So What if My Role Model is a Pot Dealer: Entrepreneurial Lessons from “Weeds”

Mary-Louise Parker looking sexy and smart

Mary-Louise Parker looking sexy and smart

I’ve made no secret of my certain affection for a fictitious middle-aged widow who supports her extended family weekly on Showtime at 10 PM.

There’s something about the way Mary-Louise Parker saunters as she effectively multi-tasks – Running her underground business while trying to meet the needs of her brood, inevitably falling from grace episode after episode, only to stay afloat and do a public service (Juggling hats again!) by supplying every inch of the food train with much-needed “happy” relief in the form of marijuana.

I’m not advocating drug use here. I’m quite anti-pleasure derived from most substances. The exceptions being chocolate or ice cream. It’s just Nancy Botwin (or Mary-Louise Parker’s character on Weeds) is such a prime example of a social antipreneur.

She has her principles and stands by them – She won’t deal in elicit drugs like crack or cocaine, traded her SUV for a Prius in a way that even Al Gore might have to slap her on the rear for just out of sheer adulation, and she puts her family first before her work.

But Botwin isn’t just about the labels that go with her personal brand of soma. She’s an unsung feminist in the form of a single mother that’s had to act out of necessity to support her family. Sure, she might have chosen a less glamorous and perhaps more legal professions to dabble in, but having been a housewife for a number of years whose kids were accustomed to a certain middle-to-upper class lifestyle, mostly provided for by her dead husband, Parker’s character had to pick up the pieces.

So she went with a job that could make her a ton of bank, lend itself to the hours she could afford while raising two sons, and allow her to use her feminine wiles to get her out of potentially hairy situations, if needed.

And from what I hear a little flirting in the workplace has never hurt productivity.

But there’s more to being a successful entrepreneur and owning your own company than just being a MILF. Parker’s mentors in the biz have paved the way for her to learn and grow (no pun intended). She spent much of the 1st and 2nd seasons honing her craft and business sense from a family-run pot business that took her in and showed her the ropes.

Through trial and error and some tough love, Parker’s character emerged as a shining heroine and somewhat to root for in all her flawed splendor.

She’s had her share of failures including a bake shop (a front for money laundering) that burned down (strike 1), then taking a front-and-center role in burning down her entire community and house (strike 2), and somewhere in the middle getting her DEA ex killed (not really a strike 3).

Through it all Botwin has reinvented herself and managed to adapt to the changes in her business, meandering in and out of leadership roles ranging from entrepreneur to intrapreneur, all the while seeking independence and authority in a industry plagued by certain dudes at the top of the ladder. She’s also managed to stay super cool and nice, but firm and assertive when the situation warrants it.

In just this week’s episode Parker decided it was high time for her to get a cut of the action and start selling again to her patrons. She didn’t want to be the middleman/woman. When she didn’t get the go-ahead from her direct superior, she went to the top and wasn’t afraid to take a couple of bruises to get what she wanted or temporarily damage her friendship with her boss.

“It’s just business,” Botwin told him.

Spoken like a true lady. And a businesswoman.


D-List Actor Gary Busey = Entrepreneur?

gary buseyThat’s right folks. Actor Gary Busey, whose last decent film happened sometime way back in the early 80s, and whose most recent credits include drunken rampages on the set of Inside Edition, has his very own series of video shorts (courtesy of GotVMail , a company which provides virtual phone service, and must subscribe to the Geico School of car insurance advertising aka take the most random celebrity-of-the-day, preferably a D-List one who hasn’t done any solid work for at least a decade, and create a series of promos around him/her.)

GotVMail heeds us, almost daringly, to “Go inside the entrepreneurial mind of Gary Busey,” but the ramblings of Busey’s inner most thoughts as witnessed on many of these videos feel more like the output/regurgitation of a 5-year-old suffering from ADHD trying to tell mommy and daddy exactly what he/she did in school that day in between back-to-back episodes of iCarly.

