The Girl Card Archive

Pia Alisjahbana: The Other Hugely Famous Female Indonesian Mogul

Last Import - 40 This was a huge treat. Yesterday, I did a keynote at a place called @America-- a first-of-its-kind American culture and event center in Jakarta in -- where else?-- a mall. All of South East Asia loves its malls-- the more ridiculously grand the better. But Jakarta is the only place where I've attended business and startup events in malls.

@America is sponsored by some of our biggest tech companies like Cisco and Google, and as such it's a pretty slick facility. In nearly 15 keynotes I've given in the last week, it was the first time the slide clicker actually worked

I was thrilled to see an audience full of teenaged girls-- all wearing different colored blazers denoting what school they were from. That's a normal sight here, but to my American eye they looked like an audience of little Indonesian realtors.

But the real honor was that Pia Alisjahbana attended. Quite rightly, she was mobbed by the girls when we walked in, everyone snapping a photo of her with their Blackberries. Alisjahbana, a professor and owner of a magazine publishing empire, is one of the most famous female moguls in Indonesia. The other is Martha Tilaar-- who I write about in the Indonesia section of Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky and with whom I'm doing an event tomorrow.

Alisjahbana was gracious when I called her out during my keynote. I was talking about the importace of finding mentors, and arguing that would-be entrepreneurs need to be aggressive about finding them. I asked Alisjahbana if she would take time to sit down with one of these kids if they called her and asked her for an hour of her time and free advice. She stood up, warmly smiled and looked around telling everyone yes to great applause, and I can only hope she gets flooded with requests from the ambitious young girls I met seeking to build their own fortunes. 

Alisjahbana also graciously shared a bit of her story with us. It started with her parents who were publishers until Indonesia's former president, Sukarno, took away their printing press and told them to go to hell. They fled to Kuala Lumpur with the family. But they missed Indonesia and came back once Alisjahbana was grown and gave birth to her first child. The family was hoping the famously mercurial Sukarno might give the printing press back, but they needed a way to get an audience with him. They fought through a crowd at one of his appearances, and Alisjahbana's mother shoved her daughter in front of Sukarno telling him the family had recieved a new baby and wanted him to honor them by naming her. He told them to come by the palace the next day. It took a few tries but they finally got an audience with him, and he bestowed a name on the child. He then asked what the parents did for a living and the mother said, "Nothing! You took our printing press away from us years ago!" As expected he had no memory of it or why he did it, laughed and gave it back. The family was back in business. 

Years later, at her husband's suggestion, Alisjahbana started the first "non-trashy" women's magazine called Femina, and the girls at the event had grown up reading it. The octogenarian recently passed the empire on to her daughter and retired, but I have no doubt she fills her free time with plenty of projects. 

Like a lot of Indonesian women, when I asked how she juggled family and work she said she just brought her kids with her everywhere. They fit into her life, rather than her shaping her identity around them. I'm starting to warm to that philosophy. Don't be surprised if the next time I write to you from Indonesia, I've got the baby in a sling with me. 

What Indonesian Women Taught Me in a Week

(Crossposted from TechCrunch)

Last Import - 21 JAKARTA– I’m mid-way through a trip to Indonesia at the request of the State Department, and I’m finding a hard time putting the experience into words. You’d think after two years of writing about other countries it’d be easy. I can’t remember if it was always this hard, or there’s just something different about this trip.

Maybe it’s the added surreal layer that this time, I’m flying around between seven far-flung cities in the world’s largest Muslim country talking about the importance of more Indonesian women starting companies.

Most people know the topic of “WHY AREN’T THERE MORE WOMEN IN SILICON VALLEY?” isn’t my favorite. Far too often the debate degenerates into grandstanding, whining and pointing fingers at all those evil male gatekeepers like, you know, TechCrunch. Never mind our company is run by a woman, our editorial group reports to another woman and more than half our senior staff are women.

