Thursday, June 28, 2007

The rich are getting richer. Merrill Lynch just released their annual World Wealth Report. There are now over 40,000 individuals in the US with a worth of $30 million or more, the rich are growing at an even faster rate in other countries.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

There is More to the Secret by Ed Gungor has just come out,a much needed perspective, in my opinion. It's a reaction to the run away best seller The Secret, which repackages the power of positive thinking. I just sent Ed this email:

Dear Ed,

Just picked up and read through your Secrets book,
very much needed right now. My friend was really
into his church, I thought, read Secrets and is now
separated from his wife, sold his business, gone off
the deep end.

I'm Catholic, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and
President of my Optimists Club. All of these things can
be a distraction from my relationship with God. Your
book helped me refocus.

Although, I could have the same problem with your writing,
after looking at your very interesting website.

Gospel reading for this morning for us Catholics is Matthew
7:13+ which in the Peterson translation starts,
"Don't look for shortcuts to God." So I'm off to Mass, Optimist Club
at noon, and AA meeting tonight. Thanks for your powerful
reminder to make sure my motives for all these things, and
connecting with your words, is to strengthen my relation with Him.

Do you have any plans to be in Denver?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

This editorial in this morning's Denver Post should be required reading for all political leaders.

Bloomberg May Be Right.
Cal Thomas
Denver Post

Would a public that seems so turned off to the political scorched-earth tactics of both parties pay attention to candidates who put the country and whats really best for America ahead of their own careers and personal objectives?

The first affiliation of all Americans should be to America and its interests, not to political parties that increasingly seem out of touch with that objective. Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger (and Lieberman) may be onto something. It will be interesting to see how quickly others follow.

For AOL users:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Here’s an excerpt from an interesting article about David Allen, author of the popular time management book Getting Things Done and how he’s build a successful consulting and training practice since 1996. Allen’s approach to time management starts with clearing your inbox and desk rather than the top-down approach to personal planning advocated by his main competitor Stephen Covey, who has sold 15 million copies of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

While Covey's book is thick with high-blown principles and paradigms, Allen has found God in the details, creating a systematic manual covering everything from how to organize your file cabinet (no hanging folders) to how often you should review the list of everything you want to accomplish in life (weekly). Never mind the theory -- here's what you do…

Clearly, GTD has become more of a calling than a business. "I'm not going to give this stuff away," he says, "but money is not the prime driver."

Like a monk who found God by doing his menial chores with painstaking care, Allen has found meaning in the dullest tasks of our busy lives. Perhaps that's why religious groups are particularly drawn to GTD. No studies exist proving that it increases productivity, decreases stress, or boosts the bottom line, Allen admits, but he says such questions miss the point entirely. "Anybody who experiences this and still needs proof didn't get it," he says.

As with any spiritual leader, what Allen is really selling is hope -- salvation from the cares of this world by cleaning off the desk and paying bills on time. "I'm still an old stoned hippie head," he says. "I love getting high: Nothing like cleaning up your in-basket! Wow, that feels cool, having a clear space to sit down and hang out with nothing on my mind except what's here. How does it relate to spirituality? How about just being present? The whole idea is that it's all right here."

Life is complicated; people are tired and overworked. They want to be told what to do. Allen is happy to oblige, because he's convinced he's discovered a truth as fundamental as gravity. "Just look around! Look at the inboxes, look at the stress. There's such a universal need. And nobody's got the answers but us."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Educational selling turns your knowledge of your product or service into one of your most effective sales tools. One way is to write and distribute a White Paper. Here’s tips from an article about selling with White Papers “State Your Case--Use White Papers And Case Studies To Promote Your Business” By Kathy Stuesser in Growth—The Business to Business Resource, a local publication in Woodlands, Texas. (A great way to produce White Papers is to join or start a Franklin Circle, let me know if you’d like more information by emailing me at with “Franklin Circle” in the subject line.)

