Failure can make your Fearless – Harleen Kahlon This week features a conversation with Harleen Kahlon, Founder of bolde.com, an editorial-driven lifestyle company for millennial women. Harleen’s path to founding her company took her through many career milestones, and down some unexpected avenues — it’s a great example of being unafraid to embrace new directions and looking at missteps as new opportunities
I have read countless books about the Holocaust mostly stories of people who were swept up in a storm of hatred. Many survived to tell their tales while others did not. Sometimes after finishing a book with valiant individuals who endured horrific things, I wonder to myself “would I have survived”?
What I have been hyper-aware of during these last few days is the anger towards Jews that has been unleashed and essentially allowed. I read this yesterday (see below)from Sarah Dolgen Shafteland and my skin went cold. It is if an age-old beast has been woken. I am not even sure how we move forward from this. Our Senators and Congressmen should be asking for the removal of the President. We can not have a person running our country, the United States of America, a leader of the world, not condemning this type of hatred. There is no place in society for this. This type of behavior emboldened people to kill millions ending with a nuclear bomb.
To all the Jews that voted for this man because they didn’t like Hillary or they thought he would be good for Israel, shame on you. You have let something evil out of the bag and somehow we need to figure out quickly how to end this before something really bad happens.
IMPORTANT: PLEASE READ ALL THE WAY THROUGH: This is the photo I took before I headed to Target today with my three year old daughter. We were having a beautiful day together and I was feeling excited about turning 29 weeks pregnant and looking forward to spending the evening with my family, celebrating Shabbat. On our way to Target I was practicing the “Shabbat song” with Aviva and by the time we got to the store she was practicing it with hand claps et all, quite excited about her singing and proud of herself for knowing the song.
As we were on our way out of the store I overheard a man and a woman near me say “Hey that’s that Jewish song….yeah yeah it is.” And then, “Oh yeah she’s got that curly Jew hair… yeah the kid too.” At this point I was alert and I could see them out of the corner of my eye. It was what seemed to be a husband and wife with a middle-school aged son (who was laughing the entire time as they went on). I started to push my stroller faster to not make eye contact but get away from these people. Everything in my being was hyper focused to protect my daughter at all costs. These people could be armed for all I know. “Oh look she hears us! She’s speeding up!” They started moving closer to me and getting louder, “Filthy Jew. Yeah filthy Jew and her filthy Jew kid.” And then… “Donald Trump is going to take care of you! Yeah! We don’t have to worry now! Trump’s going to take care of you!” My heart was pumping through my entire body. My daughter was singing loudly “Shabbat Shalom…Shabbat Shabbat Shabbat Shabbat Shalom” completely unaware of what was going on. (Thank God). I was focused on just getting out of there and getting to my car with out making eye contact or interacting with them. I turned a corner and the woman said “Oh look she’s pregnant! Great she’s having another filthy Jew!” The husband replied “Trump will take care of all of them!” I got out of the store, ran my daughter to our car checking for any sight of them the entire time, got in and just held her so tight.
All I have to say to you is this…
I was the co-chair of the Women’s March here. I am founder and President of March On San Diego. I am a proud Jewish woman, mother, wife and activist. All of that aside I am a proud American. I’m proud of how my family immigrated to the USA, escaping persecution for being Jewish. I’m proud of my family members who survived the Holocaust and of my husband’s family who did as well. I’m proud to have stood on the right side of history as I cast my vote away from Donald Trump.
My friends, we can NOT live in a bubble. We can NOT look away. Here in San Diego, in a Target store in Point Loma this kind of racist behavior took place towards a pregnant woman with a young child because this kind of behavior, hate and ideology has been given VALIDATION by our president. These people are now embolden. Any Jew I know who voted for this man or who supports him still today- please take a long hard look at yourself. Are you okay with what happen to me today? If you are- own it. If you are not- please it’s not too late to take a stand with those of us standing up against this madness.
To my friends who are working hard all around the country and here in San Diego with me and others to fight peacefully against this hate- from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU- we must focus our efforts to resist and overcome bigotry, racism and fascism. Today it was me and my daughter; tomorrow it could be you. Shabbat Shalom, good Sabbath, peace and love to you all.
