Monday, July 28, 2008

Here's a very interesting podcast interview with Thomas McCaw author of the recent biography of the economist Joseph Schumpeter Prophet of Innovation. McCaw compares Schumpeter to Benjamin Franklin. It's worth the time to take 10 minutes to listen:
God sows small seeds and lets them grow at their own pace. God does not look for the maturity of an adult from a teenager, nor the wisdom of the elderly from the younger. The seed is put into deep soil, soil which is the product of others’ work. We depend on each other for growth in faith and in prayer, and we find that God ‘grows’ us in the soil of love, mercy, compassion and friendship.
Sacred Space Daily Meditation

If the IDEA Cafe and Franklin Circles that I'm trying to start are truly what God wants they will grow. If they are just an extension of my ego, they will die.

Sam Newton, my dad's business partner, passed on last week and there is a memorial service tomorrow. The business he and my dad started is gone. What Joseph Schumpeter called "creative destruction" brings nearly all businesses to an end eventually. Not so with what God creates, whether it is a marriage or an organization.

Is the work you and I are doing today God's work?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's never too late for a 2nd chance. Or 3rd. Or 4th.
Here's an inspirational story about a "do over".
The sun will come up tomorrow!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Here's some wise advice and an observation about schools, which have only gotten worse:

"I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it."

"Schools and schoolmasters, as we have them today, are not popular as places of education and teachers, but rather prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them disturbing and chaperoning their parents." George Bernard Shaw, born on this date in Dublin, Ireland (1856-1950). He wrote plays about ideas when everyone else was writing sentimental melodramas.

Shaw's plays include Man and Superman (1905) and Saint Joan (1923). But he's best known for the play Pygmalion (1912), about a phonetician named Henry Higgins who teaches a cockney flower girl named Eliza Doolittle to pass as a lady.

It’s very interesting to me that Pygmalion was published in 1912, the year that Colorado adopted our wonderful caucus-assembly system for nominating to the primary ballot, which has given thousands of ”Eliza Doolittle” common people to become elected representatives.

Do you know the name of the movie that was based on Shaw’s play Pygmalion? I’ll take the first 3 people who email me the answer to to lunch here in Denver. But please, no pigs.

Friday, July 25, 2008

(What do you think about this blog? Is it interesting and helpful to you? Please see note at the end of this post. Thanks! John)

“I can never forget that one of the most gifted, best educated nations in the world, of its own free will, surrendered its fate into the hands of a maniac." Eric Hoffer, who was born on this day in 1902 in New York City (died 1983), was a self-educated longshoreman who came to fame in the 1950's with the publication of his first book, The True Believer, a caustic analysis of the nature of mass movements and those who are driven to join them… The alienated seek to lose themselves in these movements by adopting those fanatical attitudes that are, according to Hoffer, fundamentally "a flight from the self."

Reading Hoffer’s True Believer when I was 20 years old had a big impact on my thinking.

Individualism, isolating one’s self from society, can certainly go too far. But group thinking is the big danger in our mass society. Hoffer saw that once any of us stops believing in God we will very likely fall prey to some mass movement and become a fanatic of one stripe or another.

What is the antidote to fanaticism? To love God and to love and serve those who are in our life. Loving service is the true key to health grassroots politics and entrepreneurship, it seems to me. What do you think?

What do you think? Will you take a minute to help me? Please let me know what you think about this blog and give me any suggestions for making it more helpful and/or interesting to you. I'd like to make this more of a dialog. Why do you think people don't post comments?

If you want everyone to see, post your comment here. If you want to save me the embarrassment of a public thrashing, email me at Thanks!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When we are starting in a new direction in life, we often need an adjustment to our attitude. As Zig Ziggler says in his book See You at the Top, "our attitude determines our altitude!" Karl Menninger devoted his life to helping people adjust their attitude to become more productive.

Karl Menninger (July 22, 1893 - July 18, 1990), was born on this date in Topeka, Kansas, was an American psychiatrist and a member of the famous Menninger family of psychiatrists who founded the Menninger Foundation and the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas:

Dr. Menninger's advice when asked what to do when the fear of a mental breakdown comes: "Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need, and do something for them."

Other Menninger wisdom:

"Love is a medicine for the sickness of the world; a prescription often given, too rarely taken." "Love is the touchstone of psychiatric treatment ... to our patient who cannot love, we must say by our actions that we do love him." "It is doubtless true that religion has been the world's psychiatrist throughout the centuries."

