.

Until now, I have been pretty much on the outside of this American tradition: The tradition of building up Thanksgiving to be a great family moment and then the family not living up to it. But everyone still does Thanksgiving basically because they love their parents. I'm not gonna say here that I don't love my parents. But it's a special kind of love that does not involve being with them for holidays.

But this year is a big switch for me, because I'm doing Thanksgiving family drama—with the farmer. There is family drama because the farmer has three sisters who think I have a morality problem. Like I don't have morals.

In fact, the whole family thinks this, and those with Internet connections print out blog posts about sex acts and send them, via US mail, to less connected family members. The outcry crosses state boundaries from Wisconsin to Illinois, and sometimes, I think they are googling terms like Penelope Trunk and sex. I mean, it's not easy to find the stuff they are finding.

Wait. You are wondering, right? What they're finding? Here. Here's a list of some links. And, now no one has to do any morally-compromising searches. It's all right here: Read more