Sunday, September 23, 2018

We need more entrepreneurs

I've been reading: The Coming Jobs War by Gallup CEO Jim Clifton. It describes a dystopian future where America can't match the job creation success which brought power and prosperity to our nation.

The answer according to Clifton is 'make more entrepreneurs!' Only entrepreneurs employ people and small businesses are where they make more of them than anywhere else.

So I looked a little deeper into Clifton's solution and found out about Gallup's Builder Initiative and their Builder Profile, an assessment which can identify those youth or adults that have what it takes to be a builder - an entrepreneur. I suggested to economic development leaders that we should give this assessment to every high school senior! What a difference it would make if we could find/develop and support more entrepreneurs in Indiana who can create businesses and hire Hoosiers!

Here is a series of videos describing the 10 Builder Traits. And here are the talents.

  • Confidence: People with Confidence accurately know themselves and understand others.
  • Delegator: Delegators recognize that they cannot do everything and are willing to contemplate a shift in style and control.
  • Determination: People with Determination persevere through difficult and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
  • Disruptor: Disruptors exhibit creativity in taking an existing idea or product and turning it into something better.
  • Independence: People with Independence do whatever needs to be done to build a successful venture.
  • Knowledge: People with Knowledge constantly search for information that is relevant to growing their business.
  • Profitability: People with Profitability make decisions based on observed or anticipated effect on profit.
  • Relationship: People with Relationship possess high social awareness and an ability to build relationships that are beneficial to their organization's survival and growth.
  • Risk: People with Risk instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations and make decisions easily in complex scenarios.
  • Selling: People with Selling are the best spokesperson for their business.
We need to do more to harvest the talent we have to win the coming jobs war for America!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


My first start-up out of college was as a franchisee for Success Motivation Institute, founded by Paul Myers. To this day I believe that attitude is more important than aptitude.

I wasn't a very good salesman and I wasn't successful in that business, but I've always been a student of motivation. My grandfather, Herb Schafer (whom I called Pob,) inspired me - despite his suffering from agoraphobia.

Here is a wonderfully motivational speech from the 2014 commencement of the graduating class of the University of Texas by Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven. I recommend that you watch it every day . . . 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Failure is essential for learning

School gives the wrong idea about the role of failure in learning. It's easy to understand why. An end of unit or course assessment results in a grade. That grade is a measure of 'success' and for most kids result in a number less than 100%. Indeed, sometimes the deck is stacked to skew the scores to produce a curve where students' performance is forced into buckets to validate the teacher's assumption that a distribution of talent exists. (Sal Kahn had a great video on TED: Let's teach for mastery - not test scores.)

My favorite video about the importance failure to learning was recorded by Jeri Ellsworth: Secret to Learning Electronics - Fail and Fail Often. It's not just about learning electronics, it's about learning.

I try to convince kids that failure is just feedback. Education experts from Dewey to Harvard conclude the same thing.

But if you ask a student (or about anyone) if they feel good about failing the answer would certainly be no.

We need to change the messaging about how learning happens - especially in school.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Another Rotary Invocation - 6/19/18

Frank Egan had a schedule conflict and asked me to present the Rotary invocation a few days before the meeting on 6/19/18.

I really didn't have as much time as I usually do to prepare. The Mayor of Indianapolis: Joe Hogsett, was going to give his annual 'State of the City' address so I knew the audience would be above average.

On the morning it was due I sat staring at a blank screen and wondered what to say. Then I remembered the 'Moment of Reflection' I gave on Primary Day on 2016 and the emphasis I placed on 'shared hope.' Not much has changed in that regard - it may be worse with our current president's new tax policy driving a bigger wedge between the prosperity of rich and poor Americans.

Here is what I said:

Shared Hope for Indianapolis

About two years ago I gave the invocation on Primary Day. Elections should be hope-filled events I asserted.

The Gallup Organization polls more than just political fortunes. Every year they survey over 700,000 American students to measure their level of hope. You won’t be surprised that the results of their 2017 poll aren’t good.

As with the past three years, Gallup reported that fewer than half of students are hopeful about their future. How do hopeless children embrace the challenges of a new economy? They don’t.
Hopeful students are nearly three times as likely to say they get good grades. That means the rest are stuck with average or poor grades – and worse low self esteem. What impact will that have on our employment pipeline for jobs that increasingly demand lifelong learning? Not good.