Case in point:

  1. Gary Busey has a hobby. He likes to create “Busey-isms.” Here’s two examples of a Busey-ism. Now=No Other Way, Team=Together Everyone Achieves More. You too can craft your own vernacular, according to GB. Just take your last name and make it an “ism.” Extra credit to those who last name starts with “Cynic,” or “Bullshit.” By the way I think I just created my very first Busey-ism. Is WTF already taken?
  2. Remember the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why)? Gary Busey wants you to think outside the box and turn your favorite interrogatives into…Interrogatives? No, we’re not kidding. This particular video had to be the brainchild of at least 4 hours of direct inhalation. Pott-o-meter says: 8. In case you missed it, POTT=Potentially Over The Top
  3. Buy low, sell high. Damn, even the kids at the lemonade stand down the street know that one.
  4. Never ask your family for money because you have to pay them back. Just lean on the bank or get Wesley Snipes’ accountant. If all else fails, hit the kids up from the lemonade stand. You know the ones who’ve been standing in sweltering heat all day just to make a .10 profit?
  5. Busey does a phat WC Fields’ impression and coincidentally doesn’t like lame I’m too sick to go to school/work excuses especially ones that start with, “I got salmonella thrown right square in the face.” 

While Busey is no business brainiac, his Yogi Berra, dumbed-down approach to business might be an asset to GotVMail’s marketing strategy in terms of visibiiity of their brand in the marketplace. However with soaring rates for plans starting at $10/mo for 50 minutes of VOIP, GotVMail will need more than Busey’s bravado and clever topspin to remain competitive with companies like AOL and Cisco.

Akin to Quizno’s infamous gerbil fiasco commercial ploy a few years ago, whether you’re aligning your company brand with gerbils or rats, either way, you’re bound to build buzz, but that only lasts for so long before you’re consumers start to look elsewhere.


    Pluggin’ A New Site That Brings Adults & Kids Together

    Think Goofus and Gallant are enough to teach today’s kids the stuff that they need to make it in the real world? You’re wrong. These days it’s all about differentiation and having the proper toolkit in place to build your brain from the ground up.

    So whether you’re a parent, educator, or kid looking to understand Math & Science in terms that actually mean something to the average individual who is not mathematically endowed (guilty!), A Write to Learn is an innovative and dare I say, fun approach to learning for kids and adults of all ages.

    The brainchild of Barbara Gottfried Hollander, a former Book Reviewer for The Jerusalem Post and Columnist for The New Jersey Jewish News, the destination site for educational consulting features creative exercises geared to teaching kids practical and relevant applications, such as how to wrap your head around Chinese currency in time for the upcoming Olympics, and even lends itself to curriculum developers looking for a little inspiration for their courses. A Write to Learn aims to involve teachers and kids (how novel, right?), by showcasing the writing talents of young adults and looking to involve them in making a difference for the future.

    Maybe I woke up on the less cynical side of the bed today, but Hollander’s world is one that makes me think that there might just be a brighter future in store.


    Sites, like People, Are Meant to Grow Up

    Building a site with your partner can teach you many wonderful things

    Building a site with your partner can teach you many useful things about yourself

    These days it’s hip to engage in a little couples blogging, start businesses with your spouse and/or partner, and even employ the internet as your #1 weapon when things head South between you and your attention-starved loved one. But how does the average person go about starting a site with their significant other and make it work without potentially encroaching in shark-infested choppy waters?

    My husband and I started a site last year. From the get-go, our site was something incredibly personal. Even its name, Amaldo, took on more human-scale proportions. This form was inextricably linked to our first loves- for me, writing and for him, design.

    In the beginning, we worked side-by-side like mad scientists pouring all of our energy into video shorts and blogging endeavors. Over time, with the advent of busy careers, our baby (Amaldo), got sidelined in the pursuit of career tracks and weekend trips to Ikea leaving us little energy or desire to promote our site, recruit talent, and update what demanded updating on a fairly regular, if not daily, basis. Read the rest of this entry »


    Fast Company Does Blogging Good

    Apologies for being an infrequent poster/MIA in the past week or so. With planning for once-in-a-lifetime events, my time has been both scattered and scarce. I cross-posted my last post (“Staying Motivated“) on Fast Company and have been enjoying the work of other member blogs on the site.

