Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Worried about the financial crisis? Want to save money on your food budget?

Here are the 20 healthiest foods for under $1:

Yes, the Denver IDEA Cafe is meeting this Friday. Normally we take holiday weekends off, but we want to be available as so many people are looking for a new direction with their career. More info and RSVP at http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1 Especially welcome are the people who attended in the last year or so who'd like to let us know how they are doing now.

Do you want to start an IDEA Cafe at a time and place that would be better for you? I'll help. To find out more, send me contact me now or, better yet, attend this Friday and let's talk right after the meeting.

I'm starting something new for 2009: Friday Afternoon Chalk Talks. These will be 50 minute presentations by experts on various business topics. If you have a topic you'd like to present, send me an email with the topic and your qualifications.

Coming up January 8: The first meeting of your new Denver CPA and Lawyer Peer Group (we're dropping the word "advisory" as we add lawyers because of their fear of forming a client relationship with other members of the group during the learning sessions.) If you are a CPA or lawyer, or if you know a good CPA or lawyer, let me know if your interested and I'll have Mary give you a call.

Also forming: New Colorado CEOs Peer Advisory Group. This is for CEOs of businesses with 10 or more employees. Let me know if you or anyone you know would like more information.

I've adopted a new slogan: Ready to Serve. How may I be of service to you?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Be sure to read the comments!

Interesting article in New York Times on rehabilitation:

Most interesting are the 109 comments. Gist as I read them:
AA and 12-step programs work. In Denver, see www.daccaa.org

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fred Smith, FedX founder, interview with Charlie Rose. Mentor was Abe Plough (creator of Coppertone, Tanya), "What does it take to be a success in business? Be in a good business!" U.S. Marine Corp built on servant leadership.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Amar Bhide's The Venturesome Economy listed as one of the top books of the year by Business Week Magazine.

Dr. Bhide tells me he will be here with us in Denver sometime in late January or February, but it won't be on Ben Franklin's birthday after all.

Who would be a good speaker to help us celebrate January 17?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Josh attended the Denver IDEA Cafe for the first time last Friday. He just sent me this email. When I asked via return email if it was OK to share it with you, he said sure, so here it is:


Thanks again for hosting the Idea Café. There should be at least one of those in every city as far as I’m concerned. And thanks also for inviting me to join the Speaker’s Corner. I’m looking forward to participating one of these days. I couldn’t remember if you were interested in coming to Tuggl’s Community Managers event on Wednesday night or not, but here is the info nonetheless: http://www.centerd.com/events/?id=p/1/3111EBE753E974D34B470416A9EAE91F/I/2521746877035127499

Keep in touch, John. You’re really working on some novel and important things.


josh clauss
communications guy


I'll be at Josh's event Wednesday, I just RSVPd using the above link. How about you?

We are hoping for a very special speaker at the Denver IDEA Cafe this Friday, watch for an announcement here tomorrow. RSVP now if you want to be sure to have a seat, last week we had to cut off at 27, the capacity of the room. RSVP for this Friday's (Dec 19) at http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1

Saturday, December 13, 2008

If you want to see Jersey Boys you'd better get your tickets TODAY, it's about to sell out!

Mary and I saw it last night, and it's really true big songs don't die!

Dramatic spectacle shows both the strength and character flaws of 4 New Jersey boys who decide to get out of the neighborhood, "Back then there were three ways to get out: join the military, get mobbed up, or become a star-- up and out!"

Strong emotions are on display from start to dramatic finish. "Sell 100 million records and see how you handle it." There is never one drowsey moment in the electric musical story.

Song after song, 27 in all, we're shown the 45 year career, how Frankie Vally became Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons with a brass section! From Sherry and Big Girls Don't Cry, to Working My Way Back to You and Rag Doll, each song is a brush stroke that paints the story: "You can't buy this, it's from the people."

Josh Franklin (Bob Gaudio), Joseph Leo Bwari (Frankie Valli), Steve Gouveia (Nick Massi) and Erik Bates (Tommy DeVito) are too good to be true.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first, and, whatever you hit, call it the target," and "I'm not getting paid much for staying alive but it's good experience."

From Potshots by Ashleigh Brilliant, whose birthday is today.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Q: What's the best political book you've read in the past year? Bonus: Suggested reading for Bush in retirement and Obama in the White House.

A: Amar Bhide's "Venturesome Economy" -- annihilatingly good since it is so much at odds with the current, brows-knitted, anxious attitude toward the economic future. Bhide points out that multiple players move the economy forward. To him consumers are important, too. But his consumer is not the dullard multiplier so much discussed in all the infrastructure spending projects. The Bhide consumer is the one who takes the risk of deciding at designer handbag is worth the money -- along with the designer himself of course. A better explanation of the Kate Spade phenomenon and many other parts of our creating/shopping culture will be hard to find. Bhide is the undiscovered Malcolm Gladwell.

Amity Shlaes, a Bloomberg columnist and senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is the author of “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression”, Harper Perennial, a national bestseller. On http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/amity_shlaes.html
The most read article on DenverPost.com this morning is an article from last week about media companies across the country being put up for sale. It's worth reading for the comments alone. http://www.denverpost.com/popular/ci_11142071

Friday, December 05, 2008

In case you've been on Mars, our oldest local newspaper here in Denver is on the auction block.

I just sent this letter to the editor at the Rocky Mountain News after my repeated efforts to post the comment to their online forum failed:

RE: Sale of the Rocky

Since 1965, I made many trips into the newsroom of the Rocky with things it seemed to me readers would want to know about.

Those trips became much more difficult when the move was made to West Colfax, into the building that was torn down to make way for the Hickenlooper Justice Center. (Government wants us to save paper sacks and rubber bands, but they put up and tear down buildings like they are playing with Legos!)

Community Newspapers such as Life on Capitol Hill, the Washington Park Profile, and the Cherry Hills/ Greenwood Village newspaper The Villager, are doing better than ever. Free daily newspapers like the Denver Daily News are a national phenomena.

I think where the Rocky went wrong was when it opposed the local neighborhood precinct caucus as a way to get on the primary ballot. People in Colorado love this system.

Why did the Rocky oppose it? Consciously or unconsciously, I think it was because it boosts ad revenues to have candidates spend money on advertising rather than grassroots organizing, which is demanded by the caucus system. Ads alone just don't work in caucus-states, look what happened to Hillary Clinton. But caucus-states strengthen neighborhoods, that's why the neighborhood newspapers are doing well, especially here in Colorado.

Let's talk about this at Denver Speakers Corner Sunday. You're invited, John Temple and any other Rocky people who'd like a forum. We'll video the session and put it up on You Tube. More info and optional RSVP at http://cocacop.meetup.com/2

John Wren

We’ll brainstorm what opportunities the failure of the Rocky presents this afternoon at the Denver IDEA Café http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Denver IDEA Cafe got a nice mention from Tina Griego in her Rocky Mountain News column this morning. She writes about her experience when she attended Friday’s meeting as an observer. In the comments I invite her to return to share her experience as she started her career in journalism. (click here to see it) Post your comments about turning lemons into lemonaid, OK?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What we need today is more entrepreneurs, not more scientists!

“In the end, it comes down to individuals, and you don’t need to be a trained scientist or engineer for this broad swath of creatively productive work,” (Dr. Amar Bhide) observed.

“You need a somewhat more open mind, a willingness to experiment and to innovate in the use of technology, not create it.”

So instead of tilting policy toward the apex of the education system, Dr. Bhidé suggests, it may make more sense to invest scarce government resources further down — say, in upgrading community college programs. “The modern information technology economy is going to need a lot of foot soldiers,” he said.

“And our supply of high-level science and ideas in most fields far exceeds our capacity to use it.”

From an article in today’s (click here:New York Times) about Dr. Amar Bhide and his new book, The Venturesome Economy. Bhide will be with us here in Denver next January 17 to help celebrate Ben Franklin’s 303rd birthday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

“Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.” "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."

