There’s no polite or easy way to say this, but winter is on its way in the venture world. It’s getting tougher and tougher for startups caught in the lukewarm limbo between ideas and invoices to get their early backers to up their bets especially when it’s not clear that they’ve found a viable business model and/or a way to stop the bleeding sooner rather than later. Too many pivots with too little to show for the dollars down the drain and pretty soon no one wants to hear your, “someday soon,” story or your next grand plan. Continue reading
Category Archives: Business
We’re here to interview some reprobate named William Shakes for the job of special correspondent. I do not know why I’m a part of this. No sir! Perhaps it’s the strange nature of the recruit. Perhaps it’s because Jonelis recommended this particular…person, and does not entirely trust the judgement of Jim Kren, his assistant editor. (Shakes bears an uncanny resemblance and must be related in some way—maybe) Perhaps it’s because that execrable Lonagan creature is the only other help Kren could muster. But we need more writers, so here I am, eager and helpful as always, ready to lend any assistance within my power.
Kren consults a wrinkled scrap of paper. I believe he’s reading questions from a list. “So, uh…your name is William Shakes. Is that right? Tell me about yourself.”
What kind of softball question is Kren pitching? There sits Shakes in frilly regalia, looking like something out of an Elizabethan play. He probably came here straight from an all-night costume party, roaring drunk, and Kren asks a fool question like that. Wait, I believe the man is transparent enough to respond to such utter inanity.
- “What’s in a name?” he says with dignity. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. We are such stuff as dreams are made on. But if it be a sin to covet honour, I am the most offending soul alive.” Spoken fluently and with aplomb! And in a well-modulated voice!
- Loop Lonagan looks at the man slack jawed. After a moment I hear him whispering to Kren. “What didee say?” Kren fiddles with his paper and mutters to Lonagan, “Idiot! I was gonna ask you that!”
- My value to the proceedings is now clear. Not to mention that I recognize the true and somewhat illustrious identity of this candidate. “Gentlemen, Mr. Shakes expresses the sentiment that his name and his fame do not matter; that he brings to the table a strong imagination and boundless creativity. He’s proud of his accomplishments and liable to brawl with anyone that displays the audacity to criticize his work. (Also, gentlemen, notice that the man carries a sword.)”
“Why,” Kren asks testily, “didn’t he just come out and say what he meant?”
I express the opinion that’s precisely what he did.
Lonagan shrugs and grins at his boss. “Ain’t got no problem with it.”
Kren reads the next question:
- “What is your greatest accomplishment?”
- Shakes sits there in that hot scratchy outfit, seeming at ease. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” He says. “The play’s the thing. Thirty Seven there be, wherein I catch the conscience of the king and posterity.” The man runs off these lines without breaking sweat.
- More muttering and both Kren and Lonagan turn to me. I clear my throat. “He’s considered the supreme writer in the English language and highly respected throughout the known world. Among other things, he produced 37 highly prized major works of written material that have captured the attention of world leaders.” (Privately, I take violent exception to the widely-held belief regarding his supremacy as a writer. Such accolade is more aptly applied to myself. But I refuse to squabble. Honour is at stake. Yes sir! I will do nothing to lampoon this interview!)
A brief dumbfounded silence. Then the barely vocalized sounds of approval indicate that these two examples of lower life are suitably impressed by the response. I warm to the task! Kren scans his page of questions.
- “What major problem have you had to deal with recently?”
- Shakes: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
- I immediately translate: “He says he’s learning not to underrate himself. As a result, he never shirks a task, even if he feels inadequate. Because of that, he’s consistently surprised by hidden talents.”
Lonagan finally gets up the nerve to ask a question himself:
- “Are you one o’ deeze team players?”
- Shakes: “Prithee, it be thus. Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
- Me: “Ditto that.”
- “What’s yer biggest weakness?”
- Shakes: “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”
- They both sit there stunned, so I venture another paraphrase: “He says he’s only human, subject to the same vices of body and character as you two.”
Kren throws up his hands, then with an obvious effort, composes himself, and manages to appear grave and somewhat skeptical. Then he plods on.
- “How do you think you can add value to our magazine?”
- Shakes: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our venture.”
- Lonagan: “What didee say dat time?”
- I happily translate: “He says the magazine could go on the rocks due to poor staff and lousy management. But we’re at a critical stage right now and must take full advantage of it while the opportunity is ripe.”
