Overcoming Challenges…Getting back Up

Have you fallen lately?  Been knocked off your feet?  Are you facing a challenge through no fault of your own?  Is it tempting to feel sorry for yourself, to think that times are too hard, to just give up? 

My old friend and mentor Don Sweet sent me this video last week.  It really struck a chord and got me thinking.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqantZJ6WwM]

After you’ve watched this video – its hard to be negative or give up.  Few face challenges on a daily basis that are anything like this.  If Nick Vujicic can get back up and finish strong – how can we ever stop trying with the challenges we face.

We’ve seen this week that dreams can come true.  Just look at how the world has embraced Susan Boyle, a woman who lives in a little Scottish village, definitely does not look like the typical ‘superstar’ and unlike Madonna – Susan’s never even been kissed.  But she pursued her dream of being a singer.  Her dream took her to Britain’s Got Talent…that took her to You Tube where close to 20 MILLION people have watched her WOW the judges and touch our hearts with her incredible voice, and now she takes the next steps and gets ready to take her place on a larger stage.  See the newest videos on Today for more. 

As a make my way around the community, I meet with lots of Arizonans.  People who are looking for new jobs, who are struggling to meet payroll, or are facing other challenges in their lives or in their businesses.    But what gives me hope is the resilience and determination I hear when we sit down and talk.  Whether it’s over the phone for in a local coffee shop, I hear stories of people working together to make a difference, sharing ideas, asking questions, and finding answers and solutions to challenges.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Allan Starr started a new discussion forum on Linked In called Marketing Partners Memos.  An established business leader and marketing expert, Allan asked his friends questions about things like SEO and reaching customers – you’ll find of tips and advice from a number of folks in the Valley –  great ideas.
  • I am NOT a Social Media expert.  But I have friends that are.  They have helped me understand how to effectively use social Media as a tool for starting conversations.  When I put out a post on it this week, it spread like wild fire.  If you missed it and need some tips – see the ones I got from the experts and examples you can use as models at A Busy Person’s Tool Kit for Social Media.
  • For fun, I shared a quote from Albert Einstein on Facebook – “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. ”   This quote sparked such a great discussion about the power or asking questions and the importance of collaboration and partnering that I moved it to the blog so that people can keep the conversation going in an open forum.  You can join the conversation too at Question of the Day – How can I  help you?
  • Tax Day – A crowd gathered at the Capitol to share their feelings on the state of the economy, government and taxation.  I chose to skip that particular gathering.  🙂  But if you want a flavor for the issues and answers around the question at the state level see the posts  Opportunity Springs Up and Doing the Right Things in Arizona.
  • Jeremiah Trnka’s new Arizona Edition of The Performance Magazine launches next week.  Wednesday night he introduced me to some of his friends at CEO Space and we got a sneak peak.  Keep an eye out for this new publication full of great business ideas from leaders from around the country and Valley experts too.
  • Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode Partners sent me a note with and introduction to Jo Ellen McNamara, Executive Director of the West Mesa Community Development Corporation.  We met for breakfast at Chompie’s yesterday to share ideas.  What a great addition to our Economic Development community.  Jo Ellen is very experienced and is doing exciting things in the East Valley.  We could have exchanged ideas all morning!  I look forward to working with her in the future.

So, the next time life knock you down, pick yourself up.  Think of the inspiration of a Nick Vujicic or a Susan Boyle.  Find a dream – and some friends and colleagues to partner with – and go for it!

Stay Tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

Question of the Day…How can I help you?

An important conversation started when I shared a quote from Albert Einstein on Twitter and Facebook today.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. ”  

This video is a great example of the types of collaborations that began at ASU when people started seriously asking questions.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uCZSc2jrJQ]

When the tweet hit, a conversation started on Facebook – but since everyone can’t get to it there, I am moving it to the blog so that anyone can chime in.  It started like this:

Joan Koerber-Walker “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. ” Albert Einstein. 

And then a conversation started…

Carl LundbladCarl Lundblad at 9:28am April 15

I have a question…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Joan Koerber-Walker at 9:33am April 15

And it is…

Carl Lundblad

Carl Lundblad at 9:38am April 15

Just responding to Einstein’s counsel that we never stop questioning…guess it wasn’t very funny…grin.