Author C. S. Lewis, who was born today (1898) in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My friend Dr. Amar Bhide www.bhide.net , one of the world's leading experts on entrepreneurship and innovation, has agreed to be here in Denver next January 17 to help us celebrate Ben Franklin’s 303rd birthday. This is from an interview with him in the current issue of (click here to see the complete interview) Inc. Magazine:

Amar Bhidé, a business professor at Columbia University, bubbles with optimism at a time when many Americans have plenty to worry about. In his new book, The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World (Princeton University), he describes a uniquely American form of innovation, one driven largely by the appetites of American consumers. Bhidé talked with Inc. senior editor Eric Schine about why it doesn't matter where scientific breakthroughs come from, how entrepreneurs push basic innovations forward, and why the iPod represents the triumph of the American system…

Q: (Because of the current financial crisis) are you less optimistic about America's ability to push ahead and create a vibrant, growing economy than you were when you sat down to write your book?

A: No, not at all. We have one thing that works really well, and that's innovation. In the past, many technological developments have taken place during periods of severe economic stress. During the period of high inflation and doom-and-gloom recession of the early 1980s, for instance, people were buying and learning how to use PCs. That PC revolution set the stage for the huge productivity gains of the 1990s. Even in the Great Depression, the increases in productivity were enormous, based on the diffusion of a lot of technologies that had been developed in the 1920s. I'm not wishing for a depression or a replay of the 1980s. All I am saying is that we have a buffer against the financial meltdown, and that buffer is our ability to innovate, especially in the technology sector.

Q: You write that the dire predictions of so-called techno-nationalists are misplaced. Who are these techno-nationalists, and what are they missing?

A: These are people who, in the context of trade and globalization, think that protectionism is bad, but that in order for us to survive the "onslaught of competition" from China and India, we have to crank up our technological investments so that we continuously stay ahead. These people say, let's invest more in R&D, let's invest more in basic research, let's train more engineers -- on the premise that the greater the technological lead that you have vis-à-vis other nations, the more prosperous you're going to be.

Q: And that's wrong?

A: Absolutely. The U.S. isn't locked into a winner-take-all race for scientific and technological leadership with other nations. What's more, the growth of research capabilities in China and India, and thus their share of cutting-edge research, does not reduce U.S. prosperity. My analysis suggests exactly the opposite. Advances abroad will help improve living standards in the U.S. Moreover, the benefits I identify aren't the usual ones of how prosperity abroad increases opportunities for U.S. exporters. I show how cutting-edge research developed abroad benefits domestic production and consumption.

Monday, November 24, 2008

From The Economist magazine, “Innovation in America: A gathering storm?"
Nov 20th 2008

Confronted by Asia’s technological rise and the financial crisis, corporate America is losing its self-confidence. It should not…

...Venturesome America

Does the relative decline of America as a technology powerhouse really amount to a threat to its prosperity? Nonsense, insists Amar Bhidé of Columbia Business School. In “The Venturesome Economy”, a provocative new book, he explains why he thinks this gloomy thesis misunderstands innovation in several fundamental ways.

First, he argues that the obsession with the number of doctorates and technical graduates is misplaced because the “high-level” inventions and ideas such boffins come up with travel easily across national borders. Even if China spends a fortune to train more scientists, it cannot prevent America from capitalising on their inventions with better business models.

That points to his next insight, that the commercialisation, diffusion and use of inventions is of more value to companies and societies than the initial bright spark. America’s sophisticated marketing, distribution, sales and customer-service systems have long given it a decisive advantage over rivals, such as Japan in the 1980s, that began to catch up with its technological prowess. For America to retain this sort of edge, then, what the country needs is better MBAs, not more PhDs.

America also has another advantage: the extraordinary willingness of its consumers to try new things. Mr Bhidé insists that such “venturesome consumption” is a vital counterpart to the country’s entrepreneurial business culture.

There have been many negative comments posted on The Economist website about this article because of it's unfortunate use of "MBA" instead of what Dr. Bhide really says, "entrepreneur." So I just posted this comment:

Dr. Bhide's previous book, The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses, has been called by the publisher of Inc. Magazine the most important book about startup ever written. In light of it, this new book of his makes a critically important point that is totally missed in this article: What America needs is not more scientists (or MBAs), but more entrepreneurs.

John Wren, author of Daring Mighty Things--The Simplest Way to Start Your First (or Next) New Business. Available free today for Economist readers at www.JohnWren.com

My little book on startup is also available for free today to readers of www.JohnWren.com, just click on the link to the bottom left. What do you think of it? Your input now would be very helpful, I'm intending to publish a fully revised print edition soon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When’s the last time you bought a tune in a Jukebox? The first one was put into play on this date in 1889 in San Francisco. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jukebox

A guest editorial in the Denver Post today sees the GOP problem as conservatives-gone-wild, and that what is needed is a move to the middle:

(click here for article): Stunned by GOP's post-election response

This the comment that I just posted:

Moderation is a red herring, a distraction from the real reason the Democrats won such an overwhelming victory, in my opinion.

What was the real reason?

At least in Colorado, Democrats did the grassroots organizing that the GOP has only given lip-service over the last couple of decades.

Phone banks, advertising & direct-mail, and 96-hour GOTV campaigns will never beat door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor efforts, especially in caucus states such as Colorado and Iowa.

So watch for attempt to kill the caucus again, this time from an ungodly alliance between misguided GOP leaders and caucus-haters of the left, elitists who supported Amendment 29 in 2002 which would have killed our wonderful Colorado precinct caucus-assembly system for nominating candidates to the primary ballot.

Is it time to fire-up Save the Caucus? We'll raise this as an issue this afternoon (Sun, Nov 23) at Denver Speakers Corner. Join us today, or any Sunday afternoon, at 4 p.m., Denver Civic Center, North Pavilion on Colfax across the street from the Denver Newspaper Agency. Details and optional RSVP at

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mary and I are again experimenting with Denver When & Where which we first set up about a year ago. Do you find it helpful? I just posted my everyday-ordinary-people's review of the phenomenal play that just opened last night at the DCPA.

Would you do me a favor? Take a look at www.DenverWhenWhere.com and email your comments (or invitation to an event you'd like us to cover) to me at John@JohnWren.com.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dr. Amar Bhide’s research has found that new businesses that eventually become successful almost always start from the direct experience and discovery of a need by individual consumers who become entrepreneurs. Here’s a great example, how a boating hobby became a new business: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/small-business/2008/11/its_a_wrap_is_just_the_beginni.html and http://www.nnbw.biz/ArticleRead.aspx?storyID=11024

It's the birthday of astronomer Edward Hubble, born in Marshfield, Missouri (1889).

He majored in math and astronomy in college, then went to law school and started practicing as an attorney. He got bored after just a couple of years and went to get a Ph.D. in astronomy, where he focused his research on nebulae — distant objects in the sky that couldn't be categorized as stars. He moved to California to work with the world's largest telescope, which was in Pasadena.

Within a few years, he had begun to make discoveries that revolutionized the field of astronomy. In 1929, he made what is considered his most important discovery when he came up with a mathematical relationship that explained the correlation of a galaxy's radial velocity to its distance from Earth. In other words, he determined that "the farther a galaxy is from Earth, the faster it appears to move away." This led to the conclusion that the universe is expanding. It provided the basis for the Big Bang theory, which claims that the universe started with a big burst of energy matter exploded, and then expanded, and the universe has continued to expand ever since.

In 1990, about four decades after Edward Hubble's death, NASA launched the Hubble Telescope, the first telescope based in outer space. It captures accurate images of faint, distant objects.

From The Writer’s Almanac

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

According to recent news reports, Bill Clinton has now become an adviser to Barack Obama. Bill Clinton is giving advice to Barack Obama. Do you know who is really upset about this? Michelle Obama. (Jay Leno)

Barack Obama was briefed this morning on the state of the economy, and this afternoon, he called McCain to offer him the presidency. (Craig Ferguson)

At the end of the evening, the electoral vote count was 349 for Obama, 148 for McCain. Or, as Fox News says, too close to call. (David Letterman)
Don’t let daily obstacles block long-term success.
From The Ft. Worth Business Press:

When small business owners get consumed with the daily, urgent needs of running the business they don’t see the obstacles ahead of them.

