Archive for October, 2012



October 29, 2012

THE STORM: It’s hard to wrap my mind around what is happening on the East Coast….Praying more people than not have heeded the warnings and have taken shelter away from the water….tonight continues to be forecast as VERY BAD when it actually comes ashore.

YES to Excelsior MN Fire Chief Scott Gerber( along with several Hennepin Cty, MN-based federal employees and private companies from MN) who is back in Boston to help them with Hurricane Sandy – just like he did with IRENE.

Watch the Supreme Court closely today….discrimination against blacks, American Indians, Asian-Americans, Alaska natives and Hispanics is at stake.

YES to Target for bringing James Dyson and his message to Target’s internal product designers and engineers….”I encourage wrong thinking which is the unconventional or obtuse way of doing things…if you don’t take risks you slowly wither because things change and you don’t keep up.”

Good message; first, I am growing weary of same product – just new color – standard of Target in recent times; and second, it’s a good message to ANY designer in any industry – including ours….when an event picture can be quickly identifed as YOUR WORK, step back, rethink, and figure out how to push the envelope!

OPEN LETTER from MN Business and Non-Profit leaders ( in STRIB Business Section today is pretty impressive…the Message AND the Signatures both. Think carefully about the negative impact to our state if this petty proposed amendment is passed. VOTE NO!

Oh dear…little did I know Ecolab provides chemicals used in fracking! We need to learn more about this in view of October 10 US Environmental Protection Agency report that water tests near the natural gas drilling site in Wyoming establish first link between hydraulic fracturing and tainted water!…Meanwhile, industry-funded studies continue to say fracking poses no threat to groundwater or air quality. This descrepency needs to be addressed.

Just read that racial attitudes have not improved….a slight majority of Americans express prejudice towards blacks as well as Hispanics. Politically the split is pretty telling: 79% Republicans and 32% Democrats. As our national demographics continue to move towards whites becoming the minority population, what in the world will these people do?

Which reminds me of a report over weekend regarding white parents who are still focusing on keeping children in all white schools at all cost. Yes, I understand the thought that the formal education is better – but is it really and why? More important, as whites become the minority, we will begin to realize these well-meaning parents are doing their children a disservice? I would think as minority ratios in our population rise, it would be better to have relationships with non-whites as well of those that look, act, and think just like us.

Buried in the news by the storm is the fact that of course, the  holiday TRUCE in Syria did not hold; and WORSE, with Iraq as a major influencer, it is moving towards a multi-national religious war between Sunnis and Shiites.

The STEPPING UP Strib article again praises China as an export opportunity. Today I read that Minnesota exports to China have increased 89% in last three years, as China became our second LARGEST export partner, behind Canada. That is probably a good thing – contributing to our lower unemployment and better economic situation than many other states, but….I was glad to see the acknowledgement of concerns re sustainability of emerging Chinese middle class and potential issues that could economically impact us if not watched carefully.

Quick thought:  WHO looks more presidential…Obama overseeing the storm preparations and taking care of American citizens…or Romney crazy on the campaign trail…looking for a personal advantage created by the storm.  I’m thinking I have seen this attitude before – in the mid 2000’s maybe?

Finally, I still have not made it to the RED DOT outside Olson’s new home at the old Ford Plant. Hve you? The idea of the red decor seen through the windows on the upper floors spelling out OLSON is awesome – just blows my mind how anyone first of all–thought of that, and second, figured out how to make it a reality!


P.S. Millennial Migration

October 27, 2012

As some have been predicting, recent graduates are now leading a new migration wave. (Reminds me of how California and other key West Coast areas grew during the Great Depression).  As predicted, these adventurers want affordable urban locations in their destination city of choice.

Census data released this year is showing most American cities are growing at faster rates than the surrounding suburbs for the first time in a century. I hope this means  the unsustainable McMansion Days that also began inthe 80s are waning.


The Millennials

October 27, 2012

Yesterday, the STRIB Business Section featured Coco as the “office” of the future. The accompanying photo caught its “visual” essence superbly; but only if you stop in for a visit, does one catch the positive vibe! I’ve mentioned in the past how much I admire the concept and rennovated space; in fact, if I was not sitting in my home office (read: free space) only 3-4 blocks away, I’d like to think I’d be composing this from there!

However, I think the article focus conveyed a more important message:…the Millennial workforce and the changes they are bringing to the business world.

