Canning and hot sauce

sauceJosh decided to make some hot sauce and do some canning of the seasonal vegetables to take back to college. He has a kitchen this year so he plans on cooking for himself and his lucky roommates and friends.  He is quite a good cook.

Here are some photos of his wares.  This is the one recipe that I must make myself!  The only change in the recipe below is he substituted shallots for garlic.  The heat is still on my tongue.

Jalapeño & Tomatillo Hot Sauce

Makes 6 half pint jars

Ingredients

After roasting peppers and tomatillos, total weight should amount to 16 ounces.  If you are a bit short just add a few raw peppers and/or tomatillos to total 16 ounces.

3/4 – 1  pound fresh jalapeños, halved lengthwise (1 1/2 pounds jalapeños if not including tomatillos, for a spicier sauce)

1/2 pound tomatillos, halved

1 cup packed, chopped cilantro, tender stems included

6 large garlic cloves

1 large onion, chopped

6 sprigs fresh oregano about 4 inches each, stems discarded

1 cup fresh lime juice

2 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup filtered water

1 teaspoon pickling salt

2 tablespoons light brown sugar (not packed)

Preparation

Turn oven on to broil. Cover a large jelly roll pan or low sided roasting pan with parchment paper.  Place jalapeños and tomatillos cut side down on the pan.  Broil for about 8 – 10 minutes, or until the peppers and tomatillos are well charred.  Remove pan from the oven and set aside.

Combine lime juice, vinegar, water, salt and brown sugar in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Place jalapeños, tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, onions, oregano, and lime juice mixture in a blender.  If your blender is unable to accommodate all of the ingredients, hold back some of the liquid and set aside.  Puree all the ingredients in your blender.  Pour the mixture into a large saucepan (add liquid you set aside earlier) and slowly bring to a boil then simmer covered, for 10 minutes.

Sexual Harassment

imgres-2The sexual harassment suit that has played out in the public eye at Fox News is fascinating yet perhaps not surprising.  What is mind-boggling is that once Gretchen Carlson had the guts to file a law suit for Ailes behavior how many other women felt empowered to do the same.  For years each of these women, and I am sure there are more, decided to just either live with it, ignore it or leave the company.

My guess is if any of this actually gets to court that we will all be witness to a culture that everyone knew existed but somehow just accepted it as ok.  Do we believe that Fox is the only company that allows their executives to behave that way?  I doubt it.

In my senior year of college I was making the interview rounds at every top retail program.  One of those programs was Bloomingdales.   My last interview of the day there was with a male VP of all of ready-to-wear. He was one of the handful of top executives in the company.  As the interviewed ended he cornered me in the door and made more than a few inappropriate comments.  It is a bit of a blur now but it was about how I looked and having a drink.

It occurred to me the next day when I was back in Boston that this guy sexually harassed me.  When Bloomingdales called to offer me a job in their program I declined.  I also told the person who called me that the VP had made inappropriate comments to me in the interview and it was not ok.  My guess is nothing ever came of that but I wasn’t going to let it pass.

Then many years later when I was running a company in the garment center, the guy who ran it made sexual comments to every woman in that company except me.  He probably knew I’d kill him but I told him countless times that it was not ok what he was doing and he was going to end up in a law suit.

Even at Macy’s, where I did take my first job out of college, I saw sexual harassment right before I left.  I was in a meeting where all the buyers were presenting the season to the head of the division and the VP who oversaw the division.  All the buyers were women and the heads were men.  The comments about women’s looks, bodies, boobs and more was beyond inappropriate.  One of the men actually felt up one of the women’s legs up while she put her presentation up on the board.  Everyone giggled like it was funny but I was disgusted.

I told the head of HR what had happened and I also told the head of HR that I was told that women do not move as fast as men.  I am sure that I was blackballed after that because of the anger and tension that was being driven towards me from my immediate boss.  Besides the fact that the company just went private and it was a complete mess and I was thoroughly bored in my job, it was the environment that really pushed me out.

I hear from too many women founders who go pitch men that say shit that you can’t make up.  I am not sure if they are just ignorant or that this kind of behavior has just been ignored by their peers.  As more men and women stand up and say we are not going to take it anymore such as the women at Fox did, we will see healthier company cultures and I bet more mutual respect across the board.  Sexual harassment is real and it is NOT ok.

Speaking about race

imgresYears ago I read a slew of books around race issues from The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver to The Promised Land by Nicholas Lemann.  I felt then as I feel now that we have done a terrible disservice to blacks in America just because the color of their skin.

We are now watching the world that they have lived in on a daily basis.  Most of these acts have been sheltered from the public eye.  Because on every one of our mobile devices there is a camera that can capture the terrible wrongdoings and share it with the world with a click of a finger the issues that they face have risen to daily conversation.  I hope with that change will take place.