But even worse, the debate has degenerated into pure linkbait. I rarely read anything new or thought-provoking on it. People glorify the need to RAISE AWARENESS, but who isn’t aware? Do you have eyes, and have you ever been to a tech conference? Then you’re plenty aware. We all are. Still hasn’t fixed the problem.

So while a lot of the women I’m talking to are expecting the fancy US expert to come in and tell them all how we’ve figured it out and what they should learn from us– I’m doing the opposite. I’m telling them how messed up it is in the world’s great meritocracy of Silicon Valley. I’m telling them that only about 20% of tech workers are women, despite more women graduating with math and science degrees than ever before. I’m telling them that only 15 Fortune500 companies have woman CEOs despite there being gender parity in terms of management jobs in the US, according to the World Economic Forum. I’m telling them that even though 40% of small businesses are women owned, only 8% of the venture funded startups are.

And then I’m telling them that for all the talk and handwringing about it, the smartest people I know can’t for the life of them figure out why that is. We have no idea why immigrants in Silicon Valley can do so much better in our country than American women can, and we have less of an idea how to fix it.

I tell them all the reasons people come up with and ask them if they face those things here in Indonesia. I tell them why I think some of those reasons are cop-outs and why some– like work-life balance– are legitimate issues that do keep women from starting businesses. I tell them how many professional women– me included–get trapped in feeling like pregnancy is a disability, rather than proof of how strong we are. And we talk  about some solutions to make things better.

Most of all, I’m telling them the easiest way to break a glass ceiling is to never create one, and urging groups to work hard to include women in Indonesia’s burgeoning private sector and entrepreneurial ecosystem now, while it’s just getting started.

It’s surreal for me, an American woman, to be telling audience after audience of women dressed in traditional Muslim headscarves that we don’t have gender equality figured out. But it’s more surreal for them to hear it. More than a few women have told me they were shocked. That they’d assumed women could do whatever they wanted in the US. A few have said that after my talk, they think starting a company sounds easier in Indonesia.

Sure, a few times a male in the audience has gone there. One fervently disagreed with my entire keynote saying that it was morally wrong for women to be out of the home and that if the government did anything to advocate this, it would be a nightmare for Indonesian society, birth rates would go into free-fall and all hell would break loose. It was a long diatribe, and my translator clearly gave me the nice version of his comments. Whether it was stated or not, the implication was there: What the hell are you doing out of the house half way around the world, crazy American lady? What’s wrong with your husband?

Another time, a man suggested that the US statistics proved that women shouldn’t start businesses. Turning my argument on its head, he suggested that the US economy doesn’t seem to be missing the participation of more women, and that it’d clearly been a positive for us. I pointed out that studies have shown that women-owned businesses become profitable faster and generate more revenue, and that the US economy isn’t exactly a global role model these days. There’s also the obvious retort– we have no idea what the opportunity cost from more women not participating in Silicon Valley’s economy has been. “Sorry, pal, but the facts just aren’t on your side,” I said, and the predominantly female audience laughed.

These are obviously viewpoints too un-PC to voice in the US, even if many people still believe them. But when each guy made these arguments, the women in the audience didn’t seem cowed or even too concerned. There was definitely some knowing-looks and eye rolling exchanged. “Oh there he goes again talking about how we need to stay in the house…” The attitude wasn’t preventing women from attending these events or the entrepreneurship colleges I’ve spoken at, where more than half of the audience have typically been women.

I’ve known from my previous trips to this country that Muslim Indonesians are very moderate and not at all like the stereotype many Americans would expect, particularly in more cosmopolitan urban areas. But during this trip, I’ve frequently been speaking at Muslim schools in more remote cities. My first talk was in a school so known for demonstrations that last week several classrooms were set on fire. And yet, even there the women don’t fit the meek-and-submissive stereotype as much as a few of the men would clearly like them to.

