Saturday, September 15, 2007

I had the privilage of wrestling for Cornell College in 1967 when we won the NCAA Mid-West Championship and I won my weight division as a Sophmore, beating a Senior who had finished 2nd twice before. So I was glad to see this article (below) about the 1947 team.

The "keep plowing along" lesson was still being taught in 1967. I learned it, perhaps to a fault. My friend Hugh McCool says wrestlers are all that way, we never know when to quit.

Tiny Cornell College Talk of Tourney--
Won 1947 NCAA Wrestling Championship
Stillwater News Press

…Paul Scott was in charge of Cornell College (wrestling), and the man large in know-how but small in stature was building a team that could challenge the big boys of college wrestling.

“Two-thirds of the guys on that team had never seen a wrestling mat,” said Richard Small, one of the 10 Cornell team members honored at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Honors Weekend for 2007. “We had a nucleus of three guys who came from Waterloo West, but most of us were just hard-nosed country boys.”

…The NWHOF inducted four distinguished members — Barry Davis, Greg Gibson, Larry Kristoff and Bill Weick — but the Cornell reunion was the talk of the weekend. Friday night’s festivities included a video and the story of Cornell College is being turned into a book. Someday perhaps wrestling’s version of “Hoosiers” will be produced…

“What (Coach Paul Scott) taught you was to keep plowing along. When you work out with national champs every day you have to be stubborn, never give up. He gave you that drive, that attitude to keep fighting when things were tough.”

“He was head and shoulders above every wrestling coach at the time,” said O’Dell. “Even though he was just 5-foot-4, he’d get you ready to go out and wrestle a 250-pounder when you weighed just 190. You take that into your life.

“There isn’t a college course you can take to compare to the types of things (Coach) taught you.”


My post this morning on Cornell College alumni website:

I just got an email from Cornell with link to this. Looks like the new football coach Matt Dillion is doing a fantastic job.Great story posted about the 1947 wrestling team, which I just posted to my blog. Who's coming back for homecoming?

Sorry to see in the 1968 Class Notes section that Chuck Field has died. John Arthur ('68) who I went to high school with and was one of the reasons I came to Cornell died a few months ago. Life is short.

Driving across Iowa or Illinois years and years ago, out in the middle of no-where I suddenly realized the gas gauge was below E. so I pulled into a little two pump station. As I filled up, looked at the guy across from me using the other pump and realized it was George Jacques, who I hadn't seen since he and I and Chuck Field wrestled and played football together. "George?" We talked, filled up, and then drove on. I haven't seen him since. Will you be at the reunion, George?

Posted By: John Wren Class Of 1969 On: 9/15/2007


Eleemosynary by Lee Blessing opened Friday, September 14, at the Playwright Theatre, 2119 E. 17th Ave. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $20, $18 for students and seniors, and $15 for groups of five or more. For reservations and more information contact 303-499-0383 or go online to

Don't miss this incredible production! Mary and I were blown away by Annawyn, Ellen, and Tessa's outstanding performances, order tickets now, should be SRO! The script is powerful, this is a poetry perfect play for a jewel of theatre.

Line after line is etched into our minds in a story that rivits our attention from start to life-affirming finish. Here's a small sample, like butterflies pinned on cork, a faint image of hearing them delivered live by these skilled actors:

"A smart girl can hide what she knows so there is still a chance for happiness." "This one will fly." "Life is a long appology." "She chose to be an eccentric like others choose to be a Lutheran." "She dedicated her life to theories that are hard to prove." "It's a terrible desire to want to know everything." "There are words I'd give my life for."

My old neighbor Annawyn Shamas, her daughter Ellen Shamas-Wright and Tessa Nelson, star in this funny, poignant production about three generations of intelligent women and the actions they take when their personal desires conflict with external expectations.

The play probes the delicate relationship between Dorothea, the grandmother, who has sought to assert her independence through strong-will eccentricity; her brilliant daughter, Artie, who has fled the stifling domination of her mother; and Artie’s daughter, Echo, a child of exceptional intellect and sensitivity, whom Artie has abandoned to an upbringing by Dorothea.

Don't miss this! And pass the word to your friends who enjoy good theatre. It would be a shame for one seat to go unfilled.

Friday, September 14, 2007

To an unprecedented degree, this is the era of educational entrepreneurship. Unconventional thinkers have waded into the world of K-12 education…While their efforts constitute a still-minuscule portion of schooling, they are responsible for many of the most exciting developments in 21st-century education.
Fredrick M Hess, Phi Delta Kappan, September 2007

It was quite a surprise when two famous people recently jumped out of the history books to join me in a fascinating conversation.

Here’s the transcript of the encounter between Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) and Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). Although they lived about 600 years apart, it’s clear they share many similar beliefs about the human condition.

