A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

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Frickin' laser beams! (First experience with laser hair removal)

I had been waxing my legs for a couple of years, but I have a few problems with waxing. The main problems are:

1) Waxing is painful.
2) Waxing is expensive.
3) Waxing takes a lot of time (about 45 minutes per treatment.)
4) I was left with sticky wax on my legs and some irritation after waxing.

At $55 per waxing treatment, 4-6 times per year, for the rest of my life, waxing wasn’t a pleasant alternative. Neither, however, was shaving. Shaving was also time-consuming and, worse, was causing irritation and ingrown hairs — to the point that I couldn’t shave very often. Plus, shaving is just annoying. I also have a “treasure trail” of hair on my stomach below my belly button that I’ve always hated, and neither shaving nor waxing ever got rid of that to my satisfaction.

There was a small forest growing on my legs, so I needed to do something in order to feel comfortable wearing shorts. The answer came when I found out my chiropractor’s wife, Kathy, does hair removal treatments. Since my chiropractor (his name is Todd Bragg, and if you’re in or around San Jose, look him up) is awesome and I trust him, I decided to give the laser hair removal a shot.

My first appointment with Kathy was last week. She explained that I needed to shave before doing a laser hair removal treatment and did a couple of “test spots” on my stomach. I was surprised by how little it hurt. The laser hair removal practitioners usually describe it as a flash of white light followed by a zap/sting that’s approximately equivalent to being flipped with a rubber band. I wasn’t bothered by it much at all, however. It mostly felt hot.

Treatments are done approximately every 6 weeks since hair grows in cycles. Each treatment for legs+stomach runs $204 if I pay in cash or $215 to pay by credit card. Kathy said that it would take approximately 6-10 treatments to be completely done, but once the treatments are done, you don’t have to shave or wax for at least 20 years (during mid-life most people have a second hair growth phase which will require a few more treatments to completely laser away.) While $1200+ may sound expensive, consider that I was spending $55 per leg wax treatment at least 4 times per year. It doesn’t take very long to make that back up. Furthermore, it’s not the money I’m most concerned about, but my time. Life is short and I don’t want to deal with waxing, shaving, and ingrown hairs. One of my goals in life is to focus my time carefully so that I never spend time doing things I don’t want to do (more on that in a later blog entry.) Suffice it to say that the time and money saved by doing laser hair removal now will pay out many times over in my life.

Since the test treatment went so well, I decided to get both of my legs done (I’m doing the bottom half of each leg only) as well as my “treasure trail.” My first treatment was today and overall, it went really well! It took about an hour start to finish, with 40 minutes of actual treatment. Basically, the practitioner puts a small device over the area that is getting hair removed. The device does about 1″x2.5″ every time. You see a light flash (she asks you to keep your eyes closed) and then feel a heat flash. I noticed that my left leg tended to feel more “sharp” tingles and my right leg seemed to feel more “burn” sorts of feelings. Either way, it’s relatively painless and not nearly at the level of waxing. The most sensitive area was the back of my knees, which felt like someone jabbed me pretty hard with a fingernail. (I have lots of experience with this since I have two cats with claws. Cat scratches are way more painful than anything I experienced today.) Most of the time my legs just felt hot for a few seconds, and that was it.

I tuned out of most of it, put some chill music on my iPod, and listened to my own breathing, and by the end of the treatment I was mostly asleep and relaxed. The key for me was listening to my breathing…that way I didn’t anticipate anything and force my legs into a reflexive recoil. I had to really mentally focus for a while to get my thoughts onto my breathing and not onto “I wonder if this next one will be painful?” I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t very painful. Listening to my breathing and keeping my thoughts on the breathing and the beat of the music enabled me to completely tune out of what was going on.

My next appointment is in 6 weeks. I meant to take a picture of my legs today so I could showcase this on Flickr, but I forgot. Hopefully I’ll remember to take one next time so I can further track my progress. I should be able to see a noticeable difference even 6 weeks from now. We’ll see! 🙂

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Off to Burning Man!

I’m just about to head out and pick up the RV so my friend Erik and I can head off to Burning Man. This will be my second year, and we’re heading out in style in a 25′ (rented) RV.

