Monday, March 31, 2008

“All my life, I have been driven by one dream, one goal, one vision: to overthrow a farm labor system in this nation that treats farm workers as if they were not important human beings. Farm workers are not agricultural implements; they are not beasts of burden to be used and discarded.” “It can be done!” César Estrada Chávez (March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) Cesar Chavez was an American civil rights leader. His birthday has become a holiday in eight U.S. states. It’s a holiday here in Denver (parking meters are free today, city offices, libraries, and the Denver Art Museaum are closed, the Zoo and Denver schools are open) but not in Colorado. Many parks, cultural centers, libraries, schools, and streets have been named in his honor in cities across the United States.

“If you don’t have anything to say, sing it,” said Hal Riney who died recently. Here’s an 8 minute clip of a talk he gave in 2002 about his ads, ads that had a big impact on not only how advertising is done, but even more importantly how we’ve thought about ourselves as Americans since 1965 when his first big ad ran for Crocker Bank. The sound quality is bad, but this is really worth watching:

"I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University." Attributed to William F. Buckley (I can’t find the original source, does anyone know if WFB actually said this?)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"How much sadness there is in life, the right thing is to work." Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) who was born today. Later, just before he committed suicide, he said, "I feel a failure."

“When I have Republican friends (in Denver) say to me, we’re splitting town (during the Democratic convention), I say, ‘Why would you do that?’ This is going to be the greatest sideshow in the history of Colorado.” Dick Wadhams, Chair, Colorado Republican Party.

Bruce Benson, our newly appointed University of Colorado President, has scored his first victory, a new tax earmarked for CU Denver and the other Auraria schools.

Have a problem? Benson’s answer seems to always be, get a bigger hammer. (A thru I, Ref. C & D, etc. and the other special taxes Benson has pushed.)

Maybe “hammer tax” would be a good name for these special taxes, these end runs around the annual oversight of our elected representatives through the budgeting process, that Benson and Mayor J.Hic are so good at creating.

I wonder if “hammer tax” could ever make it into the dictionary? Probably not, since “seat tax” is not there yet.

Much thanks to my friend Larry, who just gave me this logo to use for my IDEA Café, isn’t it great? I’m going to post it here and on, and use it in other ways. Larry’s a very accomplished fine artist, and he also does commercial graphic art. He recently illustrated a childrens book for Kansas University, which I’m hoping that he’ll bring to the IDEA Café next Friday, and then to the Denver Grassroots Rally later that same day. See more about Larry, the work he has done, and how he might be able to help you at

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important." Eugene Joseph "Gene" McCarthy, born today (March 29, 1916 – December 10, 2005.) "Clean Gene" was an American politician and a long-time member of the United States Congress from Minnesota. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949 to 1959 and the U.S. Senate from 1959 to 1971.

In the 1968 presidential election, McCarthy unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president of the United States to succeed incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson on an anti-Vietnam War platform. He would unsuccessfully seek the presidency five times altogether. In 1980, he endorsed Ronald Reagan for the presidency.

An editorial in the Rocky Mountain News is critical of SB 212 which just unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee. It mandates students be certified ready to attend college when graduated from Colorado schools. Sounds good, but how? The plan provides no details. Clearly Gov. Ritter and the legislature are fiddling while Colorado schools burn. I posted this comment to the News editorial:

I've been told that right now 25% of Denver Public School students who start school graduate. How will this help the 75% that are not graduating now?

Last week our Optimist Club had a speaker who helps prisoners in the Denver County Jail study to pass the GED exam. “It would be a lot cheaper to have discipline in the classrooms than to just send them to jail to get their diploma. As I talk with these young people, it's clear there were no boundries set for them in school.”

Friday, March 28, 2008

"Never eat at a place called Mom's, never play cards with a guy named Doc, and never go to bed with anyone who has more troubles than you." Nelson Algren, born today in Detroit (1909). He settled in Chicago, which he called "The City on the Make," or sometimes, "the lovely lady with the broken nose." He wrote two novels: A Walk on the Wild Side (1956) and The Man with the Golden Arm (1949), about a disillusioned, card-dealing World War II veteran named Frankie Machine.

