Transcript of Judy Estrin’s Keynote Address at Girls Innovate! June 2013 Conference

JUDY ESTRIN:

It’s a pleasure to be here today. I’m going to cover a broad set of topics to try to appeal to the range of ages that I see as I look out at the audience. I hope that in this thirty minutes there’ll be a little something that each one of you might take away.

This happened to be a busy two-week period for presentations. I’ve given three talks in the last two weeks, and this is the one I was looking forward to the most. I’m going to talk about innovation and entrepreneurship, but I’m also going to bring in a little about engineering and technology because my guess is that you all are at an age when some of you probably say math – ooh cool – some of you probably say math – ew yuck. What I’d like you to be thinking of is math as a tool. Sometimes it’s not the most fun thing in the world, but math, and science and technology are really important no matter what path you choose. I’m going to throw a little bit of that into the presentation partly because that’s where I started my life, and my career is as an engineer.

There’s one part of my bio that some of you may relate to actually more than any of my own companies that wasn’t mentioned and that is that I am on the Board of Directors of the Walt Disney Company. I am sure that all of you can relate to their products, where the companies that I built were important, but not household names.

I’m going to go through a little bit of my background, how did I end up doing what I ended up doing. I want to talk a little about innovation and entrepreneurship and what these words mean. Everybody talks about them but do you really know what they mean. And then I’m going to end with a bit about opportunities and challenges for innovation.  Areas that some of you may be a little young to think about but not necessarily, but things that may catch your interest as you think about what classes you may want to take or what path you may want to take in your life.

I was very, very fortunate.  Although, I never attended programs like this when I was growing up. There weren’t programs like this. I happened to be born into a family where both of my parents had Ph.D’s in Electrical Engineering. When my mother got her Ph.D in Electrical Engineering, there was one other woman in the country that got a Ph.D’s in Electrical Engineering that year.

I grew up with role models – both my father and my mother. I’m one of three girls, growing up with two sisters, it was just an assumption in our household that all of us would end up doing something in science or engineering. We were just very steeped in it, so I was lucky to be exposed to that area.

I fell in love with computer science. Not so much because it involves math although that was my background. I was very good in math; I knew that because in the first grade they skipped me because I was the only kid in the class who knew that zero was a number. Really, why I ended up going into computer science is because I loved to solve problems. A lot of computer science and technology and engineering – what it really is, is problem solving. To me a really complicated problem is very interesting, whether it is a technical problem or a people problem. As my career developed, I went into leadership and management – and a lot of what leadership is about is solving people problems, meaning the dynamics between people. I’m sure there are those of you in this room who often find yourselves in the middle of your friend group being the one that is figuring out how to get people together or solve interpersonal dynamics. That’s problem-solving, as is technical problem-solving

My first job was with a very small company. It wasn’t that I said this is what I wanted as a career. Many people growing up in Silicon Valley today say, “I want to be an entrepreneur.” That never entered my mind. When I was growing up, actually when I was 14 and 15, all I wanted to do was folk dance. That was my hobby; that was really all. I mean, I got good grades in school, or else my parents would have had a fit. But really what I was interested in was dancing. But when I graduated from Stanford with my Master’s in Engineering, I had offers from big companies and from this very little company. And a friend of my father’s told me that the smartest people he knew were at this little company.

And that’s actually how I made my decision. I went to the small company because I wanted to be around smart people. And that was more important to me than a company with a big name that everybody knew about. And that ended up forging my career. I learned early on what entrepreneurship was all about and how exciting it was to be part of a small team. But it’s not for everybody. Some of my friends chose to go to big companies and liked the structure and the opportunities that a large company provides. So one is not better than the other. It’s good to try both. I am not one of those people who can tell you that when I was 14 or 15, I started a business and knew I wanted to be a leader. At your age, I really didn’t have a clue. I had no idea what I was going to do, and so I ended up taking advantages of opportunities, which is how my career ended up developing. Some people know, some people don’t. So if people talk to you about following your passion, and you’re sitting there saying, “I don’t have a passion. Is something wrong with me?” No. Some people know early; some people don’t; and some people go through their whole life not having that passion at work. But their passion might be in their hobbies, or their passion might be their families, or their passion might be in some volunteer work. So, don’t worry about it if you’re not yet feeling passionate about something, because a lot of people give that advice and then make you feel like you should know. How do you find out? You try things. The most important thing is to try – try different things. It’s almost more important to figure out what you don’t like than it is to figure out what you do like.