Joan Koerber-Walker

Joan Koerber-Walker at 9:43am April 15

🙂 Ah but that’s the point – if we figure out the right questions – we may just find an answer. So let’s have some fun. Pose a question. 🙂

Carl Lundblad

Carl Lundblad at 9:48am April 15

OK…are the average citizens of this country – folks like you and me – really committed and empathetic enough to help our brethren through these turbulent economic times and confirm the greatness and mettle of this nation? (You and I have both seen folks preach collaboration, but not all practice it well.)

Joan Koerber-Walker

Joan Koerber-Walker at 10:18am April 15

Well, let’s see. My guess is there have always been those who try to help and those that don’t. Some who want to work together and others with no desire to.   Maybe we ask the question – How can we find partners who want to work together with us and are committed to making a difference?  That answer may actually get us what we are looking for. (I’ve seen Francine Hardaway build collaborations like this over and over again when something needs to get done.)

And as to the ‘average American’ part of the question – I believe that any solution has to come from us – the good things – the ones that really work in this country –
all come from “average Americans.”  So let’s narrow the question. “Who do we specifically what to help, and how. Then we can put out the call and ask ” who wants to help in that way.”

Lisa J. Ellis

Lisa J. Ellis at 10:44am April 15

I want to help in this way and make a difference! I enjoy collaborating and growing business through partnerships. The one for all, all for one mentality can work when we not only recognize our opportunities when they arise, but deliver opportunities to others – our partners. We can do this together…keep yourself open to the possibilities.

Joan Koerber-Walker

Joan Koerber-Walker at 10:50am April 15

OK Carl and Lisa – we’re up to 3 people who want to work together – and make a difference. Anyone out there care to make it 4?

Joan Koerber-Walker

Carl Lundblad at 11:28am April 15

Hi Lisa! Great reply…most of my biz dev effort for ASC and my other client, FDI is to find collaborative partners. Especially now! Cheers.

Eden Sunshine

Eden Sunshine at 12:02pm April 15

I want to help… Has anyone read the book “The Go-Giver”? It’s a very brief story about a guy who learns some very powerful lessons about letting go of his agenda and goals to support others. You all know the end of the story right? He goes broke. Just kidding. It comes back 100 fold.  I believe the operative question worth asking and listening to is “How can I help your business.” If we intend to collaborate that must be our focus. But frankly people are afraid to ask and FOLLOW-THROUGH.
So let’s see how much courage I have, “How can I help your businesses?”

Carl LundbladCarl Lundblad at 12:09pm April 15

Eden – check my email reply from yesterday, 4.14…let’s book that lunch and keep the dialogue going re collaboration in both directions…

And then there were 4 people in the conversation.  We need to keep asking questions, help each other find answers, and build solutions together.  Who knows what might happen?  You see, powerful things can happen when you ask questions.  That’s why I decided to move the conversation here so that everyone can join in.  (Thanks to Carl, Lisa, and Eden for giving me permission to share their thoughts.)

You may be viewing this from Facebook, Linked In, TypePad, or WordPress.  To keep all the comments together, let’s all put our comments on WordPress – you will find the string here: http://ow.ly/2XU7 

PLEASE, join in the conversation. Leave a comment on my WordPress Blog.   I believe that there are lots us.  Just Average Americans, with lots of questions.  Together we can find answers and better yet collaborate to make a difference.  If you are looking for help with a question you are already working on – ask for it.  If you are struggling with a new question, put it out there and see who might have an answer or want to lend a hand.

Some people may believe that asking questions and expecting people to  answer the call is a bit naive.  A bit like looking for the Holy Grail.  So I’ll end this for now with a clip from a movie that came out back in my high school days.  I think you’ll recognize the characters.  Think about the importance of asking questions – and think like a King!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMxWLuOFyZM]

I’ll be watching for your comments.

Stay Tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

A Busy Person’s Toolkit for Social Media

social media bible

Are all the choices and options for social media making you dizzy? As a business person are you wondering if social media is a useful tool or a productivity disaster as employees or you personally ‘waste’ time on line? As a job seeker, are you looking at social media as an answer to all of you problems.  As a parent are you concerned about who your kids are connecting with and why?

With all of the choices, opinions, strategies, and continuous change – who wouldn’t be dizzy!

OK, here comes the BIG disclaimer.  I am NOT a social media expert.  I do not claim to be, do not want to be, and probably never will be.  What I am is a business owner and executive who never has enough time.  So I use technology for what is is, a tool.