I have read all of Jesmyn Ward’s books but this last one should be read by everyone.  The book is called The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race.  She used James Baldwin’s book, The Fire Next Time as her guide to put together a group of poems and essays from some of the most important black writers of today.  The book is broken into 3 parts.  The first is about history, the second is about the environment at large and third is about hope for a better future.  The pieces are powerful and hit you write between the eyes.

I felt compelled to go back and watch Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing that was released in 1989 after finishing her book.  I found the film more powerful today than I did when it first came out.  Perhaps because Lee showed us what it was like living as a black person in America in 1989 and now we all see what he showed us every single day through social media.  In the movie there is anger, frustration and violence when a cop kills a young black man in the neighborhood.  That was 25 years ago.

There are countless movies coming out in the next year around black history that many have never learned in school because that history was not part of the curriculum.  There are countless books and essays being written such as Ward’s including books such as The New Jim Crow around the injustice we have done to young black men in America.  These books, movies and articles are forcing all of us to look into the mirror and come to terms with our past and hopefully move forward into a much brighter future.

Got Grit?

imgres-1I was talking to a woman this week about empowering women.  She asked me if I had ever read Grit by Angela Duckworth.  I had not but then found out she has a killer Ted talk too.   It is all about perseverance and passion.

I’d say most entrepreneurs have grit.  They are focused, determined, never give-up, work hard and don’t easily get discouraged.

I took the test.  Take it and see where you end up.  I wasn’t shocked to see my grit scale was 95% higher than most people.  I got a good chuckle out of that.

Owning your own finances

imagesTo many millennials, debt is a four letter word.  I fully appreciate that.  For years we made enough to make ends barely meet and had zero interest to go into debt attempting to live up to our desires.  We wanted to remain financially stable and hoped that when and if we began to make more income that we would not be laden with debt.

I had several jobs in college (and high school) and at one point began to understand credit cards.  I used those cards and kept the debt low enough so that I could easily deal with the monthly fee but I was paying the interest price for that cash.  It worked for me and I never let it get out of control.  I have seen plenty of people let it get way out of control where they have huge amounts of debt on several cards and can barely keep up with the monthly payments.  It is not a pretty place to be.

Decades ago, on our honeymoon, we were in Madrid and hung out with a very old friend of mine and her husband. He was from Spain and was in banking.  He made a comment that night about how my friend had come into the marriage with credit card debt.  In Spain, at least then, you couldn’t ramp up credit card debt but had to pay your bills in full every month.  That stuck with me.  You were forced to live within your means.  No splurging on something fantastic if you couldn’t afford to pay off the bill that month.

We certainly take risks but we also are fiscally smart.  We have passed that on to our children through endless conversations including lessons learned by giving them their own budgets to live on starting in high school.  What is interesting is that this generation is not building up on credit card debt like past generations.  They have seen their parents get into trouble.  They have seen some of their parents lose their savings due to the destruction in the global financial world.  They are fearful of living outside of their means.  I am seeing that in women and men.  Now more than ever women understand the power of being responsible for their own finances and they are owning it.

It is a different world than it was 20 years ago or even 10 years ago.  I applaud this generations fiscal responsibility. That responsibility bleeds into the choices they make for other things including jobs and purchases.  It is intellectual control.  Spain might have forced the citizens of their country to stay within their means but there is empowerment and freedom that comes with owning it yourself.  Knowing that you choose not to pick up that credit card and pay high monthly interest rates for that purchase you are craving is smart.  Instead you just save up for it.

 

Healthcare starts at the farm

imgresHealthcare continues to be one of the most important topics today.  The cost of healthcare is enormous running at over $3 trillion a year.  That is staggering.

Our system is more reactive than proactive and that certainly drives up costs.  People get sick and need help later on if they are not having annual checkups.  Health recommendations start with exercise and healthy diets although certainly genetics play a factor.

The amount of pesticides that we have put into our food supply for decades is the cause of antibiotic resistance and other issues.  Yet how do we grow enough crops to feed millions of people.  The pesticides not only affect the plants and everything else on the farm  and those chemicals go into the air, the water and the soil.  The good news is more consumers are pushing for change with their dollars.  They are voicing their opinions about the need for farming that protects human health.

There has been an ad running from Subway about how they are now only carrying poultry that is organic and free of antibiotics.  I can’t help but think so you have been feeding your customers antibiotic laden food for years but now you aren’t so we should run out to Subway?  What is interesting about the ad (besides my cynicism) is that they are reacting to what the public is saying.  We want healthy products.

We certainly have a long way to go but in the next few years much of this will become daily front news as the Government starts to change rules and regulations around laws that were put in place decades ago that are now wreaking havoc on our healthcare system.

 

 

NYC Parks

imgresParks are such a vital park of urban living actually any type of living.  They create community, they are investments in the local growth around them, the people who live around them tend to be healthier….essentially there is a range of data around the importance of urban parks.

