Archive for October, 2013



October 23, 2013

The more we learn, the more troubled we are.

There are philosophical issues of privacy vs. security/safety; there are technology issues as we transition into a digital world that we prefer to ignore vs. face head on; there are scope issues in terms of how much and under what circumstances on specifics; there are varying opinions from thought leaders on the overall effectiveness and direction; there are oversight and parameters issues. 

There is also a concern in terms of a young man some view as a traitor-some view as a hero-that at a minimum- exposed the lack of security around collected data, and a lack of adequate security measures to keep him away from the data.  There are hiring policy issues that allow a person who has been blocked from direct hire to skirt the system and become an outside contractor.   Add to those REAL issues, Politicians and Press trying to use this to their own personal favor and a Public that is in no position to sort it out, and we have a mess….not to mention the growing impact on global affairs and the fact that although we have a mess,  personally it seems as though we are just letting it take its toll with no correcting action nor buy-in. 

 I am still trying to figure it all out.  Having been a young adult that cheered the efforts to expose Nixon with the Pentagon Papers when all else tried had failed, I keep trying to balance hero vs. traitor in my own mind and continue to come up short.    Generally, my instinct tells me there were other ways to garner attention and  ”win” than the Snowden way. Generally, I think at a minimum, it should be a wake- up call to a major impact of the digital age.  Generally, I am disappointed that it has not yet  stimulated that BIG CONVERSATION of the Changing World brought on because of technological advances and why there is a need for recognizing it, non-political thought-leadership on what this means for the US and the World going forward, and then international discussions. 

Perhaps we need a review that focuses not on finger-pointing, name-calling, and positioning for political advantage, but instead,a factual historical review that focuses on broad issues that are not political but are overall US-Security based.  We do not need to agree or disagree with all the facts, but we do need to understand them.

  • Start with a non-political biased BACKGROUND BRIEF – where were we, what were the issues, how did this evolve and what were the security measures in place that formed the need for NSA in the first place.
  • Next, a REVIEW OF INITIAL POLICIES IMPLEMENTED and changes that have officially and unofficially taken place that morphed the idea and system into something that we may find is very different than original intent.
  • HOW MUCH DID TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES and “Because we can” play a role?
  • WHAT POLICIEIS ARE IN PLACE to keep things in balance going forward?

With a clear understanding of startup vs. where we are today, perhaps we can identify some clarity, get it cleaned up, make it work to protect our country without making it a BIG BROTHER is watching issue.

MAYBE since not only all American citizens are now aware of it, and the world is aware of it, it is time to examine, adjust, and look towards the future – not judge based on past century needs.

This issue has not yet moved from the EMOTION Stage to the EXAMINATION OF FACTS stage, and we need to do that so we find clarity first, and then can start thinking WHAT NEXT.

Instead, all of the has been thrown into a single pot and the resulting stew seems unappetizing to even the Repo and Demo chefs – let alone the American or International diners.  And yet, no one seems to be trying to figure out which ingredients are basic , which add flavor, and which just spoiled the  stew.



October 18, 2013

REALLY?  The Mall of America Holiday Decorations are up?

I try hard to stay current but this is one trend I really dislike.  Retailers continue to PUSH the season using what I think is a FALSE premise…we will all start to spend sooner and buy more.

What about downward sliding holiday expenditures do you not understand?  What about  the growing mutterings of their customers?  What about the sighs of relief  when January 2 comes and the “holidays are finally over?”

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE Christmas.  I spend my November birthday touring retail destinations to take in the décor and get in the spirit.  For years as an event planner, I produced a lot of corporate holiday parties – leaving little time to share my own home with friends so I did my own entertaining to coincide with the release of that year’s Beaujolais. I included a couple bottles of the wine on the bar as a décor element, but the focus was my Christmas Tree.  That meant  I pushed the holiday a bit myself; but friends always told me that inspired them to start their own and face the commercialization of the stores. 

And personally, that made Thanksgiving more meaningful for me as I travel over the river and through the woods to give thanks with my extended family in Rochester.  I could then come home, and with minimal stress, spend December racing from one event to another both as the event person and during the week as an attendee.

So I get the creeping early décor trend.


It’s not that I am a Halloween fan.  I think a childhood carry-over attached to the anticipation of my birthday ruined me for Halloween.  “When is going to be my birthday?”  I asked my mom; and patiently she would say “Halloween comes first; THEN it’s your birthday.”.  Ugghh.  That and the fact that I never got to have a “store-bought” costume, but always had to be a homemade gypsy, ghost or bum  gave me a deep-seated dislike for this scary event called Halloween!  🙂

Nevertheless, September-December is also my favorite season of the year – specific holidays aside.  I love the fall for its colors and crispness-and for the building anticipation of the holidays.  Nevertheless, the MOA snowflake and evergreen décor on the front page of the STRIB Business section this morning through me into a TIZZY!