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere.” "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.” Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, March 27, 2008

From now until April 16, you can read Micheal Gerber's new book Awaking the Entrepreneur Within for free. Go to

In this book, Gerber realizes what I've been saying for years, that the startup process is radically different. What's done to get the wheel up and rolling is not at all the same as what is needed to keep it up.

His 2 1/2 day "dream room" carries a $5,000 price tag; might make sense to try my IDEA Cafe first, it's free! We just ask that you bring your brain for the brainstorming. Here in Denver, we meet each Friday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. More info and optional RSVP at Can you join us tomorrow (Mar 28)?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a home-sickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching out toward expression, an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the word.” “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." Poet Robert Frost, who was born today (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)

Also born today was Joseph Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987), “Follow your bliss.” Campbell's 1949 book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which traced the common theme of the spiritual quest in myth, was an inspiration for many writers found the book valuable for their own work, including the poet Robert Bly and the filmmaker George Lucas, who said that without it, he would never have been able to write Star Wars.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

“The meaning of the redemption is that we do not have to be our history… I’m not a mystic… All I have is a talent and the time to cultivate it.” Mary Flannery O'Connor, who was born today (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964.) Flannery was a devout Catholic, an American novelist, short-story writer and essayist... She once described herself as a "pigeon-toed only child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-alone-or-I'll-bite-you complex." Her texts often take place in the South and revolve around morally flawed characters, while the issue of race looms in the background. One of her trademarks is unsubtle foreshadowing, giving a reader an idea of what will happen far before it happens. Finally, she brands each work with a disturbing and ironic conclusion.

I sent out this email this morning:

To: Former GOP National Committee Woman JoAnne & Dan Gray
cc: Jody Strogoff, Statesman Newspaper and Dan Elliott, Associated Press.
bcc: other people interested in the Colorado Caucus.


Topic: Last meeting next Friday (Apr 4) of what started as Save the Caucus?

Hi JoAnne & Dan,

Went to Denver Dem platform committee meeting last night.
David Fogel & I were able to kill a resolution that the caucus
be dropped in favor of a presidential primary. There was broad,
enthusiastic support, including a round of applause for the caucus!

Are you delegates to State GOP? I wonder if there is anything
in their proposed platform about the caucus?

Miss seeing you two, one of the worst aspects of my party
change to Dems. So far doesn't seem to be a need to reconvene the
Save the Caucus bunch, the little that a couple of us are doing
with paper clips and rubber bands seems to be enough! My
appearance at hearing on HR1006 on the Secretary of State Association
plan for a rotating date was enough to get it amended to clearly include
the fact that the Colorado date be a caucus. Much thanks to
Rep. Jeanne Labuda for her help!

Would be good to get a group going to do for the Colorado Caucus
what Iowa has done for theirs, in my opinion, but I've tried for
the last few years and it doesn't seem to stir anyone's blood but mine.
It's a lesson in humility: I don't know as much about startup as I thought!

Maybe it would happen if I'd just get out of the way. Maybe it's not
the idea but the originator that is the problem. April 4 may be the last
meeting of what started in your living room and became Save the Caucus,
or just the end of my involvement if someone else would like to carry forward
with a group that would support the 2010 Colorado Caucus, setting the stage
for a 2012 Colorado Caucus with national attention similar to Iowa's.

Could you two say a few words? 4/4 at 4 p.m., Panera Bread. I'll invite
Jody from the Statesman, maybe she could use it as a hook for running
the interview with you which I don't think has appeared yet. More info and
optional RSVP at or call me.

Now I need to get serious about earning a living from my adult education activities as an entrepreneur, or maybe it's time I just get a job. Does anyone need a lobbyist for the grassroots?