That last answer emits a bit of grumbling between the two louts. Those fellows have no idea who they’re dealing with. Lonagan asks what I can only assume expresses the issue that bears most tenderly on his feeble mind:
- “How much money d’ya want fer dis gig?”
- Shakes: “While I am a beggar, I will rail and say there is no sin but to be rich; and being rich, my virtue then shall be to say there is no vice but beggary. If money go before, all ways do lie open, but the comfort is, you shall fear no more tavern-bills.”
- I immediately insinuate myself: “He says he doesn’t come cheap, but he never pads the expense account.”
Kren utters a deep sigh and hits him with what I am sure is his final payoff question:
- “Why should I hire you?”
- “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
- I try not to bust out laughing. “He says, don’t be a ninny.”
Kren and Lonagan stare at each other. Face it—they botched the interview. There is nothing remaining to discuss. No sir! Jonelis wanted this relic on staff. These goons found no reason to reject the man.
Kren shrugs. “Show up tomorrow for work. Eight o’clock sharp.”
Shakes gives a bow and a flourish. “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
As William Shakes nobly marches out, I can barely contain my mirth. But tomorrow, the man will stand on the sidewalk for hours. Our office rents space in the back room of a fine establishment and Ludditis doesn’t open the bar till the potato pancake connoisseurs crowd in for lunch. Kren’s revenge.
Image Credits – John Jonelis, Public Domain
Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
The first time I heard the word “obsolete” was when I overheard my father talking to a stranger on a bus. They were speaking about a new expressway that the city had built, and the stranger said, “That thing was obsolete before they ever opened it.”
I was impressed. I went home and looked up the word. And in time I realized the stranger was right. The builders of the new road had put in four lanes but should have put in six. Soon enough, traffic was snarled, and eventually cars started avoiding the route altogether. Then the side streets became overcrowded with autos. The whole thing was a mess.
“Obsolete” was a terrible word. It still is. If something or someone is obsolete, then he, she, or it no longer works. He, she, or it languishes in irrelevance. And then he, she, or it comes to be avoided altogether. Everyone would rather take the side streets. Obsolete things are just in the way. They are like old professors on college campuses. The young sneak behind buildings in order to avoid them.
Today’s Millennials are not obsolete—yet. Born between 1980 and 2000 they came to this planet during a fairly prosperous time, so they represent a population glut. There are already more Millennials alive than Baby Boomers, who constituted the mother of all population explosions.
Corporations are working overtime to figure out how to market to this bunch of fickle young consumers, who have an embarrassment of choices. Human resources directors are wondering how to motivate them in the workplace. They are praised for wanting a more healthy balance between work and life (some of them think overtime is evil), and they are feared, almost, for being digital natives. Unlike the rest of us, they grew up high-tech, so what do they know about cyberspace that we don’t?
Others can’t stand them—why won’t they look us in the eye at Starbuck’s instead of staring at their phones all the time? And a few of us older people see them as symbols of a world we don’t want to have much to do with. The whole idea of “looking something up on your phone” (which has more data than your local public library) seems repugnant somehow.
But there’s one thing these non-obsolete Millennials can’t avoid: In time, they will become obsolete, like the city expressway of my childhood. They will seem irrelevant. They will be in the way. Young people will hide from them. The new generation will have to work around them.
The question, though, is how can Millennials tell when they’re becoming outmoded?
Like, invest in my startup, huh?
The answer is simple. It’s when they start beginning sentences with “These kids nowadays…” I’ve heard early rumblings of this sentence, as when an older Millennial said of younger Millennials, “These people just take wireless computing for granted.” He was too young to say “these kids,” but give him another ten years.
The truth is that older Millennials are already far enough along to have teen-aged children. A Millennial born in 1980 is now thirty-six and may well have a fourteen-year-old around. In just ten years that will be true for Millennials born in 1990. They will enter that most dreaded source of becoming old-fashioned and resented: parenthood. And then you will hear such sentences as these:
“You kids have it so lucky. We actually had to flip switches to get lights on in a room—none of this decadent voice-activation stuff.”
“You’re lucky, you kids: When I was your age we couldn’t get our genes edited at birth to make us better-looking.”
“Yes, that’s right, kids. Only when a political party isn’t in power does it object to big government deficits. That’s the way it’s always been. Don’t think that you kids can change it!”