 Yet ONE MORE reason why I am not a MOA Shopper!




October 16, 2013


As long as the Mad Hatters continue to stand firm on holding the country hostage – determined they are righteous in their demands, here’s my suggestion:

Let’s go ahead and vote in their suggestions on a TEST basis implementing all the actions they advocate – just in the districts they represent.  Cancel every single bit of federal dollars going to those districts.

A demonstration of what the US government does for all citizens might be just what Tea Party followers need.  My bet is they will vote every one of them out of office next election when they discover what most of us know:   Mad Hatter plans will be VERY HARMFUL to the citizens of the district.

And if they are not voted out, it may be time to revisit the Secession idea again – not with a war, but with a national vote!


This morning’s STRIB reflects a little of world opinion of the US today:

“Not only Greece…has irresponsible and short-sighted politicians…Americans are getting a taste of the same medicine”.  Now that’s harsh – coming from a Greek citizen.  Remember our reaction as we watched Greece default?

In Mexico, they are calling it “berrinche” or tantrums-which commonly mean “spoiled little rich kids, blind to their privilege and the effects of their misbehavior.” 

And these are the people we want to build a bigger and longer physical wall to keep out of our country? I’d say, they would be well-served to use it to keep the Mad Hatters out of THEIR country!  Berrinche shows they have more sense than some of our own Confederate flag-waving Mad Hatters.

Generally, the Mexicans feel it is a “display of American arrogance.” 

That the reaction around the world follows a similar tone makes me very very sad.


Or at least by one person – David Perlman of New Hope-a software engineer for 35 years!

As the Obamacare sign up began and we were seeing a few glitches, I had no concern.  Been there; done that….on much smaller scales and I know what to expect.  I wrote a blog about the same thing just a few days ago.

As reports of high volume continued, I kept reassuring myself that on one hand, it was a GOOD problem to have: to see that many people were indeed interested in at least seeing the options and possibly getting registered was encouraging.

But the Press grabbed hold of the naysayer comments and together with the the Tea Party, they turned this into a major disaster.  Eventually, I talked myself into being wrong. And as time passed (short as it was), and the opportunities to manipulate and create fear increased and were capitalized on, I started to become anxious.

Fortunately, I scanned the Letters to the Editor displayed under the “Affordable Care Act” subtitle this morning.

The first from Chip Allen reminded me of myself when I have just been pushed over the edge about something I feel strongly  – if I do not exercise a little care; I begin to sound like Chicken Little thinking the Sky is falling-as readers of the blog surely have witnessed.  In this case, it was the Rooster crowing that the sky is falling.  So I am not criticizing Chip in Woodbury; I’m just sayin’….a little emotional rhetoric I think that unfortunately tettered on the edge of not only disrespect, but hysteria.  Obviously, this is something he cares deeply about.

So, after that hit me in the face, I grabbed on to the lifeline of the first sentence in David Perlman’s Letter:  “I don’t understand the hype about the disaster that was the initial offering of “Obamacare.”

And it got better from there.

“…the biggest problem was that the servers were insufficient to handle the volume of inquiries, and every business person knows that having more customers than you can service is the best kind of problem to have.”

At this point I am nodding – after all, how can you not agree that although airplanes were not very reliable in 1915, that did not mean we should abandon flying; instead, we designed and built better airplanes?

By the end of the letter, I felt better – at least one person besides me in this world viewed the opening of the exchanges as a “resounding success” based on the volume of inquiries.  Likewise, it had some bad glitches – based on the volume of inquiries. 

You build a system; you test it.  It hiccups back at you.  You fix it. It’s not the system, it’s the healthcare improvements for all that is important.  Just need to keep sight of what the goal is, and we will all be okay, I think.


“professors…present special versions of their very best lectures.”

The topics are intriguing; I even considered going as a birthday present to myself, but….

I am afraid of that word “LECTURES” coupled with “pure joy of learning”.  I am afraid this is a 20th century philosophy of adult learning and not a 21st century learning application and I will have wasted my money…even though It is produced by Twin Cities Public Television. And I would be so mad if I paid $159 for it and it was just more same old, same old.   More research needed, I guess, as those that know me, know “if you have a good birthday, you have a good year; but if it’s a disaster or even just disappointing, the year that follows reflects that as well!  That is why November 2 is ALWAYS a vacation day for me – I certainly don’t need to jinx it with work!


