Wednesday, September 30, 2009

“You can’t. You can never be sure. You die without knowing.” Poet John Berryman's answer to poet W.S. Merwin's question "how do I know if I've written a good poem" when they were both students at Princeton. Merwin was born on this date in 1927.

Is this true for all writing? Will we ever know the true value of a Twitter or a blog post in this life?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I just sent out this release to the media:

September 29, 2009

Contact:  John Wren cell (720)495-4949

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 or (303)861-1447.

Upcoming speakers:

This Friday, Oct 2:  Inventors day at the IDEA Cafe. Speakers are both board members of the Rocky Mountain Inventors Association (RMIA). Patent Attorney Roger Jackson  is President of the RMIA; and Past President of the RMIA and President & CEO of Innovative Consulting Group Bonnie Kaake John Wren was recently elected Executive Director of the RMIA by its board of directors.

Oct 9: Reporter, editor and entrepreneur Wendy Norris on journalism and her startup experience.

Oct 16: Author Joe Clark, 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.

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.

“We help people who aren’t sure what they are going to do Monday morning to find their own path,” says entrepreneur and long time community-activist John Wren, the founder of the group.

Wren says the name IDEA Cafe name comes from a four-step business creativity model he developed when he was Mountain Bell in the 70's.

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.

Why does he do it? Wren explained, “Dan Brogan, publisher of 5280 Magazine, says the group has infused Denver with a spirit of entrepreneurship over the past decade. I hope that is true, for the sake of my grand kids.”


John S. Wren, MBA   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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In case you didn't notice, I've been asked to be the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Inventors Association. We have a meeting tonight (Thur, Sept 24), I hope you'll join us. See calendar for address and other details:

Yes, I'll still be facilitating the Denver IDEA Cafe and the Franklin Circle Denver Open meetings each Friday. More info about those meetings and optional RSVP at:

Denver IDEA Cafe, 2 p.m., Panera Bread, 13th & Grant

Franklin Circle Denver Open, 3:45 p.m. Panera, 13th & Grant

Last call for my book?
My little book Daring Mighty Things-- The Simplest Way to Start Your First (or Next) New Business is still available on this site (look <--- to the left) but this may change. Also, my consulting services continue to be available for now, and that is subject to change. Depends on how final negotiations go with the RMIA board. So if you want the little book and some of my time, act now!

Is the Franklin Circle the ultimate "happiness board"?
Tal Ben-Shahar in his best selling book Happier-- Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment says

"Create a personal happiness board-- a group of people who care about you and your well-being, and who will hold you accountable to the ultimate currency (happiness). Ask your board members to keep track of your commitments and ensure that you follow through on them. Meet regularly to discuss your progress, where you have made significant improvements, where you would like to put more effort, or where you would like to change course.

"Following up on our commitments and goals isn't easy. It takes time for a practice to become a habit, a ritual-- and therefore most efforts at change ultimately fail. Change of any sort-- be it starting an exercise regime, overcoming procrastination, or getting to spend more time with our family-- is more likely to last when we enjoy the support of others.

"In addition to creating your own happiness board, become a member of other people's boards (you may have one small group, in which you serve on one another's boards). By doing so, you will be helping them as well as yourself: by holding others accountable to the ultimate currency and reminding them to pursue meaningful and pleasurable activities, you will be indirectly strengthening your commitment to your own happiness."

When I'm upset with someone if I stop and think about it my upset is the result of either: 1) Me projecting my faults onto that person (this is why we teach what we most need to know, like me writing this to you now); 2) Truth the person is telling me I just don't want to hear; 3) Unrealistic expectations of mine; or 4) Unresolved conflicts in the past the other person is taking out on a safe target (me), they aren't doing it to me, they are just doing it. Who are you upset with right now? Can you see one of these four reasons behind your emotion?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

This should be worth listening to Wednesday.

I just got this from my friend Ashleigh Brilliant:

Sunday September 20, 2009

Dear Friends,
If you are among those huge hordes of people who have always wanted to hear my voice, you may like to know that, through the magic of modern technology, you will soon be able to do so – and it won’t cost you anything!