The brutality of Indonesian life– whether it’s 350 years of colonial domination, dictators, poverty or a never-ending assault of natural disasters– have forged these women into pure steel. Friends in the US have remarked at how intense it is that I’m here traveling city-to-city, lugging suitcases up and down jetway stairs in the tropical heat, delivering keynotes for more than three hours per day. Indeed, for an American pregnant woman, it is a pretty intense schedule. My ankles have morphed into thick, bloated stumps. Last week a clerk at a maternity store refused to let me carry a small bag of clothes to my car, I haven’t washed a dirty dish or stitch of laundry since my husband found out the news, and Paul Carr regularly takes my backpack from me when I try to leave the TechCrunch offices every night.

And yet, I met a woman the other day who runs a company delivering goods and services to remote villages. She has seven kids. When she was nine-months pregnant with number seven she was loading up her motorbike with supplies and winding around Indonesia’s crazy highways and dirt roads to continue her work. That, ladies and gentlemen, is intense. Is that woman going to be stopped by a man telling her she’s not strong enough to run a company? The idea made her laugh. She was sitting in the front row of one of my keynotes, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman so confident and self-possessed. She was not only badass, she was well aware of just how badass she was.

Unlike shrill women advocates in the US, these women don’t care whether male gatekeepers try to keep them down; it doesn’t seem to affect them. They shrug and go after what they want anyway. That’s stunning because generally Indonesia is a culture that looks to the government to solve most of their problems for them.

I spent the afternoon in Jakarta the other day with a group called IWAPI– which translated stands for the Indonesian Businesswoman’s Association. The woman who runs it commanded the room with intense features, a bright red headscarf and an elaborate green silk dress. (She’s center in the picture to the left.) Throughout the meeting she snapped at her assistant– a man– to bring the water, fetch her bag, bring more chairs. My male state department guide looked a little scared. Before I could say anything she started to grill me on my qualifications. I knew one thing immediately: I never want this woman on my bad side.

But she uses that intensity to create opportunities for the 40,000 members of this organization that was started the year I was born. For instance, while some entrepreneurs in the country are complaining that new Asian trade agreements will flood the domestic market with cheaper Chinese goods, IWAPI is organizing its own collective trade missions to surrounding South East Asian countries, looking for new markets to offset the risk. The woman in green told me what she tells young women in Indonesia: The literal translation for the Bahasa word for entrepreneur is “a person who makes things happen.” “If you want things to be done for you, you’re not an entrepreneur,” she said. “You work for the entrepreneur.”

Many of the women I’ve met– including those at IWAPI– appear to do a much better job at the thing we fail at most: Women helping lift one another up. Last week, I visited a co-op in Surabaya, where women jointly run a hotel, a grocery store (below) and a sort of local Indonesian street vendor food court. They pool that money– and money from outside investors– to grant more than $1 billion rupiahs (or more than $100,000) in monthly microloans to their 12,000 women members. Operating well before microloans were trendy, this co-op has been in business 30 years.

It was a hub of activity– women working at the various businesses, women helping watch one another’s kids, women in the computer lab learning how the Internet could help fuel their businesses, women in line to make payments on their loans. No one is worrying too much about work-life balance, because it’s a given many of them will have half-a-softball-team of kids. If they want to work, those issues are just reality. One of the many challenges of Indonesian life. One woman (pictured at the top of the post, waiting to make her monthly loan payment) had been a member for 20 years. She owns her own businesses and has seven kids and was welling up in tears telling me about the impact the co-op had made. That without it, she simply wouldn’t have been able to start a company. With it, her business had thrived and she’d never missed a payment.

The co-op’s board member opened my talk with a cross between a cheer and call-and-response prayer. Roughly it translated to:

How are your businesses doing?

“AWESOME!” The women yelled back raising fists in the air.

Are you paying your loans back?

“YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!” they yelled.

Are you going to default?

“NO WAY!” they yelled, together dismissing the thought physically with an emphatic wave of their hands. As each of them told me their stories, the women clapped at every success milestone– nevermind they’d heard these stories all before.

