For the past 17 years, Linda Weston has devoted her life to helping entrepreneurs. She serves as the Executive Director of Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN), a non-profit that provides resources, mentoring, education, and support to startups. The organization also helps connect entrepreneurs with investors and access to capital.
Before OEN, Weston served as the General Manager of the professional women’s basketball team, Portland Power. She’s been honored by the Portland Business Journal as one of 25 Outstanding Women in Business, and the Northwest Women’s Journal as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the Northwest.
Meet our new Geek of the Week, and continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
What do you do, and why do you do it? “I connect entrepreneurs to resources that can help them along the path to success — it might be a mentor, an investor, or just someone to give them advice. I do it because I love seeing entrepreneurs be successful. Good things happen when companies grow and create jobs, and entrepreneurs realize their dreams.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Running a non-profit is a lot harder than it looks.”
Where do you find your inspiration? “I’m inspired by the entrepreneurs with whom I interact daily — they are so passionate about their ideas, their companies, their teams, and their goals — and by the hundreds of volunteers who help us get the job done at OEN. I learn something new every day, and that’s both stimulating and challenging. And, I’m inspired every day by my family.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “It seems pretty obvious, but my iPhone. I’m on the go constantly, and it keeps me connected.”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “We’re in a historic building in downtown Portland. It’s a great location for us because so many of the entrepreneurs with whom we interact are downtown as well. It’s got big, arched windows, so it’s full of light, and that may be the thing I like best about it. It’s dark and rainy a lot here in Portland.”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “Ha. I am not altogether successful at that, and would welcome suggestions. One thing for sure — you need to find time to ‘feed your soul’ with something outside of your job that interests you. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s travel, training for a marathon, learning to speak another language, or growing your own vegetables — just carve out time for it. And spend time with your family —family is the most important thing.”
Mac, Windows or Linux? “Windows.”
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Uhura.”
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Transporter — I could travel the world in a flash.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would: “Create a CRM that is efficient, inexpensive, and user-friendly.”
I once waited in line for: “I hate waiting in line, but have done it at the Nike employee store and for Salt ‘n’ Straw ice cream.”
Your role models: “This will sound very trite, but my parents. They didn’t have much, but they were kind and generous to everyone, and they had an outstanding work ethic. I hope I’m half as good at those things as they were.”
Greatest Game in History: “I’m definitely going a different direction here than what you’re asking, but two great games are the University of Oregon beating Florida State 59-20 in the 2015 Rose Bowl, and Wisconsin beating previously unbeaten Kentucky 71-64 in the 2015 Final Four. I seriously loved both of those. I’m far more interested in those kinds of games than electronic ones.”
Best Gadget Ever: “My Mophie.”
First Computer: “It was so long ago, I don’t recall. An early desktop.”
Current Phone: “iPhone 5, but about to upgrade to the 6.”
Favorite App: “ESPN SportsCenter.”
Favorite Cause: “I can’t pick just one. My favorite causes are funds to help cure cancer and Alzheimer’s, food and shelter for the homeless, and STEM education for girls, especially learning to write code. That has the potential to create a lot more entrepreneurs.”
Most important technology of 2015 “The advances in drones, and the terrific things they might be able to do, like search and rescue and monitoring forest fires.”
Most important technology of 2017: “I hope it’s 3-D printing of human organs — think what a game changer it would be if the thousands of people on waiting lists for a heart, kidney, or liver could be helped immediately with a 3-D printed organ. It could be the most important game changer ever.”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “Create something that really solves a problem, and about which you are passionate, not just because you think it will make you a lot of money.”