For the entire State Your Case article, go to

Here's the heart of the article and some great tips:

The Case for Educational Selling

Customers are like submarines. They spend much of their time underwater tending to the daily tasks at work, and surface only when it is time to make a purchase. Since general marketing only captures the attention of those currently looking to buy, there is a greater need for maintaining mind-share with your best prospects while they are in a submerged state, not looking to buy. This positions your products or services for future sales.

White papers and case studies have the dual benefits of helping you achieve prominence and affirm credibility.

White Papers

A white paper is generally an authoritative report, aimed at providing an in-depth explanation of a complex technology, product, service, or issue. Most white papers are 5-12 pages in length. To be effective, it cannot be a “data-dump” of all information known about a subject; instead, a white paper needs a central focus or theme to be carried throughout.


White Papers and Case Studies are extremely versatile documents. Here are some of the ways you can leverage them to support sales and marketing efforts:

Distribute it as a press release. A shorter version of a Case Story, explaining how your company solved a specifi c customer problem with a new or existing product or service, is likely of interest to similar customers and makes a compelling press release.

Mail or email it to prospects and customers. Sending useful information to current or potential clients on a regular basis creates goodwill and keeps your name in the forefront, improving the odds they will call you when the time comes to buy.

Give it to Sales. A White Paper that demystifi es a certain technology or process reduces the number of phone calls from customers with follow-up questions or concerns. If the Sales department can circulate the Paper to prospects and customers, they may be able to shorten the sales cycle and be more productive!

Post it on your web site. The Internet has become an invaluable tool for customers to research their options before committing to a specifi c solution.

Use it as a story in your newsletter or ezine. Ask any publisher and they will tell you good content is critical. A well-written Case Study becomes a ready article for your company’s next newsletter or ezine.

Turn it in to a speaking topic. A White Paper or Case Study can easily become the basis for a presentation. The information contained within these documents is easily extracted onto PowerPoint slides or a valuable printout for your audience to take away.

Make it a testimonial. Case Studies are more powerful than a stand alone quote because they show the specifi cs of a customer problem and the solution. They should include plenty of details, along with customer quotes on the outstanding performance of your product or service.

Hand it out at trade shows. Customers are bombarded with so much information at a tradeshow that it’s unrealistic to think they will remember your most salient points once they return to work. An attractive White Paper or Case Study will be saved for future reference. You might even encourage them to take notes directly on the handout as you talk thus improving the odds that your information will be kept.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Israel Discovers Oil
New York Times

The most important competition is between you and your own imagination, because energetic, innovative and connected individuals can now act on their imaginations farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before.

Those countries and companies that empower their individuals to imagine and act quickly on their imagination are going to thrive. So while there are reasons to be pessimistic about Israel these days, there is one huge reason for optimism: this country has a culture that nurtures and rewards individual imagination — one with no respect for limits or hierarchies, or fear of failure. It’s a perfect fit with this era of globalization.

“We are not investing in products or business plans today, but in people who have the ability to imagine and connect dots,” said Nimrod Kozlovski, a top Israeli expert on Internet law who also works with start-ups. Israel is not good at building big companies, he explained, but it is very good at producing people who say, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could do this ...,” then create a start-up to do it — which is later bought out and expanded by an Intel, Microsoft or Google.

“The motto here is not work hard but dream hard,” Mr. Kozlovski…

My guess is that the flatter the world becomes, the wider the economic gap we will see between those countries that empower individual imagination and those that don’t. High oil prices can temporarily disguise that gap, but it’s growing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I just sent this email to a few friends:

((Hi--Please forward this along to anyone you know who
might find any of these meetings this week helpful, OK?
Thanks! John))

RSVP "yes" or "maybe" to any of these meetings you plan on attending,
"no" if you can't attend this time but would like to get an invitation next time.
I'll be personally leading each one, they are free and open to all:

Tonight, Monday June 11.
6:30 p.m. New Denver Republican Meetup, a GOP Welcome Wagon,
for people who want to help get good local candidates elected in the
metro-Denver area. RSVP at

Thursday, June 14
7 p.m. Socrates Cafe Meetup, good discussion about important
topics. No preparation required, great practice for thinking more
clearly and communicating your beliefs and positions effectively.

