Something Different

something differentIn our ever-changing world “a tried and true method” may no longer necessarily apply to accomplishing the goals we have for our future. What may have worked for decades may simply no longer be effective or even relative to today. What made us successful personally, professionally and even as a community yesterday may need to be rethought, retooled or replaced today. Being creatures of habit and sometimes reluctant to change, we fail to acknowledge that often what we are doing, no matter how good our intent, how passionate our desire or how diligently we work, it just is not working.

Sometimes personally we need to rethink our own habits, relationships and desires, realigning our life with our current personal priorities and goals.

It is equally important to take stock in our business or profession. We must be able to adapt and overcome, exploit opportunities or trends, capitalize on strengths and minimize the impact of a void or weakness. We may have to do it in a completely different way than we have ever done it before. We have seen businesses doing a lot of this lately with the increases in healthcare cost and administration, minimum wage increases, impact fees, and an ever-increasing regulatory environment. If we fail here we are likely to be out of business or out of a job.

The same should be true for our community. There should be a willingness to do something different when what we are doing is not working. For example, if we are exporting the majority of our talent in the form of our graduates because they cannot find a job here, we need to be willing to change across multiple fronts to keep that from happening. To accomplish a goal like that may mean the business community, our state, our county our educators all may need to think and respond differently than we have in the past since what we have been doing to date has not resolved that problem in our community for decades.

As an organization the Chamber recognized that if we wanted to achieve our mission and be effective in our role of supporting and advocating for a fertile business environment where future generations have the opportunity to thrive, we needed to be willing to do things differently and we are. Something we will be doing differently is presenting non-partisan initiatives to our elected officials at the city, county and state level with the goal of improving our community in ways that grow the opportunities for everyone. We are hopeful that they will be willing to do something different to address some of the things that need to change.

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Trending in the wrong direction

Government needs to set stage for economic growth

There was a time here in Las Cruces when a lot of good things were happening. The community was prospering.

Private sector investments in our community were steady. We were building affordable homes and with that came a lot of good paying construction jobs.

There was a sense of pride as we participated in the growth of our community.

People outside of the community began to take notice, too, as we were recognized nationally for our success.

Time and again, we were high on the lists of the likes of Fortune and Money Magazine for being one of the best small towns to do business and grow a career. We also received several national accolades for being one of the best and most affordable places to retire. Those recognitions led to more growth and investments and new higher-wage jobs, including those at a new hospital.

With this growth and success, there were some growing pains – something that should be expected. Naturally, we would want to work in such a way as to correct the issues common to any thriving community while at the same time nurturing the prosperity many had worked so hard for and had invested so heavily in to achieve. Safeguarding the benefits of that growth for our community, which included the prosperity, jobs and improved quality of life, should have been at the forefront of our elected official’s minds.

Unfortunately, a new type of leadership emerged in our community who instead of righting the course of success when it was a bit off, determined they would redefine what success was for our community and steer us in a whole new direction. For years, now we have seen increased ordinances, inspections, permits, fees, restrictive codes, larger taxes and bureaucracy. They execute their initiatives with little focus groups of like-minded believers instead of what is best for the community as a whole.

Fast forward to today – where has this direction taken us in regards to the prosperity of the community and the future possibilities for our children and grandchildren? If your idea of prosperity is the highest taxes ever, questionable dialogues on the use of those taxes, walkability and bike paths and the city and county government telling you what you can and cannot do with your property, both today and for generations to come, then we are doing great.

How do those outside our community view us today? Not so well, I am afraid, and with good reason. Las Cruces was at No. 2 in the nation as a best-performing small city, Forbes/ Milken Institute – Best Small Metro Area for Business & Careers in 2004.

Today we are at 55, last year we were 82. Where will we be next year when the new gross receipts tax and increased minimum wage are factored in?

We received many notices nationally for being a great retirement town, but with these latest turns locally causing a higher cost of living we are bound to see a change in that perspective. Kiplinger, a Washington, D.C.-based publisher of business forecasts and personal finance, advice has put New Mexico on the list as one of the worst states to retire in the U.S. Our local actions are contributing to that designation.

How do we view our community today in the area of prosperity and the future? If you are just retired here, then it is a pretty good perspective. If you are raising a family, building a career or business, then things are not so great.