All I REALLY want for my birthday is for this debt crisis to be settled for a year; If I can’t have that,  I will gratefully take a short reprieve…but maybe we could, as citizens for whom Congress works, insist that no more vacations or breaks until we have a resolution .  J



October 15, 2013

Back in the mid-2000s, event and meeting planners started to envision a NEW WAY forward that better matched emerging research on how we learn….The “Adult Learning” revolution launched simultaneously with technical advances that were propelling us into a digital age.

Here at Creative Events, we became followers of these visionaries, did some exploration of collaboration and new learning tools, and tried to focus on engaging our audiences to interact with each other and their own thought-leaders. We got our “feet wet”  in 2008 with the GOP Convention and by 2010 we were ready for the grand experiment of developing a collaborative of independent event peeps to test our theories and growing knowledge when we were selected as the vendor to for a Boston Scientific Employee meeting.

You have heard the story, seen the pictures, positive press, and awards that signaled we were on the right track.  We delivered good results; we were recognized for it and this year in August, MPI launched a new initiative called “MEETING DESIGN” that used those two BSCI employee meetings as the case study to support their new curriculum.  Over the next 12-16 months, 71 MPI chapters internationally will be introduced to this concept that revolutionizes the Meetings Industry; and slowly, ISES, as well, is executing events with something more than A WOW factor-thank goodness!

Simultaneously as a volunteer , I have participated in brainstorming several revitalization projects in the City of Minneapolis (Plan It Hennepin, Washington Avenue,  the Cultural Corridor, Nicollet Avenue Street Car Plan and  the latest project just introduced – the redesign of Nicollet Mall itself)…not to mention the West River Road Trails Improvement plan and the continuing evolution of the latest 30 year plan for the Central Riverfront…all of which have introduced me to an international concept called creative-place making.  Much of that has focused on building consensus and building/sharing visions through the use of art. 

Out of that, has come a strong desire to experiment with applying those same creative processes to meetings and events in order to achieve that same warmth and depth I was seeing emerge in community events – that is  not necessarily achieved from social media and current technology alone.

Meanwhile, Boston Scientific has continued to push forward…applying a key corporate value – not only to the patient and healthcare in general, but to business applications in their healthcare world. Their commitment to Meaningful Innovation has opened new doors. 

Last month, we started a new journey with them, as we once again turn our thoughts to their next Employee Meeting in late Spring of 2014. 

Is the world ready to take “Meeting Design” one step further?

If we unlock a meeting from the need to have a BIG room, BIG stage, and BIG seating blocks for a general session…then we have a whole new world of possibilities before us.  Maybe all those costs and time spent with hotel/convention center infrastructure can be redirected to the purpose and outcomes of any given meeting:  increasing adult learning and achieving results…creating an improved corporate environment for all.  In 2014, we will test our new theory.  The BSCI Employee Meeting will be held on each campus during the same week’s timeframe.  To accomplish that, we need to create engagement points that allow interaction before, during, and after the Town Hall experience; we need to ensure that engagement and interaction is between all employees and their leadership. Along the way, we hope to give employees what they need and want in order to get results for Boston Scientific and for their patients. And we hope to do that utilizing the power of all the technology on both those campuses supported by interactive projects that result in a bit of creative “corporate” community-making, as we also work with the BSCI space design folks to tell the story on empty walls  in lobbies, cafeterias, and within departments across a total of ten buildings on three campuses. Stay tuned on this one.  With no clear path to follow, I’m sure we’ll have some stumbles as we explore how to best to do this, but something tells me, we are opening the door on a whole new world.

And so the exploration begins-guided by new visions of what this Meeting and Event world can be.





October 15, 2013


The headline reads “Half of Older Workers say they’re delaying retirement, poll finds…” and I thought to myself, YES! It’s about time.


I’ve said for years….when social security was introduced, it was based on an existing “life expectancy” of about 65 years.    I spent my youth listening to my father complain over and over about the dollars being taken from his paycheck.  His theory was if you work hard all your life, you die when you are 65 – so why is this money being stolen by the government?  Because, after all, HE certainly had worked hard all his life; and thus would die and not claim any of those dollars taken from him.  And surely, there was no thought to my Mom’s needs- who was, after all, over fifteen years younger than him!