I have aired some thoughts on this in my August 30 blog, and again last week, I mentioned an inspiring “breakfast with a Preservationist” meeting led by a panel of the “Under 30s”.

Nevertheless, I think Don Jacobson nailed it in his article featuring Coco and why it is appealing to the Millennials. It is because, these Millennials, like the transitional early Boomers, have a very different view ofthe world in which they find themselves…and are clamouring for change. No one my age can honestly say they cannot relate, so my suggestion is we hang on, listen and learn!!

Ponder on these comments by Jacobson and the message from Thomas Fisher, Dean of UM College of Design to a gathering of commercial building owners :

That highly covered corner office may just be more passe than powerful.

Thanks to profound social and economic changes brought on by the Internet, millennials are reshaping the so-called office. They want to do away with the hierarchiacal layouts of the past and build collaborative spaces where they can rub elbows with clients and colleagues.

Millennials…see privacy as a negative…by 2025, “the office” as we know it will probably be gone.

How they use space flips what we have today: Most of an office will be open, flexible and fluid in its use, with only occasional need for private space.

The transformative power of the the Internet on how young workers will do their jobs, has, if anything, been underestimated.

…millennials preferences for live-work hybrid spaces that combine not only apartments and offices, but also small manufacturing functions….

Yes, this paradigm shift poses challenges and threatens city zoning codes, but we cannot rigidly hold on to the past if we want to succeed as a country in present times.

For the millenials, the office space isn’t necessarily a place to do work, it’s a place to network. It’s a place to be with other people and generate as much creative activity as possible.

The audience was also cautioned that places of work within 15 years will need to be accessible by bicycle and mass transit. Firsher cautioned the audience that “If you’re only accessible by car, you’re going to find people starting to look elsewhere.”

These comments so reinforce what I have been observing and commenting on. My regret? I won’t live long enough to see where this generation ultimately steers our world-and I know that will be a bold new world led by Americans fueled by innovation and collaboration and not restricted by the rules and regs we Boomers have adjusted to…that created the stalled and divisive state in which Americans live today.



October 25, 2012

In the rush to get the Voter ID Constitutional Amendment on the November 6 ballot in Minnesota, those posturing for the change not only committed the error of limiting ID validation to a 19th century technology (photos) but also have created additional room for interpretation and error in the vague language -an example of which is exactly what kind of ID is acceptible.

This is exactly my point in urging all to “Vote No”. Since we have no fraud record in MN today, it would seem that responsible legislators should be expected to lay out the issues, possible resolutions, openly obtain input on objections and consequences, and finally collaborate with all impacted to author a bill that addresses the needs and accommodates all. That is not only the mark of a good legislator and leader, but frankly, in my book, of an adult as well.

Unless of course, the recent “revelation” of intent is not simple posturing by a disgruntled and dismissed Republican, but is in fact the truth…and indeed, this whole expensive madness was simply a means to ensure Republican voter turnout in the election – creating a $50 million expense to be born – not by the Republicans – but all citizens of Minnesota….and committing us by Constitution to use 19th/20th century technology despite being in the second decade of the 21st century.

However, we cannot change the process now. Consequently, we have no choice but to defeat the extreme one-sided, costly, and out-dated “solution” presented by the Republicans.

THEN, we can start over, get input from all sides, craft an equitable solution that is 21st century in scope,  does not disenfranchise voters, addresses and clarifies all the issues raise, as well as implementation issues and costs and then submit the resulting solution as a new law – not a Constitutional Amendment!



October 23, 2012

Kudos to BOb Schiefer…finally he was able to minimize somewhat the impression of two neighborhood boys fighting in the sandbox!

Because I’m so prejudiced against what Romney continues to use as his qualificatiobns, I try to temper my opinion through written news , online and TV followup…and watch debates OFF cable so I am not further influenced. And usually, I spend a bit of time trying to validate my conclusions through fact-checking.

In spite of that, I did not “celebrate” a win last night. Oh, no doubt Romney rehearsed style not substance (is he auditioning for an update of West Wing?); but I thought Obama had some significant missed opportunities as well. I know, Easy to Judge when I am calmly watching the debate without the pressure of 60 million watching what I say!

All that said, what a travesty it would be to have a Republican victory…a figurehead in the White House again would be bad enough…but Neocons and Southern Dixiecrats at the helm steering the ship while the Captain just poses might be unbearable.

I try to remind myself that often in our 200 plus year history, we have had very contentious campaigns, and somehow, once the people voted, we came together.