The mindset for many of our best and brightest young people is to leave right out of the gate. Those who are trying to put down roots and grow here are becoming discouraged due to the lack of promise and opportunities. We are certainly not attracting young professionals who will help build the future of our community. Many who had success here, in the past, are discouraged to the point of pulling up stakes and going to where the opportunity to succeed is more of a reality We need to consider our direction and right the course before we undo everything that made our community a great place to live not so long ago. We still have a wealth of hardworking, dedicated folks who, if given the chance, will succeed and bring with them prosperity for this community.

Recently, I heard a city councillor say the city has a new, three-year strategic plan that focuses on economic growth and development at a public address. I hope they understand it is the people of this community who build the economic base, not the government.

The government should merely set the stage for such growth and allow the private sector to go from there.

Everyone knows that bad news travels fast. We need leadership that will not signal to those who would invest in our community they are not welcome.

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Is freedom filtered through the government really freedom?

stippling engraving of James Madison, Presiden...

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There was a time when life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness really meant something in this country. Our founding fathers and many generations after them fought, sacrificed and sometimes died to ensure this nation was one that lived up to this creed and to throw off the oppressive controls of the past.

Laws and the government were held in check and their roles clearly defined and limited as to their power and purpose. Over the course of time we have forgotten the lessons our forefathers had learned. We have failed to read, understand and remember our own history as a nation. We have allowed the needs or rights of the few to outweigh the needs and rights of the many and the good of our country as a whole.  We have allowed government to make laws whereby we take excessively from those who work diligently and contribute to our society and give it to those who come here illegally or those who make a career of living off of government programs or worse still those who are really our enemies.  We continue to allow government to make laws and ordinances that restrict, control, diminish reinterpret or even end our rights that were fought for so long ago.

We have been lazy in keeping our freedom ship on course by electing leaders (either by voting or failing to vote) who have their own agenda of power and greed guiding their actions. Again we are guilty of not supporting both before and after they are elected, officials who are dedicated to keeping government in check and to being the public servants that they should be.  

Our forefathers warned us:

“It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it.”  James Madison

“The great desideratum (something desired as essential ) in Government is, so to modify the sovereignty as that it may be sufficiently neutral between different parts of the Society to control one part from invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controlled itself, from setting up an interest adverse to that of the entire Society.”  James Madison

Our forefathers equipped us:

Many today are ignorant to the fact that we are a Republic; a form of government our forefathers intended us to use to protect our rights and freedoms with.

Webster defines a republic correctly ” a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law”

I recently read, “The problem is really that we have moved from our representative republic towards democracy, which is correctly defined as the rule of the illiterate mob.” How true this is. We now live in a society of our own creation where there are people screaming for privileges and calling them rights. Our unchecked government is only too happy to oblige like a benevolent fairy godmother granting wishes left and right, exercising roles and powers that our government was never intended to have.

We are guilty of allowing this to go on right here locally as well. We have elected officials who are now telling us more than ever how to live our lives, use our property, throw away our trash, which way we can shine light, how we can celebrate a national historic holiday, adopting building codes and practices that are many times unreasonable and unrealistic for a city of our size, telling us what kind of signs we can have in front of our business and the list goes on.

We spend hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars studying, adopting, implementing and then enforcing things that have little or no real impact on our community as a whole while serious issues like the underfunded and undermanned fire and police departments go on being neglected.

How many things are you willing to give up control of? How many freedoms must be eroded away nationally and even locally before we are willing to be involved and exercise what is left of our ability to defend ourselves and our freedoms?

We have made government our parent or guardian that knows better than we do what we need instead of forcing government to reflect the will of the people as a whole and not just a part as was intended when this nation was conceived. Are we children? Are we not adults that can think reasonably and act without being told what to do? Are we as adults and Americans no longer capable of exercising personal responsibility? Are we going to allow a sense of entitlement to replace our long-standing history of a people known for independence?

The choice is yours; it always has been in this country. Join in protecting our freedoms not only on the national front, but right here at home.

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Not only is it bigger, it is better…exploring the art of thinking out of the box.

I am always looking for common denominators among successful entrepreneurs, studying those who have made their mark today and yesterday. One of those common elements that I have written about in the past is tenacity; they stick to it despite circumstances, opinions, obstacles and the like.

Thinking outside the box

Another one of the common threads I see among successful entrepreneurs is an ability to think out of the box, and for some I mean way out of the box.

