Saturday, September 29, 2007

In today’s Rocky Mountain News:

But John Wren, the House District 5 Republican chairman, said city officials should have done a better job maintaining public buildings with past tax increases.
"I think they better be better stewards of the money they've already been given before they do these sob stories and create hysteria," Wren said. "Taxes going up is a bad thing, and I don't think the mayor has any conception of that."

Recent newspaper headlines saying that marrage is on the rocks are wrong. The divorce rate has been falling continuously over the past quarter-century, and is now at its lowest level since 1970. While marriage rates are also declining, those marriages that do occur are increasingly more stable. For instance, marriages that began in the 1990s were more likely to celebrate a 10th anniversary than those that started in the 1980s, which, in turn, were also more likely to last than marriages that began back in the 1970s...

Why has the great divorce myth get the headlines? Reporting on our families is a lot like reporting on the economy: statistical tales of woe sells newspapers and provide the foundation for reform proposals. The only difference is that conservatives use these data to make the case for greater government intervention in the marriage market, while liberals use them to promote deregulation of marriage.

The Durango Herald is reminding it’s readers to register to vote, and it’s explaining our wonderful Colorado neighborhood precinct caucus system. Why don’t we see this kind of story in our local Denver papers?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rob McNealy, a local entrepreneur, started Startup Story Radio - a weekly radio show that is dedicated to startups and entrepreneurs.

The show airs at 3 p.m. Saturdays on Boulder's Progressive Talk, AM760 KKZN. The show features interviews from authors, advice from experts and personal stories from local business owners.

McNealy already has had Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and local venture capitalist Brad Feld as guests.

"The purpose of the show is to motivate and inspire people to become successful entrepreneurs," McNealy said. "I want to help people take that leap of faith to venture out on their own and start a business."

Am I going crazy?

It’s a phrase we’ve all uttered to ourselves from time to time, but now a new Web site helps you figure it out for sure. Check out, which offers a simple online quiz designed to assess aspects of your mental health, including your risk for depression, anxiety and other emotional disorders.

The sanity quiz was designed by Dr. John Grohol, the psychologist who created PsychCentral , said to be one of the best online mental health resources by a New York Times health writer. Still under development, his sanity test is based on several scientifically validated mental health assessments, and it asks the questions that a mental health professional might ask about mood and eating and sleeping habits. Your score is a numerical expression of your overall emotional health, says Dr. Grohol.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. Winston Churchill

Never let yesterday use up too much of today. Will Rogers

Shake the dust from your feet. Luke 9:5

Yesterday I heard Greg Moore, publisher of the Denver Post, and John Temple, publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, talk about operating under the JOA (Joint Operating Agreement) that was put in place January 2001. Moore said, “The first thing I do each morning is go out on my driveway and get my copy of the Rocky Mountain News.” He’s one of the few in Denver to read both papers, Moore and Temple agreed that people who read both papers regularly has dropped way, way off and is now less than 10% of newspaper readers. They also agreed that the competion today is not each other but the Washington Post, the Los Angels Times, the New York Times, and Matt Drudge online.

John Temple is under the impression that coverage of Denver and Colorado government and politics is better now, what do you think? Temple also stated that he doesn’t think the Colorado caucus is worthy of a news story, that people just aren’t interested in it. Maybe he’ll get interested in the story if the New York Times and the other national online news media start covering it. That should happen this year as both the GOP and Dems do overnight reporting of caucus results.

While selling out isn't every entrepreneur's objective, perhaps it should be, says Ned Minor, a transaction attorney in Denver and author of the book Deciding to Sell Your Business: The Key to Wealth and Freedom. "Eventually, every business owner will leave their business," says Minor, "either sitting down at the deal table, or feet first on a stretcher."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On this day in 1919 President Woodrow Wilson collapsed after a speech in Pueblo, Colo., during a tour in support of the Treaty of Versailles.

Here in Colorado, recall is in the fall air. For now, Vail's Arn Menconi will kept his seat at the head of the Eagle County Board of Commissioners for at least the rest of the year. Petitioners missed the deadline to submit the required signatures for an election late this year to recall Menconi, but that does not mean the effort is over, said recall leader Mike Reid.