So how can an owner focus on business and keep an eye out for things that may affect the business? Very simply, join a peer board for small business owners.

Keeping competitors out of peer advisory groups is important, that's what I've always done with the Franklin Circles I've formed here in Denver since 1996. But now I'm trying something different, a group of public accountants. We are having a luncheon meeting this Thursday to introduce the concept, if you know anyone who'd like an invitation email me his or her name and phone number. John@JohnWren.com

The new Denver CPA Peer Advisory Group will do two things: 1) Help each accountant improve his practice management skills; and 2) Act as an alternative to the Small Business Administration. If you are a business owner and would like help from the group, email me at John@JohnWren.com and I'll connect you with the accountant who is most familiar with your industry. I'll also talk with you about how starting or joining a Franklin Circle can help you start your new business or take your existing business to the next level.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Where are we going? This is a thought provoking 15 minutes:

Is this Borg? Is resistance futile?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Looks like my comment is up on the Denver Post Online now.

I'd sent this email to them right after posting my complaint here this morning:

I just had another problem getting my comment posted on your online edition. You can see what I was doing looking it on www.JohnWren.com today (Nov 16).

It would make your online edition much more interesting if comments like this one of mine, a grassroots gathering of people relevant to the item in the paper, be posted. What is your policy on this?

John Wren
Organizer, Denver Speakers Corner http://cocacop.meetup.com/2
960 Grant St.
Denver, CO 80203

I'll post their response, if I get one, as to what the Denver Post policy is on posting meeting announcements that are directed at the topic of news articles and editorials.
Why wasn't my comment posted just now on DenverPost.com?

Guest Commentary in the Denver Post this morning: Putting education - not unions — first:

This year brought the biggest electoral Democratic wave in more than three decades. Yet Colorado teachers union officials may have lost, rather than gained, political ground…

It is remarkable, though, to see not one but two legislators without union connections assume the highest positions at our state Capitol. Peter Groff's Democratic peers voted to re-elect him as state Senate president, and Rep. Terrance Carroll was selected to become the new speaker of the House.

Supporters of public school parental choice could find no better friends in the Democratic caucus than Groff and Carroll. Both men have a strong record of protecting charter schools against union-backed legislative attacks, even attacks launched by other Democrats.

For Complete column: http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_10987038

I just posted this comment, which was quickly taken down:

by JohnSWren on 7:46 am, Sun Nov 16

Join us this afternoon (Sun, Nov 16) to speak out about education in Colorado. Do unions give us better instruction in the classroom? Are charter schools really a good idea? What has been your experience with public education in Colorado. Take your turn on the soapbox, or just listen, cheer, boo, ask questions. It's like a poetry reading for poltics each Sunday afternoon. Denver Speakers Corner, Civic Center, North Pavilion on Colfax, right across the street from the Denver Newspaper Agency. More info and optional RSVP at http://cocacop.meetup.com/2

Checking DenverPost.com just now, it looks like my comment was taken down. I’m going to call the city desk and complain, maybe they’ll put it back up. What do you think, does my comment deserve to be posted?

This has happened before. For some reason, the media seems to be turning a cold sholder to the Denver Speakers Corner. Do we need to start publishing our own newspaper to encourage attendance each Sunday afternoon?

(The American Dream is) 'that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.' James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America 1931. First known use of the term “American Dream.”

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This biting commentary is in the current issue of the Jesuit magazine America:

(Arthur Millers play Death of a Salesman) was a critique of the American Dream. Willy Loman was the perfect representative Everyman to appear in the middle of the American Century, when the United States was flush with confidence and swagger after winning World War II. And he was a salesman.

It didn’t matter what he sold: he was selling happiness, domestic bliss, reaching for the golden ring on the carousel of life—and nabbing it. Think of all those smiling faces in magazine ads and TV sitcoms from the 1950s. Arthur Miller’s genius was to realize that America’s number one product was the idea of America itself—Happyland. If Walt Disney had thought of it, he would have included it alongside Frontierland and Tomorrowland, but then again, Disneyland itself was a perfect distillation of the idea.

But Happyland doesn’t exist, at least not this side of paradise. It’s a myth cooked up by slick ad men to sell whatever it is that they’re selling, whether it’s popcorn, iPods or politicians. The trouble with our constant exposure to this myth is that we begin to believe it, and this was Willy Loman’s undoing. When he could no longer deny that his “happy life” was a facade, he didn’t know what to do, how he could continue to live, and so he chose not to.

Miller’s cultural critique of America has undergone a brilliant updating in the television series “Mad Men,” which recently concluded its second season on the cable network AMC. Set in the early 1960s, the show follows the stylish comings and goings of a group of Madison Avenue ad men and the women they love—or use. Personified by the dapper Don Draper and his rakish boss, Roger Sterling, these men are early versions of the “Masters of the Universe,” whom Tom Wolfe so bitingly satirized in The Bonfire of the Vanities. They’re attractive, confident, and rich—much like America itself before JFK’s assassination. These men and their colleagues do whatever they want. They smoke, they swill gin, they take time off in the middle of the day to have sex with their secretaries or their mistresses (who often enough are their secretaries). They blithely lie about their infidelities to their wives. And they do all this while selling assorted versions of the American Dream—and trying to maintain the appearance of this Happyland fantasy at home.

As with Willy Loman, their lives are mirages built on sand (to borrow an image from Jesus). This is cleverly signaled in the
opening title sequence that begins every episode. Done in an animation style reminiscent of Saul Bass (whose work was at its height during the same time period), it features a flat, black silhouette of a man whose high-rise office crumbles beneath his feet. As he tumbles to the ground, he falls past cascading ads for the good life, past gigantic smiling models, glasses of scotch and seductive legs in pantyhose. Just before he hits the ground, his black silhouette fills the screen, only to reveal that he’s magically back in his office, his arm jauntily thrown over the back of a chair, cigarette in hand.

This sequence perfectly illustrates both the cardboard-thin morals and dark lives of the show’s main characters and the stylish, Rat Pack-era production design that dazzles the eye even as it obscures cynical manipulations of the heart. Much of the appeal of the first season focuses on the ironic dichotomy between the picture-perfect lives of the ad men—which flawlessly mirror the cheerful fantasies they sell for a living—and the deceit and unhappiness that lie just below the surface.

I just posted this comment to the above article:

Historian and writer James Truslow Adams coined the phrase "American Dream" in his 1931 book Epic of America:

"The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

This was the True American Dream of our founding fathers and Teddy Roosevelt with his massive reforms intended to strengthen the voice of the common person in business and politics.
It is what still attracts so many to this country even today and what caused so many to work for the election Barrack Obama.

Will he now instead go the way of Willie Loman and the Mad Men?

Will you and I?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

'Venturesome Economy' Benefits From Research Produced Abroad, Holds Key to Continuing American Prosperity

Author Presented Findings at International OECD Working Party on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Conference

KANSAS CITY, MO, Oct 30, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- Even as the turmoil in America's financial markets provokes fear and anxiety over our economic future, a new book, "The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World," asserts a contrasting view. By taking advantage of innovation abroad, the United States can better weather economic volatility, according to the book's author, Amar Bhide. Based on research funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Bhide shows that innovation abroad, rather than posing a threat, actually enhances U.S. prosperity.

Bhide, the Glaubinger Professor of Business at Columbia University, conducted extensive interviews with chief executive officers of venture-capital-backed businesses to examine how technology really advances in modern economies. He concludes that, because innovation continues despite economic ups and downs, it is the key to long-term American prosperity.

Bhide presented his findings as part of a panel discussion at the Special Statistical Session on Globalisation, Entrepreneurship and SMEs held by the Working Party on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Entrepreneurship on October 28, 2008, in Paris. The Kauffman Foundation is one of the event's sponsors.

For more details about the book, visit www.bhide.net.