Every tool must have a purpose, and in the case of social media, its purpose is to start and continue conversations.  Conversations are what I am good at. Conversations identify issues, uncover strategies for change, bring us up to date information, and keep us connected. 

So lucky for me, I have friends and associates who ARE experts.  I started a conversation with them and they helped me put together a toolkit that accomplishes what I need to do and then looked over my shoulder to make sure I did not mess it up.

In my case, my tool kit looks like this:

Purpose Tool/Profile
Connect with Business Contacts and Showcase Qualifications Linked In
Online Resume so Search Firms and Companies can Hire Me Linked In  and Bright Fuse
Sharing information and making updates to multiple profiles by cross linking accounts*.  One for business info, one for friends.  Note – never sell to friends if you want to keep them connected. Personal Twitter
Company Twitter
Online address book and place to share and receive updates from business associates on business interests and activity Plaxo
Stay connected with Friends – share info, ideas, updates, and fun stuff.  Facebook
Share more detailed thoughts and ideas, build your brand, have longer conversations, publish articles on line, comment on other peoples ‘conversations’. Blog TypePad
Blog WordPress
Share Videos of yourself or others making a difference You Tube
*  Time Saving Tip – Set up a Business Twitter account and a Personal Twitter Account.  Connect your Linked In, Plaxo, Facebook, etc. to the appropriate RSS feed.  Then from HootSuite you can access both accounts – post updates – scan for news, replies, etc. and do it all quickly from one dashboard. You can even schedule your Tweets so it looks like you are always engaged even when your busy elsewhere. 🙂 HootSuite.com
*  Time Saving Tip – News Sites Consolidate information and so do some powerful Tweeters, newspapers, and magazines.  AllTop let’s you pick the blog sites and publishers that you want to watch and puts them all on one page.  Examples of Major Tweeters also provided. AllTop and tweeters: @GuyKawasaki, @Time, @WSJ, @NYTimes, @PhxPublisher, @AZBizReporter

So now that you have had a peek inside my Social Media Tool Kit, think about what you want to have in yours.  Here are some great resources to help you decide what tools are right for you…

Want a manual?  The Social Media Bible by Lon Safko and David K. Brake.  (John Wiley and Sons) releases May 4, 2009 and is the most complete guide on the subject ever published.  It’s a complete reference with 840 pages!   Don’t worry, it’s well indexed so you can find what you need.  I just ordered my copy on line for early delivery on Amazon.com (<$20) and saved myself a trip to the book store…

Want a Symposium:  Check out the  CABIT Symposium (coming up April 23 and April 24th at ASU for the all the latest in Collaboration from Social Media to Cloud Computing.

Want a Class?  Jennifer Maggiore owns a firm specializing in development and management of Social Media campaigns.  Her experience includes both the private and non-profit sectors for small businesses and national organizations.  Jenn is offering hands-on classes to help you get started in the ASBA Computer Lab this month.

Want a Club?  Check out the Social Media Club Phoenix  founded by local social media icon Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode Partners  

Want a tutor? Local Experts like Steven Groves at Steven Groves.com and Dave Barnhart of Business Blogging Pros might be just what you need.

Want a complete end to end corporate social media solution?  No Worries.  Reach out to Lisa Ellis at Metro Studios or Ben Smith at The Lavidge Company and they’ll fix you right up.

Ok – one last gasp on the subject.  How long does all this stuff take?  Well,  learning the ropes and the initial set up takes some doing, but like a tool chest you can add pieces one at a time.  Once you have your tool kit, just slot some social media time in your schedule.  An hour in the morning (to read what’s happening in world and post a few comments) and a half hour at night to check back in does the trick for me.  I wish I could get through my emails half as fast.  🙂

Stay Tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

Opportunity Springs Up

It’s Easter weekend already.  It’s a time of growth, a time of new beginnings, and time of opportunity.  As I have been making my way around our community, I’ve seen new starts, new business, new partnerships, and new information all examples showing positive change is not so far away or out of reach.  Enjoy the attached song by Pete Murray and performed with John Mayer while I share what I have seen and heard this week. 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZcxOla-Y-s]