I am going to be interviewed on a local Santa Barbara radio station which now “streams” its signal so that anyone anywhere in the world with access to the Internet can pick it up, live and direct.

This momentous event will occur on Wednesday, September 23, between 9 and 10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. I realize that this may not be very convenient for some of you in distant time-zones – but please ask for only one miracle at a time. (And don’t expect to hear me constantly during the hour, since this is a commercial news station, and there will be several breaks for news and advertising.)

The interviewer is a local radio personality named “Baron” Ron Herron. I have been on his show before, but this “streaming” capability is something new, and we are interested to see how far the program may reach. It’s a “call-in," so (in theory at least) you can actually talk to me while I am on the air, and you and I will both be heard by everyone tuned in.

From outside the local area, the number to call is (866) 564-1290. (The local number is (805) 564-1290, but quite honestly I'd rather hear, this time, from people I'm not likely to encounter every day.)

If there is anything in particular you'd like to hear me say or do on the air, please let me know now by email.

Here’s all you have to do to listen in:

Make sure your speaker is turned on.

Go to (This is the website of Santa Barbara’s main daily newspaper, which owns the radio station.)

Go down the right-hand column to the section headed “News-Press.” In that section you will see six small boxes, 2 rows of 3.

Go to the upper-right of those 6 boxes, which is headed “AM 1290,” and which says inside (in red in 2 rows) “AM 1290 LISTEN NOW”

Click anywhere in that box.

The sound should then come up, but may take some seconds before you hear it.

All the best,
Ashleigh Brilliant

ASHLEIGH BRILLIANT, 117 W. Valerio St. Santa Barbara CA 93101 USA. Phone (805) 682-0531 Orders:(800) 952-3879, Code #77. Creator of POT-SHOTS, syndicated author of I MAY NOT BE TOTALLY PERFECT, BUT PARTS OF ME ARE EXCELLENT. 10,000 copyrighted BRILLIANT THOUGHTS available as cards, books etc.World's highest-paid writer (per word). Most-quoted author (per Reader's Digest.) Free daily Pot-Shot cartoon: CATALOGS:[h&m included]. Starter $2. Complete Printed version: $18 Electronic Text-Only (emailed $25, on CD $30). Electronic Illustrated Catalog/Database (CD only) $105 (includes shipping anywhere). Details:

Friday, September 18, 2009

“The powers in charge keep us in a perpetual state of fear, keep us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.”
 Douglas MacArthur
The most successful people are lifelong learners; they constantly ask questions and never cease to explore the wonder-filled world around them. Regardless of where you are in life-- whether you are fifteen or a hundred and fiftenn, whether you are going through a rough patch or are thriving-- create an education program for yourself. 

Your program can include the following two catagories: personal development and professinal development. Under each category, commit to learning material that will yield both preent benefit (that you enjoy reading and thinking about) as well as future benefit (that will contribute to your overall growth). Ritualize your program by putting aside regular times each week for your education.

Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier-- Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment.  p. 95. 

What have you learned this week? That's the question we ask ourselves each week at Franklin Circle. Join us this afternoon at 3:15 p.m., right after the Denver IDEA Cafe. More information and optional RSVP for both groups, click on:

Denver IDEA Cafe

Franklin Circle Denver Open

Another group that I've found helpful is Socrates Cafe. I've been leading the Thursday evening group that meets at Trinity Church, but I've had to resign because of conflicts with my new job as Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Inventors Association. John Hart has agreed to take it on, and I'm sure he will do a great job. I'll be at the RMIA Denver meeting next Thursday evening, thanks John!

Looking at yourself, are you more connected with others in groups like these now than you were September 11, 2001? I certainly am, maybe to a fault. What is the effect of online social networking such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they bringing us together or drawing us into even deeper isolation?

What are you finding helpful right now? What encourages you to be a lifelong learner? Does reading this and posting a comment here help you right now?

