The people we are most grateful for this Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving marks the perfect time to reflect and remember all of those kind individuals who have contributed to the progress of Chef Koochooloo.

As I read the Article, “The Five Thank You Notes Every Entrepreneur Should Write“ by Amy Morin, I followed her advice and would like to take a moment to thank all of the incredible people who have been supporting us in this adventure:

1. Thank someone who believed in you: Since I can remember, I had all types of ideas on doing things in novel ways–what I have always lacked, has been self confidence. My husband is a kind and supportive partner who truly believes in me. Last year we were lucky enough to host an entrepreneur from France, Stephan Bousseley in our house. While observing me in consulting to various startups and friends, he encouraged me to focus on my idea and launch my own startup. After discussing the idea of Chef Koochooloo, he reassured me that I had what it takes to make it happen and together with my husband, pushed me to move forward. They believed in me more than I believed in myself, and this was instrumental in helping me launch. So MERCI BEAUCOUP guys for believing in me!

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2. Thank someone who inspired you. My five-year-old daughter, Delarai, was the main inspiration behind Chef Koochooloo. Without her wisdom, support and curiosity this project would have never come to life. Cindy Ramirez, who offered to focus on my idea for her Master’s Final Project, inspired me to take our ideas to the next level, and I could have never come this far without her. I also want to take a moment to thank Maria Sipka. There are not that many 30 -something year old Moms who are successful entrepreneurs in this Valley. So when I first met Maria at Mom 2.0 Summit and she told me she has a 2 year old, and pregnant with the next kid, and in the midst of launching her own company, I was definitely inspired!  Maria went on to be supportive in many other ways, she travelled for one hour to attend and share her entrepreneurship journey during one of my meetups, one week before her due date! I thought I was a hard working Mom, until I met Maria.

 

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3. Thank someone who rejected you. I suppose I should thank my former employer, SAP for ending the projects I was hired to support! Working at SAP enabled me to learn more about launching Mobile Applications, and introduced me to so many amazing people who have been truly helpful in our progress. I also met my wonderful and amazingly talented cofounder, Milos Macura while working at the Apphaus. Without people like Karuna Mukherjea who offered me a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in her kitchen table while she literally drew the very first product spec on a napkin, Gita Kapur who volunteered her two amazing sons to build our original website, Adam Stein, Elliot Tarlin, Faheem Ahmed, Siva Sabarenam, Alex Hofman, Helena Jerney, for their feedback on our User Experience, and Amir Hossein Arabkheradmand who volunteered so many weekends towards our user research, and Rajiv Nima for acting in our video! Your support has meant the world. THANK YOU.

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4. Thank someone who taught you. I am grateful for all of the times my friend Parham Akhavan spent with me, teaching me about entrepreneurship, valuable points that are not written in any books or blogs, insights learned only after launching your third startup J. I am also grateful for my former manager, Kijoon Lee who spent hours helping us shape our business plan, and my mentors, Brian Reaves, Carmen O’Shea, and Amit Sinha, who showcased exemplary leadership skills, and fueled my passion to thrive.

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5. Thank someone who supported you.  When I suggested my idea to Birgit Coleman during a play date, her first reaction was, “How Can I help?” and before I knew it, she had connected me to potential partners, invited me to the right events, and recruited her husband to represent me as an attorney. She truly took the word ‘support’ to a whole new level.

Whether Chef Koochooloo will make it or not, I know this much, we could not have come this far without all of the support our community and friends have provided.  I can no longer count the number of times Delaram Mirfakhraei, Azar and Bahman Hashemi babysat for us so we could attended strategic conferences. Nick Ivanitsky spent weeks providing direction to our creative team. Noushin Ivanitsky liked every single post on Facebook, Elina Karastathi, Baharan Behi, and Tulsi Gandhi provided their ongoing analytical insights. Claudia Almaral, Claudia Auxier, and Rosa Lara Fernandez shared their educational wisdom. Paj Studios, Cynthia Ferreyra and Noel Ian Tamayo donated beautiful artwork.

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We are grateful for our upcoming classroom training sessions launch in the first week of December, and look forward to working with Julius Dobos, Anthony Dias, Andrew Long and Vilka Tzouras  for the next exciting chapters.

We like to invite all of our valuable community members to our community appreciation day on December 7th:

 

 

We are hiring our very first employees!

Cooking Class Teacher/Leader

Chef Koochooloo Early Stage Startup

Are you passionate about creating a fun and educational experience for children? Do you love cooking and tasting recipes from different countries? Are you looking to enhance your experience working with children while being involved with a Silicon Valley Startup? Then join our team! Chef Koochooloo is a mobile + social + educational platform that teaches kids about math, science and geography through cooking.  We have been piloting our curriculum in various Silicon Valley schools and received exceptional feedback.