Why an Economic Crisis Could Be the Right Time for Companies to Engage in 'Disruptive Innovation'

Published: November 12, 2008 in Knowledge@Wharton


...Paul J.H. Schoemaker, research director for the Mack Center for Technological Innovation, suggests that, for some companies, the economic crisis can actually provide an innovation platform. "The crisis has multiple impacts," Schoemaker says. "Loss of revenue and profit will at first instill a cost cutting mentality, which is not good for innovation. But if the patient is bleeding you need to stop that first. Then, however, a phase starts where leaders ask which parts of their business model are weak (and perhaps unsustainable) and that, in turn, can lead to restructuring and reinvention."

He also cautions against too much caution -- over-reliance on incremental innovation versus transformative, or "disruptive," innovation. In innovation circles, the two have come to be differentiated as "little i" and "Big I" innovation. "The largest gains in business come from more daring innovations that challenge the paradigm and the organization," Schoemaker says…

It may be that the locus of much really radical innovation is shifting outside of the large organizations to small start-ups.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I just got this email, if you're interested in business startup, take a minute and complete the survey, OK?

CU’s Silicon Flatirons Center is conducting a study on university education and entrepreneurship. In order to be useful, this study needs to be informed by data from entrepreneurs: if you’re an entrepreneur, please consider completing the survey. It should take only 10 minutes or so. The final report will be submitted to Governor Ritter's Innovation Council. Survey URL is http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=ZlUGarOfgJZH0jBZhIH9VQ_3d_3d
We've started a new Meetup.com Alliance for Socrates Cafe and similar groups around the world. This was just posted on our forum by one of our members in London in response to a question about what to do when the group grows large:


We usually have about 30 attend our meetings. We sit in a circle (sometimes the latecomers are in chairs behind the circle).

We've had votes to decide whether to split into two groups and most people want to stay as one large group, although we have to remind people to speak loudly so everyone can hear.

To ensure everyone has a chance to speak at least twice, we start with a 'go around' and everyone introduces themselves and speaks to the topic if they wish. Then the floor opens (with moderator). About a half hour before end-time, we go once more around the circle for closing remarks.

This has worked very well for us. With a group of 200, I would definitely divide the group into smaller circles, no larger than 30. In my mind, the circle format is much more conducive to open discussion than lecture-style seating, which is what you would have to have in that large a group. In that case, you don't really have a 'Socrates Cafe' you have something different.
At the library in which I work and offer these groups, we also work with the University to provide philosophy lectures. After the Professor's talk, the floor opens for discussion. People are sitting in rows, lecture style. It works fairly well for the crowd of 50 or 60, but it lacks the same intimacy that occurs in the circle.
Interesting topic.

John Wren if you are reading this I would like to get my own moderator on board - his name is Bill Paul -he's not on facebook - is there a way to add him just via email???

Many thanks and good luck everyone!


Jacqui Denomme
Community Outreach and Program Services Assistant
Central Library
London, ON N6A 6H9

Friday, November 07, 2008

"I'm for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice." Billy Graham, when he refused to join the Moral Majority in 1979. Graham, who has always been registered as a Democrat, was born on this day in 1918.

Happy 90th birthday, Billy!

When is the new movie about the start of his career going to play in Denver?
Click here for website: http://www.billytheearlyyears.com/

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It was on this day (Nov 6) in 1860 that Abraham Lincoln was elected to his first term as president of the United States. Lincoln's only experience in national politics had been a single term as a congressional representative and two unsuccessful runs for senator. He had only one year of formal schooling and no administrative experience. Newspapers called him a "third-rate Western lawyer."

Once he got the nomination, Lincoln lay low until the election. He only attended one campaign rally, in Springfield, and he didn't even make a speech.

The Southern states took his election as a sign that slavery would be abolished, and before he even had a chance to take the oath of office, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas all seceded from the Union. Abraham Lincoln would spend all but the last few weeks of his life fighting to hold the country together.

Posted today on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. Keillor also hosts the weekly radio show Prairie Home Companion.

According to Doris Kearns Goodwin in her book Team of Rivals, the secret to Lincoln's success was his ability to form and lead a good team. Charlie Rose said on his post-inauguration show with the author as his guest that it was his understanding that the book is being read or re-read by President-elect Barrack Obama. It will be interesting if he, too, forms a team of former rivals. His challenges are certainly equal to Lincoln's in many ways.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"It should not escape our notice that the most massive tyrannies of our
century have been established by men who intended to create an earthly
paradise." -Francis Canavan
Nov. 4, 2008, will go down in history as the biggest day ever in the history of marketing.

Take a relatively unknown man. Younger than all of his opponents. Black. With a bad-sounding name. Consider his first opponent: the best-known woman in America, connected to one of the most successful politicians in history. Then consider his second opponent: a well-known war hero with a long, distinguished record as a U.S. senator.

It didn't matter. Barack Obama had a better marketing strategy than either of them. "Change."

…(Eventually), both Ms. Clinton and Mr. McCain focused their messages on "I can do change better than my opponent can do change."

"Better" never works in marketing. The only thing that works in marketing is "different." When you're different, you can pre-empt the concept in consumers' minds so your competitors can never take it away from you…

Mr. Obama was selected as Advertising Age's Marketer of the Year by the executives attending the Association of National Advertisers' annual conference in Orlando last month.

Al Ries in Ad Age this morning.
In the traditionally GOP-favoring Colorado, Obama set up 59 campaign offices to McCain's 13.

Why did he take this expensive gamble? Because of the internet and rise of social media… In the past, each party would focus its efforts in getting out the vote in its respective solid "D" or solid "R" states and pour hundred of millions of dollars fighting it out over a handful of "battleground states."

This time around, everyone counted. And given the power of social media, everyone who has the interest has the ability to influence and mobilize networks of friends. A blue dot in a sea of red could now make a real impact, both vote-wise and dollar-wise, to a presidential campaign. Obama got this and McCain really didn't.

Pete Snyder in Ad Age this morning. Pete is the founder and CEO of New Media Strategies. He also is a former GOP pollster and media consultant. He voted for McCain.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

DENVER-- 10:15 pm I just watched President elect Barack Obama on TV as he claimed victory at a speech in Chicago, telling a hugh crowd: "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

He recognized John McCain's hard-fought campaign and long record of service to the country.

"It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day ... change has come to America."
"There is no credit to being a comedian, when you have the whole government working for you. All you have to do is report the facts. I don't even have to exaggerate." Cowboy humorist Will Rogers, who was born today in 1879 (1935).

"There are greater pursuits than self-seeking. Glory is not a conceit. It is not a prize for being the most clever, the strongest, or the boldest. Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself." Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"The Courage to Try"

Often, what is most essential in creating an extraordinary life is what is needed to get started. We call this the courage to try: courage to discover who we really are and leave what is comfortable, safe, and known. Courage to act on our convictions. Courage to see our dreams played out against the backdrop of the world. Courage to fail. Courage simply to begin.

For Anita Sharpe, courage meant walking away from a prestigious job at the Wall Street Journal at the pinnacle of her career to pursue her calling and start a magazine and company focused on helping people pursue worthwhile work and lives. For Cory Booker, it was leaving behind a world of comfort and moving to a housing project in Newark to join the front lines of a battle against poverty. For Mary Cutrufello, it was about reviving her musical career after being sidelined for years by illness. For Karin Weber, it was reinventing her life at sixty and embracing all sorts of new adventures. These life entrepreneurs acted in spite of their fears. Indeed, without fear, courage is impossible.

We often confine our thinking about courage to fields of battle and acts of valor. But there is also a personal courage that requires a willingness to start taking action even in small ways that get us moving in the right direction.

*Excerpted from Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives (Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek, Jossey-Bass, 2008).* http://www.lifeentrepreneurs.com/

Gregg Vanourek, one of the authors of this great new book Life Entrepreneurs will be with us tomorrow (Fri, Oct 31) at the Denver IDEA Café. 2 to 3:30 p.m. Panera Bread, 1330 Grant St. here in Denver. Free and open to anyone starting a new career, campaign, or new business. More information and RSVP at http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Very interesting talks: Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley about how he found his true calling while attending the University of Kansas; philosopher Alice Von Hildebrand about true feminism; and a panel discussion. Click here to listen: http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/832/Audio-Archive/
Interesting blog post from journalist Amy Gahran about how to Twitter.

