Monthly Archives: September 2004

One of my participants in

One of my participants in Fasttrac New Venture, our incubation and entrepreneurial training program, is starting a business based upon correcting the financial illiteracy of teen-agers. He says the average teen-ager has a disposable “income” of $480 per month. Without financial literacy, that same teenager will have a real problem living on her own once the parental dole is cut off. It can be a cruel shock to find out how much things cost in the adult world, as most of the baby boomerangers, those kids who move out of their parents’ homes and then move back in, already know.

This morning, I read an article in Business Week about the new (female) president of MIT, who was talking about how we are no longer educating our children adequately in math and science. Math and science, of course, are the underpinnings of financial literacy.

I have read this perspective many times before, along with talk about how we are losing our competitive advantage in the world as a result of our failure to develop young mathematicians and scientists (or even writers and readers).

Craig Barrett has also spoken about this, commenting that China is a fertile market for Intel now, but will be a competitor in the technology industry within a short period of time. Indeed, with China’s lack of respect for intellectual property, they are “competing” with us right now.

But what the leaders of American education and business have been speaking and writing about for a decade is still not in the forefront of America�s consciousness. While individual parents are trying to solve individual education problems, there�s no national program to keep us competitive through better education. (I don�t count No Child Left Behind,that complicated underfunded piece of public relations passed by the Bush Administration).

I’m torn, as usual, between relishing my own “good” education and wondering why we don’t even have a clue of how to alter education for the world we –and our children and grandchildren–will live in. As you know, in my own household, I have a twenty-year-old who cannot multiply. And yesterday, one of my very successful young friends could not come up with the word “anachronism.”

We have put all kinds of outcome studies of our public school system in place, and all they have done is point out how bad the outcomes really are. Usually, outcome studies are useless unless they lead to change. But I don’t see a country focussed on real change.

Instead, I see a country focussed on blaming others for its problems. The Arabs, the Israelis, the French, Osama bin Laden, whoever or whatever. We’re focussing on the War on Terror in other countries, and on Homeland Security against outsiders in our own. But who are the terrorists? They are young men and women in other countries who have received insufficient educations and don’t feel they have a promising future in this life. In their ignorance, they can be recruited by the Al Qaedas and the Hamases of the world.

We are looking outside when we should probably be looking within. When we graduate, or fail to graduate, people with intelligence, critical thinking skills, and both verbal and numerical literacy, we are sealing our own doom: not only as a global economic power, but as a safe country to live in. While spending money on missiles, we are breeding our own terrorists right here in the U.S. Drew Barrymore, age 31, has never voted before.

When Tom Ridge was in Arizona yesterday talking about readiness for a terrorist attack, he neglected to mention that, increasingly, this threat can come from ignorance and closedmindedness within as well as from without. The youth gangs in urban communities are already composed of young men who don’t expect to live past twenty-one. Without educations, they can either do drugs or sell drugs, or both. They don’t care about the future; they can’t even envision it. Al Qaeda can recruit them easily. I�m sure it is already happening, and it is only a matter of time before we hear of a suicide bomber we can�t dismiss as a misguided Muslim.

My point? We’re not going to have to wait for a terrorist attack from abroad; our lack of concentration on our own children will breed a generation of disconnected, anomic terrorists on our own shores. We�ve got 72 million young people in this generation; don�t we owe them something more than just a national debt and a war on Terror?

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This past summer, I switched

This past summer, I switched from a Windows laptop to a Mac Powerbook G4. I love it. OS 10.3 is a cool operating system. The machine never freezes or crashes. Airport is a wonderful wireless network product. And the Mac syncs seamlessly with the 1400 songs on my IPOD. It’s lightweight, well-lit, easy to use, and attractive. Yes, attractive counts, especially if you are always in public places with your laptop and you think you have a strong personal brand.

However, shortly before that, I also switched to a Motorola Smartphone with the Windows Mobile 2002 operating system (the MPX220). You can see already where this is headed. I saw the phone, shiny black plastic, in the airport in Hong Kong and fell in love with it. Because it’s GSM, I used it all over Asia by changing out the SIM card. Then I brought it back here and put it on T-Mobile.