I will say that the most fulfilling part of my life has been raising my 22-year old son. I was able to balance. You can balance. You can’t do everything at once, but choosing a dynamic career does not mean choosing not to have a family. Some people want family, some people don’t.  Whenever I talk about my life, I can’t help but recognize that actually my son – who I am now working with – is my most important achievement, as they say.

One of the things that is interesting about my career is I’ve actually experienced a range of different options. Very often people choose to go into academia, for instance. They want to go into science and become professors and they stay on the academic track. Or else people choose to join a large company – they want to be a corporate executive and they work at large corporations. Sometimes people become entrepreneurs and then they stay entrepreneurs. I’ve actually bridged the gap between these three areas at various times in my career. I was involved in research when I was at Stanford. I have started – actually EvntLive is the 8th company that I have started. Most of my career has been entrepreneurial, but I’ve been exposed to large corporations and what they’re like through being at Cisco for 2 years as CTO, when they bought one of my companies, as well as being on corporate boards. Some of you may not know what “on the board” means. Every large company has a board of directors, and those are not people that work for the company. They’re people who help guide the company and the CEO actually reports to the Board of Directors. I have a friend who has a young son, she likes to tell her son that I’m Mickey Mouse’s boss because I’m on the Board of Disney. That’s a fun title. In addition to working in these various areas I also took two years out a couple of years ago and wrote a book about innovation that was mentioned in my bio.

Why do we talk about innovation? Why do we care about technology? People often ask me why there are fewer women who go into engineering than in other fields, one of the answers is (and this is stereotyping) – but in general women want to make an impact and change the world. Girls and women tend to be brought up more people-focused often than in general men. Again – that’s a stereotype. Not true of all women, not true of all men. But I find when I talk to young women who are thinking about their career, very often they say to me, “I don’t want to sit in front of a computer all day. I want to make an impact. I want to deal with people.” So what I want to tell you is that engineering does not equal not changing the world; does not equal just sitting in front of a computer all the time; does not equal not making a difference. If you look at the things on this slide, whether it’s your cell phone, whether it’s the materials in the jeans you’re wearing or the social networks that you use, the medicine that you might take, the packaging on the food, all of that started with innovation and science. Either chemistry or engineering or technology or there’s a whole range of different types of fields of science that are in the end critical to the things that we now take for granted. So without engineering or innovation, we’d have very boring lives right now, if you think about how we spend most of our time.

I’m going to show you one brief commercial. For those of you who are over 13, I just want to take a minute and tell you what I’m doing now because I think it might be interesting to you. Something I never thought I’d do. Most of my career and most of my companies were all about deep technology – networking, connecting computers. And other than being on the Board of Disney, I really didn’t have much exposure to consumer-type companies. Last year my son who has always been very passionate about music graduated college and, with three friends, started a company. The vision is: not everybody can go to concerts. Concerts are one of the most exciting things to do. How do you bring that emotion of the concert and bring it online. So if you wanted to go see Justin Bieber, and Justin Bieber sold out in 2 minutes, and your mom couldn’t get that ticket, that you’d be able to attend that concert online. We, for instance, this afternoon are streaming a concert in New York which is called DigiFest, which is all of the top YouTube stars, so the YouTube performers who have the most views. They brought them all to New York to perform in person. And you can’t be in New York, but if you’re not at the panel or at the break, on your phone you can actually watch that concert on a phone, on a tablet, or on a computer. So that doesn’t seem like technology, that doesn’t seem like engineering. It’s music. It’s bringing music to more people, but behind it is a whole bunch of technology; and without technology we couldn’t make it happen, and without innovation of doing something different that hadn’t been done before.

So these words, what do they mean? What is engineering? The word engineering means building something that solves things in new ways. And engineering truly can change the world. And so it is something – as a word, as you’re going through middle school and high school – keep it in the back of your mind, because you’re not exposed to it enough in most classes. Is that the same thing as innovation? No.

What does innovation mean? Innovation means something new and different. Innovation might mean a breakthrough like the iphone, or the cell phone in general. Or innovation might just be a different way to teach. Perhaps one of your teachers has decided to experiment with how you work in the classroom to try to help you learn better; that, too, is innovation. And actually Girls Innovate! as an organization is innovation; it says how can we expose more girls to things like entrepreneurship and innovation. So innovation is about change. And I’ll talk in a minute about what it takes to understand innovation and to be innovative because it’s not important just in terms of solving problems; it’s really important for each one of you individually. Because between now – I was going to say between now and when you get to college – but the fact of the matter is between now and when you get to be my age (which is pretty old) you’re going to do a lot of changing.  And even at my age, I’m still changing because I think innovation should never go away from a personal perspective. And you should always be thinking about: what can I learn, how might I change, what might I do differently.