Friday, June 15
2 p.m. IDEA Cafe Meetup, for people starting a new project, business,
career, or campaign. We share startup experience and brainstorm.


Would you do me a favor?

I'm about to publish a 2nd edition of my little book on startup called
Daring Mighty Things. Would you do me a favor and take a look at the
text file, then give me your feedback? And let me know if you know anyone
who might be willing to share his or her startup story in it. Text file is at click on link on bottom left of front page. Thanks!


Finally, I'm in the process of starting a new Franklin Circle. It will meet
once a week for 6 weeks each Saturday morning from 8:30 to 10 a.m.
near I25 and Colfax starting July 14. Suggested contribution is $350,
scholarships are available.

If you might be interested, I'll get you the details. Just email me at with Franklin Circle in the subject line.

But do it now, while it's on your mind.
Let's not miss this chance to work together!


I just got this from my friend Mark Skousen, who talks about the insights he gained
into Ben Franklin doing research for his book that was published last year:

What lessons did I learn in compiling and editing The Compleated Autobiography, the final 33 years of Franklin’s career?

First and foremost, Franklin overcame incredible odds. He survived and prospered during the American revolution despite personal and financial setbacks, family losses, and criticism from friends and enemies alike.

He had an unflinching drive to succeed in “the cause of all mankind, the love of liberty.” In 1774, the British fired Franklin as postmaster and colonial agent, cutting off his entire earning power (£1,800 a year).

Fortunately, he had practiced what he preached, and he had over the years built up a considerable nest egg, including real estate and savings accounts, through frugality and economy. Thus, his fortune was never in jeopardy, because of the financial techniques he mastered as a printer and retiree. "No revenue is sufficient without economy." He died in 1790 a very rich man.

Franklin had a remarkable gift of prophecy, showing an unflinching optimism. He never doubted that the Americans would win the war, even in its bleakest hour. And after the war, he prophesied that "America will, with God’s blessing, become a great and happy country."

Yet, even though the United States won the war for independence, Franklin intensely disliked the idea that war was somehow romantic. He repeatedly told his friends there was no such thing as a “good war.” He learned from his own sad experience that war destroyed friendships and family, and usurped the time he would have spent pursuing inventions and science.

But Franklin never let criticism or bad luck get him down for long. “Enemies do man more good than harm,” he wrote a friend. “They point out to us our faults; they put us upon our guard; and help us to live more correctly.

"The best men have always had their share of envy and malice of the foolish and wicked, and a man has therefore some reason to be ashamed of himself when he meets with none of it. My good friend Rev. Whitefield once said, When I am on the road and see boys in a field pelting a tree, though I am too far off to know what tree it is, I conclude it has fruit on it.”

I also discovered that Franklin underwent several changes in his personal philosophy during the final years of his life. He went from being a slaveholder to the president of the first abolitionist society...

He went from a being religious free-thinker to a believer in an activist God. The American revolution, which he considered a “miracle in human affairs,” turned him into a believing theist. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he told the delegates, "I have lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that GOD governs in the affairs of men!"

John S. Wren, MBA+Grassroots Educator & Consultant for Startups.
Inspired action since 1979.
960 Grant Street, #727 Denver, CO 80203

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I just met with Rudy Giuliani at Bonnie Brae ice cream. Right now I'm committed to Fred Thompson, but that could change if he doesn't get the horse out of the chute soon.

I liked the fact that Rudy spoke very favorably about President Bush and the surge in Iraq. He is very personable, capable, knowledgable, and would be a great GOP candidate in nearly every respect. I suggested to him that he take into consideration what an important issue Pro Life is to nearly all of the GOP base.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I just called Gov. Ritter's office to again urge him to veto HB 07-1376, was told he'd signed it yesterday. Maybe it won't do too much harm to our wonderful Colorado neighborhood caucus system. This morning I got this email from my friend Peter Blake:

Thanks for writing, John. I appreciate the kind words. I'm taking some time off but hope to resume writing for somebody before too long on a freelance basis..
I certainly will continue to play baseball. Caught nine innings yesterday, in fact.
I'm afraid I would have to disagree with you about caucus dates. Political parties are private organizaitons and the Supreme Court long ago said that their rules can supersede state law. If the parties want to have separate dates, that's OK. The caucus system is fine but people won't come unless they think the vote they cast there will have some effect. And until the parties set up an instant reporting system a la Iowa they won't resume coming.
Of course the earlier and earlier front-loaded primaries are so screwed up now that Colorado will have no impact whatever on the presidential race no matter when the caucuses are.