Twitter is the Internet service that allows posting from your cell phone or computer short messages about what you are doing now and to follow similar posts from anyone you choose to follow.

Big question in my mind is “why Twitter?” Amy says it’s a good way to catch breaking news, sort of like CNN headlines from friends, and a good way to create traffic for your website.

I’ve been trying to use Twitter for a couple of months, and similar features on Plaxo and Facebook, “What are you doing now?” Do all of these enhance life or do they just drown out thoughtful refection with chaos? Does anyone care what I’m doing moment by moment, and what help is it to me to follow others actions as if they were ants in an Ant Farm?

Will we soon be treating a new mental illness, Twitter Jitters?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."
Pablo Picasso, who was born yesterday, Oct 25 (1881-1973)


Small business says to Google: "Financial crisis? What financial crisis?"

Google may have some brand name marketers among its customers, but most of the volume of its advertising (according to Google financial reports) comes from hundreds of thousands of smaller companies around the world. Drop the word “baby” into the Google search box. The advertising is from topbabynames.com and babymommystuff.com. Punch in the term “boats” and the paid links are to hotboatdealers.com.

Google’s results uncover the robustness of an unimaginable number of marketers who may only spend a few thousand dollars to vie for customers. But, they would not be spending the money unless, in the judgments of these modest operations, it worked.

From 24/7 Wall Street Blog

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It is believed that James Truslow Adams coined the term "American Dream" in his 1931 book The Epic of America. But Truslow's coinage of the phrase had an entirely different (and much broader) meaning than what it has come to mean today.

The American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."
Ralph Nader complained to a small Boulder audience last night that the two-party system in this country is dead. The Denver Post made his sour comments the lead story on their online front page this morning! http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/oct/23/nader-criticizes-two-party-system-cu-speech/

I just posted this comment:

The two party system is not perfect, but it's better than any alternative I can imagine. It's served us well ever since the Federalist Papers were written as this country was founded.

Ralph Nader's negative opinion of the system is like the old man who has never left his home town being critical of travel: If he had tried it while he was still young enough to enjoy it, he'd have a different view.

People who went to their local precinct caucus in February saw the Colorado Caucus, what I believe is the full flowering of the two party system. The system has been neglected for decades, new leaders are needed at every level. Yet even at it's worst, which in some ways last February was, the people I've talked with loved the experience.

The ordinary, average, common person has his or her best chance of getting elected to local office with the two party system, there is absolutely no doubt about that. Those who are just getting involved can now become elected to party leadership roles and local offices over the next few election cycles.

If Nader, instead of grand-standing as a 3rd party spoiler, had gotten elected to local office and gotten solid experience for higher office, he very well might be a contender for President today. Let's not let his sour grapes spoil our basically sound system.

What's needed now is for the thousands of new people who got involved for the first time this year to become local leaders.

What do you think? You can always post your comments here or call into a radio talk shop, of course, but if you'd like the chance for live, face-to-face discussion join us tonight for the Denver Socrates Cafe
http://socratescafe.meetup.com/82 or Sunday afternoon for Denver Speakers Corner http://cocacop.meetup.com/2

Small Enterprises, Big Lessons

Although this collection of startup memoirs (2007 books Ehrenfeld reviews) is written by small business entrepreneurs, the lessons are big and broadly applicable to all new ventures. Wherever startups begin, the experiences are always personal; they are driven by passionate individuals, marred by painful fits and starts, and inspired by quirky happenstance or ambitious global goals. Few successful new ventures become the company that was originally conceived. Startups always respond to change — and as a result there are few that are not changed as they mature.

The path to sustainability (as in self-funding growth) must be discovered through experience rather than plotted on a map. And the ability to become a viable and ultimately thriving venture rests on the experience, network, and wisdom of the particular founder and founding team. More than any single product or service, their long-term success depends entirely on the quality and capability of the company they have created.

Tom Ehrenfeld in Strategy + Business
Tom Ehrenfeld (tomehrenfeld@comcast.net) is a former writer and editor at Harvard Business Review and Inc. magazine. His work has also appeared in Newsweek, the New York Times, Boston magazine, and Parenting magazine. Based in Cambridge, Mass., he is the author of The Startup Garden: How Growing a Business Grows You (McGraw-Hill, 2001).

Tom's agreed to be a "surprise" speaker at the Denver IDEA Cafe via teleconferencing in the next couple of weeks. To join us, RSVP at http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you."
Gal 3:11 (Message translation)

by Leonard Nathan

As children in the schoolroom game
whisper from one end of the class to the other
and garble the message they pass on or change it
beyond recognition, so we
pass on the truth of our kind.

My father heard it from his, something
vaguely involving God, and his father
heard it from his, and so on back
to Abraham, and so father
passed it on to me, but God had dropped out.

And so my son heard it, a wisdom
found inside a Chinese fortune cookie:
"Be good and hope," which he will pass on
to his son, but maybe with good
missing or hope, maybe with love added.

Though love was never meant to mean so much.

"Truth" by Leonard Nathan from
The Potato Eaters. © Orchises Press, 1999.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

George Farah, the executive director of something called Open Debates (http://www.opendebates.org/), complains in the Denver Post about the Presidential Debates.

Here’s the comment I posted on his op-ed column:

Here's an idea: Instead of a debate, televise a Socrates Cafe discussion comprised of the nominees for President and Vice-President, and eight other people chosen at random and then approved by both sides, the way juries are formed.

What's a Socrates Cafe? Join us any Thursday evening for the Denver Socrates Cafe, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Trinity Church, 18th & Broadway here in Denver. More information and RSVP at http://socratescafe.meetup.com/82.

What do you think? Would a Socrates Cafe shed more light than heat, unlike the current debates or the variations on the current system George suggests?

How about this: A weekly television series called Socrates Cafe. That's reality TV that I would watch.

In the meantime, I hope you will join us for our Denver Socrates Cafe, for more info on it and to RSVP, click on the link above.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Want to get rich? Video with author Ken Fisher tell about his new book that tells 10 ways to do it, and why nows the best time! Do you agree?
Here's a great American story that should become a book.

M.E. Sprengelmeyer did a great job covering the Iowa Caucus back in December:


PART TWO: Democrats

PART ONE: Republicans

And then in January, he wrote this on his blog with a link to his great Rocky Mountain News wrapup article about the Iowa Caucus:

Well, if Iowa is a microcosm of the national White House contest, then a precinct caucus in the little, back roads town of Adel was an even tinier example of the run for the Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center.

In Adel, where the downtown streets are paved with bricks in honor of the masonry factory that built this town, the result perfectly matched Iowa's statewide results: Sen. Barack Obama first, former Sen. John Edwards second, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton third.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/jan/03/sprengelmeyer-caucuses-filled-drama-and-few-cookie/ highlights Clinton's struggle to connect on a personal level with average voters.


It seems to me our wonderful Colorado Caucus, the system that has served us well since 1912 is in great danger. I attended the Denver Democrats Central Committee meeting last Tuesday. The big announcement was that none of the officers are standing for reelection, and no one has announced that they are interested.

If no one steps forward to lead all the political newcomers who came into the system at the neighberhood caucuses last February, we can anticipate a disaster in 2012. Right now it appears that there is no leadership in Denver.

Can we take the lessons of Iowa and strengthen Colorado in general and Denver in particular, or are we going to let ourselves slip back into the muck and mire of apathy and neglect?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Radio ad the Colorado Catholic Conference is running:
What needs to be done by Catholics today for their country? The answer is: Don’t lie. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to prove it.....public life needs people willing to stand alone, without apologies, for the truth of the Catholic faith and the common human values it defends. One person can make a difference – if that individual has a faith he or she is willing to suffer for; a faith that can say, as [St John] Fisher did in greeting his executioner, "I come to die for the faith of Christ and Christ’s Catholic Church."
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, Render unto Caesar, p. 197

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Vincent Carroll writes in today's Rocky Mountain News:

State Rep. Rob Witwer, R-Genesee, asked a very good question of Colorado's two Senate candidates at Monday's 9News debate. Too bad he didn't get a very good answer.
"As you know," Witwer said, "42 percent of our federal budget goes to Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. And with the retirement of the baby boomers that number will only go up. Currently the only plan to pay for that is to add it to debt and it will be on the shoulders of the next generation. One of you two gentlemen will likely serve in the last U.S. Senate that can address this problem before it reaches that kind of crisis . . . And my question to both of you is what specifically would you do to address that looming crisis?"