Back at IWAPI, four of the women told me that not only were their husbands supportive of their companies– they’d done so well that their husbands had quit their jobs and were now working on the wives’ entrepreneurial dreams. Even my Indonesian state department translator was stunned to hear it. “There are two types of IWAPI husbands,” the uber-intense woman in green told me. “Those who are silent partners and support their wives, and those who become actual partners in the business.” Another woman in the group was living the harsh flipside of this statement. Her husband left her a single mother, because she refused to give up her fashion design company and sit at home while he worked. Her life isn’t easy, but she has no doubt she made the right choice.

I don’t mean to paint the picture of some gender utopia. In each case, these were women that opted to attend a talk about entrepreneurship, so it may not be a relative sample of the population.  And to be sure, questions come up about pressure from society to raise kids and men not taking them seriously; the same issues women talk about in the US. When I’ve brought up some of the issues we face, there’s a lot of head nodding in the audience and commiserating laughter. Some of this is just international, it seems.

But the difference among the women I’ve met so far in Indonesia is they just don’t seem to dwell on it. They’ve got more important things to do.


Spring Cleaning Part 2: A Post Cleanse Wrap

The most impressive thing about BluePrint Cleanse is this: You honestly do not feel like you are fasting for three days. And overall, I’m thrilled with the results. I’m definitely thinner, especially in my waist. In fact, I'm not sure it's ever been this chiseled. On the less vain front, I feel less run-down, and a nagging cold/allergies I’ve had most of the year are completely gone.

That said, as I wrote three days ago, I came in with high expectations given my friends who’d raved about BluePrint, and I didn’t share all of their experiences.

I’d gotten the impression from everyone, including the company’s Web site, that day one would be the hardest, day two would be easier and day three would even better. Julia Allison swore day three was absolutely euphoric. So I was pretty happy when I felt great on day one. I didn’t have a headache, didn’t feel hungry and didn’t even seem to miss the caffeine.

And, to my surprise most of the juices were delicious. The only shock was the green juice—which is half of the daily intake. At first taste Mr. Lacy declared it “the most disgusting thing he’d ever tasted.” (To be fair, he hates cucumbers and it’s very cucumbery. But I love cucumbers, and I could barely drink the first bottle.) But it got better for both of us with each bottle, and we barely minded it towards the end.I remember having the same reaction the first time I drank tomato juice, and I adore bloody mary's now.

But that was the only thing that got better! I felt great in the morning and afternoon of day two but as the day wore on I was hungry and irritable. The cravings for food were so bad by the evening, if I’d been at a party or a dinner it might have been too much to take. For sure, I wouldn’t have been pleasant to be around. (Just ask Olivia who for some reason picked this moment to cook the most fragrant meal she’s ever made, eat it in front of us, then leave the bowl on the table when she left the room. I felt like Stains.)

Day three got worse. I spent the entire day with a blistering headache and because I had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. for a Yahoo shoot, I had to space the juices out longer, making me feel hungry and out of sorts most of the day. Finally by late afternoon I got a few bursts of euphoria, but the headache kept coming back, putting a pretty big damper on it. And Geoff, sorry, I mean, "Mr. Lacy," felt really ill that night. And be forewarned, what you think is a three-day commitment is really more like a six or seven day commitment because there are huge restrictions on what your system can digest when you break the cleanse. A big disappointment as I really wanted a goodbye slice of Arinell's pizza before I left for Israel. :(

All-in-all, I would definitely give BluePrint another shot. One-and-a-half days of feeling “meh” is worth slimming down and bolstering my immune system, and the company does a fantastic job of coddling you through the process. Also the packaging is great. They clearly label your bottles and send you a little cooler to carry them with you so you don’t have to be tethered to a fridge. This was, after all, my first cleanse, and no doubt a bit of a shock to my system, as much as BluePrint tries to mitigate that with different levels and instructions to prepare for it. I'm sure it'd go smoother next time.

