Abortion Rights

Mao Dezone said “Women hold up half the sky”. I read that recently and it stuck with me. Then I read an editorial that John Irving wrote titled The Long Cruel History of the Anti-Abortion Crusade. Abortion is legal and women should have the right to make decisions about their own bodies.

Countries such as Europe have such a deep history that is part of their future. The US doesn’t operate like that. We are a country that is always looking to the future and rarely thinking about our past. Irving, who wrote Cider House Rules is a book that speaks about the history of abortion. I might have to reread it this summer.

Clearly anti-abortion is about taking rights away from women. The crusaders of this movement (mostly white men) don’t care about what happens to a woman or child who aren’t able to get an abortion because they can’t afford one. Many of the people who are anti-abortion don’t support welfare or any help for unwanted mothers. If they really cared about women not getting pregnant unless they want to have a child, then they would care more about education and birth control options. Their views and rhetoric are only targeted at people who live in underserved communities that do not have the financial wherewithal to have an abortion if they choose to. That is a power play pure and simple.

More women are at the table with their voices from politics to managing companies and starting them. Those voices is the 50% that has been held back due to social norms and a very thick glass ceiling but as times change, that 50% of women who hold up the sky, are one day going to be the leaders and quell the voices of white men who have taken full advantage of their power.

Abortion is a woman’s right to choose and it is important that we make sure that this remains a law. After all, never trust to pious man.

Ladies…make the BIG ask

Consistently but not always, women tend to cross their t’s and dot their i’s which is a good thing but sometimes it is a bad thing. Making that big ask to put a foot on the gas and attempt to hit it out of the park is not always how women operate. We tend to be more methodical just like crossing those t’s.

Venture Capitalists want founders to manage to the upside not to the downside. You certainly should be aware of the downside but it is all about attempting to hit it out of the park. If you don’t try to swing for the fences then someone else might come in with a bigger check and compete. Most of the time being the first to market can be game changing.

Also, VC’s don’t care about losing the money because that is part of the job. It doesn’t feel great losing millions on a company but that is the risk of the business they are in. They want to see big hitters not people who are just looking to get to base hit by hit.

If it is obvious that your business is at the point where money changes the game because product market fit is right there, then make the big ask. Women need to get better at making that big ask meaning more than you think you need.

Drinking and Drugs

Running for an elected office gets harder every day. Your entire life is on public display. I am quite sure that is has amplified over the centuries and decades just like secrets and privacy is becoming more difficult but that is the name of the game.

Michael Gove, a senior official in Britain, is running to replace Theresa May as the Conservative leader and Prime Minister. He admitted to taking drugs in his younger years, supposedly cocaine, and called it a mistake. Really? A mistake?

I know people who have never touched anything because the abuse of alcohol that runs in their family. They have witnessed first hand what addiction looks like and want to make sure that it never happens to them. I seriously applaud them as it is pretty damn hard to go to a party in college and choose to opt out of recreational activities. It takes courage that most do not have.

Call me crazy but I know less than a handful of people at my age who have not tried some type of recreational drug in college. Most of them all unwind at the end of the day with a drink. Then get into Gen X’ers and Millennials and the realization that cannabis will be legal across the globe sooner than later, most have taken a puff or two.

Do we really care if the politicians running for office have done drugs in their past? Took mushrooms? Did acid or MDMA? Or do we wonder why they didn’t? Did Michael Grove think about his future candidacy at 20? Doubtful. Will we see more politicians saying this or more just being honest about reality.

I’d like to younger people running like AOC. Whether you like her or not she is out spoken and asks a million questions vs spending time on the podium talking about herself. Refreshing at least. I am concerned about voting for someone who never partook. I could care less about what type of drug use people did in their youth if anything experimenting at that age is an added bonus in my book.

Reality of Angel Investing

A founder emailed me for advice about an investor who wanted their money back. The note had come due awhile ago and he was expecting his cash back with the interest. Spoiler Alert…that is never going to happen.

I have often espoused that importance of legal documents from the get go of building a business. I am not a fan of the SAFE documents or notes in general because they are nothing but a piece of paper with zero work done and lessons to learn. Going through the education of understanding a document and the responsibility of taking cash from others is worth every cent especially from the get-go. Notes and SAFE documents cost very little to produce so I get it for a first round but that is the one and only time to have them.

Founders take capital with the hope that the money they raise will give them the ability to grow their businesses, their hopes and dreams, their ideas. Investors participate because they too believe that there is an opportunity to support a founder financially that benefits their pocketbook but also benefits their desire to help others build.

Many early stage angels should not be putting cash out there unless they understand that the chances of every seeing that capital again is low. I have seen investors write to a founder (what this particular investor did) and ask for money back with interest. The business is still alive but struggling so where does he believe the cash is? Then I have seen investors see how the company is growing and they expect a return when it is time to put money back into the company not take it out. I have told founders just to tell those investors to read their documents because they are not getting their cash back now unless some secondary buyer wants to buy them out.