Carroll then writes about how both candidates sidestepped the question.

This is the comment to Carroll's column that I just posted:

Yes, there is a problem. And not just in this race.

Political parties under current leadership are a problem. I went to the Central Committee meeting of one of the largest, strongest political organizations in the state last night and there was virtually no thoughtful discussion about the Colorado ballot issues. There was a rush to finish the meeting and get to a bar that was TiVoing the debate.

Presidential campaigns are a problem. Everyone complains about how much time and money ($200+ million!) has been spent to get to the debate last night!!!

Local campaigns are a problem, districts are made "safe" when political parties negotiate boundries every ten years and there is virtually no real debate.

So what's the solution?

I'm going to suggest this as a topic at our next Denver Socrates Cafe tomorrow (Thursday, 10/9) evening , "Who do you trust? Media, groups, campaigns, political parties, independent research, and devine revelation: How can voters best form their opinions today on candidates and ballot issues." Join us for good discussion on important topics each week as we seek truth by our own lights. More informationa and RSVP at http://socratescafe.meetup.com/82

What does it mean to be a good citizen today? How do we become part of the solution rather than part of the problem? These are questions on my mind right now, I hope you'll come and help us find the answers, or at least the paths to the answers, at our Denver Socrates Cafe meeting this Thursday. http://socratescafe.meetup.com/82

Monday, October 06, 2008

Benjamin Franklin, Entrepreneur - The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary

Benjamin Franklin, Entrepreneur - The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary

Keys to Ben Franklin's success.

Global Denver

New City of Denver recruitment website:

Global Denver
So what should the government do? Eliminate those policies that generated the current mess. This means, at a general level, abandoning the goal of home ownership independent of ability to pay. This means, in particular, getting rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with policies like the Community Reinvestment Act that pressure banks into subprime lending.

Jeffrey A. Miron, senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University. A Libertarian, he was one of 166 academic economists who signed a letter to congressional leaders last week opposing the government bailout plan.

There is an interesting article in the Denver Post about the Colorado Democracracy Alliance (a local offshoot of the national Democracy Alliance), and how it is getting it’s political points across through support of a network of non-profits.

Here’s the comment I just posted at the end of the Denver Post article:

I'm going to suggest this as a topic at our next Denver Socrates Cafe, "Media, groups, independent research, and devine revelation: How can voters best form their opinions today on candidates and ballot issues." Join us for good discussion on important topics each week as we seek truth by our own lights. More informationa and RSVP at http://socratescafe.meetup.com/82

Sunday, October 05, 2008

“What’s wrong with the Church? I am.”
G.K. Chesterton

Conscientious Election
A moral guide for Catholics entering the voting booth

In order for men and women to engage in the political debate, their consciences must be formed. Only then can they discern the common good. The U.S. bishops emphasize the role of conscience in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility, a guide for Catholics as they prepare for the 2008 elections.

Conscience emerges as a voice, greater than one’s own, from the center of two sources: right reason and the teaching of the church. Conscience communicates the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, based not on the truth of circumstances, my top values or best intentions, but first and foremost on the truth of things in themselves accessed by faith and reason. To ensure that each aspect of conscience thrives, we have an obligation to form our consciences: “a well-formed conscience…perceives the proper relationship among moral goods” (No. 34).

Forming One’s Conscience

The formation of conscience entails first the clearing away of sin and its effects: concupiscence, ignorance, weakness, ideologies, microscopic self-concerns, lingering justifications, anger and prejudicial impulses. In the process of being freed from sin, our minds more easily grasp, and our hearts more easily accept, that which is true. The Holy Spirit seeks to build up, throughout our lifetime, the virtue of prudence within us (No. 19)...

Thus, the formation of conscience thrives on our openness to hear the voice of God in Scripture, in the teaching of the church and the prayerful discernment of the true dimensions of the concrete choice before us. Even with our best efforts, our judgments of conscience may, at times, be only partially correct. God continues to seek inroads to our heart to clear the blockages that impede a mature moral vision…

Careful Deliberation

…There are times when it seems difficult to apply a judgment of conscience. We may judge some policies of one candidate to be correct, but dislike other policies that seem to be morally erroneous. Rather than stubborn resistance, this calls me deeper…

The application of conscience is often difficult: “There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil” (No. 35)…

On a political coastline where the waters run shallow, it is not uncommon that in a particular contest each candidate on the ballot holds a position that favors an act of intrinsic evil… The focus on “careful deliberation” cannot dwindle to a minimal criterion by which one can squeeze past the core issues, much less justify support for intrinsic evil; it is a summons beyond our vision to a new junction, where we are called to embrace a new vision.

Conscience sees broadly. It brushes back the curtain, pries down the lever, and by the leverage of honest truth is able not simply to change, but to transform the world.

Rev. J. Brian Bransfield is a moral theologian with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis and its incoming executive director. In America Magazine http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=11118

Friday, October 03, 2008

There is an interesting article this morning in the Wall Street Journal about the revival of classic music:


I posted this comment to the article online:

I was Director of Marketing for the Denver Symphony when Chris Dunworth was Executive Director in the early 1980's. We had more sell outs than ever before or since.

The secret to our success was Gene Amole, a columnist at the Rocky Mountain News who had owned KVOD radio, the #1 classical station in the country, and Helen Black who had founded the orchestra. They helped us see that everyone likes Good Music, and so we reached out to the community in a number of new (to Denver) ways: rush tickets, brighter advertising, getting a second story in the paper each week before a new concert, the first ever Bronco pep rally in our concert hall, Blue Jeans concerts, etc. etc.

We found the biggest barrier to our success was that few people in Denver knew when our concerts were held or how to buy a ticket. Our advertising and publicity was designed to change this, and it did: We went from being front page bad news to front page good news.

When I left, marketing was done by a local rock and roll promoter and the Denver Symphony Orchestra eventually went into bankruptsy, arising as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

It breaks my heart to see all the empty seats now at nearly every concert I attend. The interesting fact is that I've never had a board member or musician or anyone else call me to inquire about our brief period of success.

John Wren Denver, Colorado

If someone from the Colorado Symphony or any other performing arts group sees this (forward this page along to anyone you know who might know a board member, staff member, musician, or actor), please join us this afternoon or any Friday afternoon at the Denver IDEA Café. I’d love to brainstorm low cost/ no cost ways to sell more tickets. More information and RSVP at http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1

Thursday, October 02, 2008

"The decline of the American Empire has begun."
Nouriel Roubini, Oct 1, 2008

"The rise of the rest."

Fareed Zakaria in his new book, The Post-American World

Just as fax machines brought down the Berlin wall in 1989, the Internet is bringing down Wall Street, global corporations, and crony capitalism. What we are seeing now with the government bailout is the sack of Wall Street by insiders, marking the beginning of decline of the American Empire just as surely as the sack of Rome in 410 marked the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire.

Ben Franklin and our other founders saw opportunity in the beginning of the fall of the British Empire. Franklin went to England in 1724, where he learned the latest in printing technology and where he saw the advantages of men gathered together in clubs and associations. Only 21 years old, he returned to form the first Franklin Circle, what he called the Junto, and to apply the printing technology in a chain of print shops and publications. This laid the foundation for the American Revolution and the founding of this country.

Franklin constantly looked for the main chance, the opportunity in change. How can today’s chaos be turned to constructive action? What is today’s main chance to bring about creative destruction and the birth of successful new businesses and new wealth?

Let today mark not only the end of American Empire, but more imporantly the start of a New American Revolution that will lead to a better future for our children and grandchildren.

This life is short, let's get started!