Another one of the common threads I see among successful entrepreneurs is an ability to think out of the box, and for some I mean way out of the box. Take the example of Edison; while the average person may work on providing light for themselves in his day, he was determined to bring light to the multitudes and thus his thinking was on a different level than the average man of his day. Entrepreneurs look at projects in a different light; they see larger more global concepts. They are big picture visionaries. Most would stop for example when weighing the herculean obstacles of developing a new technology and the infrastructure necessary to support it but when Edison was seeking the correct filament for the electric bulb that was only a part of the picture which included a power company and the creation of a whole new industry.

Of course one must be more than a visionary to be a successful entrepreneur, again I will mention that I have many come through my office with great ideas but lacking the skills and abilities to bring that great idea to pass.

Last month I had the pleasure of meeting with another out of the box visionary that I was

Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace and Troy Tudor

Robert Bigelow and Troy Tudor

 fortunate to meet last October at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight, Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace.

Robert Bigelow founded Bigelow Aerospace in 1999, bankrolling the company using some of his fortunes from construction, real estate deals and his hotel chain, Budget Suites of America. Right away you see that he is an out of the box thinker when you take into consideration his plans; his mission has been to provide affordable options for spaceflight to national space agencies and corporate clients. In 2006 and 2007, he launched his orbiting prototypes Genesis I and Genesis II. Using his patented expandable habitats, the plan was to greatly exceed the usable space of the International Space Station at a fraction of the cost by developing his spacecraft.

A colleague and I spent nearly a full day with Mr. Bigelow touring his facility which he is expanding again by over 180,572 sq. ft. and which is scheduled to be fully operational mid 2011. With this expansion production will begin on Bigelow Aerospace’s planned first full-scale module, the Sundancer, targeted for launch and orbit in 2014. The first station complex will also include the BA 330 module, which will have almost twice the volume of Sundancer. That is even more amazing when you consider that it is 45 feet long and 22 feet wide compared to the International Space Station dimensions of 28 feet long by 13 feet wide. Not only is it bigger, it is better. BA 330 utilizes an innovative Micrometeorite and Orbital Debris Shield. Hypervelocity tests conducted by Bigelow Aerospace have demonstrated that this shielding structure provides protection superior to that of the traditional “aluminum can” designs utilized in the ISS.

With well over a hundred employees, state of the art facilities and out of the box technologies, Bigelow Aerospace is producing at a fraction of the cost that NASA has spent, a living and working environment for the masses in space. Access to space will soon be available not just for a few elite countries and organizations but to the multitudes. Through leasing and shared leasing of these commercial space stations even some of the smallest of countries and business can have access to a microgravity atmosphere for research and advancement. Bigelow Aerospace will provide flexible leasing opportunities for volume and time based on a customers need with a completely turn-key operation as is clearly seen in their client leasing guide. When we think of all of the advancement in technology that has been brought about due to the existing space program and consider what could be accomplished in the future with this greater access, it boggles the mind.

The incredible thing is it doesn’t stop there. All of this, as grand as it is, is just the foundation of a much larger picture. His vision is way beyond the scope of most and one that maybe not realized completely in his lifetime. His concepts would be considered by many to be science fiction. Here we go with thinking way out of the box…colonization and ownership of first the moon and then mars. I know what you are thinking; I would have thought the same thing four or five years ago, but not anymore. Let me take you back to a time when we thought the world was flat and that if you sailed too far you would fall off the edge. With increased knowledge, experience and technology, we moved beyond that belief. The same thing is happening today, I have interacted with the likes of Columbus and the Lewis and Clarks of the emerging space industry and I see this as a future reality.

For all of my Christian friends who read this please recognize that I am totally aware that the Lord may return tomorrow, but if He tarries this is just as doable as it was for our forefathers that sailed the great expanse of the sea and settled this great nation.

These modulated space stations can be assembled in an array of configurations and be flown to the moon, tethered to the surface and act as a staging area to travel on to mars. Now this long term goal, as fantastic as it may seem is not just Mr. Bigelow’s dream. There are others working towards this as well. It is vital to the interest of our country that our commercial space industry flourishes. That is a big picture out of the box concept, do you see it?