Needless to say, I can’t sync my Microsoft phone to my Apple laptop, despite the fact that I use Mac Office 2004 as my productivity suite. Entourage, Mac’s version of Outlook, keeps my contacts, calendar, email, and projects all in one integrated system. But there�s no sychronization software for it that I know of. (Please take this as a cry for help).

So I’m exactly where I don’t want to be: I can’t trade information with myself.

Thus, I am going to buy a new phone. It will have to be at least as smart as the MPX 200. The alternatives are fascinating, as the smartphone niche has gotten a lot of attention lately.

There’s the Treo 600, which runs on the Palm OS and could, in theory, sync itself to my desktop although not to Entourage. I’ve had Palms and Palm phones for many years, and struggled to sync them with Outlook. But I don’t have Outlook, and I don’t want Palm Desktop.

There’s the Motorola MPX 220, which all my reading says is an awesome phone with everything I would ever need (in techspeak we call this “feature-rich”). It has Bluetooth, for the wireless headset (a requirement for the style-savvy who will not walk around with wires hanging out of their ears), built in camera, and a supposedly excellent operating system (Windows Mobile 2003), with a lot of RAM for a phone. The phone probably needs it to run Windows, a known memory hog.

And then there is the Blackberry 7102, the newest offering from RIM. The corporate Blackberry has long been a cult favorite. This Blackberry called the Blackberry phone, has a color screen and a keyboard which, although not full QWERTY, is better than punching numbers on the phone if you do email or IM.

There is also a new Nokia smart phone, which I rule out because I don’t like its design. BTW, all these phones are launched first in Europe and Asia, and then find their way to the US later.

Not one of these phones will allow me to sync to Entourage, even though it is a Microsoft product. Can you tell I am frustrated?

That’s the penalty for being me, an early adopter. I have heard that primitive cell phones — the big bulky ones we used to have — are becoming trendy for young people who didn’t use them when they were new and think it’s chic to carry a huge retro phone. That wouldn’t be me. I want my convergence complete, my office in my purse.

I suspect it is technologically possible to develop a universal synchronization tool that could work with any desktop productivity suite and any cell phone. Perhaps I should choose the phone I really want, and commission a piece of custom software to connect it to my G4.

But I know what will happen if I make this investment.

Apple has just launched its G5 desktop machines. That means within a year or so, there will be G5 laptops, and I will feel the old urge to upgrade. The G5 will run some different productivity software that Microsoft will develop just for it, and that software will again be incompatible with what I have had developed for the phone.

Fortunately, I�m not an enterprise, and I only have to solve this problem on a scale of one. This is, however, the first time I can honestly sympathize with the IT manager who is asked to provide support across such a broad range of devices by users who all want what I want, and have different preferences.

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Looking for a Few Good People

One of the most disturbing things about the recent political scene is how people are beginning to think about Americans. It’s not the first time people have disliked us, Europe’s impressions in the 50’s gave rise to a best seller called “The Ugly American.” But that American was a tourist with a camera and no appreciation of the arts.

This year’s ugly American is much more complicated. I just emerged from a meeting with a Canadian who told me that Canadians often tell each other not to do business with Americans because they sue each other all day long. That’s the tip of a very big iceberg floating toward us. Below it is the entire Arab community, some more Europeans, etc.

I fight this unilaterally by travelling as much as I can afford and learning all I can about other countries. This year, I’m going to Africa from February 17 to March 1. Uganda and Rwanda, to be specific. But this time I’m not going by myself, like I went to India. This time, I want to take a few people with me

Since it’s founding, I’ve been on the board of Foundation for Global Leadership, a not-for-profit designed to strengthen leadership worldwide to better ensure sustainable development and democracy.

FGL has an International Leadership Initiatives (ILI)program that provides opportunities for American business leaders to engage in shared learning and dialogue and encourage innovative collaboration through global alliances and partnerships. FGL has held two ILI’s so far: a South African Leadership Safari, April 2003, chaired by former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and the recent East African Leadership Safari (Uganda and Rwanda), February 2004, chaired by businesswoman Eileen Rogers.