This is my email to Peter last week, had an attachement of my letter to Gov Ritter encouraging him to veto 1376:

I just got my first bounced email from you telling me that you are no longer with the Rocky.

Thanks for all the great years of covering Colorado politics. Colorado is much better because of you.

What will you be doing now?

Thought you might be interested in the bounced email, see below.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to be helpful to you. Will you still be playing baseball?

John Wren
To: Dr. John Burnett, University of Denver
cc: Maita Lester, Executive Director, Rockies Venture Club

Dear Dr. Burnett,

I'm writing you as an alum of the University of Denver (BA'69, MBA'79).

I see that you are giving a presentation for the Rockies Venture Club about how to write a business plan when launching a new business.

Are you familiar with the work of Dr. Amar Bhide at Columbia University He has written what the publisher of Inc. Magazine has called the most important book on business startup, The Origin and Evolution of New Enterprise.

Dr. Bhide has found that successful businesses don't do formal market research or write formal business plans.

I now call myself a recovering MBA because much of what I learned in graduate business school I've had to unlearn to be helpful to people who what to start something new. A text file of my little booklet on startup, which Dr. Bhide has endorsed, is available at

I've just complete an assignment that stretched to nearly 3 years, and I'm now trying to decide how to be most helpful in helping people who want to start a new business. Since the formation of the Small Business Administration in 1954, our country has turned from being a nation of shop keepers into a nation of clerks working for Starbucks and Walmart. Your feedback would be most appreciated. My cell phone is (720)495-4949. I'm going to post this letter on my blog, where I will also post your response.

John Wren

Sunday, June 03, 2007

THE ENTREPRENEUR NEXT DOOR Entrepreneur has a lark running Songbird Station

Mel Toellner gets tears in his eyes when he tells how his daughter, who was 14 at the time, explained to him why he could never sell the family business, Songbird Station/Gold Crest Distributing.

"You could never sell the business, Dad," young Becky said. "No one would ever treat our customers as great as we do."

"Even at that age, she got it," Toellner said. "The key to success is treating people - customers and employees alike - the way you would like to be treated."
Toellner is a speed reader of motivational business books. He likes to learn how others have created their success. But his personal philosophy is pretty simple: Have enough volume that you can create a reasonable price point, provide excellent customer service and say "thank you."

"It’s just the basic golden rule," he said. "We toss in a lot of enthusiasm, an emphasis on family and faith and the fact that we truly love what we do. That’s about all there is to it."
Toellner makes it sound easy. But entrepreneurship has been in his blood since he was a young boy, working in his father’s tire store in Bunceton, keeping the candy and cigarette counter stocked. He carried that passion with him to college, where he worked his way through school as owner of Mel’s Plants, a service that provided flower and foliage displays for University of Missouri-Columbia offices, sororities and local stores.

Years later, while working for Purina Mills, he attended a trade show and noticed that no one was addressing the needs of the backyard birder - those of us who like to hang bird houses, feed the birds and squirrels through the winter and watch the hummingbirds in the spring. Songbird Station was born.

Toellner and his wife, Bev, opened the first store in 1995 in the Forum Shopping Center. Toellner kept working for Purina another five years and then took the full-time plunge into entrepreneurship. To achieve economical price points for his retail products, Toellner expanded to create Gold Crest Distributing, now the largest distributor of bird- and nature-related products of its kind in the country. He opened another retail location in Mexico, Mo., adjacent to the distribution site. Then, in early 2007, he and Bev relocated the Columbia store to an expanded and greatly enhanced space at 2010 Chapel Plaza Court. He and his 42 employees distribute products to some 2,000 locations from Mexico. The company was listed in Inc. Magazine in 2002 and 2003 as one of the top 500 fastest growing privately owned companies in the United States. With projected sales of $15 million in 2007, it’s easy to see why.