Franklin: I am honored to meet the great Rabbi Maimonides. In April 1788, I made a financial contribution to the building fund of Philadelphia’s Mikveh Israel synagogue. The congregation’s members mentioned your name many times; always with reverence. They said you were the greatest Jewish leader and thinker since the biblical Moses…

I regret the terrible things that have happened to Jews throughout the centuries. Religion should make people better and improve society. I once wrote that I could never believe in “any thing that should prejudice any one, of any sect.”

Maimonides: Indeed. I once said that religion should keep people “equidistant from extremes ... not irascible or easily provoked to anger ... they should only desire those things which are necessary and indispensable ... should give to charity ... and be not hilarious and mirthful, nor gloomy and melancholy ... the middle course is the wisest.”

Franklin: Exactly! I see why you are so respected. I based my life on 13 virtues. I attempted to follow them, but not always with success.

Maimonides: That is true for every human. God wants us to turn from our evil ways and repent. Thirteen virtues? I, too, posited the exact same number of beliefs. Which were yours?.

Franklin: Temperance, a middle course of food and drink. Silence, so I may learn from others. Order, a set time for life’s activities. Resolution, do what life requires. Frugality, waste nothing. Industry, do something useful. Sincerity, hurt no one by deed or word. Justice, the basis of a good society. Moderation, precisely your “middle course.” Cleanliness, of body and residence. Tranquility, strike a positive balance in life. Chastity, never sexually abuse another person. And Humility, no false pride or hubris.

Maimonides: My list starts with the declaration that God exists, that God is one and unique, without bodily form and is eternal. Prayers are directed to God alone, who gave us prophets of truth, especially Moses and the unique Torah — the collection of all Jewish wisdom and teaching. He is a God who knows our thoughts and deeds, who rewards and punishes. I finished up with a belief in the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead.

Franklin: You are far more theological than I. But we do have some similar concepts. A month before I died, Yale University President Ezra Stiles asked about my beliefs. I summed it up this way: “I believe in One God, Creator of the Universe, that he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children.”

Maimonides: I made reason a core of my belief. In my book, A Guide for the Perplexed, I stressed reason as a foundation for religious belief, but it must be combined with personal piety.

Franklin: I share your love of reason. I wrote, “To follow by faith alone is to follow blindly ... we cannot shut the Eye of Reason.”

Rabbi A. James Rudin: On the record with Maimonides and Ben Franklin.
Kansas City Star

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Online IDEA Café is going to be test this Wednesday at 2 p.m. Mountain Time. Mark your calendar now, then join us from anywhere in the world! Just click on the TalkShoe link to the left at the time of the meeting,
RSVP now at

At our regular Denver IDEA Café this Friday, September 14, Chris Lowell will share his startup experience and we do brainstorming
Any one who is starting a new project, a new business, a new career or a new career is invited to join us. We help people turn their inspiration into effective action.


I just sent out this news release to Denver media:

Good discussion about important topics.

"Our first meeting was the Friday after September 11, 2002. We almost canceled. The topic of that first meeting was 'how do we fight terrorism in our own head?' and it was a great discussion," said John Wren, founder of the Denver Socrates Cafe.

Socrates Cafe meetings started across the country when people like Wren were inspired by Chris Phillips book by the same title in 2002. For more information see

"That first group is still meeting each Friday evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant here in Denver near the Capitol. It is free and open to all, and no RSVP is required, just show up.

"Now there is a 2nd group that is a bit more structured. It meets each Thursday evening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Trinity Church, 18th & Broadway. Details and RSVP at" said Wren. was started by Scott Heiferman shortly after 9/11, he tells his startup story in a short video at Wren was one of the first in the country to mash the two concepts (Socrates Cafe and together.



I just sent this email to my friends Dick Wadhams and Pat Waak, the State Chairs of the GOP and Dem parties here in Colorado. Would you like to join us Wednesday? RSVP at

Dear Dick & Pat,

We are having a CoCaCoP (Colorado Caucus Community of Practice) meeting this Wednesday at 6:30 at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant here in Denver.

Because of the recent changes in Colorado Revised Statues regarding the caucus, there is a lot of confusion about deadlines for registration, etc. At our meeting Wednesday we will finalize wording for a news release we will make to local media concerning these issues, and meetings we plan on holding through local chambers of commerce to publicize caucus participation.

Would it be possible for you to each have a representative at the meeting Wednesday as we finalize our plans?




Interesting book review:
(have you read this book yet?)

Author advocates honesty in marketingAuthor Lois Kelly proposes that truth resonates with everyone, and by presenting it in the appropriate context, your customers will be more likely to respond favorably to your message.

Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. Lois Kelly. AMACON. 228 pages.
published 9/10/07 in The Miami Herald and posted at

One of the best, most eye-opening books I ever read about marketing was full of obvious, head-slapping observations. I sat there, turning pages, nodding in agreement as I read it. The Cluetrain Manifesto is as potent and relevant now as it was when came out, seven or so years ago.

