Monday, June 13, 2011


I made the new hires anyway. I've got two new full-time employees starting in a couple weeks. The word I got on the decision that was expected in May is that it will likely be announced before the end of June. That left me with an unpleasant choice. I need the new hires to complete the current project. But without additional funding, I can't guarantee them a year of employment. I figured my best option was transparency. So I made the offers, with the stipulation that without further funding, I couldn't assure them a job after early 2012. One declined, opting to wait for more long-term news. The second accepted, as did the alternate for the first.

I'm expanding staff, but crossing my fingers that I'll be able to keep them employed in a year. Of course, my job is as on-the-line as theirs. Meaning, this is a rather stressful time, knowing I've got work to do, commitments to fulfill, and a very real, somewhat looming expiration date.

Three currently outstanding proposals remain, each of which would buy us some more time, and offer opportunities for long-term contributions to the field externally, and growth and development internally.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The fragility of uncertainty

I wait... Three outstanding proposals.

One decision was supposed to be announced last month. It's still unannounced. Not a small deal! A three year contract, enough to hire several new employees, and engage a subcontractor. Still, I wait.

The second, a collaboration with a non-profit medical clinic to modify our technology to an entirely new arena. Waiting for their decision whether it's worth the effort. (It is!) But I have to wait on their market surveys to establish the value.

The third, we don't expect to hear until the end of the summer or beginning of the fall.

I've conducted interviews for new hires. But I can't make offers until I hear about these commitments and know our budget moving forward. Frustrating (for me and them).

I calculate in my mind alternatives, options. All is uncertain. Will my company be around in a year or two? More imporantly, will I be able to continue the R&D that I firmly believe will contribute to bettering lives. One way or another, I'll figure a way.

One way or another.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Seeking Ground

It's been a while. My mind wanders. I need to write to clear the dust and cobwebs. I find myself at the moment a bit adrift. There is a point in accomplishment where novelty has worn off, and one begins to think "yeah... done that, what's next?". This too shall pass, I know. There's still much to be done right here. Frankly, it's amazing to me how far I've come in the past few years.

Tomorrow for instance, I'm heading to the state capital, having been invited to participate in a planning session for a new state agency entrusted with the mission to create 250,000 new jobs. I was requested by the head of the state's entrepreneurs' network to accompany her. Wow!

A couple months shy of three years ago, I started my company in a home office, with a few ideas and the sense that I was better off heading in a new direction. Today, I've got a staff of seven, a half million in annual revenues, interesting and worthwhile work, respect, and only growth ahead.

Today we reached a rather anticlimactic, but significant milestone. We gave our midterm presentation, halfway through our two-year contract. Since the client had already authorized the second year of funding last month, which prompted me to give everyone a bonus and raise, the review became somewhat routine and pro-forma. As if to put a point on it, the basic gist of the client's response today was "All's well, looks good, keep it up, and I'll stay out of your way," Ah, okay, will do.

In a few weeks, my family is taking a week's vacation around Passover. The whole clan will be heading to California. It'll be the longest time I've been away from the office since moving the operation out of my house. Since wrapping up the first year of our project, I've given the team rather open-ended assignments, to challenge them, and to propel the whole enterprise forward. Hopefully the experiment will pay off, and they won't feel aimless with me in absence.

Meantime, I'm seeking my own ground, trying not to lose the strength and commitment of doing what is still palably exciting, just no longer novel.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bringer of Candy

Back in December I wrote about an opportunity to partner with a local campus and the tech transfer office of the state university. It's been progressing. The latest was gaining approval from the campus administration ("Oh... the Chancellor says 'hi', she remembers you, and is excited to be partnering with you ...") and putting together the details of the proposal: objectives, milestones, budget. That should all be submitted by them to the funding agency next week. There's a bit of fire under their feet as the state budget process is looking to make cuts, so spending pre-allocated money hastily is one way to ward off the butcher's cleaver.

I'm in the unaccustomed position of creating a new post-doc position at a university, with good pay and benefits, to work on a project that promises to be engaging, for which I would have been eager to apply for a few years ago. It is distinctly odd to be a party of repute, when in my mind there's little difference between who I am today, and that invisible, nameless, faceless post-doc I was a few years ago (albeit on different campuses).

I'm also planning to hire one new full-time researcher, and a couple part-time interns in-house. One of my current researchers is interested in applying for the post-doc, meaning I may have to replace her on the staff as well. To her, I must appear as the bringer of candy, strewing sweets before her, that she can gather up. At least that would have been my image of someone writing a position description that could be just for me.

There's no telling whether the company will continue to grow, whether I'll be able to sustain the research, creating jobs, delivering on our promises, and making a profit, all the while doing something useful and beneficial to society. I'm cautiously optimistic. The work is difficult and challenging. But quite a thrill to be doing, and rather surprising at times to be leading.

All in all, I'm still here, despite the frequent and enduring silences.