Monday, June 28, 2010

From my friend Chuck Blakeman:

A Business Plan Will Not Make You More Successful

Palo Alto Software, which makes business planning software, just did a survey to their own users to show that those who completed business plans that they started with Palo Alto were nearly twice as likely to successfully grow their businesses or obtain capital as those who didn’t finish.

This research is a classic example of “there are lies, damnable lies, and statistics” (stolen from Twain who got it from someone else). An even more reasonable conclusion – people who DO SOMETHING and follow through on it are twice as likely to successfully grow their business.

My second book (to be published in December 2010) is titled “Bad Plans Carried Out Violently” and promotes the idea that DOING SOMETHING trumps pre-planning almost without exception. I’ve talked with hundreds of successful business owners and asked them two questions:

1) Did you do a business plan before you started your business?

2) If you did, how well did it project what actually happened over 1 yr, 3 yrs and 5 yrs?

The number of successful business owners who do a business plan before starting their business is statistically insignificant – well less than 1%. The only reason the small minority gave for doing one is because they had to in order to get money from a bank or investor (almost no one does one just for themselves). That should tell you something about the classic “pre-planning” Business Plan we’re all taught is so important.

Of those very few that did do a Business Plan before starting, virtually none of them say their Business Plan projected accurately what actually happened in the next 12 months, or 3yrs or 5 yrs. To the contrary most said their Business Plan was wildly off from what actually happened in the real world.

The conclusion is that successful business owners don’t do a classic Business Plan unless banks or investors are involved, and that they never look at it after that. So it has real value for getting a loan, but not for running a business.

Stop planning and get moving! Do a simple 2-page Strategic Plan and revise it every month with the input your business gives you – you’ll be better off.

“Committed Movement in a Purposeful Direction” and “Implement Now. Perfect as You Go.” – two concepts from my next book – are much more instructive to success than pre-planning. Knowing the end goal is extremely important – knowing beforehand the path for how you will get there is fortune-telling.

See the new book from called “Rework” for others affirming this as well.
Steve Adams recently attended the Denver IDEA Cafe and wrote this:

Phone power
From: Steve Adams, author of Back To Work!

I know, I know. The telephone is so Old Media.

Like you, I only use the phone when I have to. I can IM with a friend just about as fast. And you can’t beat the convenience of e-mails that can be replied to when we’re good and ready–or ignored. The phone is a jangling intruder.

Those of us who still have land-lines don’t necessarily answer them when they ring. We’re just as likely to screen these calls by Caller ID or voice mail because–uh, because we can.

John Wren would have you think a little differently about that. “With social media, we tend to overlook the power of the telephone,” he says. John, a business and career coach of sorts in Denver, has a nifty five-minute podcast about that’s linked in the upper left of his Web site at

He also runs a weekly confab called the Denver IDEA Meetup Group for the exchange of start-up and new business ideas, where I’m tentatively fixing to speak in a few weeks.

John WrenEssentially, whether you’re looking for work in the form of projects or a fulltime gig, don’t sell the phone short. This might be a time when you want to intrude a bit. This isn’t getting your five job contacts for the week for unemployment–dogmeat jobs you’d hope you didn’t get. Those you do by electronic submission, right? But when you really want something, you Make the Call.

John is talking more upstream–not so much phone calls to employers or clients, but calls to friends, to tap into their network. “People who know you well and want to help you.” Apparently, our friends are able to help us more than we–or even they–think, until prodded.

John tells about multiple positions he’s snagged just calling a friend and asking who they know who might be able to provide a valuable connection to the right person or place. That’s how he became, for example, director of marketing and public relations for the Denver Symphony Orchestra.

But now he’s doing his own thing. I’d probably be remiss if I didn’t give his particulars:

Do you want help as you start in a new direction? Since 1979, I’ve helped hundreds of people find a good job quickly, or to find their first or next great new client. If you or someone you know wants to start a new career, a new campaign or project, or a new business, contact me about how I can help. Contact: John S. Wren, MBA+, 960 Grant St. #727, Denver, CO 80203., (303)861-1447.

Note the phone number. You could, like, pick up the phone and call.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Biennial of the Americas Startup Story Friday.
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 
(303)861-1447 or

 This Friday, June 25:  “How the Denver Biennial of the Americas came into being,” by Donna Mullin Good, President of Operations

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's Father's Day, and I've been thinking about my dad this morning.

Pop passed on November 15, 1979, he was just 55, far too young.

I married in 1967 and started working full time in his business as print shop manager doing a weekly sales bulletin for the salesmen, the invoices and other forms, and creating signs and point-of-sale promotional materials.

When I graduated from the University of Denver in 1969, at a sales meeting Pop gave me a 10 year service pin (I'd worked for him each summer starting in elementary school, you can imagine how much help I was when I was 11!) and he promoted me to personnel manager, housewares buyer, and corporate treasurer.

Last night I was going through some papers and found the TMA directory for the meeting they had at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas in April, 1967 when dad served as President.

That year I'd won the 1967 NCAA Mid-West Conference wrestling championship, but a Psychology 101 class had convinced me that I'd be much better off working for dad in his small company than becoming a cog in some bureaucracy. Also, Janet and I had decided to get married and Cornell College did not allow married students then.

Last night I also found the notes from the talk I gave after the funeral at the reception for the family at mom and dad's condo where she still lives now. They'd moved there a few weeks before in anticipation of dad's immanent death from cancer. From the notes and my memory, here is what I said then, standing in front of the fireplace in the living room:

I've tried to think what Pop would want me to say to everyone today. I know he wouldn't want me to miss an opportunity to give a talk! Anyone who ever attended one of his sales meetings knows he believed in the power of sharing. One time his business partner Sam Newton who was the sales manager left and went home from one of the Saturday sales meetings, and dad kept talking with the salesmen for another two hours!

I have many memories of Pop. The trips we took as a family to Disneyland and Hawaii and the World's Fairs in Seattle and Montreal and fishing in Twin Lakes and Granby and one summer in Yellow Stone Lake, and the business trips he and I took to Chicago, Miami, and New York. On all these trips, he was always teaching and giving advice. 

I can remember riding to and from work with him time after time, starting when I was just a little boy not so much working all day as playing on top of the tall stacks of boxes in the warehouse and drinking coffee with Eagle Brand Milk. And I remember the sales meetings, his monthly talk with the 100 or so men; those of us who got to hear him were very, very lucky. As a result of dad's influence and the profit sharing plan he and his partners had created early on, several of his employees went on to start successful businesses themselves.

What I'm sharing with you today is some of the Pop's wisdom, in a way a chance for one last sales meeting with him. Dad would never waste an opportunity like this!

Pop would have liked your sermon Bob (Bob Eli conducted the funeral service at Welshire Presbyterian Church, he was then Pastor at Trinity Methodist Church, he and dad had gone to school together in Amarillo). You encouraged everyone to use the tragic, all too soon death as a time to turn to Christ. Dad was no theologian, but Christ was a real and important foundation for his life. He urged me to go to church each Sunday. He read the bible. I think he waited to die until I'd found my faith in Christ, the greatest gift he ever gave me.

Pop had a practical faith. I vividly remember him telling me about sitting in the parking lot of Derby Market in Loveland, where he and mom were visiting Aunt Lillian and Uncle Jerry. He'd gone in the store and seen they didn't have the non-food items the company he worked for in Amarillo was putting in grocery stores. He saw an opportunity. He went to his car and prayed, he told me, asking for guidance and getting the inspiration coming to move to Colorado and start his business. (I'll be forever grateful that he talked it over with my Uncle Jerry who owned a barber shop, and not the Small Business Administration!)

Dad insisted on a positive outlook. "Be thankful for the good things in life." "As going through life, whatever be your goal/ Keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole." 

He insisted there was always a good job available to anyone who wanted one. He was just a little boy selling Eskimo Pies from his wagon when he over heard two bums talking with each other and one said, "If anyone would offer me a job I'd take it." Even as a little boy dad could see the insanity of that statement. Pop's advice: "When you don't have a job, your job is to find a job," and  "Take pride in your work. Always do your best!" And "The only difference between the boss and the worker is that the boss understands the value of thinking, of looking for a better way to do things."

Pop knew the great value of families. He knew he could never have achieved the great success he did without moms help and support. She always had dinner on the table, he always had a clean shirt, she was a constant inspiration for him. 

Dad always wondered why he and I just couldn't work together.  His ideal was the Jewish family that helped each other become successful. I think he liked that idea because he saw himself as the boss! Pop, we will miss you. Thanks for all the great memories and all the great lessons.

In New Orleans they have a parade and celebrate when someone passes on. So let's do that now, let's celebrate this great life, and be thankful for it! Thank-you pop!

To my surprise, everyone got up then and went and ate. I've always been disappointed that the others who were there didn't share more. Maybe they will now.

Happy Father's Day, Pop! I love you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

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, (303)861-1447 or
Today (June 18): On the topic “My startup experience,” public speaker and entrepreneur William Cummings; and sales trainer and entrepreneur Merit Gest

Join us yourself if you are starting something new, please share with your friends who've had a bump or a bright idea. They will thank you, and so will I if you'll let me know what you've done.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

 He knows how to stop the Gulf spill, no one will listen!

I just spoke on the telephone with Dr. Henry Crichlow, the former head of the department of petroleum engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He explained to me that he was hired by Kuwait to direct the efforts to put out the oil well fires there in 1991.

Crichlow says the list of experts put forward by the Obama administration does not have one oil flow expert capable of stopping the Gulf leak. Since a few days after the start he has been trying to make a connection with BP or the government. 

Crichlow has placed an ad today in the Houston Chronicle with a link to this new blog Please forward this along to whoever you know who might be able to get the information into the hands of someone with authority to take action now!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Denver IDEA Cafe Meetup Group

Starting down a new path with a new project or campaign, a new career or new business? Want to get more involved with grassroots as an entrepreneur or newly-active citizen, or to share your experience with newcomers? Then join us! Each week we invite people to share their career, business, and political startup experience and we brainstorm. Since 1994 we've heard from people such as: Dan Brogan, 5280 Magazine; Jared Polis, entrepreneur and U.S. Representative; Kenton Kuhn, Black-tie; Paul Lewan, Lewan & Associates; John Youngquist, Principal of East High School; John Brackney and Joe Blake from the South Metro and Denver Chambers of Commerce; and hundreds of others. Free and open to all, we just ask that you bring your brain for the brainstorming. Our mission is to help you increase your ROI (Return on Inspiration)! Some of the best networking in Denver almost always takes place right after the meeting. But please, join us to learn, never come just to network. Join us any Friday you need a boost as you get started in a new direction with a new career, new project or campaign, or a new business!
Group PhotoThe Denver IDEA Cafe Meetup
Friday, June 11, 2010 at 2:00PM
Today's speakers: Denver City Councilperson Marcia Johnson on “How I started my political career;” and entrepreneur and computer expert Barry Robbins on “How I started by IT consulting practice.”
Since 1994, we help people turn their inspiration into effective action.
Anyone who is starting a new project, a new business, a new career or a new career is invited to join us.
How do we help? We share startup experience and we do brainstorming.
If we are successful, you will be too busy to come back next week!
An RSVP is NOT required, but it's helpful if you do RSVP for a couple of reasons: 1) It reserves your seat; and 2) You'll get a reminder each week you can forward to friends, family, and business associates who you think might find the meeting helpful.
Special speakers are announced each Wednesday, the first 14 to RSVP each week are guaranteed a seat until the start of the meeting at 2 p.m., others are welcome to attend and either take the seat of a no-show or to sit in the
See the full event details, including location, at
Check out what members are saying about The Denver IDEA Cafe Meetup Group:
"The Group was warm,friendly,as well as caring. If you are looking for a group of people that will not only provide excellent business wisdom,and doing while genuinely caring...then this is the place for you!" - Dale Henderson
"We all think we can't take a couple of hours to get and share ideas. If you don't do that the business world will pass you by. This is a refreshing look at new ideas and new energy around start ups." - John Gies
"There is no reason in the world why any of us has to go it alone. The support is completely non-judgmental and I guarantee you will walk away with many many ideas. It's up to you to do the rest." - Melissa Bennett
"It is a good grounding meeting" - Jacqueline Kimble
"You may get an idea that you would have never thought
of before." - John

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Latin, meaning: unconquer, unconquerable, undefeated.
Found on

`Invictus` is a short poem by the British poet William Ernest Henley.
It was first published in 1875.
Found on

INVICTUS: Community Room College Newsletter
Vol I No 1  June 8, 2010
"The human race will prosper mightily in the years ahead—because ideas are having sex with each other as never before."  Matt Ridley, author of  The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves.  From an article based on the book (which I've just ordered, I was so impressed with the article, it will be a future featured book with 3 tips) in the Wall Street Journal (click here for article.) 
Today's Featured Book:  Art Linkletter's How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life.
You may have noticed in the new that Art Linkletter passed away last week (click here for obit.)

Linkletter was 97 when he passed on a few days ago, after living a full active life to the very end. For the last 3 years he's been on a national book tour for this book he wrote when he was 94, telling us how he did it. It's a great book, I highly recommend it.
Here are three tips from the book to use now:
1.  Don't stop living and learning.
2.  The only thing you should re-tire is your car. Retirement kills!
3.  It's part of our collective wisdom-- along with eating your vegetables and getting a good night's sleep-- that keeping a positive attitude is good for our health.
The new Community Room College is helping people start Franklin Circles or similar adult self-directed learning groups in their neighborhood. A free meeting, a sample of the Franklin Circle meeting format, is held each Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. right after the Denver IDEA Cafe. For more see
The Denver IDEA Cafe is a free, open startup workshop held each Friday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Speakers are invited to share how they started their career, a project or campaign, or a new business, and we brainstorm. The only cost is your brain for the brainstorming. Speakers are announced each week on Wednesday or Thursday on, you can RSVP now to make sure you get a seat.
My free podcast How to Find a Good Job Fast: You can listen to it via the link on  Please forward this email along to any of your friends who you know are looking for a new job. They will thank you, and so will I if you'll let me know what you've done.
How may I be of service to you?
John S. Wren, MBA+
Life's short, start now!
Contact at:
Twitter/ JohnSWren
office (303)861-1447
cell Ask Me

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Garrison Keillor column today in the Denver Post print edition (for some reason it's not to be found on, so link is to the same column in the Chicago paper) seems to be giving up any hope of things getting better.

Right next to Keillor in the Post's print edition is David Sirota's column with him complaining that no one is calling for belt tightening today like they used to in the good old days.

Taken together, these two thoughts compound into a bitter pill. Things are bad and they are only going to get worse. Is it any wonder that few people want to subscribe to the newspaper today?

John Wooten and Art Linkletter both died this week. Both were upbeat, wonderful men. Linkletter's most recent book was How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life. He and Wooten certainly did just that, not turning into the grouchy old men like Sirota and Keillor.

Last Sunday for Memorial Day PBS had a wonderful special. The challenges we face today are just as great as those faced in World War II, maybe even bigger. But they are not insoluble. "Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're right." Abraham Lincoln

Friday, June 04, 2010

 The Bell Curve
Joseph Bell

On the surface, Art Linkletter was a lightweight thinker, working early on with kids who supplied his richest material, then shifting to motivational speaking and finally turning both specialties into highly profitable businesses. That was the limit of my knowledge of him when I was first assigned to do a profile of him for a national magazine. And never had I been more wrong.

All of this came back to me when I pulled my Linkletter file and got reacquainted with him. Never far distant from his thinking was the suicide of his 20-year-old daughter, Diane, which he blamed on an LSD flashback frenzy. It set a course for Linkletter, from which he never wavered, to define and attack drug abuse out of knowledge, not emotion. In this process and his subsequent motivational speaking, I never detected a phony word or action.

"The idea of my being old," he once told me, "is the last thing I ever think of. I go to these senior citizen places to comfort people and suddenly realize I'm older than a lot of them. It's all in your attitude. You must set goals no matter how limited they are, and when you get to them, try the next thing. If you were to sit back and look at it coldly and dispassionately, you'd say this is like made work. Not real, so it isn't important. But that's not true as long as it is something to hope for."

So R.I.P., Art Linkletter. You've helped build a myriad of hopes. And you've earned a rest.