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Laurel Touby on How to Run a Startup
Question: What advice would you give to other people running startups?
Laurel Touby: Well, I think having a really good lawyer is the first step. You need an excellent corporate lawyer who really understands the problems of small companies but also understands big company practices and that’s- so that’s worth every dollar you can pay, and some lawyers are entrepreneurial. They will agree to be paid in stock in the beginning in order to work with a really exciting, fast-growing company, and my lawyer did that. So I would say having a really good lawyer in place but then having contracts in place. When you hire a person for a project, even if you’re just paying them in stock make sure that you have a contract with that person and that you follow through with them and you actually make sure that they’re- that the project is being done as you wanted it to be done. Don’t just make it this wide, very open-ended project.
Question: How did you find a good lawyer?
Laurel Touby: I always hire professional services people through referrals so it’s always important to talk to other small business owners and people will give you referrals to excellent professionals such as accountants and lawyers and IP- intellectual property lawyers. You’re going to need different types for different things. And so this lawyer came through a referral. I would never use anybody who I didn’t get at least one or two excellent comments from clients that they had worked with.
Question: How did you initially advertise mediabistro?
Laurel Touby: Everything we’ve done has been word of mouth so it’s- a lot of people spend a lot of money when they get it. I got funding and a lot of CEOs I know spent that money on marketing. I believed that the customer really should lead the company, not the other way around, so I’ve always felt that if the customer really loves your product or service they’re going to spread the word for you. And so I probably took a little longer to get- to really get momentum than many companies do because of that, but my company- my type of company is hard to replicate. The barriers to entry are pretty high. You have to really have the goodwill and the love and the relationships in order for that company to thrive so that’s what’s kept us going for ten long years or more actually.
Question: How do you keep the buzz going?
Laurel Touby: Most of these companies pop up and they disappear. They’re like mushrooms in the forest. Right? How do you stay and how do you become a redwood instead of a mushroom is really the question, and I would say that getting the love of those customers and working on the relationships of the customers even if that means a slower startup is much better in the long run and you last longer and that’s what we’ve done. The way we spread the word through- is through the cocktail parties. We’ve had a lot of offline events as well as our online features and products and services so it’s important to have an off-line component when you have an online company. I can’t emphasize that enough. A lot of people think oh, I’m going to start up on the web and it’s so low cost and so easy. There’s no barrier to entry so I’m just going to put up a web site and spend a lot of money on marketing and get traffic and then sell banner ads but that’s not really the best way necessarily. I believe that the other way to do it is to go a little slower, to have offline events, offline meetings with your customers, find out deeply, do market research. What do they really want? What will they pay for? What-- How can you change their lives? And then you provide those services online. Great. So you’ve got the offline component and the online constantly feeding each other, constantly marketing each other, because every time we put an online thing up, a new product or service, we then market it through our e-mail and newsletters to people who want to come to our cocktail parties and offline events so it works together.
Question: How did you convince your investors that hosting offline events was important?
Laurel Touby: It’s a good question. Investors don’t always believe every single aspect of your business plan is what is necessary. They always think they know best but my investors were too busy and they were frankly really busy so they didn’t bug me a lot about the exact hows and wheres and whens of my marketing plan. They just said, “As long as you’re growing and as long as you can show growth in your revenue streams, we’ll leave you alone and let you do it the way you want to do it,” and I was a little afraid frankly when I got bought by Jupiter media that they were going to try to throw out all the wonderful practices that we started with but they haven’t. So I think we’ve been lucky in both our investors and in the people who bought us that they- they are visionaries as well.
Recorded on: 06/26/2008
Laurel Touby shares her advice on intelligent startup operations.
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Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".