Saturday, September 23, 2006

On this day 200 years ago, the Lewis & Clark expedition returned to
St. Louis and civilization after over 3 years in the wild West. Two
day previous they had arrived in St. Charles. This was in the St. Charles
newspaper yesterday:

Lewis and Clark return to St. Charles
By Valerie Schremp Hahn


This case of deja vu reached back 200 years.

Just as the residents of St. Charles did 200 years ago, hundreds of people gathered on the city's Missouri River bank on Thursday afternoon to greet members of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Expedition, back from their journey west.

Just as the crew did back then, they greeted the people with booming cannons. And just as they did back then, they landed their canoes and pirogue at the southern end of the city - a spot now known as Bishop's Landing, outside the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center.Advertisement
There were differences, of course. Back then, many of the people of St. Charles had given up Lewis and Clark and the crew for dead. On Thursday, plenty knew full well of the arrival. As the boats rounded the river bend and emerged under the Blanchette Bridge, spectators stood on their toes and lifted their digital cameras in a modern-day salute.

"Can you imagine, going out west and not knowing where the river runs?" said Genie Colonna of Florissant.

The expedition crew is made up of more than 200 people, and they take turns traveling on the boat, talking to the public and providing ground support. A few have made the entire trip or most of it; many joined when they could for a few weeks or months.

After watching the crew perform a brief ceremony onshore, the crowd followed behind them through the underbrush for a more formal welcome outside the boathouse.

"It's always a good day in St. Charles. Today is a great day," said St. Charles Mayor Patti York, wearing a period dress and hat topped with fluffy green feathers. "Welcome home, gentlemen. Welcome home."

Crew members mingled with the crowd after the ceremony.

Gary Ulrich, 66, of Affton, traveled nearly the entire journey. He'll remember its extremes: traveling through Montana in mid-May in 4 inches of snow, and slapping at mosquitoes so thick "we could hardly breathe without inhaling them." Lewis and Clark endured the same things.

After the crew's arrival in St. Charles in September 1806, the residents wined and dined them at their homes. And this crew would get similar treatment, this time at a catered dinner Thursday night at the boathouse.

They will make formal arrivals at Fort Belle Fontaine Park in north St. Louis County today and at the St. Louis riverfront on Saturday.

"Then, they'll have to say goodbye," observed Colonna, the woman from Florissant. "And so we'll start the tricentennial." 636-255-7211


Erik Hansen, Tom Peters’ Brand Manager, (recently gave a talk to a group of public speakers and he) had lots of fantastic ideas that he shared with the group. Here is my list of his top tips.

Business Basics and Branding
1. People Love Lists – Use numbered lists as a way of sharing ideas. That’s why I am creating his tips as a list.

2. “Screw Around Vigorously” (SAV) – Have a bias for action and “just do stuff.”

3. Use Rapid Prototyping – Rather than analyze everything to death, take action and learn from your failures. Fail often and fail quickly.

4. Building the Brand Creates the Brand – He quoted John Moore, author of Tribal Knowledge, “Contrary to what you may have heard or thought, Starbucks never sought to create a brand. Instead, the company passionately sought to create appreciation for a better tasting cup of coffee.”

5. Your Brand is “What People Say It Is” – Someone from the audience asked Erik to define a brand in 5 words. The brand is not your logo or marketing materials. It is what the public says it is.

6. Brand You, Not Your Business – There was much discussion on what was more important to brand – you or your business. In the case of speakers, Erik felt that since you are the product, you are the brand. Based on this recommendation, I am going to rework all of my websites (,, and others) into a website. Goal-Free Living, 24/7 Innovation, and my other work are just projects. I am working on an umbrella theme, such as, “Steve Shapiro, the Guy Who Helps You Get Out of Your Own Way.” Or something like that.

7. When Branding You, Find a Common Anchor – Erik talked about how the “!” on Tom Peters’ materials has become his icon that everyone remembers. This did not create the brand, but rather reflected the brand. Find a similar mark and use it on all of your websites, books, presentations, etc.

8. It’s All About Connections and Conversations – Your brand is the conversation that people are having about you and your products/services. And the more you can stimulate these conversation on the internet, the more buzz that gets created.

Content, Conversations, and Connections
9. Blog – Erik said that the five most important steps are, “1) Do good work and lots of it, 2) Blog, 3) Blog, 4) Blog, and 5) Blog” Do you think he likes blogging? He believes this is a great way of generating buzz, links and connections.

