BaltimoreWhen I started Sinuate Media at the age of 24 years old, I had just moved to Baltimore a few months earlier. From the start, I always thought that it “felt right” to start a business there, that Baltimore was a good place to start a businesses — especially for a young entrepreneur. What I was setting out to do wasn’t rocket science — way back then, we called it “internet marketing” — but it was new and I knew no one. After a while, that didn’t matter because I quickly became part of the businesses community, and was off and running.

Today there was an article on Forbes.com about the top 10 cities for young entrepreneurs to start businesses. Baltimore is not on it. That is unfortunate, because I would recommend starting a business in Baltimore to any young founder.

Here’s are 10 reasons I thought starting a business in Baltimore was the right move:

  1. The cost of living in Baltimore was cheaper in NYC, where I had just moved from — that meant that my start-up capital would take me farther and last longer, which is critical for a start-up.
  2. Baltimore is close enough to other major cities (NYC, Philly, DC) that you can get there in a day trip by train or driving, if needed. I did that A LOT.
  3. Baltimore is both big enough and small enough of a city. Big enough to have the resources you need to start a business. Small enough that you get to know people and not feeling like you are drowned out, by the competition or otherwise.
  4. There are approximately 55 colleges and universities in Maryland (with plenty accessible from Baltimore). That means there are plenty of students looking for internships, graduates looking for jobs, speaking opportunities for classes, professors to meet & collaborate with, continuing education classes to take, and opportunities to become a mentor — all of which I benefited from being in Baltimore.
  5. Baltimore is a budding creative environment — I found this to be especially true in the years I lived there, with the start of the revitalization of Station North District.
  6. Baltimore is a budding technology environment. Just look around at the technology companies that have sprouted over the last 5-10 years. There are some powerhouse techpreneurs in the Baltimore region. Dave Troy, Tom Loveland, Mario Armstrong, Greg Cangialosi are just a few.
  7. There are several co-working spaces (like Beehive Baltimore) and incubator programs (like the ETC) available, which is good for both cutting start up costs and for connecting with other entrepreneurs
  8. There are a ton of networking opportunities — into technology? There’s the Greater Baltimore Technology Council. Looking to connect with C-Level people? There are SmartCEO events all the time & even specific groups for that. Want to network with other women business owners? Try NAWBO. Dozens of other niche groups exist, including KoffeeTalk, BNI, BON, the Chamber (both the city & state), and the stellar MDSG.
  9. The Baltimore Metro Region is a hotbed of intellectual capital — technology, science, government, other business founders are all at your fingertips, not to mention lawyers, bankers, and consultants of every sort.
  10. The business community wants to make Baltimore a better place to do business. They want businesses to start there. They want to bring in new technology. There is a “hometown” pride in celebrating a “Baltimore business” – from Under Armor down to a 1-man or woman startup. If your story becomes a success story, there will be an entire city behind you rooting and celebrating with you, because you are a Baltimore business. I can’t say I’ve ever gotten that feeling from anywhere else I’ve lived.

Even though we no longer live in Baltimore, unfortunately, I will always consider that Sinuate Media is Baltimore born and bred, and I’m grateful for the experience I had of starting a business there.


Netflix recently posted season 2 of the AMC series, The Killing. At some point last year, I marked the show 4 out of 5 stars and put it on my “notify” list for when new episodes would be available. Guess what I did this weekend.

After watching several episodes back-to-back, here’s what I learned from The Killing:

Detective Sarah Linden really, really likes bulky, turtleneck sweaters.

thekilling-sweaters
The ponytail is the hairstyle of choice for the women of Seattle. Maybe it is because it rains nearly every single day — except when you need to hold important political campaigning events. Then it holds off.

Billy Campbell has perfected pensive stare (and he has great hair — in spite of the rain and getting shot).

thekilling-stare

Speaking of getting shot, in Seattle, no matter how serious your ailment, whether broken ribs, gunshot wound, or mental breakdown, you can heal and be released from the hospital in less than 4 days. Maybe there is some magical healing quality to all that rain?

In politics, it is possible to quit your job, get a new job the same night cross-county, move cross-country, quit that job, and return to your previous job — all within a week.

Never underestimate the lengths people will go to win political campaigns — or for love.

Habanero jelly goes with eggs. Heat and sweet in one.

Now I’ll have to wait until next year to see what’s next. At least in the meantime if I visit Seattle I know to bring warm sweaters, plenty of hair ties, and stay away from the casinos.