Next Sunday join us to speak out on this, who you like for President, or anything else that's on your mind at Denver Speakers Corner, 4 p.m., Civic Center, North Pavilion on Colfax across the street from the Denver Newspaper Agency. More information and optional RSVP at http://cocacop.meetup.com/2

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I just sent this letter to my U.S. Senators and Congressman:

I heard Irving Crystal call global corporatism "socialism is sheepskins."

This bail out would be the full flowering.

Or it's a chance to get back to the basics of a freemarket system.

There is a need to loosen credit, but this is the wrong way to do it, in my opinion.

What would work?

I've been in businesses that go through a down cycle and show a loss for the year. Good accountants advise that inventory, receivable, and other assets be written down so there is solid footing for growth the next year.

It's time to write-down America:

1. Negotiate settlement of all U.S. debt.

2. Let irresponsible corporations go tits-up.

3. Loosen regulations so entrepreneurs can take over the assets of these corporate carcasses and step in to fill the giant demand for credit that will be created.

Joseph Schumpeter called times like this "creative destruction." Please allow it to operate.

John S. Wren, MBA+

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My friend Kevin just posted a comment on my entry here from yesterday:

Kevin, can't the church and others encourage non-college educated to vote? The question is not so much what has been, but what could be. And no other institution can bring neighbors together like the caucus. In a way, it is like jury duty. It is a civic duty. What's wrong with that?

And as far as statistics about who attends, why should we trust them?

The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls by David W. Moore

Beware of polls. That’s the message of this new book from a former executive with Gallup Polls.


John Kane, a Religious Studies prof at Regis, explain in the school newspaper why it’s ok for Catholics to vote for Obama. Click here

This is the comment I posted:

I'm a recent (10 years) Catholic convert and a very recent Democrat (this year).

My first vote for President was for a Democrat, and I have always liked the emphasis on community of most Democrats. But when I went back to graduate school during Watergate, I fell under the spell of two attractive young women at the College Republican recruiting table at registration, and then under the spell of Karl Rove when he led a Student Fieldman School (what the Washington Post called a dirty tricks school) here in Colorado, and even more so when I helped Rove conduct similar schools around the county.

Since then, I've always voted a straight party ticket for my GOP "team."

Now I'm having second thoughts about both these decisions. That's why I'm no longer a Republican, and that's why I no longer feel an obligation to only vote for the candidates of one party or to see my party as the source of salvation for the country.

Now my loyalty is to my God and my Country, not my political party.

A political party is useful to me as a Catholic citizen when it is a megaphone that helps me express my informed, and hopefully inspired, will.

Colorado Democrats for Life was not allowed to have a table at the Colorado Demoratic Convention in Colorado Springs. All Catholics should be outraged by that fact.

Why remain a Democrat in face of that unjust discrimination? Because I think I can make a difference. C.S. Lewis says Christians should take up the fight in the thinnest part of the line, right now for me that means being a Democrat.

It seems to me that Catholics in Denver can best serve by being involved in our local neighborhoods through our neighborhood caucus system and to elect party leadership in 2010 that is more inclusive.

For more about our Colorado Caucus, the tool that can enable us to bring about real change if we develop the political will for it, see my comment posted on Mark Stricherz's Sept 19 post on his http://newcatholicpolitics.com/

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mark Stricherz http://newcatholicpolitics.com/ is the author of Why the Democrats are Blue: Secular Liberalism and the Decline of the People's Party (Encounter Books). His stories have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Commonweal, and Crisis. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and daughter.

He gave a very interesting talk this week at the John Paul II center here in Denver. My problem with it was not his definition of the problem, how seculars are taking over the political process, but with one of his proposed solutions, getting rid of our wonderful neighborhood precinct caucus system.

Here are the comments I just posted on his blog (blog address above):

I was able to attend your appearance here in Denver, thanks for the very thought provoking talk.

It was disturbing to hear you encourage the demise of what is seems is the last place in America that the voice of the common person has an impact, the precinct caucus.

Outsiders still have a chance of getting elected with the caucus system, Mike Miles is an example here in Colorado. He almost won, and his grassroots organizing resulted in the election of our current State Chair, much to the dismay of Chris Gates and the Democratic establishment.

And look at Barck Obama: There is absolutely no way to call him the insider in the primary and to keep a smile off your face.

You say the primary is fairer because more people can vote. If people can’t arrange their schedule to get the day off, do they really want to participate? And in our representative system, we take turns serving. There is no need for everyone to participate; there is just the need that the system be open and available to everyone. Our founders had a deep fear of the sort of direct democracy you seem to envision.

Francis Schaeffer warned that making moral issues like abortion subject to a popular vote of the people in the post-modern pegan society that we’ve become would be a fast track to disaster. The caucus has been an effective tool for pro-life Republicans, there is no reason it can’t work just as well for pro-life Democrats if we develop the political will between now an 2010.

We get a much higher level of accountablity from our representative with the caucus system. When we were distributing literature at one of the state conventions here in Colorado in 2002 as part of our fight against Amendment 29 which would have killed our Colorado Caucus, a man who had moved here from California read the flier and then said to me:

“Yes, I’ll support what you are doing to save the caucus. You people here in Colorado don’t realize what a great system you have. I moved here from California, and out there candidates just hire people to circulate petitions and then run advertisements. Candidates don’t have to talk with the voters. With the caucus, they have to talk with us and we know who is representing us.”

We get better candidates with the caucus system. Most start with participation in their neighborhood caucus, and they learn to use the system to stay in touch with voters after they are elected.

For Catholics, there’s another big reason to support the neighborhood caucus system vs. the impersonal primary exercise: How can we love our neighbor if we don’t know our neighbor’s names? With the decline of what Robert Putman calls “social capital” we need to preserve things like the neighborhood caucus that force us out of our cocoons.

I hope you’ll rethink your position the wonderful neighborhood caucus system, one of Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive reforms and what I think is the full flowering of what our founders intended. We need to encourage more states to adopt it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I usually don't like these business startup checklists, but this one seems to be particularly helpful, at least to me as I'm thinking about how I'm using the Internet to build my business. What do you think of it?

Top 10 Suggestions for Online Business Startup Success:

1. Take a clean-sheet approach to an idea, and try and come up with a truly original or unique idea, or a spin on an existing idea that will be instantly appealing to people.

2. Sketch out your idea to its fullest, without looking at any possible competition. If you want to lead, you have to assume the horizon is endless and everyone is behind you, not in front of you.

3. Turn your idea into something of substance with a demonstration of it that actually works as soon as possible. Long before a business mode or business plan, a working demonstration shows you (and others potentially interested in your idea) what’s possible.

For the other 7 suggestions, click here.

I gave a talk yesterday at the Pikes Peak chapter of the Business and Professional Women and was asked what I thought of the current Wall Street crisis and proposed solution. I said, what solution? When is one of the Presidential candidates going to speak out against it? David Harsanyi says it better this morning:

Politicians flail in face of financial crisis
By David Harsanyi, Denver Post click here for entire article.

Politicians expend a considerable amount of energy trying to prove they are just like you or me. Well, it turns out, they aren't lying. Just like you and me, they have absolutely no clue what's going on.

And watching these people endeavor to "rescue" us from financial apocalypse only crystallizes, once again, that Washington is the preferred destination of the ethically disabled...

I posted this comment on the above article:

Fellow citizens!

Whether you are reigistered as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, other party, or Unaffiliated, I hope you will join us for one or more of these meetings in the next few days! Sometimes being in a face-to-face discussion leads to new insights that just aren't possible online or in exchanges of the written word.

I'm going to bring the current financial crisis up as a topic at these free, open group meetings this week. I hope you can join us:

Denver Socrates Cafe, Thursday (Sept 24), 7 p.m., Trinity Church, 19th & Broadway. More info and RSVP http://socratescafe.meetup.com/82

Denver IDEA Cafe, Friday (Sept 25), 2 p.m., Panera Bread, 13th & Grant. More info and RSVP at http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1

Denver Speakers Corner, Sunday (Sept 27), 4 p.m., Civic Center, North Pavilion on Colfax across the street from the Denver Newspaper Agency. More info and optional RSVP at http://cocacop.meetup.com/2

The elite don't seem to be doing so well with this crisis, let's see what the grassroots here in Denver can come up with!

