Mar 31

Life Without Expectations

Expectations are the source of disappointment. 

This one-line piece of advice is one of the pieces of wisdom in my forthcoming book, Straight from the Investor’s Mouth, and rings true beyond just for entrepreneurs.

Recently I met someone who reiterated the impact of expectations and further encouraged me to not have expectations.  He inspired me to think further about a life without expectations.  When we have expectations we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.  A recent blog post mentioned that my generation is unhappy because our happiness is a factor of our reality minus expectations, and when expectations are high and reality doesn’t match up, our happiness is low.

Think about it…

If you are training for a half marathon and you expect your time to be 2 hours and then you end up coming to the finish line at 2 and a half hours, your expectations are not met.  That creates disappointment.

Or maybe you just shared your company with an investor and expect the investor to invest in your company.  Then, you get the popular “we’re not interested at this time” and do not raise capital from that investor.  Would your reaction to that response be different had you no expectations?

Say you meet an amazing guy (or gal) that you totally hit it off with and you develop expectations that he/she will ask you on a date.  And then they don’t.  Lame.  You’re disappointed (or if you’re like me you just ask the guy out instead ;-) .  Take the reverse:  you have no expectations.  Then, when something great happens and you get asked on that date, you are pleasantly surprised and it’s much more satisfying.

Expectations take time.  They take emotional energy.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t have goals or expectations.  Goals are good and expectations have their benefits.  A goal to run a half marathon in 2 hours provides a north star for training and discipline to reach that goal.  Expectations can inspire us to work hard to make those expectations more closely aligned with reality.  By definition a “goal” is “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed” and “expectation” is “the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.”  We can have goals without expectations and have expectations without goals.  The former will motivate us.  The latter will disappoint us.  By putting effort into achieving goals we are working toward a specific outcome.  With expectations, we are hoping for a specific outcome.  Hope is not typically a successful strategy.

A goal to complete a half marathon in less than 2 hours is different than expecting to finish a half marathon in less than 2 hours.  With the goal, we can now work backwards to take the necessary steps to working towards achieving that goal.  If we train and prepare to achieve that goal, we are more likely to run the half marathon in less than 2 hours.

Personally, I struggle to not have expectations.  It’s hard.  I’m usually thinking 2 or 3 steps ahead.  Going through scenarios in my head, planning for how I’ll react in various situations.  Creating expectations and figuring out how I’ll respond when those expectations are (or aren’t met).  I’m making a conscious effort to reduce my expectations.  I’m curious to see how it impacts my happiness, relationships, work, and life in general.

Do you have expectations?  For what?  Do you need them?  What would your life be like without expectations?

Venture on,

mel, the venture gal

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Mar 23

Built to Last?

Should companies be built to last or built to capitalize on market opportunities at the time?

This question came up at a dinner I organized over a month ago after discussing the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business Essentials) by Jim Collins.  The debate around the topic was healthy and active and supporters of both sides made good points.  Since that evening I have been reflecting more about this and asking more people about their responses.

What I have found is that everyone is different.  Some entrepreneurs are motivated to built companies to last and others are interested in tapping into market trends or needs that may be temporary.

Personally, I fall in the former camp.  I like to build companies to last.  Built to sustain.  To last longer than me.  I was reminded of this recently when I recently visited my gelateria in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  To walk into a physical place I helped create and think “I built this…and it still exists.”  It’s a special feeling.

At a dinner I organized with several investors I presented this question as well.  The common thought was that all companies should be built to last, but not all of them will.  But companies that are not built to last will definitely not last.  If you look at some of the largest, most successful companies throughout history, they were built to last longer than a few months so to be acquired and be done.

What about impact to last?  If a company isn’t built to last, but rather built to serve a market need during a certain timeframe, the impact may outlive the company.  Pop stars are an example of this.  Take Katy Perry, who I recently wrote a blog post about (no judgement).  Katy Perry won’t always be a pop star.  She is capitalizing on an opportunity in the market now.  Same with Michael Jackson.  He wasn’t always a pop star.  But both MJ and Katy Perry impacted their industries and the lives of many of their fans.  Tying this back to companies – if Apple were to die tomorrow its impact would live on.  It’s products have touched the lives of many.  The company was built to create an impact to last, even if the company itself doesn’t last.

My conclusion:  Companies are best built to sustain.  They may not last, but if the intent is to build a company to last and the vision is long-term sustainability the chances of lasting are far greater than if you build a company for a momentary market need.  Companies’ impact can outlive their life as a company.

Build to sustain.
Impact to last.

Venture on,

mel, the Venture Gal

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Mar 15

6 Lessons from Katy Perry

Katy Perry at the Life Ball 2009, Rathaus, Vienna.