When will that next time be? The site recommends you do it monthly for best results, and that’s probably too much for me. But I plan to try it again in May. As for Mr. Lacy, he’s very prone to headaches and has a wickedly fast metabolism, so the fact that he could function during a fast is nothing short of amazing. He usually flips out if he skips a meal. He ultimately saw it as a good way to kick caffeine, but too much of a sacrifice to do more than a few times per year. Especially since you have to eat salads and steamed vegetables for several days after the fast. As Homer Simpson once said, "You don't win friends with salad."

I can’t say it’s changed my life the way Julia promised it would, but I recommend it to anyone wanting a quick and relatively pain-free way to feel thin and healthy.

Spring Cleaning

It's been a rough 2009 so far, at least for my health. Between the cold that wouldn't leave for nearly two months, some pretty severe sleep deprivation, and more stress than usual, I've turned to comfort foods and comfort wine a bit more than I probably should. Author-Sarah would hardly care about a few extra pounds. I am, after all, in my 30s and married. Isn't that when we're all allowed to get fat?

But on-camera Sarah has to care. About a week ago, I decided to go back to what's always helped me slim down and feel happier before: The South Beach Diet and a few hours a week sweating on the elliptical listening to loud rock music. But no sooner did I Twitter something about these plans, then a trove of friends all told me I should try a juice cleanse instead.

I had one initial objection: That just sounds way too California. I already do Pilates three times a week and eat more tofu than I do red meat. I have to keep true to some of my Memphis roots, or they may not let me back in for BBQ-fest.

As I did more research on BluePrint Cleanse-- the company that everyone from Julia Allison to Michael Arrington have gone to for cleansing needs-- there were a few other red flags.

Can I Make It at TechCrunch Two Weeks? Vote!

Duncan Riley over at The Inquisitr has a poll asking how long I can last at TechCrunch. It's actually an incredibly complimentary post. I mean, I want this on my tombstone:

"Here’s a woman (lady may be sexist, but more fitting) who isn’t afraid to share an opinion, but does it with grace, in a dress of teflon."

But Duncan details how tough of a battleground that blog has been for women. He aptly sums up every reason Mr. Lacy didn't want me to help Arrington out. I, for one, can't imagine any comments worse than the ones I got at SXSW or get daily on TechTicker. I think Duncan underestimates how much people already hate me!

But he is right that I don't mince words or opinions. So, readers, you know me pretty well. What do you think? Can I last two weeks? Head on over and vote!

Another Great Girls in Tech Event

For those women starting companies you won't want to miss this workshop!


Attn Girls in Tech: An Excuse to Have Fun

Girls in Tech-- one of my favorite organizations-- is hosting a mix-and-mingle event featuring me, but more importantly the amazing crew of smart girls who go to Girls in Tech events. The invite is below. Please pass it on and please join us!! (Please RSVP to the email address below)


It's Not Often I'm Speechless.

I really don't know what to say about Michael Arrington and the whole spitting thing. Let's start with the fact that the clip of me throwing water on him is no longer as funny to me as it was yesterday, even though it was clearly staged and you can hear me laughing as I walk off.

I thought about penning a quick column for BusinessWeek about the topic, but it was just too close to home. After all, I've got some experience here. I haven't ever been spat on (yet), but I have had a few very disturbing physical things happen to me over the last few years, and more than a few threats. And at least once a day someone, somewhere online says something brutally mean about me. Notice I didn't say "something about my work"-- something about me personally. And 99.99% of the time, they've never met me.

But more to the point, Michael is a good friend of mine and I know him. I know him well enough to know the characterization of this ValleyWag post is utter bullshit. Michael didn't seek out being famous. That doesn't even make sense. He started TechCrunch at a time when startups were utterly unsexy, and no one thought you could build a huge media business off a blog. Michael eschews the limelight more than he seeks it. He spends most of his time at home, working hard, not out talking about it. He does a fraction of the press and appearances he could do. (Trust me, he's bailed on me more than a few times!) And even at Valley parties, he's usually off to the side or sitting in the back somewhere talking to entrepreneurs. And he's turned down many funding and acquisition opportunities for TechCrunch. He's stashed away at least a year's worth of revenues, so this is hardly some Web 2.0 pony he was trying to run until it died, and now having failed, he's looking for an out. Please. Michael is hardly a saint; if you're going to say something mean about him, why completely make it up?