10. You Can’t Write Too Much – Tom Peters is known for writing volumes of content on his blog. To date, he has roughly 400,000 words. Given that the average book is 50,000 words, his blog contains as much content as 8 books.

11. Give People a Reason to Visit Your Website – If you don’t have compelling content, no one will visit. And no one will link to your site.

12. Promote Other People – On Tom’s website, he has his “Cool Friends.” This promotes other people in addition to Tom. Of course if you include content other than your own, this gives people more reasons to visit your site. And it gives more people reasons to link to your site. In fact, I am one of Tom Peters’ “Cool Friends.” Here’s the link.

13. Use Guest Bloggers – If you write a blog, get others to also write blog entries. This serves multiple purposes. It creates more content and more reasons for people to visit and to link. And, if you are like most people, you will want to take vacations from your blogging. If people see your blog is not updated regularly, they will stop coming back. Guest bloggers can create content when you don’t want to.

14. Share Everything – Instead of hording your intellectual property, give it away. This attracts more people, more buzz, and convinces buyers that you really know your stuff.

15. Place Comments on Other Blogs – Search for other blogs that might have similar topics. If you write about leadership, search for leadership. Comment on blog entries on other sites and include links back to your site. HINT: Leave comments on my blog; it’s a start.

16. Seek Out People With Similar Interests – Did you read a book on a topic that is related to yours, or maybe just of interest? If so, call them and start a real conversation. These people may become advocates, business partners, or idea generators.

17. Use Link Websites and External Websites – Look into sites such as technorati,, and others that can help bring more links to your site. Also take advantage of YouTube, Flickr, and others places where you can post pictures and videos, with links back to your site.

Other Ideas
18. Google Search Yourself – Go into Google and search for yourself every week. This gives you an idea of what others are saying. It also helps you determine if your marketing efforts are working.

19. People Love Cards – Tom created a number of “flash cards” that he sells and uses in his workshops. One set of cards were designed by IDEO.

20. Try New Things – Go for things you don’t normally go for. Read magazines you don’t normally read. These will give you new and different insights/perspectives.

21. “Aspire to be The Dumbest Person in the Room” – Quoted from Cool Friend Sally Hogshead’s book Radical Careering. Surround yourself with bright people. And, always look for the nuggets in what everyone is saying. There is gold everywhere.

22. Be Controversial – Tom’s book, Re-Imagine, gets 5 star ratings and 1 star ratings. Not much in the middle (personally, I love it). If you try to please everyone, you will please no one. In your speeches, say something provocative as a way of engaging the audience.

23. Minimize Friction – Make it easy as possible for people to get to you and your content.

24. Be Real - Before posting, I asked Erik to review the list. There were 23 tips on the list I sent him. So I suggested that if there were two more tips, it would round to 25. He wrote back, ” I like 23. 23 is a real number, unlike 25, which is a number that everyone would use. If I see that someone has 25 tips, I know that they worked it to come out to 25, meaning that there are some repetitive ideas in there. Whereas 23 is 23. You don’t try to come up with 23 tips. It just so happens that you extracted 23 tips from what I said. Therefore 23 is a lot more real than 25. So, I’d prefer to stay with 23.” And with that last tip, we have 24. Another real number.

Thanks Erik!

Stephen M. Shapiro, Author of
Goal Free Living-- How to Have the Life You Want Now!


A couple of more responses to my question, should I keep doing this blog?

Hi John,

I wanted to reply about your question regarding the blog. I have been
businer than usual lately as I have taken on some new responsibilites. I am
representing a marketing agency that helps small businesses. (small meaning
1 mil minimum annual revenue) I have been interested in the field for years
and studied it in college, but was handed an opportunity in printing and
stayed comfortable in that for many years.

Anyway, explainging why I have not been able to read all of your blogs,
although I did take time to read a couple. I think they are very
interesting, and I think you should continue with them.

Of course, one very large benefit of blogging is the fact that search engine
spiders pick up very easily on keywords you might place in the blog. They
are frequantly on the first page of google if you use unique key words.

It also is obviously a creative outlet, and that is a good thing in many
ways. As opposed to painting (which I have nothing against since I am an
artist) there can be a financial reward to blogging. (You may sell
paintings, but I am not so lucky) With blogging, not only can people find
you through searching, but also it may just help you think of new ideas that
otherwise you would not have developed.

As far as comments, I think if there were some dialoge started it would
domino, I am not sure how to get that rolling though. I will ask around.

I say stick with it!