WHAT YOU’LL BE DOING:
Deliver the cooking session to a group of approximately 15 children ages 4-10 following the syllabus created by the Chef Koochooloo Product Development team
Guide the kids in preparing recipes from different countries while discovering the world
Actively engage in suggesting and planning activities, such as “learn while you wait”, fun facts and games

Desired Skills and Experience

  • Demonstrated interest and experience with children ages 4-10
  • Commitment to safety and well-being of the children
  • Understanding child development
  • Schedule flexibility
  • Passion for cooking and travelling
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Proven ability to work as a member of a team
  • About this company

WHAT YOU GET:

  • Experience working with children
  • Work with an innovative company committed to creating global citizens that care about the world.
  • Hourly remuneration

The classes are scheduled to begin in November 2014 and will take place in the Mountain View School district as well as various restaurants.

Yenegah Bakery Lessons – Tuesdays from 4:00 to 5:30

Mariano Castro Elementary School – Tuesdays from 3:05 to 4:05 & Wednesdays from 2:05 to 3:05.

Email resumes to Layla@chefkoochooloo.com
Please visit some of our classroom sessions via our Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/chefkoochooloo

 

Chef Koochooloo is giving away a gorgeous Adna Watch

We are partnering with ADNA to giveaway a beautiful watch as a price for our first official contest!

This beautiful ADNA Watch is a Belgian product that just begun its expansion to the United States. Designed by Alain De Nys, ADNA emanate quality combined with fashionable colors and fun designs that are interchangeable. That’s right!

In order to be the winner of one of these amazing European Watches all you need to do is follow these simple steps

1) Follow @ChefKoochooloo  and @adnawatchusa on Twitter

2) Tweet us a line that includes the @ChefKoochooloo and @AdnaWatchUSA handles with your wise line, thought, or advice about using your time in the kitchen.

3) Ask your friends to retweet your tweet! The Tweet with the major number of retweets (of the original tweet) will win this beautiful watch!

4) You have until November 30th to participate! We will be announcing the winner December 1st and will contact the winner via Twitter!

Thanks for participating!!

Belgium — According to My Four Year old!

This past spring, after I overheard my daughter Delarai tell her friends she is “French” (because we speak French in the house), I realized I had to spend more time teaching her about the world, her heritage, and the countries her father and I had lived in.

I had a difficult time explaining to her that she is not French (even though we want her to learn French) and that actually she is half Belgian. I decided teaching her about Belgium, her father’s country of birth, and discovered it was much easier for her to relate to Belgium through some of the recipes she loved. You can say this was one of the pivotal moments for the emergence of “Chef Koochooloo.”

This summer, we decided to dedicate a week at my husband’s birth country and after our trip, I asked Delarai what she loved most about Belgium. She listed the following (in order of preference!!)

1.Christine, Frederic and Emma!

People always make the difference on whether or not we like a place. Delarai loves spending time with my husband’s god-parents, and she specially enjoyed her trip to the Grand Place in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, where she saw the City Hall light up.

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2.  Les balles qui brilles!

Delarai came up with her own name for the Atomium in Brussels: The World Expo of 1958 left behind a gigantic structure that shone in the spring sun in the shape of an atom, it is a replica of an iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times, and Delarai loved it much more than even the Eiffel Tower!

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3. Les Gaufres

Need I say more? We have promised Chef Koochooloo to work on some amazing waffle recipes and post them here soon, though we are not sure we can ever compare to those delicious Gaufre de Liège or the Gaufre de Bruxelles!

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4. The BIG Pink Watches!

Delarai loves the interchangeable Adna Watches designed by the talented Alain Denys (who resides in Waterloo, just a ten-minute away drive from where my husband’s family lives).  She was delighted when I told her the watches are now being sold in the US and she insisted we get the pink one for Daddy. I also got five other colors and we continue to have fun changing the bands depending on our activities and outfits.  We specially love using the watch during Chef Koochooloo cooking sessions.

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5. Catching crabs with Papi in Knokke

Knokke, is the most North-Eastern seaside resort on the coast of Belgium. It lies adjacent to the Dutch border; separated from the Dutch territory by the Zwin nature reserve. Even though it was a shocker for us to get used to the cold weather in August, Delarai loved running around the beach in her sweater and catching crabs with Pappi and Mammi!