On the flip side was Paul Carr's column in the Guardian. Paul-- like the Gawker crew-- is outrageously snarky. And really, he's far better at that game than most of Gawker Inc, his excellency Nick Denton aside of course. Paul brilliantly writes about the online currency of mean, which I've written about a good deal too, but he writes about it from the point of view of someone who profits off of doing it, not being the subject of it. Paul and I are good friends, which strikes a lot of people as weird, since I'm one of the people he has profited off trashing. But if you read that column, you understand why.

The reason I'm so speechless given all the strong feelings I have about this issue, is that I fear there's no solution and that worries me. If Ivory Tower print media is truly dying, and we're all going interactive, it's going to severely limit the pool of people willing to be journalists. It's one thing to expect this kind of abuse and scrutiny if you're a Hollywood celebrity, a public company CEO or a politician. But someone writing about startups? Why? That shouldn't come with the territory. We shouldn't even be that interesting!

If Michael stays away longer than a month--which I don't think he will--it will be a huge loss for Silicon Valley. Look at TechCrunch50; look at the Crunchies; look at the daily blogging of a broader swath of tiny unheard of startups than any other site. TechCrunch is the best friend entrepreneurs have had over the last few years, and no offense to the team there, but Michael is hands-down the best blogger on the site.

As for me, I have no intention of running away. For one thing, a lot of the abuse I get is because I'm a woman. (Trust me, you just don't want details here.) For the sake of other women, I'm not letting anyone get away with that kind of gender bullying. But there may well come a time, as it has for Arrington for now, where my safety and the toll it takes on my loved ones is just not worth writing another story.

Gender Blindness: It's a Nice Idea...Or Is It?

Patricia Handschiegel has an interesting piece on the Huffington Post today about women in business. The idea is the new power women ignore gender completely. I've been trying to blog about this post for a while now, and I'm struggling. Part of that is some angst about an unresolved issue in my life, part is a nasty head cold I'm trying to shake before I leave for CES and part is that I just can't decide how I feel about it.

Obviously, being a woman doesn't consciously enter into my professional decision making. I never think, "As a woman, should I write this story or accept this speaking gig or interview this person?" Who would? And I agree with the sentiments in the post that an accomplishment is an accomplishment and, like Patricia, if you asked my business role models, it'd be a mix of men and women-- although heavily skewed towards men. I work in a male dominated industry, and I tend to pick role models who I know personally. A decade of business reporting has taught me that the public rap sheet on who someone is and what they've done doesn't always square up with reality.

For that matter, most of my friends are men. My husband and I even joke that many of the traditional male-female roles in our marriage are swapped. In fact, with almost all of our close couple friends, I relate more to the man, and Geoff relates more to the woman.

So clearly, like the women Patricia interviewed for her post, I'm not intimidated by men, and I have no problem relating to them in the business world.That is a non-issue. In fact, there's nothing in that post with which I explicitly disagree.

But implicitly I have a huge problem with ignoring my gender. I embrace it. I love being a woman and everything that comes with it. I usually wear jeans, but when I have to look nice, I love wearing dresses instead of lame, boxy suits. Sure, I wish more women were at dinners and invitation-only tech events I attend, but I love that at least I'm one of the ones there. I even secretly love that my husband gets "spouse gifts" like floral monogrammed soaps when we attend conferences. It's all evidence that I've accomplished something unique and that makes me proud. It's like I've hacked the system. And that means others can hack it too.