Tom Huxley

I think we all have information overload. I generally look at very specific industry sites or specific topic sites. Not enough time to do and read everything. Ben Trujillo 303-995-7500

So I'm going to make a decision about what to do tomorrow. My thought now is that I'm going to keep posting the way I have been to keep the "raw date" in front of everyone, including me, and then once a week write a summary that I mail out, possibly with some humor. We'll see.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Insurance Horror Stories
New York Times
September 22, 2006

“When Steve and Leslie Shaeffer’s daughter, Selah, was diagnosed at age 4 with a potentially fatal tumor in her jaw, they figured their health insurance would cover the bulk of her treatment costs.” But “shortly after Selah’s medical bills hit $20,000, Blue Cross stopped covering them and eventually canceled her coverage retroactively.”

So begins a recent report in The Los Angeles Times titled “Sick but Insured? Think Again,” which offers a series of similar horror stories, and suggests that these stories represent a growing trend: more and more health insurers are finding ways to yank your insurance when you get sick.

This trend helps explain something that has been puzzling me: why is the health insurance industry growing rapidly, even as it covers fewer Americans?

Between 2000 and 2005, the number of Americans with private health insurance coverage fell by 1 percent. But over the same period, employment at health insurance companies rose a remarkable 32 percent. What are all those extra employees doing?

Now we know at least part of the answer: they’re working harder than ever at identifying people who really need medical care, and ensuring that they don’t get it. In the past, they mainly concentrated on screening out applicants likely to get sick. Now, it seems, they’re also devoting a lot of effort to finding pretexts for revoking insurance after they’ve already granted it. They typically do this by claiming that they weren’t notified about some pre-existing condition, even if the insured wasn’t aware of that condition when he or she bought the policy.

Welcome to the ugly world of American health care economics.

Health care is poised to become America’s largest industry. Employment in manufacturing, which once dominated the economy, has fallen 18 percent since 2000, to 14.2 million. Meanwhile, employment in the private health services industry has risen 16 percent, to 12.6 million. Another 1.3 million people are employed at government hospitals. So we’re quickly approaching the point at which more Americans will be employed delivering health care than are employed producing manufactured goods.

Yet even as health care becomes the core of the American economy, our system of paying for health care remains sick, and is getting sicker.

Because everyone faces some risk of incurring huge medical costs, only the superrich can afford to be without health insurance. Yet private insurers try to refuse coverage to those most likely to need it, and deny payment whenever they can get away with it.

The point isn’t that they’re evil or greedy (although you do wonder how the people who cut off the Schaeffers can look themselves in the mirror). The fact is that cruelty and injustice are the inevitable result of the current rules of the game. Blue Shield of California is a nonprofit insurance provider, yet as a spokesman put it, if his organization doesn’t follow the for-profit practice of selectively covering only the healthiest people, “we will end up with all the high-risk people.”

Now, before you panic about the state of your own coverage, you should know that the horror stories in The Los Angeles Times article all involve individual insurance; if your coverage comes via your employer, you’re reasonably secure against sudden cancellation.

But employment-based insurance is in rapid decline, as employers balk at the cost and more and more companies adopt Wal-Mart-style minimal-benefit policies. That’s why many people are turning to individual insurance — only to find out, in some cases, that they didn’t get what they thought they paid for.

And here’s the thing: it’s all unnecessary.

Every other wealthy nation manages to provide almost all its citizens with guaranteed health insurance, while spending less on health care than we do. And there’s no mystery why: we’re paying the price for pointless, destructive reliance on private insurers. Medicare, which is a universal health insurance program for older Americans, spends less than 2 cents of every dollar on administrative costs, leaving 98 cents to pay for medical care. By contrast, private insurance companies spend only around 80 cents of each dollar in premiums on medical care; much of the remaining 20 cents is spent denying insurance to those who need it.

If we had a universal system — Medicare for everyone — there would be no more horror stories like those reported by The Los Angeles Times. And we’d almost certainly spend less on health care than we do now.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

John S. Wren, M.B.A.

This is my web page, Link to John S. Wren, M.B.A.

Windows Live

 This is a test.

Link to Windows Live

Windows Live


Link to Windows Live

Yesterday I asked: Should I keep posting to this blog? Are you willing to help turn it into a dialog by posting your comments from time to time?

Thanks to everyone who sent me your comments. If you have any further thoughts today, please post them here as comments or email them to me at Again, I'll be glad to keep what you email me confidential or anonymous if you'll let me know that is what you want.

Saturday I plan on posting any further responses, and to write about my blogging experiement of the last two years and my decision about what to do here in the future.