I'll post a summary of what's discussed on my blog next Monday morning, where you'll also be able to post your further comments.

You can help by attending yourself, and also by copying and pasting this message into an email you forward along to your friends who might like to join us in this imporant effort.


I hope you'll join us for one of these meetings and that you'll help us spread the word about the meetings. Then check back here to see my summary of the discussions, and to post your comments on the problem.

I'll be forwarding the result of our work to the White House and both leading Presidential candidates.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I just saw the Cohen Brother's new film Burn After Reading in the great tradition of their previous films from last years No Country for Old Men to Fargo and Raising Arizona.

Once again the Cohen's make us laugh at selfish, self-centered people and the life they create for themselves. "Don't sweat the little stuff, and it's all little stuff." Little stuff like marital fidelity, humility, and following the rule of law.

Upton Sinclair (it's his birthday today 1878-1968) would approve.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

www.ballot.org is a new website that will provide: news on ballot initiative activity across the country; the capacity to search for information by state or issue; historical information and context; and research and resources on the ballot initiative process.

Some think that initatives are undermining our representative form of government, with sledge-hammer direct democracy that gives too much power to certain individuals who are to profit from their ablity to gather the resources required to force issues onto the ballot and then pass them with massive advertising expenditures.
“All the news that is fit to print.” Slogan of the New York Times, which was founded on this date in 1851 as the New-York Daily Times, by journalist and politician Henry Jarvis Raymond, who had been fired from the New York Tribune and bitterly wanted to drive them out of business, and former banker George Jones . The paper changed its name to The New York Times in 1857. The newspaper was originally published every day but Sunday, but during the Civil War the Times, along with other major dailies, started publishing Sunday issues. The paper's influence grew during 1870–71 when it published a series of exposés of Boss Tweed that led to the end of the Tweed Ring's domination of New York's city hall.

It's lucky Raymond & Jones didn't have the "benefit" of the government programs designed to help new businesses get started. They were all on parade yesterday at the annual SBA small business fair at the Denver Public Library. I'll be talking about the day, and comparing it to what I've learned about the startup process since 1979 and recent research findings on the startup process in my talk tomorrow at the Denver IDEA Cafe, 2 p.m., Panara Bread, 13th & Grant. It's at least worth the price (free), hope you can join us. More info and RSVP at http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1 or check back here over the weekend for a copy of my remarks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today is Constitution Day in the United States, because it was on this day in 1787, at the old State House in Philadelphia, that the final draft of the U.S. Constitution was finalized and Ben Franklin gave a talk urging the states to adopt it.

There is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and (I) believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. Ben Franklin

SMALL BUSINESS FAIR The U.S. Small Business Administration will hold a free Small Business Resource Fair and Expo from 10:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. today (Sept 17) at the downtown Denver Public Library, 10 W. 14th Ave. Parkway.

Commercial lenders, angel investors, business-assistance organizations, chambers of commerce and government agencies will offer counseling on starting, building and expanding a business. There will also be panel discussions on finding startup capital, choosing a lender or investor and winning government contracts.

I’ll attend to ask the startup panel my annual question: "Who has read Dr. Amar Bhide’s The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses, what the publisher of Inc. Magazine has said is the most important book ever written about startup." Last year finally the business librarian at the Denver Public Library said yes she had read it, “only because you ask that same question every year.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

David Skaggs, executive director of Colorado's Department of Higher Education, who from 1987 to 1999 represented Colorado's 2nd Congressional District, writes in today’s Denver Post:

The creation of an informed and engaged citizenry was a core reason for founding universal public education. Twentieth-century education reformer John Dewey reiterated the public education system's commitment to the civic mission of schools: "Democracy must be reborn in each generation," wrote Dewey, "and education is its midwife."

Despite this commitment, education for and about democracy has suffered over the past generation. As the emphasis on literacy and math has dominated school reform discussions, schools are offering fewer required classes in social studies, civics and government.

Here’s the comment I just posted on Skagg’s column:

Every two years we get a chance for a state-wide civics lesson with our Colorado Caucus.

How about a program to send high school Sophmores to observe and report on every caucus meeting in the state starting in 2010. They could then return as Seniors to vote, on a "learners permit" if they weren't yet 18.

The Colorado Press Association through their members across the state could provide training for the Sophmores, and compile the Sophmores caucus-night observations into an overnight report that would provide valuable, much needed information to the media while providing great experience for the students in civic participation and journalism.

In the mean time, I hope Colorado students will take advantage of the free lessons in civic participation that are provided each week at Denver Socrates Cafe http://socratescafe.meetup.com/82 and Denver Speakers Corner http://cocacop.meetup.com/2. Both of these could be spread across the state with just an encouraging email from Mr. Skaggs.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Have you seen Tim Berry's surprising new book The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan? It's available for free right now online at: http://planasyougo.com/outline/

I say it's surprising because it is in part an apology for much of the work he's done over the last decade or so in being part of the "you must write a business plan" choir. Tim is the founder and president of Palo Alto Software, the manufacturer of Business Plan Pro, the best selling business planning software, and he has published books and written many magazine articles on planning.

I've gotten to know Tim over the last couple of years through an exchange of emails and a couple of telephone conversations.

On my first phone call to Tim, I said that it seemed to me that much of what the Small Business Administration and others have to say about planning is just plain wrong.

I asked him if he had done formal market research and if he created a written business plan before he'd started his business. "No" he said, and I like to think that is part of what got him thinking about what has resulted in this new book.

There is no mention of me in the book, and that's OK. But it's hard to understand how he could fail to cite the important work of Dr. Amar Bhide www.bhide.net who I have repeatedly drawn to his attention. Dr. Bhide has written what the publisher of Inc. Magazine has called the most important book every on the topic of business startup, The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses.

In it, Dr. Bhide makes the case that successful businesses don't start the way that the Small Business Administration and most academic programs say they should start, with formal market research and formal strategic planning. If planning worked that well we'd have a planned economy and not a market economy.

I'll be digesting Berry's new book, and also the manuscript of Dr. Bhide's new book which he recently sent me, The Venturesome Economy this week and be talking about them, along with my own advetures in startup, at the IDEA Cafe this week. More info about the free meeting and RSVP at http://ideacafe.meetup.com/1

Sunday, September 14, 2008

RINOs & DINOs Unite!

The Denver Post has an article this morning about the Palin phenomena, see http://neighbors.denverpost.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=10457815&p=321701#p321701 and I posted this in response:

RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) unite!

Party loyalty is just a form of mental illness, in my opinion.

It will not be the end of the world if either Obama or McCain is elected, either one will do about the same thing, and that's the way it should be.

And because of that, party loyalty is not a virtue but rather a vice. Kool-aide Democrats and kool-aide Republicans with their politics of hate are what is killing this country. They are the cause of the negative ads that sane people hate.

At their best, both political parties are just tools for the grassroots, platforms for we the people to express our will. In the long run it does not matter which political party you pick, just that you choose one and participate.

I have NO respect for the people who hated Obama right up until the time it became clear that Hillary was not going to get the nomination. Same with the pre-nomination McCain haters. These fools are what's wrong with our potentially wonderful two-party system.

This year is a water-shed year for our country not because of what happening at the top of either ticket, but because the millions of new people who have been drawn into the grassroots. We have a chance for the renewal, but only if people who love their country more than their political party get involved.

Each major political parties over the next election cycle will either take us further into the hate and confusion of kool-aide leadership, or start the renewal of the reasonable and a return to true hope and real change.

As a conservative Democrat who was a state delegate for Clinton, I'll wait until after the debates to make a final decision about who I'll support in the privacy of the voting booth. And no, please don't pass the kool-aide.

Do you want to be an agent of real change? Join us this afternoon in Civic Center for the Denver Grassroots Rally. RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) unite!

For more information and optional RSVP see http://cocacop.meetup.com/2

What do you think? Is party loyalty just an easy substitute for thinking?

I hope you’ll join us this afternoon for Denver Speakers Corner! More info and optional RSVP at http://cocacop.meetup.com/2