"Not infrequently we observe that a patient who is in a phase of recovery from what may have been a rather long illness shows continued improvement, past the point of his former 'normal' state of existence. He not only gets well, to use the vernacular; he gets as well as he was, and then continues to improve still further. He increases his productivity, he expands his life and its horizons. He develops new talents, new powers, new effectiveness. He becomes, one might say, 'weller than well.' ...Every experienced psychiatrist has seen it.... What could it mean? It violates our conventional medical expectations, so perhaps it is often overlooked and occurs more often than we know. It may contain a clue for better prevention and better treatment. ...Transcendence does occur. And perhaps it is not an exception but a natural consequence of new insights and new concepts of treatment."

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand."

"...Peace or something near it is often achieved by those who do not seek it, who, seeking truth, forget themselves."

Grassroots politics is one of the best natural networking tools available. Here's a great way to get more involved and take advantage of what will be happening here in Denver in August.

Free community forums about the upcoming Democratic National Convention will be held at several locations throughout the metro area, hosted by the Denver Mayor's Office and the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee. The forums will serve to facilitate a community conversation about the Convention and will provide an opportunity for locals, guests and convention goers to find out about what is happening during the week of the Convention.

The official dates of the DNC are Aug. 25-28, but activities will begin as early as Friday, Aug. 22 with the opening of the American Presidential Experience at Invesco Field. RSVP for a forum to Krista Leben at Forum schedule:

July 26, 2008
Curious Theatre
1080 Acoma St.
12:00-2:00 p.m.

July 28, 2008
Temple Sinai
3509 S. Glencoe St.
12:00-2:00 p.m.

July 29, 2008
Southwest Improvement Council
1000 S. Lowell Blvd.
5:30-7:30 p.m.

July 30, 2008
North High School
2960 N. Speer Blvd.
5:30-7:30 p.m.

August 6, 2008
Montview Presbyterian Church
1980 Dahlia St.
5:30-7:30 p.m.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was." Ernest Hemingway, who was born on this date (1899 — July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist.

In an 1883 memo, Paul Reuter gave instructions to the reporters for his news service about what news to cover: "fires, explosions, floods, inundations, railway accidents, destructive storms, earthquakes, shipwrecks attended with loss of life, accidents to war vessels and to mail steamers, street riots of a grave character, disturbances arising from strikes, duels between and suicides of persons of note, social or political, and murders of a sensational or atrocious character." He further instructed "that the bare facts be first telegraphed with the utmost promptitude, and as soon as possible afterwards a descriptive account, proportionate to the gravity of the incident." His instructions in this memo formed a sort of industry standard for future news media.

“It’s not over until it’s over.” Yogi Berra

The Denver Group is pushing for the nomination of Hillary Clinton at the convention here in Denver in August. Here is the ad they are starting to run in major daily newspapers across the country (click to enlarge):

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My friend Stephen Keating is at Netroot Nation.
How is the internet changing politics? Should we care?
Read all about it on his blog.
Need a boost? An inspiration?

Read Susan Greene’s column today. It starts:

This is a story about devotion.

It involves two neighbors and the man who has lived out of their backyards for the better part of 30 years.

Wow. What a great column. Mystical.

Does it bring tears to your eyes as it does mine?

What if Denver took this column as the start of a change in attitude toward our homeless population?

I really would be interested in your comments on this. Post them at the end of Susan Greene’s column, OK?

I’m going to share Greene’s column and your comments at the Denver IDEA Café next Friday and then offer this as a brainstorming topic: “In what ways can we each connect with the homeless in Denver?” (To join us, RSVP using the link to the left here on this page.)

The mayor’s daisies didn’t sprout, could we turn the way we connect with our homeless into a source of pride instead of shame? Could that become the positive symbol for Denver at the DNC convention in August?

Friday, July 18, 2008

“Everyone needs to have a habitually critical attitude towards language — his own as well as that of others — both for the sake of his personal well-being and for his adequate functioning as a citizen. Hitler is gone, but if the majority of our fellow-citizens are more susceptible to the slogans of fear and race hatred than to those of peaceful accommodation and mutual respect among human beings, our political liberties remain at the mercy of any eloquent and unscrupulous demagogue." S. I. Hayakawa who was born on this date (1906 –1992) was a Canadian-born American academic and political figure. He was an English professor, served as president of San Francisco State University and then a United States Senator from California from 1977 to 1983.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"My gourmet popping corn pops up lighter and fluffier than ordinary popping corn. Mine is blowing the top right off of the popper. Mine eats better too. Try my gourmet popping corn. You'll taste the difference or my name isn't Orville Redenbacher". Orville Clarence Redenbacher (1907 -1995) born on this date, he was an American entrepreneur most often associated with the brand of popcorn that bears his name.

