HAPPY HOLIDAYS !!!
A rare December snow at home in Alamo!
DEAR FAMILY AND FRIENDS, Happy holidays from California and best wishes for the new year! I hope that this letter finds you well and that you will forgive me for
I met a lot of
once again sending a holiday email this year. As with 2008, the last
amazing people at
year has been a real roller coaster ride. In my letter last year, I
Beautifull and we did
described having to look for work three times in just over a year. Well,
some great work. I’m
after less than a year at Beautifull, I was laid off in September with most
grateful for that. I do
of the rest of the company after our venture capital war chest was
miss my job and I do
exhausted (see the postscript on the last page for more on Beautifull).
hope Beautifull makes it
I once heard a story about Brahma (the Hindu god of creation) that goes like this. “A fool,” said Brahma, “can have ten thousand lessons
and still be no wiser, but a wise man needs only two thousand five
But, in retrospect,
hundred.” Humor aside, after about seven thousand five hundred
the best moments of
2009 have been the
working insane hours
time I’ve spent with
at startups at the
family and friends in the last few months since being laid off from
expense of my social
Beautifull. I hope that 2010 brings many more opportunities for us to see
life and family, I have
one another! Also, you may see me on your couch if I don’t find a job
finally gotten a
smallish portion of
Washington DC (with cousin Tyler)
On that note, I would like to share a few of the highlights of 2009.
wisdom. I am now
Heinz Awards in Washington DC
seeking a new job
My uncle, Bob Berkebile, received the Heinz Award from Teresa
and I’m looking for
Heinz and John Kerry at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. There were
companies that are
Ugly Christmas Sweater Party in San Francisco (with friends Raven and Mary)
in the end. The food is
ten recipients at the 15th annual Heinz Awards this year. Unlike previous
stable and value careers over venture capital run rates.
years, all of the awards went to a single special focus: the environment. It was an inspiration to see each recipient’s amazing work get much deserved recognition and reward.
Mount Diablo foothills in beautiful Contra Costa County near my home
Washington DC (with uncle, aunt and cousin)
Bob Berkebile (left) receiving the Heinz Award from Teresa Heinz at the Smithsonian While we (my uncle, aunt and cousin in
with any great photos of the event. Who wants
the photo above) were in Washington for the
to share theirs?
Heinz awards, we took the opportunity to visit
National Constitution Center
the Pope Leighey House, a Frank Lloyd
Shortly after being laid off, I visited my
Wright house, at Woodlawn. I had never
parents in Pennsylvania and my brother joined
seen a Wright house and I was impressed at
us. We went to visit the Princess Diana exhibit
how obsessed he was with the details of living
at the National Constitution Center in
space. This was one of his “Usonian” homes
Wright Pope-Leighey House at Woodlawn
designed to be affordable for the people. Having seen this home, I would like to see some of his grander projects.
Princess Di traveling exhibit was actually better
I found a lot of inspiration in how Jefferson
than the museum itself. There were number of
ordered his life and channeled his energies
interesting items including letters she wrote,
into his interests in science, engineering and
details of charities she worked with and millions
agriculture. He built a life that wouldn’t have
of signatures in sympathy books collected after
been possible without slave labor, and yet, I
don’t think it is possible to be a Monticello
A Note About Babies
and not feel Jefferson’s presence and his passion for learning and not be inspired by
All my friends have babies. Ok, most of
the scope of his vision. I recommend a visit to
my friends have babies, but seems like
anyone with the inclination.
Garden Pavilion at Monticello
My great aunt’s 100th Birthday
terrible cold and lost my voice completely, but still managed to thoroughly enjoy the visit. Polly has some trouble hearing, but her wit is still sharp and it was great to hear her stories.
We introduced several family members to
all (sorry!), but a few are below. Olivia was first birthday this year. And you know what? I
Geocaching and had a great time discovering
love spending time with babies! I know, I know.
caches in the parks and woods around the area
It is time to start thinking about getting in gear.
where Polly lives. The only unfortunate part
My resolution for 2010 is to spend as much
was that Polly, at 100 wasn’t able to clamber
energy on dating as I do on working ...
through the woods with us. Well, that and my camera was broken, so, sadly, I didn’t end up
Best wishes for 2010!