Will there be a recall of J-Hic here in Denver as he goes on a spending spree heading into the DNC national convention less than a year away?

Denver GOP Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz said in theory she could support J-Hics new pay plan for city employees if the city paid out the same total amount of money to all employees (which seems very unlikely to me). She said the reason she supported the proclamation (to consider the scheme)was to avoid collective bargaining. "I want to keep the frustration level (among city employees) from getting out of hand," Faatz said. (Denver Post)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Yesterday in 1939 Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, died in London at age 83.

Freud’s ideas about authority help us understand (and in some measure sympathize with) the hunger for absolute leaders and absolute truth that probably besets us all, but that has overwhelmed many of our fellow humans who find themselves living under tyrannical governments and fundamentalist faiths. Freud was a great patriarch who struggled for nothing so much as for the abolition of patriarchy.

"As a Christian, you have to come to grips with what's in the culture and learn from it," said Steve Perry, whose DU campus Bible-reading group is called the Navigators.
"It's part of the college experience to call everything into question," Perry said. "My goal is to shock students out of the coma of casual Christianity and get them thinking seriously about it."

In "Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin," we see how Franklin's inventions from more than 200 years ago still have an impact on things we use, such as illustrations in the newspaper, bifocals, electricity and daylight-saving time.
"Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin" by Gene Barretta; Henry Holt and Co.

Want to improve your Internet IQ? Here’s a great place to start:
Tech Tips & Tricks Website from
New York’s WNBC-TV Tech Reporter
Columbia Journalism Professor

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Do you want to start your own business? Today's gosple tells us how. Here is what Jesus suggests (if you are serving God and not money):

Lk 16:1-13 or 16:10-13

Jesus said to his disciples,
“A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
‘What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward.’
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes.’
He called in his master’s debtors one by one.
To the first he said,
‘How much do you owe my master?’
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’
He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’
He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’
The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty.’
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
“For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

Eugene Peterson in his translation calls this "creative survival", focusing on the bare essentials. A lesson I very much need to learn if I’m going to be able to continue with the IDEA Café and Franklin Circles.

Alan Greenspan was on the Charlie Rose show last week. I keep thinking about the term he used, "market capitalism" as opposed to "crony capitalism." Would a term for what Jesus is telling us here be "Christian capitalism" or "creative capitalism"?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The US State Department has a digital outreach team to correspond online. It includes two Arabic-speaking members. How are you using the Internet to promote your business?

Jon Krakauer’s book “Into the Wild” is being released as a movie. It’s one of my favorite books, I wonder if the movie version will preserve what, to me, was one of it’s main points: Don’t ever give up and slip into neutral, the bridge across the river may be just a few hundred more feet around the next bend.

Don’t plan ahead. At least not way ahead. It is becoming more and more clear that the long-range plan I was taught to do in graduate business school is a waste of time for the entrepreneur and small business owner, regardless of what the Small Business Administration has been teaching since 1954. If long-range planning worked, we’d have a planned economy and not a market economy.

Critics claim that
Denver public school reform is being guided by "policy wonks" enamored of "preprogrammed curricula" and "the latest fads."
That gives the upcoming Denver school board election greater significance than most – it is a referendum, in effect, on the past two years under the leadership of Superintendent Michael Bennet, as well as his plans for the future.

Because the November Denver school board election is so important, all of us here in Denver should all attend at least one of the school hearings that have been scheduled around the city.,1299,DRMN_15_5704413,00.html

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm flattered!

If you Google "John Wren's Journal" right now, this is what comes up:

Wren's eJournal
The Journal has nearly one million paying online readers, generating about $65 million in revenue. Posted by John S. Wren, MBA at 8:50 AM 0 comments ... - 163k - Similar pages

It would be wonderful if this was true, but it's not. As you who are reading this now know, there is no charge for this. One million readers? Right.

This must be someone's idea of a joke. Could it have anything to do with my criticism of the Mayor's bond proposals on the upcoming Denver ballot?
Plans to cut recreation center hours next year in some of Denver's poorest neighborhoods didn't sit well with some City Council members Thursday. .. The Parks and Recreation Department is proposing to cut 3,281 hours at 11 centers, ALL IN POOR NEIGHBORHOODS!!!