Vincent Carroll writes in the Rocky Mountain News this morning about the closing of a turkey plant and the need for scientists, to which I posted this comment:

As Amory B. Lovins from the Rocky Mountain Institute in Aspen has said that we have plenty of technology right now, what we need is more true entrepreneurs to apply existing technology.

Dr. Amar Bhide's new book to be published this fall takes an in-depth look at this critical entrepreneurial shortage and it's causes.

To learn more about true entrepreneurship join us for the Denver IDEA Cafe this Friday.

Free copy of Amory Lovins’s Harvard Business Review article “A Road Map for Natural Capitalism at

Monday, July 14, 2008

"I think Americans, more so than any other culture, love second and third acts." Edward Graydon Carter who was born today 1949 is a Canadian-born American journalist and author. He is editor of Vanity Fair. He also co-founded, with Kurt Andersen and Tom Phillips, the satirical monthly magazine Spy in 1986.

Graydon and I were both born about the same time. Is this act two or three for us?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right." "I am grateful for what I am & have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contended one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existence." Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American essayist, who was born today. Poet, and practical philosopher, best-known for his autobiographical story of life in the woods, WALDEN (1854).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dr. Amar Bhide new book The Venuresome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World is coming out this fall. Get a preview at

Dr. Bhide makes a good case that what we need are more entrepreneurs, not more scientists, a very contrary view to the current conventional wisdom of the techno-nationalist mindset.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On Saturday, August 2, 2008, from 1:00-5:00 pm, Father Richard
Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation will lead a seminar
based on his newest book Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality.
This is a rare opportunity, hope you can join us!
Click here:

Would you help me?

Since 1994, the Denver IDEA Cafe has met to help people who are starting
a new project, a new campaign, new career, or new business.

We invite successful people like you to share their startup experience,
and we brainstorm. We ask that speakers stay for the entire meeting,
since your brainstorming ideas really mean a lot to people after they have
heard your startup story. Details are at

Here's how you can help me now:

First, would you be willing to meet with us one Friday in the next few weeks to
share your startup experience?

Second, would you pass the word about the meeting to your friends and relatives who are trying to find a new direction? They will thank you, and so will I if you'll let me know what you've done.

Mt 10: 14 Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words
go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.

I first heard these read to me by Rev. Alex Bryan at University Park Church. It was the spring of 1965, and I’d just gone through being the center of a storm at Thomas Jefferson High School, where I was a graduating senior.

So it meant a lot to hear them read again this morning, and to hear them in a new way. These words are part of our marching orders, carry the message, but don't get stuck with people who just don't want to hear it.

How may I help you?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy birthday, America!

Sometimes you have to keep doing the same thing over and over until the world catches up with you, notices what you're doing, and is ready to make the most of it. On occasion, you just have to continue on until the right person with insight and resources crosses your path. If you changed too quickly, in the face of apparent defeat, you'd miss that meeting with destiny that could have been yours had you just been tough enough to keep doing your thing, over and over, expecting a different result. Tom Morris

There’s a good column in the Denver Post this morning about a great way to help America and to help yourself at the same time. The first comment post to the article complained about jobs going to others in the world, in response to which I posted this:

We are now competing with the world, and there is no road back to fortress America.

Get a job. Yes. Then use that job to build a successful career that includes being a good citizen.

How? A good starting place would be this advice from philosopher Tom Morris "Mastering the Art of Change."

John S. Wren, MBA+
Life is short, let's get started!

How are you going to celebrate America's birthday this weekend? How about joining us for the new Denver Speakers Corner? Sunday, July 6, 4 p.m., in Denver Civic Center, North Pavilion, on Colfax across the street from the Denver Newspaper Agency. More info and optional RSVP at

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"It is worse to be irresolute than to be wrong." William Strunk, Jr. who was born today (July 1, 1869, Cincinnati, Ohio – September 26, 1946, Ithaca, New York.) Strunk was Professor of English at Cornell University and is best known as the author of the first editions of The Elements of Style, a best-selling guide to English usage. This book, printed as a private edition in 1918 for the use of his students, became a classic on the local campus, known as "the little book", and its successive editions revised by E.B. White have since sold over ten million copies.