Olivia with papa Andy
everyone does! I don’t have pictures of them born this year and Max and Manu had their
My great aunt, my mother’s maternal
gathered in Minnesota to celebrate. I got a
permanent exhibit to be somewhat thin and statues of the founding fathers, though. The
home, Monticello, which was also new to me.
It was a great occasion and the family
beautiful space, although I found the showy. I did love the room full of life sized
We also visited Thomas Jefferson’s
aunt, Polly Swoboda, turned 100 in November!
Philadelphia. The newly constructed Center is a
Max & Manu
Postscript on Beautifull and work We worked very hard to make Beautifull special. We built a great eCommerce website and we built an amazing store location in record time (all the technology for the store was
as shifting strategies demanded changes in
company composition and, finally, as the money provided by the venture capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures ran out.
procured and installed in 9 weeks!). We
Last year, when I wrote about going to
produced sensational food that everyone raved
work at Beautifull, I was extremely excited.
about. A lot of amazing and talented people
And with good reason. I was going to work
came to work at Beautifull and, with the
with some of the great people who I worked
exception of a few survivors, we were all laid off
with at Scient (where I worked when I first moved to San Francisco in 1998) including Julie Russell, Matt Elders, and Andy Arnold (pictured with daughter Olivia above). And Beautifull was an example of everything I loved about startups: an exhilarating challenge; an opportunity to create a new market; and, in this case, the promise of changing the way people think about food and health. It was the right idea at the right time.
The Year We accomplished a lot in the year I was at Beautifull including building the store pictured to the left. My heart was really in it. But, in the background, we were spending too much money and had already spent too much money on
Laurel Village beautifull! store just before opening
strategies developed and abandoned before the store even opened.
What you don’t get is an environment with
Then, in September, after three previous
long term stability at a company that cares
rounds of layoffs, the inevitable
about careers. What you don’t get is knowing
happened, and it was over for me. The
you will have the same job next year. And, of
next day my boss, Matt Janopaul got the
course, what you don’t get is a life.
axe as well. Beautifull is now operating on a shoestring budget. But, they are still going. I wish them luck.
me wrong, I don’t have a single regret. It is just
Ten years ago, I came to San
time for a new beginning. I am now searching for a different kind of
Since then I have worked at one start up
job. I’m looking for a stable, established
after the next. Beautifull was the bookend
company where I can build a career. I will be
capping a decade of dreams and long
taking classroom training and earning my
hours for me.
Project Management Professional Certification
Startups require long hours, a certain
Just before opening!
Which is why 2010 is going to be the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Don’t get
Francisco to work at a consulting start up.
Store construction meeting
could be huge.
from the Project Management Institute in
kind of manic energy, a consistent sharp
January. I’m seeking out and interviewing with
focus and an ability to be hyper-
established companies that have focused
productive while juggling multiple roles
project management roles. If I’m lucky, I will get
and projects. The reward is the people
to work in an industry I’m passionate about, like
you get to work with and the life-long
green energy or biotechnology, but I will be
friendships you build while working
happy with any role that is at a company that
shoulder to shoulder on something that
can commit as much to me as I commit to it.
Birds go outside!
In the summer, I was working in the office when I heard what sounded like pounding against glass in the other room. I went in and found that three small birds had flown in through the french doors. They couldnâ€™t find their way back out the door and were trying to go through the large plate glass window. The poor things were knocking themselves senseless. I tried to corral then out the door, but with no success. At first they were terrified and panicky and kept thrashing up against the windows, but, eventually they got so dazed and tired from the ordeal that they let me get closer and closer to them. After nearly knocking themselves out cold, they finally resigned themselves to their fate and they let me help them. I wrapped each one gently in a towel and carried it outside. Each bird leapt out of the towel and flew away happily chirping.