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Ups and downs of entrepreneurship

Well I have written about this passion I have, this entrepreneurial spirit that burns within me. I cannot help but be excited about the projects, opportunities and endeavors I am involved with at any given time. When things come together, when pieces fall in place, when concepts begin to be reality, there is nothing better. Now here is the rub, these days are few, and far between. If you think you are cut out to be an entrepreneur, let me give you some food for thought before you give up your day job.

My second office is a coffee shop.

I think people listen in on my phone conversations while I’m working at the coffee shop. It’s really the only explanation. In my role as a marketing consultant I often spend time working on projects at a local coffee shop where the caffeine flows and the wireless is free. Routinely someone will come up to my table and start asking me questions about what I do and then invariably begin telling me about their business, project, startup attempt, etc.  and then proceed to pick my brain. Oddly, it doesn’t happen just at the coffee shop, I seem to be a magnet for this type of interaction with complete strangers. From these coffee shop consultations, working with my legitimate and potential clients and from my own experiences I’ve noticed a common theme.

the best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew…Robert Burns, 1875

You can have a one-of-a-kind, out-of-this-world idea, you can research your brains out, be connected like nobody’s business, even be funded and the whole thing fall apart. Not only that, if you are a true entrepreneur, it’s going to happen to you a lot, maybe almost all of the time. It has been the story of my life since I began, but I am I good company, like Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” If you are not willing to fail and fail often between successes, chances are you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur. Secondly, even the successes are usually not reached without a change of plans. As an entrepreneur you need to be sure of your goal but be flexible on which road it takes to get you there. Often as you move forward, make more connections and increase your information a new path to the goal takes shape.

He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot…Douglas Adams

It is always interesting as people get to know me and realize through time and conversation that there is more to me than meets the eye.  For a long time, I resisted telling anyone about my projects because they are so wide; to some grandiose and outlandish, I just knew they would think that I was obviously nuts. Many of them do I’m sure. Especially when many of those projects have nothing to do with my line of work, have failed or I have been working on them for years. Of course we all care what people, friends and yes even our family think about us but we cannot if we are ever going to succeed as entrepreneurs be discouraged when no one else gets it. Family and friends will tolerate it because they have a relationship with you but you can expect that unless success comes fast for you, they are going to grow weary of the dream when the mortgage is due. You can hardly blame them after all for wanting a “normal” life. Be prepared to hear things like, “when are you going to get a real job?”  Now just for the record, those close to me have been very supportive, but I know it has not been easy for them because after all the dream is mine and not theirs.

  He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has…Henry Ward Beecher

Nothing wrong with hoping you are the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg but the reality is it

Henry Ward Beecher

He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has…Henry Ward Beecher

 rarely happens and it is even less likely to happen fast. I don’t want to pour water on anyone’s fire after all I’m in the trenches with you but a firm grasp of the situation is a must.  Living on less is the badge of most entrepreneurs for much of their careers. Even when you get some traction, taking the capital out is usually a mistake that many times takes the steam right out of a project. It takes money to make money, and many successful entrepreneurs pour the gains back into hiring talented people to take the business to the next level.  Plan on watching friends with steady paychecks buy new cars and swimming pools while you make do with what you have.  This is another thing hard on the family because they wouldn’t mind having the new car and pools are nice too.

 

Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth rememberingTheodore Roosevelt

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, be prepared to work twice as hard and twice as much

President Theodore Roosevelt 1904

Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering…Theodore Roosevelt

 as everyone else around you if not more. Don’t expect help from anyone although you will find many along the way who will help you, assume they won’t and dive in and get it done. It takes guts, elbow grease, tenacity, and I firmly believe a lot of prayer to accomplish something great. The challenge is part of the exhilaration of success. If it means you are, CEO and janitor then so be it. If you’re not driven to do what it takes then listen to everyone’s advice and go get a real job.

 Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go…William Feather

 Just because you haven’t become a smashing success doesn’t mean you won’t. It does not mean you are necessarily doing something wrong either. Discouragement can be a big part of the entrepreneurial experience and knocks many out of the race. When I feel like I’m not getting anywhere I often take a stroll through the history of those who have succeeded. Many failed repeatedly before becoming a success. We all make mistakes but someone with a true entrepreneurial spirit learns from it and carries on.

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Commercial Space Industry a Fertile Field for Entrepreneurs

  

Last year at ISPCS

ISPCS 2009

Several years ago at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight I received my inspiration to focus on the space business. Hired to do marketing for the event, I quickly realized that I had landed on the ground floor of opportunity. 