Tuesday, at ASU I found a great new FREE tool.  It’s called Economy@W.P.Carey and contains up-to-date economic insights including the Blue Chip Economic reports, articles from thought leaders in the AZ economy like Dr. Lee McPheters, and much more.  As soon as I got home, I loaded it into my RSS feed reader on iGoogle so that as new developments appear I see them right away. Oh and what are the economists saying?  Well, not surprisingly – 2009 for AZ looks pretty tough – but the consensus of all the different economists reporting was that we would see upward movement at the end of 2009 with sustained positive momentum in 2010.  That’s very good news and economists rarely agree.  🙂

A visit to the DW Sports Group yielded great conversations with Dane Platt and William Carey…not to mention a tour of their facility and the chance to pick up their newest innovation ‘Green’ Golf Balls from Dixon Golf.  Look for William to be sharing his experiences as a Serial Entrepreneur at the 4th Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference on November 12, 2009!

Bill Swartz and I got together at Kierland Commons to exchange ideas and get caught up on the exciting growth industries we both see emerging in the valley. 

Lisa Ellis of Metro Studios got me caught up on all the latest innovations in the world of Digital Marketing and Media – and helped me critique my newest YouTube videos on Economic Gardening, Small Business, and Healthcare.

Thursday, GPEC held an event at the Tempe Center for the Arts called Convening the Community.  (To see all the presentations and video from the event – click on the Convening the Community link.)  On one stage, in one morning, we got the news and proposed solutions from both Governor Jan Brewer, with her finance team (Tom Manos and Eileen Klein) , along with the Arizona Legislature’s take and budget solution from Kirk Adams(AZ Speaker of the House) and Bob Burns (AZ Senate President).  An education panel of Dr. Michael Crow (President of ASU), Dr. Debra Duval (Superintendent, Mesa Schools) and Dr. Rufus Glasper (Chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges) shared their insights on the impact cuts are having on K-20.   Not all of the speakers agreed on all of the topics, tactics, and solutions.  (Not a big surprise.) But over 800 members of our community attended, listened, and learned.  More importantly, after the event there were many conversations springing up with between organizations – discussions of partnerships existing or forming – appointments being set – opportunities for solutions being discussed. 

Also on Thursday – a Grand Opening for the new offices of Perfect Power.  Congratulations to Lynn Paige and John Balfour – not just for opening a new expanded facility, but more importantly for being a key component in Arizona’s push towards a vibrant solar power industry AND  North America’s Most Award Winning Solar Company!

Friday – Good Friday – I headed over to meet a group of executives at the Shea Group for a great exchange of ideas on navigating the Healthcare Maze and what’s happening in our community and our economy.  Talk about a brain trust all in one room!  Special thanks to Tom Freeze for allowing me to sit in.  🙂

Saturday, I’m off to NSA Arizona top see my friends in the Speaking Community and share more ideas.  Thank goodness Sunday is a day for Family, Rest and Easter Eggs!

So think back on your week.  Who did you see?  What ideas did you share that could lead to new opportunities?  How can you partner with someone to overcome a challenge?    And while you are thinking it through, click the link to watch the official “Opportunity” music video and look for the writing on the wall.  😉

Happy Easter Everyone.

Stay Tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

Is Anyone Listening?

It’s been said that ‘country music is the voice of the country.’  We have seen it in times of national crisis from John Rich’s Shutting Detroit Down (2009)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI1TPJ4xURI]

to  Alan Jackson’s 9/11 tribute Where Were You When the World

Stopped Turning (video – 2001), and Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA (video -1984) 

Cross over artists like John Mellencamp tell America’s story. Songs like  Little Pink Houses celebrated the dream of a home for everyone.  The link takes you to a video of his performance at the Obama Inauguration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while other songs bring the constant plight of the small farmer back in view with Blood on the Scarecrow. 

Our country’s music has reflected the voices of its people since its inception – from Yankee Doodle, to the spirituals of slaves, the rallying calls on both sides of the Civil War, Woody Guthrie’s tales of America during the Great Depression  or another popular hit of the day, Brother Can You Spare a Dime  (audio-1932). The music of the 60’s brought us Joan Baez and Bob Dylan’s rallying cries for Peace and Equality as they searched for an answer Blowing in the Wind (video-1971.)

If music is the voice of the country, I sometimes wonder who is listening. 