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6. Cecemel: 

We loved discovering new beers while spending lazy afternoons in the windy beach front, and Delarai fell in love with Cecemel, the best chocolate milk she had ever tasted. Much to my embarrassment at Airport security, I realized she had hidden a bunch of  them in my handbag to take back with us. Sadly, I was not able to find this delicious and supposedly nutritious drink for her here in the US.

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The Mistake we refuse to make!

Chef Koochooloo is barely off the ground and already we got invited to pitch on several occasions. As I listen to various Angels and VC’s express their enthusiasm and feedback for our mission, I notice many have reservations about our mission to raise awareness about worldwide causes.  As I listened to their arguments against this aspect of our curriculum, I knew it was time to decide what I really wanted for the future of Chef Koochooloo, and make sure the team is on the same page.

A big part of the success of any organization is to define clearly their vision and I have personally worked for too many great companies who begin to sink because they cannot figure out, or forget what they stand for.

I decided this was not going to be a mistake we can afford, so yesterday, I brought the team together to define our vision statement and ensure everyone who wants to be a member of the team truly believes in our ethos.

Cindy, Helena, Claudia, Elina and I gathered in a room as we Skyped Milos in and expressed our respective objectives for wanting to be involved with Chef Koochooloo.

Our brainstorming started with the question: What do we envision Chef Koochooloo to be in the future?

As each team member presented what they envision Chef Koochooloo to become in terms of growth, values and contribution to society, I could not feel more proud. The essence of our shared goals and values is summarized below:

Vision Statement:

Bring families together to discover the world through healthier lifestyles. In order to realize our vision, we will need a set of winning strategies. The mission statement serves as a compass that will keep us on track on our journey towards our goals.

In defining our mission, we focused on the classic questions:

  • What do we do?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • How do we do it?
  • What value do we bring?

This exercise proved extremely helpful and we managed to define our mission as follows:

Chef Koochooloo Mission Statement:

Empower families and educators to engage in fun, interactive cooking activities, while learning about math, science and social responsibility.

We will:

–       Engage children in discovering countries through recipes and fun kid-relevant factoids.

–       Help parents safely involve kids in preparing a healthy meal while spending quality time together.

–       Raise awareness about current global issues.

With the “constitution” in place, the Chef Koochooloo team will start the journey towards making cooking and learning fun for both the Big and Little Chefs!

What do you think of our Vision and Mission Statements? Let us know what you think via comments!

The Chef Koochooloo Vision Statement and Team

The Chef Koochooloo Vision Statement and local Team

Milos Macura, Co-founder, Remote

Milos Macura

Awakening your children’s creative and innovative minds!

Last night, we held a special Focus Group for Chef Koochoolo. We had both kids and parents participate, it was a lot of fun, and I personally gained a lot of new insights about other parents’ dilemmas when it comes to their kid’s education.

Everyone talked about the challenge of keeping their kids engaged and learning at all times, especially over summer break, while finding time to put a healthy and delicious meal on the table.

Kids are naturally curious and creative. They’re into everything. But with time, and what parents shared as ‘bad schooling’, some of that natural spirit of exploration can get sucked out of them. Gradually, a fear of mistakes and their consequences can start to grow.

If innovation is important to you, give one of Chef Koochooloo recipes a try, venture out into Slovakia or Iran and teach them about geography and math at the same time.

Here some pictures of the event. And keep reading because there’s more!

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If you foresee a busy summer and don’t think you’ll have much time for the kitchen, there are two camps I would strongly recommend for your kids, and my opinion is not formed because of Galileo’s support of this blog, but due to the foundation and philosophy behind their curriculum.

One of my good friends at work, Gita Kapoor has two amazingly talented boys who have created a unique engineering summer camp for children entering grades 6-8. The camp is designed to teach specific mechanical engineering principles using LEGO, and will also touch on autonomous robotics using NXT, including programming.  It will conclude with LEGO battlebot development and a battlebot tournament to which parents are invited.

If you know anyone entering grades 5-8 who loves LEGO and would enjoy learning more about mechanical engineering concepts please let them know about this unique one-week camp.  The camp will be located in Cupertino and runs from 9am-12:30pm.  Space is limited to six campers per session.  You can find more information and registration details here: http://futureengineers.webflow.com

The kids will even give you a discount of $10, if you happen to mention my blog post ☺

Looking for a bigger discount? Then you might want to check out the promotion I have for you from Galileo.  Sign up by May 31 and save $30 per camper with code 2014INNOVATION. Also you can have a chance to win a free week of summer camp by signing up for the newsletter at the bottom of the page.

Armed with an innovation process inspired by the Stanford d. school, Galileo instructors facilitate campers’ hands-on exploration of science, art and outdoor activities. Behind every activity, an idea. And a mindset—visionary, courageous, collaborative, determined, reflective.