Or maybe I'll take advantage of Denver's services to the homeless. I may end up
being a support of Mayor J.Hic after all!


John S. Wren, MBA+
This life is short, let's get started!
Franklin Circles
Business Peer Advisory Groups, Since 1727
My Linked In Profile:

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Before I was at Nagasaki, I was a good American boy. I was an Eagle Scout; I was the commander of a sub-chaser in the Normandy Invasion. Anyone who saw Nagasaki would suddenly realize that they'd been kept in the dark by the United States government as to what atomic bombs can do." Poet, publisher, and bookstore proprietor Lawrence Ferlinghetti. After college, he served in the Navy during World War II. He was sent to Nagasaki shortly after the blast. He became an anti-war protester. Ferlinghetti was born today in 1919.

Starbucks wants our ideas about how they can improve.

Here’s mine that I just posted on the above site:

I went to a small liberal arts college in the 60s. To break the image of "in loco parentis" it put up a kiosk where anyone could post any thing. It quickly became a vital part of the campus.

Coffee houses have been the center for such things since the founding of this country, vital places for neighborhood communications. Until Starbucks.

Please, please at least put up a community bulletin board in each store. Or even better, put up a kiosk in front of each store so it is available to the neighborhood 24/7. Strip it of all messages once a week or so, other than that just let it be self-regulated by the community. If you want to know how to best manage it talk with the owner of the Tattered Cover bookstores here in Denver which do a great job with their community bulletin boards.

Do you think Starbucks will listen? Probably not. A few years ago I invited the local Starbucks PR person to be on my radio show (John Wren's Journal. Never heard of it? You are not alone!) to discuss bulletin boards in coffee shops and the Starbuck policy of not allowing them. Starbuck's reaction was to contact my sponsor, with whom I'd made the big mistake of inviting to co-host the show, and he used their concern that the topic not be discussed as an excuse to fire me from my own show!

I'm thinking of putting the show back on the air, but I need to find a sponsor first. Starbucks? I'd certainly consider it if they'd put up community bulletin boards in all their stores. Starbucks's John Wren Hour-- Practical wisdom and applied creativity of, by, and for the grassroots. We could brainstorm, talk with people about their startup experience.

It's unlikely Starbucks will go for it. How about you? Please, no co-hosts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"I think the most important part of storytelling is tension. It's the constant tension of suspense that in a sense mirrors life, because nobody knows what's going to happen three hours from now." American novelist Richard Condon, who was born on this day in 1915 in Manhattan. Condon wrote 26 novels and two works of nonfiction, including the best sellers The Manchurian Candidate (1959), Winter Kills (1979), and Prizzi's Honor (1982). His novels often focused on the themes of government conspiracy and abuse of power.

One-person companies are earning upwards of $1 million in revenues annually. How do they do it? With high-speed Internet connectivity, mobile apps, automation, and a little help from their customers.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I'm trying Get a free 30 day trial for yourself using the link to the left. Let me know what you think of it, OK? Do you use a better contact manager?

Changes today at the Denver IDEA Cafe: I'm going to start encouraging people to come at 3 times, Watch/Do/Teach to Learn is going to become our new motto. Also, we're going to tweek the brainstorming just a bit, and put more emphasis on everyone sharing an Aha! moment, not just the announced speakers. I'll let you know how it goes.

IDEA Cafe is now listed in the Wikipedia article on "brainstorming." Meeting this afternoon, join us! More info and optional RSVP at

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Daughter Brooke, Ned & the twins doing very well, going home tomorrow (Friday).