Unfortunately, I do not feel that way this year. It started with Congressional Republicans putting party over country when Obama won and when I had just survived a Close Encounter with the Real Repos during the GOP Convention here in MSP…it has continued through four years of gridlock, distortions of truth, and a very devisive campaign.

So I opened the STRIB this morning with trepidation and was a little comforted to read the following items:

1. The Clintons Haiti visit to recognize the US Agency for International Development work in Haiti to create infastructure and thousands of jobs.

2. A good Obama quip that reflects many of my own postings re Romney…”foreign policies of the 1980s…social policies of the 1950s…economic policies of the 1920s.”

3. The Fact Check column generally supported Democratic statements and pointed out Republican misinterpretations-although it did indicate where Obama strayed a bit off total truth.

4. The “In Their Own Words” column accurately reflected Romney’s last minute tack to the center; and Obama’s quotes did a better job of portraying “presidential” – not “wannabe”.

I so hope some of those Republican Dixiecrats and NeoCons tuning in listened carefully as Romney staged his last transformational performance. They were “sold” a different Romney; maybe they too will begin to question who he REALLY is!

5. Despite a tightening electorate here, it is comforting to read that World View trend to Obama by significant margins….from Europe to China to Mideast.

Yes, I know the Republicans will say that is a bad thing; I think in the 21st world of collaboration not war, it is a good thing.

Unfortunately RESPECT trumps LIKEABILITY and after the Bush years of “likable guy but…”, I am comforted to know the world respects the US with Obama at the helm.

6. Opps – concerned to hear that the Republican – run Ottawa Country Board of Elections in North Ohio sent a mailer to 3 Democratic-leaning precincts showing Election Day of November 8 not Nov 6 and giving the wrong directions to get to the polls.

Was this incompetence, an awful mistake, or a well planned action?

In any case, they have two weeks to correct it and should be planning a house to house visit to all who received incorrect info – paid for by the Republicans…with a Democratic “reality checker” carefully monitoring!

All in all, I think we’re a country as divided as we were 150 years ago and altho I get consolidation from the small “wins”, the big picture tells me we’ve learned little, and expect to reap rewards and recognition just “because we are the US” and not because we have earned it.

My biggest concern remains the stark differences between 20th century thinking and striving to understand the need to think “21st Century”.

I keep coming back to a Republican Party intent on reliving the good parts of the Grand Old Days, and an aging Press that also often bases their assessment of the situation on the same “past”.

Experience isn’t everything; it’s trumped by Innovation and Collaboration in the world in which we live today.


THE DECIDING DEBATE…or just more blather?

October 22, 2012

For weeks we have heard the debates don’t matter. Opps…poll numbers started shifting during the first three, and now this final debate is the MOST IMPORTANT thing of the campaign. Who knows what the truth is? All I really know is that we should expect posturing and not truthful thought-out responses.
Yesterday I started a blog that outlined what I would like to hear discussed in the last debate tonight. No, Benghazi was not on the list…contrary to neo-con manipulation of Romney’s impression, Benghazi’s greatest importance was the unexpected loss of American lives-especially one who may have emerged as a knowledgeable and informed leader in 21st century foreign policy-someone who understands the Middle East; someone that could have helped the United States make needed transitions from “War is the Answer” to peaceful co-existence. And, its second most important role was as a demonstration for the American people of just how complex-even murky-an incident like this is. Such an incident calls for patience and level heads, no finger pointing until everyone has the facts, and no posturing for political advantage…especially from a neophyte whose total foreign policy is wrapped up in a father born in Mexico for religious reasons, and time spent as a missionary in France – a country that was then just emerging from post-WWII recovery! While I applaud Romney for his time and compassion, I do not think he emerged a qualified 21st century diplomat based on that experience! And frankly, I shudder to think his neo-con advisors are the very same men and women that manipulated Bush and tricked the world into the wrongful war in Iraq!
But I digress. What I was in the midst of outlining yesterday was my own questions/issues I hope to hear discussed tonight.
• Japan is about to take China’s place as the US largest creditor. What do you see as positive/negative impacts, if  any, on the United States?
• With China’s low profit margins on production of goods, combined with extremely low worker wages, what do you see as impact in the US, of as the Chinese “Boom” recedes? Will there be economic consequences from the many US companies with facilities there? Are the US corporate investments in China significant enough that a collapse there would impact us domestically?
NOTE: This morning STRIB had article in Business Insider Page 1 raising similar question of what will happen as US Corporations ramp up there, expecting China to replace slow markets in the US and Europe.
• What impact to US do you see as the Chinese population growth controls (one child; preferably male) starts impacting the Chinese economy?
I’ve read that traditionally, this male head of family takes on responsibility of support for parents AND parents of spouse. That support of three families on low wages seems challenging; as does the question of whom do these favored sons marry with so few Chinese women in their generation?
The Strib OPINION PAGE added significant “food for thought” this morning by pointing out that the most serious security challenges confronting the US –which come from the Mideast and South Asia- are “so complex and fluid” it is hard to provide clear answers…so at best we can expect posturing by Romney and over-simplification by Obama.
Before the debate, take the time to check out the article “What to hope for tonight at the debate”. The questions raised about the Arab Spring, Syria, Iran, will make your head spin, but every one of them is valid and raises significant issues…just reviewing the questions makes one realize how daunting the situation is.
The author’s last paragraph says it all.
Whatever the weaknesses of Obama on these issues, I’ve heard no clear alternatives from Romney and no recognition of the global changes of the last decade. I hope Schieffer will press both candidates for real, not canned answers. But my expectations aren’t high.
Amen to that….by now, most of you know, my biggest issue with Romney is that he is NOT prepared or even cognizant that we do not live today in a world in which his experience and success in a past century will make any difference. If he does not understand the implications and relationships in the world today, he will not be effective; nor will he be able to lead us successfully into the future. I say again, tomorrow is NOT more of the same. The world has changed.