    I think Fast Company is a prime example of a site that integrates user-generated member blogs that are effective in surfacing stellar, thought-leader-quality content which just so happens to be wildly entertaining.

    A recent post by work-life “expert” Tom Stern had me in stiches. While member blogs don’t necessarily fall under the realm of “expert,” the fact that Fast Company strategically positions their blogs to appear in the same format and pushed to the top of the queue alongside their experts and resident in-house bloggers makes for a certain distinguished prominence on the site’s landing page.

    The bottom line being: What do I care if Tom Sterns is an “expert” or a “member”? When I first read his stuff, I thought he was a regular Jo Schmo, non-expert plebe like myself. If it’s good content, the content will speak for itself and by process of natural selection get pushed to the top of the page. FC’s system works to everyone’s advantage. It’s egalatarian, socially-conscious, and people with great ideas get to participate in the dialogue for free! Read the rest of this entry »


    Keeping Motivated

    Working from home isn’t always as ideal as people would like to think. At the end of the day, you have a job to do just like your friends who work in an office, only you have the added obstacle of every possible distraction to keep you from getting anything done.

    It’s self-defeating really. You try and prevent yourself from spending all day looking at random shit online, figdeting with productivity tools till you’re practically joining a MySpace group of anarchists, and just when you think you’re about to do something remotely productive, you turn your head to planning dinner – tuna orzo salad (hot, not chilled).

    I’ve been asking myself in the past few days why I can’t seem to stay motivated. It’s a recent affliction and one that I’m having trouble shaking. As a writer, I’m accustomed to the natural ebbing and flowing of the writing process and I’ve learned to adapt to my flow, which isn’t always aligned to Zen philosophy.

    In other words, I don’t wait for sheer creative euphoria to hit. I’m too impatient. Besides, I can’t afford to just sit around and ponder things. I have deadlines, not awakenings. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I don’t produce good content on a fairly regular basis, I might have way too much time for meditation which contrary to the vapid rantings of celebrities kinda rates up there with Madonna’s brand of Kabbalah in terms of usefulness for me.

    So how does the average person working from home in a profession that requires solo work keep on track? Apart from the occasional assistance of chemical stimuli such as caffeine? Or the pick-me-up from the quantity of sugar found in 10 Skittles? I’ve found there are actual proven tricks I can play on my brain to will me into working and convince myself that it can be fun. Keep in mind these are all very frugal solutions.

    Read about these mind/time-savers after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »


    Productivity is Over-Rated

    Bento Box of Goodies

    Bento Box of Goodies

    My husband and I spent the afternoon of July 4th at the mall. It’s a funny thought because neither my husband and I are much of mall people. And to boot, how patriotic is it to spend Independence Day inside of a mall, even if most would argue that America is a progressive mall culture? (an oxymoron, I know)

    If we picked straws, I’d venture to say my husband was more into shopping than I. He’s addicted to eBay and loves to sell on the site – it consumes him in much the same way Americans are driven like flocks of sheep to the mall on a rainy day.

    “The idea of possessing something new and shiny is exciting, even intoxicating,” I always think to myself. It’s just the having to pay the credit card statement after the purchase that often makes this rush short-lived. I’d say the come down period/crash-and-and burn of the rush occurs much faster and more dramatically in my biological make-up (faulty synaptic gaps?), than in your average consumer. I know my husband would attest to this.

    In case you’re wondering, I don’t like shopping and when I do it, there must be some sale or bargain involved or else I just can’t rationalize a purchase.

    I had my reasons for wanting to check out the Natick Collection (it’s not just a “mall” after all, it’s an “experience” and in a former bourgeois existence known to the masses simply as “Natick Mall”). Its architecture is unlike most of the strip malls along Route 9 in Framingham and one that might befit a more exotic setting, like Gehry’s Guggenheim in Bilboa.

    But there it is, stuck in the middle of a busy shopping area, heeding the promise of luxury, AC, and more objects than you could ever deem yourself worthy of touching. My husband and I naturally gravitated towards the Apple store. It was like a friendly face among a sea of brands all looking a lot like Banana Republic, but with loftier price tags, and dark, dimly lit storefronts. Read the rest of this entry »