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said (today) he expects the next decade to bring even greater technological leaps than the past 10 years… (Gates said) some of the most important advances will come in the ways people interact with computers: speech-recognition technology, tablets that will recognize handwriting and touch-screen surfaces that will integrate a wide variety of information… The coming years will bring rapid changes in media as television increasingly becomes a targeted medium, where viewers can select niche content for news, sports and entertainment. “TV will be based on the Internet; it will be an utterly different thing.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Here's a picture of my daughter Brooke and my new grandsons Tyler John and Jeffery Taisar taken by my son-in-law Ned Sisan. Born this morning at 9 a.m. in Houston.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

This gives me great hope: "If you're a singer you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. [But] a writer gets more knowledge, and if he's good, the older he gets, the better he writes," said Mickey Spillane. Six of his books are now among the 25 top-selling novels of the 20th century, there are about 130 million copies of his books in print.

Want to know why newspaper readership is declining? Take a look at the Denver Post’s coverage of yesterday’s Denver Democratic convention. There were 5,000+ stories, all that the Post can see is Clinton and Obama. There is no mention of the many interesting, some even exciting, local races that those of us who attended saw. Shouldn’t Denver politics receive at least as much attention as Rockies spring training?

Smart Reader Seminar - Making Money With The Denver Business Journal claims it the hour will increase your "Return on investment" by 8% over the next year. Should be worth at least the one drink minimum. This Tuesday (3/11), 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant 8100 E Union Blvd Denver, CO 80237 TECH CENTER More information at

The annual number of high school graduates in the United States will peak at about 2.9 million after a 15-year climb. The number is then expected to decline until about 2015.

Hunting has seen its ranks fall nationally to 12.5 million in 2006 from a peak of 19.1 million in 1975, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Did you remember to set your clocks ahead one hour last night? Writing this I notice that the clock on my computer has been set ahead automatically.

I remember being in Iowa with a car full of wrestlers driving back to Mt. Vernon after a match, listening one the radio to farmers call in to argue that changing the clocks once a year would upset the chickens and cows. Now that we’ve done it comes the news that it makes our human life more expensive.

Rather than having leap year, why doesn’t the government just give us an extra hour each day in the summer? We could call it summer time. Or even better, how about an extra day each weekend?

Being with all the new volunteers and candidates at yesterday’s political convention here in Denver was exciting. I saw many friends, and the peak experience of the day was seeing Raul Rodriguez put the name of Lauren Montez into nomination in House District 5, and then seeing her get exactly 30% of the vote to get on the primary ballot without spending a dime.

Even if Lauren decides not to go forward with a primary race, she will have served as a gadfly to wake up the sleep state representative incumbent who will be term limited even if he wins.

That’s one of the big reasons I’m such a big supporter of our wonderful Colorado caucus-assembly system for nominating candidates for the primary ballot: It forces elected representatives to stay in touch or risk having a primary. Like the gallows the night before a hanging, the assembly focuses their attention.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

It's the birthday of writer John McPhee, born in Princeton, New Jersey (1931), and considered one of the greatest living literary journalists। He is known for the huge range of his subjects. He has written about canoes, geology, tennis, nuclear energy, and the Swiss army. He once researched his own family tree and traced it back to a Scotsman who moved to Ohio to become a coalminer.

As a high school student, McPhee played a lot of sports, especially basketball। His English teacher required her students to write three compositions a week, each accompanied by a detailed outline, and many of which the students had to read out loud to the class. Since then, McPhee has carefully outlined all his written work, and he has read out loud to his wife every sentence he writes before it is published.

In college, McPhee was a regular contestant on a weekly radio and television program called "Twenty Questions," which he believes taught him to gather facts and guess at their hidden meanings. His goal as a young writer was to write for The New Yorker, but it took 14 years of being rejected before he published his first article there. During those years, he said, "I tried everything, sometimes with hilarious results. I think that young writers have to roll around like oranges on a conveyor belt. They have to try it all."

In 1962, he got a phone call from his father about an amazing new college basketball player at Princeton. McPhee went to see him play and decided to write a profile of the young man, whose name was Bill Bradley. The profile was published in The New Yorker, which invited McPhee to be a staff writer, and the profile became McPhee's first book: A Sense of Where You Are (1965). He went on to become one of the foremost journalists for The New Yorker. His name in the table of contents would actually increase the sales of that issue of the magazine. Then, in the early 1980s, he decided to write a geological history of the United States, based on the roadcuts carved out for Interstate 80. William Shawn wasn't sure readers would be interested in that particular subject, but McPhee didn't care. He spent almost 20 years writing about geology, and in 1999, he won his first Pulitzer Prize for his book Annals of the Former World (1998).