Katy Perry at the Life Ball 2009, Rathaus, Vienna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not ashamed to admit that I watched the Katy Perry documentary, Katy Perry The Movie: Part of Me.
It was highly rated and available on Amazon Prime.  I’m glad I watched it.  I’m incredibly inspired by learning more about other peoples’ journeys and Katy has a fascinating story.  For those of you who haven’t seen the documentary (what are you waiting for?) I won’t spoil it too much, but share with you a key takeaway and lessons learned from Katy’s journey.

First, let’s be clear…Katy Perry was not an overnight success.  She worked for years, experiencing many challenges along the way.  She persisted and was driven to accomplish her goals (which took more than one night to achieve!)

Some of the reasons Katy succeeded and lessons we can learn from her story include:

Be yourself.  Katy’s father was a minister and Katy grew up with conservative rules and wasn’t even allowed to listen to non-Christian rock music.  Needless to say when her first top single, “I Kissed a Girl,” became a nationwide session, her parents weren’t jumping up and down with excitement.  Katy never compromised herself to be something she wasn’t.  She listened to her heart and carved her own path.

Persevere.  Fight through the hard times.  As I highlighted earlier, Katy was not an overnight success.  There was a time when Katy was completely broke and even asked her brother for money.  She was dropped from labels, divorced, and hit some major lows in her life.  Did she give up during these challenges?  No.  It was hard I’m sure.  But that didn’t stop her.

Be disciplined.  Especially when facing challenges it’s incredibly important to stay disciplined.  After Katy and Russell Brand divorced, Katy was crying before her show and then pulled it together to get onstage…that’s discipline.  Focus.  Commitment.  Not many people can pull off that kind of transformation and focus during such a difficult time.

Love what you do.  As the saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  That rings true.  When you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work.  Katy clearly loves what she does.  It’s a lot of work…time, energy, commitment, bruises.  All not worth it if it’s not truly what you love.

Be positive.  Smile through the storm because a positive attitude can get you through the darkest of times.  Life is more about how we respond than what actually happens to us.  Our attitude shapes our perceptions and energy and how we progress (or do not progress).

Impact comes in many shapes and sizes.  There are many ways to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Katy has impacted many people.  Whether or not her career is a multi-decade endeavor, she will have at least impacted the lives of many during the time she did.  Kudos Katy!  Similarly, we can make an impact in many different ways.  Think broadly about your legacy and the impact you will make in the lives of others because impact comes in many shapes and sizes.

Venture on,

mel, the Venture Gal

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Jan 07

Born to Run

Recently I finished the book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall.  The book came highly recommended by several friends and fitness influencers (most of the people I know who wear Vibram Five Finger shoes read the book previously), so it had been on my list for quite awhile.

I did not run to the store (or dash to my browser for online shopping) to purchase a pair of the Vibram shoes (mostly because I promised myself I wouldn’t buy a pair unless I could get them on my feet, which I still haven’t managed to do), but I did enjoy the book.  I guess I must have mentioned it at least once or twice, since my mom registered us for the Santa Fe half marathon in 2014, which guest stars the book’s author.

Though the book didn’t inspire a Vibram purchase, it may (or may not) have something to do with the PR on my half marathon time.  Who knows!

My mom and me after we both got our PR at the Healdsburg Half Marathon.

My mom and me after we both got our PR at the Healdsburg Half Marathon.

I did pull away some memorable quotes, inspiration, and other interesting tidbits from the book, which I’d like to share with you here.  Enjoy!

Venture (and run) on!

mel, the Venture Gal


“Running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure.  We run when we’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time. And when things look worst, we run the most” (11)

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” (13)

“We say the rarajipari is the game of life.  You never know how hard it will be.  You never know when it will end.  You can’t control it.  You can only adjust.” (41)

Iskiata aka chia fresca/”chilly chia”.  “Tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone”.  “they’re superpacked with omega-3s, omega-6s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants”.  “Chia was once so treasured, the Aztecs used to deliver it to their king in homage.  Aztec runners used to chomp chia seeds as they went into battle, and the Hopis fueld themselves on chia during their epic runs from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean” (44)

“You don’t have to be fast.  But you’d better be fearless.” (61)

“Nobody cares if you’re a great three-point shooter in your backyard; what matters is whether you stick them on game day” (63)

“My friends would tell me I’m not addicted to crack, I’m addicted to endorphins” (69)

“As a sport, most track coaches ranked ultras somewhere between competitive eating and recreational S&M.” (77)

“Nobody gives up the pursuit position if they don’t have to.  Not unless you’re foolish, or reckless” (84)

Who’s more committed to winner: the predator or the prey?  “The lion can lose and come back another day, but the antelope gets only one mistake.

“To move into the lead means making an act requiring fierceness and confidence.  But fear must play some part….no relaxation is possible, and all discretion is thrown to the wind”

“Even the brightest smile can hide a lie” (85)

“You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together.  You had to love running, or you wouldn’t live to love anything else.  And like everything else we love – everything we sentimentally call our passions and desires – it’s really an encoded ancestral necessity.  We were born to run; we were botn because we run.  We’re all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known” (93)

“There are two goddesses in your heart.  The Goddess of Wisdom and the Goddess of Wealth.  Everyone thinks they need to get wealth first, and wisdom will come.  So they concern themselves with chasing money.  But they have it backwards.  You have to give your heart to the Goddess of Wisdom, give her all your love and attention, and the Goddess of Wealth will become jealous, and follow you.”  – Vigil (94)

Ask nothing from your running, and you’ll get more than you ever imagined.

