Friday, June 27, 2008


Still new to blogging, I have not shared any lists of my own, but Wendy Bounds provides a great starting point for entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs in her Wall Street Journal column of June 13, 15 Entrepreneur Blogs Worth Reading. Drew McClellan's The Marketing Minute, a quick and easy blog on marketing tips, gets a nice nod in Wendy's article. Of course, my favorite go to blog is Guy Kawasaki's How to Change the World. I am going to use Kawasaki's book, The Art of the Start in an entrepreneurial leadership class I am teaching this fall at Drake University in Des Moines; I am also using Carl Schramm's The Entrepreneurial Imperative. Schramm is president of the Kauffman Foundation which promotes entrepreneurship and training for entrepreneurs, and he argues compellingly that America's entrepreneurship is an economic miracle that will change the world. I like the the concurrent themes in Kawasaki and Schramm of changing the world.

As I continue to wrestle with the loss of local serial entrepreneur and all-around good guy, Jim Goodman, I constantly take heart in his unwavering belief that he could change the world and make it better right here in Des Moines, Iowa. As Jim liked to say "I don't what tomorrow may bring, but I am looking forward to it." He made things happen, and I believe that characteristic is what sets successful entrepreneurs apart form the rest. They make things happen. Another local example of this is Amadeo Rossi and his colleagues at the Des Moines Music Coalition. They have set their sights on making Des Moines a center for alternative music like Austin, TX. And after just a couple of years of blood, sweat and tears, they
have pulled together an amazing music festival with The Flaming Lips headlining the first day and The Roots out front the second day. Driven by passion and a real desire to make Des Moines a better place, they are off to a great start. I was really impressed by Amadeo and I hope to get to know him better (and maybe write about him; he has agreed to be guest in my class this fall).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


As I continue to struggle with the recent death of my friend Jim Goodman, I return over and over to the notion of perspective. Sometimes I feel like an early artist: everything I see at this moment is big and dominates the foreground; everything else, if it is even included, is small and in the background. Put differently, I could get somewhere in the forest of life if it weren't for the damned trees.

In speaking with another accomplished friend and entrepreneur yesterday, we discussed perspective in two contexts: the economy and our children.

First, he is convinced that the U.S. economy is going to hell in a hand basket.

While these are trying times and while we are looking at a potentially unique combination of rising fuel and food costs and declining home prices, something he distinguishes from stagflation by calling it "deinflation", I suggested we should keep in mind how today's economy compares to history. Unemployment remains low, interest rates remain very low, prices of certain commodities: gold, oil, corn, are high, they are not at all time highs (adjusted for inflation), the U. S. economy continues to grow, and, (and this a a big AND), the global economy is unlike any ever seen. Can things get worse? Yes. Will they? I do not know, but I expect them to. China is on a collision course with Adam Smith's invisible hand. Worldwide terrorism remains a potential major disruptor. BUT, I believe innovation and opportunity will win out. Change is in the air in the U.S. and that ought to be good. BTW, my friend is from Canada.

Second, he mentioned a recent trip with his daughter to visit U.S. colleges. He describes their migration and the big business of U.S. universities. Apparently there are more than 2,500 colleges and universities in the U.S. versus a grand total of about 35 in Canada. Canada is about one-tenth the size of the U.S. , so this ratio appears to be out of whack. (Set aside the price comparison of all Canadian universities are public versus the incredible cost of private universities in the States where value does not appear to be represented in the pricing). Again, I suggest, it is us, the children and grandchildren of the Greatest generation, who have lost perspective. Do we need so many universities? Probably not, and the market will take care of that. Are we getting our money's worth in tuition? Often not, but that is our fault. Do we value education properly? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If so, do we compensate our teachers properly? Some of them, but more than compensation, I think we can do a better job of recognizing the good ones. Again I am not confident of the answers, but: the U.S. continues to lead the world in innovation. While many students may be behind international counterparts, everyone wants to come here or at least do business with us. As my friend Kevin, WarriorBard, puts it: you don't see anyone swimming to Cuba. Don't get me wrong; there is much that needs fixin'. I just believe we will fix it, and that my children will have great, different, but still great, opportunities to live their dreams.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

An empty day

Here is another version of my thoughts on the death of Jim Goodman. I used Wordle to create this. Thanks to Mike Sansone at ConverStations for the link. I am still haunted by the emptiness of Jim's passing. Perhaps others would like to help fill the void by creating a Wordle tribute to him. It's fast and easy. One hint: the more times you include a word the bigger it will appear in relation to the other words in your list.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A good man gone

James Goodman
A good man can be a good friend, a successful businessman, a good father, a good husband, an entrepreneur, a leader, active in his community, innovative, and committed.
Jim Goodman was all these things. He made things happen.
He died this morning while participating in the Hy-Vee Triathlon in West Des Moines, IA.
He is survived by his wife Lisa and three children; all of whom he loved and lived to be with.
Countless others will miss him.
Des Moines will not be the same without him.
I miss him.