Critics of RTD's plan to use diesel-powered passenger cars on the FasTracks line to Boulder and Longmont feel railroaded by the agency's elimination of electric-powered cars.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Denver will spend all of its nearly $19 million contingency fund this year for the first time in memory, and city officials are crossing their fingers that this season will not bring another major snowstorm.

Silt's mayor is being recalled. The recall was initiated by Mayor Pro Tem Tod Tibbetts, who claims Moore has violated a number of state statutes, town ordinances and code of ethics. Moore denies the claims.

A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office. Along with the initiative, referendum, and direct primary, it was one of the major electoral reforms advocated by leaders of the Progressive movement.

New trend, proposal pics. Whether inspired by tenderhearted sentiment, the desire to record history in the making or something more narcissistic, some marriage-minded men are remaking one of humanity’s most private moments into one that can be instantly shared with family, friends and even, thanks to the Internet, virtual strangers. They are conspiring with photographers who, with all the stealth of covert operatives, lurk in crowds, behind bushes and in the darkened recesses of restaurants to capture the delighted, unposed reaction of the fiancée-in-the-making.

On this day in 1878, Upton Sinclair, author of "The Jungle" and passionate crusader for social reform, was born. Following his death on Nov. 25, 1968, his obituary appeared in The 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..."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."

Mike Huckabee answers the question, do you believe in evolution?

My daughter emailed me the above with "Inspiring" in the subject line. Yes it is.
So I went to and signed up for his newsletter. Who is in charge of Huckabee's Colorado campaign?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One of Burt’s Bees foundations is its creation myth. In 1984 in Maine, the story goes, a graphic artist named Roxanne Quimby met a photographer-turned-beekeeper named Burt Shavitz. She turned his beeswax into candles, hand salves, stove polish and lip balm using old recipes gathered from farmers. She illustrated labels for the products, using Mr. Shavitz’s bearded face as a logo. The pair formed the company in 1989, quickly moving production from a former schoolhouse to a converted bowling alley as sales expanded.

Researchers have detected a striking political dimension to morality. People were asked to identify their position on a liberal-conservative spectrum and then complete a questionnaire that assessed the importance attached to each of the five moral systems. (The test, called the moral foundations questionnaire, can be taken online, at

It was found that people who identified themselves as liberals attached great weight to the two moral systems protective of individuals — those of not harming others and of doing as you would be done by. But liberals assigned much less importance to the three moral systems that protect the group, those of loyalty, respect for authority and purity.

Conservatives placed value on all five moral systems but they assigned less weight than liberals to the moralities protective of individuals.

Researchers believe that many political disagreements between liberals and conservatives may reflect the different emphasis each places on the five moral categories.

The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight Tuesday night… Experts say that opinion columns are unlikely to generate much ad revenue, but that they can drive a lot of reader traffic to other, more lucrative parts of The Times site, like topic pages devoted to health and technology.

The Times said the project had met expectations, drawing 227,000 paying subscribers — out of 787,000 over all — and generating about $10 million a year in revenue.

“But our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared to the growth of online advertising,” said Vivian L. Schiller, senior vice president and general manager of the site,

The Wall Street Journal, published by Dow Jones & Company, is the only major newspaper in the country to charge for access to most of its Web site, which it began doing in 1996. The Journal has nearly one million paying online readers, generating about $65 million in revenue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Propoganda on the County of Denver and Mayor's web site: gives J-Hic's view of the upcoming November Bond Election. Here are important facts for Denver voters:

- It will be an all mail in ballot, no polling places
- There are nine separate items, listed on the site
- The Mayor's Infrastructure Taskforce Recommended $25,000,000
- Total cost isover 20X the recommended amount, $526,600,000.
- There is a mounting outrage over the proposal:

Don't let the city bulldoze us poor homeowners into a monetary burden that will break us... if you mistrust them as much as I do, don't give them a penny, that way I'll be able to keep a roof over my head.

What do you think of this massive increase in goverment spending for Denver?

Monday, September 17, 2007

On this date in 1787 The U.S. Constitution was completed and signed by a majority of delegates attending the constitutional convention in Philadelphia.