Our friends told me about Shape House, the latest wellness activity. There is a handful in LA and they are growing on the east coast. This summer there happens to be one (a pop-up) in the Hamptons so I decided what the hell, I am going to give it a shot.
The activity takes an hour. When you get there they give you a large bottle of water, loose fitting clothes (long sleeve shirt, loose pants, and cotton socks) to put on and then show you your room. Each room is just a small cubicle with a bed and a tv. The experience costs $50 for one shot, discounts for a multiple buy.
On the bed is the “sweat piece”. It looks like a lined sleeping bag. You get in and they velcro you up so full-onu get the full on sweat. They put a clicker in your hands, headphones on your head so you can either listen to music, watch TV or whatever it is you want to do while lying there for an hour. They return after 20 minutes to make sure you are ok. Then come back with 15 minutes left and put a lavender wet towel on your forehead….much needed.
I managed to drink almost the entire bottle of water while I laid there. The first 15 minutes I wasn’t sure I was into it but then you get into a zone. The last 10 minutes I had pretty much had enough. I spent the hour watching Chef’s Table.
The hour ends and they get you out of the bag. I was drenched in sweat. You sit in the lounge area, have some more water, a few pieces of orange until you are ready to take off the sweaty clothes. I felt like I had a big workout. My skin felt amazing. I really felt like I had been fully cleansed.
Fast forward a few days, I feel really good. It is an interesting experience. Not for everyone but I am glad I did it. Pretty sure I am not racing back next week but I am definitely going to do it again. The post feels pretty good.
Last week I just finished reading Evicted by Matthew Desmond. It is a book that I will be thinking about for a very very long time. The book follows the lives of a handful of families in Milwaukee who have either fallen into drugs or came from an endless cycle of abuse and poverty. It is a heart-wrenching reminder of how some of the laws and systems in this country create an endless a cycle of despair.
Desmond writes without prejudice, he simply just tells the facts and that is what others outside of this cycle need to read. It is housing that is our basic need more than anything else. Without a roof over our heads, with out a safe place to live, without a sense of community or family under that roof, the next generation of children growing up in squalor and fear of constant eviction that seems to be a way of life, we will never break the cycle of despair.
Read the book.
After leaving a buying job at Macy’s, I jumped the fence to the world of wholesale, aka selling schmata to retailers. The world was a very different place and to really become a big wholesale business, you had to sell to Sears or JCPenney. The first order I got from Sears was for our best selling jacket. They tested it out with 2400 units which was a nice size order to start. The goods hit the store and I did what we did back then, I called the buyer to get the data around the number of units sold the first week.
The buyer was quite pleased with the sell-through and told me that she was going to write another order to roll the jacket into more stores. I really did not know what to expect. A few hours later, the fax machine spits out an order from Sears. The total order was for $1m worth of jackets. The trajectory of our business changed over night and it was my first $1m order. It was a big moment.
Fast forward, it appears that Sears, one of the most innovative stores in the past 100 years will probably cease to exist. It defines a turning point around the old brick and mortar businesses that did not see change coming and did not have leadership in place to be as nimble as the new kids on the block. The biggest kid on the block is Amazon. The chart above defines it all.
The fear of the new kid on the block, who is now the biggest and strongest, is that they become a bully. Sure they are buying a lot of interesting companies that have built something of significance that Amazon did not build themselves but there is an underlying fear of investing in businesses that compete with Amazon because people believe they simply can’t compete.
No doubt the future will see others besides Sears close their doors, but how do new kids on the block become relevant when there is a bully looming out there?
The disturbing events that played out in Charlottesville, VA is upsetting, mind-boggling, frightening and more. Our country is deeply divided and obviously angry but there is no place for hatred.
The question I keep coming to again and again is how come not one of our Government leaders are speaking out about this except for the barrage of tweets. Where is our leadership? Have we all become so numb that this is just another day? Why isn’t someone creating a movement where we embrace both sides of the fence who are aghast on what is happening to the moral fabric of this country? Are the people in power just working on getting their agenda through without thinking about the cause and effect around them?
As always, change comes from outside the box not inside. I do hope in the days ahead we see a sound, articulate person start a movement with rallies, open conversations, reaching across the fence to reunite us as a nation because right now the divide is insanely scary….and the history of all out war does not need to repeat itself.
