Thursday, November 15, 2007

On this day in: 1926 - The NBC radio network opens with 24 stations; 1969 - Dave Thomas opens the first Wendy's fast food restaurant in Columbus, Ohio; 1979 - John E. Wren, my father, dies of cancer. He was born February 10, 1924.

There was no obituary in the paper for my father, only a funeral notice. Wellshire Presbyterian Church was packed, but many, many people who were not there have told me they wish they’d known about it and that they would have attended.

The service was led by dad’s friend from high school, Rev. Bob Ely who was pastor at the time at Trinity Methodist Church.

There was a reception for the family at Mom and Pop’s condo, where Mom still lives. Someone asked me to say something, and so I did. We ate, I took a walk with dad’s cousin Jack, and it was finished. My ex-wife Janet had all our Denver relatives and some friends over for Thanksgiving a few days later, and then she delivered Allie our 4th child November 25.

Dad’s last words to Mom were, “Don’t worry, honey, we’re going to lick this.” The hospice people had encouraged us to get dad to talk about dying, that it would help him and help us all. I remember sitting face to face with him for the last time in the Porter Hospital lounge and asking him, “what is this like for you, Dad?” He said, “How is what?” Dying. “That’s a morbid question,” he said. We went back to his room, he gave me a silent, final hug. That evening we stood around his bed as he slipped away.

There was no obituary because I could never bring myself to write it through the tears that have come every time I tried, and I insisted that it be my words. It needs to be a book. He was a remarkable, great man. He accomplished the American Dream, and then died way, way too young. We miss you, Pop.

like clouds
vanishing from a puddle
that morning
my father
silently disappeared

--Mariko Kitakubo

Coincidence? Jari Thymian, the widely published poet and author of her new The Meaning of Barns shared this with us yesterday at the Denver South Optimists Club in her excellent talk “Haiku Introduction.” When I heard the poem yesterday, and even more as I share it here with you now, it brings tears. It expresses very much how I have felt about that last talk and final hug from Pop 28 years ago. Maybe now after these (final?) tears I can write his obituary.

If you knew Pop, would you write to me? I’d be very grateful, and will keep what you say confidential if you ask me to do so, or I’ll share it in what I write.

Thinkers 50 is an interesting annual list of the top 50 business gurus. It has short, interesting biographies with provocative quotes.

This year’s #16, Henry Mintzberg, says:

“I think every MBA should have a skull and crossbones stamped on their forehead and underneath should be written: "Warning: not prepared to manage."

(I say I’m a recovering MBA, that I put MBA on my business card by way of warning, not bragging!)

#14 Gary Hamel argues that complacency and cynicism are endemic. "Dilbert is the bestselling business book of all time. It is cynical about management. Never has there been so much cynicism," he laments.
"What we need is not visionaries but activists. We need antidotes to Dilbert."

Antidote to Dilbert. That's why I like Franklin Circles: It’s just about impossible to be in one for more than a few weeks and not become at least a bit less cynical and a bit more of an activist. I’m up extra early today because this morning we’re testing the Franklin Circle format at the new Downtown Denver Lions Club breakfast meeting, 7:30 am at the Denver Athletic Club. I’ll let you know how it goes. We’ll see...

This evening I’ll be at the Denver Socrates Cafe, Trinity Church, 7 pm, lots of free parking on Lincoln Street just a block East, the meters stop there at 6 pm. Meets each week (except next week because of Thanksgiving) if you enjoy good discussion, join us some Thursday. RSVP at

Tomorrow, I’ll lead the Denver IDEA Cafe, 2 pm at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant. Speakers share their startup experience, and we brainstorm. Join us if you’re starting a new project, a new career, a new business, or a new campaign and you’re not sure what you’re going to do Monday morning. RSVP at

Then at 4 pm at Panera I’ll MC the new Denver Grassroots Rally. Just listen or get a couple of minutes on the soap box to express your opinion on candidates, issues, philosophy or use your time to make an announcement, tell a joke or sing a song. It’s a lot of fun, we’re going to discuss moving it to a larger venue. No RSVP required, but those on the RSVP list and who come on time get to speak first.

For any of these three meetings, RSVP yes/no/ or maybe, and you’ll get an email reminder each week, an announcement of any special speakers or guests expected for the meeting, a list of others who have RSVP’d, and a notice if the meeting moves to another location. So if you’re interested RSVP now! And forward an invitation to your friends who might like to join us, makes that easy, just click Promote/ Invite Friends.

Life is short, let’s get started! How may I help you?

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