I will be without Internet access, email, or phone coverage until September 4. For those of you attending Burning Man, I will be at the Bioluminati camp at Wheel of Fortune/Brave@6:30 (right behind Camp Arctica.)

I should arrive at the camp very late tonight (probably between 2-3AM.) I still have a ton of stuff to do before I go… ugh! (You can never be too prepared for a week in the desert with no supplies other than those you and your camp members bring!)

I will post pictures when I get back!

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Yes, it's a meme, but it's a COOL meme!

Okay, I usually am not a big fan of blogging about the “OMG Google yourself and see what you find” memes. But this one is really fun. This was passed on to me by a hosting customer of mine, but I haven’t seen it make its way around the /. journal circle yet, so here we go.

The meme: Google the phrase “(Your name) looks like” and find the best one from the first page of results. Don’t forget to put it in quotes; otherwise it won’t work.

I went for it, Googled “Erica looks like” and got a hilarious page of results, but by far my favorite one was Erica Looks Like A Lion. (Yes! Click it! It’s a Flickr photo!) Now I do not know this Erica, but I can appreciate the inherent lioness in this Erica, as I feel I too have an inherent lioness. 😀

My other favorite link, since we’re sharing, is Would the real Erica please stand up?, which is a blog entry about the trials and tribulations of being an Erica Vonderheid and meeting another Erica Vonderheid. I totally get what this Erica is saying, too, because I know if I met another Erica Douglass, well, that would just be freaky.

What can you guys find when you Google this phrase? Post away! I hope to see this make the /. journal rounds. 😉

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Join me at the Women 2.0 conference!

I’ve made an effort to meet more women lately, and I’ve definitely succeeded. One thing I can definitely appreciate is the need for more women-oriented conferences and breakout sessions. Too often, women are discouraged from becoming techies because they don’t think they have as many skills as the guys — when, in reality, it’s often that men tend to boast and brag and women are socialized to be more modest about their achievements.

I’m in support of events like the Women 2.0 conference because it is important for women, especially younger women, to meet and get to know women who have become successful. If you are a woman entrepreneur or woman techie in the Bay Area, I encourage you to attend. If you know of a woman who would benefit from being a part of this, please forward this blog entry or their website on to her.


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Next week: Ventures into the unknown…

A week from today, I’m off to New York City!

I haven’t been on a vacation in a few months, and the past couple of weeks have really underscored a need for me to take some time off and think about things. Plus, I had 50,000 frequent flyer miles that were just begging to be used. Last week I was thinking about it and I decided to burn the FF miles and head off to NYC. So I’m out — from the 16th to the 20th.

I’m both really excited and really nervous. I’m excited because I’ve never been to NYC and I can’t wait to meet some of my Internet friends in person! I’m nervous because this will be my first vacation longer than 24 hours where I’m completely on my own. Previously, I’ve always traveled with other people or met up with other people once I got to my destination. Even though I have plans to meet with people there this time as well, most of the time I’ll be on my own, without a tour guide or anyone to show me around. (I plan to buy a travel guide and mark off several places I want to go; hopefully I’ll get to all of them while I’m there.) Part of me wishes I had someone to share this trip with, and part of me says “Hey, it’ll be fun to not have anyone else around, because you can do absolutely anything you want.

I think that second part is what frightens me; despite my tough “master planner” exterior, I’m perfectly content to let someone else have the reins for a while, as long as I get to do what I want somewhere in the plan. “Vacation”, for me, has always been defined as letting someone else make the choices. Since my entire life is filled with me constantly making choices for myself and other people, it’s nice to be able to relax and let someone else think about stuff for a while. I am mentally preparing for the fact that this vacation won’t be like that, and in some respects it makes me a bit sad. I seriously wish I had a significant other whom I could trust to go with me and make decisions for me while I sat back and relaxed and did whatever we both decided would be fun. On the other hand, I will use my ridiculously-well-honed planning skills to make sure I have a fun vacation without trying to plan things out while I’m there.

Overall, I’m optimistic about the trip. I hope this will give me the courage to continue going places on my own and to not have to wait until someone else thinks it’s a good idea to go. Also, I think most of my friends think it’s weird that I’ve never been to NYC. Now I can finally tell them to hush. 😉

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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