October 21, 2012

Another growing “conflict” that should be able to become a win-win…the developing issue of preserving old commerce vs funding new commerce in the Central Corridor.

In today’s world, this does not have to be either/or. Again, there is room for a win-win here.

What there should NOT be room for is aaplying 20th century principles of destroying all in its wake – creating picture perfect “movie sets” that do not reflect the soul of the people.

The guiding principle should be to accommodate 21st century principles and projections in multi-cultural city making that reflects the people living in and using the space….NOT white 20th century “values”.

The world has changed; so should our metropolitan areas.



October 21, 2012

Yes, to Tom Friedman on Meet the Press today chastising all for missing the REAL story: He reminded us that the most important fact of the Libya incident is not being discussed….the street demonstration in Benghazi to show the support for the Americans. Those of us watching it unfold saw/heard about this but there has been no follow-up.
Yes, to emerging written reports supported now by the investigation of what reporters and government officials were initially saying. There was total chaos, a local anti-American group took advantage of chaos elsewhere from the video and attacked; it was not preplanned for September 11. That other groups joined them AND opposed them…including the group Friedman praised. Again, this is what I saw and heard that day, and in the ensuing 1-2 days afterwards. Was I the only one watching in real time?
No, to Romney for trying to capitalize on – for a political advantage-an attack that killed 4 Americans.
Yes, to the investigation status that shows there was no Al-Qaida involvement as Romney and Republicans assumed and commented on while things were still in chaos. Romney’s political statement without the facts does not show strength or knowledge in foreign affairs….but did demonstrate to me once again,” WINNING IS EVERYTHING….the rest of you be damned!”
No, to the Congress that determined to call for investigation BEFORE the official report from State Department and President has been made…thereby, again for political advantage, putting us all in danger as people- doing real follow up for findings that could help protect future Americans-are being diverted to answer to those looking to win an election.
No, to Romney and Republicans for assuming Al Qaida and thinking they found a weakness they could capitalize on – without CHECKING to see if they had all the facts. Today, it appears Al Qaida was NOT involved; despite Republicans greatest wish.
No, to Obama for not responding immediately after his first address to position that we were getting contradictory input and we would be doing full investigation and getting back to the country with details once we had full report and were certain we had the situation contained.
No, to all involved as this became a central issue for not either making it a higher priority to resolve and to get progress reports out to the American people.
No, to the Republicans for chastising the President for “too little security” when the Republicans had cut security budget that would have allowed additional staff to supplement the Libyan security. The attitude of “let the country we are in take care of it” is not so easy when that country has a brand new democratic regime who took power in a revolution and is still trying to solidify and stabilize their own situation.
Are there any lessons learned here? I would like to think it gives us all pause for thought but I fear that the Mid 20th century scream from the corner office “who the Hell F—cked up now” is better drama than a thoughtful and careful evaluation of what happened; what caused it and what can we do to ensure we do not repeat same mistakes and ignore same pleads for help.
So far, it seems that a man well-regarded lost his life for his country….as an exercise to show which candidate does better in “spin”.