Each day I try to keep up with what is happening as we struggle through our current time of crisis.  Reading the NY Times, the Financial Times, & the Washington Post.  Scanning from MSNBC to CNN to Fox and reading through the Republic and the Business Journal, I look for signs of progress.  When I find them, sometimes I will send them out on Twitter or Face Book – or blog them out through Plaxo or LinkedIn.  The Challenges are out there for certain – but good stuff is happening too.  It’s important to show both sides of the story.

Don’t worry – I have no intention of penning songs, re-stringing my guitar, and serenading you with my own songs of the times.  There are others who can do it so much better and my family has begged me not to.  😉 

So please, turn up the volume and listen to the voices of America around you.  Use your voice.  Sing out if you have that talent.  Speak out about what you believe in.  Volunteer to help others – and while you  are there – listen to their stories.  Share a story of hope.    Every voice makes a difference – especially as it blends with the voices of others around the country.

Thanks for listening  – Stay Tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

Too Much Information?

Image Credit - http://techie-buzz.com

We live in an information age.  Google, Twitter, MSNBC, Face Book, TV, Radio, and Newspapers are all online.  Blogs are creating global conversations and with Skype, I now have to actually wash my face and brush my hair before sitting down before my computer at 5AM.  It only takes one video call while in your bathrobe and curlers to wipe our your smooth and savvy image.  (;-)

I  can find out almost anything through my computer.  All it takes is some search creativity and a bit of persistence. The challenge is getting the information you need and filtering out all the noise.

It’s getting louder. Can you hear it? 

Whether it’s the volume of spam attacking your email folders, the tweet of a friend who has just found Twitter and has to share their EVERY action all day long, or the three-year-old, bogus email warning or ‘favorite blessing’ that is again making the chain letter circuit.  Sometimes the noise is so loud you can’t hear or find the important stuff.

The point of all these information and communications tools is to share information…and at times – spark a conversation.   But at times, it feels more like whoever makes the most noise is winning.

A good example  is the annual Time100 Most Influential People List.  For decades this has been the true A list of people shaping our world.  Now Time has posted the ballots on-line.  If you can wade though the over 200 profiles to vote on, you probably have too much time on your hands.  I visited the site this morning and after a few minutes realized that it could take hours to go through them all.  Later today from Twitter, I got the news of how the voting was going and that Moot was in the lead.  Huh?  Who or what is a Moot?  I guess I was not the only one so out of touch.  They created a video to explain it. 

Today was my day to do my part in updating RiboMed‘s business plan so that it was ready to present to potential investors after we exhibit at AACR’s 100th Annual Meeting next week.  (The team’s work in the lab is taking us closer to a breakthrough in early cancer detection daily.  We need to raise more capital to take it to the marketplace.) Unfortunately, I can only spend so much time running financial models, analyzing future markets and writing about epigenetic theory, bio-markers, and all that stuff before I start to go cross eyed.  I guess I’m getting old.

So I took a break to check in on my social media pages at AllTop and HootSuite to see what was up in the world.  And then braved my email to see if the note I was waiting for from New York had come in.  After sifting though my inbox and not finding it, I checked my junk box  scanning through 500+ spam messages just in case it was there .  Did not find it – but there were two emails from my parents.  Hoping for some happy family news, I opened them.  My folks sent me important emails they people send to them.   One was on the horrific dangers of Aspartame (the sweetener found in Diet Coke) and the other was quoting the LA Times on 10 disturbing ‘facts’ about illegal immigration.   Dashed off a couple of quick emails to Mom and Dad explaining that neither of these emails were accurate or even recent – the LA Times hoax started in 2006.  Attached a couple of tinyurls with links to the actual facts, added an “I love You” and got back to work.

We’ll wipe out cancer in my lifetime..I’m not so sure about spam.

Stay tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

For the Children…

Judith Ann Hillard and her daughter Olivia GraceI first met Judith Ann Hillard and her daughter Olivia Grace (see photo at right) in 2003 when they opened their home to me and a group of other speakers for the first NSA-Arizona Living Room Forum. 

How little I knew at that time.  Not that our hostess was a recovered drug addict or that little Olivia Grace was her redemption.  Not that when she said that she was starting over, she meant it so literally.  Nor was I aware that the drug addictions that had cost her her career as a teacher had also almost cost her – her life.   It was not until she reached out for help in her battle with MS or after that when she published The Other Woman at the Well and founded Addiction Overcome, Inc. a local charity that helps the children of addicts that I began to piece together the story.  When I learned what she had experienced – it frightened me.  What I saw, as she put her life back together, created a loving home for her daughter, and began to create new ways to help others – especially the children of addicts – little ones who suffer through no fault  of their own – was inspirational.

