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At AboutOne, we take a lot of pride in listening to our customers, and what we’ve been hearing is that most of you want an app that makes your Google calendars more useful for managing family life. That’s why we’re so pleased to announce that the first version of the new Family Calendar powered by AboutOne was submitted to the App Store last month.

This app is the first to combine Google calendar and iPhone with the power and flexibility of AboutOne to store, manage, and access your family records, whenever and wherever you need them!

Before I take a few moments to explain this revolutionary new approach to a calendar app, go ahead and download our free Family Calendar powered by AboutOne so you can follow along.

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Once you’ve downloaded Family Calendar, log in to the app with your Google email and password (we sync with Google directly). From there it’s simple to get started with our streamlined process of family organization!

Your Google calendar events will automatically sync after you select which of your Google calendars you want to connect to Family Calendar. If you’re already an AboutOne user, your family members will display (make sure your AboutOne and Google login details are the same), if not add your family.

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And that’s all there is to getting started!

You’ll find our interface very easy to use, especially if you’re already familiar with using the stock calendar on your iPhone. In addition to standard calendar features for managing work and home life, here’s a sampling of the features that make Family Calendar so uniquely useful:

  • Shopping List with simple, fast entry
  • Integrated To Dos
  • Event tagging
  • Life aspect (health, possessions, education, etc.) flags for events
  • Secure/private storage of photos and documents against calendar events, creating a lifetime record of family events and information, including location, date, time, and people involved
  • Private sharing of events and related photos, paperwork, and more
  • Powerful search by keyword, tag, family member, and contact so you can find whatever you need, whenever you need it
  • Weekly View

We will be sharing regular updates about new features and how to use the app.

awe6One of the first and most important secrets to success is MAKING CONNECTIONS. No one teaches you this in school, but networking is critical because success can come from just one connection that believes in you, invests in you, or buys your product.

I don’t enjoy traditional networking meetings where you have to approach complete strangers that you may have nothing in common with – networking like this make me nervous, hot, and sweaty! For me, a more natural and comfortable approach is to volunteer at events or leverage existing contacts. For example, when I started to raise venture capital for AboutOne four years ago, Alan Kraus (Ben Franklin Technology Partners) knew that as a first-time entrepreneur, I’d need support and guidance. To help smooth the way, he recommended me for an Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) fellowship.

AWE is the mid-Atlantic region’s largest organization dedicated to supporting high growth businesses founded or led by women. Susan Evatt was assigned to be my lead mentor and Jill Magerman was assigned as my life coach. These two women introduced me to the world of fundraising while also giving me the invaluable advice and support I needed to keep moving AboutOne forward.

awe5Through its educational and networking programs, AWE fosters RELATIONSHIPS to cultivate women entrepreneurs. One such program is their Members Mentoring Members (M3) event that connects emerging entrepreneurs with AWE members whose capabilities and experiences have proven results. AWE invited me to take part as the keynote speaker, so I decided to talk about my 8 Secrets to Success and lessons learned on each topic.  You just read about my first secret: making connections and relationships.

Secret #2: PASSION – When you have a business idea, you need to have a PASSION for it. The best ideas are ones that solve a problem you’ve personally experienced.

Secret #3: RESEARCH – You must research both your idea and your business model. I like the Steve Blank and Eric Reis Lean Startup approach to business modeling. In my experience, Cash is King, so I recommend holding off on spending money or building anything until you have thoroughly researched your market and validated your business model. I spent a year personally interviewing people and sending out surveys, in many cases focusing on why they would NOT use my products. You must meet your customers, ask them questions, listen to their answers, and work out how to solve their problems.

Use this research to validate the nine building blocks of your business model:

  1. Customer Segments
  2. Value Propositions
  3. Channels
  4. Customer Relationships
  5. Revenue Streams
  6. Key Resources
  7. Key Activities
  8. Key Partnerships
  9. Cost Structure

Secret #4: HARD WORK – It’s hard work to turn a concept into a real product that you take to market – and by hard work, I mean 24/7 for years and years. Prepare for this by incorporating some daily routines that will help you balance that long and often emotional rollercoaster.

Secret #5: FOCUS – Being an entrepreneur is often overwhelming. I deal with this by reminding myself that you can’t eat an elephant in one bite. Instead, I list everything that needs to be done, then I FOCUS first and only on the critical path items. For example, the tasks that will best generate revenue or remove an obstacle that is blocking others on my team from generating revenue.

Secret #6: MOTIVATION – You need to learn and understand what motivates people. It’s not always about money. For example, we implemented a Comeback Mom returnship program to attract talent at a time when we didn’t have the cash to pay for it. We found people who were motivated more by their desire to get valuable experience than their desire for a big paycheck.

Secret #7: PIVOTING AND PERSISTENCE – As I stated earlier, I am a big fan of the Lean Startup approach. Steve Blank defines “pivoting” as changing the path you’re taking to achieve your vision; your vision remains constant while you experiment to find the best path. As you validate the nine building blocks of your business model, you may find that you need to change direction on some of them to achieve your vision. This is a pivot. To be clear, a pivot is NOT completely changing your idea or the problem you’re trying to solve.