Buyer beware! Medicine is today very much marketing in search of molacules and machines that will produce a steady stream of revenue for the manufacturer and the physician. This excellent warning shot was fired in yesterday's New York Times:

Do We Really Know What Makes Us Healthy?By GARY TAUBES
New York Times, Sept 16, 2007

What to believe. (edited for clarity)

So how should we respond the next time we’re asked to believe that some medication or some facet of our diet or lifestyle is either killing us or making us healthier? We can fall back on several guiding principles:

1. Assume that the first report of an association is incorrect or meaningless, no matter how big that association might be. Be skeptical.

2. If the association appears consistently in study after study, population after population, but is small — in the range of tens of percent — then doubt it.

3. If the association involves some aspect of human behavior, which is, of course, the case with the great majority of the epidemiology that attracts our attention, then question its validity.

3a. The exception to this rule is unexpected harm. If the subjects are exposing themselves to a particular pill or a vitamin or eating a diet with the goal of promoting health, and, lo and behold, it has no effect or a negative effect — it’s associated with an increased risk of some disorder, rather than a decreased risk — then that’s a bad sign

4. All of this suggests that the best advice is to keep in mind the law of unintended consequences.

The point of this article is that much of what we've been told about what is or isn't good for us is based on guesswork. Taubes talks with Madeleine Brand about his article.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

On this date in 1875 J.C. Penny was born, who started his career in retailing here in Colorado.


From Readers Digest, September, 2007
Stand-up Comics’ Funniest Lines
My problem is I belong to so many anonymous groups, everybody know who I am.
Nancy Redman

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, “Where’s the self-help section?” She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose. Brian Kiley

You don’t get married to get sex. Getting married to get sex is like buying a 747 to get free peanuts. Jeff Foxworthy


So if it is not for the free peanuts, why do we get married or have close friends? Melville knew.

This is from Moby Dick by Herman Melville, at the end of Chapter 10. Ishmel tells about his becoming a soul-mate with Queequeg:

After supper, and another social chat and smoke, we went to our room
together… He then went about his evening prayers, took out his
idol, and removed the paper fireboard. By certain signs and
symptoms, I thought he seemed anxious for me to join him; but well
knowing what was to follow, I deliberated a moment whether, in case
he invited me, I would comply or otherwise.

I was a good Christian; born and bred in the bosom of the infallible
Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with this wild idolator
in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship? thought I.
Do you suppose now, Ishmael, that the magnanimous God of heaven and
earth--pagans and all included--can possibly be jealous of an
insignificant bit of black wood? Impossible! But what is
worship?--to do the will of God--THAT is worship. And what is the
will of God?--to do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man
to do to me--THAT is the will of God. Now, Queequeg is my fellow
man. And what do I wish that this Queequeg would do to me? Why,
unite with me in my particular Presbyterian form of worship.
Consequently, I must then unite with him in his; ergo, I must turn
idolator. So I kindled the shavings; helped prop up the innocent
little idol; offered him burnt biscuit with Queequeg; salamed before
him twice or thrice; kissed his nose; and that done, we undressed and
went to bed, at peace with our own consciences and all the world.
But we did not go to sleep without some little chat.

How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for
confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say,
there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old
couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus,
then, in our hearts' honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg--a cosy, loving


But sometimes friendships can take an evil turn. Have you heard of Colorado’s Gang of Four, a cabal so rich and powerful that they can buy elections? As Republican political expert Alan Philip says, it is easy to understand why legislators and candidates in the state of Colorado are wary of getting on the wrong side of them.

Robert Frank talks about this dangerous Kolorado Kash Kabal in his new book about the last few election cycles "Richistan: A Journey Through The American Wealth Boom And The Lives of The New Rich" which you can read online for free; the book is being serialized in my friends Stephen Keating’s very interesting and informative Politics West website.

The Gang (of Four) included Jared Polis, a 32-year-old dot-com whiz who’s already created and sold several tech companies and has a net worth estimated at more than $200 million.

It included Tim Gill, a former software magnate who’s worth more than $400 million and who’s become the nation’s top funder of gay-rights causes.

Rounding out the group was Pat Stryker, the billionaire heiress to the Stryker medical-device fortune, and Rutt Bridges, a geophysicist who made his money creating software for oil exploration and had a fortune worth tens of millions.