Addiction Overcome (a non-profit 501c3) helps children and families touched by drug abuse.  They do things as simple as putting gas in the car they use to transport children to and from family visit days at in-patient rehabilitation centers or pay for Bibles and other outreach materials for addicts. The organization also educates and supports families by…

  • paying for in-home drug testing kits
  • providing meals for children whose parents or the grandparents who are raising them cannot afford groceries
  • transportation costs
  • printing and distributing outreach materials about drug abuse

In these times, our charities are the ones most affected by the down turn.  They don’t receive stimulus packages, founding sources are drying up, and especially for grass roots organizations like this one, times are hard. 

So today, I placed a little something in the well.  It was not much, but it’s a start.  I did not do it for Judith or for the drug addicted parents – I did it for the children.  Maybe you will too?  To donate visit http://addictionovercome.blogspot.com/

100 Years From Now, It will not matter what house I lived in,
the kind of car I drove, or the size of my bank account,
But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.

excerpt from “Within My Power” by Forest Witcraft

  Stay Tuned –

Joan Koerber-Walker

Doing the Right Things in AZ

Governor_Jan_BrewerOn Friday March 27th, I had the opportunity to attend Phoenix Rotary 100 where the speaker was Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.  

I was impressed.  Not because she is a stunning and charismatic orator – she’s not.  What she is is a leader whose integrity shines through.  She’s inherited a huge mess (Arizona has the highest budget deficit per capita in the US) and she is doing something about it NOW.  She’s surrounded herself with ‘some of the Top Experts in the state”, is carefully looking at all the facts and options, and making hard decisions.  Some that even she says “I never thought I would ever support” – like raising taxes – at least temporarily.

She’s taking action to fix the immediate problems as well as working on solutions that will make for a better Arizona in the future.  It was very clear that she has no intention of letting this state be bankrupted or passing this mess on to the next Governor or the future generation of Arizonans.

There are times when doing the right thing can make you very unpopular in certain circles.  No one is ever happy when you take things away from them.  What the Governor demonstrated when fielding questions from the audience is that she is not making decisions based on popularity ratings.  She is using every resource at her disposal to fix the problem because it is the right thing to do.   That takes a lot of guts – especially for a politician.  Kudos to you Governor!

Governor Brewer laid out her Five Point Plan for getting our state out of the current mess and for building a better Arizona.  To read the whole text, click the link above the bullets.

Five Points for Building a Better Arizona

  1. Reform budget process with focus on longer-term needs and resources
  2. Improve Prop. 105 – The Voter Protection Act
  3. Further spending cuts, reduce general fund by $1 billion
  4. Provide tax reform to attract business and more jobs
  5. Temporary tax increase – $1 billion revenue to bridge the gap in our budget shortfall

We’re going to keep hearing lots of complaints and reading letters to the editor about programs being cut, budgets being squeezed, and how short sighted we are being.  But look at the chart and form your own opinion.  Its pretty simple.  The BLUE line is what we were spending and the PURPLE line shows what money the state projects to come in.  When you look at the widening gap, you start to understand why the Governor is taking a stand not just for today but for the future.  

2009_Arizona'sFiscalCrisis

As a business owner, I understand that you can’t keep writing checks if you don’t have the resources to back them up.  You make the best allocation of resources you can based on the business environment and your own ability to generate revenues.  When cash is tight, you cut back.  When times are good, you may spend more – but you always you put money into reserves for the days when cash get’s tight again.  Because those days always come. 

I certainly don’t envy Governor Brewer’s position as a leader at this time in our state’s history. But I truly respect what she is working to do, and I hope that when it comes my time to lead – in what ever way it comes – that I will do it with the integrity, guts, and good old fashioned common sense that she is showing now.

Stay Tuned…

-Joan Koerber-Walker

It does not have to be a Zero Sum Game

PH02802JIt’s been an interesting week so far.   A week of stepping back and looking at why things happen, how things happen, and how we fix them. 

As an economist, we were trained to look at value based on scarcity.  There is only so much to go around and value is based on how rare or unique something is and how badly people want it.