Results of both ILI�s include 3 significant partnerships, ongoing shared learning and correspondence between ILI delegates and African colleagues. This kind of dialogue and collaboration, IMHO, are what we need to live in a global world. So I have finally decided to lead a delegation on a trip (you may remember that I tried to go last year, but when my dog bit the neighbor’s dog a half hour before I was supposed to leave, I decided the karma wasn’t good and cancelled the trip).

This time I am going. I have already told the dog.

I’m also looking for a few friends (can’t take more than twelve) to share the experience with.

This is not a decision like “hey, let’s all go to Vegas.” It requires international air travel, visas, vaccinations, and probably travel insurance. It’s pretty spendy: probably about $4000 even if you have miles. But if you want to do something you will probably never get a chance to do again in your life — J’Lein Liese, who directs FGL, has extensive contacts in Africa and you don’t go as a tourist, but as a guest of the government — it’s a don’t miss.

It starts with a jet lag release day, white water rafting down the Nile. I plan to go, like Cleopatra, by barge.
Beginning at the source of the legendary Nile River, you will raft 29 kilometers of class III-V rapids through breathtaking, lush, untouched scenery. The clean, warm Nile river is perfect for swimming during the calm stretches between rapids and bird watching is abundant. For lunch, we stop at a small privately owned island in the middle of Nile whose only inhabitants are large Monitor lizards.

Small villages of local Ugandans live along the river, and we will see daily life in motion, something I really look for when I travel.

Although this is an exciting experience, this part of the Nile has become controversial.

The World Bank is anticipating developing a new dam to better serve the energy needs of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. However, environmentalists argue that building the dam would not only end the opportunity to experience the Nile from its Source, but many of the extraordinary natural waterfalls and surrounding areas will no longer exist. Most importantly, the building of a dam would call for the relocation of local farmers and village communities. The law of unintended consequences at work.

After that, we go to work.

Uganda: The Path to Democracy and Economic Empowerment
In Uganda, we will spend the first day meeting with UN representatives, political leaders and visiting the extraordinary work of non-governmental organizations (NGO�s) that has made Uganda one of Africa�s premier models for democracy and HIV/AIDS prevention.

We will have two tracks for site visits: Health and Education or Micro-Enterprise and Economic Development. You get to choose where you go: AIDS orphanages, micro-credit/ entrepreneurial development projects, family income generating projects, health clinics, schools and women development projects.

Our hosts include:
The United Nations Population Fund
The African Youth Alliance
Opportunities International
World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations

After that, we play again with a visit to Mewya Safari Lodge at Queen Elizabeth Park, where we can see lion, elephant, leopard, hippo, hyena etc�) We go on a game drive, and a boat ride on the Kazinga Channel, which has
incredible bird life, crocodiles and hippos.

Then we go Chimp Trekking (don’t ask me what that is, becauseI have no idea) at Kyambura Gorge and for a forest walk in the Maramagambo forest.

Then we go to Rwanda. The seven hour drive takes you through small African villages and the beautiful mountains, with step farming internationally known as the Switzerland of Africa. We will have a photo op at the Equator and then check into a hotel and tour. the small town of Ruhengeri, Rwanda. We will also learn about Rwanda�s reconstruction efforts and first democratic election since the 1994 genocide.

More trekking, this time with (or for) gorillas at Parcs Volcans Nationale. Fewer than 600 gorillas are left in the wild. The mountain gorillas do not survive in captivity. Delegates will learn the about the efforts to preserve these amazing animals who share 97% of human DNA as well as the complexities entailed by anticipated human population growth (Rwanda currently has a population of 8 million expected to double in 15 years � the tiny country is the size of Massachusetts).

Apparently, trekking is rigorous! You could trek anywhere from 30 minutes to ten hours through dense, untouched foliage, on a 60 degree vertical up the side of the volcano to find these amazing primates. Once you find the gorillas, you will be allowed one hour for viewing. Although sometimes these curious friends like to come close to you, your guide will ask that you keep at least 7 feet away from the gorillas as they are susceptible to all human diseases and ailments. Never mind us. We’re vaccinated; they’re not.

So we go to the capital of Rwanda, transfer to Nairobe, eat in a fancy restaurant that serves ten kinds of game meat, and then fly home.