McPhee has published more than 25 books, even though he rarely writes more than 500 words a day. He once tried tying himself to a chair to force himself to write more, but it didn't work. He said, "People say to me, 'Oh, you're so prolific.' God, it doesn't feel like it — nothing like it. But you know, you put an ounce in a bucket each day, you get a quart."

When asked what he writes about, McPhee said, "I'm describing people engaged in their thing, their activity, whatever it is."

From The Writer’s Almanac

August of 1965 I got off the train in Cedar Rapids Iowa and a cab took me and my steamer trunk thru the corn fields to Mount Vernon, Iowa.

The bulletin board in the wrestling room at Cornell College had a poster with Bill Bradley’s picture and his quote from McPhee’s book, “When you are not practicing remember that somewhere some else is, and when you meet, he will win.”

This inspired me to practice twice a day, with the team in the afternoon and by myself each morning lifting weights, running, and practicing my wrestling moves in the style I’d learned that summer studying Karate in Denver.

Looking back, the time may have been better spent studying, but it resulted in me winning the NCAA Division III Midwest Conference Championship my sophomore year in 1967: I made a last second take down to beat a senior from Grinnell College, I think it was, who had placed 2nd in the same championship tournament for the last two years, since his sophomore year.

Our Cornell team won the tournament and then spent two days driving to Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania for the national championship where we all went out in our first match, exhausted from the long drive.

My dad surprised me, I looked up in the stands to see him wave at me and for some reason started worrying about where he would stay that night. Tired and distracted, I was outscored and eliminated from the tournament.

Dad and I drove into New York City, stayed at the New York Athletic Club, and went to a night club where I had my first alcoholic drink, since I was finished with athletics, engage to be married, free from the religion I’d been raised with, having wasted two years of my life in the wrestling room practicing instead of studying.

Would Bill Bradley be in contention for the nomination for president of the United States today if he’d focused on his education instead of basketball? I’d like to see 500 words from John McPhee on that in the New Yorker.

Friday, March 07, 2008

On this day in 1923, Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" was published in The New Republic magazine. It was Frost's favorite of his own poems, and he called it "my best bid for remembrance." He's remembered for many of his poems today, but that one is his best known and one of the most popular poems in American literature.

Though it's a poem about winter, Frost wrote the first draft on a warm morning in the middle of June. The night before, he had stayed up working at his kitchen table on a long, difficult poem called "New Hampshire" (1923). He finally finished it and then looked up and saw that it was morning. He'd never worked all night on a poem before. Feeling relieved at the work he'd finished, he went outside and watched the sunrise.

While he was outside, he suddenly got an idea for a new poem. So he rushed back inside his house and wrote "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" in just a few minutes. He said he wrote most of the poem almost without lifting his pen off the page. He said, "It was as if I'd had a hallucination."

He later said that he would have liked to print the poem on one page followed by "forty pages of footnotes." He once said the first two lines of the poem, "Whose woods these are, I think I know, / his house is in the village though," contained everything he ever knew about how to write.

From The Writer’s Almanac

Yesterday I testified at the committee hearing on Rep. David Balmer’s House Bill 1006, a resolution that endorses a plan by the National Association of Secretary of States to go to regional primary/caucus dates for selecting delegates in future elections for president of the United States.

I was able to get an amendment passed that clarified that the fact that the proposal in no way effected the Colorado Caucus other than the date it will be held. It will now go to the full house for a vote. When? That’s a good question, as the online system for tracking bills has not yet been updated as I write this:

Still seems to me this should get a NO vote when it goes to the floor, that's the way to send the loud, clear signal that Colorado wants to retain it's caucus-assembly system for nominating to the primary ballot. Let our Secretary of State continue to shape a final plan that can be adopted or not after full discussion by all citizens in the state.