Here are some of the responses from yesterday, a few others can be seen in the "Comments" at the bottom of yesterday's post.

John: I'm not in to blogging. I appreciate your efforts but it isn't my thing. David

Hi John,
I think you have a very worthwhile blog- certainly the first I've heard of mashups which was very fascinating..

I posted a comment to the David Brooks excerpt, however the only reason I was able to post was because I already have a blogspot account. It might be time consuming and less likely that site visitor's or folks on your e-mail list would set up either a blogspot or Google account in order log in to be able to comment. I would loosen the restrictions on comments and make them unmoderated (i.e. you don't have to approve them). You still can delete anything offensive or unfair (trolls or flamers) while making it easier for your list to dialogue with you.
Harv Bishop

Good morning,
I recieved your e-mail asking my opinion of your
e-journal. For me, it's too much info. My favorite
thing you have done is your weekly newsletter that
just lets people know where you will be and what you
will be doing. Its great to get an e-mail once a week
that lets me about the meetings in a short,
informative way. Its nice to know what you are doing
and where I can meet you if I have the time. The other
is to wordy. If an e-mail takes longer that 3 minutes
to read, or comes too frequently I tend to delete it.
I don't tend to search out blogs. Again, too much info
and too much time to use.
You are doing great work. Do not be weary in well
doing. What you do matters to a lot of people!
I love you! –Regan (my daughter)

My gut feeling is this (take it or leave it):

If you are blogging for others, then you are missing the opportunity for it to be a tool for your own personal advancement. You are SO SMART and have so much knowledge, and the rest of us should be very grateful that you share it with us. But the world is so busy and there are so much input for all directions, that it is often difficult to get to all the things that we should. Your few minutes every morning might be more productive for you if you were journaling for yourself with expectation of only your own comments and in pursuit of your own happiness... It isn't that people don't care about you and what you have to say, and it is not that what you say is a "waste of time." It is only that you are one voice among many.

It has been my opinion for several years now that with all of the "cyber" input, the best way to start a dialogue is face-to-face. That is why I enjoyed your Idea Cafe so much.

Mari Christie

While I may never read your postings or comment on them, I would encourage you to continue on in a fashion that time allows you.

I post a monthly Updates and Musings column to my web site. Don’t know if many read it, or if anyone does (actually, I know a few people do). (

My satisfaction comes from having a forum that is mine. I can speak my mind (to a point, this is after all my business site so I do refrain from getting too political or delving into social issues too much). It’s a place for me, and that I think is important.
John Grein
JAG Computer Service

I have not accessed your blog and probably would not at this time. The quality is quite good and I like your topics, but I have a lot of stuff to respond to online, especially since I am now teaching online for U of Phoenix.

Good luck with whatever decision you make. Your persistence is admirable.




I took a quick look your Blog. My candid answers to your querys:

Q: Should I keep posting to this blog?
A: Keep it if it brings you joy, or serves some other need / function for you. Don't quit or keep it because of what others say or do.

Q: Will you ever come back?
A: Probably not regularly, unless reminded by you in an emial, and only if it routinely helped my life in some way, and then only briefly.

Q: Will you ever comment on the posts so it turns into a dialog?
A: Probably not.

Q: Why or why not?
A: My time is very limited, and it is too time consuming to share my thoughts via keystroking, and I suspect that my entries would serve no purpose.

Sorry, I bet you wanted to hear something else.

You can post my comments on tomorrow's edition or not.

Talk to you soon.


If you aren’t getting the response you desire, then stop 


Keep it current...use infor pertinent to our American Freedoms.

Judy Williams, Liberty Day

John - I applaud your good work. Regrettably, I get so many e-mails every day (business related and non-spam, usually more than 40), I can hardly keep up with the crucial stuff. I rarely seem to have extra time for the interesting stuff that comes my way. I've only looked at your blog once and found it interesting. But, I just don't have time to peruse it on a more regular basis. Sorry. Christine Burtt

Hey, John,
I just don't do any blogs .... I don't have time to prioritize all the stuff I'd like to do, and blogs just didn't make it to the top of my list. I think they're a great idea, especially when surrounding something folks can be passionate about, but in general, I don't know how successful they are.

Whatever you do, I wish you the best of luck with your decision.

On a separate note, the RVC Fall Finance Forum is coming on November 14. I would love it if you could help us get the word out. Here's the link:


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Should I keep posting to this blog? Are you willing to help turn it into a dialog by posting your comments from time to time? I'm sharing a print out of today's entry with a couple of groups, and I've forwarded today's post to my email list. What do you think? Post your comments here online, or email me at Thanks!