Two years ago I spoke from this podium:

More than losing our status in the world, more than ‘losing,’ more than the other party winning the White House, we should fear the loss of shared hope.  Shared hope is the binding that once tied our country together, forged a powerful nation and was the source of our prosperity.

What gives kids hope? What turns a student into a stakeholder?


Everyone is this room has assets that tens of thousands of youth in our community lack: the skills to add value to a company, a cause or a community. It is a bargain that society makes with the next generation: bring us your skills and we will reward you with a seat at the table, a piece of the action, the right to expect to make a decent living for yourself and your family.

Mayor Hogsett is helping bend the curve of low expectations for thousands of these ‘Opportunity’ youth in Indianapolis. As Rotarians, our Service Above Self motto demands that we help him.

If you run a company plug into Project Indy and share job experiences. If you have skills, share them with Job Ready Indy, the new badging program developed by EmployIndy and the Indy Chamber. Or you can support Indy Achieves which aims to help kids into and through college or start a career with a high value credential.

In 2016 I asked you to be an actor not an audience member. Hope is a source of strength that is multiplied when shared.

Help fulfill one tenant of the Rotary International mission: the alleviation of poverty, by sharing your hope in the future of Indianapolis and the prosperity of its citizens.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

IEDA Workforce Pipeline Workshop

I was asked by the Indiana Economic Development Association to present to their group on May 17 at their Workforce Pipeline and Talent Recruitment Workshop. The Keynote speaker will be Blair Milo, Indiana's Secretary of Career Connections and Talent. As usual, the organizer asked me to summarize what I would talk about.  Sometimes these summaries cause me to think hard (again) about what we are doing and why it's important. It's a good exercise I should undertake more frequently :) Here is what I wrote:
Today’s students rarely make anything tangible. As a result, tens of thousands of high wage manufacturing jobs go unfilled and our economy suffers. The state’s K12 curriculum emphasizes standards that many kids find irrelevant – and so do employers. Employers are looking for kids with creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and problem solving skills; schools are graduating test takers. A makerspace is for every kid, every age, every ability, every ambition and every background. The most important outcome of a makerspace is not what kids make – it’s the self esteem and pride kids feel when they discover what they can make with their own two hands.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ikigai - The intersection of career motivations

Received this from Angela Carr-Kitzsch, CEO of EmployIndy, in a nice bar, over beers. It's no wonder that the founding documents of America were probably deliberated above a tavern. Talking with Angie is like drinking from a firehose!

I'll let the graphic speak for itself. We spent some time discussing the importance of this Ikigai supra venn diagram. Very though provoking.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What drives human behavior?

This is from an email I sent to a friend last week. It encapsulates an idea I've been thinking about for a long time . . .

As I believe I have mentioned before to Bruce, in a bar in Portland, in 2014, on a Leadership Exchange trip hosted by the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, and having just returned from China and still a bit jet-lagged, I found myself with three smart people: David Forsell, CEO of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Bill Taft, Leader of LISC Indianapolis and Sherry Siewart, CEO of Downtown Indy.

Somehow we got on the subject of what motivates human behavior. I blurted our Sex, Power and Tribe. For me it was like Einstein's Magic Year, except I'm not that smart and it didn't take a year - it took about 5 minutes.

It has become the lens through which I see all human drama that surrounds me.  It's like I'm living in an experiment and events are results producing data I collect and analyze. I have yet to observe contra-indicating samples. In fact, the sexual harassment eruptions and the partisan politics of the past few weeks have allowed me to infer, with increasing certitude, that there is a hierarchy of those motivations. And it is:

1. Tribe
2. Power
3. Sex

I'd love to talk with you guys about this at some time. What convinced me that the order was as shown is that power differentials are used to instigate sex. Thus, sex is subject to the influence of power.

The tribal behavior of politicians, abandoning one tribal affinity: patriotism, for another more important one: party, (but which could also be religion) shows me that these guys would rather get elected than get laid or saved. But there are lots of examples where devotion to country (membership in a tribe) accounts for the seemingly irrational choice to make the ultimate sacrifice. Too bad that military service is optional in America (unlike Israel) and the experience of battle or at least the kind of bonding that even occurs in peacetime deployment, isn't a cultural foundation that every citizen (even women) understand.

All for now.  Your comment about how the GOP is rotting got me thinking. How could a political party rot? If you subscribe to this human motivation taxonomy you can understand why so much dysfunction can be the consequence of blind allegiance to tribe. It doesn't make sense because it doesn't need to.

Further the affiant sayeth not :)