Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I've set up a blog where I'll be posting my thoughts about the 2010 Colorado Caucus:

Hope you'll join in the conversation there!
I just posted this on Facebook:

John S Wren

Published on November 17, 2002. Despite having virtually no money to spend, John Wren helped lead the successful opposition to a well-funded Amendment 29, which would have abolished Colorado's caucus system. But victory was just the beginning, not the end, of his crusade. He's now embarking on an effort to improve the crippled system he played a part in rescuing. More power to him. In a letter to colleagues last week, he noted that caucus supporters ``seem to agree that the defeat of Amendment...
522 words, Rocky Mountain News (CO)

for complete article

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20 minutes ago · · · Share
John S Wren
John S Wren
What needs to be done now to encourage the informed participation of newcomers in our Colorado Caucus? I'm going to post my thoughts this afternoon on http://www.JohnWren.com
17 minutes ago ·
John S Wren
John S Wren
The deadline for affiliating as GOP or Dem to vote in the March 16 caucus is January 19. Wouldn't you think we'd be seeing something about this in the newspapers or at least on the Secretary of State website?
15 minutes ago ·

Monday, December 14, 2009

From:  http://www.mindfulness.com/2007/06/25/fifty-years-ago-a-concept-called-tec-was-born/
Bob Nourse around the age of 50 lost the family business. He had his brother managed it until Mongomery Ward found another vendor. It was over quickly.

Jim Handy, later hired by Bob, recalled that “Bob found himself on a profound search personally (What am I really about?) and professionally (What do I do?)”

TEC (The Executive Committee)  remains the name used by several of the partners of Vistage which is the name in the US except for Michigan and Wisconsin (where Bob Nourse started TEC in 1957).

Vistage/TEC is the world’s largest CEO membership organization with over 14,000 members in 16 countries.
Lee Thayer speaks of the Vision having the man. This was most true in the case of Bob Nourse.

The following is excerpted from Robert Nourse’s typed autobiography and family history: History of the Nourse Family, Volume II. It speaks to the spirit behind an idea of one man that has continued to grow over the past 50 years.