The city has just committed $150M to rebuilding (essentially upgrade) some large parks in underserved communities.  That includes sports fields, running tracks, hiking and greenery.  A huge win for the community.  The majority of this money did not come from the city but from some of the other parks who have raised capital annually from private citizens such as the High Line, Central Park and Prospect Park.  Not only are they giving capital to the chosen parks but they are allowing many of the people who work in the well funded parks to spend time in the underserved parks to help train their staff.  My guess is many of the donors to those parks are not aware of the deal that was made although it has been written about and it public knowledge.  As an annual contributor to the High Line I am ok with this but we need to be more creative about keeping our parks (all of our parks) to the level the community deserves.  This is not a permanent solution.

To start, keep in mind that parks are able to operate from the money that is raised as a non-profit organization not because there is a line item in the city budget that pays for this.  If you are visiting any of these parks, go to their websites and give.  $1 makes a difference.  If you think of how many people walk through the parks of NYC on a daily basis those $1’s add up.  The parks that are not as organized as Central Park and we should help them figure out how to be creative.  Should some of the major companies in the city who are looking for ways to hang their hat on non-profit donations.  Perhaps they would be willing to sponsor a park.  What could you give them for that?  Could the retail shops around the parks be willing to add some dollar donation every time someone buys something?

Parks are a tremendous asset to every single neighborhood they touch.  How can we make certain that all of our parks do not fall into disarray because they are being creative about financial funding vs knocking on the doors of the few parks who have figured it out.

Why I don’t believe in blind hiring

imgresIn the last few months I have talked to a few start-up companies who have created technologies that can help companies do blind hiring.  It essentially eliminates all bias that might happen on the companies side.  It can also help companies zero in on people whose skill sets are much more aligned with the job that they are hiring for.  The case for that would be that someone would stick with that job for longer creating higher retention.

The concept of figuring out a way to dig deeper into someone’s skill sets to match them with the appropriate job makes sense.  That this would help the person making the hire have zero biases on the other side of the table is an interesting one.  Certainly we all wonder about that when women pitch their companies to a room of men but is that the end all be all to the problem?

Here is why I don’t believe in blind hiring.  I have personally made a conscious decision to invest in women and minorities.  If I just shut my eyes then perhaps I would not have ended up with so many of my investments in something that was important to me.

When companies start to hire their team they have to make a conscious decision that they are going to be gender balanced.  Maybe the people walking in the door are not the women they want to hire but just a slew of great men for the job or perhaps the other way around.  Then work harder and find the people you need to create the balance.  They are out here.  I have had this exact conversation with many founders.  Make a commitment to gender balance and make a commitment that the next hire will be a woman or a minority…whatever is it you decide but decide what you want your company to look like.

Equal treatment is supposed to be color blind but unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way.  Many might be against affirmative action but if has forced many companies to advance the employment of women and minorities.  I am not convinced we are ready to be completely blind when it comes to hiring people.  I believe we need to make conscious decisions to hire with balance in mind.  Not only do people benefit from it, the companies culture benefits the most.

Technology is changing the back end of fashion

images-1Technology is hitting the gas on changes in the fashion world.  Materials are one of the biggest changes.  I invested in Evrnu that creates new materials out of old materials without using massive amounts of water and producing carcinogens into the environment.  That is a big win.  There are so many other new companies out there creating materials that are lighter, better for weather conditions, can easily connect to devices to monitor our bodies, are completely fire resistant, etc.  The change in textile manufacturing is happening rapidly.  I have seen a handful of these innovations come through my inbox.

From a manufacturing point there are tools to create products with less waste.  It can cost the same to make one unit vs 1200.  Garments are being made faster, easier and smarter.

I am convinced that we will not see multi-million dollars brands such as a Tory Burch or Lululemon in the next decade but we will see multi-million dollar companies that are the applied technologies behind a brand in materials and manufacturing.

The making of shoes is finally changing too.  Just like being able to make one garment, we can now make one pair of shoes that are made specifically for your foot.  That template can be used again and again, season after season for you.  There is no reason for you to try and be comfortable in a killer pump because the shoe is made for you foot only so it will always fit like a glove.  That is why I invested in True Gault.

Wearable technology is just the beginning.  Eventually we will be able to take that microchip that monitors our personal data and put it into anything wearable.  Perhaps that chip will be talking to the materials you are wearing and monitoring your stress.  I really believe we are just at the beginning of this.

First 7 jobs

imgresFred asked this question last week.  I didn’t chime in on the comments but thought I’d share my first 7 jobs.

#1 – Ran the back office for the Montgomery County Recreation Department while coaching soccer, basketball, flag-football and other sports for kids from elementary to junior high school in afternoon activities.

#2 – Worked evenings part-time at a plant store

#3 – Taught guitar lessons to kids

#4 – Summer camp counselor – Archery Head

#5 – Summer job at Neiman-Marcus in DC as a floater

#6 – Bolt Berneck and Newman in the security department giving out documents to engineers and keeping the place organized

#7 – General Dynamics, grounds crew for the summer

There were a few other ones in there to put some cash in my pockets such as a short stint washes dishes in college dining room but these were the highlights.  First 4 were in high school.  What a foundation for my career!