I'd be very interested in your thoughts on this. When you have a few minutes, read back through posts here since September 11, 2009 when I started to attempt this online dialog. Does this have the potential of being helpful to you? If so, let me know and I'll continue. If not, this next week will probably be my last with you here online each morning.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all bretheren. 
Matthew 20:8

You can get someone to teach you things mechanical or scientific or mathmatical. But in things that really matter, life, love, reality, God, no one can teach you a thing...So put your books and formulas aside; dare to abandon your teacher whoever your teacher may be and see things for yourself. Dare to look at everything around you without fear and without formula and it won't be long before you see. 
Anthony de Mello, The Way to Love

A nurse told me that nurses are taught how to keep learning new procedures: watch one, do one, teach one.

The best way to find the combination for a lock is to have someone write it on a slip of paper for you.

But other things just aren't that way.

I went to a conference about the future of newspapers here in Denver last night. There are a lot of reporters and editors waiting for their next assignment.

God bless my Aunt Opal, who is being buried today in Amarillo, Texas.

"It is difficult/ to get the news from poems,/ yet men die miserably every day/ for lack/ of what is found there." William Carlos Williams, born this date in Rutherford, New Jersey (1883).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Love is to be found only in fearlessness and freedom. How do you achieve this freedom? By means of a two-pronged attack on your dependency and slavery. First, awareness. It is next to impossible to be dependent, to be a slave, when one constantly observes the folly of one's dependence. But awareness may not be enough for a person whose addiction is people. You must cultivate activities that you love. You must discover work that you do, not for its utility, but for itself. 

Anthony de Mello, The Way to Love

Yesterday this release went out to the media:

September 15, 2009
Contact:  Joshua Duignan
                Association Management Group
DENVER, CO - John S. Wren, MBA has been elected the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Inventors Association ( by the RMIA Board of Directors.

John Wren ( , 720-495-4949) is a graduate of the University of Denver (BA’69, MBA ’79), where he was President of the Graduate Student Association. He is also the past President of the Denver City Club, the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association, and the Metro South Denver Optimists Club. He has served on the board of directors of the Denver Lions Club and 1311 York Street Club. Past employment includes: Secretary/ Treasurer, Western Merchants Wholesale Company; Assistant-to-the-President, Outdoor Sports Industries; Telemarketing Manager, Mountain Bell Telephone Company; owner, Wren Marketing Corporation; Marketing, Director for the Denver Symphony Orchestra;  Business Analyst, George S. May Company; and Sales Manager, Villager Newspapers and Sentinel Newspapers. He now does business consulting and he manages the IDEA Cafe/ Franklin Circles, which will continue.

The RMIA, formed in 1978 as the Rocky Mountain Inventors Congress, is a non-profit corporation dedicated to helping people with new ideas achieve their greatest potential.
Maita Lester | president
association management group, llc  |  twitter: @amgmtgroup  |  303-831-4133  |

Thanks to the Denver Post for picking it up this morning:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mystics storm against ideas and structures that have become entrenched in their societies and cultures when awareness awakesn them to evils their contemporaries are blind to. Anthony de Mello, The Way to Love

This comment to yesterday's post here was made on Facebook:
 My big question is this. Just what is so bad about the USA that we need to make big changes. 

A good friend of mine got so angry with me during a discussion that he pushed me over, out of my chair, and we both fell to the ground. Only a good friend would do such a thing. It was a learning moment for me, and his point will never be forgotten.

One of the strengths of our two party system in the United States is that we regularly engage in full out, open debate. It has been this way from the very start of our country. Only good friends can argue as we do in this country.

This kind of vigorous debate is healthy when it starts with self-reflection, what is called in 12-step programs personal inventory.

So the big question for each of us this morning is: What is so bad that we need to change? Only with that awareness will healthy growth take place.

If this is to continue, it needs to be a conversation. I'd be very interested in your comments on this. Post here, or if you'd rather email your comment to and I'll put it up here tomorrow morning.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"So be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16  

Our challenge is to recapture the simplicity and wisdom of the dove without losing the cunningness of the serpentine brain.