Chapter 7
My Middle Years

In 1935, still in the grip of the depression, I was making a modest living selling paper products: towels, toilet paper, picnic supplies to general stores in small towns. My income was about $300 a month out of which I had to pay my expenses. One day my brother, Pinkie (nickname for brother Claire, asked me: How would you like to come to work for Midland? We need a salesman to travel the Midwest and later on who can tell where it might lead? When Dad retires in a few years we will run the company we will run the company together. You’ll receive more to start than you’re earning now.”
Flattered that he felt I could make a contribution, I accepted. He offered me $300 a month, expenses paid, which I accepted. My future had never been brighter. I had proved myself, made a good marriage (married May 5, 1934 to Grace), now I had a good job.
Father did retire and Pinkie and I ran the family business for the next twenty years. My brother had been with Midland five years before me and he was eight years my senior, so naturally he was the president, I the vice-president.
I had made another mistake. It is difficult enough working with a brother but working for one. Working for one’s older brother can be hell. He was critical of my work, seldom complimented me. It is hard to place the blame. At the time I thought it was all his fault. In the beginning he gave me few instructions and no praise or encouragement.
His dissatisfaction with my work was palpable but seldom expressed and then only by innuendo. Yet it wasn’t all his fault. I had learned since that I am an entrepreneur at heart and could not be happy working for any person. In my second career I was my own boss and was divinely happy.
I never knew where I stood with him. I would come home every night and bitch to Grace about every little affront. Not only did it put a strain on our marriage, but also I’m sure it was a contributing factor to my anxiety neurosis. It was when I was on a sales trip for Midland that the Shattering “incident” in the hotel in Illinois occurred, the incident that triggered my neurosis
Mother’s pampering when I was a child had made me more sensitive and thin-skinned than most. That, coupled with my feeling of worthlessness at work, made me a prime candidate for an anxiety neurosis. In 1942 it hit me. The first symptom was sleeplessness followed by hypochondria. Dr. Tom Tolan would usher me out of his office with: “Not a thing wrong with your throat, Bob. Take an aspirin four times a day and gargle with hot salt water if it still hurts.” A few weeks later I was back with the same symptoms.
The neurosis blossomed in Detroit. I was having dinner with a customer when the fear of spending the night alone in a hotel room engulfed me. I told him I was ill and asked him to spend the night with me. It embarrasses me now just to tell about it.
I called the housed physician the next morning. He sat on the edge of my bed, took my pulse, asked me what my symptoms were and where I came from, then said: “In the few minutes I’ve been here your pulse has dropped from 100 to 65. Why don’t you head for home? You are fortunate to have a physician in Milwaukee who is a specialist in these disorders. You might want to look him up. His name is Dr. Roland Jefferson.”
I did look him up in the phone book, found him listed under PSYCHIATRIST. It threw me. Was I going Crazy? A month later when I repeated the Detroit experience in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, Grace urged me to see Dr. Jefferson. I made an appointment, the first of hundreds over the next few years.
With his help, and that of Dr. Saul APollock later on, I learned how to cope. I became a whole person, and thanks to them, managed to stay on the job through it all without missing a day. I was fortunate neurosis hadn’t struck me ten years earlier because professional help wasn’t available. A March 20, 1983 article in The New York Times stated: “As late as 1930 Freud’s books were being derided in The New York Times Book Review.
All suffering has its compensation. I came out of my Freudian analysis with a deeper understanding of myself and with a knowledge and interest in psychology. Ten years later this was instrumental in helping me create a new career.
I am grateful to Pinkie for his understanding. He didn’t say a word when I left work early to keep appointments and he gave me the position of production manager so I didn’t have to travel.
I am grateful to Pinkie for putt up with me for the following fifteen years. I was unable to travel so the load fell on him to do all the selling. And, he did an excellent job of it. Under his direction the annual sales of the company increased from $300,000 to over $5,000,000.
Together we shifted our products as times changed. It’s hard to believe today that as recently as the thirties we made harness hardware. With the advent of the tractor that business almost disappeared, so we shifted to wheeled garden cultivators for “victory” gardeners during the Second World War. Later wed put small gasoline engines on them, and seats, so the operator could ride.
By 1954 we were producing every year several million dollars worth of garden tractors and riding, power lawn mowers. I made $40,000 that year, far beyond my fondest dreams. Then catastrophe struck.
We had made the serious mistake of selling most of our production to one customer, Montgomery Ward, and they “pulled the rug” on us. They switched their business to one of our competitors. By 1957 it became evident we wouldn’t survive.
By a stroke of luck Pinkie was able to sell what was left of Midland Company for enough money not only to pay its debts, but also to leave some over for the stockholders. A few days before signing the papers, Pinkie died of a heart attack. I am grateful he lived long enough to close the deal. The proceeds from the sale of his stock have supported his widow for the past thirty years. The money I received for my stock tided me over until I found a news source of income.
During the Midland years, I took numerous courses on business at the Management Institute of the University of Wisconsin. I also read extensively in the fields of psychology and group dynamics, books by Carl Jung and Kurt Lewin. I became involved in the Human Potential movement, seminars that helped people to utilize a larger percentage of their potential; and I became President of Cambridge House, a growth center where the seminars were held.
As Midland slipped away, I began exploring ways in which I might turn these avocations of mine into a vocation. I was bound and determined to retain my independence, not to go to work for a company on a salary. In early 1957 I had an idea. Would eight or ten company presidents be interested in forming a group to help solve each other’s problems? Many presidents paid big fees to management consultants. At Midland, I had, myself. Wasn’t a president who had solved many problems better qualified to help peers than a consultant who had not had first-hand experience?
If the answer were “Yes,” someone would have to sell the idea to a group of presidents and then conduct their meetings. With my experience in business and my newfound knowledge in group dynamics, I felt qualified for that job.
But I foresaw obstacles. Could I charge enough for my services to support my family? Would the presidents feel they could “do it themselves” without my services?
To test my idea, I presented it to several friends: my rector, a lawyer, a management consultant, an industrial psychologist, and a friend who was a company president. All of them encouraged me, gave me helpful suggestions. One said: “How about calling it The Executive Committee?” I replied: “Perfect.”
At that time an executive committee comprised of the president and two or three key members of the board ran many companies. So, The Executive Committee it became and, later, TEC for short.
I started calling on prospects in the summer of 1957 and by fall had five presidents who were willing to try one meeting. On the date set, October 1957, four showed up. At the end of the day all said they would attend a second meeting for which I could bill them. In the interim, I added three members. TEC had been launched.
At the second meeting I outlined my concept for TEC. Membership was to be limited to eight non-competing company presidents or chief executive officers. Full day meetings were to be help once a month, the morning to be spent listening to a “resource specialist” discuss a subject of group interest and, in the afternoon, each member was to present a problem for discussion. A chairman would plan and conduct the meetings and hold a monthly interview with each member to help him articulate his problem.
Two years later I started a second committee, calling it TEC II. When I added a third, it was all I could handle, so I started adding partners. When I retired in 1980, there were thousands of TEC members from coast to coast and in Australia and Japan. I am grateful to have lived in a free-enterprise society where an individual’s ideas could be realized without having to contend with government restrictions.
Illustration of a problem that was presented at a TEC meeting:
Cast: Eight company presidents and a Chairman, Bob
Place: University Club of Milwaukee
Time: 1972
Bob speaks: “Jim, you’re host for this meeting so you have the privilege of presenting your problem first.”
Jim: “Well-I’ll make it as brief as I can. Both of my sons are working for me and I can’t decide which one should be my successor as president. It’s customary for the oldest to succeed, but Tom, the younger, has been with the company longer.”
Bill: “Is he doing a good job? (Bill is another president)
Jim: “Excellent, considering he never had a college education. He’s Vice President of Manufacturing and all his foremen respect him h highly. But his older brother, Jack, is also doing a good job as Vice President of Sales. I favor Tom. He’s proven himself and if Jack goes in over him it would amount to a demotion.”
Joe: Why didn’t Jack come into the business ‘til later?” (Joe, another president)
Jim: He enlisted during the Vietnam War. Served in the Air Force. Flew supply planes over the hump in Burma.”
Joe: “I can understand why you have a problem. You hate to penalize Jack when he was delayed because he was serving his country.”
There was a pause in the conversation.
Phil: (Another president breaks the silence) Have you considered letting your sons decide for themselves?”
Remarks around the table. “Best idea yet.” “Sounds sensible.” “Why not?” “It’s worth a try.”
Joe: “Would you be willing to abide by their decision?”
Jim: “I think so. After all, it’s not irreversible.” (Turning to Bob.) Would you be willing to get them together?”
Bob: “Sure, if they’re willing.”
A week later Bob, Tom, and Jack are sitting together.
Bob opens: “Your father asked me to get you two together. He has a problem. He feels both of you are qualified to be president, but can’t decide which.”
Jack: “I can understand why. I’m the older, but Tom has been here longer.”
Tom: “I’ve wondered how he would decide. Either way it’s okay with me. Jack and IU get along fine.”
Jack: “No problem. I like being Vice President of Sales. There’s plenty of challenge for me. Tom has earned the job and I think he should have it.”
A year later, TEC IV is holding its regular monthly meeting. Bob opens the meeting.
Bob: “Jim, it’s been a year now since you made Tom president. Give me a report. How’s it going?”
Jim: “Excellent. Tom has the title, but the two work together like a team. Jack has built up a strong sales organization. He likes to travel and spends most of his time on the road. Sales have increased twenty-five percent over last year and they’re forecasting a thirty-five percent increase for this year.”
Bob: “And how are you doing, Jim?”
Jim: “I’m having a ball. Playing golf two or threes time a week. My wife and I spent a month in southern Arizona last winter and plan to make it two this winter.”
Bob: “Jim, that’s just great. Anytime you want a leave of absence from TEC IV, just ask. But don’t drop your membership. We need you to teach us how to retire.”
1989. Tom has bought out two of his competitors and in now third largest in his field in the United States. He joined TEC VI where he brings up his problems each month. After a brief illness, his father passed away several years ago at 81.
So, that’s the way of TEC. It isn’t often that a man can start a new career after he’s 50 and have it succeed. I feel very fortunate.
One of the interests, which I listed earlier, is psychology.
I have Grace to thank for introducing med to it. Back when I was b ringing home all my problems with Pinkie and dumping them in her lap, she was on the point of leaving me. One of her friends suggested that she take her problems to Apple Farm, a retreat center in Three Rivers, Michigan.
The three ex-nuns who founded it had left the sisterhood because they were captivated by the teachings of Carl Jung, the Swiss analytical psychologist. They started Apple Farm to spread his teachings. After several sessions with Grace, they convinced hear to try to make her marriage work. She did for which I’m grateful.
Over the next few years, all three of our children, and myself, visited Apple Farm. It was a great learning experience. The entire family has benefited from Jung’s psychological teachings. Terms Jung introduced to the language give a hint to the depth of his psychology, terms such as introvert and extrovert, persona, projection, individuation. Each term has meaning for me. By taking tests, I learned I was an introvert, not an extrovert.
I learned I was wearing a persona, a mask to hide my true self, a mask of self-confidence, which I didn’t feel. The mask seemed to weigh a ton. Those part of myself I didn’t like, I projected onto others. Individuation was the most difficult. It was the process of becoming a person, an individual who took charge of his own life rather than leaning on others. Jung opened up a whole new world to me, one that has enriched my life, particularly in my relationship with others.
…Grace and I both have interests in theatre and classical music…
Closely allied with culture, which feeds the soul, is food and wine, which feeds the body. I love good food and will drive miles for a gourmet dinner. And I love wine even more, to the point where I have made a hobby of it.
One year, at Grace’s request, we visited the homes and studios of the great artists along the Cote d’Azure in Provence. I said, “The next trip is for me, to see the vineyards of France.”
Landing at de Gaulle Airport, we headed straight for the Chablis country without even going into Paris. Next came the champagne area followed by Dijon and the upper Soane Valley. Heading back south, we visited the vineyards of a dozen of the finest Burgundies. Cotes de Rhone was next, south of Lyon, which lead us into Provence.
The wines of Languedoc are very poor, so we pressed on to the Dordogne Valley with Rocamador, the city on top of a cliff, at its center. Going down the Dordogne River to its mouth, we spent a week visiting the finest wine area in the world – Bordeaux. Heading north we wound up our tour sampling the sweet wines of the Loire Valley.
Every time I drink a French wine today, I read the label to find out where it came from, then close my eyes and picture it.
Chapter 11
The TEC Story