During my research, I spent a lot of time studying billion dollar companies. Not long ago, Cowboy Ventures did an analysis of what they called the Unicorn Club – companies valued at over $1B.  These ‘Unicorns’ were working on their original product vision. While there had been changes to business model hypotheses, it was fundamentally the same vision; the “big pivot” is an outlier. This brings me to Persistence, the second half of secret #7.

As an entrepreneur, you will have many failures, but you cannot let them stop you. You must have the strength and courage to push through them. You must be able to find the positives in criticism and critical people. You must be able to sell your vision to investors or corporations, and you have to be able to handle the pressure and inevitable rejections. You must constantly review your business model blocks to confirm that your assumptions are correct. If they are, you will be able to get your next customer, employee, or new investor, and if you can do any of these things, you keep going.

When I first got started, my mentor Amanda Steinberg (founder of Daily Worth) warned me that “bad things will happen.” She also shared her two hour rule: give yourself two hours to be mad, be sad, yell, cry and otherwise wallow…then, move on. I’ve relied on that good advice many times over the years.

Awe2Secret #8: YOU – The last secret to success is you. To be successful, you must push yourself through all the worries and self-doubts. A few years ago, I was on a panel with Arianna Huffington. Her advice was to evict the obnoxious roommate in your head because this is the voice that will keep you from achieving your life’s dreams. I couldn’t agree more. The fear of failure nearly stopped me from founding my own company.

Don’t let your biggest failure in life be that you didn’t aim high enough. Once you push through your self-doubts, you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve.

Poodle VulverabilityLast week, the Google Security Team announced the discovery of POODLE, a critical flaw in web-encryption technology that could allow hackers to access confidential information like passwords and other encrypted information sent over web connections. We asked Nathan Bayles, AboutOne’s Chief Technology Officer, to address any concerns our users might have, specifically as they pertain to AboutOne’s security.

The Technical Details
On October 14, 2014, Google’s security team announced an industry-wide vulnerability in SSL 3.0 (Secure Sockets Layer). SSL is what is used to encrypt data that’s transported between your web browser and a web server. According to Errata Security’s Robert Graham, the POODLE vulnerability wouldn’t give an attacker your actual password, but it would give them access to your session cookies, which could be used to assume your identity on secure web services.

SSL 3.0 is almost 20 years old and was replaced by TLS (Transport Layer Security) in 1999. However, SSL 3.0 has still been widely supported by most operating systems and Internet applications to ensure a seamless web browsing experience for users with older systems and browsers.

FYI: AboutOne uses TLS 1.2 (the most current version of TLS) for secure and encrypted HTTPS connections.

Google, Google Chrome, and Mozilla all plan to remove support for SSL 3.0 in their browsers and client products over the coming months. Similarly, AboutOne has followed security experts’ recommendations and completely disabled SSL 3.0 on our web servers.

Will This Affect You?
Most likely you will not notice that we have disabled SSL 3.0 on our web servers. If you use an old web browser (IE 7 or earlier) you might see a security notice when you come to our site. You will also begin to see these notices when you visit other sites that have made changes to their web servers. To fix this problem, just upgrade to the most current version of your web browser.

What Can You Do?
Simply put, your computer is vulnerable if you use a browser that supports SSL 3.0. However there are simple things you can do to give yourself peace of mind, starting by upgrading to the most current version of your browser to enjoy a safe web experience.

As a standard practice, Kaspersky Lab security expert Sergey Lozhkin recommends avoiding public Wi-Fi hotspots without password protection in locations such as hotels, airports, and coffee shops when you’re sending important information (this includes online banking, accessing social networks via a browser, and using your Family Organizer account.)

Lozhkin also recommends disabling SSL 3.0 and all previous versions of the protocol in your browser settings. This CNET article and this University of Michigan post will let you know if your browser supports SSL 3.0. The posts also outline steps you can take if you want to use plugins or the command line to manually disable SSL 3.0 on your browser.

Learn more about AboutOne’s privacy and security practices. If you have questions about this or other security topics, please contact us at support@aboutone.com.

NetworkingI’ve always believed that it’s important to have a network of people I can count on, both in my personal and professional lives. This has become even more important to me since becoming an entrepreneur; having a support network can be the difference between feeling like you’re out there on your own and feeling like you have a team of advisers, partners, and friends to turn to when you’re not sure which path to take.

Earlier this year, I learned about a new (to me) startup network when I received a call from Mike Maher, co-founder and CEO of the collaborative work and event space Benjamin’s Desk, and the Philadelphia Chapter Director for Startup Grind, which is powered by Google for Entrepreneurs.

Mike explained that Google for Entrepreneurs had asked him to seek out and interview female, Philadelphia-based startup founders, which was why he was reaching out to me. I was so impressed by their mission that I immediately agreed to the interview.