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.”

Friday, September 07, 2007

American Dreamers—Ideas into Action.
By John S. Wren, MBA+, Founder of the IDEA Café.

How did successful entrepreneur Kenton Kuhn, founder
of the popular, get started?

Kenton saw a computer and modem for the first time in 1985,
several years before the commercial availability of the Internet.
He started online bulletin boards, developing one into a very profitable

“Some just go out and do it, that’s the kind of entrepreneur that I am.”
In 2001 he saw an opportunity and started Blacktie in just a few days with
no formal market research and no formal planning.

Today, Sept 7, 2 p.m., Denver IDEA Cafe. Brainstorming and Mad Max Young,
Renaissance Adventure Guides, will share his startup experience. Panera Bread,
13th & Grant, Denver. Free. More info and RSVP at

“Begin it now!” Goethe


New Franklin Circle CEO peer support groups now forming. For more information
see or contact John Wren, (303)861-1447 or


Free Computer Skills Training!!!
Innovant Business Solutions is having its Grand Opening!

Innovant is a new computer skills and Continuing Professional Education training company in the Lakewood area started by Michael Babb, a former professor at one of the world’s leading business universities.

To celebrate their Grand Opening, they are offering their Microsoft Office 2003 Basic Skills Class for only $100 per day, that’s a $35 savings per day off of the normal price!

Classes will run from 8:00 AM through 12:00 PM each day.

The following topics will be covered:

Sept 10th - Excel 2003
Sept 11th - Word 2003
Sept 12th - Outlook 2003
Sept 13th - Powerpoint 2003
Sept 14th - Access 2003

Attend one session or for any combination of them.

As an extra incentive, Innovant is offering one free seat in the Microsoft Office 2003 Basic Skills class to the first person that registers and mentions this email.

Enrollment is limited, so call them at (303) 988-5134 to reserve your spot today!

INNOVANT Business Solutions
(303) 988-5134 or


Are you happy with your work?

Yes? That's, great! Tell us about it at the IDEA Cafe!

No? Attend the Denver IDEA Cafe & join or start a Franklin Circle!

More info & RSVP at


How may I help you?


John S. Wren, MBA+
Founder, IDEA Cafe/ Franklin Circles and the new
Ben Franklin's Small Business Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
Ideas into action since 1727.
Business Consultant & Group Facilitator.

960 Grant St. #727
Denver, CO 80203

LinkedIn Profile:

The Need to Believe
Bernard Rapoport | September 07, 2007 | Afterword
The following is excerpted from a speech delivered by Bernard Rapoport at his 90th birthday party on July 17, 2007.

Just a few hours and some 90 years ago, I came into this world. It was a time when there were more horses and buggies than cars. There was no air-conditioning. There were not any of the multitudes of inventions that have, on a personal basis, made life more comfortable, such as air-conditioning, the cell phone, and the computer. These have made life easier, but not necessarily fulfilling.

Since this is my birthday, it’s time for me to remember what I owe, and to whom, the many who have helped make possible what I have achieved.

I think the first sentence I ever heard (of course, I didn’t understand it then) was, “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” The author was Karl Marx. Yes, I was born mixed up. My mother was a Hasidic Jew who spent lots of time in the synagogue. My father looked on this with disdain because he believed in the Marxist doctrine.

Despite these rifts, we were a closely knit family. My sister is three years younger than I. She leaned a little more toward what Mother believed, and I, a little more toward what Papa believed. But the important thing, as far as I’m concerned, is that we were a believing family. How we believed and what we believed could differ, but what transcended that cul-de-sac was the respect each of us had for the other’s beliefs. We had many discussions that ended with each of us at rest.

I had the best teachers that anyone had a right to expect. By the time I received my B.A. degree from the University of Texas, I felt that I was educated, because I knew where to go to find the appropriate sources to sustain what I believed. That was a transition, though. Marx to John Dewey was a very big jump, but I made it, and with that jump I’ve had reinforcement in Dewey’s commitment to pragmatism. He was seminal in his thinking, and his syllogistic approach made it easy to accept his view of what is required for a democratic society.