Certainly when the company gets into their Series C and onward there is opportunity to sell for the first set of investors, as there should be. Secondary markets should be bigger than they are. But if you are investing with the hope that you will get your capital back in a few years or a note with interest regardless of the companies standing, then you should NOT be investing in early stage businesses. Remember whatever you put in has a bigger potential of not coming out.

Traveling is a Gift

Years ago someone I know had recently sold their company. He was still quite young (under 30) and didn’t come from a family with a lot of extra income. My advice to him was travel. That is one of the biggest gifts that money can afford. Reality is travel has become the norm not an exclusive opportunity. He took me up on that advice and years later told my daughter is was the best advice he ever got.

We walked through the streets of Paris on June 21st, the longest day of the year, where the entire city celebrates with live music everywhere. It was our last night of this trip. The sun doesn’t set until 1030.  It is just another added bonus that makes Paris magical.  Everyone is out.  Kids, teens, parents, grandparents, and everyone of all ages. 

What rings true is that although we might all live in different locations around the globe, we have become a global world through social media.  It has transformed our connections.  You might not be able to afford a ticket to Paris or Seattle or Bangkok but you can go there on social media in pictures, in stories, and even in conversations.

At the core of life, we all want the same thing.  Good friends, family, a roof over our heads, food on the table, something to get up to every morning that energizes us as well as to feel comfort. 

What is happening in the global world being run by crazy ego maniac power mongers is a big disconnect between what happens on the streets.  We are seeing that shift take place in Hong Kong when the amount of people that went to the streets to protest against China was monumental.  We are seeing it more women run for office everywhere. People are leaving places in droves where there is war and war lords because they can’t feed their families and there is no hope.  They aren’t leaving because they want to just leave.

We should be helping those countries under destruction educate their people and create a place of hope so that they can stay in their homes where they have a support system of family and friends. It is where the majority of them truly want to be.  It is our responsibility as one of the wealthiest countries in the world to help those countries help themselves.  It is no different than financially successful people have a responsibility to give back and help others be it social programs, art institutions, local charities or medical studies.  Private public funding has been part of our culture as far back as we can remember. It is up to the ones who have the most to give back to the ones who don’t.  That philanthropic mindset is one that is taught in American schools from nursery school. Give back, raise money through a lemonade stand or a bake sale to make a difference for others.

Walking through the streets of Paris these past few weeks and reading the angry tweets from our President gave me anxiety, anger and sadness.  How did we get here and how do we move forward? We should embrace being a global world.  If we did, then perhaps traveling to countries around the globe we would discover and celebrate those different cultures that are not that different from our own. They just happen to be living on different lands with different languages, religions and lives but at the end of the day, we all just want the same thing which is peace among the comfort of family and friends.

Last Day in Paris

Luis Vuitton Foundation hired Frank Gehry to build a museum for the collection they went out and acquired. The building is an ode to both LVMH and Gehry.

Soaring ceilings and amazing light that enters each room perfectly for viewing art. The waterfall outside. Even the way the building creates the journey to see the installation is thought out.

Yet the collection, which is shown to highlight painters of the 60’s and beyond disappoints. They should curate more partnerships such as the one they did with MOMA a few years ago. MOMA installed their top acquired works over the years and why they bought each one. It was fantastic. The only piece that was amazing is this Gehart Richter.

The park set around the museum is so beautiful. Kids running around and enjoying the weather. We went back to the 2nd to hit up one more store before taking off. Have to get our standards in. Then over to the 6th to get some lunch and fill up at Bon Marche for a few goodies before heading out. These tarts are so beautiful. I am going work on that pistachio cherry tart and the lemon cream meringue too this summer.

This store opened up about six months ago in the 11th (where we had dinner). It is amazing. I could live in a place like this. Cheese, sausages and salamis, pates, incredible savory condiments, wines, liquors and a few homemade desserts. Why we can’t do this in NYC is because of liquor laws that insanely antiquated. Makes me want to fight the law but not sure I have the desire but someone should because it is silly.

Dinner was at a fave, Le Servan. Those black pudding wontons are just so good especially dipped in the spicy chili sauce.

The pork is also a huge winner. Such a good spot.

The daughter of the owner/chef was there. It was so nice seeing her run around in her Double Dragon t-shirt (their other spot down the street). Everyone who worked in the place and some regulars chatted with her. Gave us a nice insight into the community of the restaurant.

We walked home, the longest night of the year where the sun sets in Paris around 1030. Celebrations of the day with live music on corners and parks. The entire city was having a party. A perfect ending to our trip.

Actual Anniversary Day

We had breakfast at our fave place, Cafe Flore. There are a few spots that we always go back to. That is one of them and it has not changed in decades.