When we get home, the work begins. When I came back from India, I formed a collaboration with Jiva.org, a foundation in Hyderabad that creates curricula in critical thinking skills for Indian elementary schools, and provides medical consultations to rural villages through an innovative Teledoc program. This foundation raises money partly by selling Ayruvedic products over the Internet at http://www.ayurbuyer.com. I’m giving them marketing and product development advice on a volunteer basis, in exchange for getting to try all their great products (I’m drinking Slim Tea).

I’m going to find my new African partner. There will be at least one American they like.

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The days of Canadian snowbirds

The days of Canadian snowbirds and real estate investors are behind us. I can remember
when the real estate investors descended on Arizona in the �80s; I had a wonderful
madman, Barry Kaplan, as a client. Barry owned innumerable acres of farmland around
91st Avenue and Bell Road. With the optimism characteristic of Canadians, he refused to
think it was premature to develop on the west side. This was twenty years ago.

With amazing prescience, he formed a homebuilding company to build his way out of his
problem, which consisted of too much land, too little cash flow. To lure people out to see
his model homes, we had a contest for volunteers to live in a tree house for thirty days on
behalf of a charity. We charged people to come see the tree-hugger. We raised a bunch of
money for the charity and drew crowds, and we had a lot of fun doing it. It was probably
the highlight of my PR career.

Everyone in Phoenix laughed at the Canadians, who supposedly bought the land no one
else would buy. But savvy investors like Paul Hill and Dennis Knight have capitalized on
Arizona�s growth, and enjoyed their winters here, for twenty-five years.

But it has always been about more than winter visitors and land deals. Canada is America�s
largest trading partner, and the Canada- Arizona relationship exists in virtually every
segment of our economy. We just take our neighbor to the north for granted.

I�m in the middle of the research for an article on Canada-Arizona trade for a future issue
of the America West magazine. (Some of my best friends are Canadian, my daughter works
for a Quebec-based software company and has paired up with a French Canadian, so I�m
the perfect writer for this. Completely biased.)

Canada and the US move approximately $1.8 billion worth of goods and services across
the border each day. Between 1993 and 2003, two-way trade in goods increased
approximately 7.2% compounded annually. In 2003, Canada exported $328 billion in
goods to the United States and imported $203 billion in return.
Fully 86% of Canadian merchandise exports are destined for the United States. Services
exported to the United States totalled $33.4 billion in 2003, with corresponding imports of
$40.7 billion. Since the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 1989, two-
way trade has more than doubled.
And of course, thousands of Arizonans are buying their prescription drugs in Canada. I�m
not sure whether this is classified as exporting or importing, because the same pills are
going both ways � made in America, shipped to Canada, and shipped back to Arizonans.
But I digress.
Arizona already has a big piece of the trade pie, and is destined year to have an even
bigger piece with the opening of the Canadian Consulate (March 2004) and the launch of
the formal Canada-Arizona Business Council earlier this year.
At least thirty-eight Arizona-owned or operated companies do business in Canada,
including such diverse industry representatives as Avnet, Alled Waste, Best Western, JDA,
Microchip, Honeywell, Motorola, PetsMart, Pratt & Whitney, Swift Transportation, U-Haul
and Zila.
Likewise, many Canadian companies operate in Arizona.
BioteQ Environmental Technologies Inc. (TSX-V:BQE) is part of Copreco LLC, a joint
venture with Phelps Dodge to build and operate a copper recovery plant. The plant,
commissioned last August, is processing all Phelps Dodge�s leach solution. Focused on the
mining industry, BioteQ partners with global metal producers like Phelps Dodge to design,
build and operate water treatment plants. BioteQ’s process recovers saleable metals,
generating income for the plant owner and meeting stricter environmental regulations.

And the four-member ownership group of the Diamondbacks that bought out Jerry
Colangelo’s general partnership for an undisclosed sum in March includes Valley
businessmen Ken Kendrick, Dale Jensen, Mike Chipman and Toronto businessman J.C.
Royer,.

On a less grandiose level, a small Phoenix company named Waves in Motion, co-founded
by a French Canadian, is one of the most well-known and respected application
developers for FileMaker, the database of choice for small businesses and schools. A second formerly Canadian software company, Loadbook, is headquartered in Tucson. And
Nest Ventures, a local investment bank with an office in Montreal, is run by Glenn
Williamson, former CEO of Wavo and Canadian unofficial ambassador.