CAMP GALILEO IS A PLACE WHERE FEAR GOES ON HOLIDAY. In its place grows a spirit of exploration and innovation. Every year, Galileo sees the experience fire campers’ imaginations and literally change their way of relating to learning.

• Nebulas: pre-K to K

• Stars: 1st and 2nd graders

• Supernovas: 3rd to 5th graders

I strongly believe, that all of the above options are AMAZING. And the by-products- kids with supreme confidence and a boldness of vision are what will eventually rock our world, so in preparation for your summer, do plan for fun engaging and innovative activities that your children can enjoy.

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Women Who Don’t Self-Promote Are Letting Us Down. A self development discussion with Maggie Fox

In August 2013, I read a daring blog post that made me fall in love with the author, Maggie Fox, and evaluate my feelings towards the idea of Self Promotion:

http://socialmediagroup.com/2013/06/26/women-selfpromote-letting/

You can imagine how thrilled I was when a month later, my employer, SAP, announced that we had hired Maggie as the new head of Integrated Digital Experience, and waited patiently for the opportunity to meet her in person.

In western cultures, self-promotion is an essential tool in career advancement. Yet, so many women of us have a difficult time with it. I will have a heart to heart discussion with Maggie Fox this Thursday, April 3,  from 12-1pm at SAP offices in Palo Alto (Building 2, Embarcadero) as she shares her perspective on the subject and showcases some techniques on how to do this more effectively.

Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP

Maggie Fox, Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP

A little more info on Maggie: She is the Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP, responsible for delivering a unified digital experience to SAP customers and the market. Prior to joining SAP, Fox was founder and CEO of Social Media Group, established in 2006 and one of the world’s most highly respected independent agencies helping businesses navigate the socially engaged Web. She has been interviewed about social and digital trends by Inc. magazine, The Washington Post, CBC Radio, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, CTV News and The Financial Post, among others. In 2011, The National Post named her one of Canada’s Top Innovators. Fox sits on the boards of GetElevate.com and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

These are the questions I will ask her:

  1. How do you define self-promotion?
  2. How do you think we can draw the right balance between self-promotion and coming across as rude or arrogant? For the past five years, in every single review I received, I was told to be more assertive, showcase my confidence, etc. After taking a women’s leadership course and reading your blog, I tried to focus on self-promotion, and three months later, during my annual review, I was told that the stake- holders found my communication style to have become rude lately. (When I asked my manager for specific examples, he mentioned that by rude he meant too much self-promotion.  When I shared my story with other women at SAP, to my surprise, they had very similar experiences.  Have you had a similar experience? 
  3. Do you think as women we should employ different methods than men in self-promotion?
  4. What would you say are the main differences in self-promoting yourself online and offline?
  5. Could you give examples of two women who do a beautiful job in self -promotion (one online, one offline) and what they are doing right?
  6. What is one important thing you want to leave everyone in this room with today?

Here is a recording of our session, would love your input on my moderation skills!

 

Journaling my way to Entrepreneurship

During a leadership seminar last week, I learned about the importance of journaling in all aspects of life, including leadership and entrepreneurship. Growing up I was a journal junky but put the practice aside as I began blogging about various work related topics.  After the seminar, I realized journaling and blogging are still two different things; the main difference for me is that when blogging, I still have to keep my audience in mind, and write in a style that the audience can follow. When journaling, the main customer is myself. When I begin writing, I wont’ worry about grammar, spelling and structure, I will just get the words out as fast as I can and put my thoughts together.

During the seminar they gave us this outline for everyday journaling:

When I feel understood,  I…….

When I’m not at my best, I…..

What I really care about is…..

I suppose I can follow the above template or come up with my own.  So far my biggest challenge in wanting to launch ‘Chef Koochooloo’ is the fact that my thoughts are all over the place, and I have so many ideas and so many things that need to be done in order to get a product launched, that I simply just don’t find enough time to do everything. And I feel overwhelmed with even the number of emails I have to answer.

Perhaps one way I can get started is by coming up with my main goal/objective for Chef Koochooloo, and figuring out what my mission would be, then every day on my journal write about.  After that, I can prioritize on the list of things I need to do and how I will go about it.  I think it would also be helpful to write about one thing that made me happy that day, and one thing that brought me down (kind of like the exercise I do with my daughter at night).

So let me get started with the positioning of Chef Koochooloo:

 

Chef Koochooloo

 An international educational platform that empowers families to engage in fun interactive cooking games while learning about math, science and social responsibility.