What’s the difference between innovation and entrepreneurship? Innovation is something new that can happen in a big company. It can be a discovery in a scientific institute. It can happen in your daily life.

Entrepreneurship is really a state of mind. It can happen in big companies but typically it happens in small companies. Starting new companies is what an entrepreneur typically does. What does that mean? Entrepreneurship requires a combination of passion, flexibility, intelligent risk  (and I’ll come back to this in a minute and talk about risk on another slide), being able to do things without a lot of resources (operating lean is what we call it). But one of the most important things about entrepreneurship is identifying a need – a problem that’s not being solved – and thinking about a new way to solve it. That’s really what entrepreneurs do. They look out at the world, or they look in their community, or they look at how they live their lives, and say, you know what, there’s a better way to do this, and I think I know how to come up with that better way to do it. Entrepreneurs typically are the ones who are willing to tackle a problem that everybody else said is impossible. Those are the most exciting opportunities. When people say it can’t be solved – that’s when I tend to say, now wait a minute, that’s interesting. If other people think it can’t be solved, those are the more interesting opportunities. You have to be flexible and you have to be comfortable with ambiguity because, if you become an entrepreneur, people don’t tell you what to do. You have to decide what to do. In large companies, very often there’s a lot of structure guiding what your job is. In small entrepreneurial companies, each individual is part of a community that together often guides what is being done.

I want to spend some time talking about what I think are the key things that are important to innovation because these are important as personal attributes as well as organizational ones that you end up coming across. They’re what I call the core values – the key elements that create a capacity for change, that makes someone able to accept change because again innovation is about change.

The first one is questioning.

Questioning means being curious, asking questions – asking questions about everything is the beginning of innovation. A typical thing that happens when kids turn 2 and 3 and they start asking questions – why? Why? why? – it’s so easy for parents to say, “Can you be quiet already? I need to do something.” We need to be encouraging questions. You guys need to be encouraging yourselves to ask those questions – whether it’s at school, whether it’s of your friends, of your parents, whether it’s of aunts and uncles, whether it’s of speakers. Asking questions is the beginning and [so is] feeling comfortable asking questions. There is no dumb question. If there’s something that you want to know, you should feel comfortable asking. But it’s not just about asking questions of others, it’s about asking questions of yourself. It’s called self-assessment. There’s a difference between self-assessment and self-judging. Self-assessment is being able to say: “Hmm, could I be doing this differently? What do I want to do? How do I want to do it?” Those are all good questions to be asking oneself. But if you ask a question judgmentally, whether it’s a teacher asking a student, a parent asking their child… but more importantly, how we ask questions of ourselves. Listen to the voice in your head. When you stand in front of the mirror and look at what you’re wearing, are you being nice to yourself? Are you asking the question that says – “Oh, this looks good but is it the right thing to wear to where I’m going?” – or are you judging yourself? When you judge yourself, you shut down innovation. You close off. If you ask the question inquisitively and nicely, then you open up your mind, and you open up innovation. So again – when you ask questions of your friends, when you ask questions of yourself.

The second one is risk.

What does risk mean? Risk means being willing to fail. This is actually the hardest thing because nobody wants to fail. But unless it is ethics or incompetence (those two types of failure are obviously not acceptable), failure is actually good. Because what happens is – when you fail, you often learn more than when you succeed. Sometimes when you succeed, yes, it’s because of what you’ve done, but sometimes luck and timing have played a very big role in that success. So those people who are the most successful over the course of their careers learn both from their successes and their failures. More importantly, if you’re not willing to fail, then you’re always going to take the safest route. You’re always going to make the safest choice, and that means that you’re not going to be open to significant innovation. That willingness to fail is critical. We all grow up trying to please everybody and to be perfectionist in what we do. I’m not saying don’t try to be your best, but I’m saying that failure is actually a step to success and should not to be viewed as something to be afraid of.

The third one is openness.