After breakfast we headed over to the Museum D’Orsay and popped in this amazing glass store filled with pieces from Italy called Arcade. We bought these 3 for our place.

We stayed on the left bank for the day. The museum had an exhibit we were curious about called the Le Modele Noir. The last time we were there was 2008. It is a beautiful building that used to be a train station. The museum as it is today was officially opened in 1986. It is very much like going to the Met and seeing the impressionists. It is not my fave museum but glad we saw this show. This is I Like Olympia in Black Face by Larry Rivers.

It highlights the model more than the artist. The representation of black models who were used as models for many major artists is something we rarely see. Elvire Van Hyfte born in Belgian Congo, studied philosophy at the University of Louvain. Was friends with Matisse who painted many pieces with her as a model.

We ran a few errands and just relaxed. Dinner was at L’Astrance. The last time we were there was with the entire family in 2008. We spent four weeks that year in Paris with the family for the month of July. Truly one of the best things ever. It was nice to return. What I remembered is the beauty of the place. It is like a tiny jewel box with these amazing glass colored chargers on each table. Quite elegant.

The food isn’t what it used to be as if you want to go somewhere memorable I’d send you to David Toutain. But we had a wonderful time. Highlight was probably the fish with a miso beurre sauce with sushi rice on the side.

We strolled back home through the insanity of the Eiffel Tower. I remembered that we went up to the top after our last meal at L’Astrance and confirmed with the post in 2008.

A relaxing way to spend our Anniversary together.

Still discovering Paris…and our anniversary

News alert…everything written here happened yesterday. I am writing in the afternoons in Paris during the rest and relaxation time. I want to share yesterday but today is our anniversary.

Fred and I have been married 32 years and been together 37. I was lucky to find the perfect partner for me. We make a great team. He has made me a better person on multiple levels. Our priorities are the same, our interests are aligned and we completely trust each other. I truly feel that I have been given a gift. The other is of course our three kids but that has came along with the package of our life and it gets better every day. We are enjoying the day, reflecting on the past and of course, as always, plotting our future. This photo is the “wall of love” in the Marais.

So…on to yesterday. At the bottom of Montmartre, in the 18th, is a street of fabric stores. We went to take a look. There are 3 huge stores and then a variety of smaller ones. Some with fabrics, others with buttons and tassels.

We found one fabric for a project we are working on. It is really fun. Brought me back to my garment center days.

We walked around the area which is so beautiful and hilly. Had lunch at Soul Restaurant, owned by 3 women, with different food prepared everyday. It is almost like the neighborhood canteen.

There are a few neighborhood organic stores that are almost like co-ops. They carry products from local farmers (signs of them and where they are from posted on the walls). My friend would love these stores. Just enough that is fresh to sell out that day.

Dinner was at Le Dauphine, a wine bar in the 11th where we have been before. Our friend was in town so we met for dinner. Tapas to share. This shaved mushroom dish over a runny eggs was quite delish.

All and all, a nice day in Paris.

Just a day in Paris

We had dinner with a friend and her family from LA last night. She asked me “what do you do every day”? Great question. We walk, we explore, we eat, we take a nap, we just enjoy the city.

Our day started at the Picasso museum. Currently there is an installation of Calder and Picasso. I have seen this museum through three renovations. It is one of the most amazing museums. The marble staircase with the a Calder hanging in the middle of the old sculptures that loop around the ceiling is just incredible.

This is one of my favorite Calder pieces from the show.

This painting Calder did in December 1955 in his studio in Roxbury CT showing various paintings in different stages of completion.

Love this sculpture of a girl skipping rope from Picasso. There is one piece in the show that is made of handle bars and a seat from a bicycle. Picasso had come home from a funeral of a friend and had imagined making this when he saw those two pieces. It gives you a bit of insight into how his brain thought…always in art.

We walked through the Marais stopping in one of our fave shops, Tom Greyhound, and did a bit of damage. But lunch was the height of the day at Mokonuts. Have been there a variety of times and always make it back when we are in Paris. The nicest people and the best food. This salad of small tomatoes, green beans and tiny tops of basil flowers, thyme and a bit of fennel seed and olive oil was just incredible. I kept trying to figure out exactly each spice in the sauce. It is all so fresh and simple.

Tuna with a pounded basil pesto over the top.

Skate wing over a ratatouille.

Chicken over a mixture of roasted carrots and mushrooms. Every plate we sopped up with their soft bread.

But the best is those cookies! Chocolate chunk, miso sesame, coffee and coco and tahini with ginger. WOW!

For dinner we met our friends late at Les Grand Verres which is a new spot in Palais Tokyo. It is really beautiful and probably a good lunch spot. What is nice about Palais Tokyo that Wed – Sat the museum is open from noon to midnight so a nice place to go before dinner.

To me, the best thing was having a martini. Most spots in Paris don’t serve liquor so this was a serious treat.