I had been involved with an executive search. It was a fascinating experience. We had the privilege of meeting with some really interesting people. Some of their tidbits really resonated with me. Of course, each of them applies to any company particularly a start-up.
My favorite line someone said that they were given the autonomy to fail. That is big. I am a big believer in that. Micromanaging doesn’t do anyone any good. It doesn’t let your employees grow and it doesn’t create a healthy environment. Giving autonomy is giving trust.
Then I heard someone say we were encouraged to be curious. Curiosity is the key to life. It keeps you engaged and your mind active. Particularly when it comes to children. All children should be encouraged to be curious and ask as many questions as possible. No question is a dumb question.
Here are a few others. Constantly manage your environment. Never let a good crisis go to waste. No generation can take a vacation from history. Good managers think dimensionally and hire people better than them.
I love all of these bits of wisdom. Particularly the one about autonomy to fail. Sayings can sometimes describe a situation up easier than describing what you are going through. One of my favorites that Fred learned from someone he worked with years ago is when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.
Any favorite sayings out there?
Arnold Waldstein, a reader of this blog, wrote a post called When is it Time to Call is Quits? Quitting can be defined as to leave, vacate, exit, depart from, withdraw from, abandon or desert. You can quit almost anything. You can quit eating sugar, quit the book you are reading or quit the project you are working on. Quitting should not be tied to failure but thought of as shifting paths.
In the start-up world, there are more businesses that will fail than succeed. Hard to believe it could be yours if you are deep in the daily weeds because of course all great founders believe that theirs is going to be a success. Those are the type of founders that investors want to back.
I have seen businesses fail and it is painful for all parties involved but sometimes when you look at the landscape, it is time to quit. The growth has stopped, the money isn’t there, the investors have lost faith, etc. It is extremely painful.
I have quit many things over the years and there are times when I think I should quit half the things that I do but I never look at it as a failure but more of an evolution. Decisions around quitting just push you down a new path. That path might be brighter because of what you have learned from your past. It might be the wrong path so you hang left and go down another. I really do believe if you can get it in your head that quitting is just part of the road map of life, then it changes the conversation around exiting from something.
It is those small mental shifts around hard decisions that can make the light at end of the tunnel look much brighter as painful as making the decision to close shop.
No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, these are strange times. Obama was a calm, no drama leader that showed complete respect for the office of the Presidency. He behaved with dignity in every situation. Now we have a leader who functions on chaos. He does not seem to have agenda yet the people around him who have been put in places of power sure do and they are hanging on just to get their own agenda accomplished. We have a President who tells lies, dismisses everyone, tweets nonsense constantly and throws his friends and enemies under the bus. He certainly does not act with dignity and because of this behavior, everyone has taken to the airwaves to insult him and everyone around him. It is a daily public shaming on all sides of the fence.
The thing about this constant insanity is that our children hear it, see it, read about it and have become part of the rhetoric. A friend’s 10-year-old daughter, who is whip-smart and insanely sophisticated for her age, saw Trump’s entourage and screamed out “F-you Trump”. On one hand, I happen to agree with her but on the other hand, I wonder about her generation who is watching politics in a completely different light. Her (and her peers) respect for Government has been diminished and that includes everyone from Senators to Mayors. This mass open chaos has made everyone out to be incompetent. Perhaps they all are.
Kirsten Gillibrand has been saying over and over that if you don’t like what you see, then run for office. Our country is built on a set of checks and balances that are written into our Constitution that is managed (essentially) by our Government. These 10-year-old kids are living in start-up nation and a world where they can watch everything on the phone and be connected all the time. What will their Government look like when they get to the age where they can run for office. Will anyone even want to? Will they have zero respect for Government decisions? Will they be living on Universal income and have Universal healthcare? Will they be living in a time where oil is irrelevant and driverless cars and high-speed rail (including light rail in cities) be the mode of transportation because economically it makes more sense? They don’t care about people’s sexual or religious preferences. They don’t care if you are black, white, Asian, brown or green and they certainly don’t care if you smoke pot. They see a true disconnect between where we are going and a Government hanging on the past.
There is something happening with our President having such lack of respect for his fellow Americans, the office of the Presidency, the United States position in the world and Trump’s inability to truly understand all of these factors that I wonder what Government will look like when our friends 10 year old is 30.