Once you are forced to examine the impact of Canada on Arizona, and vice versa, it�s
difficult to ignore. That�s probably why I�m forcing you � if you�re still reading � to
examine it. If the Canadians weren�t so nice, if they caused us more trouble and stirred up
more political controversy, we�d probably know a lot more about them.

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Last year at Sundance I

Last year at Sundance I saw a film called “The Corporation,” which was a look at how and why corporations began (to fund large complex projects) and how they’ve evolved. It was pretty scary; a corporation is, by definition, an entity that came into being to organize the work of human beings. One of the earliest corporations was the Benedictine Order of the Catholic Church.

Bruce Brown, in “The History of the Corporation,” says that many corporate traditions are actually very old: the modern business suit descends from the dress of Venetian “corporados,” and the first corporate meeting was held in 1288. Who knew?

And here’s Chief Justice John Marshall’s definition in the 1819 Dartmouth College case: “A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in the contemplation of the law,” Marshall wrote. “Among the most important [of its qualities] are immortality, and if the expression be allowed, individuality; properties by which a perpetual succession of many persons may be considered the same, and may act as a single individual…”

Brown goes on, “In a general sense, this definition fits every corporation from St. Benedict’s to Michael Milken’s. All are invisible, for although they may be mighty, they have no form unto themselves; all are individual, with identities and personalities distinct from their numberless human workers; and all can outlive and replace those same workers, just as the higher animals replace their individual constituent cells as they die or lose their effectiveness. Although corporations are themselves not made of flesh and blood, they display qualities of biological life so strongly that both Hobbes and Marshall remarked upon it.”

And that’s why we are always so angry when we come up against the fact that corporations are not always benificent. This morning in the newspaper I read that the salaries of CEOs who outsourced jobs increased 46%, compared with an average increase of 9%. I also read that corporations, acting out of fear, are sitting on piles of cash that could be spent, invested, or given back to shareholders. Arizona is not exactly the home of the Fortune 500, and the paper said that thirteen Arizona companies have at least $100 million in the bank.

At the same time, health insurance costs are rising. More people are uninsured.
Education is underfunded, causing us to lose our lead in scientific innovation.
The consumer has more debt than ever before.
The man next to me on the patio at Starbucks is complaining that he had his worst month in six years last month. I don’t know what he does, but he’s fearful.
My friend was denied training last year because her company had budget constraints, trying to make its financials look as good as possible before a planned IPO.
Dilbert is one of the most popular comic strips in America, and “The Office” is one of the funniest TV shows on the BBC.
Halliburton overcharges the government, which has to allow it because no one else can provide the same service.
There are a lot of paradoxes here. Don’t get mad at me; I’m not espousing a point of view, but just pointing out some strange circumstances: we have a lot of expectations of corporations that they cannot and do not have to deliver.

Roger Manwood, chief baron of the Exchequer, said in 1592 that what corporations lacked was a soul. Since the corporations themselves, and not their souls, were immortal, they were not held accountable to the moral standards that applied to individual people. That’s a significant legal advantage.

In fact, special dispensations, exemptions, and privileges of every kind imaginable are the life’s blood of the corporation. Corporate members enjoyed various privileges during Roman times, such as curial immunity, and organizational privileges are evident as early as 628 A.D. in the ecclesiastic orders of the Catholic Church, the first great corporations of the post-Roman era. Modern English and French law traces the secular corporation to the concept of “franchise,” which is the French Norman word for privilege. Think tax laws.

Now for the opinion. It’s time to re-examine the role and function of the corporation. Either we have to reset expectations dramatically ( the corporation is not your daddy), or find a better way to do business (the individual and the corporation are one in goals and values). The latter is happening anyway, through innovations such as strategic partnerships, outsourcing, supply chains, and virtual teams.

Perhaps the corporation is no longer the best structure for getting things done. Perhaps we need a new business entity that has a soul, or perhaps we should quit pretending that there’s any analogy between the values of human beings and those of the corporate entity. The current confusion about what corporations “should” or “should not” do has no meaning if they don’t have a soul.

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