Some connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love running (98)

“Sometimes it takes a woman to bring out the best in a man” (104)

“When you run on the earth and run with the earth, you can run forever” – saying of the Tarahumara Indians (114)

“You can’t hate the Beast and expect to beat it; they only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.” (125)

“Nothing works out according to plan, but it always works out” (151)

“Shoes block pain, not impact!  Pain teaches us to run comfortably!  From the moment you start going barefoot, you will change the way you run” (157)

“Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented by Nike, people ran in very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet and had much lower incidence of knee injuries.”….”If there’s any magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it’s to run” – Dr. Lierberman. (168)

The first step toward going cancer-free the Tarahumara way is Eat Less.  Second step is Eat better.  We need to build diets around fruit and vegetables instead of red meat and processed carbs. (209)

“Your body needs to be shocked to become resilient” (211)

“When you can’t answer a question, flip it over.  Forget what makes something go fast, what makes it slow down? (215)

“Know why people run marathons?  Because running is rooted in our collective imagination, and our imagination is rooted in running.  Language, art, science; space shuttles’ Starry Night, intravascular surgery; they all had their roots in our ability to run.  Running was the superpower that made us human- which means it’s a super power all humans possess. (239)

“You don’t stop running because you get old.  You get old because you stop running” (240)

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Jan 01

Happy 2014! A 2013 Recap & Reflection

Last year at this time I was ringing in the new calendar year with some friends in Santa Rosa, California.  Though I wasn’t yet living in the Bay Area, it already felt like home.  The start to 2013 blossomed change, as I was exploring what next in my life.  Looking at a new venture, a new geographical home.  Flash forward one year later and I have been living in San Francisco since May (officially), enjoying a new venture, and have made many new friends and memories in this chapter of my life.  Looking back over the year, here are some of the things I’ve done:

At the beginning of the year I was finishing up my job at RPM Ventures, involved in the Recycle Ann Arbor board, working with the best gelateria, challenging my fitness goals, and going to every farmers market I could get my hands on.  The year evolved into an exciting and memorable adventure – from moving to a new city, taking on a new venture, and building relationships with amazing people – I truly feel blessed as I reflect on my 2013.

The lengthy nature of this post is meant to encapsulate my 2013 year in review, with just a few of the highlights throughout the year, as well as reflect on my personal growth throughout the year.  If you recall, I don’t make traditional New Year’s Resolutions, and rather set goals and resolutions throughout the calendar year.   Though at the start to 2013 I spent an ample amount of time getting to know myself better and now is a great time to revisit what I set out to be and accomplish over the past 12 months.

To start, here are some of my happenings in 2013.


  • Rang in 2013 with a small group of friends in Santa Rosa, California
  • Exploring opportunities for my next venture
Ringing in 2013 in Santa Rosa, California with friends

Ringing in 2013 in Santa Rosa, California with friends


  • Watched the SuperBowl with friends in San Francisco (ironically just a block or so away from my current apartment)
  • Went to San Diego with my parents and saw my dad receive the Phelps-Martin Award for Community Service
  • Started working at SoFi



  • Watched the University of Michigan men’s basketball team play in the NCAA Final Four at the Palace
  • Led an Improv4 Entrepreneurs workshop in Detroit
  • Celebrated my mom’s birthday at a B&B with horseback riding
  • Received first press from my olive tree in Italy


  • Saw The Colbert Report live in NYC with my brother
  • Led an Improv4 Entrepreneurs workshop in Portland for the TechStars Nike+ Accelerator
  • Explored Traverse City and other parts of the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan with my dad
  • Moved to San Francisco! And immediately the day after experienced Bay to Breakers
  • Spent Memorial Day weekend camping in Big Sur with great friends
  • Some more highlights of my first couple weeks in SF
Pre- Colbert Report viewing

Pre- Colbert Report viewing. We’re excited!

Day I moved to San Francisco

With my parents in Michigan the Day I moved to San Francisco



  • My 25th birthday with 50 of my closest friends!
  • Continued taking improv classes at BATS Improv
  • Checked out the Treasure Island Flea Market with some friends
  • Some more highlights 
My birthday party!

My birthday party!


  • Performed in an improv show at BATS Improv
  • A blur of professional and personal challenges, including the loss of three people



  • Quick trip to Michigan
  • My parents and grandmother visited the Bay Area.  My mom and I ran the Healdsburg Half Marathon together, both getting our PR.
  • Judged the San Francisco Crossfit in-house competition, Virtuosity
  • Attended the Net Impact Conference in San Jose, representing SoFi
  • Dressed as a farmer for Halloween
Family in Napa together

Family in Napa together


  • Spoke at the Babson Entrepreneurship Forum, on behalf of SoFi
  • Got my first case of walking pneumonia after traveling on 7 flights in 5 days for SoFi
  • Participated in a pre-Thanksgiving progressive dinner
  • Thanksgiving at the Fallone’s
  • Kayaked to Angel Island and did a little hiking around there, with picnicking, once we got there
Made it to Angel Island!

Made it to Angel Island!


  • Joined Brian Rumao at the LinkedIn Holiday Party
  • Saw Book of Mormon!
  • Got my first concussion from a SoFi injury further demonstrating that student loans are dangerous
  • My brother, Nick, visited me in San Francisco
  • More holiday parties and cheer!
  • Hiked Gerbode Valley Trail
  • First Christmas away from my parents.  Spent it with wonderful family in Lafayette.
Hanging out at the LinkedIn holiday party

Hanging out at the LinkedIn holiday party

At the start of last year I wrote about what’s important to me and listed many words that I wanted to be descriptive of my 2013.  Here are some thoughts and/or examples highlighting those words in my life over the year:

Love – to quote a movie I like, “love actually is all around”.  There is so much love in my life and throughout 2013 I was continuously reminded of this.  Love from my family who flew out from Michigan to visit me in my new home.  Love from my friends who called me and asked to help when they heard I had a concussion and pneumonia.  Love from complete strangers who smile as we cross paths.

Risks – moving to San Francisco, taking on a new life venture, leaving familiarity behind

Passion – I’ve seen my passion for cooking really flourish in 2013.  I have spent a lot of time creating new recipes, trying new foods, and learning more about culinary knowledge…and enjoying every minute of it!

Challenges – My biggest challenge of 2013 was probably moving to a very new place.  It wasn’t the move itself that was challenging.  It was the adjusting, a bunch of little challenges in the process that added up to make it a larger challenge…more than I thought. For instance, things like figuring out how to get places, navigating new social circles, taking on a new work venture, AND taking time for/discovering myself in the process.

Improvement – just the other day I got a PR on a lift in crossfit – clean and jerk – by 5 pounds.  It’s a little improvement, but an improvement nonetheless, and it feels great to progress on something I work hard to achieve

Discovery – With a new city, new friends, new ventures abound, which means tons of discovering new restaurants, people, places, activities to try, and more!  I even wrote about some of the new places I explored.  Never a dull moment!

Health – my health has been great!  Other than the walking pneumonia dip in November I have felt great and been strong and energetic out here.  It certainly helps that the sun shines so much!  I have stayed active with running, crossfit, yoga, hiking, and other adventures.  I am eating well – California’s farmers markets are spoiling me (but not my wallet!)  Sleep needs improvement in 2014!

Creativity -  Improv was my primary creative outlet this year.  I led several workshops with Improv4 and hosted more informal improv jams with friends and improve classmates.  I took a couple of improv classes at BATS Improv, an acting class, and had my first improv performance in San Francisco!

Smiling – I love smiling and I’ve embraced smiling at strangers more in the past year than I had previously.  Lots of improv in 2013 also kept me flashing those pearly whites!

Independence – For the first time in my life I truly feel independent.  I live on the other side of the country as my immediate family.  When I moved out here I didn’t have much.  I sent one box and brought a couple of suitcases.  I was responsible for getting my act together – buying a bed, dresser (still working on that), furniture, taking care of my health and finances, and more.  Not that I wasn’t doing those things before, but help was always an easy call away.  Fortunately, I have amazing friends and family in the area and they always have my back.

Commitment – May of this year marked my 1 year anniversary with crossfit, something I have been dedicated to since my intro sessions at Hyperfit in Ann Arbor.  I love everything I am learning at crossfit and the amazing friendships I have built through my involvement in the community.  I remember last year setting a goal to go to crossfit 2-3 times per week and now I go 5-6 times per week (if not more – my record is 7…that was a tough week!)

Courage – on so many levels I have needed to exercise courage in my life.  Courage to stand up for myself professionally.  Courage to speak my mind at work or with friends.  Courage to try new things and put myself out there in a new city.

Fun – definitely had more fun in 2013.  Probably my most social year yet.

Strength – I am the strongest I have ever been, physically and mentally.  Habits help.

Endurance – I’d say running 2 half marathons in 2013 has to do quite a bit with my endurance =)  Not just the race itself, but the training and the perseverance to get it done!

Ventures – life is a venture and 2013 sure had its fill!  Hiking ventures.  Food ventures.  Improv ventures.  New ventures.  San Francisco ventures.  Writing and more.  I’ve really had a full 2013 with lots of changes and exploration.

Here’s to a happy and equally venturing 2014!

mel, the Venture Gal

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Nov 19

50 Better First Dates

Disclaimer: I’m good at several things. Dating is not one of them.  I am creative.  As I spend more time dating, being asked on dates and asking guys on dates (yes, I do that), I have been disappointed in the lack of creativity when it comes to date ideas.  Dinner, drinks, so overdone.  Not original or thoughtful.  Not that those are bad activities for a date, but that’s not going to stand out in anyway.

A good first date has the option to be max an hour and then done, or the possibility of naturally extending the date.  This makes “grabbing drinks” a safe bet – it’s easy to cut the evening off after one drink, or extend the evening with dinner and dessert if the night is really going well.

A good first date doesn’t trap you.  As fun as bike rides and exploring nearby hikes or islands are, they won’t be fun if you find out early in the date that you don’t want to spend more than 60 minutes with the other person.  Do yourself a favor and save those activities for someone you already know a bit better.

A good first date has some element of activity.  “Hanging out” is akin to staring awkwardly at each other’s face for an hour.  A walk in a park, or even as simple as eating dinner provides some option for movement or activity, which provides a crutch to eliminate awkwardness (e.g. drinking water, walking and staring at the nearby scenery), while still providing for eye contact and discussion.

Maybe drinks or dinner are your thing and you don’t want to deviate.  Fine.  But for those of you who want some other ideas, here’s a start:

Take a classPottery.  Art.  Wine pairing.  Cooking.  I’m talking one-hour class, not daylong workshop.  Save the workshop for a future date.  Stick with the quick class to start and then if it goes well you can always grab a bite to eat afterwards, or visit an art gallery to see how your creations stack up!

Tour a local touristy spot.  It’s not every day that we’ll visit a place where all the tourists hang out, but these spots can be great for quick activities to hang out with someone.  For instance, check out tourists’ favorite café or experience (like riding a cable car or walking up the curvy part of Lombard Street in San Francisco), or even getting your caricature drawn by a local street artist.

Be a local tourist.  Maybe tourist traps aren’t your thing.  Try being a local tourist and getting to know your city better with another person!  Pick a neighborhood in your city to explore or set a goal of finding “the best” of something in your town.  For instance, “find the best gelato in Little Italy” or “discover your favorite antique shop”.  With the latter, “finding the best” can stop after two stops or can continue with more and more places to explore.  If the date is really going well you may find yourself exploring entire neighborhoods or multiple neighborhoods!

Go for a walk.  Unless you’re in an arctic climate (hey, I used to live in upper Michigan, I know how this goes), an outdoor walk is a fabulous way to get to know someone better and get some fresh air.  These dates are easy to end after an hour, but naturally extend if the date is going well.  Walks allow room for creative discoveries (e.g. a park with bench, or pond to skip rocks in).

Visit a park.  Similar to going for a walk, visiting a park allows for some light physical activity and spontaneous adventures, without too much time commitment.  Bring a Frisbee or light picnic snacks in case the date is going well and you want to prolong it.

And one of my personal favorites…

Visit the farmers market.  Start with walking around.  If it’s going well, grab treats to snack on nearby.  If it continues to go well, really well, grab ingredients to cook a meal together.

What creative date ideas do you have to share?

Venture on,

Mel, the Venture Gal

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Sep 29

The 10 Clean Eating Commandments

Recently I hosted a paleo dinner with several friends I made through San Francisco Crossfit.  I asked guests to bring an ingredient or $10-20 (I learned that it’s better to ask people to bring money, because then the cooking prep can be done ahead of time).

The inspiration for this dinner was a paleo challenge hosted by SF Crossfit.  For me, “paleo” comes easy, though I don’t like to refer to my eating habits as “paleo”, but rather “clean”, not processed, eating whole foods.  This TED talk about the paleo diet partly is to blame for the inspiration to use “paleo” less as a label.  I hosted the dinner to help teach and inspire simple clean recipes that can be made even during the busiest of weeks.

The menu was tapas style, including:

  • Kale chips
  • Spicy avocado dip with veggie crudites
  • Chicken pesto skewers
  • Lamb burger bites
  • Roasted veggies
  • Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting

I had ambitions to make more dishes, but all the chopping and prep took longer than anticipated.  All learning for the future!

Lamb burger bites

Lamb burger bites

Before the dinner I quickly prepared “The 10 Commandments” for eating paleo/clean:

  1. Thou shall consider spices friends
  2. Thou shall eat protein and fat at every meal
  3. Thou shall taste the rainbow
  4. Thou shall avoid processed foods
  5. Thou shall enjoy treats in moderation
  6. Thou shall make green thy favorite color
  7. Thou shall not go to nuts for nuts
  8. Thou shall not deprive oneself
  9. Thou shall keep it simple
  10. Though shall enjoy and have fun!

Eat well!

MEL, the Venture Gal


Jul 21

Time flies when you live in San Francisco!

…Or when you’re having fun, or both!

It has been about 2 months since I moved to San Francisco.  The end of June and early July have been exciting here in San Francisco.  Since I last shared on my blog I have taken on new adventures, eaten at new restaurants, and continued my enjoyed habits!

Some highlights to share…

Refinanced my loans with SoFi – that’s right, I’m saving thousands of dollars on my student loans.  You can too by applying here!

Celebrated my birthday – I started off my birthday with a run to one of my favorite places in the city, the Ferry Building, and picked up a couple impulse festive finds – flag tray and star candle.  Then I went to crossfit, to celebrate with a good workout and birthday burpees!  Later that day I hosted a potluck style party at my apartment, in our backyard with our above ground fire pit and picnic table.  I assembled kabobs, which were cooked over the open fire.  For dessert, I made some themed foods, including, a flag fruit salad, and two tarts sporting red, white, and blue décor.   The fireworks were outstanding!  We walked to Fort Mason and found a point right at the water near where the fireworks were launching.  Though I didn’t spend my birthday with my family (I did FaceTime with my mom and grandmother), I spent it with 50 ish friends, making my first birthday in San Francisco a fabulous time!

Blowing out my candles!

Blowing out my candles!

Exploratorium – the Exploratorium was fun!  I stepped back to my 12-year-old self (minus the pre-teen moodiness) and explored science and creativity.  The place was packed and swarming with kids.  It was fun to see their fascination with little things that just don’t seem as magical as an adult.  This place definitely brought some magic back into my life!

Fun at the Exploratorium!  Not sure what that kid was doing, but it worked for the picture

Fun at the Exploratorium! Not sure what that kid was doing, but it worked for the picture

Ocean Beach Bonfire – a friend from Michigan invited me to an evening at Ocean Beach, filled with fire, fireworks, and interesting conversations!

Fire is strong at Ocean Beach!

Fire is strong at Ocean Beach!

Vator’s VentureShift – I went to this event last week and met all sorts of cool people!

Some of the restaurants I ate at…

Swan Oyster Depot – this place has been on my list for awhile and usually the long line is discouraging.  Some friends and I went, waited in line briefly, and then discovered that we could bypass the line if we ordered take out.  That was a no brainer, so we ordered our food (I got the fresh crab!) and went over to Lafayette Park to enjoy!

Fresh crab from Swan Oyster!

Fresh crab from Swan Oyster!

Mama’s – A friend and I went to Mama’s on a Saturday morning…the Saturday after July 4.  We got there about 30 minutes after the place opened and the line was already long.  We waited for 2 hours (2 hours too long if you ask me!)  I got the Dungeness crab omelet (with avocado, tomato, and spinach).  It was fine, but I wouldn’t wait another 2 hours to go again!

Dungeness crab omelet from Mama's

Dungeness crab omelet from Mama’s

Gracias Madre – went here with a friend I hadn’t seen in years!  It was fun to catch up with him and the food was fine.  I got a coconut ceviche and kale side dish (it’s a vegan restaurant).

Gracias Madre in the Mission. Organic, vegan Mexican food.

Gracias Madre in the Mission. Organic, vegan Mexican food.

Coqueta – this place is a gem!  Right along the water, on the Embarcadero, dangerously close to the Ferry Building.  I met a friend here for lunch on a Saturday, after and before checking out the farmers market, of course.  It’s a tapas place, with many options.  I ordered grilled razor clams with meyer lemon and Monterey calamaria on the plancha with onion jam and squid ink aioli.  The menu highlights local ingredients and the service was spectacular!

Monterey calamari on la plancha with onion jam and squid ink aioli

Monterey calamari on la plancha with onion jam and squid ink aioli

Baker and Banker – local, “New American” menu and great service.  I ordered a salad to start and a lamb dish for my main course.  To my dismay, the lamb dish had sausage and belly, two things I really don’t like to eat.  Nowhere on the menu did it say that my lamb would be wrapped in sausage.  I did ask “will the chef be offended if I ask him to cook the lamb a bit more?” after I saw mostly pink/red lamb in front of me.  They cooked it a tad more, but the sausage was still there.  I ate it, though afterwards felt sick for days.  Gross.

In addition to new adventures, I continue to crossfit at San Francisco Crossfit, take improv classes at BATS, disrupting student loans with SoFi, running, cooking, and going to farmers markets.  I started taking an acting class and have been practicing yoga at Bikram Yoga Seacliff, though am looking for a new spot since Seacliff is far from me and the yoga studio is carpeted (gross!)

Until next time, Venture On,

MEL, the Venture Gal


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Jul 14

How to Learn

I started an online course on writing.  My mom shared it with me and she is taking it as well.  I am mostly doing it for the writing prompts and to practice writing more, and to have something to talk to my mom about and do together (in addition to both training for the Healdsburg half marathon in October).  The course just started and the first question asked is “how have you learned what you are good at?”  Basically, it’s a reflection piece thinking about learning styles and how I learn.

When charged with the question how have I learned what I am good at I first asked myself, what am I good at?  What do I know?  Then I considered how I learned about that.  The things I think I am good at (or have been good at) are: cooking, improvising, writing, yoga, horse riding, running.

Take a look at how my learning for those activities breaks down:


  • Practice / doing
  • Experimenting
  • Receiving feedback
  • Reading relevant material


  • Classes
  • Practice / doing
  • Reading relevant material
  • Teaching
  • Receiving feedback


  • Classes
  • Practice / doing
  • Reading relevant material
  • Teaching
  • Receiving feedback


  • Classes
  • Practice / doing
  • Receiving feedback

Horseback riding:

  • Classes
  • Practice / doing
  • Reading relevant material
  • Receiving feedback

Clearly there is a pattern here.  I learn by doing.  I learn by practicing.  I learn by teaching others and by receiving feedback about my work.  Reading relevant information is useful, but is just a piece of the puzzle.  I strongly believe that learning by doing is vital to mastering something.  However, learning something from taking classes or reading is a great predecessor for practicing and then teaching.  Teaching a skill is a great way to master it because it forces knowing.  When teaching you are expected to answer questions, so must know enough to answer those questions.  Asking questions is an important part of the learning process – when taking classes or practicing with people more experienced, it is good to ask questions to develop more knowledge about the particular subject.

Considering learning involves a process of absorbing (reading, taking classes, asking questions), doing (practicing), and sharing (receiving feedback, teaching).  And it’s never done.  It’s a cycle of absorbing, doing, and sharing, and doing more of all three.  This learning model I can apply to other activities I’d like to master or activities I’d like to get better at, like writing, improvising, cooking, crossfit-ing, leading, etc.  Absorbing, doing, and sharing in those activities will continue to get me to a level of skill worth noting!

Venture on,

MEL, the Venture Gal

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Jun 24

1 Month Into San Francisco

It has been a little over one month since I made the official move to San Francisco.  The past couple weeks in San Francisco started off with active apartment hunting (when I first moved here I was living in a temporary situation: living with cats + cat allergy = not a good idea).  I saw several places and my housemate and I ended up with about 5 different options to choose from (whoever said finding an apartment in SF was hard was only half telling the truth).  We chose a wonderful place in Cow Hollow and we are both very pleased with the situation!  We have a garage, laundry, backyard with lemon tree, hardwood floors, gas stove, and lots of natural light.  I especially love the garden in the backyard, as it is a zen sanctuary that feels so relaxing.  And I signed the longest lease I have ever signed for myself…a 1 year lease.

A flower in my backyard garden.

A flower in my backyard garden.

The weekend I moved I purchased a Keetsa Mattress, which came very efficiently packed in a box.  It was nice because I was able to go to their showroom in SOMA after my half marathon, take a nap (I mean test out the different mattresses) and then leave with my mattress in a box.  When I took the mattress out of the box it sprung open and adjusted to its full size.  I slept on it directly on the floor until my bed frame came from Amazon during the week.  I didn’t realize how big of difference it felt sleeping 14 inches off the floor!

Mattress in a box!

Mattress in a box!

The box was well designed...even had wheels for easy transport

The box was well designed…even had wheels for easy transport

Mattress on the floor

Mattress on the floor


Mattress atop bed frame…oh how I appreciate sleeping 14 inches off the floor!

Me happy in my new bed!

Me happy in my new bed!

My new commute is a little longer than before (1.5 miles versus 1 mile), but it takes me about the same amount of time to walk because my new commute is flat versus hilly.  It’s a relaxing walk down Greenwich, or if I’m feeling like I want more life in my commute I can walk down a busier street like Lombard or Union.  And fortunately, the Real Food Company is on my way to/from my office – perfect for picking up groceries or a meal.

View from my commute

View from my commute

In the past few weeks I enjoyed a house dinner with great friends who I met in Michigan.  They grilled salmon on a cedar plank and now I’m not sure regular salmon will ever taste the same again!

I also started taking an Improv class at BATS.  It is fun!  Different than the classes I took at The Second City, but it is great to be improvising with a group again.  It goes for another month and I already anticipate that those four weeks are going to fly by!

Last weekend I attended HackCancer, a fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel.  I checked it out after discovering the Tonga Room for the first time.  Some SoFi colleagues went to the Tonga Room for a “going away” celebration for one of our coworkers.  It felt like being on a pirate ship.  Minus Johnny Depp, unfortunately.


Fairmont Hotel

Fairmont Hotel

Last weekend I also ran the San Francisco Half Marathon with a friend visiting from Michigan.  The course was beautiful – starting at the Ferry Building, running along the water, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and then back into Golden Gate Park.  The morning was beautiful – sunny, low wind, and tens of thousands of people out for a healthy morning run.  We ran the entire way, even up the hills, slowing down to take photos of the amazing views from time to time!

At the Pre-Run Expo

At the Pre-Run Expo

The starting line

The starting line

Running across the Golden Gate Bridge...breathtaking

Running across the Golden Gate Bridge…breathtaking


I finished, yay!

Excited to finish, still standing, & had a great time!

Excited to finish, still standing, & had a great time!

This weekend and last I got in some good farmers market time.  First, at the Ferry Building, with my friend visiting from Michigan.  We sampled enough stone pitted fruits to add up to at least 4 full pieces of fruit!

Ferry Building!

Ferry Building!

This weekend I went to the Fort Mason Farmers Market, and found all sorts of goodies.  I love this farmers market because it has a good amount of variety, but without the touristy crowds that are drawn to the Ferry Building.  I picked up a “lemon cucumber” which I haven’t tried before, and filled bags with other local fresh finds, including 3 pints of strawberries I managed to get for only $8 (thanks to either my great negotiating skills or convincing smile, or both!).

Lemon cucumbers!

Lemon cucumbers! 

Farmers Market shopping spree!

Farmers Market shopping spree!

Last week/weekend I think I set a record for number of times I ate out in a 5 day period of time.  I went to a couple places I had been before and also tried many new places.  Restaurants I went to include:

Woodhouse Fish Company (2x) – #1. Whole roasted branzino with roasted veggies; #2. Crab and Bay shrimp stuffed artichoke and sautéed local salmon over roasted veggies

Branzino from Woodhouse Fish Co

Branzino from Woodhouse Fish Co

Salmon with roasted veggies at Woodhouse Fish Co

Salmon with roasted veggies at Woodhouse Fish Co

Troya on Fillmore - Grilled local sardines

Grilled sardines a la Troya

Grilled sardines a la Troya

Roam Burgers in the Marina – salad with 3 mini turkey burgers

Roam Burgers salad with mini turkey burgers

Roam Burgers salad with mini turkey burgers

Juice Shop - the greenest juice!

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Cafe de Ami 

Lite Bite – grilled chicken with broccoli and asparagus


Square Meals 

Many healthy options at Square Meals

Many healthy options at Square Meals

North Beach Restaurant - salmon with sautéed veggies

Pesce Seafood Bar - Grilled local sardines.  Not as good as the sardines I ate at Troya.  Someone else in our group got a dish with fresh crab and avocado which looked delicious and very well presented!

Grilled local sardines.  Okay.  Not as good as the ones from Troya on Fillmore

Grilled local sardines. Okay. Not as good as the ones from Troya on Fillmore


Local fresh crab & avocado stack looked more delicious than my grilled sardines.

Local fresh crab & avocado stack looked more delicious than my grilled sardines.

Gamine (the third time I have been here) – Just got an artichoke appetizer.  Then headed over to Fino Restaurant, an Italian place located in The Andrews Hotel.  I ate salmon over sautéed swiss chard.  A nice healthy pre-half marathon dinner.

Artichoke appetizer at Gamine

Artichoke appetizer at Gamine

Salmon & veggies at Fino Restaurant

Salmon & veggies at Fino Restaurant

Tadich Grill - went here, put our name on the list, and had a treacherous experience even just waiting for a table.  We were waiting at the bar, which we were told was fine by one of the waiters. Then the waiter sent us to the “counter” to order an appetizer while we waited.  When we got to the counter to order an appetizer the waiter there screamed at us for thinking we could just order an appetizer there.  Then, when another customer tried to help us, the waiter started screaming/swearing at him too.  We left and I will not go back to that place again.  Unbelievable.  Worst service I have ever experienced.

Foreign Cinema – delicious!  Sea bass tartare with tarot (root vegetable) chips and calamari baked in a spicy romesco sauce in a cast iron pan; for a main dish got salmon cooked in a fig leaf, served with soft figs with spring beans and a pea puree.

IMG_1968 IMG_1967 IMG_1969

Sweet Maple - poached eggs florentine (over spinach and tomato) without the english muffin or hollandaise sauce, served with a side of fruit

Sweet Maple from the outside

Sweet Maple from the outside

Zazie - this was our post- half marathon run meal.  I ate poached eggs over fresh crab and avocado, served with a side of mixed greens

Poached eggs with local crab and avocado.  Perfect post run meal!

Poached eggs with local crab and avocado. Perfect post run meal!

Elite Cafe - poached eggs over cajun spiced fresh crab and bay shrimp, served with a side of mixed greens

IMG_1892David’s Tea – won some free tea from David’s tea on Polk St.

Lots of tea to choose from at David's Tea

Lots of tea to choose from at David’s Tea

Greens – I got two poached eggs with sautéed mushrooms and tomatoes.  Amazing!  They were super accommodating to my food intolerances and the resulting brunch was so tasty!  The friend with me got their Ferry Plaza Sampler, which was a healthy combination of local fruits, nuts, honey, and cheese.

Poached eggs with a variety of sautéed mushrooms.  Delicious!

Poached eggs with a variety of sautéed mushrooms. Delicious!

My friend's Ferry Plaza sampler

My friend’s Ferry Plaza sampler

Here’s to more fun in the (sometimes) sun in California!  And to conquering more items off my San Francisco List.

Venture on,

MEL, the Venture Gal

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