I just wrote this in response to a medical doctor's criticism of the political process and medical care:

William F. Buckley who we lost last week once suggested a solution for hunger in America. There should be feeding stations where whoever wanted a very basic meal could go and be fed, getting a very simple meal. It would be even better if there were volunteers there to offer a word of encouragement and direction. Dorthy Day did this on a voluntary basis and it seemed to work well.

Why wouldn't the same thing work with medical care? Free open clinics that offer the most basic care for free to the indigent. Then get the government out of everything else.

Seems to me that medical insurance, whether it is private or run by the government, is the problem and not the solution.

What would happen if some entrepreneur started selling food insurance, something that would be honored at grocery stores for food purchases? For $100 you can get all the food you want.

Sale would be fast and furious, people would start using the cards, and long lines would start forming at the grocery stores. The price of the insurance would go up, and food purchases would start to have to be approved before they were made. There would be calls for the government to take over the program.

What's the difference between this and what is happening now with medical insurance? Do we really want the government to do more than disaster relief? Seems to me that's the unpleasant reality. I agree with Dr. Shogan it is not being addressed.

Agree or disagree? Join us this afternoon (Fri March 7) for the Denver Grassroots Rally, 4 p.m. at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant here in Denver near the Captiol. More info and optional RSVP at Dr. Shogan, can you join us?

IDEA Café is this afternoon at 2 p.m. Join us if you are starting a new project, a new career, a new campaign, or a new business. Free and open to all, we just ask that you bring your brain for the brainstorming. More info and optional RSVP at

I'm forming a new Franklin Circle for entrepreneurs, business owners, and creative managers here in Denver that will meet once a month. More information on my website
(this is my blog) or just send me an email with your phone number and I’ll get back to you with an email and a follow up phone call to make sure you got it. This is going to be a great group, it’s filling up fast, contact me right now if you are interested.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Last night I heard Jim Wallis give an inspirational and very motivational talk at the LoDo Tattered Cover bookstore here in Denver about his new book The Great Awakening—Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America. Just found this TV interview in UK about his previous best-selling book God’s Politics, makes several of the points in this interview that he made last night.

After his talk, I had the chance to talk with him about the caucus vs primary states. He thinks the caucus does promote greater civic participation, which is a good thing. He spoke of rebranding the Christian Church in politics, “Martin Luther King didn’t endorse candidates, he had candidates endorse his agenda.” Wallis is a great admirer of William Wilberforce who ended slavery in the UK, and the resent movie about him Amazing Grace.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Today is the birthday of Alexander Graham Bell (1847) who invented the telephone by mistake when he was working on a better design for the telegraph. It is believed that Bell was the first to say, “when one door closes another opens.” There are minutes of the Western Union board meeting that declined interest in the telephone; why would anyone want to talk over telegraph lines when the coding system worked so well?

Are caucus lovers just being closed minded? No says Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen in yesterday’s Denver Post. Bad sign for Colorado, NO COMMENTS ABOUT THIS CAUCUS COLUMN until I posted mine this morning. Take a look, post your comment, then ask a friend or two to do the same, OK? And mark your calendar now to join us Friday for the Denver Grassroots Rally where Dennis Gallagher will tell us about his caucus experiences. More info and optional RSVP at

Why do you think no one posted a comment on Quillen’s column? (Another attempt to get you to post a comment here on my blog--makes me feel somewhat better when I think of how few comments are posted on the Denver Post Online!)

See you tonight at the Tattered Cover? (See my Friday post here about who’s speaking and when.)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Who was it that said, "fear is useless, what is needed is trust" ? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Brainstorming topic at IDEA Cafe yesterday on how to get more people to post comments on blogs. One suggestion was to ask questions. Did it work?