Think of some change that you wish to bring about in your life or in your personality. Are you attempting to force this change on your nature through effort and through the desire to become something that your ego has planned? That is the serpent fighting the dove. Or are you content to study, observe, understand, be aware of your present state and problems, without pushing, without forcing things that your ego desires, leaving Reality to effect changes according to Nature's plans, not yours? Then you have the perfect blending of the serpent and the dove. Take a look at some of those problems of yours, those changes you desire in yourself, and observe your way of going about it. See how you attempt to bring about change-- both in yourself and in others-- through the use of punishment and reward, through discipline and control, through sermonizing and guilt, through greed and pride, ambition and vanity, rather than through loving acceptance and patience, painstaking understanding and vigilant awareness.  

Anthony de Mello, The Way to Love.


Last Friday was the start of this new dialog here on to encourage a year of reflection about the impact of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, the 8 years since then, and the vital importance for citizens to read the printed version of local newspapers, magazines, and books and to engage in face-to-face discussions. I will post my thoughts here each morning Monday through Friday and encourage you to post your comments. If you'd like me to speak at your book club, library, or bookstore about what we are doing, contact me at or (303)861-1447.

After talking with some of my friends, I’ve decided to go ahead with this. The idea is to have a year long online dialog about the personal effects of 9/11, and the changes that have been brought about in each of us since then.

The Internet now makes this kind of world-wide conversation possible, it’s an amazing tool. Writing something and getting immediate feedback from around the world opens up huge possibilities for human advancement.

But the Internet is no substitute for reading the printed word and discussing what is read in face-to-face dialog. I’m encouraging local papers to direct their readers to this conversation, and for their readers to connect us to their efforts to move the conversation of our global village from talk radio to thoughtful reading and discussion.

I look forward to our conversation here online each morning.

John Wren

Who is John Wren?

John Wren created the first online business bulletin board in Denver on Denver Freenet. He is a business consultant, adult educator, and community activist. He is the founder of the IDEA Cafe, Franklin Circles, Denver Socrates Cafe, the Denver Startup Forum, Denver Speakers Corner. He is a graduate of the University of Denver (BA’69, MBA ’78) and has served on the board of directors for the Denver City Club, the Denver Lions Club, and the South Denver Optimists Club. He was the founding President of the Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association. He has worked as a house wares buyer, human resource manager, small business owner, stock broker, advertising salesman, and sales manager. He has been on the staff and a columnist for local newspapers, and he is the author of DARING MIGHTY THINGS—THE SIMPLEST WAY TO START YOUR FIRST (OR NEXT) NEW BUSINESS. He can be contacted at or (303)861-1447.

Friday, September 11, 2009

 There are two sources for change within you. One is the cunningness of your ego that pushes you into making efforts to become something other than you are meant to be so that it can give itself a boost, so that it can glorify itself. The other is the wisdom of Nature. Thanks to this wisdom you become aware, you understand it. That is all you do, leaving the change--type, the manner, the speed, the time of change-- to Reality and to Nature. Your ego is a great technician. It cannot be creative. It goes in for methods and techniques and produces so-called hold people who are rigid, consistent, mechanical, lifeless, as intolerant of others as they are of themselves-- violent people the very opposite of holiness and love. Nature is not a technician. Nature is creative... a keen, alert, penetrating, vigilant awareness that causes the dissolution of all one's foolishness and selfishness, all one's attachments and fears. The changes that follow are not the result of your blueprints and efforts but the product of Nature that spurns your plans and will.  Anthony de Mello, The Way to Love.

"World war three has started," my brother said.

What do you mean? "Turn on TV."

I did, just in time to see the second plane fly into the World Trade Center at 7:03 a.m. Denver time.

A lot has happened since then: We have gone through treatments, bought and sold, made new friends, changed careers, found and lost faith, experienced births and deaths, and now we go on to the rest of our lives.

What has really changed?

I'd like to explore that with you here over the course of the next year. Together, let's look back and look ahead. What is different now, and how well is that working for us?