With Chef Koochoolooo:

  • Kids discover new countries through recipes and fun kid-relevant factoids
  • Parents are guided to safely involve kids in preparing a healthy meal
  • Parents and kids can learn about world concerning issues and contribute towards social change

And I will end each journal with highlights and disappointments of the day.

Today, I was surprised by how unsupportive some friend can be, they make excuses for something as little as providing input.  On the other hand I am so surprised to see mere acquaintances that I met an event or a business meeting, are willing to go out of their way and provide support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to Make a Career Transition? Start Planning a Few Steps Ahead!

As I have begun working on launching a social enterprise “Chef Koochooloo” in the Tech Ed/Food Innovation Space, (Yes, I know it is  VERY FAR stretch from Enterprise Software) I began consulting with other female entrepreneurs to see how the transition was for them. The conversations were so helpful that I decided to design the mini workshop:  “Managing Career Transitions” and invite one of my all time favorite managers from Yahoo! (and former entrepreneur) , Sarah Acton to come and provide mentorship to SAP’s Business Women Network.

Sarah is a highly creative and strategic senior marketing executive with over 17 years of experience at companies such as LinkedIn, Yahoo!, Coca-Cola, and The Home Depot, as well as a successful launch for a store. She is also someone who has successfully navigated transitions in her own career and always had a smile in her face, no matter how tough the day was. I was impressed by Sarah’s ability to keep a balanced life and manage two active boys.

Sarah’ support was incredible when I went through the first round of ‘ectopic pregnancies’.  I still remember the day she personally drove me to the hospital, and given her positive outlook on life, I could not be in better company as I held to the door handle with pain and hoped for the best . When I lost the baby, her flexibility in allowing me to work from home during recovery phase was touching.

Sarah’s talk was engaging and inspiring.  One of the young aspiring Marketers in the audience, Teresa Huang wrote a blog post about the event and we thought it would be good to share her post below with those who could not attend.

Sarah-Teresa

Here are the key takeaways from Sarah’s engaging talk:

Start thinking a few steps ahead.

Think about the “after” while you’re still in your current position. Where do you want your path to go, and how will you get there? Identifying your goals and assessing your current skill set will help you formulate an action plan. Acknowledge that there are areas where you may need help and begin networking strategically.

Know your story.

You’ve planned ahead, done your research, and now you’ve landed a job interview. Great! Be prepared to explain why you’ve decided to make this transition and what specific skills you can offer to the new position. Showing resiliency, creativity, and an ability to overcome challenges can also help to tell your story. Minimizing your perceived risk to the hiring manager is essential and can take you further in the interviewing process.

Keep in touch with your network on a regular basis.

Even when you’re not looking to make a career change, stay in touch with your professional and personal network. If contacts in your network reach out to you for advice, offer your help without expecting anything in return. You never know when you may need help in the future! If you do end up asking your network for help, be clear about your goals. Your contacts will best be able to help you when you’re specific about where you’re headed.

We also discussed some interesting questions, which I’ve highlighted below.

What are your thoughts on the role of higher education in career transitions? Is an MBA still necessary to obtain a role in upper management or becoming a successful entrepreneur? 

There isn’t one magic answer to this question. The value of an MBA (or other degree) depends on an individual’s target position. Do some research and look at individuals in your network that hold the job that you want, and see if they have MBAs. Talk to those contacts about their experiences, and this will help you decide if an MBA will be valuable in your own career path.

How do I make a career shift within my current company?

If it makes sense within your company’s culture, talk to your current manager about moving to a different job function and how s/he can help you reach that goal. The company has already invested in you, so it’s in their best interest to continue to retain you, even if it’s in a different department. If you’re not comfortable bringing up a career shift to your manager, find a colleague or a friend who has successfully made an internal job shift, and learn how they were able to achieve that.

Lastly, I will leave you with a few of Sarah’s tips to strengthen your LinkedIn profile when transitioning into a new field, or launching a company in a different space:

  • Be creative with your headline. The headline defaults to your current or most recent job title. This is your opportunity to tell others the bigger vision you have for yourself, so get creative! For example, “Passionate leader with proven track record of innovation.”
  • Customize your LinkedIn Profile URL. Go to Edit Profile > “Edit” (next to your current LinkedIn URL) > Customize your public profile URL.
  • Be actively engaged. Join a few groups and network with like-minded professionals. Follow influencers that you respect. Your profile shouldn’t be merely a description of your current and past jobs. Potential employers and networking contacts who view your profile will want to know who you are, not just what you do.

Thanks again to Sarah for an engaging and lively discussion!

What are your best tips for navigating career transitions successfully? If you are an entrepreneur as well, share with us if you would do anything different!