Tonight is an evening to which I’ve looked forward because I have been blessed with so many friends. Many of you are in this room, and you are people I could not do without. I learned so much from you. I’ve learned about knowledge; I’ve learned about love; I’ve learned about politics; and you were my teachers. I only hope that I was as good a student as you are teachers.

My father used to tell me that everyone who had money was selfish and ignorant. He had no use for people with lots of resources. As I started in 1951 to build my company, I said, “Papa, I’m going to build a company, and we’re going to get rich!” He said, “Don’t tell me about it. Most people that are rich are selfish and ignorant.” He had that Marxist attitude that had permeated his thinking so deeply. Well, it is not unreasonable to expect this attitude, which resulted in his being imprisoned for his political beliefs.

We initiated the American Income Life Insurance Co., and there are many in this room who helped in building the company. They are the ones that made it work. I think the most idiotic people I’ve ever met are those that assume that they are self-made; that their success is a result of themselves. They give no credit to those that were involved in the process that produced the successful venture. So many of these marvelous people that did believe in what we were doing at American Income contributed to building a billion-dollar company and careers for so many who would never have dreamed that what they achieved would be possible. In this room are so many of these wonderful associates to whom I owe so much. Together we were believers. As someone reminded us, “Believing may be difficult, but the need for believing is inescapable.”

Also, in this room are many labor leaders who believed me when I said that American Income would be THE union company, and this was a major contribution to the growth of the company. The other day I was in Washington, and there was a full-page ad on why we shouldn’t have unions. It made me angry. Anti-unionism represents to me a desire by management to manage in the way that it would like, without regard for the interests or benefit of those who are contributing to the success of the company. I remember many times when we were in contract negotiations; we gave even more than what I had anticipated we would, and the success of American Income came because we did listen. The union was our partner; the unions of America want to be partners with American business, partners in the sense that their views are respected and that they will be listened to and that they will be given consideration. Like it or not, my feeling is that any company that fears the union does not have much confidence in its ability to lead.

Then there are also so many in this room that have been inspirational to me: great senators, great congressmen, plus some potential presidents. To all of these in public office, I owe a great deal. I learned a lot from them. I hope I learned how to be a better citizen. The reason that you are here, I know, is because you know the love I have for you, and I, in turn, know the love you have for me.

I also want to mention that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have been friends of mine for many years. I love both of them. This notwithstanding, when my secretary tells me it is Nancy or Harry on the phone, I pick up the phone and don’t wait for them to talk, I just say, “To whom and how much?” They’ve honored me this evening with their presence, and for this I am grateful. They are committed to making the U.S. greater today than it was yesterday!

Finally, one of the most important lessons in life, to wit, “Don’t Want it All.” When I was young, very young, 7 or 8 years old, my favorite game was playing marbles. Generally, my friend had 30 marbles, and I had 30 marbles. If I won all 30 of his, I gave him back 10, not because I was sweet or lovable or generous; even at that age I understood that if I had it all, I wouldn’t have anybody to play with. It was a lesson I’ve never forgotten. As I see a society where 1 percent of the population has more assets than the bottom 100 million, I think that 1 percent isn’t nearly as smart as they think they are.

I close with this admonition from David Hume about two farmers:

Your corn is ripe today; mine will be so tomorrow. ‘Tis profit for us both, that I shou’d labour with you today, and that you shou’d aid me tomorrow. I have no kindness for you, and know you have as little for me. I will not, therefore, take any pains upon your account; and should I labour with you upon my own account, in expectation of a return, I know I shou’d in vain depend upon your gratitude. Here then I leave you to labour alone; You treat me in the same manner. The seasons change; and both of us lose our harvests for want of mutual confidence and security.

Yes, when we work separately, none of us benefits. When we work together, we can achieve the requisites for a better society.

Bernard Rapoport is head of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation, chairman emeritus of American Income Life Insurance Co., and a board member of The Texas Observer.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

Maybe what we really need in this country is an entrepreneur/ small business day. Why isn't the Small Business Administration working on that?

I'm in Houston, Texas visiting my wonderful daughter and son-in-law (who are expecting twins, their first!) and picking up my other wonderful daughter who is going to Olympia, Washington to start graduate school.