Four men were willing to risk one meeting of The Executive Committee. In October 1957 we met in the office of Carl Rowe, the president of Milwaukee Valve Co. To acquaint the other members with his facilities so they could be more helpful in the discussion to follow, Carl conducted a tour of his plant. Starting with brass ingots he took us through the foundry where they were melted and poured into molds to make valve casings. Then came the machine shop where the rough castings were finished and the valves inserted. Finally, the packing and shipping departments. Back in his office later we told him what we had observed – a dangerous operation here, malingering there, inefficiencies, but also those things we thought he was doing well.
In mid-afternoon I worked up the nerve to put TEC to the test. I said, “Our principle purpose in being here is to help solve each other’s problems. Now who would like to go first?”
John Kipmeier shifted in his chair. Ralph Findley blew his nose. All four stared at the floor. It was the moment of truth. No company president likes to admit he has problems. He thinks it is an admission of weakness, of personal failure. Finally Carl, unable to tolerate the silence any longer, cleared his throat.
“I don’t think this is really a problem and I doubt if you can be any help to me, but” (deep breath) “I’ve had to fire three sales managers in the past year.” The floodgates opened. He proceeded to talk and talk and talk, giving all the rationalizations for firing each one. I broke in on him. “Carl, I think we have enough information. Now let’s see if anyone has any suggestions for you.”
Silence again, but not as long this time. John Kipmeier, who had been the sales manager of his company before becoming president, said, “Carl, have you ever been a sales manager?”
“No, I never have. I’m an engineer.”
All three tried to speak at once. It was obvious that Carl was the problem. They were too discreet to say this directly. They suggested he travel with his sales manager, that only by learning his problems could Carl become a good supervisor over him.
One by one the others brought up problems and in almost every case someone had had a similar experience and shared how he had resolved it. Five o’clock passed unnoticed. At five-thirty I broke in.
“Maybe we’d better call it a day, but before we go, how did you like it?
I held my breath. The future of TEC, my future, hung in the balance.
“I thought it was pretty good,” Bob Wagner said at last. “I’m will to risk one more meeting. How about coming to my place next month?”
“I’ll be there.”
“Send me a notice, Bob.”
Grace greeted me at the door with anxiety in her eyes. I threw my arms around her, swung her around, put her down, kissed her, and said: “It worked. They decided to try another meeting.” And on and on for an hour without stopping.
“You haven’t touched your martini,” Grace interrupted. “Bring it out to the kitchen and tell me more while I put on the dinner.” With such a supportive, understanding and sympathetic wife, how could I fail?
A year passed. Four more men had joined which filled the membership. Al had suggestions for improving the meetings. After the eight plant tours had been completed I brought in a resource specialist for the morning session, an expert on a subject the members wanted to know more about. I told him we didn’t want a speech but an informal roundtable discussion. As chairman of the meetings, I saw to it that every member got equal time. I developed the skill of diplomatically quieting down the loquacious ones, and drawing out the quiet ones. Most meetings ran overtime.
Keeping a group of eight executives stimulated and involved for a full day is not easy. It took days of preparation. I learned I could improve the meetings by having an interview with each member beforehand. This accomplished several things—an opportunity to elicit their problems for the coming meeting and to review the suggestions they received at the previous one. (The called me The Needler.)
I kept in touch with the four advisors who had been so helpful to me in developing TEC. One day one asked me, “Bob, are you earning enough from one committee to live comfortably?
“Not really. It’s marginal. My family is still on a very tight budget.”
“How about your time?”
“I’m giving each member more time than necessary, more than he pays for.”
“Isn’t it about time you started a second committee?”
TEC II was launched three months later. (The idea for Roman numerals came from a prestigious line of cars—the Marc series)
Three years later another of my advisors, the lawyer, suggested a committee be formed out in the state. He said, “My clients in the smaller towns appreciate my services more than my Milwaukee clients.” TEC III was launched in early 1963. Now, with twenty-four members, I was stretched to the limit. A member suggested I write a book on TEC and call it My Twenty-Four Bosses. That may follow this family history.
TEC III had a special place in my heart. It had to be my old love affair with the small towns of Wisconsin, Kindled in the early 30’s when, trying to earn enough money to get married, I was selling toilet paper to country merchants. But the years had wrought significant changes. Back in 1933 when I pulled into the town of Fort Atkinson I took my sample case into a corner grocery and spread the rolls of Northern Tissues, paper napkins and flypaper on the counter for Mr. Marachewski’s inspection. Now in 1963, the only thing the same was the Ford, a newer model of course. Instead of a sample case I carried my briefcase into the office of Alan Jones, president of Jones Daily Farm whose little dairy sausages were sold in the finest stores from coast to coast.
Instead of merchandise we discussed ideas. Rather than selling a case of toilet paper to a very fine fellow who nevertheless has little education, I was using the intelligence and diplomacy acquired from my parents and the university to involve a successful business executive in a discussion of his problems. My only tools were a pen and pocket secretary. I was living by my wits and enjoying every minute of it.
Yet, driving home to Milwaukee in the late afternoon the differences of thirty years vanished. Just as I had in 1933, I shunned the turnpike and followed the same old county trucks that curved with the streams and curled with the streams and curled around the lakes of the Kettle Moraine, my beloved Wisconsin at its best.
By the mid-sixties the economy has been expanding for twenty-five years, marred only by minor recessions in 1957 and 1961. No one realized we were facing fifteen years of race riots, Vietnam protesters, an oil embargo, inflation, malfeasance in the Oval Office, Japanese competition and the deepest recession since the 30’s.
Kept informed by some of the best minds in the country, TEC members were prepared to meet all these crises. I couldn’t attract the guru of General Motors, Peter Ducker, to Milwaukee so we took the mountain to Mohammed, by holding a meeting in his hometown—New York City.
Year by year the members grew closer together, learned they could share confidential problems without fear of being exposed. Among the companies that were family-owned the matter of succession to the presidency was particularly important…
One day Tom was complaining about his business. Erv, in his slow, deep voice said, “Tom, do you realize you have been complaining about the foundry business for the past three meetings? If it’s so lousy, why in hell don’t you get out of it?”
Tom, looking startled, turned to the others and said, “Is Erv right? Have I?”
Ken responded for the group. “I guess you have to face it. He’s right.”
A year later Tom started a new business and when it was running smoothly he sold the foundry. Had I been a member of TEC would I have sold Midland before Montgomery Ward dropped the axe?
In 1967 I began to realize I wasn’t going to live forever. (That was seventeen years ago? I don’t know what I was worried about.) I had better find a successor if TEC was to survive me. The first man I approached turned me down, and the second\ed, and the third. A self-appraisal revealed the reason. They were all high-caliber men and I was telling them, “It should be easy for you. I have worked all the bugs out of it. All you have to do is follow in my footsteps.” The men I had approached wouldn’t follow in any man’s footsteps. I made a complete about face. To the next man I said, “ I have only laid the foundation. You build on it.” He accepted.
His name was Dr. Frank Sterner, a young Ph.D. from Purdue. A year later a Purdue classmate of Frank’s appeared in our offices. He said, “I heard about your new work from Frank and it interests me. So much so I’ve come all the way from California to learn more.” Thus TEC spread to the west coast.
In 1973, Frank Sterner accepted a position as Associate Dean of the Purdue School of Business. I couldn’t blame him although it set me back on my heels. Fortunately I found Jim Handy from the University of Minnesota to replace him. A year later Dr. Harry Dennis, another Ph.D. from Purdue, joined us. A member told me, “Bob, one of your greatest abilities is selecting and developing partners.” I think luck played a big part. I any event, Jim, Harry and I, all with quite different skills, have made a good team for the past ten years.