As I subsequently learned, Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect its more than 75,000 member entrepreneurs. With chapters in more than 100 cities and 50 countries, Startup Grind’s annual conferences, monthly fireside chats and mixers feature successful local founders, innovators, educators, and investors who share their personal stories and lessons learned as they work to build great companies.

I was interviewed by the Benjamin’s Desk co-founder, Jenn Maher, who is also an attorney and the mother of two. Jenn did a great job making me feel comfortable and it was interesting for me to hear her story. Jenn and Mike built Benjamin’s Desk from the ground up, bootstrapping the first level with their own investment. With their opening day being a couple days after the birth of Jenn’s first baby, there were many similarities between the two of us. What I loved most about the Startup Grind event was the opportunity to meet so many interesting people, including Marvin Weinberger of American Certified and Jason Sherman co-founder of Instamour.com.

Networking events like those sponsored by Startup Grind and Benjamin’s Desk give members amazing opportunities to tap into a strong support network, forge meaningful connections, and gain inspiration for the often lonely and difficult journey of a startup founder.

Another brilliant networking event is next month’s Pennsylvania Conference for Women, where I’ll be proud to serve as a volunteer in the speaker’s lounge with the amazing Danielle Leshinski, program coordinator for the conference. Since it’s inaugural conference in 2004, this annual, one-day professional and personal development event has grown to over 7,000 attendees and offers incredible opportunities for business networking, professional development, and personal growth. This year, over 100 speakers including Diane Keaton, Jane Pauley, Robin Roberts, and Tory Johnson will share inspirational stories and lead seminars on the issues that matter most to women.

Because I’m a first-time entrepreneur, I’m always interested in learning from other, more experienced entrepreneurs. I follow several blogs that provide great tips and lessons-learned, but two of my favorites are written by Amy Rees Anderson and Barbara Corcoran. Being CEO can be lonely, so I especially like reading posts from these two women because it often feels like what they’ve written is exactly what I need at that particular time.

This week both Amy and Barbara wrote about persistence. Barbara even highlighted this as a trait that all successful entrepreneurs share:

The fact is, as an entrepreneur, if you are not mentally and physically able to keep going for a long period of time, bouncing back from failures and struggles, without losing sight of your end goal, then you will never be successful. Success also needs a thick skin. It takes a mindset and a support system that will not let anyone or anything stand in the way of reaching a goal. Oh, and persistence does not mean resisting failure, it’s the opposite because you need to fail or make mistakes as it’s how to you learn to be successful.

My first tip on persistence: Focus on the present – focus on what you can achieve today.

lao-tzu-laozi-8It’s said that three out of four startups fail, so persistence and perseverance in the face of adversity are virtues I really value. That’s why Amy Rees Anderson’s post earlier this month about Living in the Present really hit home for me, especially the quote she referenced that’s attributed to the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past.

If you are anxious, you are living in the future.

If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

I think a key attribute of a successful entrepreneur is the ability to see things through until the end in spite of fear, obstacles, discouragement, and opposition. For me, the only way to achieve this sort of steadfastness is to live in the present. I think many entrepreneurs give up because they are depressed about mistakes they’ve made in the past, or anxious about difficulties they may face in the future. To persevere, you have to focus on the present, otherwise the worry that comes with focusing on the past or the future will paralyze you.

My second tip on persistence: Don’t compare yourself to others.

HardThingsBook coverI have a friend who often reminds her children not to compare their insides to others’ outsides. She tells them this when they’re feeling anxious about how they compare to their friends. This concept applies to the startup world as well; persevering is a lot easier when you have a clear understanding of how the challenges you’re facing compare to what others have gone through.

AboutOne’s new Board member Paul Allen recently recommended that I read “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Paul knows that entrepreneurs often talk about how great it is to start a business, but they rarely share how hard it is to keep one going. To persevere, you need to know that other startups have faced and weathered challenges similar to the ones you’re facing. Don’t stop just because you’re comparing your insides to their outsides.

I really love this quote from Winston Churchill:

When you are going through hell, keep going.

What are your tips, to keep going and persevere?

What our customers are saying

  • “AboutOne is a great tool for busy moms who want to stay organized but don’t want to be a slave to a filing cabinet.”
    Susan N.

  • “The great thing about AboutOne.com is that it is completely user-friendly and probably one of the easiest sites I have ever used. Not only is it easy, but it is A LOT of fun too!”
    Anne Y.

  • “For a busy mom, or busy human in general, this is a priceless tool to stay organized and keep everything that is important together in one always-accessible place.”
    Andrea D.

  • “I truly wish something like this had existed 14 years ago when Marty was born. I suck at writing down all the milestones in a book, but I totally ROCK at keeping things updated online.”
    Kristin C.

  • “I’m an organized guy, and I already keep track of all my family’s information on several spreadsheets, copies of which I keep on multiple computers for ready access. But after using AboutOne, I’m convinced that this is the better way to go. With AboutOne, I can now store all our information in one central location, which I can get at any time I want, no matter where I am, and I don’t have to worry about data loss.”

    – Stan