If I can do it you can do it too.

In the mid 1990s, I was running a large angel capital group in Greenville, SC. An associate heard about an organic grocery store chain in Asheville, NC seeking to grow. We called on the founder, Roger, who gave us a tour of his store and convinced us he had a strong concept. We had folks with lots of grocery experience in our investor group.

After investing we opened a second store in Charleston, SC. That didn’t go well. We took a step back and asked a series of questions that defined the company’s future.

What is essential to achieve our…


Define what is essential, attract outstanding people, hold them accountable for results, and let them do their jobs in ways only they can.

Virginia Uldrick was the long time founding President of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. As a child she wanted to be a performer. She worked hard in high school and earned a scholarship to Furman University, where she majored in music and got deeply involved in music education.

Virginia apprenticed one summer with the Chautauqua Opera in New York. With limited resources to fall back on, her hopes for a professional singing career were dashed.

Fortunately, someone back home kept up with this talented young woman, and offered her a job as music teacher. This…


The digital tools are new and the potential bigger, but people were social creatures before the Internet came along

Image from author

There’s a great line in a country song, “I was country before country was cool.” I was a successful social marketer long before it was cool. The digital tools are new. The reach of the Internet is enormous. People were social creatures before the Internet came along. The basic social marketing concepts that work aren’t new.


The Medium is the Message

F-86 Sabre Jet at Major Rudolf Anderson Memorial— Image by the author

I’m a pretty good amateur photographer living in the beautiful town of Greenville, SC. We have a wonderful 120 acre Cleveland Park downtown that I walk through regularly.

Our Local Hero — Major Rudolf Anderson

The park has a memorial to favorite son Major Rudolf Anderson, the only American killed during the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis. His death may have prevented a nuclear war that killed millions of people. Justifiably there is a lot of local pride in the ultimate sacrifice Major Anderson made for his country.


The saddest business experience of my career

By steenslag — P1010533, CC BY-SA 2.0

A young entrepreneur started a manufacturing company to introduce an innovative superabsorbant gel to the market. He had one customer, who repackaged the gel into a potting soil mixture sold through garden shops. The product’s appearance as white crystals was very important to selling it at retail.

Since this customer was so important to the company, as a part of my investment due diligence I flew to his Boston headquarters to ask the customer in person,

If I invest in the company, you are going to buy the product?

He said,

I won’t commit to buying your capacity, but I…


An empathetic leader empowered an entire community for decades

The Saturday Market in downtown Greenville, SC — Image by the author

One of the least appreciated elements of outstanding leadership is empathy for others — the ability to connect with people and understand their needs and desires before asking for anything from them. Most people are hungry for validation from someone they respect. The creative culture that feeds that hunger launches people into pursuing their passions with gusto.

I was a tiny spectator in one of the most enduring lessons in leadership in my life. A renowned business leader, Buck Mickel, was the former CEO of the global construction company Fluor Daniel. …


That’s easy to say, and hard to do

Eugène Delacroix, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The woman in Eugène Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People is leading her compatriots to either a glorious resolution or a military debacle. Which it is will be obvious after the fact.

In searching for the next new thing, Belinda Lanks said,

I am looking for one gobsmackingly clever idea executed with awe-inspiring skill.

Nothing describes the next new thing better than “gobsmackingly clever.” The challenge is in Version 1.0 “gobsmackingly clever” isn’t obvious and likely needs a lot of work though before it’s ready for prime time.

Veteran venture capitalist Thomas J. Davis said,

The principle for picking a…


Emerging business opportunities are fertilized where diverse people are cross-pollinated

Raphael, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Creative people thrive in rich, diverse communities where lots of parts and pieces are available to choose from.

Whether it is fifteenth century Florence, an eighteenth century London coffee house, or a twenty-first century global social networking site, the creativity that results in emerging business opportunities is fertilized in public spaces which cross-pollinate the experiences and relationships of diverse people.

That diverse communities have specialized knowledge that enhances productivity is an ancient idea. In Plato’s The Republic written in 360 BCE, Socrates and Adeimantus have a conversation about why communities form.

One notes,

All of us have many wants,

leading…


In a blow to Workhorse, U.S. Postal Service awards billion-dollar truck contract to Oshkosh and Ford

aomarks, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The first COVID-19 vaccine on the market was developed by BioNTech and nurtured through the FDA and sold to the Federal government by their partner Pfizer. From the White House in July 2020, the President of the United States said,

We think we have a winner.

Holy mackerel. BioNTech could not have pulled that off. Someone at Pfizer earned their annual bonus. Entrepreneurs should take notice of how BioNTech did that. I know I have. My company has a smartphone health screening platform. …


Depending on innovation heroes is not replicable nor sustainable.

Milliken & Company has one of the world’s preeminent materials research facilities in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Their impressive customer center displays over 35,000 products they have developed, including a chemical that makes the type of plastic used in water bottles transparent.

On a tour of the center many years ago, I heard that an insight had bubbled up inside Milliken that it was frustrating to open every opaque black plastic DVD case in a movie drawer at home to see if the disk you are looking for is inside. Finding movies would be easier if the cases were clear.

Jim…

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