I have made it sound as though TEC was easy. Not so. Procrastination was my worst enemy. The countdown for the next meeting started the day after the previous one. Pressure built day by day. It became almost unbearable if a meeting was only two weeks away and I did not have a resource specialist. I would say to myself, “Come on Nourse, get on the ball. Are you doing this to yourself because it feels so good when you stop? Deep down are you a masochist?”
Another tension-builder was when a member told me he was dropping out. My first reaction was that it was my fault. Why hadn’t I stayed closer to him so I had some warning that he was dissatisfied? I learned that dropouts often came during periods of euphoria when life was beautiful and my creative juices stopped flowing. A dropout jolted me out of my lethargy and back into a more productive mode. A third and final pressure was self-imposed. I set a standard of making each meeting better than the previous one. I didn’t always succeed, but my average was over fifty percent.
People often ask me, “How did you start TEC? It’s so creative.” None of the separate parts of TEC are original with me. The rotating of hosts came from the original Rotary Club. The problem-solving session came from case studies at Harvard Business School, except TEC cases were “live.” Small groups go back to the Apostles. Large groups had been breaking up into “buzz” groups for a number of years. The only thing creative about TEC was putting all those old parts together in a new package.
Late one evening in January 1976, I was driving the long, lonely stretch of road in the North woods from Merrill, Wisconsin to Menomonie, Michigan. AI had a breakfast appointment the next morning. Several inches of snow lay on the ground before I left, and it was getting deeper by the hour. The temperature was near zero. Knuckles white, eyes straining to avoid going off the road, I started talking to myself aloud.
“For Christ’s sake, Nourse, what in hell are you doing to yourself? Here you are, seventy years old, battling a blizzard in the deep woods of Northern Wisconsin at ten o’clock at night to keep an appointment. Can’t you ever give up and admit you’ve had enough?”
Three months later I turned TEC III over to Jim handy; a year later TEC II followed. I held onto my original TEC I for two more years but finally retired on my seventy-fifth birthday.
In twenty-three years our Midwest TEC had grown from one committee with eight members and one Chairman to twenty-three committees with 195 members and ten chairmen. Jim and Harry get the credit for the dynamic growth. They built the structure on my foundation. In my opinion they, with the eight chairmen they selected, are the finest professional organization in the State of Wisconsin. The group includes former successful business executives, consultants, psychologists, and college professors, even a retired admiral.
The West Coast TEC has outgrown its parent. Last month it went international. The Los Angeles Times carried the story that a group of Japanese businessmen were in town to sign a franchise for TEC Japan. My crowning glory.
When a man asks me what I do, I say: “I get company presidents together and help them solve each other’s problems.”
“Does that make you a management consultant or something?”
“No,” I respond, “I’m not smart enough for that. I’m a management educator.”
To myself, I add, “One of the best.” Am I bragging? I suppose so.
…Is it presumptuous of me to think that what I’ve learned is worth sharing with my grandchildren? I’ll leave it up to them to decide whether it’s helpful. For one thing I listen to advice regardless of the source. To my surprise sometimes the best advice comes from the damnedest mouths—from someone for whom I have little or no respect, often someone who has made a mess of his life. So, as a start, listen to advice. Seek it if necessary.
Do I believe in God, and God who, when I close my eyes, I see painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo? A God with his relaxed hand held over the head of man as though God was bestowing his blessing. Someone asked C.G. Jung if he believed. Jung, the lusty guy who bent most of the Ten Commandments, replied: I don’t believe. I know.” I can’t say it any better. How else can we have any hope for the future? And without hope all is lost. During my years of travail at Midland hope was the one thread I clung to and it was strong enough to pull me through.
High on my list is: travel light. I try to avoid weighing myself down with material goods, a big house, big cars, and a second home in San Miguel de Allende, a boat on Lake Michigan. Ai let someone else own and maintain. I rent and use. That leaves me time to enjoy things. The one exception is Lost Mile Farm, but that is no chore. Besides, nature prunes itself.
Over 2000 years ago Aristotle said, “Know thyself.” There are many ways I have gotten to know myself. One is through my dreams, which I record and have interpreted for me. One’s unconscious knows best, Jung teaches. I trust it. Other ways are studying psychology, attending seminars and retreats, prayer, just asking myself, “How do I feel about this or that, and why? How can I get the most out of myself if I don’t know whom I am and what I have? How I stay well if I don’t listen to what my body is saying to me.
I try to stay healthy without making a cult of it. Years ago I was overweight. I changed my eating habits, eliminated high calorie foods, and haven’t had to think about weight since. Forty years ago, when it took me ten minutes to clear my lungs every morning, I gave up smoking. I seldom have a cocktail but enjoy wine with my meals. I have a physical once a year and take my doctor’s advice when he tells me to be moderate in all things. I don’t hesitate to take medication he prescribes to relieve stress or sleeplessness. Mother lived to ninety-six and she took a “powder” every night of her adult life. I do five minutes of exercise for my back most mornings; and I walk a lot.
Life has demonstrated—to me—that good relationships with people are what make life worth living so I nurture them carefully. Family ties area the most important so I write and phone my children regularly and encourage them to phone home, and each other. I try to reach out to friends even when they don’t seem to reach out to me. It takes an exercise of the will. Grace, of course, is in a category all by herself. She comes first in everything.
I have always respected money, too much, but have tried to keep it in its place. This has taken years of constant vigilance. Only in the past few years have I been able to relax and truly enjoy it. The Midland debacle in 1955 wiped out much of what I had accumulated. However the past thirty years have been good to me so I have recouped my losses and more.
Financially, I have tried to live by one very simple rule—to spend less than I make. Most people struggle all their lives to make more than they spend. It’s a losing battle, and I mean BATTLE, not only with oneself but also with spouse and children. Like a prudent housewife, I kept all sorts of little “jars” for tucking away a few dollars, savings plans and war bonds, pension plans and bonuses. My children make enough to live comfortably so they don’t need to inherit, but I’m sure they will. As one retiree said, “I spend whatever my children can afford.”
Several other tenets by which I have tried to live are:
• To use my power and control wisely. It hasn’t been easy. I have more of both than I realized.
• To use tradition rather than let it use me.
• To be eclectic—to maintain many and varied interests.
• To live by my wits—that is, to use my brain rather than depending on accumulated wealth.
• Finally, to keep growing, to live life right, to the hilt, right to the end—to throw myself away.
Last weekend I climbed up on El Paracutin the American continent’s newest volcano. Tarascan Indians guided Grace and me on horseback from the end of the road to the base. Instead of a pile of fine black ashes I found an immense cone of congealed volcanic rocks each weighing tons, piled helter-skelter. Rather than tapering off, it came to a steep, abrupt edge like a Mayan Pyramid. What was left of a church steeple protruded from the mass. I climbed the hundred yards up to it, mostly on my hands and knees. Bloodied and exhausted, I drank in the fascinating sight.
I tried to picture what it was like forty years ago when it was a cauldron of molten rock gradually burying an entire town, all except the church steeple. What force had saved the steeple from that fiery, living hell, now a cold, dead hell?
I turned around and looked back down the route I had taken. It took two guides, one firmly holding each hand to lead me, carefully picking my steps among the boulders, back to the flat valley floor and the torture of the saddle for the return trip. Every muscle in my body ached, but what better way is there of knowing one’s alive?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I just posted this comment on an interesting discussion about an article in the Denver Post about Adam Smith and what he really meant, for the complete article and discussion click here: http://www.denverpost.com/allewis/ci_13930270

