Melanie Notkin, the Savviest of em all

The other day, Beth had Melanie Notkin come in to give us a talk about her startup for the very first Media Organization class. In walks this very energetic lady who is full of enthusiasm about talking to us. I did not realize that I was in for one of the most informative and meaningful talks ever. Here are some her pointers that i think every entrepreneur needs to know.

SAVE FOR YOUR DREAMS – Just because there is this new gadget in the market, or the new house is for sale, you don’t have to go out and start buying them. At some point in life you will come up with this idea which will have a light bulb glowing above your head. That will be a total turning point in your life where you will want to have some(read ‘a lot of’) cash on you.

ALWAYS BE POLITE AND HELPFUL – You never know when you might need the help of someone you never thought could help you. Never ever swear in public. Help anyone who asks your help. Your favor will not go unnoticed.

NETWORKING, NETWORKING, NETWORKING – Attend all those breakfasts and meeting that you get invited to. If someone comes up to you and asks a question, try to answer it or point out the person who can answer the question.

READ – This is perhaps the important of them all. You need to know what is happening out there. Look into views from different people. Take part in discussions and know the lay of the land in general.

ASK, AND IT WILL BE GIVEN – In most cases all you need to do is ask. You want to work with the multinational organization, ask. You want someone to advertise on your website, ask. You want someone write a post on your blog, ask. The bottom line is ASK. And hey, be nice when you do it.

MANAGE YOU TIME – This one is obvious.

Now, a little about Miss. Notkin and – her startup. One fine day, her niece wanted to talk about Dora, the cartoon character. Well, she had never heard of dora so she was totally at loss about what to tell the kid. Then it struck her as a business idea. She started up the website which specifically caters to Aunts and its all about their Nieces and Nephews. Gift ideas, diet plans, cartoon characters, game ideas, some old fashioned ranting, its all there. And it is growing in a very healthy pace. – A brilliant idea with an absolutely brilliant person executing it. Take a look.


So, I set off the smoke detector…

I was wondering when i was going to do that and at last, a couple of hours back – Mission Successful!!!

We had chicken in the oven, Ashwin opened it so i could spread some more gravy on it and lo, a thick fume of smoke came out, and then – CHAOS. There was this beeping i had never heard before, it kept going on and on and on and then i realized it was the smoke detector!!! Had to take a towel right to it and fan off the smoke around the detector. It was crazy!!! But once we got it to stop beeping, we sat down, had a good laugh and well, started eating the chicken hoping the FDNY would not turn up at our place.

All said and done, i realized the underlying effectiveness of the Fire Department of New York. There are a number of times when i’ve seen or heard their trucks racing down the street to attend to some distressed person with a fire in the apartment or just a smoke alarm going off in some random place. Their quick and effective response only tells one about how seriously the US Government takes people’s lives. Its interesting how everyone is polite here. You walk down the street and you ll get at least two people asking how you are doing. This one time, the very first time actually, we were walking down the 3rd avenue with all my luggage and the guys stopped to get some supplies. I stood outside the shop and a guy came up to me and asked ” comin or goin ?” And i replied “Comin” and he said “Welcome Back” and he was off.

The best start to a year and a half , i wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.


The first Trans-Atlantic Voyage.

It was totally crazy. The shortest interview ever after the longest waiting time for an interview ever. Literally flying in to the city to pay for the interview on time only to find that the flight was late. The kind bank manager who not only accepted the fee late, but also somehow got it processed very quickly. Getting my finances ready in 2 days time. Booking a ticket in the mean time, taking a huge gamble. Getting all the shopping and packing done in 1 day.

And BAM!!! There we were at the airport,  6 kilo above the weight allowed. i was in quiet a fix when my family came through with a friend of ours – the head of International Cargo Operations at the airport. So, i got the 6kg excess for free and then a business class upgrade for the first half of my trip. Now that was sheer dumb luck!!!

A luxurious first leg from chennai to dubai in business class and a not so comfortable leg from Dubai to New York (I got to see the A380 parked right next to my aircraft in Dubai though). There i was sitting in JFK waiting for Ashwin and Danny to come pick me up. 2 hours and they were still in the subway apparently and i was in a fix cause i had to be in the univ in an hour to attend a mandatory session. So i took the taxi 🙂 Forgot i didn’t have a key, then lugged my luggage along to the univ. Registered myself for classes and got the guys to come back around 6 in the evening to take me back home.

That is the story of my first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Loved it though. Absolutely great!!!