Stepping into Songbird Station is like stepping out to your own backyard. Water gurgles through the fountains, and birds sing from the speakers above. Thousands of unique products line the shelves and floors and hang from the ceiling. During the expansion, the Toellners added a section of dog products, a silk flower area, more and different feeders and more garden ornamentals. There’s a terrific section for kids. Or if you simply want a bag of sunflower seed to keep the cardinals happy, you can grab that as well. They’ll even carry it to your car.

Songbird Station is a unique experience. While Toellner and I were talking, he had to briefly step away to take a phone call. I sat in a comfortable overstuffed chair in the store’s "library" and watched the birds on the flat screen television mounted above the fireplace. I could feel my blood pressure going down. If Toellner hadn’t returned in fairly short order, I would have been peacefully sound asleep.

With such a huge operation and markets throughout the country, Toellner could locate Gold Crest and Songbird Station anywhere. "But this is where Mama had me," he said, "and our location in the middle of the country is an advantage. We have product at its destination within three days. No one else can match that." That’s the service element Mel thinks is so critical.
"We take care of people," he said. "Anyone who works for us is empowered to make things right for the customer - no matter what it takes."

Toellner is committed to running a family-oriented business. His employees are encouraged to attend family functions. He’s proud that he only missed a couple of his own kids’ baseball or soccer games. Mel’s son, Grant, and Becky have grown up around the business listening to "kitchen table talk" and occasionally brainstorming with their parents to name products and offer suggestions. Toellner is proud that Grant came up with the now-trademarked name "Nectar Protector" for the company’s ant moat for hummingbird feeders. Both Grant and Becky have worked in the business off and on while growing up, on breaks from school and during the summer. But Toellner believes kids should get a college education, go out into the world for at least five years and then, if they want to return to the company, Toellner said, "We’ll talk." To get away from the business, the family travels, typically to visit major league baseball parks. They have visited all but four.

It is said that successful entrepreneurs carry the spirit of the business with them always. That’s certainly true for Toellner. Behind an unassuming and modest exterior, there is the genius of overwhelming success. You would never know talking to Toellner that you are dealing with the owner of a $15 million company. He focuses entirely on the moment at hand - eyeball to eyeball, as he said - to serve the customer. His philosophy of business ownership is easily stated and obviously sound. And you can even hear it when he answers the phone.
"This is Mel. How can I help?"

Mary Paulsell is the director of the University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Reach her at, or visit

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Gov Ritter has until Monday to veto the bills now on his desk. One of them would kill our wonderful neighborhood caucus-assembly system for nominating candidates to the primary ballot, in my opinion. Here is the email I just sent him:

Dear Gov. Ritter,

Please veto the misguided HB1376 that would allow the political parties to choose different dates for the neighborhood caucuses that are prescribed by law.$FILE/1376_enr.pdf

In the past I along with hundreds of thousands if not millions of other Colorado citizens worked to preserve our wonderful Colorado caucus-assembly system. Every two years it gives us a chance for a statewide civics lesson. This will be made much more difficult if the date is moved up to the beginning of February, and almost impossible if the two major political parties choose different dates, which the draft bill on your desk now would allow.

1376 was pushed through at the end of the session, and there was not adequate time to reflect on the consequences. In my opinion, it will be the final nail in the coffin of our wonderful Colorado neighborhood caucus-assembly system for nominating to the primary ballot. We'll have become like California where candidates just pass petitions, run ads, and never have to shake hands with the voter to get elected. This will have a dramatic negative effect on the health of our neighborhoods over time.

Your support of Colorado grassroots now will make a critical difference. Please veto HB1376.

John Wren
960 Grant Street #727
Denver, CO 80203
cell (720)495-4949


Bill W. & Dr. Bob, the play about the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous that has been running in New York, will close June 10 after 100 performances. Reviews weren't great, but every performance gets a standing ovation from A.A. members in the audience. I'm investigating what it take to get the play to come to Denver? Would you want to help?