Lois Kelly has delivered a prodigious and worthy successor to that book by looking at the ways humans communicate with each other and how conversational aspects, hooks and themes can be used for marketing. She brings the proverbial cluetrain into the station and unpacks some of the freight.

It's a great idea, really, to examine the ways that people speak with each other and the basic subjects that engage us. Author and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki thought so much of this aspect of the book, in fact, that he quotes it at length in his blog: http:/ people-tal.html

Here's an excerpt of Kelly's ``Nine Themes That Always Get People Talking'':

1. Aspirations and beliefs: helpful because they help us connect emotionally to the speaker, the company, and the issues. They help us see into a person or company's soul.

2. David vs. Goliath: Sharing stories about how a small organization is taking on a big company is great business sport. Rooting for the underdog grabs our emotions, creates meaning, and invokes passion.

3. Avalanche about to roll. You want to tune in and listen because you know that there's a chance that you will be killed if caught unaware. This theme taps into our desire to get the inside story before it's widely known.

4. Contrarian/counterintuitive/challenging assumptions. The boldness of contrarian views grabs attention; the more original and less arrogant they are, the more useful they will be in provoking meaningful conversations.

5. Anxieties. People are becoming skeptical, and rightly so. Too many politicians, companies have bombarded us with FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) with no facts to back up their point.

6. Personalities and personal stories. There's nothing more interesting than a personal story. Robert Goizueta, the respected CEO of Coca-Cola, said he hated giving speeches but he was always telling stories

7. How-to stories and advice. To be interesting, how-to themes need to be fresh and original, providing a new twist to what people already know or tackle thorny issues.

8. Glitz and glam. Finding a way to logically link to something glitzy and glamorous is a surefire conversation starter.

9. Seasonal/event-related. Last, and least interesting, but seems to resonate, is tying your topic into seasonal or major events.''

Kelly makes specific suggestions for tying many of these things into marketing messages, but she stresses that you can't fake it; the quality and content of your communication must be authentic and credible. For example, if a CEO blogs about her experience with a product, a patently self-serving claim or testimonial about her own company's goods would appear insincere. And it would be, even if it were true.

Kelly also discusses ways to conduct presentations, meetings and conversations more effectively -- and honestly. The downside to all of this authenticity and openness is that many companies probably have inferior products or may not possess a compelling story to tell. In those cases, bring out the taco-loving Chihuahuas and beer-drinking dogs.

Richard Pachter

Miami Herald Business book columns at

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Streetwise Veteran Schooled Young Obama
New York Times

The rise of Barack Obama includes one glaring episode of political miscalculation. Even friends told Mr. Obama it was a bad idea when he decided in 1999 to challenge an incumbent congressman and former Black Panther, Bobby L. Rush, whose stronghold on the South Side of Chicago was overwhelmingly black, Democratic and working class.

Mr. Obama was a 38-year-old state senator and University of Chicago lecturer, unknown in much of Mr. Rush’s Congressional district. He lived in its most rarefied neighborhood, Hyde Park. He was taking on a local legend, a former alderman and four-term incumbent who had given voters no obvious reason to displace him…

Mr. Rush won the primary with 62 percent of the vote; Mr. Obama had less than 30 percent…Obama learned from that experience. Mr. Mikva recalls telling him about advice once given to John F. Kennedy by Cardinal Richard Cushing: “The cardinal said to him, ‘Jack, you have to learn to speak more Irish and less Harvard.’ I think I recounted that anecdote to Barack. Clearly, he learned how to speak more Chicago and less Harvard in subsequent campaigning.”

In March 2004, Mr. Obama won the Democratic primary for the United States Senate with nearly 67 percent of the vote, racking up huge totals in wards he had lost to Mr. Rush in 2000. (Mr. Rush, still stung by Mr. Obama’s challenge to him, endorsed a white candidate in the race, Blair Hull, a former securities trader.) Mr. Obama won the general election with the biggest margin ever in an Illinois Senate race.

Today, Mr. Rush, a practicing Baptist minister in his eighth term in Congress who is backing Mr. Obama’s presidential candidacy, still seems to be ruminating about the Obama phenomenon with grievance and wonder. Mr. Obama’s ambition has found its audience, he said. In a Congressional race, your neighbors “hold you to a different standard…”

Mr. Rush has an explanation for Mr. Obama’s emergence after the dark days of 2000 as a political star four years later. He vanquished a field of multimillionaires, some more experienced and better known, and benefited from fortuitous domestic scandals that sidelined two opponents and left him facing a Republican widely seen as unable to win.

“I would characterize the Senate race as being a race where Obama was, let’s say, blessed and highly favored,” Mr. Rush said, chuckling. “That’s not routine. There’s something else going on.”

What was he suggesting?

“I think that Obama, his election to the Senate, was divinely ordered,” Mr. Rush said, all other explanations failing. “I’m a preacher and a pastor; I know that that was God’s plan. Obama has certain qualities that — I think he is being used for some purpose. I really believe that.”