Wasn’t he surprised back in January of 1963 when he did not fall over dead on his 65th birthday…causing him  to rethink his stance a bit!  In fact, he lived twenty-two more years – without a plan.  In truth, grandchildren aside, he had no other interests than work, puttering in the garage, and working in the garden – hardly enough to replace that one third of his lifetime he had devoted to WORK before retirement.  The “Light plant” was his identity.  So, in retirement, although being a “Grandpa” was his greatest joy, he became a lost soul…and ultimately, a hard burden for my mom.


And for me, he became the motivation that indeed, I WOULD approach things differently.  Hence, his stubbornness and the resulting unhappiness and decline of my dad became my motivation.


 A few years after he died, I had had sufficient time to develop a plan and I was ready to launch it.  Twenty five years in the corporate world was enough; it was time to start a new career.  In fact, my “plan” said, here’s what I want to do for the next 20-25 years, but keep an eye out for ideas for a third career to follow that as I begin to age. After all, if my dad lived to be 87 and my mom lived to be 93, I could well have another “lifetime” ahead of me once I reach social security age and I need to start thinking of a plan for that.   


And now I am there.  So far, I am still physically able to do most things called for in that second career of Event Design, but I am on the lookout now for new ideas-so indeed, I can launch that third career.


 All I know at this point is that I am engaged and interested in the world around me; I am excited to see how this digital world that’s just begun plays out; and I have seen enough late “traditionalists” and early “boomers” in my life opt to retire and live a life a leisure to know that I will entertain no thought of doing the same.  I am a firm believer that “ if you do not use it, you lose it”. A life focused on grandchildren is not my bag…A life traveling around, escaping my roots has no appeal – I did that for 25 years in my FIRST career!   Friends and family that have ‘retired” from work often seem to retire from life as well….and I surely understand the difficulties an older brother and sister-in-law are having as, both in their 80s, they sell their business this month.  And, I understand the trepidation my brother has in doing that-despite ill health. He does not want to retire from life and memories of my father’s last days are not what any of us want for ourselves.


Over the years, Social Security was tweeked a bit- moved  up to 62; and extended  to 70 years old… options to everyone, but somehow overlooking its intent.  Meanwhile, advances in healthcare and healthy living extended that average life expectancy into the seventies and is ever moving upwards.  And yet, we did not make adjustments to social security to compensate.  And so it became an entitlement instead of a safety net….and has created a lot of boring people who think they deserve to stop using the brain they were given. ..and it created a lot of worry about how the federal government can continue to fund this program and what adjustments need to be made.


Which brings us back to this morning’s article in the STRIB.


 Of course, the article is positioned with a “poor us” tone- starting with “stung by a recession that sapped investments and home values, but expressing widespread job satisfaction, older Americans appear to have accepted the reality of a retirement that comes later in life and no longer represents a complete exit from the workforce.”


Come on, think about that!  Why do you want to go home, sit in a chair when you are not out playing golf (now that’s an UGGHH!  from my perspective!)  when you get satisfaction from working and are still able to think and work?


I’m the outlier, I know, but perhaps that means this recession may have some good results.  People are learning that indeed, life is missing something if it only focuses on a “life of leisure” to make one happy.  Perhaps we were pursuing a “false “dream, and now we have been forced to look that in the face and deal with it.  Perhaps being forced to work longer, look for new income streams based on output of effort will teach us new lessons and we will find that if we have the capacity and the ability, we are happier when we keep thinking and contributing to society.  And if we need not work for money; we then can bask in the luxury of volunteering and working for the good of mankind.










October 13, 2013


I usually race through the Travel Section as for the most part, I’ve had my fill of travel but today, two things caught my attention….

I loved the “Off the Wall Miami” update.  It almost made me want to return to see the improvements.  But common sense prevailed and instead I think I will stay focused on creative city-making right here in MSP and maybe RST!

And then there was the black and white picture of the Mississippi from the bluffs near Winona and along the way, Whitewater, Altura, Great River Park…and immediately I was homesick!  For the first time, I had a fleeting thought about missing my car and thus the ability to just head out on a beautiful day like today to get my “fix” of what I think is the most beautiful part of Minnesota. Yes, I love the urban river but I would replace that shot on my phone of the Stone Arch and the river as it turns into the gorge with a new picture of the river winding through the bluffs- in a minute if I could!


A bit reluctantly I tuned in this morning, as I am really tired of this battle in Washington.  But in a rather perverse way, it helped to hear the leader of the International Monetary Fund pretty much say that the Tea Party is holding not only the US hostage, but the world as well.  She went on to say, that the meeting agenda of 300 central banks across the world (being held this week in Washington ) was totally transformed by this situation.  And then from the top financial person in the world came the comment that not only the credibility of the United States, but the stability of the world economy is being endangered.  Further, if it happens there will be not just lack of trust in America, but massive destruction of economies the world over.