My rights end where your nose starts. Government's role is to protect us each from force, fraud, and harm individual actions do to a 3rd party. Big business, especially, needs oversight by government. But I go back to my original question: What do we do when big government has become just as much a problem as big business? Eisenhower warned us about the industrial/governmental alliance.

Our system of government demands informed and active citizens who think of the common good. Adam Smith never said there is an invisible hand in politics. The problem today, it seems to me, is with the grassroots. Too many people just wait for someone else to do the job, myself included. It's like the Pogo cartoon, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

First, we need to each be "all that we can be." Self-government demands ongoing self-directed learning. It would be a big improvement over what we have now if each citizen just read their local newspaper every day. It is vital that we each be in what 12-step programs call a "fit spiritual condition" in whatever way we each find helpful. There is to be no state religion, but all the political organizing in the world won't help us if we don't really trust in God, and not just give that foundation for personal freedom lip service such as printing it on our money.

Second, we need to be part of the solution through political action. Thomas Jefferson said we'd need a revolution every 20 years or so, and the founding fathers provided for a bloodless battle in the way we choose our candidates for elected public office at every election. The full flowering of that system is our Colorado Caucus. Affiliate with the party of your choice by January 19, and you can be part of the solution starting next spring. It's no accident, in my opinion, that Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was published in 1776.

To find out more about how you can get involved with the political party of your choice (to me it's like playing touch football, it doesn't matter if you are a red or a blue), attend Denver Speakers Corner this Sunday or any Sunday at 4 pm in Denver Civic Center Park, where someone almost always uses their turn on the soap box to talk about our wonderful neighborhood Colorado Caucus and answers questions about how to get involved. http://meetup.com/Denver-Speakers-Corner

Monday, December 07, 2009

The difference between the inventor and the entrepreneur?

Two caveman were standing around the first fire. One shouts "Hurray, I discovered fire!" The other shouts "Hurray, I discovered insurance!"

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reuters Blogs:
With their feet and their purchases, individual consumers are revolting.  Scholars have started to call this trend, “brand avoidance,” as consumers worried about the larger social and economic impact of brands on society look for other options, even if those options cost a bit more.  In growing numbers, buyers are choosing the local over the brand, the farmers market over the supermarket, the Main Street strip over the mall.  Same with coffee.

While Starbucks closed down outlets in 2008, citing the New Recession as the cause, independent coffee houses, the Seattle Times noted, brought in new customers and they didn’t cut prices.  Over the last few years, in fact, the number of independent coffee houses in the U.S. has jumped past the number of chain store outlets, and now represent 54 percent of the coffee market.


I posted this comment:

In the early 90s I hosted a weekly business radio show in Denver, Colorado. To promote the show I distributed a free newsletter to libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, etc.

SB stores wouldn’t allow my newsletter. SB had a policy of only distributing SB printed material, and they had no bulletin boards for community information.

This really grated on me. Coffee shops have always been community hubs for the dissemination of newsletters, posters about events, etc.

The SB policy may have loosened slightly, but SB and the other chain outlets are a far cry from the community coffee shops that were so important to the healthy growth of this country.

The great good places, as one writer has called them, have been disappearing. Is there a revival taking place? I hope so.
"Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered — either by themselves or by others. But for the Civil War, Lincoln and Grant and Sherman and Sheridan would not have been discovered, nor have risen into notice. ... I have touched upon this matter in a small book which I wrote a generation ago and which I have not published as yet — Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven. When Stormfield arrived in heaven he ... was told that ... a shoemaker ... was the most prodigious military genius the planet had ever produced." 

Mark Twain pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens born this day. (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910)

Twain was fascinated with science and scientific inquiry. He developed a close and lasting friendship with Nikola Tesla, and the two spent much time together in Tesla's laboratory.

Twain himself patented three inventions, including an "Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments" (to replace suspenders) and a history trivia game.Most commercially successful was a self-pasting scrapbook; a dried adhesive on the pages only needed to be moistened before use.

Twain made a substantial amount of money through his writing, but he squandered much of it in bad investments, mostly in new inventions, particularly the Paige typesetting machine. It was a beautifully engineered mechanical marvel that amazed viewers when it worked, but was prone to breakdowns. Twain spent the enormous sum of $300,000 (equivalent to almost $7,000,000 today) on it, but before it could be perfected, it was made obsolete by the Linotype. He lost not only the bulk of his book profits but also a large portion of the inheritance of his wife.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

(Today, Sun, Nov 29) is the birthday of C.S. Lewis, (books by this author) born Clive Staples Lewis in Belfast (1898). He's best known probably for The Chronicles of Narnia, a seven-volume series of children's books. The first in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), begins: "Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids."

C.S. Lewis is well known also for his essays on Christianity. He'd been baptized and raised Anglican (in the Church of Ireland), became atheist as a teenager, then a theist in his 20s, and then, in his early 30s, he converted wholeheartedly to Christianity.

His great many religious writings include Mere Christianity (1952), based on theological talks he gave on the BBC during World War II; The Screwtape Letters, a novel of letters from a demon to his nephew (1942); and the allegorical novel The Great Divorce (1945), in which dwellers of hell ride a bus up to heaven. In an essay called "Is Theology Poetry?" he wrote: "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

He taught English and medieval literature for three decades at Oxford University, where he was good friends with The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien.