On this day in 1878, Upton Sinclair, author of "The Jungle" and passionate crusader for social reform, was born. This is from his obituary in the New York Times:

"The English Queen Mary, who failed to hold the French port of Calais, said that when she died the word 'Calais' would be found written on her heart. I don't know whether anyone will care to examine my heart, but if they do they will find two words there--'Social Justice.' For that is what I have believed in and fought for."
Wherever Mr. Sinclair looked he saw corruption triumphant and virtue a dauntless but battered cause. "The vision of life that had come to me must be made known to the world, in order that men and women might be won from their stupid and wasteful ways of life," he thought. "Long ago my friend Mike Gold wrote me a letter, scolding me severely for what he called my 'Jesus complex'; I answered that the world needs a Jesus more than it needs anything else."

Forbes online discribes a hot business opportunity:

The Mashup Economy

Where (Google is) putting some of brainy Google's best minds, are the smallest things of all: virtual golf games, flight simulators and hotties in a security box.

Such Web candies are three among thousands of examples of "mashups," which blend software from multiple sources and recombine them on the fly to create novel entertainments and services. They will, (Google) figures, transform the business world, and help put Google everywhere... Yahoo! and Microsoft are moving the same way, and companies as diverse as Dell, Chevron and Marriott International are picking up on the trend.

The three search giants, plus Amazon , eBay and others, are all giving away code, offering up computing resources and begging hackers to build with them. Mashups are also moving fast into the corporate world thanks to alliances between the likes of Google and In the next year or two, executives say, there will be thousands more software products to chose from, built from mashups.

"We don't have the resources to build all these," says (Google’s) Schmidt. "We are critically dependent upon the creation of the developer community." The bigger he can make it, he says, the better off and unassailable he makes Google. It is, he says, "the No. 1 goal ... it creates so much good will, so much leverage, so much user traffic, so much benefit."

So much money. Most mashups cash in with Google's advertising engine on their sites, splitting the take with Google. If you have just one page, you don't make much, but some have many more. (Yahoo! has a similar service, called publisher's network, which is less broadly used.) Google also wants to grow the Internet as much as possible--the more interesting things there are, the more people will need Google to find them. And the better it understands what users are doing with a mashup--something that only the owners of the original data see best--the better its search results.

The term "mashup" comes from music, when two or more songs are mixed together to build a new sound. In software, they arise when someone develops a company's online maps, calendars, photos, search engines and other products, usually through relatively small amounts of code that is posted on the Internet. These outside developers take the application to new uses, usually through combining the data of several sites.

Monday, September 18, 2006

On this day in:

1709 Samuel Johnson born (d. 12/13/1784) English critic, biographer, essayist and poet (he must have been an influence on Benjamin Franklin, born 1/17/1706)
1793 President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol.
1851 The first edition of The New York Times was published.
1927 The Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System (later CBS)

Check out the first edition of “God’s Politics”--The Blog--a new project done in an exciting partnership between Sojourners and BeliefNet. The God’s Politics Blog will provide fresh conversation about faith, politics, and society--every day-- from “Jim Wallis and friends

What do you think, will "God's Politics" provide a useful source of information and opinion for Christians who want to be good citizens?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

On this day in:
1787 The U.S. Constitution was completed and signed by a majority of delegates attending the constitutional convention in Philadelphia.
1920 The American Professional Football Association - a precursor of the National Football League - was formed in Canton, Ohio.
1972 The comedy series ''M.A.S.H.'' premiered on CBS.
1976 NASA unveiled the space shuttle Enterprise in Palmdale, Calif.


Faith without works is dead, we are told.

Jesus said: Take up your cross. It is not something you go looking for in faraway places. Sooner or later the Lord hands us a cross, and our job is to recognise it. For each of us there are events that made a difference. No two of us experience the same joyful or sorrowful mysteries. Maybe it was a meeting with a friend, a lover or an enemy. Maybe it was a sickness, or a triumph. We try to see our life through the eyes of faith, with a confidence that God in his Providence can draw good out of the most awful and unwelcome happenings as well as the moments of joy. It is not that we have all the answers, but we have enough to sustain our faith and love. Faith is the fruit of love, that is, of darkness. It is based on God's faithfulness.


Last Friday Tracy Aiello shared the moment of her reconversion. She was in mass and the words took on a new meaning. She suddenly realized that there was one source of unconditional love, and accepting that love she was able to take up her cross in a new way.