She introduced an interesting phrase coming from the IMF members in regards to the United States-“hurry up and slow down”.  Indeed, we need to hurry up, admit a future problem created by our entitlements  and start working NOW on a solution that will prevent that disaster in the future.  However, at the same time we need to slow down this movement led by Paul Ryan (yes, Ryan was specifically mentioned in the discussion) to slash spending that is creating growth.  She acknowledged real improvement since 2008 – that indeed the work that has been done since 2008 crash has made the United States and the world a much healthier place financially.  I only wish all the naysayers about Obma’s approach in the Press, in the Democratic Party, in the Republican Party, and in the general population of the country could have heard the conversation….but perhaps we can get them all to tune into FLIPBOARD and search for “Meet the Press” so they can read in magazine format!

At that point the conversation switched from our economy to the appointment of Janet Yellen and Powerful Women.  And again from the IMF leader came three rules:

  •  Yes, women can do it and should break down the barriers;
  • To do so, need to work hard, be engaged and rally support of both men and women; and
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.

The discussion closed with some advice I certainly can relate to:  “SMILE AND GRIT YOUR TEETH”.  To that I can only add my own mantra….The boys think they are superior;  If you challenge them directly, they will fight and you will never win the argument, so just go quietly about your business and outsmart them.  When they catch on…if they ever do….it will be too late and you will  be experiencing success!  J



October 12, 2013

An interesting exercise to visualize what should replace Holidazzle in the STRIB today…

…but after reading it, I’d say those interviewed should keep their “day” job and we ought to stick with letting Leah Wong and the Downtown Council develop their own plan.  At least there is concrete evidence in reading their 2025 Vision for Minneapolis that they are looking forward, not backward…or askew!

Tom Fisher’s idea to “let the community” participate in generating ideas was the most viable and on target as it reflects exactly what the city has been doing over the last  few years, as it has concentrated on creative city and place making.  Otherwise, the STRIB and the answers seem to have fallen into all the old traps.

 All interviewed focused on the Nicollet Mall as it exists today -except for one chap who thinks it “goes all the way to the river” when in today’s world, It ENDS at Washington Avenue and the beautiful building housing ING.

Interesting that within the STRIB it appears folks don’t seem to be talking to each other…. They recently featured not only the efforts to re-invent Nicollet Mall including the three finalists and the winning design team; they have featured the move to recognize and improve the Cultural Corridor from Nicollet to First Avenue; they have even alluded to other projects in the works from the Gateway to the Hennepin Underpass and the Walker, the redesign of Washington Avenue as well as various other Creative Placemaking efforts.  And yet, this article reads like a vision out of 1950! In short, we are in the process of re-inventing Nicollet Mall, folks, so you are mostly on the wrong track2.  All focused on developing a new plan probably with another “shelf life” of twenty years that totally disregards a changing demographic of the Minneapolis population that focuses only on old white man ideas.

Many focused on a retail world long since gone from Nicollet Mall instead of Nicollet Mall that has emerged as a business, cultural and residential center of today.

Dean Phillips’ idea for a Loring Park “Tivoli Gardens” may be worth considering as a stand- alone but hopefully stands for a “type” description and not a desire to copy an idea.  Perhaps his thoughts could be expanded to support the existing visions of creative city making in Mpls. that connect Loring/Sculpture Garden and address that dreary underpass    

 “Flooding” Nicollet Mall might have some repercussions to downtown businesses if the compacted, crowded utility lines underneath were accidently “flooded” along the way…not to say a rink is totally unreasonable – rinks in the Gateway,  Loring Park, Peavey or at the new gathering place at the south end of downtown Nicollet Mall could be viable.

 But the inclusion of Paul Ridgeway as the one expert in events? In case you all have missed it, we have many modern creatives in this town, doing a lot of experiential events – both large and small, and more than a few of them are gaining international fame and acclaim.  Ridgeway, on the other hand  threw in the buzzword “interactive” and recycled a pretty old idea.  Not to say a nostalgic experience from our childhood 50 years ago would not be appealing but….


Not one of these ideas capitalized on engaging interactive things we are all experimenting with in our daily lives and in events in the 21st century; nor do these ideas tie or expand  anything the city is in the midst of today.  Nor do they  captures Minneapolis of the future.  

All this to say, my faith is in Leah Wong and the Downtown Council-not in those interviewed today.