As an innovator, we look at creating plenty.  Not ‘how to get our piece of the pie’ but rather how to use what we have to ‘make the pie bigger or create new types of pies’.

Lately, I fear that too many of us have been thinking more like economists and less like innovators.

As I write this, I am listening as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner testifies to the House Finance Committee.  He laid out six key ingredients for his recipe for stabilizing future financial markets, protecting key assets, creating market balance globally, and forming public/private partnerships to deal with the plethora of distressed assets that are choking the system.  It’s a discussion on managing scarcity and creating security- but long term perhaps we may also be inhibiting growth.

But here is what else I have heard and experienced:

My friend Francine Hardaway has often cautioned me about the perils of stepping out as a leader and an innovator.  She never discourages me, simply warns me to be prepared for the challenges that come with that path.  She should know, she’s faced them for over 30 years!  Sometimes I listen.  Sometimes I don’t.  (Unfortunately she has an uncanny knack for being right – especially when I don’t listen.)

A Skype conversation with Annie Loyd yesterday opened my eyes to what innovators can do and what innovators need.  Annie too has been leading for decades.  With a passion for equality, justice,  and opportunity, Annie has been working behind the scenes and on the front lines for years.  Her vision for her next big adventure is brilliant. 

Gloria Feldt dropped me a note on FaceBook and asked a question about why so many feminists choose not to lead but rather stay in a circle or team to move change forward collectively.  My answer to Gloria was simple.  We need both.  “I’ve never thought of myself as a feminist – but leading can be a joy if you have a wide circle of support both male and female to move the mission forward. The trick is knowing when to step out and when to step back into the circle for support.”

A collection of friends from coast to coast have been helping me understand what’s happening on the private equity and venture capital fronts.  Yes there are challenges right now, but I am inspired by all of the creative ideas and strategies that are being developed and deployed to overcome those challenges.

And to top it all off, my new friend Sheri Tate sent me an incredibly edible treat, a sampling of her newest  Silver Moon Desserts. Imagine ice creams and sorbets infused with a tantalizing hint of liqueur – melting in your mouth.  Someone is going to make a fortune with Sheri and her team.  I just sent a note to a few friends I know who might want to take a look – and a taste.

You see life, innovation, and growth do not have to be played as a Zero Sum Game.  We all have opportunities to make the pie bigger, or create a series of unique and different pies of all shapes and sizes.  We just need to keep building that strong circle of support, finding new ingredients, adjusting our recipe by trial and error, and then reaching down for the courage to take a big step out of the circle and take the lead.

Stay Tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

What’s Being Done? The Fed and Treasury Together

Today was a very good day on Wall Street.  Dow Leaps 497 Points as U.S. Lays Out Bank Rescue Plan (NY Times)   Some say we may have seen the bottom.  Some say not. This week will be an important one as we watch each day how the markets respond to the actions of both the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecTgxT3DK3Y&hl=en&fs=1]

The actions of these two organizations, one independent of Congress and the other tied to it, are working together to stabilize our economy and to bring liquidly back to the market.  As we have all heard, this is not just a Wall Street issue.  It’s hit Main Street hard.  Large Businesses, Small Businesses, Student Loans, Mortgages, and Consumer Credit have all been affected.  I’ve yet to meet anyone who has not felt the pinch in one way or another.

The big questions for now are  “What’s Being Done?”  and “What does it all mean?  There are reams of articles that try to answer these questions, written by folk’s much closer to the issue and lots smarter than me.  Instead of trying to analyze it again, I have pulled together 4 videos that together help put “What’s Being Done” into perspective. In the first video (INSERTED ABOVE) Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke explains how we can keep history from repeating itself.  In the second video (see links below) he talks about what the Fed has done and is continuing to do.  In the third and fourth videos, Treasury Secretary Geithner explains his plan and Treasury’s actions to get things back on track. 

Three More Videos to Watch:

Fed Chairman Bernanke on Financial Crisis   

Part one of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner discusses his plan to help clear bank balance sheets of their toxic assets.

Geithner Pushes Bank Rescue Plan, Part 2

It’s the fact that , finally, there are detailed plans and that both the Treasury and the Fed are tacking action, that is driving  market confidence – and prices up.

So,  you may be wondering – is this the answer.  Truthfully, no one knows.  But for the first time, in a long time, we are starting to see a turn in market confidence – and THAT  is a very good thing.

Stay tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker