Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Here are Google's click here: Ten Principles for creating a good user experience. Good rules for us all to follow! I'm going to print them out, read them each morning for the next 30 days, see if they can't help me make everything I do better for my clients.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

“Without courage you cannot practice the other virtues.” Maya Angelou, who celebrated her 80th birthday last month. She served as the keynote presenter for the American Society on Aging conference, held in late March in Washington, D.C.

So why don’t we call the Serenity Prayer the Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom prayer?

God grant me the courage to change the things I can change,
The serenity to accept those I cannot change,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
But, God grant me the courage not to give up on what I think is
right even though I think it is hopeless.

Chester Nimitz adaptation as quoted by Nell Wing in Grateful to Have Been There.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Don’t expect everyone you meet to like or appreciate you, your ideas, or even your person: Accept and “know thyself,” and be yourself. Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to a small group of women students at Kenuka College, from Nell Wing’s Grateful to Have Been There memoir.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thanks to 5280 Magazine for emailing this out
as part of today's 5280 Best Bets email:

What: Every Friday for the last 10 years, local business consultant John Wren has infused the city with entrepreneurial spirit by hosting Idea Cafe, a conversation group for anyone starting a new career, business, or campaign. This week, Wren has a particularly diverse group of participants lined up.
Why: Meet Republican House Representative Don Marostica (Loveland), Alzheimer's specialist Dr. Bill Bergman, Denver Business Journal's Kelly Stangel, and web marketing expert Barbara Bailey.
Bonus: If you enjoy this week's event, pencil it in for every Friday from now on.
Details: Fri, 2 p.m. Panera Bread, 1330 Grant St. Free. For more information, visit

This 5280 email should help boost attendance at tomorrow's IDEA Cafe, so RSVP right now to make sure your get a seat. If you can't make it tomorrow, RSVP No and you'll get an email notice each week letting you know who is speaking. More info and RSVP at

Dan Brogan 5280's publisher shared his startup story with us last week. If you'd like a recording of it, email me at with Brogan in the subject line.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The open society, the unrestricted access to knowledge, the unplanned and uninhibited association of men for its furtherance - these are what may make a vast, complex, ever growing, ever changing, ever more specialized and expert technological world, nevertheless a world of human community. J. Robert Oppenheimer who was born today (New York, 1904 – 1967) father of the atomic bomb, from his book Science and the Common Understanding (1953)

Monday, April 21, 2008

On this day in 1962 the Seattle World’s Fair opened, and I was there. It was spring break, I was a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High here in Denver and had been cut from the baseball team, so going on a vacation with my family was no problem. We were there on the first day, got in the line we thought stretched around the corner to the entrance. After the line failed to move, the 20 or 30 of us found we’d just lined up behind a guy leaning against the wall reading a newspaper! My brother Randy and I went up the stairs to the top of the Space Needle, only to discover we couldn’t get through the locked door and we had to go back down. Recently I revisited with my youngest daughter, who now lives near Seattle.

I was a biology lab assistant for me Mr. Keebler. When I complained before the trip about the anticipated crowds, he said, “the crowds are part of the fun,” which may have been the most important lesson I learned in high school.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cultural America is under siege. And as the Soviet experience illustrates, ideology is a weak glue to hold together people otherwise lacking racial, ethnic, and cultural sources of community —— Who Are We? America's Great Debate, p.12 by Samuel Huntington (1927, New York) who was born today.

Entrepreneurs are sharing office space and calling it coworking. Here in Denver, entreneur Andrew Luter, managing partner of BaseCamp Capital LLC has just opened the Hive in Denver’s LoDo. Is this the logical extension of the pooling of resources that Ben Franklin and his friends did, back in 1727 with their little group the Junto, it's shared library and rented meeting room? Here's an interesting coworking blog:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"I am not interested in … such subjects as the adulteries of dentists. I am interested in those things that repeat and repeat and repeat in the lives of the millions." Thornton Wilder who was born today (1897, Madison, Wisconsin), who wrote Our Town (1938).

After I saw Our Town produced in my high school, I posted this line from Emily Webb above the light switch in my bedroom where I saw it every day until I left home:

Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking...and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. ...Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute?

I'm going to put this up again, as a reminder of how wonderful it is right now. Let's not forget.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot." Charlie Chaplin (London, 1889), who was born today and went on to be the most popular movie star and producer in the world until the advent of sound.

April 13-19 is National Library Week, so let's take stock: The U.S. has more public library branches than it does McDonald's restaurants, and Americans go to their libraries more than twice as often as they go to the movies. The American Library Association found that between 1994 and 2004, the number of visits to public libraries in the U.S. increased by 61 percent. And the increase is not wholly made up of senior citizens researching family history, or frantic parents checking out DVDs for their little ones. According to a 2007 ALA poll, 68 percent of respondents between ages 18 and 24 said they had visited a library in the past year. Among the 35 to 44 age group, 74 percent have visited.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New York Times reports another reason not to waste money on vitamin suppliments: They can do real harm!
On this day in 1912 - The British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic, after hitting an iceberg two and a half hours earlier, the previous day.1955 - Ray Kroc opens his first franchise of McDonald's restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; research tips; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Today in 1935, known as "Black Sunday", twenty of the worst "Black Blizzards" occurred throughout the Dust Bowl, causing extensive damage, turning the day to night. Witnesses reported that they could not see five feet in front of them at certain points. Four years later on this same day in 1939 John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath about the Dust Bowl and the migration to California that it caused.

Don’t spend another dime on medical care until you’ve read this!Stephen Barrett, M.D. a retired physician, has written a text book on health care for the consumer, and he maintains websites to expose medical fraud where he has just published a very interesting report about how to spot medical fraud.

My research has found that the three biggest problems with medical fraud are: 1) seniors and others on limited income spend money of things that are worthless rather than care (such as an adequate diet including fresh vegetables and fruit) that would really help them; 2) people loose valuable time and good treatment comes too late to help; and 3) purchases fund the engine of fraud that lures people into the clutches of the medical fraud killers, manufactures, distributors, retailers, practitioners, and writers and advisors of all kinds .

I’ve asked medical doctors why they don’t speak up against the frauds that are becoming so prevalent in our supermarkets and other channels of retail distribution. They tell me it’s because the big lie is so dominate in our society that it would kill their practice to stand up to it.

As the run away train of medical deception was picking up steam in the 70s, and had me it it's clutches as a good health true believer, I had the great privilege of spending a year of my life researching vitamin supplements. I met Linus Pauling, the great advocate of vitamin C, and met the people behind Rodale Press’s Prevention Magazine. We did a statistically valid telephone survey of consumers asking them why they did or did not take vitamin supplements, and found no one had a very good reason for their decision. That’s why we are all such easy prey for the weapons of massive medical malpractice. I hope people will read Dr. Barrett’s Consumer Health: A guide for Intelligent Decisions and encourage every school and library to put a copy in it’s collection.

Religious faith and when life begins is becoming part of the Democrat's debate as we try to choose a presidential candidate.

I’d like to see someone ask if either Clinton or Obama has read Kristen Day’s wonderful book Democrats for Life. She heads the organization Democrats for Life that carries the same name. I’m a member and have gotten to know Kristen on the DFL steering committee for our DNC convention that will be here in Denver next August.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

“He who knows most knows best how little he knows.”
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826) who was born today was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806).

This Jefferson quote was on a bronze plaque in a flagstone planter around the flagpole at Thomas Jefferson High School, given as a gift by my class in 1965. I was the class gift chairman. The plaque and all the flagstone is gone now, and it’s back to just bare concrete around the flagpole; our faculty sponsor insisted the contract for the work go to the lowest bidder. The money saved was used to buy some used furniture to put in Senior Hall, which is also long gone. I’d wanted to give the contract to a stonemason who’d done work for my parents; everything he did for them is still standing, and will be for eternity, I expect.

Alfred Butts (1900- 1993) the inventor of the game Scrabble was born today. He was an architect who enjoyed games. He made the first set by hand, then made sets for friends. One of those friends retired and started marketing the game for Butts. A Macy’s buyer saw it being played in a resort, ordered all the stores, and the game became a sensation. SUCCESS across ENTREPRENEUR down.

Guess what, there is an award for websites and blogs, the Webby Awards.

Awards for things like blogs and websites are tricky. Mountain Bell put out a catalog for small business products that won all kinds of awards, I used it as example in a seminar I did. Later when I worked for Mountain Bell I discovered that it had attracted almost no new business and was considered a real flop inside the company.

Thanks to all of you who emailed me yesterday with your thoughts about blogs. I’m going to compile them, add my own thoughts, and post the article here if I can’t find a newspaper or magazine that is interested in it. But please keep those comments coming:

What do you think of blogs (online personal journals like this one)? Why are so few comments posted even on the best? Are they a waste of time, or do they really level the playing field for the grassroots entrepreneur against the corporate giants who buy their ink by the barrel? Post your comments here, or email me if you’d prefer at (I’m trying to get away from AOL, almost impossible! Have you done it? Might be another article…)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

On this day in 1934 - The strongest surface wind gust in the world, 231 mph, was measured by the staff of the Mount Washington Observatory on the summit of Mount Washington. That same year Bill W. got sober and started what eventually became Alcoholics Anonymous. Coincidence?

Is there a “best blog” competition? If so, I nominate (click on "blog"). Amy just made a very though provoking post on negative thoughts, and I made a comment. Take a look. And why not post a comment while your there. If you get inspired, email this to a friend or post a comment about on your blog. Your friends will thank you, and so will Amy and I if you’ll let us know what you’ve done.

Here’s a post Amy made to her blog from a few days ago:

When we know who we are, we will no longer live our lives in conflict with our parents, our beloved, or our children. Everything becomes so wonderful, because we are no longer afraid to Love. And that is the most precious thing that can happen to anyone — the return to Love. Because when we return to Love, life becomes so wonderful and so beautiful. Everything is so romantic! And we see everything through the eyes of Love. We become so relaxed. And we are no longer afraid to express who we really are and what we want to say. We no longer say yes when we want to say no. We live our lives with integrity again, because we are no longer afraid to be rejected. We don’t need anyone. It’s a wonderful way to live. It will improve every relationship that we have, beginning with the relationship with ourselves. Then, a romantic relationship becomes a wonderful thing because we are not afraid to be ourselves and ask for what we want. We no longer take anything personally. We no longer have the need to control our beloved or be controlled by them. And we become a teammate — not competing with each other. It is completely different. When we discover that most of the conflicts we have are because we believe in many lies, we can choose not to live any longer with these conflicts. Then a battle begins within our head between the lies and the truth. To change lies into truth is what we call Transformation. And this leads to the third mastery, the Mastery of Love. When you no longer believe the lies, then the Light comes and chases the darkness away. You become the way you used to be, with the innocence of a child. This has been called the return to Paradise, or Heaven. I call it the return to Love. It is miraculous. When we live our lives in Love, everything we do becomes a ritual of Love, and life becomes so wonderful. Don Miguel Ruiz

Thanks to Amy for inspiring me to put just a bit more energy into this. Objective: Comments. From who? From you, the person who is reading this right now.

If this becomes a meaningful conversation, I’ll keep going. If not, well I’ll probably keep going anyway. We’ll see.

What do you think?

--To Be Continued--

Friday, April 11, 2008

On this day in 1970 - Apollo 13 was launched. A few years later I had the priviage of playing 18 holes of golf with the command pilot Jack Swigert. I didn't fully realize what a great privilage this was until I saw the movie Apollo 13 a few years later.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On this day in: 1912 - The RMS Titanic leaves port in Southampton, England for her first and only voyage. 1916 - The Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA) is created in New York City. 1925 - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is first published in New York, New York by Charles Scribner's Sons.

"In the past, we've always seen the big eat the small. In the new knowledge-based economy, the fast eats the slow. Speed is the new big… Technology has made it possible for human communities to behave like swarms of our own. We are more in touch and more attuned to our peers than ever before. (Creativity is the tool) to ignite and motivate the swarm." Chuck Brymer, president-CEO DDB Worldwide

In the new book Groundswell, two of Forrester Research's top analysts show how to turn this new force of customers connecting to your own advantage.
Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff show how leading companies are gaining insights, generating revenues, saving money, and energizing their own customers using the new tools of social networking.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It's the birthday of Hugh Hefner, born in Chicago, Illinois (1926). He was brought up by strict Methodist parents. He was writing promotional copy for Esquire magazine when he got the idea for a new men's magazine that would be similar to Esquire but more daring.

Hefner financed the project with $600 of his own money, all the money that he had. He also raised about $10,000 by the sale of stock to friends. The result was Playboy magazine. The first issue featured a nude calendar photograph of Marilyn Monroe, which Hefner had bought from a calendar company for $200. It reached the newsstands in December of 1953 and sold out its press run of 53,991 copies at 50 cents a copy.

This article about CEO peer advisory groups was featured on the AOL front page today:
Voices of Experience Entrepreneurs are helping one another cope with the challenges of starting and growing a business.

I’m forming a new Franklin Circle peer advisory group for entrepreneurs, business owners, and creative managers. It is similar to other groups, but uses modern adult learning theory so that members learn more, faster, and have fun doing it. Ask me for an invitation to the next information session.

Monday, April 07, 2008

"Write about what you're afraid of." Writer Donald Barthelme, who was born today.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

“Consistently doing any activity that requires self-control seems to increase willpower — and the ability to resist impulses and delay gratification is highly associated with success in life,” according to recent psychological studies reported today in the New York Times.

The newspaper I read at breakfast this morning told of the funeral of a young man who died trying to save his mother from being robbed in Mexico. It said she read this poem, which is what she found on his bed when she returned to Boulder:

A Postmortem Guide
For my eulogist, in advance

Do not praise me for my exceptional serenity.
Can't you see I've turned away
from the large excitements,
and have accepted all the troubles?
Go down to the old cemetery; you'll see
there's nothing definitive to be said.
The dead once were all kinds—
boundary breakers and scalawags,
martyrs of the flesh, and so many
dumb bunnies of duty, unbearably nice.
I've been a little of each.
And, please, resist the temptation
of speaking about virtue.
The seldom-tempted are too fond
of that word, the small-spirited, the unburdened.
Know that I've admired in others
only the fraught straining
to be good.
Adam's my man and Eve's not to blame.
He bit in; it made no sense to stop.
Still, for accuracy's sake you might say
I often stoppped,
that I rarely went as far as I dreamed.
And since you know my hardships,
understand they're mere bump and setback
against history's horror.
Remind those seated, perhaps weeping,
how obscene it is
for some of us to complain.
Tell them I had second chances.
I knew joy.
I was burned by books early
and kept sidling up to the flame.
Tell them that at the end I had no need
for God, who'd become just a story
I once loved, one of many
with concealments and late-night rescues,
high sentence and pomp.
The truth is
I learned to live without hope
as well as I could, almost happily,
in the despoiled and radiant snow.
You who are one of them, say that I loved
my companions most of all.
In all sincerity, say they provided
a better way to be alone.

When I looked up the poem online, I was surprised to see this by the same author:

John & Mary

"John & Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who also had never met."—from a freshman's short story

They were like gazelles who occupied different
grassy plains, running in opposite directions
from different lions.
They were like postal clerks
in different zip codes, with different vacation time,
their bosses adamant and clock-driven.
How could they get together?
They were like two people who couldn't get together.
John was a Sufi with a love of the dervish,
Mary of course a Christian with a curfew.
They were like two dolphins in the immensity
of the Atlantic, one playful,the other stuck in a tuna net—
two absolutely different childhoods!
There was simply no hope for them.
They would never speak in person.
When they ran across that windswept field
toward each other, they were like two freight trains,
one having left Seattle at 6:36 an unknown speed, the other delayed
in Topeka for repairs.
The math indicated that they'd embrace
in another world, if at all, like parallel lines.
Or merely appear kindred and close, like stars.

Mary and I have known each other since high school, we are engaged, and we keep putting off the date. It feels a lot like this.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

In 1854, Benjamin Franklin Ficklin, an employee of the firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell, is said to have first proposed a faster northern route for mail. Founded by William Hepburn Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Majors, the Pony Express officially opened on this day 1860. The first trip, westbound, was made in 10 days, 7 hours, and 45 minutes. It was a fast mail service crossing the North American continent from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California from 1860 until October 1861 when it was replace by the transcontinental telegraph.

I just sent out this to Denver newspaper:


Denver Socrates Cafe (good discussion about important topics), each Thursday, 7 p.m., Trinity Church, 19th & Broadway, Denver. Free. More info and RSVP at or (303)861-1447.

Denver Grassroots Rally (take your turn on the soap box), Friday, 4 p.m., Panera Bread, 13th & Grant, Denver. Free. More info and RSVP at (Note: at our meeting tomorrow (Friday, 4/4) we will announce a change of name to Denver Speaker's Corner & moving the meeting to Denver Civic Center Park on Sunday afternoons.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

From The Writer’s Almanac:

"The world must be made safe for democracy,"said President Woodrow Wilson on this day in 1917 as he called Congress into special session and asked them to declare war on Germany.

It's the birthday of the author of many of our best-known fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen. In 1835… he desperately needed money for rent, so he quickly wrote and published a pamphlet containing four fairy tales. It was such a big success that he published a new collection of fairy tales every Christmas for the next few years. They were cheap paperback editions, and they grew to be extremely popular. He started off by retelling the stories he had heard from his parents as a child, but then he began making up his own. Between 1835 and 1872, he published 168 fairy tales, including "The Little Mermaid," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Snow Queen," "Princess and the Pea," and "The Nightingale" and "The Ugly Duckling."

Want to be happier? A new study reported today in the Wall Street Journal found that when we spend time on what the study calls “engaging leisure and spiritual activities," things like visiting friends, exercising, attending church, listening to music, fishing, reading a book, sitting in a cafe or going to a party, we're typically happy, engrossed and not especially stressed.

"These are things you choose to do, rather than have to do," notes one of the study's co-authors, Prof. Schkade of the University of California, San Diego.

Do we really need a study to tell us this? Yes, it’s good to get a reminder. My dad always encouraged me to “take time to smell the roses.” I wrote down my goals yesterday, no mention of "engaging leisure and spiritual activities." Maybe that's why written goals are such a problem for me. I'm going to revise my list as soon as this is posted. How about you?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ophra just emailed me (well, not just me) and asked for what topics she might focus on in her magazine and future TV shows. Here's what I sent her:

I suggest that you do a show called "Do Businesses Start the Way the SBA (Small Business Administration) says they should start?"

Dr. Amar Bhide has written a book that the publisher of Inc. Magazine has said is the most important book ever written about business startup, but very few employees of the Small Business Administration have ever read it. Dr. Bhide's research has shown that successful businesses don't start the way that the SBA says they should, with formal market research and formal strategic planning.

In 1993 I was inspired by Dr. Bhide's work to write a little booklet on startup that I sold for years through local book stores, and I started holding a weekly meeting for people who were interested in business creativity.

You can see the booklet and a link to the group (that I now call the IDEA Cafe) on

It really does seem to me that this is a big, big story that just doesn't get covered by the business press. The SBA was started in 1954, what has it really done to small business in America? We used to be a nation of shopkeepers, we are rapidly becoming a nation of clerks working for big corporations.

I'll let you know what I hear back from Ophra.