Before we moved to Las Cruces, a colleague of my husband’s took us on a tour of the town. Riding Purple Mountains Majestyaround in the back of his SUV, he brought us in and out of neighborhoods, crisscrossing the city while giving an informative voice-over on its history and future plans.

One thing he said I found charming (and I’m sure he meant it to be), was that in the National Anthem, when they sing “purple mountains majesty,” they were talking about the Organ Mountains–the mountains that form the east side of the city.

It is an awesome sight, in the true meaning of the word. The color sometimes takes you by surprise, and it only lasts a short while until the sun sets over the mesas in the distance.

So while I don’t have an answer to the “why” the Organs turn purple (and my Googling didn’t turn up anything of significance), there are a few great spots to watch the mountains cycle through its colors in the evening. One is on top of the Las Cruces Dam behind Albertson’s & Target. This is a high perch with plenty of parking, and has the added benefit of being able to watch the sun set over the horizon in one direction, and its color-washing on the Organs behind you.Another spot is just driving up Lohman Ave. from Downtown–for a short while of the drive you are head on with the mountains and get a great view.A third spot, I believe, (we haven’t done it since we were considering moving here) is up in Picacho Hills, at the other end of the city. From here, you will get a view not only of the mountains but of the city as it starts to light up for the evening.

If anyone out there knows why, please feel free to share. I’m curious!


New Mexico's Zia

The zia is used on the state flag.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about symbols and how they get integrated into our surroundings. The reason this is on my mind is because in New Mexico, one simply cannot avoid the zia. It is literally everywhere. It is in store signage, on building exteriors, embedded into tile floors, on t-shirts, on the state license plate, and of course, the state flag. It is surprisingly ubiquitous.

Zia means “light” in Arabic and is also the name of an indigenous Indian tribe in New Mexico. What else is ubiquitous in New Mexico? Sun. Sunshine. Bright, blazing sunny sun sun. So that connection, I get. But I wonder: do builders or designers feel so impassioned by the state symbol to include it in all facets of our surroundings?

This is the aspect that I find most interesting — how the zia is integrated into both home and commercial buildings. Nowhere else have I lived can I think of a symbol so omnipresent that multiple houses on one block proudly showcase the same symbol. I mean, you don’t walk down a block in New York and see depictions of Lady Liberty in the ironwork of people fences or in the trim of their homes.

I have decided to start capturing the images of zias as I see them walking around town. I don’t have to go far for the first photo. Right in our entry, there is a zia design made of tile in the floor. Welcome Home.

 


Bucking national trend, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced this past week that the company would no longer allow staff to work from home or from remote locations. Approximately 10% of the US workforce has cut the commute out of their life and now work from home. This is certainly unusual for the industry where internet firms, and the companies that support them (think design, ad agencies etc.) have often pushed the limits of what the word “workspace” means. From massages to free lunch to creativity pods. Just watch this sketch from Portlandia for the epitome of this.

There are numerous reasons why working from home is a good thing. With those additional cars off the road, it is kinder on the environment. Families get to spend more time together since mom and dad are no longer tied up in the car or train. And less time in endless meetings can mean more productivity.

Of course, working from home doesn’t work for everyone, or every employer (though I haven’t heard of too many going back on their decision, especially not company-wide). To work from home requires immense discipline and a quiet space away from the family to work and hold conference calls. Just because you work from home does not mean clients or colleagues should be subjected to cartoons on the TV in the background when you are trying to conduct business.

Some people thrive better around others, while some need the quiet and solitude to think and produce. Having worked both in offices and at home at various points in my career, I am a bit of both. I love the interaction and sharing ideas you get being around other people, but when it comes time to sit and write articles, proposals, or churn out reports, I need to head into isolation.

Since my son was born, working from home has been the best situation for me. He gets to play with his babysitter from the comfort of our home while I get to retreat to my office to work. And the best part is that I am also a part of his day. I can pop in to see how he is doing, what the babysitter is feeding him for lunch, and making sure he is taking a nap early enough during the day. When I need to be around other people, which is often, honestly, I head to a Starbucks or local coffee shop and work from there. The ambient conversation, chitchat with the baristas, and the caffeine are important parts to making me feel like I am not a one-woman man island some days. The balance isn’t always easy, but working from home absolutely, without a doubt in my mind, helps.

As the CEO of a company in need of a significant retooling, I understand Marissa Mayer wanting to take control of the situation, so I hope that the virtual working ban is a temporary measure until they get back on their feet, for the sake of all those parents trying to make both ends of their life work as smoothly as possible.