“You kids just trust technology too much. I don’t want to have a robot remove my appendix even if it is cheaper.”
Do you hear the notes of weary impatience in these sentences? Do you detect the tone of resentment in the voice of older people when they encounter the youth and idealism of their kids? Do you sense the envy of the young? Do you pick up on the fatigue of bearing parental burdens?
Yet every one of these sentences will be spoken by…a Millennial. They will be speaking to their offspring, which will be called something like Generation Alpha.
And what about the rest of us—old Boomers and Gen X types? Most of us will be even better than obsolete. We’ll be dead.
But don’t you feel better knowing that these young whippersnappers today will also go the way of all flesh? That’ll be true even if, as predicted, people will be immortal by having their brains downloaded into a computer.
Eventually, even the computer will become…obsolete! Ha!
Tom McBride is co-author of The Mindset Lists of American History
and the author The Great American Lay: An All Too Brief History of Sex.
He lives in southern Wisconsin.
Graphics from MS Office.
This article appeared in News From Heartland
by Jim Dallky
Chicago tech is growing up.
One sign of a maturing tech ecosystem is the success of a city’s serial entrepreneurs, and recently we’ve seen some of Chicago’s most high profile founders and technologists move on to their next companies, and tackle big industries like the Internet of Things, cancer research, and artificial intelligence. Continue reading
by Lisa Earle McLeod
Attracting and keeping top millennial talent is a burning issue for leaders. Millennials are 35% of the workforce. By 2020 they’ll be 46% of the working population.
An investor, Sally, recently heard two pitches. The first was from A-Dot-Co, which will produce polka-dot jellybeans using a new patented process. The second was from BetterBean, will produce purple jellybeans using a trade secret method which improves existing manufacturing processes.
Having spent several years owning a candy company, Sally was interested in both opportunities. Continue reading
Optimizing Human Behavior with a STEM Model
by Moises Goldman PhD
The Human Conundrum
For the last 15 years I have given numerous seminars aimed at optimizing executive and managerial performance in technology driven firms. The goal is to optimize departmental performance resulting in the larger optimization of an entire firm. As the theory goes: If the whole is the sum of the parts, and each part is optimized, then the whole is optimized.
These experiences have challenged my ability to communicate with people involved in STEM fields. This group represents a highly gifted segment of the population, and they tend to be very results driven. How does one reason, interpret, and convince scientists to modify their own behavior? Continue reading
By Erik Clausen
Several months have passed since the U.S. Presidential election, and…we’re still here, folks. After years of political rhetoric and theatrics, and a few months of uncertainty, we are starting to gain some clarity around exactly what the new administration and its policies might mean for the life science industry and, by extension, marketers within it.
Most importantly and as a wise man wrote before the election, “There is no need for panic.” Continue reading
by John Jonelis
What happens when you invite the community into your high school and send your high school students into the community?
Amazing things! You create a THIRD SPACE in people’s lives.
What happens when you give kids—highly gifted in math and science—a state-of-the-art facility entirely dedicated to entrepreneurship? This could be the best-designed business incubator on the planet and the students are going to create real businesses here. Hey—this is too much fun! It sure doesn’t look like high school to me! Where did they put the usual long halls walled by the usual rows of lockers? Where are the standardized rigid rectangular classrooms?
This is IN2, the new entrepreneurship center at IMSA—the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy—the Statewide high school for the best and the brightest. It’s located near Chicago and students live on campus, as if attending a university four years too soon.
IMSA will host a big party and ribbon cutting for the new IN2 innovation space on the 30th of the month—that’s the 30th anniversary of the school’s founding. I had the unique opportunity to preview this amazing facility. Here’s a sneak peek: Continue reading
He can feel it, hear it—his heart—beating hard, beating fast. Pounding above the din of those big nubbly tires and the blast of snow hitting the wheel wells. Is it anticipation? Fear? Primeval blood lust?
How will it feel to gun down a living animal? Can he really pull the trigger?
Today, Loop Lonagan joins seven seasoned hunters and four highly trained dogs to indulge in what his editor calls one of the great joys in life—slaughtering a few of God’s creatures. He’s a last-minute stand-in and rounds out the party to eight. Two hunters per dog. Perfect! How did he let himself get roped into this? Continue reading