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Wanderful Media had the pleasure of welcoming guest speaker Mary Lou Song at our Los Gatos office last week.

Mary Lou is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, product strategist and community developer (and self-proclaimed “Start-Up Addict”).

Mary Lou started her entrepreneurial adventure after realizing the corporate PR scene wasn’t for her. She knew she needed a career shift that was more in line with her passions: Community, Shopping, and the Internet.

Fast forward to a beer-drinking Saturday night where she found herself talking to a nice fellow named ‘Jeff’ about his new start-up – a little online company called “eBay.” Jeff was looking for talent, and for Mary Lou it was a no brainer. She joined eBay as employee #3 and after heading product for 6 years, she left the company which had grown to a whopping 40 million users.

Her takeaway: “Do what you love.”

After leaving eBay in 2002, Mary Lou found a home as the Director of Community Development at Friendster. Unfortunately Friendster went under in a tragic blaze of glory due to all-too-familiar start-up pitfalls. Mary Lou’s eloquent explanation surrounding Friendster’s demise emphasizes the importance of team dynamics and communication.

Her takeaway: “Love who you work with.”

After experiencing eBay and Friendster (and a few other ventures along the way), Mary Lou found herself as CEO of her own startup: Fuel451 where she currently enjoys working alongside a team she loves, including her brother, COO and Co-founder Paxton Song.

It is at Fuel451, in the early days, that Mary Lou faced new challenges in fundraising and being responsible for her company finances and the jobs of her team.  She learned that courage and willingness to charge forward and keep your eye on the prize, buckle down and do whatever it takes to keep the company coals burning would prove critical to securing both her company’s future and the team she loves. And she was right.

It is during these early, fundraising days at Fuel451 that Mary Lou arrived at her third and final takeaway: “Be willing to walk on fire.”

Luckily, “when you work for a company you’re passionate about with people you love, walking on fire does not feel like a sacrifice.”