All of the winds were blowing in the right direction, advances in technology, and an aging shuttle program, a multitude of company start-ups that saw the same opportunity and the advent of the X Prize. You could see and feel the momentum accelerating.

One of the most impressive things was who had already focused on this opportunity. Lon Levin of XM Radio fame, Elon Musk a co-founder of PayPal who started Space X, and as everyone knows Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic.  All of these guys had already been successful entrepreneurs and had made their fortunes but had turned to some element of space as one of their next ventures. Hearing and meeting these guys and many others fueled my desire to be an entrepreneur and to look closely at opportunities around the space industry. 

Virgin Hanger

Virgin Galactic Hanger being built at Spaceport America

Of course having Spaceport America in my backyard has been a great help too. This year has been one of milestones for the space industry here in New Mexico and abroad, the FAA choosing NMSU and Dr. Pat Hynes for the lead on the Commercial Space Center of Excellence, the near completion of Spaceport America and the successful milestones of Virgin Galactic, Space X and Armadillo Aerospace to name a few. Of course the change in NASA direction is playing a large role in the momentum too.

I am working on many opportunities, excited to see where they will take me. This year at

VSS Enterprise's First Manned Glide Flight

VSS Enterprise's First Glide Flight, October 13, 2010

 ISPCS the speakers are outstanding, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Neil Sheehan, Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator of NASA, and Jeff Greason, President of XCOR Aerospace for example. Topics covered in other sessions at this year’s event will include funding sources for space investments, hybrid spaceports; the impact of ITAR on commercial space; and test programs for commercial spaceflight. Next week I will be at ISPCS once again and also at the runway dedication at Spaceport America, watching history unfold and doing some risk taking and world shaping!

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I think about Colonel Sanders

Sometimes when I feel like success on a project is out of reach and giving up, I think about Colonel

Colonel Sanders

Colonel Sanders had the entrepreneurial spirit

Sanders. I know that may seem a little random but not if you know the story.  Col. Sanders came into my life at an early age. My mom is from Corbin, Kentucky and she worked in the Sanders Restaurant where that “finger lickin’ good” chicken recipe was first developed.

His autobiography, Life As I Have Known It Has Been Finger Lickin’ Good, was published in 1974 and I somehow got a hold of a copy of this book while traveling around the country with my parents a few years later when I was about 11.  While the book is stylistically “hillbilly” in nature, it is obvious that Col. Sanders had the entrepreneurial spirit that I am so passionate about.

Like many with the entrepreneurial spirit, Sanders tried many vocations and businesses and had many failures before the success of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Harland David Sanders was born on a farm in Henryville, Indiana on September 9, 1890. His parents, Wilbert Sanders, a butcher, and Margaret Ann Dunleavy, a homemaker, also had two younger children. Sanders’ father died when he was five, so his mother took a job peeling tomatoes in a canning factory and earned extra money by sewing at night. Sanders had to take care of his siblings, learning how to cook so he could feed them but it was years before this talent would become what made him famous.

He held his first job at the age of ten, working on a nearby farm until he was 15 years old. He was then able to get a job as a streetcar conductor in New Albany, Indiana. In 1906, while still under age, Sanders enlisted in the U.S. Army and spent a year as a soldier in Cuba. He sold insurance in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Then he started a steamboat ferry company that operated on the Ohio River between Jeffersonville and Louisville, Kentucky. Eventually, Sanders took a job as secretary of the Columbus chamber of commerce. There he met an inventor who discovered how to operate natural gas lamps on a gas derived from carbide. Sanders bought the patent rights and launched a manufacturing company. Unfortunately, a rural electrification program made his company’s product obsolete.

While working as a railroad man for the Illinois Central Railroad, Sanders took a correspondence course that allowed him to earn a law degree from Southern University. A local judge permitted him to use his law library and local lawyers helped his studies by explaining law terminology. When he lost his job with the railroad, Sanders began practicing law. He had some success in the legal field from about 1915 to the early 1920s, working in the Justice of the Peace courts in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sanders ruined his legal career, however, by getting into a brawl in the courtroom. Although found innocent of assault and battery, Sanders’ legal practice was over.

In 1929, Sanders moved to Corbin, Kentucky, a small town at the edge of the Appalachian Mountains, and opened a gas station along U.S. Route 25. When tourists and travelers  asked  where they could get something to eat nearby, he got the idea of opening a small restaurant next to the gas station. The restaurant had one table and six chairs and specialized in Southern cooking such as pan fried chicken, ham, vegetables, and biscuits. Sanders moved his establishment across the street to a bigger location, with room for 142 seats, a motel and a service station. He took an eight-week course in restaurant and hotel management from Cornell University to learn more about the business. Sanders’ café had a homey atmosphere, with no menu, but good food. But when restaurant critic, Duncan Hines, listed Sanders’ place in Adventures in Good Eating in the 1930s, its popularity increased.

In 1935, the popular café so impressed Governor Ruby Laffoon that he made Sanders an honorary Kentucky colonel for his contribution to state cuisine. In 1937, Sanders tried to start a restaurant chain in Kentucky, but his attempt failed. Two years later, he opened another motel and restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, but this too failed.

Sanders continued to alter his chicken recipe to get the seasonings just right. In 1939, he devised a method to cook chicken quickly because customers would not wait 45 minutes for a batch to be fried up in an iron pan. Sanders used a pressure cooker, a new invention at the time, to cook chicken in nine minutes. He found that chicken cooked in this manner turned out to be moist and flavorful. Sanders’ method is still being used today.

In 1949, Sanders was once again honored with the title of Kentucky colonel, this time by Lieutenant Governor Lawrence Weatherby. Sanders began using the title of “Colonel” and dressing in a white suit, white shirt, black string tie, black shoes, white mustache and goatee, and a cane-giving himself the appearance of a gentleman from the Old South. In 1949, Sanders married Claudia Ledington, an employee.

During World War II, gas rationing meant less travel, so Sanders had to shut down his motel. It reopened when the war ended. By 1953, his café was worth $165,000. In the early 1950s, Sanders signed up a few restaurant owners in an early form of franchise. He would ship them his seasoning, made from a secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices, if they agreed to pay him five cents for every chicken cooked with it. Pete Harman, a Utah restaurant owner who had met Sanders in Chicago at a seminar for restaurateurs, was his first franchisee. Harman, already a successful businessman, is credited with creating the marketing strategies that made Sanders’ business a success. Harman is also responsible for inventing the name “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” introducing the takeout bucket, and creating the slogan, “finger lickin’ good.”

In 1956, the federal government made plans to build a new highway, bypassing Corbin. The value of Sanders’ site plummeted, and he auctioned off the property for $75,000 to pay his debts. At the age of 66 he was almost broke, living off a monthly Social Security check of $105 and some savings. Sanders then moved to Shelbyville, Kentucky.

With nothing to lose, Sanders took his spices and pressure cooker and traveled throughout the U.S. in his 1946 Ford. He visited restaurants, trying to convince the owners to use his recipe. Sanders had no luck with the better restaurants, said John Neal, a franchisee. “They all threw him out of their places. He found a lot of wonderful hard-working men and women who operated various and sundry restaurants that took his methods and paid him a nickel a head. The Colonel shipped them the seasoning. That’s literally how he got started.”

Col Sanders had the entrepreneurial spirit

Col Sanders had the entrepreneurial spirit

By 1960, Sanders had 400 franchisees, and his image was being used to sell chicken throughout the country. By 1963, he made $300,000 a year in profits, before taxes. In 1996, the number of franchises had grown to over 5,000 units in the U.S. and 4,500 overseas. Sanders carefully guarded his secret recipe of herbs and spices, hiring two different suppliers to mix up batches, which he would then combine himself and mail to franchisees.

In 1964, Sanders sold out to a group of investors, including John Y. Brown, Jr. and Jack Massey, for $2 million. He had been concerned about selling the business because he feared that the new owners might not maintain a high quality product. Friends and family finally persuaded the 74-year-old to part with his company. On January 6, 1964, he closed the deal. Besides the $2 million, he received a lifetime salary of $40,000 a year (later raised to $75,000). Sanders served as the company spokesman, making personal appearances and television commercials. He held on to his Canadian rights in the company and established a foundation in Canada, turning over his profits to charities, such as churches, hospitals, the Boy Scouts, and the Salvation Army. He also adopted 78 foreign orphans.

Kentucky Fried Chicken went public in 1969, and was acquired by Heublein Inc. two years later. In 1974, Sanders sued the company because he did not like changes they had made to the product. The suit was settled out of court for over a million dollars. In 1976, an independent survey ranked the Colonel as the world’s second most recognizable celebrity. R.J. Reynolds Industries acquired Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1982. It then passed to PepsiCo in 1986 for $840 million.

Col. Sanders has had a lasting impact on fast food, something he helped create. Many industry leaders credit Sanders with being a stellar marketer. Some of his innovations included selling busy people buckets of chicken to take home and using a character, himself, to sell a product.

Sanders died in Shelbyville, Kentucky on December 16, 1980, after a seven-month battle with leukemia.

So why do I think of him when it seems like success on a project is out of reach and feel like giving up? After selling off his restaurant, at the age of 66, almost broke, living off a monthly Social Security check of $105 Sanders took to the road armed with his recipe but signed up only five restaurants in two years. Where would KFC be if he had quit?

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Edison, reshaping his world

An original Edison light bulb from 1879 from T...

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Edison, a man that shaped the world.

Edison, a man that shaped the world.

In a recent issue of Time Magazine, the cover had the image of Thomas Alva Edison holding a light bulb with the byline “How One Powerful Idea Changed America”. Now I am not a big fan of Time, but I am a big fan of Edison so I could not resist.

As a boy, my Father took me to the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. It was a fascinating place of wonder to me.  The Museum houses an amazing collection and historical record of innovation and advancement in the areas of science and technology. Inventions that changed and shaped our nations with buildings full of trains, planes, cars, machines, equipment and early electronic devices with all of their buttons and wires. I was in heaven; I have always liked things with buttons.

Greenfield Village is a collection of historic buildings or reproductions in some cases that have been assembled into a village of their own. A couple of things I saw in Greenfield Village have always stood out in my mind. The first being the Lincoln chair. President Abraham Lincoln was sitting in this rocking chair during the production of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre when he was assassinated on

The "Think tank" of Edison

Edison and his Menlo Park Lab staff

April 14, 1865. It was a sobering connection to this historic event that impacted our nation. Secondly was Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory. This “invention factory” was the first industrial research laboratory and the first “think tank” where Edison assembled workers who were experts in their fields from all over the world.

Edison's Patent Drawing of the Electric Lamp - Janurary 27, 1880

Edison's Patent Drawing of the Electric Lamp - Janurary 27, 1880

Edison was born in my home state of Ohio in 1847 and by the time he was twenty-two he had patented his first invention. He lived to be eighty-four and patented 1,093 inventions by the time he died in 1931. It was on December 31, 1879 that he demonstrated his most famous invention: the first practical incandescent electric lamp. He was not the only one that had this idea; there were many experimenting along the same line at the same time. His simple socket design and the carbon filament in a vacuum to keep it from burning up are what made his version successful. It was not Edison the inventor that captured my attention and my imagination; it was Edison the innovator that impressed me. As wonderful as all of his inventions are, what made him great to me is that did not stop there, He used his experiments, his inventions and his mind to change the way a nation and then a world lived.

He was an early example in my young life of how a man could play a role in shaping the world in which we live. He was a part of a long list of Americans that had the drive, determination and will to forever change the world we live in for the better. He not only focused on the bulb, but on the power generation and on a business model that would supply both to the masses. Those early concepts are still touching our lives today, amazing!

A page from Edison's notebook

A page from Edison's notebook showing some of the projects he was working on.

Edison was truly unique in that he did not just impact the world once but over and over again. He is the father of recorded and transmitted sound and images. Our phones, videos and much of the way we communicate all began in the mind of Edison. Many of his concepts were ahead of their time; many are still relevant today, over a hundred years later.

This is the kind of life I hope to live, a life as I have said before that takes what is around me and uses it to shape the world. My goal is to have that same entrepreneurial spirit that Edison had, the mindset that is the focus of my blog. The Time article points out the decline of Americans with this mindset. Where once as a nation we were the undisputed leader of innovation, we are now ranked eighth. Again I point out that the entrepreneurial spirit we once had is slowly being replaced with a sense of entitlement. Where once there was a line of men like Franklin, Edison, McCormick, Morse, Bell, the Wright brothers and Ford there are few standing in their place today.

All is not lost; there are still some innovators out there. I am so drawn to the commercial space industry due to the fact that there are some Edison’s among them. Men like Burt Rutan and Elon Musk and companies like Virgin Galactic and Space X. Like Edison, they are attempting to build innovations and industries that will change the world. Risk takers and world shapers, they are my kind of people.

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I can’t “like” everything!

I can't like everything!

I can't like everything!

I definitely am a big proponent of social networking, after all it’s a large part of how I make my living but even I have my limits.

I not only connect daily with business online but also the old fashioned way with public speaking engagements, events, community involvement and good old fashioned face-to-face networking. I interact with hundreds of businesses and business people on an ongoing basis.

The result is an endless list of page suggestions, event R.S.V.P. request, etc., etc. So as a courtesy, I follow, like, connect with folks whom I may have met, may even know and call friends but have never even used their business or services. Many have created their online social media presence at my suggestion!

Here’s the rub…most never go beyond getting people within their inner circle to connect with them. Still fewer add ongoing, informative, engaging content to their network after it is set up. Result…most never realize the benefit possible, see an impact on their business or take it to the next level. If this is the boat you find yourself in, here are a few tips and a few articles that may help jump start your dead online marketing strategy:

Courtesy connections will only take you so far – friends and acquaintances may connect with you out of friendship or pity but why would others who are in their networks connected to you. You must give them a reason to connect.

Why should I listen to you – content, content, content, is what keeps them coming back for more. I find that many customers will not make the investment of time necessary to communicate, well if you don’t, I’m sure a competitor will, after all somebody out there really wants my business. Come on, why should I use you, why should I refer you, why should I even care?

Have a plan – good business and good marketing principals still apply. What are you trying to accomplish with social marketing? Who are you trying to reach? Why? What are the measurable returns for the investment? What are the best assets and tools to utilize? Who is going to do the work and be responsible for the follow through?

Pay attention – if you are not experiencing success on some level with social marketing, it’s because you are not paying attention! There are endless blogs, helps, tips, apps and examples online. There seems to be no end or limit to the possibilities for those who are willing to make the effort. Of course it is impossible to absorb it all, but it’s just plain silly to stick your head in the sand!

Be consistent – It’s simple, too little content and people will lose interest. Overload them with too much at one time and they will tune you out. Irrelevant information will make them think you don’t know what you are doing or what you are talking about.

Keep it real – if you engage someone, get the lead, get the referral, have a connection, you better be able to perform what you have promised. Negative information about you or your business can spread instantly on the web and usually will be a permanent.

Lastly, don’t lose sight of the great opportunity that business today have to reach the masses…it is simply amazing! Start today building your skill sets today with these great articles that I came across.

Most Marketers not Profiting From Social Media

7 Steps for Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan

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A glimpse of a visionary…

IAC 2009 Daejeon

Pat Hynes, Panel Chair at IAC 2009 Daejeon

I have lived to see the day that private commercial space has become a reality and will become a force. Networking three years ago at the National Space Symposium with ISPCS chair Dr. Pat Hynes, it was hard to get people to even give us a few minutes of their attention and many times you got the feeling they were just humoring us because Pat can be tenacious and it was the only way to get rid of her.

My how things have changed…Billions of dollars in NASA funding are now at stake, with the long-term potential of lucrative markets in not only ferrying NASA astronauts but also space tourists and other commercial customers to the International Space Station and other facilities, like those planned by Bigelow Aerospace. Weekly there are advancements in theses private sector companies in making this a reality.

What is amazing is that a NASA Space Grant director knew it decades ago. Pat Hynes had a vision that

Women in Aerospace

Women in Aerospace's 2010 Reception at National Space Symposium l-to-r: WIA Board Vice Chair Sandy Coleman, Past WIA Board Chair Debra Facktor Lepore, founding WIA member and NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, Past President Merrie Scott and WIA Board Member Dr. Patricia Hynes celebrate 25 years of Women in Aerospace.

this paradigm shift would take place and that she could use it to make an impact on of all places, New Mexico.

New Mexico, with its Spaceport, is pretty unique, building on the scientific heritage of Los Alamos and Whitesands which are in the state. The visionary idea for a spaceport dates back to Kennedy’s time when the Governor wrote to the President suggesting the establishment of a spaceport.

Working behind the scenes with a handful of believers like Lou Gomez and Len Sugerman, Pat has had a major impact on making New Mexico a player in this ever growing industry. Most important, she made a believer out of me.

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