C.S. Lewis died a week shy of his 65th birthday in Oxford, England, the same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

He said, "Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness."

From The Writer's Almanac

C. S. Lewis's life had a profound impact on me and at least one of my friends. I bought a biography of Lewis and gave it to the friend, who was going through Denver on vacation, before I'd read it myself. Later I did read it and wondered if I'd done the right thing; the story was not light vacation-type reading.

My friend  called me years later and said, "I wanted you to know I never read that book you gave me until just a few days ago. I took it down from the shelf recently, and was blown away by it. I just got back from talking with the Pastor at my church here, and I've given my life to Christ."

Lewis believed in putting his faith into action. I think he'd like what we are trying to do here in Denver with Denver Speakers Corner. (Does anyone know if Lewis ever attended the Hyde Park Speakers Corner in London?) Our little group got some publicity in this morning's Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_13876192

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Denver Speakers Corner 

"Cor ad cor loquitur."
(Heart speaks to heart.)

Take the soap box and give us 3 to 5 minutes straight from your heart, or just listen to what others have to share about issues, candidates, causes, and local Denver community news.

It's like a poetry reading for politics.

The sign up sheet is out at 3:30 p.m. Those who RSVP and come by 4 p.m. speak first.

Denver Speakers Corner Meetup
Tomorrow, Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 4:00PM

Each Sunday we gather at 4 p.m. under the center arch of the Civic Center north pavillion on Colfax just across the street from the Denver Post.

Then we go to some other part of Civic Center, most of the time right between the state capitol and the Denver city and county building. That way we can point! :)

This is a lot of fun. Poets are welcome to read when they take their turn, or talk about the candidate, cause, or concern you have about government, politics, or anything that's happening here in our city, state, nation, or world.

What's on your mind?

RSVP is optional, but there are several advantages: 1) It gives you priority on the speakers list, 2) Makes sure you get a reminder of the meeting each week, and 3) gives you a vote as we make decisions about the group.
Join us now, while it's on your mind! Or just be there Sunday. Either way, we are glad to have you with us!
Civic Center Park (North Pavillion)
Colfax & 15th Street
Denver, CO 80201

See the full event details at http://www.meetup.com/Denver-Speakers-Corner/calendar/11709180/.

Check out what members are saying about Denver Speakers Corner:

"Come out and polish your skills. Rehearse a line a speech, or even an excuse you plan on giving your significant other. (LoL on the last one. "No really honey I was just joking!)

Express your thoughts, worries, anger (but please no violence), or just introduce yourself as you support those around you taking a chance.

Its free, so come on out and meet some pretty cool folks." - charles ballew
"Because there is no better way to keep free speech alive and kicking." - keith
"It will engage their interest, since we speak about current issues. Further, it will give people who like to speak a chance to do so, while giving people unskilled at speaking a chance to improve their skill." - G. P.
"This has the potential of becoming a great source of local news about Denver." - John
"This is my favorite meetup." - Michelle Fire Eater

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! For my Thanksgiving message (and to invite me to be
your Facebook friend if we are not already) click below:

John S Wren | <-- Click.  Happy Thanksgiving! Invite me to be your Facebook friend.

Yes, the Denver IDEA Cafe will meet this Friday, Nov 27.
Great speaker! For more and RSVP at http://meetup.com/Denver-IDEA-Cafe

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The longer I taught in the public school system, the more I came to think that schools were concerned with everything but teaching. Teaching was the last priority, something you were supposed to do after you collected the milk money, put up the bulletin boards, straightened the shades and desks, filled out forms in triplicate, punched the cards, charted all the reading levels so they could be shipped downtown to the Board of Education. Everybody was test crazy. It seemed as thought the administrators only wanted to probe IQs and rank test scores. It didn't matter whether the children learned anything at all. Nothing was important except their performance on standardized tests. Teachers were supposed to teach skills specifically for those tests. Marva Collins, The Marva Collins' Way, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1982.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Very interesting discussion: Can B-Schools Teach Entrepreneurship? http://bit.ly/4sjUrN\

What has been your experience?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

John E Wren died 30 years ago today.

His hospital bed surrounded by family and friends, Pop did not pass quietly. If not a rage it was certainly a struggle there in Denver's Porters Hospital.

This morning, it suddenly dawned on my why the struggle. Pop must have finally realized it was time to go, as the hospice ladies were encouraging us to tell him, and with that realization he must have decided to get off the stage quickly. He played his part well right to the end of this life.

His last words to my mother had come earlier, that day or the day before if I understand correctly: "Don't worry honey, we'll whip this."

Pop always had whipped back adversity, right up until this final stuggle when it suddenly became clear that it was time to go. So he did.

He'd married my mom, Jane Edwards, a year or two behind him, a cheerleader and the most popular girl at Amarillo High School (I know she was and is because I got to see how they treat her at the 50th high school reunion). Mom a couple of years out of school, dad on a leave from the Navy, March 16, 1944 they eloped. I was born in 1947, they moved to Colorado in 1949, and had two more sons as they built a successful business which they sold in 1969 when I graduated from DU.

Dad was a Christian, but he never could find a church that met his standards. He left one when he offered to pay for Sunday school teachers who did more than just babysit, and they wouldn't do it. 

His deep faith and regular attendance from church to church seemed to help him be a high achiever, but it didn't appear to be a real comfort to him at the end. His then current pastor left his room with tears in his eyes and told me, "You dad just said a very profound thing. 'It's hard to fight two battles.'"

Pop we still miss you. Your 55 summers were not enough. Facing 30 winters without you has been hard for us all.

But this morning I take comfort in the prayer of a poem you recited so often:

As going through life,
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eye upon the donut,
And not upon the hole.

I'm grateful Pop, for all the good lessons and the time we did get with you. And don't worry, Mom, we'll whip this. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. George Bernard Shaw

Friday, November 06, 2009

My old economics professor at the University of Denver used to tell us there is no such thing as unemployment. "If you don't believe me," he'd say, "anyone who considers them self unemployed can come with me this afternoon, I'll put you to work pulling weeds in my yard."

The problem is the economists pie chart. There is no pie. We are not so much in a ocean liner as a canoe; we each have to paddle our own canoe.

Yes, there is a need for temporary charity and a safety net. But the objective is to recover. In football, players are taught to hit and recover, to get back up into a good hitting position. If you need help getting back up in a good hitting position, if you're not sure what you are going to do Monday morning, join us any Friday afternoon for the Denver IDEA Cafe.
"Even the labor of humility is rest."
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

Want to turn your inspiration into effective action? Whether you are part of the 10% unemployed, or the 90% who have a job, if you are starting a new career, a new project or campaign, or a new business, join us this afternoon or any Friday afternoon for the Denver IDEA Cafe. We meet from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant, here in Denver Colorado. Contact me if you want more information.

Monday, November 02, 2009

"What is life but a series of inspired follies? The difficulty is to find them to do. Never lose a chance: it doesn't come every day."

"I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

George Bernard Shaw, who died on this date in 1950 at 94.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

In response to my previous post here:

Here's a podcast of me talking about how to find a good job fast:

I just got this email from the Dean of my alma mater:


That was a great podcast! Thank you for sharing. I have passed 
it along to folks within Daniels. I hope you are doing well!