As the gender blindness idea suggests, I never considered I couldn't achieve things in business because I was woman, and that was probably part of my success. But at the same time I don't think there's anything wrong with being proud of the fact that I can hold my own in a male-dominated world. That I've been able to make it a non-issue.

I also think that in some unknown, unquantifiable way part of my success has been because I'm a woman. How could it not be? Being a reporter and a writer is an incredibly individualistic career. It's like an episode of Survivor. You're dropped into a jungle and you have to use whatever you've got to fight your way out. Not even a great editor can cover for you for long and whatever you've accomplished is in tangible black-and-white at the end of the day for everyone to see. I've long felt like weird personality traits of mine that were pretty annoying from a human point of view, actually wound up being hugely helpful as a reporter. It was as if I was designed to do what I do.

Because it's so personal, I'd be naive to think none of that has to do with being a woman. Women connect with people in a different way, listen better than men on average, are non-threatening and are naturally nurturing.  A lot of people tell me things they don't tell other people, and all of that is probably part of why. My gender is part of me, so why would I treat it as something I somehow have to subvert or ignore?

There's incredible power in being a woman in business that we've had to deny so long to prove we're "equal." Most of the powerful women I know and respect are increasingly embracing it and using it to their advantage. To me, that's truly breaking the glass ceiling.

Glamming It Up (Apparently, Pirate-Style)

Sarah Browne has a post on Facebook about Girly Glam being back, and yours truly is cited for my fashion sense, in particular one pair of boots I own. Although, here at TechTicker, said fashion sense only gets mocked. Mocked in the form of graphics no less!

Here's Howard and Brad's commentary on my lovely DVF outfit today:


Is it me or do I look like some host of a children's show from the 1970s?

Ahem. Back to Sarah Browne's post. Beyond the shout out, it is an interesting one, and hopefully the link above works within FB's digital walls. If not, here's an excerpt:

"So does all this girly glam mean that voila! women have finally achieved so much equality that we can now afford to literally let it all hang out? That women no longer need to dress or behave like men? That we have choices — every permutation of chic from chictini to Hillary’s custom pantsuits to Sarah Palin’s much ballyhooed booty from Saks?"

It's a thorny issue, as I've written about before. But I'm a big believer that it should be a non-issue. The key isn't "Oh, now we're all wearing dresses." It's that women are free to wear whatever they want: jeans, dresses or VC-esque khakis and blue shirts. Sometimes--gasp!-- professional women rock different looks depending on the day. At Yahoo I wear a dress almost every day; when I was writing my book I wore jeans and a t-shirt almost every day. Paul Carr-- never missing an opportunity to mock me-- calls it the difference between and Sarah Lacy. But I think they're both me.

Sure, I dress a little girlier than your average CNBC host when I'm on camera, but that's because I think suits are unflattering. I mean, really, if someone wants to count me out because I wear a dress and not a boxy 1980s suit: Go right ahead. As far as I'm concerned, that only gives me more of an advantage. 

Part insightful analysis of what ails Silicon Valley and part madcap journey to far flung hubs of aspiration and innovation, Sarah Lacy takes us around the world in 180 pages to find the fascinating people who are creating the new wealth in a new world of start ups and ventures that America ought to be paying a lot more attention to.
Brilliant. Crazy. Cocky.

New Book

An unforgettable portrait of the emerging world's entrepreneurial dynamos Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky is the story about that top 1% of people who do more to change their worlds through greed and ambition than politicians, NGOs and nonprofits ever can. This new breed of self-starter is taking local turmoil and turning it into opportunities, making millions, creating thousands of jobs and changing the face of modern entrepreneurship at the same time. To tell this story, Lacy spent forty weeks traveling through Asia, South America and Africa hunting down the most impressive up-and-comers the developed world has never heard of....yet.

Excerpt »

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Srah Lacy

Sarah Lacy is an award-winning reporter who has covered high-growth entrepreneurship for more than fifteen years. She is the founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of, the site-of-record for the startup ecosystem. She lives in San Francisco.

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