What does openness mean? It means open to collaboration, open to serendipity, to something that you hadn’t thought of. You may think you don’t like broccoli, so you never eat broccoli. But you know what? One day you may taste broccoli and like it. I happen to be a very picky eater, so I’m personally not very good at being open to eating different things. But that’s just an analogy to life – to anything you may try. You may think – you get into middle school – one of the kids in your class – you don’t like them. You know what? The next year you may find that there’s actually something about that girl or boy that is very interesting. So being open-minded, open to new information, open to change; being willing to change your mind and open to collaborating – to sharing – is all very part of innovation.

Patience – this one’s the hardest one – because it’s hard to be patient, especially in this world. But you need to be patient. Patience in an innovator is tenacity – the patience to keep going. Don’t give up so quickly. When you’re trying to answer a question, think about it. Don’t immediately go to Google. If you immediately go to Google for the answer, you’re not learning how to solve problems yourself.  Use Google as a tool, not a crutch.

The last thing is trust. You need to be in a trusting environment in order to grow. And you need to trust yourself – trust your instincts. Have trust in your abilities or you’re not going to take risk.

Now, you can’t pick just one of these and say I am patient and therefore I am innovative. For example, if you take risks without questioning, that’s gambling. That’s not innovation. These things need to be in balance. If you trust without questioning, that’s blind faith. That’s just following without thinking. That also is not innovation. So you really want to have a combination of all these things to have an environment where innovation thrives.

As you think about going into the world, what are the skills, what are the important things you need to know as you start your careers? Well, one of the things we know about the world today is that it’s changing ever more rapidly than when I started my career. When I started my career, becoming an entrepreneur was not common. Things are moving much more quickly than they used to. If there’s one thing you need to come out of school with, it’s the ability to learn.

The ability to learn – the ability to learn new things and change and take advantage of opportunities. Being adaptive and having the ability to frame questions.

And curiosity. Playfulness – the willingness to explore and experiment.

Collaboration. Empathy. What does empathy mean? Empathy means don’t look at things just from your perspective, but being able to think about the other person’s perspective, whether you’re in an argument with somebody or whether you’re thinking about what might need to change in an organization. All of these things are very important, as important as the subjects that you’re actually learning.

Regardless of what path you take in your career, scientific and technological literacy is a given today. It’s like reading and writing used to be.

When I went into school, first of all PowerPoint didn’t exist, but you’d never see a nine-year-old be able to use a computer. I think it is very important to at least embrace the technology as a tool. We desperately need more scientists, more technologists in this country to solve problems we need. I hope some portion of you will at least choose that path in the beginning even if you end up applying it to various different roles.

So I’m not going to go through this slide in detail from a time perspective.

Let me just say there are lots of opportunities and lots of problems out there which are opportunities for innovation. Whether it is in health care or upgrading infrastructure, both physical and digital. Whether it’s building bridges, or building new computer technology. Changing demographics in terms of age and nationality drive changes in markets and coming out with products that appeal to different people. Energy – coming up with clean energy, thinking about the environment, thinking about how we back away. It’s no longer a case of avoiding climate change and the problems associated with climate change. It’s now a question of backing away from those problems that we have already created. So whatever you’re most interested in – whether it is education, food, retail, fashion – all of these are interesting areas where technology can apply.

Anytime there’s innovation, there are unintended consequences. We have cars, which are wonderful, but then we also have accidents. Somebody a long time ago invented high-fructose corn syrup, thinking that it was the best way to get cheap food to more people. It was heralded as one of the big great breakthroughs of the time. We now know that high fructose corn syrup in everything we eat is one of the things that has contributed to an increase in obesity. There’s always unintended consequences but those are just opportunities for new innovation. The one that I’d like to point out to you because I think it’s probably something that touches all of your lives – is that of the wonders of technology and living online and texting and social networking. All incredible in providing connectivity and community. But if you judge your connectivity by the number of friends you have as opposed to the depth of the connection that you have with those friends, you’re losing something. So make sure you’re not using the technology to replace real friendships, and that you’re not using online experiences to replace going out and getting on a bike and riding somewhere. So the online world and the offline world need to live together. Because the unintended consequences of all this new technology, which actually I helped started in doing research on internet back when it began, is that your generation is growing up dependent on that, and in some cases replacing the joy of actual physical connection with an online connection.