We'll start here next Monday morning. I hope you'll join us.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor –
Pres. Obama's address to school students 9/8/09.
My advice for President Obama and his talk to congress about health care tonight:

Dear Pres. Obama,

Public health care is not, and can not be, insurance. It is charity.

We do not, and should not, let people in this country starve. But we help those unfortunates who need help with charity, not by opening a government owned chain of supermarkets. A government owned and operated health insurance company makes no more sense than creating such an Uncle Sam's Mart or Barake's Club.

Yes, we must have a strong public health care system to make sure disease does not spread, that illness is treated in clinics rather than more expensive emergency rooms, and that jails aren't warehouses for the mentally ill.

President Obama, yes you should guarantee that all Americans will receive adequate medical care by strengthening our public health care system, but do not take us into the never, never land of a government owned and operated health insurance company.

For an example of how a government insurance company would operate, look at the insane decision to close Ft. Logan mental health center here in Colorado, an example of bureaucratic thinking of the highest order. When there's not enough money (and there never is) make the people with no political power pay the price.

If people don't like dealing with private insurance bureaucrats, wait until they are waiting for approval of care from a former IRS agent or post office worker.

How to correct the real problems with private medicine? Allow the market to operate, which is not the case today.

Reasonable people should judge your plan on how well it: 1) cares for the least of us and 2) allows the operation of the free-market to correct the Bernie Madoff approach to medicine that is now too often the case because of government supplied wool that is pulled over our collective eyes.

John Wren

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Thanks to the University of Denver Magazine for the mention on page 48 in their Fall 2009 edition I just got in my mail box:

John Wren (BA '69, MBA '89) of Denver has formed the Denver Startup Forum, a community of practice for entrepreneurs, business owners and their advisers.

Are you interested in how inspiration and ideas become a reality? Then join us in this world-wide community of practice focused on the topic of startup and business creativity. We have live meetings that are video and audio taped, then the discussion continues online. We already have nearly 300 members from all over the world, from India to Houston and Phoenix.

Our next live meeting will be September 24 here in Denver, for an invitation become a member of Denver Startup Forum (free) at

We DU alumni have the chance to return to the classroom and be students for a weekend at the third annual Alumni Symposium, Oct. 2-3 on campus. I attended last year, and am registered again this year. It is outstanding. It is open to all alumni; admission is free but registration is required. (303)871-2701 or
"Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win."
Jonathan Kozol, born this day in Boston in 1936, author of Letters to a Young Teacher (2007)

Are you reading To Kill a Mockingbird? Join us at a Franklin Circle to discuss it, see my comment on today's Denver Post article:

Thursday, September 03, 2009

42 years ago Janet and I were married and we had 4 great kids and 20 years of a happy marrage. And 20 out of 23 isn't too bad!

Harvard Business Review: When work doesn't make you happy (click here).

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

It was on this day in 1901 at the Minnesota State Fair that Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech and uttered his famous phrase, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." He said that it was a West African proverb that he had always liked. He probably picked it up from his wide reading — he often read a book a day, even after he became president, and he wrote a total of 40 books during his lifetime.

In 1901, Roosevelt was vice president under President William McKinley, a position that he didn't like very much. He said, "I would a great deal rather be anything, say professor of history, than Vice President," and said that the position was "not a steppingstone to anything except oblivion." When he was invited to give a speech in February of 1901, shortly after he had taken office, he refused, explaining that it was "chiefly for the excellent reason that I have nothing whatever to say."

But eventually he got so bored that he decided he needed some regular activity besides his vice presidential duties, and so he went on a speaking tour after all, and the Minnesota State Fair was part of that. Just four days later, at a public reception back in Washington, McKinley was shot in the stomach by a young anarchist. After a couple of days, the president looked like he would recover completely, and so Roosevelt took off on a hiking trip with his family. But the president died on September 14th — a messenger had come to find Roosevelt in the Adirondacks, but by the time he made it to Washington, McKinley was dead. Less than two weeks after his famous speech at the Minnesota State Fair, Roosevelt was the new president, and at age 42, the youngest in the country's history.

From today's The Writer's Almanac