All the best,


Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D.
Professor of Management
Daniels College of Business
University of Denver
2101 South University Boulevard, Suite 664
Denver, CO 80208
Phone:  303-871-4324
Here's a podcast of me talking about how to find a good job fast:
It was on this day that Martin Luther (books by this author) published his 95 Theses in 1517, an event that led to the Protestant Reformation. He was protesting corruption within the Roman Catholic Church, and he was particularly upset by the selling of indulgences, which the Church was doing to raise funds for restoration work on St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Luther's initial goal was not schism nor even confrontation; he was operating more in the mode of muckraking (a tradition that would become popular centuries later). Luther was hoping that his statements would shame the Church into mending its ways.

In Thesis # 86, Martin Luther posited: "Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?" But the selling of indulgences was the iceberg tip of a deeper theological issue: a debate over the doctrine of Justification, and its role in salvation. The Roman Catholic Church's position was that man could not be saved by faith alone; good works must accompany the faith. And at the time, buying indulgences to save one's soul and help achieve salvation in the afterlife counted as something somewhere between good works and spiritual insurance.

Luther insisted that this was wrong, theologically so, because only God could grant salvation. The pope could not, Luther said, and the practice of selling and buying indulgences was harmful to Christianity because the false assurance misled people from being faithful Christians. His language grew stronger over time, and he wrote: "All those who consider themselves secure in their salvation through letters of indulgence will be eternally damned, and so will their teachers."

There were attempts at mediation and counseling by the Vatican, but slowly a virulent confrontation between Luther and the pope developed. Luther was called to Rome and asked by the pope to recant 41 of the sentences from his writings, including some from the 95 Theses, or else he would be excommunicated. He refused and grew increasingly outspoken. He proclaimed: "The Roman Church, once the holiest of all, has become the most licentious den of thieves, the most shameless of brothels, the kingdom of sin." He was excommunicated, declared a heretic and an outlaw. He was a hero of many German townspeople.

And it was on this day just 10 years ago — in 1999 --- that Lutheran and Roman Catholic clerics signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. It's an 8,000-word document that aims to explain misunderstandings and resolve differences over the very doctrine that was at the heart of the of the Protestant Reformation. The document's preamble states that the two churches, Lutheran and Catholic, "are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God's grace through faith in Christ." The document is not all encompassing when it comes clearing up issues about Justification, it disclaims, but does say that no one will be excommunicated over the issue of Justification anymore.

From: The Writer's Almanac

Friday, October 30, 2009

Humility is a virtue, not a neurosis. It sets us free to act virtuously, to serve God and to know Him. Therefore true humility can never inhibit any really virtuous action, nor can it prevent us from fulfilling ourselves by doing the will of God. Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

Speakers Corner again this Sunday, 4 p.m., Civic Center Park. What's on your mind?
I just posted this on Craig's List. Please forward to your friends who might be interested, OK?

Also, we have good speakers at the Denver IDEA Cafe and the new Franklin Circle open meeting this afternoon, hope you can join us! More info on the links to the left here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"The secret to being a writer is that you have to write. It's not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away, alone, and get to work."  Christopher Robison

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Denver IDEA Cafe Announces Speakers.
Since 1994, free help for people starting a new career, project, campaign or new business.

DENVER—The Denver IDEA Cafe startup workshop meets from 2 to 3:30 p.m. each Friday at Panera Bread, 13th and Grant in Denver. More information and RSVP at http://Meetup.com/Denver-IDEA-Cafe or (303)861-1447.

Upcoming speakers:

This Friday, Oct 23: J. Brad Bernthal http://caete.colorado.edu/coursedb/view-instructor/161
Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Technology Policy, Entrepreneurial Law, University of Colorado Law School.

Oct 30: Dawn Todd www.DawnTodd.com, founder of Wildly Successful Women; business coach Jerry Chesser www.ActionCoach.com.

Nov 6: Suzanne Kaller, Arapahoe Library District, about startup resources available in public libraries. http://www.arapahoelibraries.org/go2.cfm?pid=8169

Since 1994, the Denver IDEA Cafe has been helping people who are starting in a new direction by providing a free forum where successful people share their startup experience and then brainstorm specific questions or problems.

IDEA is an acronym for: I= Inspiration or Identify the Problem; D= Develop Alternatives; E= Evaluate the Alternatives; and A= take Action. The meeting is free and open to anyone who is starting a new career, a new campaign or project, or a new business.
This is why I say I'm a recovering M.B.A.:

Sony's founder, Akio Morita, was a master at watching what consumers were trying to get done and at marrying those insights with solutions that helped them do the job better. Between 1950 and 1982, Sony successfully built twelve different new-market disruptive growth businesses. These included the original battery-powered pocket transistor radio, launched in 1955, and the first portable solid-state black-and-white television, in 1959. They also included videocassette players; portable video recorders; the now-ubiquitous Walkman, introduced in 1979; and 3.5-inch floppy disk drives, launched in 1981. How did Sony find these foothold applications that yielded such tremendous up-side fruit?

Every new-product launch decision during this era was made personally by Morita and a trusted group of about five associates. They searched for disruptive footholds by observing and questioning what people really were trying to get done. They looked for ways that miniaturized, solid-state electronics technology might help a larger population of less-skilled and less-affluent people to accomplish, more conveniently and at less expense, the jobs they were already trying to get done through awkward, unsatisfactory means. Morita and his team had an extraordinary track record in finding these footholds for disruption.

Interestingly, 1981 signaled the end of Sony's disruptive odyssey, and for the next eighteen years the company did not launch a single new disruptive growth business. The company continued to be innovative, but its innovations were sustaining in character-they were better products targeted at existing markets. Sony's PlayStation, for example, is a great product, but it was a late entrant into a well-established market. Likewise, its Vaio notebook computers are great products, but they too were late entrants into a well-established market.

What caused this abrupt shift in Sony's innovation strategy? In the early 1980s Morita began to withdraw from active management of the company in order to involve himself in Japanese politics. (This information was recounted to us in a July 2000 interview with Mickey Schulhoff, who worked for over twenty years as CEO of Sony America and served for much of this time as a member of Sony Corporation's board of directors.)

To take his place, Sony began to employ marketers with MBA's to help identify new-growth opportunities. The MBA's brought with them sophisticated, quantitative, attribute-based techniques for segmenting markets and assessing market potential. Although these methods uncovered some underserved opportunities on trajectories of sustaining improvement in established markets, they were weak at synthesizing insights from intuitive observation. In searching for an initial product foothold in new-market disruption, observation and questioning to determine what customers are trying to do, coupled with strategies of rapid development and fast feedback, can greatly improve the probability that a company's products will converge quickly upon a job that people are trying to get done.

From: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/maney/2003-11-12-innovators-solution-excerpt.htm

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine."