Let me finish by saying there are many, many ways to judge success. I would like to point out that at different stages in your life you’re going to look at success differently. You’re going to look at different people that you’re going to hear from today and say, this one is more successful than that. Maybe or maybe not. Is success money? And if it’s money, is it just enough to be comfortable, or is success always wanting more? I’m going to try to not put judgment on these. I’m just trying to say – some people think impact is success. Impact on the world or maybe impact on your community. Some people think power is success – power to change, power to influence. Some people view happiness as success. And what makes you happy? Is it being challenged? Is it having the right personal and career balance? Is it giving back? All of these things can contribute to happiness. Recognition. Is recognition being recognized by everybody, i.e. a celebrity, or being recognized by your peers? For instance, scientists are often driven by peer recognition, and that’s how some measure success.

Realizing your potential. That’s a phrase we all use. We just want you to realize your potential. Yes, we do, but the thing you have to be careful of is thinking it’s never enough. Every time you get to the next step, you never accept the fact that it’s enough. There’s that judging in your head, as opposed to congratulating yourself and then saying – ok, now I’m going to take on the next challenge.

There are lots of different measures of success, and one thing the parents here may not like me to say, but I will say it to the students in the audience: As you grow up, as you get older, develop your sense of what success is. Don’t judge success by what others think success means because what makes you happy in life, is fulfilling what you in the end want to do. Those of you who are younger or still in the stage where you need to do what your parents – actually, everybody here, you’re still in the stage where you need to do what your parents tell you. But that doesn’t mean you don’t start developing your own sense of what success is. Success isn’t how another girl in your class defines it; success is what you internally believe and feel good about.

And last, the one thing that works against innovation, that works against change and that will work against your personal growth, is fear. If you are afraid – whether it is about safety, or afraid of failure, or afraid of criticism from your peers, or criticism from whomever, you won’t try. And if you don’t try, you won’t change. So the key is, when you see things that are scary, take that threat and turn it into a challenge and use it to motivate action. Whether it’s a threat in the world, or a threat in your family, or a threat in your peer group. You want to think of it not as scary but as – Oh, there is a problem and how do I solve that problem. And that will lead to innovation.

I’ll end by asking: What can you do?  What can you do for yourselves as you grow so that ultimately you can do for the community and for the world at large?

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q1: How do you suggest we expose girls more to engineering and science in school?

A1: I think that the school system the way it exists today does a reasonable job of exposing students to science, but not to engineering. Engineering is about building things. Often you take a science class and it’ll teach you about biology and chemistry, but very rarely is engineering actually taught in school. When you say girls being exposed, the problem actually often resides in you, meaning – you’re being exposed to science, but very often girls are tuning out to science early on. Those of you who are here are probably not the ones who are doing that because you’re here today. But there is this view, that being smart in science is not cool. My answer is that it’s very cool. It’s not something that labels you as a nerd. But we need to change our educational system. That’s not going to happen probably in the next 5 to 10 years so my recommendation today is to be involved in extracurricular activities as much as you can, whether it is online like Khan Academy, where you can do math classes, or offline events like this where you can get together with other girls and be exposed. There are maker fairs where you can go with girls and boys to be exposed to how exciting it is to actually build something and make something. There are a number of different ways to do it. Unfortunately, our educational system is a mess and it takes more than the people in this room to fix it.

Q2: Is there a particular subject that you think is most important to becoming a good innovator later in life?

A2: No, because innovation comes from learning how to think and learning how to think about things differently, and you learn different things from different subjects. So, for instance, there’s a lot of focus now on science, technology, engineering and math. One of the things I often speak to when I speak to policymakers or educators is I say, “Don’t forget about the arts.” Because, actually, liberal arts and music and other forms of arts are as important to creative thinking when you come out of school as is science, engineering and math. So I think the important thing is to take a variety of classes. The real important thing is don’t tune out – meaning when you’re taking those classes, even the ones that seem a little boring. I’ll never forget helping my son with his homework – some math class he was taking. And he said to me, “Mom, I am never, ever ever going to use this, why am I doing this?” I took a deep breath and just said, “I promise you, this stuff is going to be important, if only learning how to think through solving a problem differently.” It is important, and it’s not for the test. Those of you who exercise – you know when you train and you play volleyball or anything you do – when you practice and when you do more of it your muscles develop differently. Your muscles develop through use. Well, you know what, this [your brain] is like a muscle. It’s a really important muscle. If you don’t use it in different ways, you won’t end up with a well-balanced brain that is most creative and open to innovation. So it’s really important to sample different things. And if you don’t take multiple subjects, you’re never going to figure out what you like. So, there isn’t just one.

Q3: You talked a lot about stepping up and being willing to fail – very hard to do. We look at someone like you – incredibly accomplished – and we have to wonder: Did you have any setbacks – was there a failure that happened in your life that you can tell us about and where you learned something?

A3: I’ve had lots of failures. One great example is – [when] I was growing up, I was the one in my family who was good in math. But, I hated to write. When I had an assignment where they told you to make sentences out of words, the joke in my family is I would make the shortest sentence possible. Every term paper I wrote in high school I ended up in tears. I hated to write. I thought I couldn’t write. On my guidance’s test, I rated 99% percentile in anything mathematical or mechanical and 37% percentile in anything verbal and written. I still remember getting that test back in high school. And I then assumed I better never do anything that needs writing. Well, fast forward 25 years. I was giving presentations on innovation. Someone came to me and said, “You know, Judy, you really should write a book.” And I said, “I don’t write. You don’t understand. I can’t write.” So this person pestered me enough and I thought, here I am giving presentations on innovation, maybe I should ask myself the question differently, like – why not as opposed to why. And I wrote the book. I did not hire a ghostwriter. I hired someone to teach me how to write. When I would write something, he would send back these bolded comments. And you know what would happen, every time I got those bolded comments, I would burst into tears. I would go in my room , I would cry for about 15 minutes. I’d take a deep breath and say, “OK, Judy, go back to those comments and figure out how to change each one of those.” And, ultimately, I wrote a book. And, actually, I still cannot believe I wrote a book. I forget that I wrote a book sometimes because it was such a shift.

Now, that’s at a micro-level and at a very personal level. From a company-level, of those eight companies I started, two of them got closed down. One of them – it was after I was no longer involved so I didn’t feel it as much. One of them I was very involved and I really wanted to keep it going. The venture capitalists didn’t and we had to shut it down and a team of people no longer had jobs the next day. That was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. But it didn’t mean that I didn’t then evaluate, understand, and that I didn’t go on to start another company.

So, I’ve had plenty of failures. Some of them are so personal I won’t go into them, but I’ve had plenty of failures.

Q4: What do you do at Disney? You might also want to expand and talk about your day. What does your day look like?

A4: What a board of directors is all about is oversight. Board of directors meet, depending on the company, six times a year. So I, six times a year, go to a board meeting with the other directors and the CEO and the management of Disney. Most of what we talk about are the big strategic issues that Disney is facing. So when Disney bought Pixar, or bought Star Wars, those types of things get discussed at the board meeting. Or if there are personnel transitions, or if they’re thinking about opening a new park in Shanghai, or if something’s not going as planned. If one of the divisions is not doing as well, they need to report to us why and what they’re doing wrong. The role is an oversight and a strategic role. I don’t know if you know but Disney owns ESPN also. ABC is also part of Disney. It’s a very broad-ranging company and it’s a fascinating company to be involved in.

My day is very weird and hard to describe. Partly because I was semi-retired working on a lot of different things and then came back out of retirement. For most of my life, as my son was growing up my day was a juggling act: I’d drop my son at school, I’d go into the office, I’d work a very full day, I’d go home, have dinner with my son, and then get right back on the computer and work for hours. Most of my life – that’s the way I spent my day.

These days my day is a little bit different because three, four years ago, I decided I wanted to change an aspect of my life, which had to do with taking care of me. When I wrote my book, it was great but I gained 40 pounds in that process. So, four years ago, I told myself – I’ve dieted all my life; I’ve gained and lost the same 10 pounds all my life; and I’m not doing it again. So, I decided to change my lifestyle. I stopped eating bread. I stopped eating refined sugar. I haven’t had a piece of bread in four years. I haven’t had anything with sugar in it. And I started extensively exercising. Spin classes. Instead of having meetings, I walk the Stanford Dish. It’s a great hour of walking up and down hills. When people say to me, “Let’s have lunch,” I respond: ”If you want to meet with me, come walk with me.” So I sometimes walk multiple times a day. Between bike riding and working out, I just decided that I was going to take better care of me, having spent all my life just taking care of everybody else.

So when I stepped in as CEO of this company [EvntLive), one of the promises to myself was that I was not going to give up on that couple hours a day of taking care of me.

So I intersperse. I wake up, I do phone calls, I do a couple hours of exercise a day, then I’m in meetings, then at some point I come home and I work ‘til 10:30 at night. Interspersed in there is a bit of social stuff every now and then.

Entrepreneurship is a serious commitment. I do it because I’m passionate about it. It’s a lot of time. But – you know what – I have a great life, so I couldn’t be luckier. The fact that I’m working with my son is the biggest joy of my day.