October 21, 2012

I’m hoping to catch up today from a mini sabbatical since early October….filled with a few mental health days, a few days out of town, a lot of family interaction and issues, health issues, political distractions, and a little bit of just plain enjoying some good weather and the world in which I now live…all that in preparation for the short days ahead, the emotions of holidays, the biting cold of January, the reality of my drastically-changed life going forward, and plans for survival.
With little available time, energy and emotional stability, I’ve abused my Facebook page with opinions on election issues, urbanization, education and I am sure other “hot buttons” of the moment; so today I shall try to get those priorities sorted out and refocus my rants back to my blog-making it a little easier for others to ignore them!
Thanks to Lori Sturdevant in the Strib today that made me stop and think about how out of control I have been!
Americans focus too much on politics and not enough on governance….We relish competition, but it takes consensus to govern. We love a clash of ideas, but governing requires combining ideas, then selling the new product to one’s own skeptical allies.
I know that – so forgive me for my many mini Facebook rants. Studevant’s column was actually a tribute to the Citizens League…and I have added her suggestion to my “to do” list….perhaps I will be better served to channel all these thoughts to an organization who for 60 years has explored new policy ideas, recommended solutions and forged bipartisan consensus in a non-partisan way.
Meanwhile, I am drowning in post-it notes of comments and issues, so perhaps later in the afternoon, with the football game playing in the background, I will organize them all into a list of topics and comments suitable for another installation of Meanderings on a Sunday Afternoon.



October 5, 2012

Did you listen closely Wednesday to how Romney was going to increase jobs?

I hope so, as you might want to compare his plan – based on what he learned as a business leader 30 years ago to the latest reality-start up companies.  Since 1977, there has been a net increase in jobs from businesses other than startups ONLY SEVEN TIMES.  And start-up companies have changed significantly over that same period of time.

Start-ups are hiring fewer people; they are depending more on contract workers.  At its peak in 1999, new start-ups employed 7.7 employees; in 2011, that number is 4.7 or a 46% decline.  That means the numbers Romney knows from times past will most likely not be achieved in times present…despite his claim that from his “experience” he knows he can do this.

This revolution in start-ups and small business started first in Japan in the 1980s when manufacturers learned the value of creating products in smaller batches and refining them more often, according to Eric Ries, the author of “The Lean Start-up”.

Then, in the ensuing twenty years, as the technological impact became apparent, first through tele-commuting, those small businesses learned they are more flexible by using “contractors”.

It is a concept I have personally been experimenting with since 2007….which lead to a new sales high for me of almost $ 2 million annually in 2010 and 2011…with no employees.  But more importantly, it allowed my company to better match the needs of my clients to very specific talents of contractors resulting in far less cost to the client than were I to have maintained a pool of potential skills within my own organization…and all the administrative staff, space and other overhead to support that pool of labor.

Fortunately, I also do not have to be concerned about “stakeholder value” so no decisions need be driven nor dollars diverted from obtaining client satisfaction; all sales dollars can be focused on providing top services at a fair price by the best in the industry….as supported by awards, honors, press, and the recognition we received for our work over those same two years.

This is a 21st century phenomenon now being called the Jobless Entrepreneurship.  It is part of the change we are seeing in this digital, collaborative age of the 21st century. It most likely is partly responsible for slower than desired job growth and recovery since our economy imploded in the previous administration.

In spite of that, I’m proud to be one of the pioneers; and already, I am seeing those that have come after have experimented and tweeked and achieved ever increasing results for their clients.

There is no doubt, today’s entrepreneurs and their clients are on board and continue to push the envelope for better results.  Results for clients themselves and for those they employ as contractors.  If you haven’t spent any time in the “Business” section of a bookstore, you ought to plan a trip….Social Media, Learning, Collaboration and Contracting are front and center, as well they should be….because it is working!

It’s only the Politicians and the Press that are lagging behind.    And I can assure you from experience, the 1980s successful businessman running for President does not have today’s business answers. 

But what about his Governor experience, you say?  Compare Bill Clinton of the ‘90s to Bill Clinton of today.  He may have built on his experience in the ‘90s; but he does not rely on it for his credentials.  Neither should Romney. 

The World has Changed.  Romney hasn’t.