Arthur Miller, born this date in 1915, considered by many to be the greatest American playwright. From his 1949 play, Death of a Salesman.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"It was at Rome, on the fifteenth of October, 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted fryers were singing Vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the City first started to my mind. After Rome has kindled and satisfied the enthusiasm of the Classic pilgrim, his curiosity for all meaner objects insensibly subsides."

Edward Gibbon, writing about his inspiration to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. His six-volume work, published between the years 1776 and 1788, covered more than a thousand years of Roman history, from 180 A.D. to the fall of Constantinople.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Speaking at the Denver IDEA Cafe this Friday, Oct 16: Author Joe Clark www.CommonSenseRetirement.com, a former Texas State Trooper, Joe owned a private investigation company for 15 years, now consults with people who are turning 65 about their retirement choices.
What are you creating?

Whether it's a new project, a new campaign, career, or new business, you can get help each Friday afternoon at the Denver IDEA Cafe.

The IDEA Cafe is designed to be helpful to the person who is not sure what they are going to do Monday morning. If that's you this Friday, please join us.

Also join us if you have startup experience you'd be willing to share. But please, don't come to just network. For more information and to RSVP see: http://meetup.com/Denver-IDEA-Cafe The meeting is free and open to everyone, we just ask that you bring your brain for the brainstorming.
See our meeting announcements in the Denver Daily News.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.  George Bernard Shaw  http://www.quotes.net/authors/George%20Bernard%20Shaw

Friday, October 09, 2009

I just confirmed Wendy Norris (photo to left) will be with us this afternoon at the Denver IDEA Cafe. Wendy was the managing editor of the Colorado Independent, one of the first online newspapers in the country. She currently has a Knight Foundation grant and is researching new media. She'll share her startup experience and her perspective on the entrepreneurial opportunities that are available for journalists. There is an item about the meeting in the Denver Daily News today on p. 5, take a look, then pass it along to a friend. More info and RSVP at http://meetup.com/Denver-IDEA-Cafe.
Right after the IDEA Cafe, at 3:45 p.m. today (Fri, Oct 9) or any Friday we have a free, open meeting of the Denver Open Franklin Circle. At each meeting enough information is distributed to those attending that they can start a new Franklin Circle with their friends and business associates on a topic of their choice. For more information and to RSVP for this afternoon or future meetings, see http://meetup.com/Franklin-Circle-Denver-Open

Thursday, October 08, 2009

  1. We have a great speaker tomorrow (Friday, Oct 9) at the Denver IDEA Cafe. Wendy Norris is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced journalists in the country regarding new media. If you or someone you know wants to turn your talent for writing and reporting into a business, join us! http://meetup.com/Denver-IDEA-Cafe
  2. Have you thought about starting a peer advisory or master mind group with your friends and business associates? Join us any Friday for the Franklin Circle Denver Open group. You'll get enough information at the first meeting to start your own group over the weekend, or meet with us each Friday until you get your own group started. More info and RSVP at http://meetup.com/Franklin-Circle-Denver-Open
  3. I'm meeting with Scott Heiferman, the founder of meetup.com tonight (Thursday, Oct 8). Watch for improvements in my meetup.com groups as a result of our meeting!
  4. Rocky Mountain Inventors Association http://rminventor.org  has asked me to be their Executive Director. If you already have experience with the group, or if you'd like to become involved, please contact me.
  5. It is possible that my work with RMIA (see #4 above) will result in me discontinuing my consulting practice. But for now, I'm still available to be of assistance to you as you start in a new direction with your career or business. If you might like help, contact me. But please, do it now. I'd hate for us to miss this opportunity. And I need the money!   John@JohnWren.com or (303)861-1447

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

October 6, 2009

Contact: John Wren cell (720)495-4949

University of Colorado Prof Speaks to Denver IDEA Cafe October 23.
Since 1994, free help for people starting a new career, project, campaign or new business.

DENVER—The Denver IDEA Cafe startup workshop meets from 2 to 3:30 p.m. each Friday at Panera Bread, 13th and Grant in Denver. More information and RSVP at http://Meetup.com/Denver-IDEA-Cafe or (303)861-1447.

Upcoming speakers:

Oct 9: Reporter, editor and entrepreneur Wendy Norris linkedin.com/in/wendynorris on journalism and her startup experience.

Oct 16: Author Joe Clark www.CommonSenseRetirement.com, a former Texas State Trooper, Joe owned a private investigation company for 15 years, now consults with people who are turning 65 about their retirement choices.

Oct 23: J. Brad Bernthal, Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Technology Policy, Entrepreneurial Law, University of Colorado Law School. Brad leads the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (LAWS 7619) and the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic (LAWS 7809). In addition to his clinical instruction, Brad teaches doctrinal courses in the areas of telecom policy, spectrum management, and entrepreneurial finance.

Prior to law school, Brad conducted legislative research as a staff assistant to United States Senator Robert Kerrey. Brad started his legal career in San Francisco with Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP. He then returned to Denver where he practiced at Hogan & Hartson, LLP before most recently working for the Boulder law firm of Berg, Hill, Greenleaf and Ruscitti. http://lawweb.colorado.edu/profiles/profile.jsp?id=192

Since 1994, the Denver IDEA Cafe has been helping people who are starting in a new direction by providing a free forum where successful people share their startup experience and then brainstorm specific questions or problems.

IDEA is an acronym for: I= Inspiration or Identify the Problem; D= Develop Alternatives; E= Evaluate the Alternatives; and A= take Action. The meeting is free and open to anyone who is starting a new career, a new campaign or project, or a new business.


John S. Wren, MBA http://www.JohnWren.com is the founder of the Denver IDEA Café, the Denver Startup Forum, and Franklin Circles. He is a business consultant and adult educator. Wren is also the new Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Inventors Association http://www.rminventor.org/

October 6, 2009

Contact:  John Wren cell (720)495-4949

Adult self-directed learning groups may have been Ben Franklin’s best idea, says John Wren.     

DENVER— Franklin Circle Denver Open Group, each Friday, 3:45 p.m. at Panera Bread, 1330 Grant, Denver. Free. More information and RSVP at http://meetup.com/Franklin-Circle-Denver-Open or contact John Wren at (303)861-1447 or John@JohnWren.com.

In 1727, young Ben Franklin formed a group in Philadelphia for “the purpose of mutual improvement” as he puts it in his famous Autobiography. In 1996, inspired by Franklin, entrepreneur and long-time community activist John Wren formed the first Franklin Circle here in Denver, and he’s now actively working to spread the concept.

“I’ve conducted startup workshops and done consulting with small businesses for years,” said Wren. “This experience has convinced me there is a real need for these peer advisory groups for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and creative managers. The intention is to help people to start and grow their own business, and to help them become better citizens through active participation in local government and politics.”

Each group is autonomous, and those who are interested are invited to attend one of Wren’s free meetings. Help is then available to start or join a free or tuition-based group.


Attachment: What is a Franklin Circle?

John S. Wren, MBA   http://www.JohnWren.com   is the founder of the Denver IDEA Café, the Denver Startup Forum, and Franklin Circles. He is a business consultant and adult educator. Wren is also the new Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Inventors Association http://www.rminventor.org/